It might be surprised I am writing about Summoner first before White Mage but honestly, there isn’t much to say about White Mage that hasn’t been said since Shadowbringers so I figured I would first talk about Summoner.
Way back in A Realm Reborn I used to play Summoner as my go-to DPS on those rare times where only one healer was needed and I loved the job. When I think about Summoner I am always reminded of the summoners in other Final Fantasy games such as Garnet, Yuna and Rydia but when you think about those summoners they were always White Mages (or in Rydia’s case a Black Mage) with big nukes but I was alright with Egi’s in Final Fantasy XIV.
The reason I say the above is that when it comes to Final Fantasy games there is always two jobs I like and the first is White Mage and the second is Summoner. In A Realm Reborn Summoner started as a job that used six different DoTs which you had to keep up while you summoned an Egi which did a big attack called Enkindle but otherwise just worked as a ranged auto-attack and now and then extends your DoTs for you. This version of Summoner I loved and feel beyond the big attack it felt the most Summoner like although it used DoTs.
Summoner in Heavensward turned away from “summoning” and instead went down a Trance system. This worked by channelling Bahamut’s power within yourself and using its attacks. There was a lot they could have done with this such as having Garuda Trance, Ifrit Trance and so on and rotating around them. You still had to manage your DoTs. I did not enjoy this version much as I would have rather seen this become its job as it felt like Summoner started to move away from summoning.
Along came Stormblood and Summoner started to become quite the mess. Rather than develop further the trance system they added Bahamut. So now you got your DoTs to manage, then using Trance twice and then summoning Bahamut and this was a drag. It felt like two different systems were added on top of each other with the hope it works. This version sucked if you were KOed as you spent ages to get back to where you were. I did not enjoy this version so much to the point I mostly played Red Mage when I needed to DPS.
Shadowbringers carried on the demi-primal idea from Bahamut and provided still unexplained reasoning for why we have Phoenix but the job carried on with the two design ideas. You still went into Dreadwyrm Trance and then summoned Bahamut which then had a Firebird Trance which went to Phoenix at level 80. I liked the demi-primals, the dot management but I felt Trace was there just because it was referenced in the job quests.
We now get onto the main topic – Endwalker. Summoner has been redesigned to focus very heavily on the primals themselves although it still has a Trance system in place. You first get access to Aethercharge which provides you with being able to use the three other Carbuncles and their attacks. Once you get the Primals those Carbuncles get replaced with the Egi’s. After a certain point, Aethercharge is replaced with Dreadwyrm Trance and Firebird Trance later. These are further changed into Bahamut and Phoenix and here comes the first problem I have with it – at low levels it plays differently to high levels.
Both Dreadwyrm Trance and Firebird Trance plays just like Bahamut and Phoenix just without an extra button but Aethercharge does not and only feels like a buff at best. I would change this so instead of an Aethercharge you summon another Carbuncle such as the white one and its attacks are instacast just like how it works with Bahamut and Phoenix. The next problem I have with Summoner is the Egis. I would love to see the Egis hang around much more and just auto-attack. Imagine once you use Ifrit summoning and Ifrit appears that the Egi comes afterwards until you used all of its attunement at which point Carbuncle comes back.
The next problem I have with it is Carbuncle doesn’t do anything. I would love to see it just auto-attack or at least stay out when you summon the other primals just so it doesn’t feel like it is there because it has to be. It would also allow its buff to be used at any time rather than waiting until you are out of the demi-summoning part of your rotation. Something else I feel Summoner no longer needs is Aetherflow and its attacks. I would prefer it if fester and painflare were just charges or just turn Ruin IV into an AoE and give it charges.
I have said before that the development team has to focus on either the DoTs, trance or pets and they have decided to go down the pet route and I don’t disagree. While I loved how complex Summoner was I feel the redesign was perfect for quite a few reasons. It feels much more Summoner like with the primal summoning having a big impact but more importantly it is enjoyable to play. You no longer have to hold back using your spells and you can just do your rotation and know things will be ready when you go against the boss and while it is a simple rotation it is pretty fun once you get over what Summoner used to be like.
When I think about why I enjoyed Red Mage in Shadowbringers there were two reasons. The first was a successor in terms of lore to White Mage and it felt like something Patricia would want to learn about but secondly, I enjoyed both the movement freedom and the flexibility in the rotation but when I reflect upon Red Mage its rotation wasn’t flexible as the only thing you could do is delay when you went into your melee combo and what I liked about it was it looked amazing.
At the end of the day, I have gone over what I like, disliked and would change about Summoner but do I enjoy it? The answer to that is a resounding yes. While I will miss how complex Summoner used to be it was badly hacked together to try and make a playable job and the new summoner just flows well and feels like you are summoning stuff rather than just a DoT mage with a turret. I can not wait to see what happens in future with Summoner and as long as they build upon summoning and not trance stuff I will be a happy person.
… now to use Rydia’s gear as glamour or not is the next question I have!
One thing I did forget to add but I will do this as a comment to keep the original article as it is but if I was to level Summoner now I think I would be quite bored doing so. While I do enjoy Summoner at level 90 playing it at low levels it does play the same all the way from level 15 to 90 with most, if not all, skills are just upgrades.
The job itself at level 90 feels quite fun, enjoyable and a good base to further develop Summoners in future expansions.
I will add a second thing here. Demi-Phoenix seems quite weak and it sucks that at lower levels you get to access Bahamut twice and do a ton of damage and when you level up you get weaker.
It would be nice if there was a choice between Demi-Phoenix and Demi-Phoenix where you can use Demi-Bahamut for more damage and Demi-Phoenix which is able to do healing or reviving while dealing a small amount of damage.
It would pave the way in future to have different Demi-Primals which does different things such as buffs and much more.