Miscellaneous

Stormblood Speculation: Action Adjustments

Things are pretty quiet on the glamour front these days. I’ve more or less finished my Heavensward glamours for Ninja, Monk, Bard, Casters, Tanks, Healers, and Gatherers, with only Dragoon and Crafters on the list for something new. I may yet iterate further on my pre-Stormblood Samurai and Red Mage glamours, too, but for the time being I’m fairly happy with both of them. So, between now and Stormblood, I’m going to be posting fewer glamours, most likely, and instead focusing on my series of Retrospectives on Heavensward, as well as something new, starting today.

Well, not entirely new. Before we even knew what the expansion’s title was going to be, I pondered what the new jobs in 4.0 might be (and I was partly right even!). Here and there over the next several weeks I’m going to do more of the same, since I have a lot of fun speculating about the future. With most of the information we’re waiting on being held back until sometime later this month, there’s one thing in particular that’s been on my mind: the “battle system” adjustments, by which what they really seem to mean are overhauls to the Additional Actions system and the trimming of class abilities to lessen ability bloat.

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With the Additional Actions no longer serving as a Cross-Class system and instead serving up Role Specific actions, we’re already going to be seeing some shakeups, and I don’t think we can get a proper sense of what changes we might see for the classes without taking that into account. My best guess is that we’re going to see the following five roles: Tank, Melee DPS, Ranged DPS, Caster, and Healer. I think most actions we have at present are going to remain, though it’s possible we’ll see some new abilities, too (like a version of Raging Strikes that’s caster-specific, say).

When it comes to job-specific adjustments, my guess is that the goal is for every class to lose about five “buttons” once everything is said and done (through some combination of Role Action changes, removed and condensed abilities, and so on). I do expect some classes (Dark Knight and Astrologian, and also perhaps Bard and Machinist) to also undergo more fundamental changes, but that’s going beyond what I’m really comfortable speculating, so for today I’m going to talk mostly about what abilities I think are going to get the axe.

Tanks

Tanks will have access to, at the least, AwarenessConvalescence, and Provoke for Additional Actions. I’m unsure what the rest of their kit will look like, but if I had to guess, we’ll also see Bloodbath, and then I suspect we’ll see Rampart, Foresight, and Shadowskin all folded into one ability. We might also see Keen Flurry and Invigorate as potential options here, giving all tanks a way to recover TP, which is something that’s been needed for a long time.

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Paladin

With Paladin losing several abilities to the new Role Actions system, I don’t think we’ll actually see a lot of changes to the abilities that remain. With RampartConvalescence, Provoke, and Awareness likely becoming Tank actions, and Protect, Raise, and Stoneskin being taken away, Paladin already has its total set of abilities trimmed by three.

From there, I’m almost certain we’ll see Tempered Will disappear. As time has gone on, the ability has worked somewhat sporadically—it removes some Heavy effects but not others, and it doesn’t even work against all knockback effects. That makes its overall impact fairly minor.

The rest of Paladin’s present kit is fairly solid. Everything has some sort of place, and it doesn’t have a lot of extra stuff. Most of its trimming is probably going to be taken care of by the changes to Additional Actions.

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Warrior

Warrior is most likely going to look the same overall. Following its first overhaul in Patch 2.1, Warrior has long been held up of one of the game’s better-designed classes (class balance concerns notwithstanding, anyway), and that means it probably doesn’t need a lot of changes.

I’m relatively certain we’ll see Fell Cleave and Decimate folded into Inner Beast and Steel Cyclone, in that Fell Cleave and Decimate will simply become changes to the original buttons when Deliverance is active. In terms of quest rewards, this will mean traits for Warrior at the respective levels. My guess is that this will accompany some sort of tech changes that allow for stances to change animations, as especially in the case of Fell Cleave’s animation, I’d expect a riot if it were removed entirely!

With Warrior probably losing access to Internal Release and Second Wind, that’s two more buttons down. If anything else goes, I honestly think we’re going to see Fracture disappear entirely. It’s never really fit in well with Warrior’s stack mechanics, and removing it allows Dark Knight’s Scourge to remain a bit more unique among the tanks.

