This opinion piece was first posted at The Well-Red Mage.
“The following is a guest post by the Final Fourteenth Mage.”
FFXIV recently released a new class into their game with their 4.5 patch A Requiem for Heroes, which was a rather surprising announcement considering we weren’t expecting another class until the launch of the next expansion, Shadowbringers, this summer. After the announcement there was a lot of talk regarding the Blue Mage, as unlike the other classes the Blue Mage is restricted in the content that it can participate in.
One of the first obvious differences between Blue Mage and the other classes is that Blue Mage has a level cap of 50, something that we haven’t seen since A Realm Reborn. Current content consists of a level cap of 70 so there is quite a substantial difference. It seems that the Blue Mage level cap will be increased when Shadowbringers hits but it’s yet to be seen as to whether it will be increased to 80 with the other classes or continue to have a lower level cap.
The second difference is that Blue Mage isn’t designed for multiplayer. This is obviously a bit strange in an MMORPG built for such reason. A Blue Mage is unable to continue the main scenario, sell items, access the duty roulette or even unlock spells and abilities as it levels. Instead of unlocking spells during leveling, a Blue Mage has to find certain enemies that use attacks that he/she can learn themselves. For example a Blue Mage can learn Bristle from a Wild Boar so you would have to locate one and attack it until it uses the move and once defeated you have the chance to learn it. There is definitely an RNG element at play here.
As previously mentioned Blue Mages cannot access the duty roulette. They can however use party finder to form pre-made parties where you can run through dungeons unsynced, which means that you won’t gain any experience for doing so. This is a requirement though as some of the Blue Mage skills come from enemies that are in dungeons or raids. It’s clear that Blue Mage was created with the solo experience in mind, which makes sense in the grand scheme of things. As mentioned earlier the Blue Mage learns all of its attacks through enemy encounters and not as it levels. Therefore, it’s possible that if Blue Mage wasn’t restricted you could find yourself running a high level dungeon with a Blue Mage that hadn’t unlocked any spells, which would be rather disastrous.
It’s not all negative, though. Blue Mage brings a unique flavour to the game as it offers something different from the traditional classes. A Blue Mage can have twenty-four of these skills equipped at once which makes for a unique combat experience, and, lastly, they have access to a duty called The Masked Carnivale which puts players through their paces as it consists of twenty-five different stages where the Blue Mage will have to take advantage of a range of spells learned from enemies. So whilst you won’t be running Savage with your Blue Mage, there’s still content there to explore and it remains to be seen how it will be opened up further with Shadowbringers.
So now that I’ve explained the fundamentals of Blue Mage, it’s time to discuss how it actually works when you’re playing it. Before I begin, I will state that I recently moved from my old European server to a much bigger American server so the bigger population still surprises me. The Blue Mage quests are in Ul’dah with the monsters spread out among the A Real Reborn areas. Much of these have been empty for a long time due to the natural progression of players to higher level areas. I was amazed by how many people I saw when I went to accept the quest. It only increased when I went to obtain my first skills.
For the most part, it’s wonderful being surrounded by so many players. It really makes the world come to life. There’s just one little problem with this when it comes to Blue Mage that I discovered for myself quite early on when I was trying to learn Self Destruct from a Glide Bomb: people don’t understand the Blue Mage concept completely and when you have that issue and multiply it by easily over one hundred players in the one area trying to get the same skill from a few enemies that spawn there… it’s quite painful.
The thing with Blue Mage is that the enemy has to actually cast the spell before you have a chance of learning it. It’s not enough that the enemy knows it. If you don’t see it, nada. However, the likelihood of actually seeing the enemy use the move is rather minuscule when you have a group of people racing to kill the enemy. It can be rather frustrating when you’re not only battling RNG but you’re also battling other players. Admittedly after the first day or two I didn’t find this issue as prevalent but I couldn’t say for sure whether that’s due to people understanding the class better or the substantial drop in people farming the enemies in the locations that I was in.
Thanks to Blue Mage, I recently ran my first ever dungeon unsynced and it was definitely an experience. Like most people, I run dungeons for story progression and for the experience bonus from daily duty roulette. I’ve never ran one unsynced for gear. As a Blue Mage, I created a party in party finder to hopefully obtain the skill from the final boss in The Tam-Tara Deepcroft. It wasn’t long until I had a White Mage and two other Blue Mage’s join the party. It was quite amusing seeing the White Mage act as a tank but it meant that we finished the dungeon really fast. We beat the boss and none of the Blue Mage’s unlocked the spell. We did this three more times until the White Mage left and we found another Blue Mage. Four more runs where none of us unlocked the skill and another Blue Mage gave up. We eventually got it at the end of our eleventh run, which was really frustrating. RNG is all well and good but there’s a big difference between killing the same enemy ten times to running a dungeon ten times. It definitely felt like a chore after the first couple of times. It also didn’t feel natural playing through the dungeon as a Blue Mage. Maybe it’s the fact that my skills were still rather limited but it just felt like a mishmash of different skills as opposed to a proper rotation and skill set that I’m used to when I play both Dragoon and White Mage.
All in all, Blue Mage offers a unique yet rather repetitive experience plagued by RNG frustrations and its own limitations. It’s a solid concept and the foundation is there and once it is expanded further in Shadowbringers the class might become a solid addition. For now though it’s content that people will level to 50, complete the Blue Mage Spellbook and then never touch again as it’s not relevant thereafter.
The Final Fourteenth Mage has the weight of her backlog on her shoulders as she scours the internet searching for her next favourite game. You may know her as Priscilla Cullen and can read more of her musings at Cilla vs. Games.
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