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As of this afternoon, with Dark Knight over the finish line, I have met my first major progression goal of Endwalker – all jobs that can go to level 90, to level 90, including retainers and Trusts. My only uncapped job at the moment remains Blue Mage, but that will be a bit of fun over the coming days and is less of a focused goal for me.
Here is my current loadout of jobs and gearsets, as well as the Trusts glamoured in their level 90 reward outfits (the Garlemald cold weather stuff!).
With that milestone met, my attention can now turn to the game itself! Joking aside, this does open up some amount of additional choice in my gameplay, as I no longer have to earmark roulettes for leveling jobs or try to set aside days to run roulettes at max for the benefit of my tomestone acquisition, and my Armory Chest is the cleanest it has been since mid-Shadowbringers!
First, the big question – was this goal worth it?
I enjoyed the experience of leveling all the jobs a lot, and knowing how each job plays in Endwalker has gone a long way towards helping me play all of my jobs better. As a healer, I know the contours of the tank kits much better and have a better sense of when they are in danger. As a tank, I know the ways to mitigate incoming damage to please a healer and play as I would want a tank to play when I am healing – big and sometimes dangerous pulls with smart mitigation and enmity buildup. For DPS, I get a sense of how positionals still matter to a point, which helps with tanking, and I can see the potential risky points where a DPS might put themselves out there to greed out a few extra points of damage. With crafters and gatherers all leveled, I can make my own supply of gear, tinctures, and meals to power me through progression content, and I’ve already done my first-ever current-tier Savage raiding in FFXIV this expansion, with more thoughts to share on that experience to come.
With that comes new goals, but first, a run-down of my personal feelings on the combat jobs by role!
I leveled Warrior first and expected to love it the most, and early on, I did. However, it gave way to a bigger appreciation of Gunbreaker and Dark Knight, for different reasons. Warrior plays the most like a DPS – a simple combo, a cooldown phase with big hits going out, and a job gauge that steadily builds for the sake of damage. They are the safest tanks for dungeons – lots of self-healing, decent innate mitigation, strong defensive CDs – but those things also make them middling in raids, where the per-hit healing of Bloodwhetting loses value and where both Dark Knight and Gunbreaker are more capable of dealing damage.
From leveling White Mage first, I loathed healing Paladins, and leveling my own gave me a sense of why that was. Paladin has a lot of self-heal tied to their casting abilities in Requiescat phase and needs regular auto-attacks going out to generate Oath for (Holy) Shelltron. They’re not bad, but they have the lowest personal DPS and they have a slightly higher skill requirement to master the phase transitions.
I leveled Dark Knight last because I had seen them being difficult and hadn’t really had a good DRK experience as a healer in dungeons. However, what I learned from my own play is that I like the job a fair bit now, oddly. It’s in a weird spot – in dungeons, it can feel excessively squishy if not played well, but in raids it has the highest tank DPS and a good set of survival abilities for that setting, albeit with the worst tank invulnerability by far. A habit I had to break from old guidance that seems bad now is saving a lot of The Blackest Night usage – once I started using more MP for it, I was finding myself far more survivable and the shield was being eaten fully enough to get my oGCD attacks/damage boosts in.
In the end, the tank I love the most is still Gunbreaker – FFVIII is very nostalgic for me, and while the self-heal and survival kit isn’t as good as Warrior for dungeons, it’s better overall balanced and has higher DPS. Plus, a lot of explosions, and more with the changes to the continuation combo adding a Continuation for Burst Strike and the massive hit of Double Down at level 90. It has a satisfying groove to its play with the cartridge build and the No Mercy window feels very enjoyable.
Not much has changed in my perception since I wrote about the healers last, but I have Savage perspective on White Mage to add. Generally, I still think that White Mage got the short stick this expansion – lowest MP efficiency and regen, high-ish personal performance with no group buffs to damage, and a sort of passive, reactive gameplay model for dungeons and PUG high-end duties that feels a little underwhelming on the excitement factor. It’s cliche to love the new toy in FFXIV, but Sage remains my most-enjoyed healer in Endwalker – the frenetic pace of gameplay feels great, its healing and DPS models are enjoyable for me more than Scholar is, and while it offers little group utility outside of core healing, it has a load of good mitigation abilities that compliment shield healing nicely. I like Scholar a lot more this expansion, but it will likely never be my main healer job – the core of it just doesn’t quite click with me in the same way the other 3 do, but especially Sage at the moment.