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Dark Knight

Dark Knight is a lot harder to speculate about. I’ve always felt the new classes in Heavensward were hastily designed (due to the team running up against deadlines), and so one thing I think we’re going to see for Dark Knight is a more substantial redesign. Right now, the class is stuck in an awkward place sort of “between” Paladin and Warrior, without much of its own identity.

Since Dark Knight’s likely to look more different than the other two tanks will in Stormblood, it’s harder to pinpoint abilities that are likely to go. I think there are some likely candidates, though. Reprisal is probably going to go. Either its damage reduction component will be folded into another ability (like Delirium) or Low Blow will take on that effect as a trait in some fashion. Shadowskin is likely to get folded into Foresight in terms of button space, so that’s two.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dark Dance go as well, probably being turned into some sort of trait that increases Dark Knight’s base Parry chance. As a cooldown it’s always been somewhat maligned, and its Dark Dance effect doesn’t have much effect on most bosses, so it’s easy for this one to fall to the chopping block.

That’s still only three buttons saved, and I have to admit I’m not sure what else might change for Dark Knight. I could see Abyssal Drain being turned into a Trait that gives Unleash a Dark Arts effect that duplicates its unique characteristics (though it’s unclear how much, tech-wise, Dark Arts can actually do to modify abilities). One possibility, depending on what they do with Reprisal, is that Delirium might get folded into Power Slash in some way (then mirroring the Strength debuff on Paladin’s Rage of Halone). I’m not sure how likely that is, though: truthfully, Dark Knight’s streamlining will probably in part due to more fundamental changes.

Melee DPS

Melee will almost certainly still have access to Blood for Blood, Internal Release, Invigorate, and Second Wind. I think we’ll see a reworked Mercy Stroke (or perhaps a modified Assassinate) serve as an “execute” ability for them as well. Keen Flurry has a decent chance of sticking around for them as a defensive option. Some things, like Featherfoot and Haymaker are probably just plain going away, and I think Mantra is likely to be a Monk-only thing (since its non-trait effect was pretty small anyway).

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Monk

Monk is probably one of the most straightforward cases among all the classes when it comes to things to remove. Featherfoot and Haymaker have likely been on the chopping block for a very long time. Neither of them really works well with the game’s encounter design.

I think one likely target for removal is Fists of Wind. The stance may disappear entirely, or its effect might turn into a trait (similar to Ninja’s runspeed trait). Another possibility for removal is Arm of the Destroyer, which has never really found a very good place due to its very high TP cost and low overall Potency. I suspect in that case the team is more likely to make the ability stronger, though, rather than remove it, so that Monk still has a combo starter for AoE damage.

One-Ilm Punch probably isn’t going away, though. It’s a Job Action, and due to the way quests work, I think those generally won’t be removed (though some of them are probably going to be turned into Traits). In the case of this weird ability, I imagine it’ll end up being repurposed as an AoE ability, so that Monk has an AoE option for all three stages of its Greased Lightning combos.

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Dragoon

Like Paladin, I imagine Dragoon is probably going to get most of its bloat trimming from the changes to Additional Actions. Several of their Role Action slots will come from abilities they currently have naturally, like Paladin, and with Foresight, Bloodbath, and Mantra on the list of things I think will be going away for them.

From there, I expect some sort of change that folds Wheeling Thrust and Fang and Claw into one button. The only thing different between them, mechanically, are their positional requirements. I’m thinking they’ll turn one of them into a trait that modifies the other, and the proc you get will then determine whether you need to be on the flank or the rear for the attack—you just won’t have to have two separate buttons for what amounts to the same thing anymore.

I think everyone can guess we’ll probably see Feint get the axe, at least for Dragoon. It might return in some form as a Role Action for Ranged DPS, though. It’s tough to pinpoint what else might go for Dragoon, though I could see Ring of Thorns and Doom Spike being folded into one ability, especially if Dragoon gets something else for AoE in Stormblood.

