Final Fantasy 14’s latest expansion, Endwalker, is set to finish up a massive storyline spanning over 10 years, and is the game’s 4th expansion since it was reworked for A Realm Reborn. I was able to check out the big changes coming to the jobs we all know and love, but also to get some hands-on time with the new Reaper and Sage jobs as well. Of course, it is important to note that this article is based on an in-development build of Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, and any content is subject to change before we all get our hands on the final version.
Firstly, if you are worried about story spoilers, you won't find them here as there were no story quests in the build we played. The event itself was set up to let us run around and test jobs, both new and old, while doing fates and hunts in two new zones: Garlemald and Thavnair. Old Sharlayan was also available for us to explore and meet up with people to run Tower of Zot, the one dungeon available in the preview. While I couldn’t find any hunts, I did run the dungeon multiple times with a few people, also while using the slightly improved trust system. I spent a good amount of time with target dummies on a very scenic beach in Thavnair, too, just trying out jobs with changes I wanted to see. I feel like it is important to let you know that I am a tank main. I spent most of my time playing Reaper, since I was most excited for it, and the second most playing Warrior, since it is my main job. I do have impressions for Sage as well, but healing isn’t my strongest suit, admittedly. I also tried to give some time to jobs like Summoner since it was changed so drastically.
Reaper and Sage
After getting my hands on both of the new jobs, my biggest takeaway was fresh they both feel, both in terms of style and how they play.. This is most true for Sage, given that it is part of the new healer split between “pure healers” and “shield healers”. Reaper even does a lot to stand out against most of the other physical melee jobs. Overall, I feel like they are excellent additions to the existing jobs in the game and I cannot wait to play them more once the expansion releases.
I know I already talked a bit about how I am not the biggest fan of healing, but my first reaction after messing around with the skills for Sage was that I may have to change that. Everything from the Gundam-inspired weapon design to the wildly flashy animations, and even the sound effects that could have been ripped right out of the future, come together to make a very rad-feeling healer that plays so differently from all the others. Being able to mark a party member with the Kardia skill so they passively receive heals while I get carried away shooting laser beams everywhere is exactly what I am looking for. Of course, I want to make sure my friends stay alive, but I also want to look good while doing it, and that is what Sage feels like it is giving me. They also have a really cool gap-closing ability called Icarus that can be used to propel yourself towards enemies as well as allies--I will probably end up using this too much just because of how sick it looks. Overall though, I think my favorite sage ability is Eukrasia. It augments three of your abilities to be more powerful versions of themselves. In other words, it makes your existing lasers into bigger lasers and honestly, who doesn’t want that? My time with Sage left me wanting more and maybe even considering spending more time in the healing role, even with the anxiety the responsibility gives me. If that isn't a great endorsement for the new job, I really don’t know what is.
Reaper is the job I spent most of my time with during the preview event. The first time I got enshroud to proc and became “enshrouded,” or what I endearingly like to call “Bad Boy Mode.”I call it this because it changes your normally cheery Warrior of Light into an angry, red-eyed, Shadow the Hedgehog-y voidsent version of yourself. That was all it took, and I knew I had a new favorite melee DPS job. Everything you can do on a Reaper just feels so dang badass. The sick factor isn’t just limited to living out your dream of being a scythe-wielding Hot Topic-fueled nightmare creature, either… the feeling of weaving your way through the Reaper's various abilities to get into Bad Boy Mode just feels great. Around all of those core attacks, you also get a fun toolkit that allows you to do all sorts of fun stuff, like dash around and teleport.
The thing that I really liked the most was just how awesome the Reaper looks in motion. All of your attacks have these really cool red and blue tearing effects that follow your scythe movements and change depending on what ability you are using. This effect is only amplified when you get to go absolutely crazy in Bad Boy Mode, where your Warrior of light will be completely surrounded by twice as many of these bright, red and black colored tears from you whipping your scythe around wildy and I love every second of it. Reaper is kind of a natural step for me too since my current favorite melee DPS class is dragoon and while they are still very different, I think there is enough to bridge that gap. They also share the same armor too, so I have a back catalog of cool glamours to use already. My love and loyalty to tanking ultimately means I don’t think I am going to become a Reaper main, but you bet this will be one of the first alt jobs I level up. It could very easily be my second favorite job I have played, even with only a few hours to try it out and play/learn it.
I spent a lot of time also playing my main job, Warrior, to try and get a good handle on the new abilities in Endwalker and how many changes have been made to older abilities as well. Ever since the benchmark happened and I got to see that we would be getting a new punch button I have been unbelievably excited, but that wasn’t even the star of the show for me. That honor went to what they did to change up one of our main mitigation skills. Raw intuition used to just decrease damage taken for a few seconds, but now it also restores HP every time you hit with a weapon skill. And that’s not all, as at level 82 it changes over to a new ability called Bloodwhetting. This not only decreases damage taken and has the same healing properties before, but now you also get a shield on top of it. All this plays into the bigger emphasis on getting tank players to use defensive cooldowns at the right time and be rewarded for it in Endwalker, and I think it’s a great change. The changes to Inner Release, meanwhile, could still go either way for me. While I like the idea of not having to stack skill speed to fit enough Fell Cleaves into the ability window, I also really, really miss just jamming the heck out Fell Cleave over and over--you know how Warriors are. All of this and I haven't even mentioned the new ability that lets you finally become the Fell Cleave: Primal Rend. Thus far, Warrior is incredibly fun and I love a lot of the changes on the way for them.
The other job I really wanted to dig into was Summoner, considering just how much it is set to change, and as it's one of my favorite ranged DPS jobs in the game. Giving them the ability to not only properly summon full-on Primals now but also change their attacks to take on their properties is so exciting, even if we had to lose DoTs to get them. The Summoner job just feels snappier to me now, too, since moving from one summon to the next is quick and easy, and I like that a lot. Some neat highlights from the new abilities you get from the primal summons are the two-part gap closer resulting from summoning Ifrit. Called Crimson Cyclone, it lets you turn into a fireball and rush to the target and explode, and then lets you follow up with Crimson Strike. The Mountain Buster ability you get from Titan is also very cool specifically because of the animation for the spell--you make your character clap their hands together and crash two large rocks torn from the ground into each other around whoever is unfortunate enough to have earned your ire on that particular day. I have always enjoyed playing Summoner because of how powerful it makes you feel, and all these changes feed directly into making that even more prevalent. I am going to be playing much more of this job in the expansion, too.
I know that with Endwalker there is still so much more for me to see. Even with what I had available to me, I still wanted to try out so many other jobs and do so many other things. I still wanted to explore more of the grey, desolate ruins of Garlemald. I wanted to just vibe on that beach in Thavnair for a while longer and take in the amazing soundtrack some more, because man, that new Endwalker motif is so, so good and I can already feel it pulling on my emotions. But, sadly, there was just not enough time. Nevertheless, what I played was enough to get me exceedingly stoked for the adventure we are all going to go on together once Endwalker drops. Buckle up, fellow warriors of light, because we’ve got a god to kill and a story to wrap up, and I hope to see you there: for those we have lost and for those we can yet save.
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