Ahead of the release of Final Fantasy XIV’s expansion Heavensward, I’ve been levelling some of the other classes that I either haven’t touched or had only levelled a little bit. Today I reached level 50 on my fourth battle class: Warrior. (My previous 50s were Black Mage, White Mage and Paladin, in that order; I now play Paladin more than anything.)
Warrior is one of the two tank jobs in the game — i.e. their job is to maintain the attention of enemies and get punched in the face so the rest of the party doesn’t get punched in the face. Having gained a lot of experience with how Paladin does things, I have to admit I was somewhat skeptical about how different Warrior could possibly be. After all, their reason for existing is the same, and it’s not like damage-dealing classes where you can make a distinction between ranged and melee characters; a tank is, by its very nature, a melee class.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how different it feels, though. This is down to several factors, both mechanical and aesthetic.
On the mechanics front, Warrior initially appears to be a more complex class to play. Whereas Paladin only really has two main “combos” of abilities to worry about — one for single-target threat generation, one for maintaining your stock of MP so you can keep aggro on larger groups — Warrior has several more, each of which has its own function. There’s a basic aggro-generating combo that is the backbone of your single-target tanking, but there are also two combos that branch off the damage-increasing “Maim” skill, one of which reduces the enemy’s damage output, another of which reduces their resistance to a particular kind of damage while increasing the healing you receive. Alongside this, fighting as a Warrior in your tank stance builds up stacks of “Wrath” which, when they reach five, can be expended for one of several special abilities.
So, to put things simply, there are more buttons to press as Warrior — or, more accurately, more different combinations of buttons to press according to the situation. Paladin is mostly about managing your defensive abilities to mitigate as much damage as possible; there’s still an element of this with Warrior, but it’s a much more aggressive, active class with self-heals and attacks that inflict various status effects.
Aesthetically is the other big different. Although most classes in Final Fantasy XIV work off a 2.5 second global cooldown (i.e. 2.5 seconds has to elapse before you can use another ability) and consequently play at the same “pace”, Warrior and Paladin feel worlds apart due to their animations and sound effects. Paladin’s sounds are higher in pitch, the animations more fluid; Warrior’s animations look more cumbersome and make lower-pitched, heavy-sounding impacts. The reason for this big difference is the difference in weapons, of course — Paladins use a one-handed sword and shield, while warriors use axes as big as themselves — but it’s surprising quite how pronounced the contrast is between the two classes, even though the basic “pace” of how they play is very similar.
Having got Warrior to 50, I’m not sure if I’ll do much more with it, but I’m glad I’ve experimented with it and now have the flexibility to use it in endgame content when I want to. Overall I prefer the faster-feeling fluidity of Paladin, plus I know that class a lot better and thus feel more confident using it in difficult fights, but I’m not going to rule out a bit more axeplay in the future!
What’s next? Probably Bard, which I’ve already got to level 40; while a ranged DPS like my Black Mage, Bard plays very differently owing to the fact you don’t have to stand still to use abilities and don’t have as much of a set skill rotation as Black Mage does. After that it’s on to the classes I haven’t used much or at all before: Monk, Dragoon, Ninja and Arcanist (which becomes both Scholar and Summoner).