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Ninja

Ninja is another tough one. Since Ninja was added to the game later than the original jobs that have base classes, its design benefited from what the team had learned in the initial months of the game’s release. It was designed with things like the buffs Dragoon and Monk got in 2.1 already in mind, so it has always felt a bit more polished. That makes it more difficult to identify actions that could really go away, but I think we can still pinpoint likely targets.

Mug is almost certainly going away. For whatever reason, Rogue actually gets this extra ability for its level 15 class quest, and outside of being a throwback to the traditional Final Fantasy Thief’s ability to pilfer items from enemies, has never had a noteworthy purpose, outside of a very small healing effect when paired with Kiss of the Viper.

I actually think Kiss of the Viper is probably going away, at least as an actual ability. It’ll probably become a trait that simply boosts Rogue’s poison damage from Kiss of the Wasp. This does remove the ability for Ninjas to choose between a silence and a stun—if I had to guess, stuns will probably end up being for the Strength-based DPS classes, and silences will be for the Dexterity-based ones.

My next best guess is that Trick Attack’s effect will be turned into a trait modifying Sneak Attack, so that it simply functions differently depending on position. This saves a button while preserving what has become Ninja’s most important ability in raid environments.

After those three, it’s really hard to imagine where Ninja has room to trim bloat. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Dancing Edge and Armor Crush combined in some way (probably by turning Armor Crush into a trait that modifies Dancing Edge, since the latter is a job quest ability). Other than those, it’s tough to imagine what they might cut. Hide could go (with Sneak Attack/Trick Attack perhaps modified to have extra effects under Suiton, but otherwise being normal off-global damage abilities), but that’d be a pretty iconic Ninja thing to cut. I’m really not sure what else could go, though I suppose Mutilate could probably be dropped from the rotation without significant effects.

Ranged DPS 

I see no reason to think Ranged DPS won’t have Raging StrikesQuelling Strikes, and Hawk’s Eye in Stormblood. I’d imagine Invigorate will remain available to them, and I think we’ll also see Blood for Blood, Internal Release, and Second Wind stick around, too. If cast times for Bard and Machinist stick around, we’ll probably see Feint return here (possibly renamed, though) as a way for them to fire on the move.

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Bard

That makes things a bit awkward for both Bard and Machinst, though, when it comes to trimming ability bloat. If my guesses are right about their Role Actions in general, Bard doesn’t lose anything from the changes, and it might actually be gaining buttons (if my guess that we’ll see the overall number of Additional Action slots increase is right). That means trimming bloat for them is a bit tough.

One thing I’m almost certain we’ll see is the removal of either Wide Volley or Quick Knock. In Heavensward, the abilities have no difference outside of their respective ranges (not even Potency differences), and while they could differentiate them more, I suspect it’s more likely that one of them will simply be removed.

Shadowbind could reasonably be turned into a PvP ability or an optional Role Action, I think, since it hasn’t had many applications for a very long time in general situations. It’s useful in corner cases, but isn’t really a core part of the Bard’s kit. If they modify Repelling Shot to include a Bind (not unlike a reverse Fluid Aura), then Bard would even get to keep the functionality for emergencies and save a button.

Everything after that gets kind of weird. Bard’s more likely to see abilities combined, I think, than others. Mage’s Ballad and Army’s Paeon (with the latter becoming a Trait) could be combined into one effect to save a button. That certainly makes them more powerful, but it might also better justify the present damage reduction while they’re active, too.

From there, it’s tough to imagine what they might cut. I could see Venomous BiteWindbite, and Iron Jaws being condensed in some way. Windbite and Iron Jaws could become Traits that modify Venomous Bite, increasing its potency in two stages (resulting in two free buttons). That’s my best bet, though I’m less sure of the specifics of how they’re combined.

Swiftsong might also be retired, since it has pretty limited applications, depending on what else they do with Bard.

