Your character is the freaking Warrior of Light – they’re a natural talent and can pick up any weapon they like with deadly proficiency. Swing a sword around, shoot some arrows, cast a few spells that heal, cast a few that harm. See what’s fun for YOU. Some people come into the game knowing exactly which Job they want to play. Maybe they loved that Job in a previous Final Fantasy title, or maybe they’re attached to a specific aesthetic that makes them feel cool or powerful.
A lot of people don’t start off with that connection, and that’s fine too. Part of the enjoyment of the game in my opinion is trying on different jobs and seeing what clicks and what doesn’t. I’m going to give a bit of an overview into the Classes you’re presented at the start, and try to help direct you towards a job that sounds like it might click with you based on role, playstyle, and aesthetic.
Which Race Should I Play As? What’s the Best Race/Class Combo?
Unlike some other MMOs, there is no practical difference in stats between the difference race options, making the choice of character race based primarily on aesthetics or role play purposes. Make a Roegadyn Ninja, make a Lalafell Warrior; there are no best or worst combinations so do whatever you like!
I’m Starting With Friends, What Classes Complement Each Other?
While the Main Scenario Quest (MSQ) does have a lot of solo duties you’ll have to do on your own, you and your friends will be able to enter dungeons and trials together regularly throughout the story. These instanced duties have a ‘Light Party’ makeup of 1 Tank, 1 Healer, and 2 DPS. So if you’re starting out with friends and you’re all new, try to pick Classes that are different Roles.
Of course, you can still have up to two DPS players together and that would be fine, since there’s room for two in a Light Party. You don’t need a full Light Party of 4 either; you’ll just queue up for the duty with what you have and the game will match you up with other players to fill any missing spots in your party.
If you want to interact with each other from the very first minute, pick classes that start in the same city. Otherwise, it’ll probably take somewhere around an hour or so before you get to the point in the story where you meet up. Shorter if you don’t read or watch the story, obviously.
Ul’dah – Gladiator/Paladin is a Tank, Thaumaturge/Black Mage is a Caster DPS, and Pugilist/Monk is a Melee DPS.
Gridania – Archer/Bard is a Ranged DPS, Lancer/Dragoon is a Melee DPS, and Conjurer/White Mage is a Healer
Limsa Lominsa – Marauder/Warrior is a Tank, and Arcanist is a DPS Class that leads to two Jobs: Summoner (DPS) and Scholar (Healer). You get two Jobs for the effort of levelling one there, since they both earn Arcanist experience.
There’s also Rogue/Ninja, which is a Melee DPS in Limsa Lominsa. You can’t choose it to start, but you can pick it up once you’ve completed your first level 10 Class Quest.
What’s the Difference Between a Class and a Job?
Classes only exist for combat below level 30, and then Jobs are basically upgrades of Classes. At level 30, each Class’ questline will give you an item to equip called a ‘Soul Crystal’. Players often refer to this as your ‘soulstone’ or ‘jobstone’, and it allows you to learn additional skills and continue with a questline for that Job.
For example, if you start the game as the Gladiator Class, follow your Class Quests and you’ll eventually become a Paladin, which is a Job. You still have all the same Gladiator skills you had before, you just now get to learn and use more skills, and continue on with quests about being a Paladin. You’ll want to do this as soon as you reach level 30, and there’s also an MSQ requirement, where you need to have completed the level 20 quest ‘Sylph Management‘.
There’s no reason to go back to being a Gladiator so don’t unequip your Soulstone. If you ever find it unequipped, it will be in your Armory Chest, below the rings slot. Just save your Gear Set with the Soulstone equipped and you’re good to go.
Some Jobs don’t have a base Class because they were released later in one of the game’s expansions, so they don’t have that introductory Class phase. Noncombat Jobs (Crafters and Gatherers) also do not have a Class to ‘upgrade’ from.
Can I Change Classes Later?
One of FFXIV’s big draws is the ability for you to play every Class and Job on a single character. After you complete your level 10 Class Quest on your first Class, you’ll be allowed to unlock new Classes and Jobs by taking on the appropriate entry quests, always marked with the blue sidequest marker.
At the beginning of the game, these will all be named things like ‘So, you want to be a [Class]?’, so they’re easy to spot on the three starting city maps. You can change as early as level 10, but if the city is different from where you started, you may just have to wait until level 15, when the MSQ takes you to all of them, and you can attune and teleport to their Aetherytes whenever you like.
