Ragar thinks Heavensward could use even more new job options
Hello and welcome to the 31st edition of the Eorzea Examiner, ZAM’s column on Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. For our first column of 2015, we’re going to try our hands at designing another job for FFXIV. Usually when we do one of these columns, I dig through the various classes from previous Final Fantasy games to try and find a good match for the game, whether because it fills a needed role in the game or simply because it would be a good fit for the game. This time we’re going to go off into uncharted territory. Last week’s announcement of the Astrologian at the Tokyo Fan Festival has shown us that SE is willing to create new jobs in addition to new primals, so that opens all sorts of doors for us to play class designer.
So Many Cloth Healers – Let’s Add Some Variety
So far three new jobs have been announced for Heavensward: Astrologian for healers, Dark Knight for tanks and Machinist for physical ranged DPS. Adding those into the currently available jobs, we’ve got three tanks (Paladin/Warrior/Dark Knight), three healers (White Mage/Scholar/Astrologian), three melee DPS (Monk/Dragoon/Ninja), two physical ranged DPS (Bard/Machinist) and two caster ranged DPS (Black Mage/Summoner). With the addition of those three new jobs, the three roles are fairly balanced in terms of options, so we don’t have any gaps to fill there. Instead, let’s see if we can find a place to add some variety.
We already tried to come up with a ranged, non-plate wearing tank job in another column with the Magitek Knight idea: a pistol-wielding tank who shields himself through magic. That leaves us with DPS and healer to work with. While there’s certainly room for more DPS options in FFXIV, let’s see what we can do for another healer job – just like the tanking jobs, more options for healers means more opportunities to pull in new players, which cuts down on Duty Finder queue times.
If we look at the current healer offerings (White Mage and Scholar) and what little we know so far about the new Astrologian job, they do have their own playstyles and niches, but they have the same similarity issues as the plate-wearing tanks. Both White Mage and Scholar are cloth-wearing healing classes, refilling their party’s health bars from the back because their armor doesn’t provide much in the way of protection. While we do not know what the Astrologian job brings to the table, they appear to fall in the same category as the other healers – cloth armor and a weapon that isn’t meant to be used in close-quarters combat.
So what kind of healer can we make that doesn’t wear cloth armor? What archetype would not only be willing to mend their allies’ wounds, but also do so from within the midst of melee combat? There is one obvious answer that pops to mind, but there’s one problem – Paladin is already in FFXIV as one of the tanking roles, and while they may indeed have access to some healing from their ties to the Conjurer class, it’s far from a strong suit. The image of a Paladin is really perfect for what we’re trying to make here. They can mend the wounds of those they protect and they typically do so from within melee with spells like Lay on Hands. Other MMOs have also made use of the Paladin archetype for an armored healer, so it’s not unprecedented. We just need another name for this tankier healing job, so how about Holy Templar? The name has a strong presence, conveys what the job is focused on and their role in the world, and gives us an easy connection to the new lore.
During the early Heavensward announcements, SE named the fourth city-state players will be visiting, the Holy See of Ishgard. While we may not have any real details on this city-state’s lore, we can gather from the name that there will be some manner of religious orders within their borders. Likewise, with the Dragonsong War as one of the primary plotlines mentioned in this same early Heavensward info, these religious orders will need to be prepared for war. That means front line warriors to tank the enemy forces, ranged and melee forces to whittle down their numbers, and healers to mend the wounded on their side. The Astrologian is likely Ishgard’s current addition to the healer ranks, but a more heavily armored healer like our Holy Templar would be just as natural of a fit. In fact if the Dragonsong War is tied to the airships we’ll also be getting in Heavensward, it stands to reason that there may be ship-to-ship battles in the skies; for such close-quarters combat, a better protected healer would be a perfect match.
New Jobs Require More Than Different Clothes
Now that we’ve got a name for our new armored healer and some basis for a lore explanation, it’s time to find a niche for them. First thing’s first, they’ll need a unique weapon for the Armory System to work with. An iconic Paladin/Templar typically has a mace or sword as their primary weapon, either a two-handed model or a one-handed version paired with a shield or libram/book in their offhand. We can’t really use librams since the Scholar’s weapon is a Grimoire, so those are out. Shields are plentiful though, including those for healers. That just leaves the weapon itself.
Since swords are already covered by the Paladin and Dark Knights, the next best match for our Templar would be maces and warhammers. These weapons certainly fit with the imagery of a holy warrior and we can have both one-handed maces to pair with shields and two-handed warhammers to give our Templar gearing options like the White Mage with their wands and canes.
