Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker Melee DPS Impressions

The role that now has the most occupants, Melee has become one crowded category for players. Some of the most-rewarding and thought-provoking jobs out there, having to determine how much can be greeded, and ones that will consistently flame their tanks for making them lose a positional, melee jobs are receiving fantastic quality-of-life improvements. That’s not all as Monk once more is getting a rework, one that should breathe new life into fast-paced class. If you came here expecting impressions on the highly-anticipated Reaper, those thoughts can be found in another article dedicated to the new jobs.

It should be stated what we got to play was an in-development build of Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, and content in the final version is subjected to change. That means we’ll be trying to avoid talking too much about potency numbers. With that said, there are some adjustments that are so great that we can’t just help bring them up.

Monk


One of the first melee in the MMO, Monk has gone through many changes over the last year. It saw a sizable rework in 2020, and in 2021 we’re seeing yet another revamping. Just when we thought we could understand the job, Square Enix has thrown a wrench in our plans.

Outside of Summoner, this is probably the most reworked job in Endwalker; comparing its attack potencies and general rotation is hard because so much has been modified. Granted, the standard rotation isn’t too different, but the new Masterful Blitz changes everything. Tornado Kick and Elixir Field are both gone and instead placed within this new attack. How it works is that, depending on the rotation while in Perfect Balance — which only grants three formless attacks — Monk will obtain certain seals, or rather Beast Chakra Types. If only one type of Chakra is active, Elixir Field is available for use. Two Chakra will unlock Celestial Revolution. Three Chakra is Flint Strike (or Rising Phoenix at 86). And finally Three Chakra and Both Lunar Nadi and Solar Nadi (unlocked through the other Masterful Blitz attacks) is Tornado Kick – or Phantom Rush at level 90. As you can imagine, the more Beast Chakra, the stronger the attack. It’s kind of complicated or at least difficult to put into words. It’s something that will modify the rotation immensely and keep players on their toes.

Outside of Masterful Blitz, Steel Peak and Howling Fist both make their long-awaited return; now all we need is One Ilm Punch to make its triumphed comeback. But Steel Peak is just a way to use The Forbidden Chakra prior to obtaining it at level 54, and same with Howling Fist into Enlightenment. We also get an upgraded Arm of the Destroyer at level 82 with a guaranteed critical hit. Keeping with the Stormblood throwbacks, Riddle of Wind makes a return, but is different from what it once was. Instead of being a stunning gap closer, it will reduce auto-attack delay by 50% for fifteen seconds. Speaking of gap closers, the three charged Thunderclap replaces Shoulder Tackle, but instead of damaging the boss, it essentially instant transmissions to the boss or ally, something that’s quick and satisfying. Finally, Brotherhood has changed slightly, with the cooldown actually increasing by 30 seconds, but the trade off is that there’s guaranteed chakra regeneration from personal attacks.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Monk’s rework. On one hand, the reduction of clutter on the hotbar is pleasing, but Masterful Blitz is a complicated system compared to the standard OGCD skills. It’s something players will figure out how to properly optimize, but going in fresh, I had to throw out everything I knew about Perfect Balance.

Dragoon


The other melee that was in the original A Realm Reborn’s roster, Dragoon isn’t seeing much difference from what we’ve come to expect and maybe that’s a good thing. The biggest change is to Blood of the Dragon. This has been something that has been with Dragoon since Heavensward, allowing the player to not only boost their jumps, but unlock various stages in the rotation. There was a bit of work maintaining the state prior to level 78, but currently it can be refreshed indefinitely without much worry. In Endwalker, they’re getting rid of all that completely, making it a persistent component. This means that Life of the Dragon will be the only state that will have any sort of timer. I’m not entirely sure I like this change only because it wasn’t particularly difficult maintaining this state, and a little fun trying to time the gauge’s downtime in 60 and 70 content, but I suppose this is the natural evolution of the skill. On that note, because of this change, Life of the Dragon will be limited to 20 seconds in Stormblood content.

To replace Blood of the Dragon, and to compliment Life of the Dragon, we have a brand new Firstminds gauge. This unlocks at max level and introduces two new slots in which the player can obtain Focus. A single focus is rewarded every time Raiden Thrust is used (or the new AOE equivalent). This means the only requisite is the completion of a single rotation, which has been made infinitely easier considering the positional requirement for Raiden Thrust has been removed. After collecting two of these, the brand new attack “Wyrmwind Thrust” becomes available, which deals line damage a little stronger than Nastrond, and combines both the blue and red Dragons into a visually-pleasing attack.

Outside of this, we’re given more powerful versions of Full Thrust and Chaos Thrust, alongside Doom Spike’s replacement: Draconian Fury, the Raiden’s Thrust of AOE. What’s surprising is that completing either the single target or multi-target rotations will proc both Draconian Fury and Raiden’s Thrust, allowing for a smoother transition between the two. Speaking of which, similar to Warrior, the AOE combo will unlock the 10% damage buff, specifically via Sonic Thrust, meaning running through dungeons will no longer force it upon the player to manually refresh it through starting a single target rotation. The flow of combat will be consistent.

