Becuz of course I have been playing it all weekend! Or.. as much as I could anyway, since Friday was a work day that started in the Washington, DC area and finished with me back at home in Utah. Long day between work and the flight. Anyway… On Friday morning I was able to log in and unlock both Samurai and Red Mage, since they both unlock in Ul’dah quite close to each other. And when I was able to log in in the evening I began working on leveling Red Mage, becuz that was my plan from the get-go — level Red Mage to 60, then work the MSQ with the new job.
As you may have seen in other places, there were a lot of problems with instancing for the 1st couple of days, so even though I wasn’t being MSQ-gated by “Raubahn Ex” or “Pipin Savage” as people were calling them, I couldn’t do my level 52 Job Quest for Red Mage either. Which wasn’t a big deal, as it didn’t gate anything, but it was still an issue, so I felt everyone’s pain. Just maybe not to the same extent 😉
Still and all, on Saturday I got to level 58, then on Sunday I made it to 60 and began working on the MSQ, eventually making it to level 63 by the end of the day. And then yesterday I was sick — legit sick, not “sick so I can play more” though since it made it such that I was able to play all day, so the result was the same. My progress now is that I’ve completed the Ruby Sea zones, and the “south half” of Yanxia. Interestingly enough, doing the half-zone there is enough to unlock flying, but the north half of the zone has force fields and walls that you can’t fly over, so there’s still a big part of it that’s locked by the MSQ even with flight.
I’ve primarily focused on playing Red Mage, but I did do an itty bit as samurai as well in order to begin catching it up to 60 with the rest of my jobs. It wasn’t much, just 6 of the HW beast tribes and a few of the level 50-53 hunt mark logs from the Forgotten Knight. Even so that was worth almost half a level, and once I’ve got my Red Mage to 70, then I’ll probably use the daily leveling roulette for SAM instead of RDM, since the token reward is the same regardless, but RDM won’t need the xp anymore. That will take me to 60 on it, anyway. I don’t really have a plan on leveling any job to 70 after RDM, though I find I’m taking MNK/SAM and healer gear as the quest rewards, so I’ll have plenty of gear in my bags for those jobs/roles to use.
I’ve also played a little bit on my daughter’s summoner in order to get through the MSQ so as to be able to unlock Stormblood for her as well. I’ve got her past the Final Steps of Faith now. And I did Xelphatol too, but the next dungeon in the story is Baelsar’s Wall and I need i230 to go in, and she’s only at something like i221. Good thing poetics come quickly and I can use them to buy i260 gear anymore, right? But yeah, that will be a thing over the next bit as well.
Playing her character allowed me to see the summoner changes. I like that the aetherflow stacks don’t have a time limit/expire anymore, but I don’t like that you can’t use 3 charges, refresh to have 3 more stacks, then hit up Dreadwyrm Trance and use the 3 fresh charges while under its effect for the damage bonus. Contagion doesn’t add 15 seconds to dots anymore, just boosts their damage by 10% for the standard duration. Shadowflare is now instant cast, though still ground-targeted (unless you macro it with the t switch) and lasts for 20 seconds, with a 60 second cooldown. There are only 2 dots now, not 3, plus Miasma 2 and Blizzard 2 are gone, so it feels like the AE damage output has been reduced by a lot. But popping DWT refreshes the cooldown on Tri-disaster, so that’s nice, at least. Sustain has been removed, so the only pet heal we have is a directly targeted Physick, but it’s so rare that one needs to heal a pet, that I don’t think that’s actually a big deal. On the other hand, I’ve read that Titan-Egi is a lot squishier anymore, so maybe it is a big deal. I know I haven’t used him in a long time, though, preferring to simply go with Garuda-Egi at all times. I haven’t looked to see if/how Ifrit-Egi has changed, but I have been in a couple of groups with summoners and they’ve been pulling out Ifrit for trash, then swapping to Garuda for bosses, so I’ll have to check that out at some point.
And finally…. Red Mage! The playstyle for it is a bit reminiscent of the ARR Black Mage, which I loved, with the slight change of dashing in and doing a melee combo as a “finisher” of sorts, with a leap back out. It’s not quite as “turret-y” as BLM is/was, though, since there’s a class passive from level 1 called “dual cast” that makes the next spell cast after any “hard cast” into an instant cast, so you can cast every other spell on the run if you want/need. Plus the melee skills are weaponskills and as such can also be used while moving, so long as you’re in melee range. BLM was “fire fire fire ice ice thunder ice fire fire fire etc” so there was some swapping back and forth. In the case of BLM it was for mana regen, as fire used mana, but ice regenerated it (while doing less damage). For RDM you need to cast both your black and white magic spells, but try to keep the number balanced so that as you fill up your mana gauge you can then use the gauge to power up your melee skill. they do some damage on their own, but it’s not spectacular. Unless you have at least 80 points on your gauge of both black and white magic, then the damage done is really really good. Not due to the amount per se, but due to the fact that the 3-skill combo eats 80 points from the gauge, so for max damage, you need the 80.
The way it works is: Cast Jolt to begin. This gives 3 to both. Then pick one to cast next, either Veraero (white) or Verthunder (black). This gives 11. There’s a 50% chance that you will enable Verstone (if you cast Veraero) or Verfire (if you cast Verthunder). If it procs, then you can cast it and gain an additional 9 of the corresponding magic type. This also enables Dualcast and allows you to then cast the “other color” spell instantly. Which has the chance to proc the additional spell to boot. Or if the proc doesn’t fire, then you hit Jolt again. Unless you’re past level 66 and have Impact, in which case casting Jolt makes it so that you can cast Impact as your next starter if there are no “color” procs.
If you don’t balance the gauge and once side gets more than 30 points ahead of the other, then the lower side has a 50% reduction in gains until they’re back within 30 again. There’s no penalty to the spell itself, just that it will take longer before you have enough gauge filled to be able to use your melee skills, so there is a slight dps loss, but not a huge one.
So anyway, once you have 80 on both sides of the gauge, then you can hit your dash button that charges in, do the 3-skill melee combo, then it your “leap out” ability to get back to range. At 68 and 70 there are 2 more spell skills that you can then use (based on which color is still higher on the gauge, so yeah, you don’t want it “perfectly” balanced, just close…) that give a gauge boost and guarantee that Verstone or Verfire will proc for you.
You also have 2 instant cast, no-mana big hit spell abilities that are off the global cooldown. 1 is single-target on a 25 second cooldown, and 1 is AE on a 45 second cooldown. They’re free dps, so they should be hit on cooldown.
You also have a cure, a combat raise, a group dps boost that diminishes over its duration, and a skill that doubles your current gauge, so every couple of minutes you only need to build 40-49 on the gauge, then hit the double skill, and CHARGE!!!!
All in all it makes for engaging gameplay, but without too much complexity. And unlike the Heavensward Black Mage, you don’t feel like you’re ever fighting your class in order to play to the max. I am really enjoying the job, and am looking forward to finishing my leveling to 70 so I get my last 2 skills!
There’s a lot more, but….. This is already plenty long, so —
Happy gaming out there!