Our new healer’s going to need a bit more than just heavier clothes and a big hammer to stand out from the White Mage, Scholar and Astrologist though. How do we make a class like this stand out? The White Mage brings some elements of the holy into their job, but at its core it’s still tied to the Conjurer with a heavy emphasis on the elements. In addition, the Conjurer must rely on spellcasting to defend themselves rather than melee. Our Templar will have their entire focus on holy powers and they’ll have some tricks to defend themselves with besides spellcasting.
The Healing Powers of a Mace to the Face
Let’s start with the important part of our new healing class: the powers that help the party/raid. As a healer, the Templar must have some form of single-target healing spell, an AoE heal, a resurrection power, and a debuff cleanse – these are basic tools every healer must provide. Beyond that, we must find our Templar’s niche. The White Mage is built as a straight healing machine with defensive cooldowns to protect the group during periods of high burst. The Scholar may have slightly less pure healing/defensive powers than the White Mage, but they can provide damage absorption to preemptively prevent damage as well as offer the various damage spells and pet abilities the Arcanist base class offers. Astrologian is a complete mystery other than their spells being tied to cards, so we cannot ponder how they fit into the grand scheme of healers.
Our Templar’s ability to jump into the melee fray gives us our opening for our healing niche. That mace/warhammer we gave them isn’t meant to reside solely in the rear with the cloth-wearing characters. Sure they’ll be instances where it’s better to stand back with the other healers due to one fight mechanic or another, but in general we should be able to capitalize on the durability from the heavier armor. Our Templar could smite his foes with various holy strikes, dealing damage to the enemies and either healing or shielding his nearby allies. These could be either supplemental heals to give the Templar a little DPS while healing for those periods of lower group damage or a boss burn phase.
Alternatively, we could go even further with these healing strike abilities. A healing strike could be included that costs TP instead of MP, but has low HPS throughput. Something like this would give the Templar a way to continue healing while regenerating mana, in addition to contributing some amount of DPS towards the boss kill.
If we really wanted to mix things up, we could give the Templar a way to heal while DPSing similar to World of Warcraft’s Mistweaver Monk and their Stance of the Spirited Crane. In the case of the “fistweaver”, they heal their group members by dealing damage to the enemy; after placing a statue within range of those players they’re healing, all of your melee attacks heal nearby group members for 50% of the damage done. Barring extreme circumstances like specific boss mechanics, this stance is going to be less healing throughput than the regular healing stance, but Mistweavers use it not only to contribute DPS, but also because it allows them to conserve and/or regenerate mana during periods of light raid damage. When the heat turns on and the tank or raid start dropping low, they can flip to their normal healing stance and act like a normal healer.
This mechanic isn’t unheard of within FFXIV; Cleric Stance for White Mages and Scholars allows them to boost their damage spells at the expense of their healing potential. All the Templar would need is a stance or some other toggle ability that caused their melee DPS strikes from soloing to perform a smart heal on a nearby wounded ally. We could even combine this with the earlier idea of healing strikes that use TP rather than MP. The Templar’s melee strikes could normally cost MP and have no healing effect (purely for soloing), but under the effects of this healing stance, they would cost TP instead and add the smart heal. For the sake of balance, we may need to make this stance a cooldown with a duration rather than a simple toggle just to keep the Templar’s longevity in line with the other healers, but this would be a nice way to give a healing class an active means of regenerating MP while also contributing heals and DPS.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with the idea of a cloth-wearing healing class. The idea of someone healing the group from the back is an iconic part of RPGs and it certainly adds to the feel of tanking to have this more vulnerable character that you need to protect because they’re keeping you alive. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t look at alternatives. Just like there can be tanks without heavy armor, we can have healers wearing plate. Different character concepts and jobs appeal to different people – that’s part of why expansion packs keep bringing new options for players to try.
That’s it for this edition of the Eorzea Examiner. What do you think of the Templar idea we’ve thrown out here? Do you like the idea of a healer with heavier armor or do you think being more fragile is part of the experience? Do you have a better idea for how to accomplish our idea for a heartier healer job? Is there another character job concept you think FFXIV should look into adding with Heavensward or future expansions? Tell us in the comments below. If you've got any requests for column topics, add those as well – we’ve been doing this column for a year now and I’d love to involve the readers more. Until next time, see you in Eorzea.
Michael “Ragar” Branham