The new Shadowbringers content has made FFXIV a whole new game – alongside adding two brand new classes, they’ve overhauled many of their original Jobs as well. One of the classes that have gotten an awesome reboot is the soothing, music-oriented Bard.
What Is A Bard?
Bards are a ranged physical DPS class who use music to support their allies, empowering their attacks and healing their wounds with melodies. Their combat styles lean heavily towards archery – they’re technically a speciality of the Archer Class. They typically wear leather armour, and their main abilities are songs that apply various effects to allies or enemies around them.
The best thing about the Bard that sets them apart from other Magicka-driven support classes is that they’re a ranged DPS class, meaning that they don’t have to worry about casting times that would force them to stand still while charging. They deal more consistent damage than pretty much any other Job in FFXIV, but their raw numbers are lower than those of other casters.
Bards are a bit more difficult to level up than other support classes, simply because DPS players are incredibly common in FFXIV. They can’t often benefit from “Hero in Need” XP from daily roulettes. However, they are a lot simpler to play than, say, an Astrologian.
How to Unlock the Bard Job
Much like the Astrologian, the Bard Job isn’t available to you from the jump. If you’re just starting out, you have to start as an Archer and level up to 30, when you can upgrade into a full-fledged Bard. If you’re further along and want a change, then you have to enter the Archer’s Guild in New Gridania and speak to an NPC named Luciane to receive the quest that will point you in the right direction, “A Song of Bards and Bowmen.”
The quest, like most quests to unlock Jobs, is fairly straightforward. Luciane will send you to speak with an NPC named Jehantel, who resides west of Quarrymill. They’ll direct you to speak with a Moogle called Pukno Poki, who will ask you to find a charm that was stolen from them and take it back to Jehantel. Once you find the charm, show it to Pukno Poki before taking it to Jehantel’s camp.
Bard Reworks for Shadowbringers
The most striking change that Shadowbringers brought to the Bard class is the reworks to their most basic attacks – Heavy Shot and Straight Shot. Heavy Shot used to increase Straight Shot’s critical hot chance, and Straight Shot used to be a more powerful basic attack that added a 10% buff to the critical chance.
Now, they’ve streamlined it so that using Heavy Shot simply gives you a 20-35% chance to use Straight shot. If you’re not too pleased with this, there’s an upside – both of these skills do considerably more damage with the new patch, especially when your character reaches Level 70 and your Straight Shot skill is permanently transformed into Refulgent Arrow, which has a potency of 340 at the base.
The Shadowbringers rework focused on adding raw damage for Bards, at the cost of the class’s signature crit buffs. Additionally, the total reliance on random chance to be able to use Straight Shot, arguably the Bard’s most powerful basic skill, makes the Bard more similar to classes like the Dancer and the Machinist. Don’t worry – Heavy Shot isn’t the only ability that you can use to trigger Straight Shot anymore. You can use Barrage (which already triples the number of times one of your weapon skills can strike) to trigger it manually.
Bards also received a buff to their Battle Voice ability that increases the entire party’s chance of landing a Direct Hit. Army’s Paeon, which previously was a bit lacklustre, can now overlap with more utilitarian songs for a more efficient effect.
As an added bonus, the Bard now has a new Job Gauge for an ability called Soul Voice. The more you play songs and deal damage, the more Soul Voice you gain. The amount of 'Soul Voice' you have directly impacts how powerful your Ultimate attack, Apex Arrow, will be.
For Bard veterans, the bottom line is this: the playstyle is essentially the same, but you can build up to powerful attacks and are capable of dealing more damage on a reliable level.
Tips for Playing a Bard in Final Fantasy 14
Always Use Straight Shot When You Have It
Veteran bard players might be tempted to use their old tactics when it comes to Straight Shot; before, you could spam Heavy Shot in order to boost Straight Shot. Now, with the new streamlined system, it’s more efficient and makes more sense to use Straight Shot immediately when you are able, considering that it must be triggered by another ability. Many of your abilities can trigger it, so there’s no need to fish around for the chance to use it.
Use the Barrage and Straight Shot Combination
Technically, you can use the powerful Barrage ability on a variety of different skills, but there’s a reason that the developers have now directly associated it with Straight Shot. Combining this buff with your most powerful basic skill just makes sense. The barrage also triples the bonus effects of Straight Shot, but only for Straight Shot.
Deal Your Damage Over Time
This might seem a bit like a useless tip, but it’s really important that you make sure that you’re doing what a Bard does best, which is damage over time. Damage over time is one of Bard’s only sources of damage and dealing this damage will also power up your Repertoire Job Gauge. Windbite and Venomous Bite both have a chance to do this, so maximize your potential and deal damage to your enemies at the same time.
That’s all for now! If you’re a Bard veteran, keep these new mechanics in mind for your next Raid. And if you’re a newbie looking for a support class to play, there’s no better place to start than Bard.