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Machinist

Like Bard, Machinist is probably going to end up with extra actions from Additional Actions, picking up things they didn’t have before (like Internal Release and Second Wind). However, I think Machinist is a bit easier to trim, since it honestly has a lot of superfluous abilities.

For starters, both Leg Graze and Foot Graze can go. One of them would probably be folded into Blank for an added effect (similar to what I think they might do with Repelling Shot and Shadowbind for Bard). They’re two utility abilities that have mostly the same purpose, so there’s probably not a huge reason to have both of them.

While it does offer on the fly-ammunition, I also think Quick Reload will go, perhaps becoming a trait that lowers the cooldown on Reload, which frees up another button. I don’t think Machinist really needs to have them both.

Head Graze and Suppressive Fire will probably get folded together. While I think it’s most likely that Machinist will keep the silence effect rather than the stun, I could see this one going either way. If they keep the silence, Suppressive Fire will probably become a trait that modifies Head Graze in some way (since it’s a quested ability and is harder to remove).

I expect Rend Mind to become a trait that modifies Dismantle, since having both of them was always pretty strange, and like Bard with its close-range and long-range AoE attacks, I think Machinist will end up losing one of Spread Shot and Grenado Shot.

Casters

My guess is that casters will probably get to keep Raging Strikes (or something new that’s similar to it) and Quelling StrikesSwiftcast definitely isn’t going anywhere. Surecast will probably remain, and the more I’ve thought about it, I think we’ll see Raise added as a Role Action for all Casters, so that Summoner no longer has a monopoly on that utility. Casters will probably not have access to Hawk’s Eye anymore (since it never did anything for them to begin with), and I imagine Blizzard II and Physick will also be removed as options. I have a hunch that Eye for an Eye and Virus will become healer Role Actions, so those go, too.

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Black Mage

Black Mage has always had a lot of niche abilities that are likely to be trimmed or combined with others. With changes to Additional Actions, I imagine Black Mage is going to probably end up button-neutral—they’ll be losing some but gaining others, while also needing to set some of their “natural” abilities as Role Actions.

We already know that the three Thunder spells are going to be combined into one, which frees up two ability slots (my guess is that traits will simply make the original Thunder better). I also expect Blizzard II and Freeze to be combined in some way, with Freeze becoming a Trait that allows Blizzard II to be cast from range (or perhaps Blizzard II just becomes a ranged spell inherently and Freeze increases its Potency).

After those changes (which free up three buttons), I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lethargy removed entirely, since Black Mage already has a Heavy effect on Blizzard and they also have Sleep (which probably won’t be removed, since it factors into one of the Thaumaturge class quests). The final ability to go will probably be Manawall—its effect will be folded into Manward via a trait.

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Summoner

Things get weird for Summoner, since anything they remove from Arcanist has an effect on Scholar also. As with Black Mage, I expect that changes to Additional Actions will have an overall neutral effect on Summoner’s total abilities.

The first, and most obvious change, is that Ruin II and Ruin III are probably going to get folded into Ruin via Traits. That frees up two buttons right away without any real change to Summoner’s actual gameplay. I think the instant cast facet of Ruin II may go away, with each stage simply being a potency increase (though I could be wrong about that).

I imagine that Sustain will be removed, as it’s one of those things (like extra defensive abilities for Monk) that just really don’t fit into the game’s general encounter design. Its removal might be accompanied by a change to pet health regeneration so that it’s loss isn’t keenly felt for things like solo play.

Fester could easily become a trait that modifies Energy Drain‘s Potency based on the number of damage-over-time effects on the target, which frees up another button, and I have a feeling Miasma II will simply be removed (or perhaps become a trait that makes Bane more powerful or something).

Healers 

We have more interesting tidbits regarding Role Actions for healers. A recent Developer’s Blog hinted that Cleric Stance and Esuna will be be undergoing some sort of changes—my guess now is that they’ll both be Role Actions (replacing Leeches and Exalted Detriment for Scholar and Astrologian). Healers will definitely have Swiftcast, Virus (replacing Disable for Astrologian), and Eye for an Eye. Surecast will probably be here, too, and I expect Stoneskin to stay as well. Protect will also most likely be a role action, and I could see Stoneskin II also showing up here. As with casters, I think Raise will be a Role Action for healers, too (replacing the equivalent abilities for Scholar and Astrologian).

