First introduced to the Final Fantasy series in the fifth numbered instalment (Final Fantasy V), the Blue Mage class is arguably one of the more unique mage classes available to players. While other mage classes typically focus on either elemental attacks or healing allies, Blue Mage is more a jack of all trades / master of none given it focuses on learning abilities otherwise used exclusively by enemies. In some ways it trades efficiency for variety.
In Final Fantasy XI it was one of the main Advanced Classes players could choose from, and was fleshed out as any of the other fifteen Advanced Classes were with each expansion. In Final Fantasy XIV however, it is currently the first and only “Limited Class” available to players – where it works off a different level cap and is more oriented to mechanics developed exclusively for it than general gameplay.
The Blue Mage was first introduced to Final Fantasy XIV at the beginning of this year, with a cap of Level 50 and around 40-50 spells for players to unlock. While initially provided with just one spell (Water Cannon), players could unlock additional spells by defeating enemies who used those abilities against them. There was a good variety of spells available to players once unlocked, ranging from elemental attacks, healing abilities and buff/debuff skills. There was something really enjoyable as well about using abilities that have become iconic in both Final Fantasy XIV and the franchise as a whole – such as Cactuar’s 1000 Needles and Titan’s Eruption. The collection of skills and levelling up all led to the The Masked Carnivale – a collection of 25 battle challenges requiring out-of-the-box thinking and a range of different skills to complete each.
While there was a novelty behind the class, there were more negatives than positives. Foremost, the actual levelling of the class was heavily oriented towards grinding enemies and, whether intentional or not, could easily be completed in one evening through being carried by a high level non-Blue Mage character. While this was disappointing, it was actually a saving grace as outside of a few quests that took place every few levels (which were mostly dialogue based) there was little in the way of progressive gameplay outside the grind. As you couldn’t do roulette’s, Palace of the Dead or much else of anything, all the levelling process had was grind. Even when you hit the Level 50 cap it was difficult to find parties, given much of the Duty Finder was locked out to Blue Mages.
Secondly, Blue Mage was at the time a rather weak class – and actually completing tasks with a group of them was a real challenge that wasn’t always worth the time and effort. This was primarily because RNG to unlock skills wasn’t great. While in the open world this was okay given you had an endless stream of enemies to defeat, instanced trials and dungeons meant you could be grinding quite some time to unlock the ability you want. It was not unheard of in my experience to run an extreme 20 or 30 times for a skill. Furthermore, the class faded from interest relatively quick, and it was something that I hadn’t really touched since March.
Final Fantasy XIV Patch 5.15 went live last week, bringing with it the first major update to the Blue Mage class since it was first released. In addition to several quality of life improvements which makes the class much more versatile and practical, it also received an increase in the cap to Level 60, new Masked Carnivale challenges, the addition of a Blue Mage log to further encourage the formation of parties between Blue Mages, new achievements for completing high-end duties as the class and a plethora of new spells. The RNG is also much better when you are in a party of blue mages, making collecting spells a much less tedious process.
One thing I liked about the new content introduced in this patch is that you couldn’t progress to later quest content without having completed the final boss of The Masked Carnivale’s initial set of 25 challenges. Granted you could skip the other 24, the one battle offered enough of a challenge to prove you were competent with the class and had a sound understanding of at least the basic concepts behind skill usage. While you could skip the questline and just grind the additional ten levels up (which takes all of 30 minutes), completing it to Level 60 gives you access to the Blue Mage Log which is the real gem of this patch.
Although there are still many limitations of the class such as pretty much being locked out of any Duty Finder matchmaking, improvements to the Blue Mage Log means you can create parties with up to seven other Blue Mages and partake in sync’d and unsync’d runs of dungeons and trials to unlock additional abilities and achievements. Improvements to the class means that a party of four blue mages can tackle a dungeon sync’d with a degree of difficulty equivalent to other classes.
The range of skills on offer are in my opinion a bit more diverse than what was offered in the initial release, and in addition to a variety of elemental spells, give you the ability to essentially play as either a Tank, Healer or DPS Blue Mage. Bringing the total number of unlockable skills to eighty, new abilities include but are by no means limited to:
- Aetherial Mimicry: By casting this on another player, you are able to “mirror the aetherial properties” of them – essentially giving the Blue Mage a DPS, Tank or Healer stance. This grants a 20% increase in skills relevant to that type, and augments certain skills.
- Pom Cure and Exuviation: Actual healing skills, allowing you to take on the role of a healer provided you have the Healer stance active.
- Whistle and Abyssal Transfixion: Nicer options for when your enemy is vulnerable to physical attacks.
- Frog Legs – Provoke equivalent for Blue Mage, for when in a tank stance.
As players can only have 24 active skills at one time, it is very possible that no two blue mages will truly be alike, and can have specific roles in a party. This is essential when you get to the later stages of this new content, where you are tasked with completing certain Alexander Savages with only a party of blue mages, silence echo turned on and undersized party turned off.
This is the real appeal of Blue Mage in my opinion, bringing new life and new challenges to content from previous expansion packs. Using an example of Alexander – The Soul of the Creator (Savage), as of Shadowbringers can now unsync this content and breeze through it in a couple of minutes. Given that nobody has any incentive to complete it sync’d, the content is more or less run for loot nowadays. With an incentive dangled in-front of players to complete this content in its original form, albeit with a versatile class covering many roles, this could be a long-awaited opportunity for newer players to dive into the content properly.
Outside of a couple of equipment items such as a accessories, a mask and a new rod; there is little in the way of new equipment for Blue Mages, and once you pass Level 50 you would generally be relying on gear which is shared with the Black Mage and Summoner classes. Even though there is no new cool looking Blue Mage outfit, with the wealth of new glamours unlocked by the new level cap, you would surely have no issue finding a look which suits you.
The question is…. what is the life of this new content before most players lose interest and move on to their main classes? As this is a “Limited Class” I would not expect to find as many parties running content a month from now, but I think there will be more of a demand for the class now than there was previously, which will hopefully give it some relevance until the next major update.
Overall, the Blue Mage is still limited compared to the other combat-oriented classes, but the work put into it by the developers has made it a much more entertaining and more relevant class than it was in the past. I for one look forward to diving into some of the harder challenges over the coming weeks, and hope this is a step in the right direction for the future of Blue Mage and other potential “Limited Classes” in the works.
Want to read more about Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers? You can read my in-depth review of Patch 5.1 or check out the Final Fantasy XIV instalments in my Take That (In-Game) Snap Daily Photo article series. For more information on Final Fantasy XIV Patch 5.15, check out the official Patch Notes.