Each of the four tank jobs in Final Fantasy XIV brings a unique flair that makes deciding which to take on as your main job in the role challenging. If you have a penchant for being dark, stormy, and broodier than the rest, then Dark Knight's aesthetic is the one for you.
Dark Knight revolves around managing the uptime of its job gauge to increase damage dealt for massive bursts. High-level Dark Knights also have access to a very powerful mitigation ability, which powers said job gauge to create a loop of taking damage to deal damage.
How to unlock Dark Knight in FFXIV
To begin the journey as a greatsword-wielding Dark Knight, you must unlock Heavensward’s main city of Ishgard by completing all Main Scenario Quests up to “Before the Dawn.” Once Ishgard is accessible, speaking to the Ishgardian Citizen in The Pillars (X: 13.2, Y: 8.8) will grant the quest “A Dark Spectacle” and begin the Dark Knight storyline.
Dark Knight begins as a level 30 job with no base class, meaning there’s no need to worry about equipping a job stone.
An introduction to Dark Knight in FFXIV
At its core, Dark Knight is a tried and true tanking job. Those familiar with other tanks will find that the basis of the job plays similarly to others, revolving around a basic 1-2-3 GCD combo while throwing in different attacks off-cooldown and rotating mitigation abilities.
While the fundamentals of Dark Knight are relatively basic, there is some know-how players must learn to become a true master of brooding defense. Here is a breakdown of the abilities and mechanics you'll need to know to get a grasp of Dark Knight in Final Fantasy XIV:
- Hard Slash: The starting skill of your main GCD combo, Hard Slash delivers an attack with 170 potency. It offers no extra effects on its own, but when used properly as the "one" in your 1-2-3 combo, you will get the full Combo Action effects from the other two moves in th
- Syphon Strike: When used after Hard Slash, Syphon Strike hits for over twice as much damage as it would on its own, while restoring your MP gauge.
- Souleater: Souleater is the third and final attack in Dark Knight's main GCD combo, delivering a heavy attack and providing a 300-potency cure. Performing your basic combo as a Dark Knight gives a small self-heal, useful for keeping you away from the brink of death just by doing your rotation.
Most of your time as Dark Knight will consist of rotating through these three abilities, though they're only one piece of the puzzle for mastering the job. At its core, however, when everything is on cooldown, these three attacks are your bread and butter.
There are other abilities that Dark Knight has at its disposal that aren't tied to the job gauge and should be used off cooldown or whenever the rotation dictates.
- Plunge: Every tank has a gap closer tied to the job, and Plunge acts as the Dark Knight's. It helps to leap – quite literally – into a fight to grab enmity quickly. You can also weave Plunge between GCDs for extra damage during battle. While you can only hold one charge of Plunge when the ability is first unlocked at level 54, the amount increases to two at level 78.
- Salted Earth: This ability will place a puddle directly beneath the Dark Knight's feet, inflicting a damage-over-time effect on any enemies who enter it within the next 15 seconds. At level 86, the follow-up attack "Salt and Darkness" is unlocked, dealing a large amount of damage to one enemy within the circle and 50 percent less to any adjacent enemies. You can only use Salt and Darkness while Salted Earth is active, so don't hold on to the attack for too long, or you'll miss your opportunity.
- Abyssal Drain: Abyssal Drain deals damage to a single target within 20 yalms and extends that damage to any nearby enemies. Attacking with Abyssal Drain also provides a cure effect per enemy affected, making it a quick way to heal after pulling trash mobs that hit a bit harder than expected. The healing effect is less practical during single-target fights but could save you from an early wipe.
- Carve and Spit: Sharing a recast timer with Abyssal Drain, Carve and Spit hits only one enemy and restores the Dark Knight's MP. Managing your MP is a crucial responsibility when playing Dark Knight, as many of the abilities tied to the job gauge will drain the resource quickly. When given a choice between Abyssal Drain or Carve and Spit, most scenarios call for using Carve and Spit due to the fact it deals more damage, and you'll need that MP to access the complete kit Dark Knight offers.
Level 90 Dark Knight rotation and opener
Dark Knight has several openers depending on the party’s makeup and fight mechanics. While you can find openers for specific fights, the one described below will be a general, all-purpose opener that can be used in any situation.
- Blood Weapon (-4s)
- The Blackest Night (if shield will break) (-3s)
- Pot (-2s)
- Provoke (if main tank) (-0.6s)
- Hard Slash
- Edge of Shadow
- Syphon Strike
- Soul Eater
- Living Shadow
- Salted Earth
- Hard Slash
- Edge of Shadow
- Carve and Spit
- Edge of Shadow
- Salt and Darkness
- Edge of Shadow
- Syphon Strike
- Edge of Shadow
With the opener complete, fill your GCDs with the main Souleater combo while waiting for recast timers. When Delirium and Blood Weapon are available, use Delirium, and then use two GCDs of your standard Soul Eater combo. After two GCDs, use Blood Weapon, hit the third GCD, and then start spending Delirium stacks. This will help prevent you from overcapping on MP and the Blood Gauge, making the most use of your resources without wasting them.