Expansion Jobs don’t follow that quest naming convention, but they’re still blue sidequests. They do have other prerequisites though.
The Heavensward Jobs Dark Knight (Tank), Astrologian (Healer), and Machinist (Ranged DPS) require you to have access to Ishgard, because that’s where their quests are. You’ll need to have started the Heavensward expansion content to unlock them.
The Stormblood Jobs Samurai (Melee DPS) and Red Mage (Caster DPS) require you to own the Stormblood expansion and also have a level 50 job, but their unlock quests are in Ul’dah so you can get them without meeting a specific MSQ requirement.
The Shadowbringers Jobs Gunbreaker (Tank) and Dancer (Ranged DPS) require you to own the Shadowbringers expansion and also have a level 60 job, and their unlock quests are in Gridania and Limsa Lominsa, respectively. Again, no specific MSQ requirement.
Which Job is Strongest at Endgame?
I strongly suggest not to worry about endgame meta when picking your first Job. The balance in FFXIV is really good, and you can clear any content in the game using any Job. The difference between a ‘good’ Job and a ‘bad’ Job is nowhere near as important as the difference between a skilled player and an unskilled player.
For that reason, I recommend first finding a Job you have fun with and enjoy playing, since that’s the one you’re more likely to stick with and put in the time to get really comfortable and proficient with it.
If you’re worried about finding space in an endgame party, Tanks and Healers are usually less common, so they tend to be more sought after. For DPS, the most common thing endgame parties will try to avoid is having ‘doubles’: two players on the same Job.
So, if you are turned away from a party in the Party Finder, it’ll most likely be because they already have your slot filled. In these cases, playing a ‘meta’ Job might actually give you slightly fewer opportunities to raid, if it’s strong and popular.
Many endgame players only raid on one Job, but many also have different Jobs geared up and ready to go for flexibility, either in the same role or different ones.
Which Role Should I Play?
FFXIV uses the ‘holy trinity’ of roles: Tank, Healer, and DPS. If you’re starting the game together with other new players, it’s advantageous to spread out your roles. Most duties have specific party compositions that need to be met if you’re filling any of your party spots using the duty finder.
A dungeon for example will usually have 1 Tank, 1 Healer, and 2 DPS players. Once you get to level 50 you’ll start to see other types of duties. Most trials and raids will have 2 Tanks, 2 Healers, and 4 DPS players. Alliance Raids will have 1 Tank, 2 Healers, and 5 DPS.
If you’re worried about your solo play experience, don’t be. The developers have made it so you can play through the Main Scenario Quest as any job in the game just fine. The solo duty monsters are adjusted based on what you’re playing, so a Healer can still deal enough damage and a DPS won’t get killed in one hit.
Aside from each job’s individual pacing and skills, looking at an entire role first gives you a general idea of what you’re paying more attention to during combat.
Tanks will have higher focus than others’ on enemy positioning, enemy reinforcements, and cast bars (specifically tankbusters or raidwides).
Healers will have higher focus than others’ on the party’s HP, debuffs and enemy cast bars (again looking for tankbusters or raidwides).
DPS will have most of their focus on their own combat rotation and positioning.
No matter which role you choose to start out with, I highly recommend completing the Hall of the Novice at level 15 in order to get a sense of your responsibilities, and earn a strong and stylish set of gear that will get you through your first few dungeons. The Hall of the Novice can be accessed from the Smith NPC in each of the three starting cities, at the Adventurers’ Guild, which is always right next to the Inn.
The Tank’s responsibilities include holding the attention of enemies in combat (also called ‘enmity’, ‘aggro’, or ‘hate’), and staying alive by mitigating incoming damage. You’ll hold enmity simply by turning on your Tank Stance and dealing damage. Other than that, you perform a rotation of your Weaponskills to deal as much damage as possible.
In dungeons, your focus is on ‘pulling’ groups of enemies, effectively balancing how quickly you make progress with how safely you can stay alive. You do this by managing your defensive cooldowns so that your incoming damage doesn’t spike so high that the Healer can’t keep you up. You’ll maintain aggro of everything so that nothing starts attacking your Healer or DPS, pulling things off them if they do, and herding the enemies together so that everyone can use their AoE attacks to maximize damage.