I might be an oddball here, but I enjoy all the melee jobs this time out. Dragoon feels better to me in flow – I enjoyed their core combo gameplay in Shadowbringers a fair bit, but the job feels smoother in a weird way that I can’t fully explain. It needs some potency buffs, but good. Reaper is very satisfying, and while it is the new shiny on the DPS side (and attracts, bar none, some of the worst players – my new FFXIV drinking game is to take a shot when a RPR with an edgy name fails a mechanic, and if I was sincerely playing that, I’d already have liver damage), it has something fun in its gameplay, at least post level 80 (Enshroud really changes the job into something with a lot of flow and interest). Ninja feels a bit weird, and I haven’t played much with the new Raiju abilities yet, but the core of the job I liked in Shadowbringers is still there. Monk is a lot of fun and feels incredibly fast and smooth, although I won’t confess to have a full understanding of the nadis and systems that make up the new gameplay design of it. Samurai was one of my first alt jobs ever in the game, and it still has that feeling I like in it – slower, deliberative gameplay that feels like an efficiency, lethal swordsman would. Samurai has probably been my favorite, with Reaper just behind and the others tied for last just behind Reaper – still good, but I haven’t really gone back to play much of Monk or Ninja since getting Samurai up to 90.
Ranged Physical DPS
All 3 are pretty good feeling this expansion, albeit suffering from ranged tax fiercely. Bard is probably the best at raw damage from most indications, but it almost has too much going on – there are so many procs depending on where you are in the song rotation that it can feel overwhelming and then that drops out from under you when you change songs. Machinist was my favorite of the 3 in Shadowbringers and remains so here – it has a basic-enough combo with weaving built in and a fun, packed burst window for Wildfire. Dancer is a lot of fun as a job, probably the most expressive of light and fun gameplay, but it just felt a little anemic for me, and like Shadowbringers, with Machinist leveled, I’ve already felt myself turning away from it. Potency buffs could probably get it to feel better, but it is well-balanced in a relative sense – Dancer contributes a lot of group damage via Step buffs and personal potency buffs would likely have to knock that down. It might be that the proc-heavy gameplay design of the job feels too close to the random chance abilities I disliked in WoW, and in fact, with it put forward that way, I do think that is a big part of the feeling I have for it.
Magical Ranged DPS
The caster jobs this expansion all feel really good, mostly. I never even tried Summoner prior to Endwalker – had it leveled and did the job quests for the basics in Shadowbringers, but it just made my eyes glaze over with how complicated it was then. In Endwalker, Summoner is perhaps too simple – the rotation is very easy, you get most of the kit early and then new abilities are just trait upgrades past a certain point, and it is the only job in the game where I have 24 hotkeys mapped and that felt just about right, compared to the 30ish I have bound for all other jobs. But the flavor is very fun and enjoyable to me, although how much of a summoner you are is an open and debatable question. Red Mage feels pretty enjoyable – the lowering of mana levels needed for your melee combo makes the job feel faster-paced and more mobile, and a lot of tweaks like to Manification make mastering the job a lot less fiddly. The only observable jank is that the melee combo now requires different levels of mana for single-target versus AoE, which isn’t neatly explained by the game, so I had a few moments where I burst in to start an AoE combo at 50/50 and ended up out of gas and unable to do my finishers at the end. As for Black Mage, removing the button-press for Enochian makes the job feel a lot friendlier, albeit still probably one of the harder jobs in the game to learn well. Paradox at 90 changes the flow of casting to be a lot smoother and I found managing the transitions between Astral Fire and Umbral Ice to be much easier at higher levels of play, compared to Shadowbringers.
Crafting and Gathering
The biggest changes to these roles happened over time in Shadowbringers, as we got the changed Collectable crafting system so that you had clarity over what items could be collectable and useful as such, and gathering collectables was made far more straightforward and clear in ShB as well. Endwalker builds on this, with only a single major change aside from the ShB streamlining – Gatherer’s Boon replacing HQ gatherables. As a system, I like it a lot, actually – it makes gathering less bag-space intensive and means that even rookie gatherers can still get valuable mats to sell. Needing to buy 3 Regional Folklores per gathering profession is a bit of a bummer, even if the balancing of cost tries to account for this somewhat.
At the high-end, making the current tier 580 armor and weapons was a fun milestone for me, the first time I’ve made myself a full HQ set of gear to use and been able to pentameld most of it, and it has erased the need to chase lower-level tomestone gear, freeing me up for more tomestone mats and cash with that. I’ve also finally learned about specialization and been using the system to my benefit, both to make Specialist required items (made myself the EX2 Chocobo barding today, in fact!) and to make my crafting go easier (this week I went Alchemist/Culinarian with two of my 3 Soul of the Crafter so I could make raid consumables that much easier and guarantee an easy HQ craft).
