We’re almost two months into Final Fantasy XIV’s phenomenal Shadowbringers expansion, and the super-tough Savage raids are in full swing. Alongside a raft of top-drawer story content and two new jobs, Shadowbringers has introduced a vast number of improvements to existing jobs, making many of them more effective, user-friendly, and fun to play.
Many roles have seen small tweaks to potency and skill speed, and a couple have undergone a more substantial rework, while a few of them feel like they need additional rebalancing. With that in mind, let’s rank all the main DPS classes in Final Fantasy XIV 5.0 from worst to best based on how fun they are to play, as well as their damage-dealing potential and party utility.
While the other classes have been nicely streamlined in 5.0, the Monk still feels needlessly complex. Rather than a simple 1-2-3 combo, the Monk uses a range of skills that can be chained together in several different orders. Furthermore, to get the most out of its DPS, certain skills need to be executed from the target’s rear and others from the side.
Memorizing all these combos and directional requirements while keeping the Monk’s damage buff and damage-over-time debuff active is a real headache. It may have a high damage output and some decent utility, but Monk has always been a little dull, and it simply isn’t much fun to play in its current state.
Despite its relatively low damage, Ninja was the golden child of the 4.0 meta thanks to Trick Attack and its defense-denting capability. However, for the skill to be effective, it needs to be used properly, which tends to elude many players. In addition, Mudra techniques require several fast inputs that are all too easy to mess up in the heat of battle.
Thankfully, in a recent live letter, the developers announced there are some adjustments coming to Ninja in a forthcoming patch. Exactly what these changes are, remains to be seen, but we know they will affect the way the Trick Attack and Mudra skills work.
Something is up with the Samurai. Previously, it was the melee equivalent of the Black Mage, the so-called “selfish DPS.” Samurai has zero utility, but with so much damage-dealing potential, nobody really minds. As of Shadowbringers, Samurai feels strangely weak.
Some of the new finishing moves are welcome additions, particularly against single targets, and filling the Kenki gauge is easier now. However, the new Shoha skill ties in with the Meditation mechanic, making it difficult to implement, even under the best battle conditions. We haven’t yet heard of any changes coming to Samurai, but it seems it could benefit from a potency boost.
7 Red Mage
Red Mage has been a fun class ever since it launched with the Stormblood expansion. With a mix of black and white magic as well as melee weaponskills, its user-friendly rotation provides a great entry point for new casters. However, of all the magical DPS jobs, the Red Mage’s damage output is by far the weakest.
It also has some questionable utility. The Red Mage’s ability to raise fallen comrades can save a raid party from an impending wipe, and it also has a decent healing spell, but these aren't necessary if everyone’s doing their job. Additionally, the Embolden skill boosts the user’s magical DPS but only buffs the physical DPS of party members which is `utterly useless in a group full of casters then.
Previously a favorite class of any ranged DPS player who valued raid synergy, the Bards of the past combined reasonable damage output with a battalion of support skills, including self-buffs, party buffs, and enemy debuffs.
Despite still being fun to play, Shadowbringers has stripped many of the Bard’s support skills away and handed them over to the new Dancer job. Now, it’s more of a simple damage dealer. Thankfully, the developers saw fit to provide the class with a significant base damage increase to make up for its drop in utility. Overall, Bard is still viable, even for the most difficult, top-tier content.
Summoner has always felt like a great balance of damage and utility. However, to optimize their DPS, Summoners previously needed to micro-manage the abilities of their pets, rather than leaving them to their own devices, which made it a more difficult class to play to its full potential.
In 5.0, pet instructions are blended seamlessly into the Summoner’s main kit, which has massively simplified its rotation and makes it more effective in battle, even for casual players. The class is still reasonably complex and requires the use of several different mechanics to get the most out of it, but Summoner is more accessible now that it’s ever been.
One of Final Fantasy XIV’s newest jobs, Dancer is as much a support class as it is a damage dealer. For that reason, its output is the lowest of all the DPS classes. However, if used correctly the party buffs in its toolkit make up for its poor base damage.
By level 70, the Dancer can not only constantly buff the damage of their chosen “dance partner,” they can also temporarily boost the DPS of the entire group, providing the perfect window of opportunity to unleash their most potent attacks. Add in a party-wide protection buff, a weak but fast healing spell, and some of the best area-of-effect skills of any class, the Dancer is pretty awesome.
Dragoon has always been the top of the pile when it comes to melee DPS, and not much has changed. Its damage output is superb, and its Battle Litany as well as Dragon’s Eye buffs are invaluable. Shadowbringers has done away with the Dragoon’s Heavy Thrust skill, implementing a base damage buff into its Chaos Thrust combo instead for a slightly smoother rotation.
The Dragoon’s jump skills have been tweaked a little too. Spineshatter Dive no longer provides the Dive Ready buff, making it a little trickier to activate the ultra-powerful finishing move, Nastrond. Despite that, the Dragoon feels as strong as it ever was, if not stronger.
2 Black Mage
The caster equivalent of Samurai, the Black Mage is the only magical DPS class that can’t buff, heal, or resurrect teammates. However, while its melee counterpart seems to be languishing, the Black Mage is now head and shoulders above the rest in terms of raw damage.
The Black Mage’s rotation, which hinges around its Enochian mechanic, is more forgiving now thanks to a couple of useful additions to its toolkit. Throw in new, super-potent spells like Despair and Xenoglossy, which respectively are single-target versions of Flare and Foul, and you’ve essentially got a walking, talking turret, capable of decimating anything in their path.
Shaking off its reputation as a dull, clunky “Bard with a gun and about 10 percent of the utility,” Machinist basically been rebuilt from the ground up for Shadowbringers. Now, it’s not only one of the biggest damage dealers, but it’s an absolute joy to play too.
Some of the new gadgets like Bioblaster and Auto Crossbow are pure fan-service, inspired by the tools used by Edgar Roni Figaro back in Final Fantasy VI. The Heat Gauge and turret mechanics have also undergone a huge overhaul, and upon reaching level 80, Machinists can deploy their very own robot sidekick to fight alongside them. Whether it’s single targets or large packs, the Machinist makes short work of whatever’s in its way. Most importantly, it is outrageous fun.