Massive changes are coming to Final Fantasy 14 with the upcoming Shadowbringers expansion, especially in terms of the way you fight the MMO's many monsters. Today in a new Letter from the Producer Live, Final Fantasy 14 director and executive producer Naoki Yoshida detailed a whole host of changes coming to the game. All told, they represent significant changes in how FF 14 is played. Following a period with some audio issues which didn't get resolved for most of the stream, the team dived into how Shadowbringers will differ from previous expansions.
Your FATE is Changing
First up, FATEs will be changing. These are world events in specific regions that can be tackled by random groups of players, with any player in the region automatically joining the FATE. These were one easy way to gain experience while leveling, but with Shadowbringers, FATEs will no longer offer experience. Instead, FATE completion will give players tokens that can be used in various shops around the world. The number of available items will increase as you complete the FATEs, giving you access to new rewards. These will be tied into regional lore of The First, the alternate reality that players are traveling to in Shadowbringers. Currently, these changes will apply to FATEs in the Shadowbringers regions only.
Shadowbringers will also see a number of changes to quests. Sidequests in Shadowbringers will be level synced, with enemies scaled to player level. All patch 5.0 side quests can be done at level 70, which is the starting level for Shadowbringers. The FF 14 team intends for players to use sidequests to level alternate jobs outside of their main job. There are also new Role Quests, which will see players retracing the adventures of The First's fallen heroes. The specific roles for each quest are Physical DPS, Magical DPS, Tank, and Healer, and you will need to complete at least one to finish the Shadowbringers main scenario. Don't worry about these replacing specific Job quests though, as those will be returning for Shadowbringers. Square Enix has put significant "effort and development cost" to implement these quests and they're closely tied into the story.
If you're heavy into crafting and gathering, don't despair as there's new stuff for you too. Disciples of the Land and Hand will be getting new quests, consolidated into five different disciplines. These quests will be focused within the new Crystarium hub city on The First, in a new place called the Crystalline Mean where that worlds crafting artisans gather.
Know Your Role in Combat
In terms of combat, there's the new Charged Action System. This allows you to stack actions for later use, which is a huge change to abilities. The Charged Actions system only applies to certain abilities; players can charge these abilities, using saved charges all at once if they so desire. They showed the Dancer's En Avant ability, which charges forward a short distance. Upon use, a charge is consumed, and once the recast timer for that ability is done, another charge is created. Under the new system, DPS won't be wasting certain attacks in their attack rotation if they have to move out of an enemy's attack region. Charges are gained even outside of combat.
Casting interruptions have been redesigned as well. The FF 14 team is adding new actions built specifically to interrupt enemy attacks. Tanks and ranged DPS will have interrupts as their Role Actions. Role Actions like Provoke, Protect, and Invigorate will be removed in their current form and manually assigned by the game. New role actions will be obtained upon reaching specific levels and the total number of role actions has been pared down. Tactical Points (TP) are going away completely, merged into the Magic Points (MP) bar. MP will also be capped at 10,000, no matter which level you're at. Since MP is now capped, the Piety stat, which used to raise your max MP, will now raise your MP regeneration in combat.
The difficulty in gearing up will be changed for specific Roles, resulting in an overhaul of the Materia system. Square Enix noted that it was hard for tanks to gear up, hence the change. Accessories will offer Strength and Vitality for tanks, and Vitality for everyone else. Main attribute Materia-which gives bonuses to Strength, Dexterity, Vitality, Intelligence, or Mind-will no longer be obtainable or meldable, and materia melded to existing gear will no longer be effective if it boosts a main attribute. Yoshida noted that they're not making that materia weaker, just adjusting how it boosts the player. Weekly token gear and Savage difficulty drops will have two materia slots from now on, making them stronger and more desirable.
Pet-using jobs like Summoner are getting drastically reworked, as pets will no longer be affected by enemy actions or player actions. Pet actions will be moved from the pet hotbar and moved into player actions, like all your other spells and abilities. Tank pets like the Titan or Topaz Carbuncle will be redesigned to work under the new system, since they can no longer be targeted by enemies.
It's The Small Details That Matter
In terms of miscellaneous changes, battle system calculations will be reworked. Chain bonuses are being removed from dungeons to standardize experience gain, though players won't be losing experience because overall EXP gain has been boosted. The damage cap is also increasing from 999,999 to 9,999,999, to account for future damage inflation. "We know that by the next expansion, we will have to redenominate these numbers," Yoshida admitted, noting that some sort of stat squish will happen "in the next few years."
Party bonuses and the limit gauge increase rate will be adjusted. Barrier HP will also appear in a new UI element, to make it easier to see how much Barrier your party members have. And there's also a new triangle icon near the health bar, which shows if party members are below full health. Target information has been updated, tracking below health 1 percent, into 0.x percent level.
Finally, the user interface is also getting a new Light Skin theme, if you're a weird deviant who doesn't like the existing Dark theme. You can switch between the two themes in the System Configuration menu, but you'll have to log out and log back in to actually change over. Cross-world linkshells will be expanded to eight channels, instead of a single channel. And housing aficionados rejoice, for there's now a placement preview for home furnishings!
Changing the Jobs
In the second part of the stream, Square Enix detailed the various changes coming to specific jobs. For Shadowbringers, the FF 14 team is trying to address the issue of certain jobs being essential to party composition. There was also some thought put forth about reducing the synergy between certain jobs; there still some synergy, but Square Enix wants the meta game to not be as strict as it currently is. To this end, debuffs reducing slashing, blunt, and piercing resistances are being removed completely. Job action values are being reworked with the change, and certain actions will be removed entirely as a result.