Overall, while I know that the relative ease a newcomer can have at getting into crafting currently means that there is some missing depth to it, I enjoy the current state of things a lot. It feels like there is a good balance of difficulty, and while it did lead me to Teamcraft to calculate out and test macros to build the perfect rotations, that is far more than WoW has ever offered me in crafting and I’ve enjoyed it a lot more for it. Being able to be largely self-sufficient in the game for a modicum of gathering effort and time putting together crafting and gathering sets and macros is a fantastic feeling, where the game isn’t trying to sap my money through artificial sinks (and, in fact, once you’re free of the cost of paying an NPC for repairs and materia melds, you have new sinks in leveling omnicrafting, going after pentamelds on materia on your own gear or selling pentamelded raid-ready gear, so until you start to get stockpiles built up of materials, materia, and gil to soften the blow).
My New FFXIV Goals
So with the major goals of Endwalker launch done and dusted, what do I have left?
Well, a big part of it right now is preparing for the future, but also visiting pieces of the past I haven’t explored that much. Thus, my new list:
Find A Raiding Static: I got to raid Savage as a sub-in for my Free Company for 1 week, and it was fun (got a P1S kill to my name for it!). It was also incredibly disheartening, to be good enough to sub in but not to keep (its largely down to group loyalty and I get it but still sucks!), and I know that my long-term route means finding a static or making my own. There is some interest from friends and WoW guildies, and so I think a route I might consider (with some controls of my own) is starting my own static raid group to tackle Savage content. Ultimates aren’t even in my thought process right now, but long-term, it could be fun – and I could see value in being ready for the Dragonsong War Ultimate fight that is coming down the pipeline in Endwalker.
Build My Gil Stash to At Least 65 Million By 6.1: I got a house last expansion, by pure luck and ability to be up when maintenance concluded for the added-plots patch to jump in and grab one. It’s a small house and I like it a lot, but I want a mansion and I have the tools now to really work towards building my gil reserves up to get there. Since we’ll have hundreds of new plots in 6.1 in Ishgard and a lottery system for them, my goal is to be saved up and ready to pounce when that opens so I can get a nice big house for myself. If I don’t win the lottery, it’s whatever – but I want to try, at least! On top of that, having a nice big stockpile for the next crafting rush will be an asset.
Get Some Older Achievements and Mounts: I’ve never done Palace of the Dead past floor 50, and I’ve not cleared a single floor of Heaven-On-High, both of which I’d like to change. I want to get the solo achievements for both. I’ve been working towards old Savage soloing (I can do A12S as a tank with relative ease, and that was before a 12 item level shot in the arm from crafting 580 HQ armor this week!), and I’d like to run through more of that older content for glamour, mounts, and fun. I just recently did the Firebird for all the Heavensward EX trial mounts, and I’d like to get the doggo farm from Stormblood and the Gwiber farm from Shadowbringers done. I’ve been working on farming EX2 in Endwalker to start my Lynx collection, but I haven’t even tried EX1 yet and need to remedy that, even with the gear no longer holding value for me personally (especially so, since the totems can be saved until the vendor in Radz-at-Han unlocks the mount purchase for 99 totems in a patch or two). There are some dungeon-drop mounts I don’t have yet (I believe, at least, although I did get the Ala Mhigo mount just the other week!), and a wealth of other older things to do – Relic weapon grinds, Doman Enclave restoration, old Beast Tribes, and the like.
Build Good, Unique Glamours: I have a lot of 2B looks in my glamour plates right now, with various dyes. They’re fine – nothing special or all that great, but it looks cool and it’s easy to setup. I’ve been looking a lot at Eorzea Collection’s user-submitted glamours, and boy I want some of those, so they’ll set me on a path towards them pretty easily. It’s been a great resource for figuring out how various pieces look, what is dyable, and to get some inspiration – so I’d recommend checking them out if you’re looking to switch things up!
Finish My House: I made my house pretty basic and simple early on – and then jammed it full of overly shiny raid items, like a big Crystal Tower, a fountain, and a giant Leviathan statue. They’re cool, but I ended up not liking my house very much because of the butchery I did in the name of cool. I’m working now on getting everything remodeled, with new Endwalker floor and wall recipes (the mixed wood looks are great) and trying to pick a piece or two at a time, with careful planning, to make sure the style fits and everything looks nice.
And with that, phase 1 (I guess 2, since I would count 1 as the MSQ and first leveled and geared job) is done, and on we go with more FFXIV and Endwalker still to come!