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XIV’s Gunbreaker class was added to the game with the release of the Shadowbringers expansion. It was added as a tank primarily for role balancing – keeping the amount of options for players as even as possible across the board.
The Gunbreaker job took me on a bit of an emotional journey.
It was already present in the game when I started playing properly, and I knew more than anything else I wanted to live out all my Squall Leonhart dreams. I wanted a Gunblade, dammit – but the flashy, ridiculously impractical weapon was locked behind a role I’d always dreaded playing.
Why would you want to play a tank role? They just get yelled at if anything goes wrong, right?
Let’s just keep on playing DPS and waiting upwards of half an hour in the Duty Finder queue. The Gunblade is cool, but not getting yelled at is cooler.
And I wasn’t alone in my sorrows – several players voiced their disappointment about the Gunbreaker’s assignment as a tank. Some people (unsurprisingly) were extremely vocal about that disappointment, completely bewildered as to how it could ever be expected to fit into a tank role.
I was disappointed too.
I’ve never been a fan of ranged or magical DPS, and none of the melee options excited me either. Long story short, I eventually decided to take on the tank role myself, purely to play the Gunbreaker, and I’ve mained the job ever since.
So we’ll run through the official (and slightly boring) reasons why Gunbreaker is a tank here.
But we’re also going to take a look at some of the reasons why making a change to tanking to play Gunbreaker isn’t really as scary as it might seem!
What’s The Official Reason Gunbreaker Is A Tank?
We’ve actually got a pretty precise answer on this subject from FFXIV’s director himself.
Yoshi-P said, amongst a few other things, that the team wanted to add some of the fan-favorite classes from the wider Final Fantasy series.
At the same time, they didn’t really want to add another melee DPS with so many already present.
Adding the Gunbreaker as a tank helped with role balancing across the board, so let’s just look at those numbers and see what shakes out.
If you want to play a melee DPS, you’ve got four practical options:
– Stealthy, mystical Ninjas
– Fist-fighting Monks
– Spear-wielding Dragoons, and
– Samurai, which basically speaks for itself.
Tanks had three options before Gunbreaker was released: Paladin, Warrior, and Dark Knight, which released with the first expansion Heavensward.
By adding Gunbreaker as a tank, it prevents that imbalance of options from growing wider.
Now tanks have just as many options as DPS players, and people who would have never given the tanking role a second thought are drawn to it with the cool new class.
You can see how this kinda evens out by looking at the classes in the Endwalker expansion.
It’s adding a new healer in the form of the Sage, and a new melee DPS with the scythe-bearing Reaper.
That’s right: they’ve made the new DPS even edgier than the Gunbreaker, just to make it up to all the players who felt left out in the cold.
Regardless of which role you play, XIV wants everyone to have around the same amount of options.
I Want To Be A Gunbreaker, But I Don’t Want To Tank!
Alright, take it from me – I’ve been there.
But here’s the thing:
Tanking most content in Final Fantasy XIV as a Gunbreaker is barely distinguishable from playing DPS.
Sure, you have a couple of extra responsibilities.
But there’s extra perks, too.
Tanking seems stressful because, by default, you tend to be the de facto leader of any group you find yourself in.
You set the pace because you pull the mobs, you decide where they’re facing, and most of the time, you control where the boss encounters move.
If you die, it’s likely everyone else is going to die too.
And that seems like a really intense role to fulfill.
But on the most practical level, there’s only a handful of things you need to do at all times to succeed as a tank in most encounters.
Let’s run through a quick checklist, and you’ll see how easy it really is:
Is Your Tank Stance Turned On?
Every tank has one, and Gunbreaker’s is called Royal Guard. Congratulations, you’re tanking.
Your attacks will generate considerably more aggro than the rest of the party, and enemies should stay focused on you above everyone else now.
Keeping that attention is as easy as attacking as normal.
Are You Fighting A Boss?
And is that boss turned away from the rest of the party at all times? This is key.
Keeping the boss facing the opposite direction cancels out quite a lot of damage to the party alone.
Are You Mitigating Incoming Damage?
Especially with defensive cooldowns like Camouflage.
Bosses will almost always have attacks referred to as “tankbusters” – these deal a significant amount of damage to the target, which should be you.
And you can mitigate a lot of their impact by recognizing these attacks on the boss’ cast bar, and popping a defensive ability.
Aside from those three key points, playing normal content as a tank is more or less the same as playing DPS.
Know your rotation, have a basic understanding of what glowy circles you’ve got to avoid and which you’ve got to run into, and you’ll be absolutely fine.
There’s also a lot of perks to playing a tank, too.
Long queue times will be a thing of the past. Say goodbye to those half an hour wait times – queuing as a tank will take minutes, or quite often just pop instantly.
You’ll also be eligible for extra rewards.
The Adventurer in Need system rewards players joining as a desired role with extra experience and gil for their time.
These bonuses can really add up if you play a lot of dungeons, and they’re usually active for tanks in my experience.
So there’s obviously some additional pressure on you to stay alive – if you die, the boss is going to start making his way through the rest of the party, and they don’t have as much health as you.
This can result in a party wipe at times, although it’s not guaranteed every time.
But that pressure is effectively cancelled out by the tank/healer dynamic.
If you’re following those simple steps above, the healer is going to priorities your health above everyone else’s in most situations.
Yes, you will be the center of enemy attention.
But you’ve got plenty of support in your corner to deal with it.