In boss fights, you’ll hold the boss’ attention, positioning it appropriately for the mechanics that are happening, which is different fight to fight. You’ll (usually) pick up aggro on ‘adds’ if they spawn, so they don’t attack your squishier teammates. You’ll keep an eye on the boss’ cast bar and mitigate damage for yourself or the party as needed. If the fight has two Tanks, one usually handles the adds, but there may be other mechanics depending on the fight, including a ‘Tank swap’ where one Tank takes over responsibility for holding the boss.
Many players are scared to start the game off on a Tank, believing that they’re expected to lead the party through the dungeon, and that they’ll face criticism for being inexperienced. In reality, this is a much smaller roadblock than you might think.
Here’s the secret: communicate with your party. A simple “Hi, first time tanking this” will pre-emptively dispel most teammates’ frustrations if you do end up making a mistake. If you don’t know how to navigate the dungeon, just say so and follow the lead of someone who does know where to go next. Admittedly, some of the dungeons below level 50 can have confusing layouts, but once you get past those, everything that comes after is pretty much just a single linear path that you follow through the dungeon.
Tanks tend to have the fastest queue times, since they have the ‘Adventurer in Need’ role most often in Roulettes involving Dungeons, Trials, and Normal Raids.
The Healer’s responsibility is to keep everyone alive. Aside from that, they’ll attack and help kill the enemies as fast as possible. They have the simplest damage-dealing tools out of all roles, which lets players focus on other responsibilities, though it can still be a bit boring.
In dungeons, your focus is on keeping pace with the Tank and making sure they stay alive, as they’ll be taking the majority of the damage, sometimes very quickly. It’s important to manage your healing tools so you can keep the Tank alive in tough situations, or back to back pulls of dungeon enemies.
In boss fights, the focus is on performing mechanics correctly, anticipating or reacting to cast bars and incoming damage, and quickly raising players to get them back in the fight and dealing damage.
Admittedly, Healers often get the blame if something goes wrong, even if it was someone else’s fault. This can be frustrating and intimidating, especially for new players, so prepare yourself mentally if you’re planning to learn the game in this role. Most of the playerbase is pleasant and patient with new players, but you will inevitably run into people with bad attitudes at some point.
Healers tend to have fast queue times rivalling Tanks’, and may be spotted as the ‘Adventurer in Need’ role sometimes in pretty much any Roulette.
The majority of combat jobs are DPS, making this the most common role. In general, this role carries the lowest individual responsibility in the group. Or perhaps a better way of phrasing that is: it’s the role where mistakes and poor play will be the least obvious.
There is no in-game damage parser, and the developers have no intentions of adding one, so it’s harder to detect when a party member is not contributing their ‘share’ of the damage output unless you’re watching closely or using a third-party damage parser. This can give new players some relief, since they will rarely single-handedly cause a party to wipe if they mess up.
On the flip side, this can also make it hard for a new player to improve at their Job, since they have very little feedback or indication from the game that they could be improving in one area or another. It’s not uncommon for someone to get to max level before even taking their first hard look at a Job’s full toolkit and how it fits together to be its best.
DPS usually have the slowest queue times, and rarely see an ‘Adventurer in Need’ bonus in Roulettes other than Alliance Raids.
There are lots of DPS Jobs to choose from, and they’re split up into three subcategories: Melee, Ranged, and Caster. They all have the same general objective though – kill the bad things. Here’s a brief rundown of the important differences:
Melee (Monk, Dragoon, Ninja, Samurai)
These Jobs use instant attacks with no cast times (but they may still have skills with a small animation lock). They have free movement but must be in melee range to hit the target with their abilities and autoattacks.
They all have ‘positional’ skills that require you to hit the target from a certain direction (rear or flank) for increased damage.
They each have a gap closer, small self-sustain tools, and can debuff an enemy’s physical attacks. Monk and Samurai share gearsets aside from weapons. Dragoon has its own gearset and shares accessories with Monk/Samurai. Ninja has its own gearset and shares accessories with Ranged DPS.
Ranged (Bard, Machinist, Dancer)
These Jobs also have instant attacks with no cast times, so they have free movement, but are also not restricted to melee range.
They each have a party damage mitigation skill, an interrupt ability for special enemy attacks, and an out-of-combat party movement speed buff. They have access to the same gearsets as each other aside from weapons.
