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There are a number of reasons why Final Fantasy XIV’s Archer class transforms into Bard at level 30. It is justified by the lore, but the simplest explanation is that it’s a classic Final Fantasy job that needed to be represented in XIV.
If you’re unfamiliar with more traditional fantasy literature (or you’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons), the Archer’s evolution into Bard might seem slightly out of left field.
All the other promotions make a lot of sense. They’re just elite, specialized versions of the basic starting classes.
It seems obvious that a spear-wielding Lancer would eventually be drawn to the ranks of the Dragoons. And you could totally understand a Gladiator putting their sword and shield to a greater purpose and becoming a Paladin.
You may even be a little bit disappointed if you were hoping for Archer to become a more specialized, pure ranged DPS role.
But rest assured, Bard is essentially Archer with a couple of extra utilities.
How Does Archer Become Bard?
As with all the starting classes, Bard will become available to Archers at level thirty.
You’ll just need to complete the job quest “The One That Got Away”. That’s your final Archer class quest, and once that’s complete, you’ll be able to pick up the quest “A Song Of Bards And Bowmen” from Luciane in New Gridania.
That’s where you’ve been picking up all of your Archer quests thus far, so nothing too far out of the way.
Completing the quest will give you a brief introduction to just what it is Bards do in battle, and why your character has suddenly decided to become one.
You’ll be rewarded with a Job crystal that you can now equip to give your Archer some new musical talents.
If you love the idea of being an Archer, don’t worry – you’re still going to be flinging arrows left, right, and center.
You’ve just got a couple of extra utilities to make use of.
Bard is the closest thing to a support class XIV has, but DPS is still very much its priority.
As a final quick note on this topic, Bards can also learn the ability to actually perform music live for other players.
This is in no way essential to any gameplay mechanics, but if you’ve ever wandered around a city and wondered why you can suddenly hear “Darude – Sandstorm” or Megalovania from Undertale, it’s usually a Bard’s fault.
The Lore Explanation of Why Archers Become Bards
If you follow the Bard storyline (and definitely don’t skip almost every cutscene after about two lines of dialogue) you’ll discover that the first Bards were Archers, who began plucking the strings of their bows to make music, boosting the morale of their comrades.
As for our characters, the quest “A Song Of Bards And Bowmen” sees a legendary archer return to Gridania.
Several students of the Archer’s Guild, all hoping to achieve mastery of their craft, offer themselves as potential students.
He declines them all, offering lessons in poetry, song, and verse instead.
Obviously our character is the one who takes him up on this offer. And so our journey as a Bard begins.
Bards play much the same as Archers, but they can make use of extra abilities to buff the party’s damage output too.
Do I Need To Turn My Archer Into A Bard?
Well, you don’t need to do anything.
If you want to play an Archer up to level 80, feel free.
Will you be taken seriously in dungeons or trials? Probably not.
It might take a long time for someone to pull you up on it, but it’ll happen eventually.
A friend of mine managed to clear almost the entire Shadowbringers storyline (and all the accompanying dungeons/trials) without ever turning his Pugilist into a Monk.
But you aren’t going to have access to the vast majority of skills that make your job feel complete. They’re pretty much just going to stop growing with the increasing demands of multiplayer content, even if you can technically level them all the way up.
You won’t do as well in dungeons, and your class just won’t be that fun to play.
So yes, you can ignore Bard entirely and stick with your Archer.
But it won’t get you very far, and your time would be far better spent finding a job you can take all the way to the end game.
What Other Options Do I Have For Ranged DPS?
As far as strictly ranged DPS goes, you’ve only really got two other options at the moment.
And one of them is probably not exactly what you’re thinking of.
The most obvious alternative to Archer would be Machinist, gun-wielding engineer type characters built purely for DPS.
Although you lose out slightly on the “fantasy” aspect, you can still take the fight to Eorzea’s enemies at range.
Machinist becomes available after level 50 in the Heavensward expansion. The job itself starts at level 30 though, so if you’ve just hit level 50, you won’t be able to play through Heavensward as a Machinist straight away.
The other physical ranged DPS option is Dancer, introduced in Shadowbringers.
It starts at level 60, and can be picked up from the quest “Shall We Dance”, provided by an NPC named Eager Lominsan in Limsa.
Dancer is probably further away from Archer as a concept than Bard, though – so it might not be for you.
If neither of those options sound good to you, I’d suggest checking out one of the magical DPS classes.
They all have unique twists and playstyles, and can be very rewarding to learn at any level.
Who needs arrows when you could be summoning magical beasts to fight for you?
Honestly though, Bard is barely a departure from what you’d expect an Archer class to become at high levels.
So if you’re dead set on archery, take the time to read what the Bard is actually capable of before writing it off.