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White Mage

Like Paladin, White Mage is going to end up with a lot of its natural abilities turned into Role Actions, since they’re pretty core to the healing role in general. In this regard it’s probably a bit tricky to really remove things from White Mage, but it does have a few things that can be cleaned up.

Stone II and Stone III will probably be turned into Traits, which frees up a couple buttons. Stone III in particular is just a flat Potency increase over Stone II—it doesn’t even have anything unique about it. In a similar vein, I think we’ll see Aero II combined with Aero to free up another button (and Aero III will probably be renamed to Aero II).

White Mage doesn’t have a whole lot else that can reasonably be trimmed. Repose can probably go, since Sleep is a niche effect, and White Mage will probably lose access to Blizzard II, so that’s perhaps another two buttons. Other than that I don’t see White Mage changing too much.

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Scholar

Scholar’s already come up in a roundabout way via Summoner, and some of its changes are likely going to be the same. Ruin II and Broil will probably get folded into Ruin, and I’d guess Sustain will go away (it was always of pretty minor use for Scholar anyway since they can naturally heal and their pets can heal themselves).

As part of the changes to Additional Actions, I’d guess Scholar will probably lose access to Aero (though this doesn’t necessarily free up a button, since it will be replaced by more Role Actions). Instead, I think Scholar is likely to see some of its Job Abilities turned into Traits—Leeches probably becomes something else entirely, since we can guess that Esuna will be a Role Action. I’d bet Emergency Tactics gets turned into a Trait in some way, too (by letting wasted shields be applied as healing instead, or something).

Dissipation might also turn into some sort of trait, though that’d probably end up being something new entirely. I don’t see Deployment Tactics being removed, as it’s a pretty unique cooldown. Overall I think it’s hard to remove much from Scholar, so this is one of the jobs I’m much less sure of in this arena.

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Astrologian

And last but not least, we’ve got Astrologian. Like Dark Knight I imagine some of its trimming will occur as part of more fundamental changes to the class, so it’s a bit difficult to really pin down specific things that might be removed. There are some obvious things, though.

MaleficMalefic II, and Stella will probably be combined into one button via traits, as will be the case with most abilities like this. Whether that means the end result is Stella (with a Heavy) or Malefic is hard to say, but there will certainly be some condensing going on here.

I’d also guess that Benefic II and Aspected Benefic will simply be combined, with the Astrologian’s stance determining the additional effect, just as now. My guess is that the same thing will happen with Helios and Aspected Helios, too. All told, that frees up tow more abilities for Astrologian. Other than these, I’m not sure what all else could be trimmed for Astrologian, but we might see more streamlining in other ways for them.

Stormblood Abilities & Beyond

Guessing at what we’ll see past level 60 is a fool’s errand at this point (outside of hints from the recent Benchmark), though I’m predicting we won’t see every job get five full abilities. Some of them (like what seems to be Ruin IV for Summoner in the Benchmark) will probably be traits, saving on button real estate, while others (like the Warrior’s charging ability) will be new actions.

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Combined with trimming of abilities prior to level 60 and new traits to combine abilities where it makes sense, I expect overall that everyone will have about the same number of buttons at level 70 that they’ve got at level 60. That trend’s probably going to continue into the distant future, too, since the need for the game to stay playable on gamepads means there’s a pretty hard limit on how much can reasonably be added.

I think that sums up most things regarding the ability changes coming that I’ve been puzzling myself about. I have thoughts about things the team could do in general for the various classes, but no real threads to hang them on beyond wild speculation there (and most of it’s simply improvements I’d like to see, rather than grounded speculation).

So for now, it’s mostly wait and see. I’m really excited to see how wrong I am about all of this later this month!

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