Caster (Black Mage, Summoner, Red Mage)
These Jobs have cast times for many of their attacks which prevents completely free movement, and they mostly attack from a distance.
They all have access to a debuff to the enemy’s magical attacks. They have access to the same gearsets as each other aside from weapons.
The Starting Classes – Playstyles and Aesthetics
I’ll give a brief summary of the playstyle of each of the beginning Classes. Assuming you’re playing the Free Trial, you’ll be able to get to level 60, but past that you will need to have purchased the base game and expansions, or the complete edition. Most of the Jobs feel slow and boring at lower levels (<50), so I’ll try to offer my opinion on how the Job feels in a higher level single-target scenario, and touch on how it handles low level dungeon settings.
I’m going to be using a few acronyms in the upcoming descriptions, so here’s a very short glossary:
AoE – Area of Effect. A skill that affects multiple targets in an area. Could be a damaging skill, or mitigation, or healing. Both players and enemies can have AoEs.
DoT – Damage over Time. A skill that applies a ‘bleed’ type effect to one or more targets.
CPM – Casts per Minute. A metric used to evaluate how frequently actions are pressed by a particular Job, and can indicate how busy a Job feels.
GCD – Global Cooldown. A Weaponskill (Disciples of War) or Spell (Disciples of Magic), which shares a cooldown timer with others. Keep that GCD timer rolling!
oGCD – off Global Cooldown. An ability that has a cooldown independent of the GCD. These are ‘weaved’ in between GCDs while the GCD timer is on cooldown.
Gladiator (GLA) / Paladin (PLD)
Paladins are often recommended as a new Tank’s first Job, because they’re simple (though all Jobs are simple at the start) and the shield gives some built-in mitigation. The shield has a chance to block attacks, reducing damage a little. It’s not guaranteed, but it adds up to passive mitigation that makes up for the heals or shields that other Tanks gain in their basic rotations.
The offensive rotation is fairly rigid, cycling between periods of physical damage and magical damage and keeping a relatively consistent damage output. It’s got a 1-2-3 combo that restores MP for its magic phase, and has an alternate combo finisher to apply a DoT to the enemy. The magic phase can be used to attack from a range, and gives it a nice bit of flavour the other Tanks don’t have.
Defensively, Paladin’s niche that makes it stand out from other Tanks is how well it protects other party members. It’s got the most tools to assist the party’s survivability, which can feel really fun and heroic to use if things start to go south in a fight.
In a dungeon setting, Paladins are super straightforward, with a two part point-blank AoE combo and (much) later, AoE magic. Aside from that, not much changes as you level.
In a raid boss setting, Paladins have low-mid CPM, and the longest ‘invulnerability’ cooldown (7 minutes), Hallowed Ground, but that’s because it’s the most effective: For 10 seconds you just don’t receive any damage at all. It’s the only Tank that can sometimes keep reasonable uptime outside of melee range, thanks to the magical phase of their rotation. They have two single-target mitigation skills, a party-wide shield, AoE party mitigation, and a GCD heal (for emergencies! Until proven otherwise, please trust your Healer).
Marauder (MRD) / Warrior (WAR)
Warriors are known for having the simplest rotation among the Tanks, and a burst style of damage output. They have a 1-2-3 combo with a passive heal, as well as an alternate combo finisher to refresh a damage buff, and their focus will mostly be on managing their Beast Gauge. There’s a bit of flexibility in spending this resource, so optimizers can wait for party buff windows to eke out those extra bits of damage.
The offensive rotation for Warriors is often criticized as being boring, since it’s pretty much just a single combo chain over and over with few oGCDS, and a 10 second burst window every 90 seconds. This gives it more time to think about and weave defensive cooldowns. Managing the Beast Gauge is also pretty easy as long as you can do simple math (e.g. “I have X amount, I’m about to add 20 then subtract 50, will I have 20 left?”)
Defensively, all Tanks are similar for much of the levelling process, having nearly identical mitigation tools. Towards endgame the Warrior’s niche is self-healing, able to take a beating and then rapidly recover from low HP, especially in dungeons and during its iconic Inner Release burst window where you spam Fell Cleave or Decimate, depending on the number of enemies.
