At a recent preview event held for Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers, we got the opportunity to go hands-on with the next Ranged DPS job, the Dancer (and Gunbreaker too, if you’re interested).
There was a big controversy following the Dancer’s announcement at the Tokyo fan-fest back in late 2018. Many had assumed that because Stormblood added all DPS jobs, that Shadowbringers will balance things out by adding both a Tank and a Healer.
The reveal of Gunbreaker fueled that fire. Rumors pointed towards Dancer being added to the game, but many had assumed or hoped that it would be a healer class similar to what appeared in Final Fantasy XI. Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringer’s version of Dancer would end up being a Ranged DPS job instead, upsetting a lot of people.
There are so many DPS jobs; the fear that I had going into this preview was that it would feel very generic especially when stacked up against Final Fantasy XI’s creative take on the classic job.
Fortunately it looks like Dancer is shaping up to be something that will stand out even more than another healer. Dancer in a lot of ways feels like the game’s first support class.
Editor’s Note: This article is based on play of an in-development build of Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers, and content in the final version is subject to change.
It rolls elements familiar to those that played a true support in Final Fantasy XI, and even borrows some familiar skills from that game’s take on Dancer into a package that feels very distinct from anything else in Final Fantasy XIV.
When you’re first presented with the job in its level 60 form, it’s very overwhelming. I spent a huge chunk of my time playing both Dancer and Gunbreaker and unlike the latter, I never really felt like I could suss out an effective rotation for Dancer, and couldn’t tell if I was playing the job properly.
This is because Dancer is unlike other jobs in the game. Your rotation is a mix of handling your own DPS, and buffing the team and a designated “dance partner.” You’ll perform dance steps that will boost the effectiveness of your partner and sometimes the whole party.
While you’re dancing, your personal DPS is going to take a hit, but the idea is that the boosts you’ll be dishing out will more than make up for it. You’ll perform dance steps and conclude with what is called a “Finish.”
There is a Standard Finish which you can perform often when needed (when the original effect wears off), which will execute a high potency attack on your enemies and buff your partner’s damage by a certain amount dependent on the number of dance steps you made up to 5% for a minute. I couldn’t figure out why someone would want to do anything other than the max since the steps can be completed quite quickly.
There’s also a Technical Finish, which can’t be used as often, but will buff the whole party’s damage up to 5% depending on how many steps you do (double the amount of dance steps are needed for this one to hit the max).
In addition, whoever is your designated dancer partner can also benefit from instant cooldown-based abilities that are shared between you two.
For example Curing Waltz, which should sound familiar to FFXI fans, will toss them a 200 potency cure that is also shared with anyone nearby them. Saber Dance will throw them a 15% crit hit rate and 30% direct hit rate boost for 15 seconds.
Once again, I had a hard time figuring out the job’s flow. When and how to dance seemed simple enough, but there seems to be a lot of complexity with its DPS rotation when you’re not dancing. It seems similar to Red Mage, however, where there is a lot of “if you proc this, then do that” kind of gameplay.
Most skills have a 50% chance of granting you either a Fourfold Feather or unlocking a “Flourished” version of an action, which when it procs it will provide you enhanced version of another action or unlock another action all together.
I would chock up my initial confusion to just being overwhelmed with how different Dancer plays as compared to other jobs. Red Mage is probably the only thing that comes close as it shares Dancer’s versatility and its less rigid DPS rotation (adjusting to procs on the fly).
In an interview with Twinfinite, Yoshida-san compared Dancer to Red Mage in terms of difficulty. He felt that while at first people might find it a bit challenging, after some time the job should feel intuitive and fun to play.
On the other hand he believes Gunbreaker is easier to learn, but it has a lot of tricks that experienced players can take advantage of. Based on my time I can concur with both of those sentiments.
While some players may never get over the lack of a new healer of Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers and are sad that Dancer is a Ranged DPS, take solace in the fact that this isn’t just another DPS class thrown onto the pile.
Out of the two new jobs, Dancer definitely feels like the more unique experience. If you’re someone that has lamented the lack of true support jobs in Final Fantasy XIV, Dancer is probably the closest you’ll ever get to having that experience. It’s a versatile and fun job that rewards buffing the party before worrying about your own DPS.