Allow me to start this off with an apology. I’m sorry that I didn’t pick your favorite class as the best one ever. There, on to more important matters. I’ve been playing a lot of FFXIV lately, and unlike my first few years playing the game where I only played Dragoon, I’ve diversified quite a bit this time around. And in my ongoing quest to alienate just about everyone who follows me, I’ve decided to create a ranked list of all of the Final Fantasy XIV classes. The criteria are simple. Is it fun? Is it effective? Does it feel like its own job? Here we go!
18. Blue Mage
Yes, this feels like a bit of a cop out. Does FFXIV’s attempt at Blue Mage play like a Blue Mage of old? Kind of. You do learn abilities from enemies, kinda. You do customize yourself to suit the situation, kinda. And Blue Mage is a for realsies job in FFXIV, kinda. Being Square Enix’s first attempt at a so-called limited job, the class feels more like an afterthought than anything else. If you want to try something kinda cheesy, give it a go, but in general you can skip Blue Mage.
Woof, where to start with Astrologian. Obviously, power levels of classes rise and fall with the patch, so I’m trying not to use their strength as a big judge of where they rank. That said, Astrologian is not in a great place right now and that might be influencing my perception a bit. Astrologian was Square-Enix’s first attempt at introducing a new healer, and it probably explains why we haven’t gotten another one since. There’s only so many interesting ways to flavor “restore HP to allies.” The divination theme is nice, but it ends up just being a lot of prep work before each fight to accomplish the same thing White Mages do.
Summoner checks in at number 16 not because it’s weak. In fact, it’s one of the stronger DPS in the game right now. The problem with Summoner is what it always has been. It really doesn’t feel like a Summoner. Going all the way back to Final Fantasy III, Summoner (called Sages and Evokers back then) has had a pretty simple concept. Summon a big beefy dude to deal a bunch of damage to your opponents. Flavor wise, it’s technically not a big leap from Black Mage. Expend lots of MP to deal lots of damage. Early days Summoner in FFXIV was awful, and while adding in Bahamut has definitely helped with the feel, the class still feels more akin to a Beastmaster.
The first tank on our list is Paladin. I like that it can throw a heal every now and then with Clemency. I like the Shelltron ability, even though it always makes me feel like they just wasted the limit break for a moment. My problem with Paladin is that it feels dull, but to be fair, so does Paladin in most games. It’s a meat-shield that can do some light curing. And that’s what it is in XIV as well. Effective, what I expect, but not fun.
Just… what? Bard was the first true victim of the holy trinity. Bard has been a pure support class in just about every Final Fantasy game it appeared in. So what do you do with it in a game that requires all jobs to be Healers, DPS, or Tanks? Spoiler: You don’t make it a freakin DPS. When I think about playing a Bard, I don’t think about archery. I picture singing songs to inspire my team forward.
This might be some of my personal bias here, but I hate Warrior. I hated it in XI, and I hate it in XIV. It’s dull. It’s bland. And it’s all the minutiae of Paladin without being able to toss the occasional cure. They’ve had eras of being incredibly powerful with Fell Cleave, and in fact, there was a time when 6 Warriors and 2 healers was a pretty broken combination. Maybe I’ve still got bad memories of that era. Sorry Warrior, you’re a great class in the game, but #13 on my list.
So as we move out of the lower third, we’re now squarely in the classes that are acceptable. And when I think of Ninja, that’s what springs to mind. If you want to live out your Naruto fantasies, Ninja is the class you’re looking for. It’s a difficult job to learn, and you’re rewarded with good, but not great damage. They have decent utility, and can be fun to play. Overall though, I still rank them pretty low as far as the DPS classes go.
Monk is a job that SE understands in theory, but can never seem to get right. They certainly didn’t benefit from being the ‘star’ of Stormblood like Dragoon did from Heavensward. Monk has always felt a little off-balance, which is ironic given the theme of the job. The good thing Monk has going for it is when you’re playing it right, the constant flow of punches and kicks makes you feel powerful. There’s very little downtime in the class, and that feels good.
Scholar is fine.
My roommate is a Samurai main who described it as “the weeaboo fantasy for idiots who can’t figure out Ninja.” Now that said, Samurai is also the DPS power-trip fantasy. It lacks utility, but it has a simple rotation that puts big pretty numbers up on the screen. More importantly, it does feel like Samurai should feel. It’s straightforward, and it bonks. What more could you want from your DPS?