Yoshida began with all of the changes happening to the four Tank role jobs. Many of these changes involve bringing the tank jobs closer together, letting all four perform as either the main tank or offtank. All four will have a personal defense buff, a party defense buff, and an ability that will support the main tank as an offtank. Yoshida said the tanks will still vary, so you shouldn't worry about them all becoming exactly the same.
Offensive stances will be removed for tanks, with players toggling tank stances on and off when they need to. The tank stances will no longer change damage dealt and received, or increase your maximum health pool; they'll only increase enmity generation for that tank. All enmity-generating combos will be removed from the tanks' rotations as a result, meaning tank attack rotations won't change whether their stance is on or off. To handle the loss of damage reduction and health increase, there's a new Tank Mastery trait, which gives bonuses in those areas based on attributes.
In terms of specific changes and removals. Sword Oath is gone for Paladins as it was their offensive stance, and Riot Blade has changed to allow for no casting time. Rage of Halone, which increased enmity, will be swapped out with something else more powerful. A brief video with all of the jobs showed that Paladin also gets a gap closer charge skill. For Warriors, there will be a new action that will be stronger than Fel Cleave's potency, making Warrior the most powerful of the four jobs in terms of damage. Dark Knight loses Dark Arts, gaining further defense buffs compared to the other jobs and the ability to draw out their Inner Soul. The new Gunbreaker job works by accumulating charges with certain actions, and then spending them for buffs and improved damage. They have different bullet cartridges that affect how your combos work overall, and a regeneration action called Aurora.
Same Jobs, New Actions
Much to the sadness of some players, Healers are being rebalanced to focus directly on healing. Given that shift in design, the Protect job action is gone completely. Square Enix will be adding new action to reduce the gaps between the different types of healers.
White Mage, which relied on a number of strong castable healing abilities, will get instant cast White Lilies that accumulate during combat. And for those White Mages worrying about the lack of chance to do any damage, there's a new Black Lily that will occasionally proc for that purpose. Scholars are hit hard due to the aforementioned change in pets, so they're be adjusted to have more direct heals. In regards to their two fairies, you can pick whichever one you like the look of better now, and there's a new mega-fairy called Seraph that can be summoned. Astrologians will see their card system revamped, so every card provides a damage increase. Draw and Play skills have a separate recast timer, allowing more flexibility in combat. Astros still have two stances, and at higher levels they'll get an ability to allow them to access the other stance temporarily.
For the DPS roles, Yoshida put all of them in two groups: Jobs that are mostly the same, and those jobs with more drastic changes. Every DPS job will have some sort of area-of-effect attack that can be put into their rotation, and all of them have shifted so that filling their job gauge is always positive.
In the first category are Monk, Dragoon, Ninja, Samurai, Black Mage, and Red Mage. Monks previously topped out at three stacks of Greased Lightning, because the team was worried about the disparity between low- and high-level Monk players. With Shadowbringers, this will be increasing to four stacks, and Monks will have a new action that allows them to maintain Greased Lightning stacks. Dragoon's jumps have been made much, much faster, and the execution of Mirage Dive has been adjusted to be more accessible.
The Samurai, introduced in Stormblood, is largely the same, though performing Midare Setsugekka with Hagakure is easier. With the change involving Tank roles and enmity, all of the Ninja's enmity mitigation actions are gone. New high skill actions have been added, and there's a sweet new bunshin (shadow clone) effect. Black Mages have access to a new action called Umbral Soul, which lets them maintain their Umbral Ice stacks outside of combat. Mana Shift is gone though. Red Mages also have actions that will allow them to gain white and black mana while moving.
All-New, All-Different Jobs
That brings us to the second group: Machinist, Summoner, and Bard are all getting big changes. Yoshida admits that Machinist is "pretty much a brand new job." Machinists now have Heat and Battery gauges, with the latter building to the point that you can summon a robot to fight alongside you. Otherwise, the job now uses more technological-based weapons, like a flamethrower, giant drill, or missiles. Gauss Barrel is gone though. Summoners are directly touched by the pet changes, but now they can swap pets freely and the new summon happens instantly. You'll no longer have to worry about Aetherflow stacks before heading into battle. Bard songs that used to raise the party's critical hit rate have been removed, due to the change in party synergy design. Repertoire procs on damage-over-time actions have been adjusted. At higher levels, Bards also get a "Soul Voice" gauge to access more powerful actions.
Finally, the team addressed Dancer, the second new job for Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers. Dancer has a new system where they can choose a partner within their party to buff. Choosing your dance partner is one action, and then you can start using Dancer actions called Steps. The Standard Step action begins a chain and then you choose between different steps afterwards. Once you finish a series of steps, you gain a buff that also applies to your partner. Your partner can help you too! Every time your chosen dance partner lands a successful weapon skill, it fills your Espirit gauge. When it's at 50, you gain access to more powerful dances. The Dancer's attacks are either close-range area-of-effect attacks, or single-target attacks with a much further range.
That's only some of the things changing in Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers, as Square Enix promised more information in the future. Some of that information will come from a press and influencer embargo, while there will also be another Letter from the Producer Live on June 14 at 3pm PT/6pm ET. Players who want to get a taste of Shadowbringers a little early can download the benchmark tool this evening! It'll be available at 7pm PT/10pm ET. Shadowbringers is coming on July 2, 2019 to PC, Mac, and PlayStation 4.