FFXIV: Dark Knight vs. Paladin

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In FFXIV, Dark Knights and Paladins are opposite sides of the same tanking coin. While they fill the same tank role in a party, they do differ not only aesthetically, but also in gameplay.

To become a Paladin, you must first level Gladiator to 30 and complete the quest “Paladin’s Pledge” from Lulutsu in Ul’dah – Steps of Thal (X:9.0, Y:11.0). Paladins utilize several damage mitigation skills along with spells that have healing effects while wielding a sword and shield.

Dark Knights do not have a class requirement, but you do need to have progressed through the Main Scenario up to the quest “Coming to Ishgard” to unlock it. Once you gain access to Ishgard, accept the quest “A Dark Spectacle” from the Ishgardian Citizen at The Pillars (X:13.2, Y:8.8) to become a Dark Knight.

Dark Knight abilities have the typical tools you’ll look for in a tank class, but also have more options for dealing damage. They do not use shields, opting instead to wield a greatsword in battle.


Paladin & Dark Knight Lore

Paladin Player and Sidurgu / FFXIV
Paladin Player and Sidurgu

Every class in FFXIV has their own set of quests called “Job Quests” that tell a unique story for each job.

These stories contribute a lot to the world building of FFXIV.

Let’s take a quick look at the stories behind Paladins in Dark Knights to emphasize how different the two classes are from one another.


Paladin FFXIV Lore

Jenlyns of the Sultansworn / FFXIV
Jenlyns of the Sultansworn

The personal guard of the Ul’dahn Sultanate are known as the Sultansworn.

As their name implies, they swear an oath of fealty to the Royal Family of Ul’dah.

The elite among this group of defenders are known as Paladins. Paladins are usually clad in brilliant armor while they protect the royal family and their allies with the power of holy spells.

As the Monetarists of Ul’dah came into power, they managed to lessen the Sultansworn’s ranks to about half of what it used to be. Due to this, the Sultansworn must now rely on the aid of the Brass Blades to protect the Royal Palace.

How To Become a Paladin

You can become a Paladin after achieving level 30 and completing the Gladiator class quest line that concludes with the quest “The Rematch”. When these two requirements are met, a quest called “Paladin’s Pledge” will become available from Lulutsu, the Gladiators’ Guild receptionist, at Ul’dah – Steps of Thal (X:9.0, Y:11.0).

The Royal Promenade in Ul'dah / FFXIV
The Royal Promenade in Ul’dah

Lulutsu will tell you that the Sultansworn have opened up their doors, allowing others to learn the skills of a Paladin.

The receptionist will stress that this is a very rare occurrence, so you’re instructed to visit Jenlyns, Captain of the Sultansworn’s elite, at Ul’dah – Steps of Thal (X:10.8, Y:11.1) to seize the opportunity.

Upon speaking with Jenlyns, he will express his frustrations about the current state of the Sultansworn – how it’s now but a shadow of its former self due to their dwindling numbers. He also makes mention of a traitor, and blames them for the order’s situation.

You are then taken in as a Free Paladin, meaning you will learn their ways without having to swear an oath to the Royal Family. As you learn the arts of protecting others with holy magic, you will slowly uncover the truth about the traitor and what it truly means to be a Paladin.


Dark Knight FFXIV Lore

Fray, Dark Knight Mentor / FFXIV
Fray, Dark Knight Mentor

As a city-state run by a theocracy, The Holy See of Ishgard is ruled by the Orthodox Church headed by Archbishop Thordan VII and his Heavens’ Ward.

Though the nation’s politics is deeply rooted in religion, those who rule are not immune to the temptations that come with being in a position of authority.

A majority of Ishgardian citizens are either devout or powerless, so very few have the courage to stand up against these corrupt clergymen.

Those who are brave enough to take a stand against these members of the church are known as Dark Knights, and are seen as pariahs in Ishgard.

Dark Knights do not bear shields. This is to show that they have no allegiance to any of the Noble Houses of Ishgard.

Instead, they wield greatswords to protect the people who are being oppressed by those in power.

How To Become a Dark Knight

You can become a Dark Knight after arriving in Ishgard for the first time during the Main Scenario Quest “Coming to Ishgard”.

Once you get to the Holy See, look for the Ishgardian Citizen in the Pillars (X:13.2, Y:8.8) to accept the quest “A Dark Spectacle”.

The Brume, Ishgard / FFXIV
The Brume, Ishgard

The Ishgardian Citizen will tell you of a spectacle he witnessed – a fight between a Temple Knight and a so-called heretic. He was mostly in awe of how the heretic fought so well with a sword large enough that it made wielding a shield impossible.

You learn that the Temple Knight was the victor in this battle, and the citizen will go on to tell you that the body of the heretic was discarded somewhere in the Brume. As this citizen also made mention of a “Dark Knight”, you make your way to the Brume to investigate further.

When you find the corpse, you find a soul crystal beside it. As you approach, the crystal starts emitting energy and you start to hear a voice coming from it.

After you come back to your senses, you find that the body you had found is now standing in front of you and introduces himself as Fray. Fray tells you that there’s a darkness inside of everyone, and the soul crystal you have found will help you harness it.

Thus begins your journey as a Dark Knight, with Fray as your mentor.


Dark Knight vs Paladin (Playstyle Differences)

Solkzagyl, Former Sultansworn Captain / FFXIV
Solkzagyl, Former Sultansworn Captain

One of the many great things about FFXIV is its Job System. Each job feels unique to play while still remaining pretty balanced.

This allows you to choose a job you enjoy, rather than being shoehorned into a specific class or build. Below we’ll take a quick look at certain job skills and mechanics that distinguish Paladins and Dark Knights from each other – despite filling in the same role in a party.


Paladin Job Details

Paladin Victory Pose / FFXIV
Paladin Victory Pose

As the protectors of the party, Paladins have several defensive actions at their disposal to help mitigate damage to themselves and their allies. Paladins also have their own healing spell in “Clemency”, an action learned at level 58.

The defensive and self-sustaining nature of Paladins will help alleviate some of the burden for healers, allowing them to contribute a bit more to dealing damage. Here are some notable skills learned by Paladins:

Action Level Description
Sheltron 35 Consume 50 Oath to block all incoming attacks for 6 seconds
Hallowed Ground 50 Renders the Paladin invulnerable to most attacks for 10 seconds
Requiescat 68 Remove the cast time for spells for up to 5 uses and allows the use of the “Blades” skill combo

Dark Knight Job Details

Blood Weapon Animation / FFXIV
Blood Weapon Animation

Having more offensive capabilities, Dark Knights are all about using their resources efficiently.

Though a bit more aggressive for a tank role, Dark Knights have access to one of the best damage mitigating abilities in game with “The Blackest Night”.

The damage output of Dark Knights can help relieve some of the pressure from DPS classes. Let’s take a look at some of the Dark Knight’s more essential skills:

Action Level Description
Flood of Darkness 30 Deal damage to enemies in a straight line and grant “Darkside” for 30 seconds, increasing damage dealt by 10%
Living Dead 50 Grants the effect of “Walking Dead” for 10 seconds when HP reaches 0 while active. HP cannot drop below 1 during Walking Dead, but the Dark Knight must be healed an amount equal to their max HP or else they’ll be knocked out when the effect ends.
The Blackest Night 70 Grant an HP barrier to target ally equal to 25% of their maximum HP for 7 seconds. If the barrier is broken before the duration is up, the Dark Knight may use Flood of Darkness or Edge of Shadow without the MP cost.
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Marco Cadayona

Shower singer by day, bard main by night. Gamer since 1992.