MMOs are a funny thing. No matter how much the developers give their audience we constantly want more. We want new outfits, new areas to explore, new monsters to fight, new abilities, new raids, and (arguably the biggest and most unbelievable ask of them all) new jobs. Most gaming companies roll their eyes as we beg them to add the Chef class back in but Square Enix is constantly working hard to try to please its crowd in its flagship title, FFXIV. With the soon to be released Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood, they finally brought a job that everyone had been clamoring over and let me just say that Samurai lives up to the hype.
Like many veterans of Square’s previous MMO outing, FFXI, I played and loved a lot of the more unique and nuanced jobs. I excelled at Scholar as both a nuker and healer and got decent mileage out of Blue Mage. But none of those jobs even came close to the amazing and raw power of the Samurai. After logging in over a few thousand hours in that game, I moved on to FFXIV knowing only that Scholar would be available and it played nothing like before. Begrudgingly, I took up the mantle and became one of the better healers in my guild.
Deep in me though, I wanted something more. While I kept tanks up, I yawned, hoping I could put numbers up on the board like some of the braggadocious DPS that were in our group. I yearned for that cold steel I used to have as an option and this past weekend, the early access for Stormblood granted that dream. With the release of Samurai, I finally had a damage class worth playing.
To vet myself, I’ve gone from 50 – 64 in two days even after hitting the dreaded Raubahn wall that halted progress. During my adventures in learning, I discovered that unlike Monk or Dragoon (two classes I raised to 60), you had to think a heck of a lot more to master it. Everything about SAM in Stormblood works like a game within itself.
To break it down, Samurai has two systems within it: Kenki and Sen. These are built differently through actions as well as making sure you are on top of your rotations. While these are commonly known and were expected, actually playing the class felt a lot different than expected. The Sen gauge is composed of three different meters that fill after the completion of certain combos. Once you have all three, you gain access to an off cooldown move that does devastating damage. At level 64, I’ve hit 29,000 in one swing which is equal to what level 1 limit breaks did before heavenward. That’s big and means at level 70, it will be that much bigger.
What’s crazy about the gauge though is it asks you a question at each stage. If you need to reapply a damage buff, will you spend your time doing the same combo again and not gain the second mark in the Sen gauge? Or instead, forgo it and do a different combo which may result in your final move becoming less devastating? It’s a delicate balance that needs to be maintained and in all honesty, builds on exactly what a Samurai is supposed to be.
However, the decisions don’t stop there. The Kenki gauge gives you a substantial pool of points you can spend to do some additional actions. This effectively brings in a second pool to manage in addition to TP. There are a variety of uses for it including closing the distance to a mob, jumping back to make distance, increasing damage on the next move used, or simply shooting off a quick fairly strong attack in between your regular comboes. It’s a game within a game and it’s all beautifully animated.
When it comes down to it though, I wanted a class that made me feel like I was working hard for my damage and not just following through the combo string over and over. Samurai luckily not only does this but makes it fun at the same time. From the way you run around with your sword drawn to the sounds of you stabbing a mob and then kicking him off of your katana. SAM does its best to make you feel like an utter bad ass and even after grinding for about 20 hours straight in the early access period, I can easily say it’s the most fun I’ve had in the game in the last few years of playing it.
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood releases officially tomorrow and in addition to Samurai, features a whole new world to explore rich with eastern asthetics. If you’re a fan of deep and immersive MMOs, the price of admission is well worth it.
Andron (or Ace as he likes to call himself) is the so called "Head Honcho" of Bombchu.com. He has a deep passion for video games primarily RPGs, Fighting or Adventure. When not gaming, he's furiously typing on his keyboard or coming up with new schemes.