In a dungeon setting, Warriors are the only Tank Job that have a conal AoE in their rotation (everyone else using exclusively point-blank AoEs). Some people enjoy this and some people find it annoying. It can make targeting a group of enemies a tiny bit more complicated, but for the most part I don’t find it to be that big a difference. Personally I find Warrior to feel worse when synced down to low levels, as you lose the oomph of your iconic level 70 burst.
In a raid boss setting, Warriors have low-mid CPM, and have the shortest cooldown (4 minutes) on their ‘invulnerability’ skill, Holmgang, which prevents them from falling below 1HP for 8 seconds, and is most convenient in a coordinated group. They also assist with a party shield and their single-target mitigation + healing skill.
Conjurer (CNJ) / White Mage (WHM)
White Mage is a classic Healer, wielding very strong GCD heals and regen effects, but feeling a little slow and relatively immobile until later levels when you get a few more opportunities to cast instant Spells. You’ll get a lot of practice slidecasting if you’re a White Mage main.
Offensively, you’ll have a flat damage Spell, a DoT Spell, and later, a point-blank AoE Spell with a stun. Much later on, you’ll get one damaging oGCD and another occasional ‘nuke’ Spell that charges up based on spending Lily heals from your Healing Gauge. White Mages only have personal damage tools, and do not buff other players’ damage.
In their Healer toolkit, White Mage has tons of strong GCD heals and regens, boosted or supplemented by a few oGCD heals, healing buffs, and a single shield. They certainly feel like a strong and powerful healer when they’re able to recover the whole party from very low HP.
In a dungeon setting, White Mage is strong and capable at keeping a Tank alive, but can feel boring as you don’t get oGCD healing tools for a long time (50+). They do get a fun (and blinding) AoE at level 45, Holy, which damages and stuns enemies. The lack of instant heals at lower levels means you’ll want to keep a very close eye on the Tank’s HP bar, but it’s a good Job for beginners to learn the Healer role.
In a raid boss setting, White Mages have low CPM, and make use of highly efficient, potent heals to keep the party healthy. By endgame they still have very few mitigation tools, which are a single-target shield and one party-wide mitigation skill on a long cooldown. Throughout most of the game they will have few instant cast Spells and will sometimes be forced to clip their casts in order to move around.
Scholars have a lot in contrast with White Mages, leaning more on oGCDs for healing, which have varying cooldowns and should be dispensed as needed. This translates to them reaching for a wide variety of skills throughout a fight, and rewards planning. Their many shield effects are also more effective if the user can look ahead and be ready for what an enemy will throw at them.
Offensively, Scholar is more mobile than White Mage, with an instant cast Spell (Ruin II) they can use when they need to move or weave oGCDs. The Spell with a cast time deals more damage, but it’s nice to be able to move around without bringing your casts to a complete standstill. They also have a DoT, and a point-blank AoE. At higher levels, they gain Chain Strategem, a party damage buff ability on a 2 minute cooldown.
In their Healer toolkit, Scholar has plenty of shields and mitigation skills, and a number of oGCD heals to use. The GCDs are a little weak at bringing a party back to full health, since they have shield effects instead of regen, but that also means they can sometimes be used to proactively protect people from damage that would otherwise kill them. Scholar rewards players who have good knowledge of a fight, and are able to plan efficient uses for their many healing tools.
In a dungeon setting, Scholars have a pretty easy time at low levels. The fairy does a lot of the heavy lifting in keeping the Tank alive, and the Scholar can sometimes find themself playing similarly to a low level Summoner, placing a DoT and spamming their damage Spell. They diverge towards the end of the base game, as the Scholar gets more healing tools to play with, notably the oGCD Lustrate at level 45, and the AoE Art of War at level 46.
In a raid boss setting, Scholars have low-mid CPM, and are valued for their party damage buff and their strong shields, which can often prevent deaths in fresh endgame content when damage is high compared to health totals.
Pugilist (PGL) / Monk (MNK)
Monks have a faster GCD than other Melee Jobs, and an unusual combo system. They shift between three fighting ‘forms’ (stances) with each Weaponskill, which enable and empower their attacks with buffs. They also have positionals on almost all Weaponskills.
They have comparatively few oGCDs to weave, but the faster GCD and the focus on positionals keep the Job feeling busy over most of the fight. Learning it, you may feel like a failure by hesitating or overthinking your next GCD, but once you get the rotation into muscle memory, it should feel smooth and powerful, as you methodically wear down the enemy with an onslaught of fast and strong attacks.
