FFXIV Endwalker Preview: The Sage Isn’t Quite The Combat Healer You’re Expecting

Temper your expectations for Final Fantasy XIV’s Sage.

I was deeply enamored with the Sage when it was first revealed. The Job’s weapon, the mentally-controlled floating Nouliths, instantly recalled the Fin Funnels of the Gundam franchise. The concept of healing via damaging abilities, like World of Warcraft’s Discipline Priest, is always a fun one in MMOs. I envisioned a highly mobile healer zipping around the battlefield and using healing lasers to kill enemies.

In the end, Sage is not quite that. I had the chance to play the new Job during a media tour of Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, and found that it splits the difference between Scholar and Dancer. My thoughts went to “healing version of Gunbreaker,” but the truth is that the Sage doesn’t have that many damaging actions as it could, though it retains a number of standard barriers and heals. It’ll be the healer that simply does a little more damage overall.

Please note that this article is based on playing an in-development build of Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, and content in the final version is subject to change.

You can also check out the rest of our coverage of the media tour:

FFXIV Endwalker Sage Job
A Sage stands in their iconic gear.

The Look of the Sage

I’m largely in love with the aesthetic of the Sage. The showcase armor for the Job features an immaculate white leather overcoat that resembles a doctor’s white lab coat. There’s blue piping to break up the white, and it even factors into the underside of the overcoat. On the waist — goodbye, belts — you’ll find what are likely aether gadgets. The helmet for Sage also looks to be a technical visor, likely to control the Nouliths. The Nouliths themselves float on the back of the Sage when holstered, looking like closed wings. I honestly can’t wait to see what the glowing Relic versions of the Nouliths will look like; you can expect magitek angel wings on every high-level Sage. “Magic combat doctor” is the overall vibe here. 

FFXIV Endwalker Sage Tower of Zot
A Sage uses its healing lasers!

Kardia – The Combat Doctor’s Toolkit

The main feature of the Sage is Kardia, a mix between the Scholar’s Fairy and the Dancer’s Closed Position. Kardia allows you to mark yourself or a party member (you can’t throw it on random friendly players). When you do damage with certain abilities, your Kardia target is healed. Kardia stays on your target as a buff called Kardion until you activate the ability again, and it doesn’t touch the global cooldown. The Job also has Soteria, a 10-second buff that doubles the effects of your Kardion heals.

Low-level Sages will likely keep Kardia on the tank and use their direct heals and barriers on the rest of the party. High-end play will be a mix of Astrologian, as you’ll be weaving Kardia between different party members as needed, and Scholar, as you’ll use your basic attacks for small heals here and there. The trick here is you need to be attacking to really maximize Kardia, whereas the Scholar’s Fairy is just throwing out Embrace as needed.  

In terms of attacks that feed into your Kardion, this is where I came in expecting a few more tools. The Sage’s attacks are powerful and they heal — but there isn’t much complexity. Your main single-target attack as a Sage is Dosis, which deals unaspected damage and healing to your Kardion target. This tops out at Dosis III at level 82. As a direct comparison to the attack abilities of other healers attack abilities: the Scholar’s Broil IV hits with 295 potency in this preview build, while Dosis III hits for 330 and heals your Kardion target for 170. Slightly more damage, plus that base healing — this is the basis of the Sage.

FFXIV Kardia

Sage’s other attacks that feed into Kardion are area-of-effect (AoE) spells: Phlegma, Dyskrasia, Toxikon, and Pneuma. Phlegma is an ability with two charges that hits your main target, with a 50% damage fall-off for all remaining enemies in a radius of five yalms. Dyskrasia is a straight damage AoE. It’s worth noting that both Phlegma and Dyskrasia are short-range actions — the former has a range of six yalms, while the latter is melee. Yeah, you’re gonna have to get in that scrum to use these.

Pneuma is the Sage’s level 90 action that hits enemies in a straight line, with your main target taking full damage and all other enemies taking 50% of that damage. Pneuma is meaty; in addition to the Kardion heal, it initiates a heal-over-time for 20 seconds to all nearby party members and reduces damage taken by 10%. Finally, Toxikon works like Phlegma, but it has a range of 25 yalms and costs one Addersting. What’s Addersting? More on that in a moment.

Those are all the attacks available to the Sage. Basically, in a single target situation, I found I’d aim to spam Dosis while making sure I had at least one Phlegma charge ticking up. In an AoE situation — and there weren’t many of these in the preview build — I found that I tended to use Pneuma as an opener, and then Phlegma or Dyskrasia depending on my position. Toxikon is more situational since it requires a charge of Addersting. 