I think Machinist stands as Square-Enix’s best attempt at a pet class in Final Fantasy XIV. Let it be know that it wasn’t always that way. At launch, Machinist probably would have placed lower on the list. These days, the job has really begun to come into its own. Machinist was one of the first other DPS I tinkered around with, and I found myself really enjoying the rotation. It also benefits from me not having a lot of context for what a Machinist should be in the Final Fantasy universe. It gets to create its own path forward.
Coming off of Dancer’s strange hybrid support/DPS role in FFXI, I had no idea what to expect from Dancer. I was certainly not expecting what I got. I’ll be the first to tell you that after months of playing a DPS role, your rotation starts to become boring and repetitive. Dancer’s almost mini-game like gameplay prevents you from just memorizing the best chain of abilities and instead forces you to be reactive. It’s engaging, but also can get a bit annoying when you just want to get through your 8 millionth leveling roulette.
6. Dark Knight
Square-Enix’s first new attempt at a tank went a lot better than their first new attempt at a healer. And color me surprised. Coming from a Final Fantasy XI background, I certainly did not expect Dark Knight to be a tank. I also struggled with how they were going to accomplish the ‘spend HP to deal damage’ theming of Dark Knights. They settled on running a more high-risk, high-reward gameplay style. The bad news about Dark Knight is you’re king of the edgelords. The good news about Dark Knight is you’re king of the edgelords.
If you had told me in 2015 that Gunbreaker would be in the game eventually, I’d have called you a liar. I had no idea what to expect for how this class would play, but I love what I ended up getting. A tank that focuses less on buffs and more on chaining together DPS combos? Yes please. The class is only okay at level 60, but once you hit level 70 and get the Continuation ability, it really kicks into high gear. Fast paced and fun, Gunbreaker takes our first slot in the top 5.
4. Black Mage
When you think about Black Mage, you expect a magic based job that does big nukes and makes your opponents turn to dust. And by and large, that’s what you get with Black Mage in FFXIV. The system focuses on switching between Astral Fire and Umbral Ice, one which deals the damage, and one which helps you restore MP quickly with which to do more damage. The Enochian ability is simultaneously what makes the job fun and challenging, but also endlessly frustrating. Still, you’ll never be bored playing Black Mage.
Full disclosure, I’m a Dragoon main. I wouldn’t main the job if I didn’t think it deserved to be fairly high on this list. I had to long ago accept that Dragoon in XIV wasn’t going to be like Dragoon in XI. Gone is the pet class, and here is a Dragoon that draws inspiration from its FF4 and FF5 counterparts. Jumps and lance tactics are the flavor of the day, with tons of Off-Global-Cooldown abilities to weave into your rotation. It never stops moving and jumping across the battlefield, and has kept me entertained for years.
2. White Mage
Ahh yes, White Mage. So to be clear, this list assumes you can find fun in all three roles. If you detest healing, obviously this class would be worse than number 2 for you. However, there is no greater example of a class being exactly what you expect it to be. I want my White Mage to be a healer, who can’t do much damage and keeps my allies alive. And the White Mage delivers exactly that. The AoE stun with Holy is a welcome addition to any dungeon, and gives White Mage the edge over the other healers. Incidentally, I have no idea how they’ll make Apothecary work if that is indeed what happens next.
1. Red Mage
I said no class is more representative of what it should be than White Mage, and that might be true except for Red Mage. Square-Enix had their work cut out for them with Red Mage. It needs to DPS, but also heal, and use a sword. But it also has to fit into the holy trinity. Somehow, they managed to pull it off. Red Mage can nuke, it can heal, it can toss a raise, and then it also dives into the front line and melees with its sword as well. Red Mage is often defined as a jack of all trades, and Square-Enix managed to make that concept work even here. Congrats Red Mage, you take the number 1 slot.
And there you have it. All of the Final Fantasy XIV classes ranked. I’m sure you’ll have your own opinions, and I’m sure most people are going to absolutely hate this list. Which is fine! I invite you all to share your questions, comments, criticisms, critiques, qualms, queries, and conundrums with us over on Twitter.
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Lead Image courtesy of Square Enix