In a dungeon setting, Monks get AoE tools starting at level 26, and deal steady AoE damage before they hit 50.
In a raid boss setting, Monks are mid-high CPM, move around frequently to hit their positionals, and have a buff window for the party’s physical damage dealers. Knowing a fight’s timeline will help Monks make important optimizations around their ‘downtime’ when the boss is invulnerable or out of Melee range.
Monks also have slightly increased movement speed, and share most of their equipment with the Samurai Job. They’re also the only Melee Job that lacks a ranged Weaponskill.
Lancer (LNC) / Dragoon (DRG)
Compared to the other Melee Jobs, Dragoons have a slower, more rigid GCD rotation, and more oGCDs to weave in between them. They have two combo chains that they alternate between, and have party buffs and damaging jumps, dives, and thrusts to weave in as well.
The combo chains grow as you level up, reaching two sequences of 5 Weaponskills, though some skills appear in both chains. including 3 positionals. You’ll weave in jumps and dives which will charge up your Dragon Gauge, allowing you to unleash more powerful damaging oGCDs for a short time. This helps fulfill the class fantasy of unlocking and wielding strong attacks through your battle prowess.
Jumps can get you in trouble sometimes, as they cause a brief animation lock that prevents you from moving. You may die from an unfortunately timed jump as a damaging AoE appears beneath your feet, and it’s why people are used to seeing Dragoons ‘tank the floor’. Remembering a fight’s mechanics and timings will help you make small adjustments to your jumps, and are key to honing your skill as a Dragoon.
In a dungeon setting, Dragoons don’t gain AoE skills until level 40, but many of their higher level Weaponskills and oGCD thrusts deal AoE damage in a line in front of them, and a couple of jumps are AoEs as well.
In a raid boss setting, Dragoons are on the low-mid CPM side. They contribute to party buff windows, and must be careful of their jumps’ animation locks not getting them killed learning new mechanics.
Dragoons have several jumps which work like damaging dashes, and one backflip that can be used inside or outside of combat.
Rogue (ROG) / Ninja (NIN)
While not technically available as your very first Class, you can still choose to be a Rogue as early as level 10, before you even enter your first dungeon, so I’m counting this one as a beginning Class.
As a Melee Job, Ninja follows a standard 1-2-3 combo throughout the entire levelling process, with a flexible combo finisher to refresh a haste buff as needed. Once you gain your Jobstone, you’ll sometimes interrupt your Weaponskill rotation in order to perform elemental Ninjutsu in a window of high burst damage. The Ninja will use this window (with the skill Trick Attack) to make a target vulnerable, increasing the party’s damage dealt for the duration.
Ninjustu are activated by combining 1-3 Mudra in specific orders, and there are 6 patterns that are important to learn and memorize. The Mudras are also on a slightly faster GCD, so you’ll bounce between the two Weaponskill and Ninjustu GCD speeds frequently. In contrast to the rigid GCD pattern of the Dragoon, Ninjas have a bit more flexibility in the order of their GCDs due to their haste buff refresh and their Ninjutsu charges.
Just like the other Melee Jobs, Ninjas make use of flank and rear positionals to deal their highest potential damage. Their 3 positionals are on the two combo finishers and the vulnerability skill.
In a dungeon setting, Ninjas gain AoE tools starting at level 35, and their late game toolkit uses pointblank Weaponskills and Ninjustu for high burst AoE.
In a raid boss setting, Ninjas have the overall highest CPM, with a busy window of about 15 seconds every minute, during which the whole party deals increased damage. The rest of the rotation can feel relaxed or boring in comparison. They do have one skill (Assassinate) with a brief animation lock, but flexible timing, so be careful of that.
Ninjas also have slightly increased movement speed, reduced fall damage, and a non-damaging dash that can be used in or out of combat. At higher levels they share some of their equipment (accessories) with Ranged DPS.
Archer (ARC) / Bard (BRD)
Bard is the only Ranged Job available right from the start of the game, and in my opinion is a little easier for a beginner to learn because they don’t have to think about the cast times of Caster DPS, or the positional requirements like Melee DPS. It’s also a supportive Job, increasing the damage dealt by party members.