Despite having a lot to say about Dragoon, not a whole lot has actually changed. The rotation will be the same, just with upgraded abilities and one positional to worry less about. The change to make Blood of the Dragon a passive ability will alleviate some of the pressure of keeping it up, although there was fun to be had maintaining it in certain content. There are other things, such as Sharper Fang and Claw and Enhanced Wheeling Thrust having much longer 30 second procs, Spineshatter Dive and Life Surge getting a second charge, and Battle Litany running on a 120 second cooldown with a slight 5 second decrease in duration. But otherwise, those who liked Dragoon will continue to like Dragoon, and this probably won’t change the minds of those who didn’t like Dragoon before.

 

Ninja


One of the most popular melee jobs in end game content, Ninja sees a decent number of quality-of-life improvements while maintaining most of its identity. The only skill that was removed was Shadow Fang, a dot that was as simple as a single GCD generally pressed while in Trick Attack. In addition, Meisui will leave a 30 second buff that will increase Bhavacakra’s potency by 100m something that will only increase your attention and more cautious with Ninki going into every other Trick Attack.

Similar to jobs such as Black Mage and Dragoon, it’s made significantly easier to manage the time-specific gauge (Huton). Ninja has received a new level 60 ability that specifically increases Huton’s gauge to max and even deals damage in the process, although I wish this skill was actually lower in the level requirement. Because we already have Armor Crush at this level, this is more of an emergency tool to ensure Huton can be refreshed without wasting a Ninjutsu, or if one isn’t readily available. It isn’t something used in an opener, but may be good if Huton falls off during a lengthy transition. As well, Huton’s max gauge has been decreased from 70 seconds to 60 seconds to match the unified 1 and 2 minute long cooldowns. Outside of this, Assassinate has changed where, not only is it obtained at level 40, but it no longer requires Dream Within a Dream to proc it. In fact, at level 56, Assassinate turns into Dream Within a Dream and becomes a far more manageable OGCD, especially considering there’s no animation lock. Now only if Dragoon had something similar at lower levels.

The two new skills obtained in the later levels fit well into Ninja’s arsenal. The first being a new attack while in Bunshin where the shadow will unleash a devastating attack with, like every new attack in Endwalker, splash damage. Finally, we have Forked Raiju, a two-hit follow up whenever Raiton is used. This is helpful for instances when having to disengage a boss, and instead of using Shukuchi to get back into the fray, Forked Raiju will act in its place as an overly-powerful gap closer, which is followed up by yet another lighting-themed attack.

Ninja has always been a desired job in party compositions, and the changes and additions in Endwalker only make it more appealing. Not a whole lot has been redone, and that’s exactly what we could have hoped for, just minor annoyances being touched up. Forked Raiju is the most significant inclusion and fits perfectly with the job, both aesthetically and mechanically. Similar to Dragoon, though, it’s a matter of if you already enjoy the job because if not, this won’t change your mind.

 

Samurai


As someone who mained Samurai all through Shadowbringers’ Savage content, I was excited to see what Square Enix was doing with my job. Unfortunately, as it turns out, it’s small. Not a whole lot has changed for Samurai outside of a couple big attacks and adjustments to buff requirements.

There’s still three Mediation stacks to collect which can unleash a more powerful Shoha, and now an AOE version can be called upon. Speaking of which, the level 82 skill is the long-awaited follow up to Fuga that will grant the Setsu Sen normally reserved for the single target combo (Yukikaze). It has even been counterbalanced so it does more damage with this combo instead of the other two; this is because they’re now able to generate the damage and skill speed boosts normally normally reserved for Jinpu and Shifu. Both Tsubame-gaeshi and Meikyo Shisui come with two stacks, which should lead to fun opener optimizations, and finally, Third Eye will reward well timed uses with 10 Kenki, which is a fantastic quality-of-life improvement, but in its place, Hissatsu: Seigan (and Merciful Eyes, that no one uses to begin with) has been completely removed.

Ikishoten plays a significantly larger role in Endwalker, not only refreshing 50 Kenki as it did in the past, but procing the new skill “Ogi Namikiri.” This is a strike that does a staggering amount of damage with a 75% falloff to surrounding enemies. Upon use, it changes to Kaeshi: Namikiri, which allows for an even more powerful follow-up attack. So this is essentially an AOE Midare and Tsubame that can be used whenever Ikishoten is activated. Unfortunately, the cost of this may be a little much. Ikishoten has always been a vital asset to any Samurai’s rotation, readily available every 60 seconds. Because it now triggers Ogi Namikiri, that cooldown has been increased to 120 seconds. That means Samurai will be getting 50 Kenki far less frequently. We’ll have to see how this works out with Kenki management as it’s already tight in current content, but considering it generates two immensely powerful attacks that are free of restrictions, it could very well work out in its favor.

I’m still not sold on what Square Enix is doing with Samurai. It’s not a job in need of a rework or revamp to begin with, but the cooldown increase to Ikishoten is concerning, along with even more casts. I can put up with one cast bar on melee, but a second one is not something I would ever want. On top of that, Samurai already has a crazy number of actions on its hotbar, so adding three more doesn’t instill confidence. At the very least the new Ogi Namikiri is a welcome addition that gives Samurai even more heavy hitting strikes at little cost — we have essentially four Midares! I hope players enjoy the sound of a sword unsheathing in a fast and high pitch fashion as they’ll be hearing it far more often.