Uh-oh, I Already Hate What Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail Is Doing To This Job

Uh-oh, I Already Hate What Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail Is Doing To This Job

Dawntrail, the next expansion for Final Fantasy XIV, is just around the corner with a July 2 release date. Ahead of its launch, Square Enix pulled the curtain back on the job changes players can expect to see during the developer’s latest live letter, which included our first in-depth look at the new Viper and Pictomancer jobs. But it was the changes to the Astrologian job that caught my eye and, folks, it isn’t looking good.

Let’s first unpack how Astrologian currently works in Final Fantasy 14. Centered around a cosmic tarot aesthetic, Astrologian is a healer role (one of four in the game) whose kit focuses heavily on drawing cards from a deck to perform actions. Each card has a particular buff that only activates when applied to a party member of a specific role. The randomness of card draws and the requirements for playing them gives Astrologian a particular sense of improvisation as it keeps players on their toes. You can’t just hit a regular rotation of skills if the game randomly gives you your next action. Compared to other healer roles, which can feel stagnant and a bit “set it and forget it”, Astrologian lets me get more involved as a player.

At least that was the case—once Dawntrail releases all that will change. “The card system will no longer be random,” reads the official change as shown during the live letter, “and will instead simultaneously draw cards with offensive, defensive, and curative effects.” In addition, players will now be able to draw four cards within a 60-second window that they can play depending on the given situation (players can currently draw one card every 30 seconds). Each card pulled will have curative, damage, or buffing abilities. The big issue, at least in this Astrologian’s opinion, is that these changes take away the best part of the job—the randomness.

Image: Square Enix

For a while, there has been a slow, but steady, shift with many of FF14’s jobs towards making them simpler. Healers have faced the brunt of this shift, so much so that the community has identified it as a major problem. It isn’t an issue of whether FF14 is too hard or should be more friendly to newcomers— it’s very good at onboarding new adventurers, but it’s a question of job complexity. For healers, that complexity has felt lacking due to how relatively simple average healer gameplay is, which is often reduced to spamming attacks with one or two buttons and healing off the global cooldown with skills as needed. For new players, that simplicity can be helpful for learning the other many systems of the MMORPG but after hundreds of hours, it becomes boring.

Astrologian’s randomness has been a cure for healer boredom. While other healers have a fairly defined rotation, Astrologian has a built-in unpredictability that makes it exciting. For my first three expansions I played as a White Mage, but changed to Astrologian when I needed a job that gave me more to do in moment-to-moment combat. Making split-second decisions based on whatever the deck provides while in encounters makes healing a much more interesting affair and a much-needed alternative to other healing jobs. Taking that away feels like a major loss.

Although it wasn’t an entirely unexpected one. Ahead of Dawntrail players knew that Astrologian would be getting a rework, but were worried that it would be oversimplified, like the Summoner changes of Endwalker that sought to reduce the fabled two-minute rotation of the job into something easier to pick up. And honestly, it feels like our worries were valid with this erasure of card randomness. It’s part of a larger conversation about job simplification that even director Naoki Yoshida has said may have gone too far in recent updates.

This doesn’t have to be an either-or situation though. That’s why we have multiple jobs, for multiple styles of play. There should be some jobs that allow for a more complex rotation for players who want that. This is why the coming changes to Astrologian feel like a loss.

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