The Bard’s rotation is pretty basic, because it’s a little more reactive rather than memorizing a sequence like Dragoon or Black Mage. There are a couple of DoTs to apply, and then you fill the time with one regular GCD attack, which may trigger a second, stronger GCD attack to use. You’ll also weave several damaging oGCDs when they’re available, so the Job still feels busy and even a little chaotic.
The songs you play split the Bard’s playstyle into three phases: During The Wanderer’s Minuet, you’ll gain charges over time that you spend in a single, powerful oGCD. During Mage’s Ballad, your regular oGCD attack will be available more frequently to fire off, and during Army’s Paeon, your GCD speed will slowly ramp up, allowing you to attack faster.
In a dungeon setting, Bards probably have the best early AoE, at level 18. This allows them to outpace most other DPS, and they’re also able to easily attack while running through the dungeon, which not every Job is capable of.
In a raid boss setting, Bards have high CPM, and buff the party’s damage output with their songs, at the cost of having slightly lower personal damage themselves.
Like all Ranged DPS, Bards can increase the party’s movement speed outside of combat using the role skill Peloton. They also have a fun side mechanic in the game where they can Perform, using various instruments to play notes and make music.
Thaumaturge (THM) / Black Mage (BLM)
Black Mage is sometimes referred to as being a ‘turret’ style DPS because of how badly they want to stay right where they are and just cast Spells. They’re not completely immobile though, and later levels will allow for a few more instant cast Spells and even a couple of movement tools to teleport you around.
The rotation is simple compared to many other DPS Jobs, and revolves around filling your MP with a phase of ice Spells, then emptying it with powerful fire Spells, all while keeping up a DoT effect with thunder Spells. The Job serves the classic fantasy of being a powerful spellcaster, and the whole aesthetic and animations are great if you love the idea of channelling energy into big explosive attacks.
In a dungeon setting, Black Mages get AoE tools very early on, and even in the first dungeon are able to push out more damage than some other Jobs that are limited to single-target rotations. However, the Black Mage rotation changes as you level up, so you will have to adjust several times throughout the process, and syncing down to lower levels can be frustrating as a result.
In a raid boss setting, Black Mages have low CPM, and much of their optimization comes from carefully planning positioning and movement, to maximize the time spent casting Spells. It can be a struggle to constantly move around while learning a fight, but Black Mages do have high damage potential.
Arcanist (ACN) / Summoner (SMN)
Summoner is a way more mobile Caster compared to the Black Mage. You’ll still have cast times on some of your high damage Spells, but Spells to command Pets are instant, and you can make smart use of these to allow you to frequently double weave important oGCD abilities.
I find the Job to be aesthetically pleasing with its animations, and it feels powerful to frequently command your pets to execute high damage attacks. It feels fairly consistent in terms of how busy it is throughout a fight, perhaps somewhere in between Monk and Ninja. While a lot of stuff is frontloaded, its downtime windows still seem small because of how frequently you gain and spend Aetherflow.
In a dungeon setting, Summoners have a bit of a slow start, focusing on DoTs, but they have some very satisfying AoE damage once they finish their level 45 Job Quest and can summon Garuda-Egi. They’re able to spread DoTs with Bane, and command the Pet to use powerful wind attacks on groups of enemies.
In a raid boss setting, Summoners have low-mid CPM, and one of the more complex rotations with a lot of different button presses and double weaving. The idea is to keep your DoTs up and use your Pet’s attacks to create opportunity for movement or weaving when needed. You also have an occasional party damage buff.
Summoners are one of the rare DPS Jobs that can Resurrect other players, making them an asset when teammates slip up – kind of an extra layer of security.
I hope you gained a better sense of the different starting Classes from this write-up; There are lots of different playstyles and aesthetics to choose from, so hopefully you find one that sits well with you. Of course, many of the Jobs will feel a little dull at low levels, and you may need to give it a bit of time to ramp up to its full potential. This is an RPG after all.
If you’re really not feeling your first pick, don’t be afraid to try something else. Like I said earlier, one of the things I find enjoyable about FFXIV is being able to try out all the different Jobs without needing to create a new character. Experimenting with different combat Jobs keeps the game fun and fresh, and I’ve discovered Jobs I never knew I would like, even after playing the game for years.
Have you ever switched your Job up for a change of pace? Do you think some of these starting Classes are better for beginners over others? Let me know in the comments.