Dark Knight’s job gauges and related skills
Many of Dark Knight's abilities interact in some fashion with one of its two gauges, the Blood Gauge and the Darkside Gauge. Dark Knight gains access to the Darkside Gauge at level 30 when the job is first unlocked and indicates the remaining duration of the "Darkside" buff. The Blood Gauge builds up resources from the main GCD combo for powerful attacks.
The Darkside Gauge
The Darkside buff increases damage dealt by 10 percent up to a maximum of 60 seconds and can only be given by two specific abilities:
- Flood of Darkness/Flood of Shadow: The first Darkside granting attack you can access is Flood of Darkness, which attacks all enemies in a straight line and gives 30 seconds of the buff. Each use of the ability costs 3000 MP, meaning untimely uses of Flood of Darkness will prevent you from restoring your Darkside Gauge once the buff's duration ends. At level 74, Flood of Darkness becomes Flood of Shadow, dealing more damage outright but leaving the Darkside buff unchanged.
- Edge of Darkness/Edge of Shadow: Unlocked at level 40, Edge of Darkness acts as a single-target alternative to Flood of Darkness, dealing more damage but providing the same buff. Edge of Darkness has the same cost of 3000 MP per use, so only use it to keep your Darkside Gauge filled and not as a general attack outside of your opener.
At level 90, being under the Darkside buff also gives access to the ability Shadowbringer, which deals massive damage to all enemies in a straight line. You can hold up to two charges of Shadowbringer, and while it acts similarly to Flood of Darkness, it doesn't refill your Darkside Gauge.
Keeping the Darkside Gauge active can drain your MP very quickly, but it's important to maintain it to maximize your damage as a Dark Knight. Thankfully, the Syphon Strike attack in the core GCD combo restores a small amount of MP, and when it's available, strategic use of Carve and Spit can help keep your resources stocked for the next time you need to fill the gauge.
The Blood Gauge
The job’s Blood Gauge accumulates Blackblood, a resource several attacks use in Dark Knight's arsenal. The gauge increases by 20 with each successful combo of the attack Souleater. Once said gauge reaches 50, you'll gain access to three different attacks:
- Bloodspiller: At level 62, you will be able to spend your Blood Gauge on the Bloodspiller, a 500 potency single-target attack that will spend 50 of your accumulated Blackblood.
- Quietus: Reaching level 64 unlocks Quietus, the multi-target equivalent of Bloodspiller. Like its single-target counterpart, it also costs 50 Blackblood to use.
- Living Shadow: Living Shadow spends 50 Blackblood to summon a "dark" version of you to fight at your side for 20 seconds. It can use Shadowbringer, meaning it's useful in both single-target and multi-target situations. With a recast timer of two minutes, you'll want to use this as often as you can over Bloodspiller or Quietus.
While you can normally increase the Blood Gauge and restore MP by doing Dark Knight’s core GCD combo, Dark Knight has a few abilities to make use of to make maintaining resources a bit easier while still managing to dish out large amounts of damage.
- Blood Weapon: Using Blood Weapon grants five stacks of the similarly named buff, each stack depleting after landing an attack. When a stack depletes, you increase the Blood Gauge by 10 while restoring MP. In combination with the 20 Blackblood granted by Souleater, doing your GCD combo will increase your Blood Gauge by 50 with two additional stacks to use as you see fit.
- Delirium: This ability allows three uses of either Bloodspiller or Quietus with no cost and increases MP with each use. Combined with Blood Weapon, you can quickly build up Blackblood for your next Bloodspiller, Quietus, or Living Shadow while dishing out massive damage.
- The Blackest Night: Dark Knight's famous mitigation ability, The Blackest Night, often abbreviated TBN in-game, creates a shield around the Dark Knight or a friendly target. If the shield is completely broken before the time expires, the Dark Knight earns Dark Arts, which grants the use of Edge of Shadow or Flood of Shadow for no MP cost. With a recast time of 15 seconds, TBN should be used often for large amounts of incoming damage like tankbusters or party-wide AOEs.
Dark Knight food, pots, and gear - current for Patch 6.5
Even the broodiest of knights work better with a full stomach. That's why, to maximize your contributions as a Dark Knight, you'll need the best high-quality food and tinctures suited for your job and the best in slot (BiS) gear. Dark Knight is among the many jobs that work best after munching on some high-quality Baked Eggplant. As for tinctures, you'll need a high-quality Grade 8 Tincture of Strength. Refer to the opener or specific Duty guides to know the best time to use a tincture.
To have the BiS gear, you'll need a combination of the Augmented Credendum and Ascension gearsets, earned by completing the Anabaseios Savage Raids. You can find details on specific gear pieces and melds on Etro.