So the newest Live Letter has come and gone, and I’ve had some time to reformulate my thoughts on Stormblood. We’re around 2 weeks out now and I’m going to grab it regardless, but a lot more information has come to light, mostly around the battle system. Actually, oddly almost completely about the battle system. Coming into an expansion, I never would have considered this would be the trump card, but here we are. By no means is this a bad thing, mind. Reading over everything that got announced I still stand by my previous article; the lore doesn’t quite stand up the way I think it should and I’m still not hyped like I was for Heavensward, but I’m only one guy.
I will however, talk about the battle stuff. When Heavensward launched, many players bemoaned the changes (hating on something because it’s different? On the internet!? Say it ain’t so) to various jobs. Scholar got their Lustrate nerfed (no longer a 25% straight heal), Bards and the newborn Machinists became turrets at 50+, changing the way they both played drastically. This removed their mobility, giving them a selection of skills that could only be used in a specific stance that gave their skills cast times. There was a slew of other changes too (mostly complaints about people’s new skills/stances), but the changes weren’t absolutely massive. It’s different now.
Going into Stormblood, I’m actually not sure anyone will truly know how to play their jobs. It’s a brave new world, Aldous Huxley would be proud. Cross-class skills are now role specific, rather than pulled form two pre-set jobs; accessories are role specific; skills have been abolished in an effort to reduce skill bloat; huge changes to the ways healers do damage; skills have been completely reworked and this doesn’t even consider the new skills for levels 60-70. I can see a lot of the point to a lot of this: the Live Letter focussed on this stuff so people are at least partially informed pre-launch, a lot of the press coverage was around skills too, knowledge is power. It’s all to not completely overwhelm players with both new content and have no grounding on what they know now. It’s smart.
The changes themselves all work for the greater whole. It’s not perfect by far, but it’s a start. Bards and Machinists regain their movement, Scholars received a nerf to their currently fairly obscene AoE damage, Warriors somehow received what looks like a buff to their Fell Cleaves, causing them to give even less a shit about tanking to chase those sweet buffed deeps. White Mages, the poor things, got a buff on the whole, but they didn’t receive the utility nor the changes they really needed.
Let me touch on that briefly, as I have a feeling Yoshida-san’s vision for White Mage is that they stop using Medica 2 or Regen and actually do some active healing. Their new Lily mechanic decreases the cooldowns for other skills, which is great, but it’s based only on procs which happen when Cure 1 or 2 is cast, which, unless I am insanely mistaken, is what White Mages try and cast the least. Usually healing is managed passively or through burst cures such as Tetragrammaton or Benediction. Naturally, White Mage mains are pretty upset about this, but I actually have faith in Yoshida-san and the team to listen to community and tweak the issues, as they often do.
A fairly weird thing that is finally going away is primary attributes. Well, the ability to place specific points in them. It was an extremely rare thing where someone didn’t just dump all their points directly into their primary attribute, so it’s good to have that anchor lifted, even if it’s just a small thing. I know some Black Mages who might mourn the loss of Piety, thus giving them that extra Fire spell before they needed to switch, but the change of Parry to Tenacity, and this an attempt to make it an actual useful skill is a blessing. I hope it works, as Parry has been such a laughable substat since launch, and they’re finally taking a real attempt to fix it.
I think if there was a theme to Stormblood, besides revolution (obviously), it might be “Play jobs the way we want you to”. Tanks are getting penalties for stance dancing, healers have their stance dances removed completely, their damage changed to Mind-dependant and nerfs to AoE damage, bards get mobility back, black mages can move to and from their own Ley Lines. There’s very clearly a specific playstyle they’re wanting to encourage players to play as. On the flip side, I always look forward to see how players can bend and break these boundaries.
I said it before but it’s worth repeating. Come Stormblood, it’s a brave new world, and for a while, it’ll be one filled with epic adventurers who have no idea how to play their mains properly. If I was updating a Livejournal, my current mood would be “Cautiously Optimistic”.