FFXIV Addersgall Gauge
The in-game tooltip explaining the Sage’s Job Gauge.

The Job Gauge – Addersgall and Addersting

Let’s dive into Addersgall and Addersting. Both of these make up the Sage’s Job Gauge. The middle bar of the gauge fills up at a sustained rate, giving you a crystal of Addersgall every 20 seconds. You start with three full stacks, denoted by the round blue crystals on top of the gauge. The diamond-shaped empty slots on the bottom are for Addersting. These fill up when a Eukrasian-enhanced barrier you place on someone is exhausted. For more on this, check the section on healing mechanics below.

Addersgall is spent on four different abilities with the -chole suffix: Druochole, Kerachole, Ixochole, and Taurochole. Druochole is a straight single-target heal that also restores 5% of your target’s maximum HP, while Ixochole is the AoE version with a radius of 15 yalms around you. Kerachole is a damage mitigation ability that reduces damage for the party by 10% for 15 seconds while also adding a Regen effect and restoring 5% of maximum MP. Taurochole also features damage mitigation, but it’s single-target with a stronger heal and a 10% damage reduction for 15 seconds. All four abilities are instant cast, giving you a lot of options in an encounter. Note: Kerachole and Taurochole’s buffs cannot be stacked.

Addersting, on the other hand, is only spent on Toxikon. Saving up charges of Addersting and then dropping three Toxikon in a row during a damage buff phase seems to be the point. That said, Toxikon is an AoE damage action, and it does feel like there should be at least one more single-target action to spend Addersting on. It’s an aspect of Sage I feel could be improved.

FFXIV Toxikon
Kneel before my greatness!

Shield and Heal

Next up is the rest of your kit, which brings us to barriers and heals. As a barrier healer, your standard barrier action is Haima. Haima is a single-target barrier that lasts 30 seconds and gives your target 5 stacks of Haimatinon. The barrier itself has a potency of 150. Every time that barrier is consumed by an enemy’s attack, you lose a Haimatinon stack and a new barrier is applied. At the end of the 30 seconds, your target is healed based on the number of remaining Haimatinon stacks at 150 potency per stack.   

Haima is a starting ability for the Sage, given at level 70. At level 80, you get Panhaima, which is the exact same ability but for all party members. Outside of the number of targets, the other meaningful difference is Haima has a range of 30 yalms while Panhaima is cast in a 15-yalm radius around yourself. Once you get Panhaima, that’s the one you want to use most of the time.

The Sage’s heals are similar to its fellow healer counterparts, with Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Physis being your single-target, party heal, and party regen, respectively. What’s actually notable here is the Sage’s ability to buff its healing kit. Eukrasia is an instant-cast augment for three of your spells at no MP cost; its 1 second recast timer combines with the 1.5 second recast timers of the other actions to make a full global cooldown. Dosis becomes Eukrasian Dosis, dealing damage-over-time for 30 seconds. More importantly, Diagnosis and Prognosis become Eukrasian Diagnosis and Eukrasian Prognosis. These are also barriers!

FFXIV Eukrasia

Eukrasian Diagnosis heals a single target while applying a barrier that nullifies damage equal to 180% of the amount of HP restored. It’s exactly the same as the Scholar’s Adloquium in effect. Eukrasian Prognosis does a party heal while casting a barrier that nullifies damage equal to 310% of the amount of HP restored by the heal. Only Eukrasian Diagnosis’ barrier fills up Addersting charges when consumed, probably because you’d get a full set from Prognosis’ party barriers. And, if you don’t care about the barriers, you can use Pepsis to dispel them for an instant heal. 

Combine that with Zoe, an action that doubles the amount cured by your next healing spell for 30 seconds, and the Sage has many choices. You can let the barriers tick down and do their job, consume them for an instant heal, buff your Kardion effect, or even just double whatever your next healing spell is. Overall, the kit isn’t all that different from existing healers — it’s just a difference in how it’s managed.

As I ran the Tower of Zot and a hunt in Thavnair as a Sage, I was mostly struck by how similar the Job is to its predecessors. I expected a full-on revolution, but Square Enix really just took bits of and pieces of different classics and fused them into the combat triage class you’ll find here. Though the Sage is equal parts Scholar and Dancer, the skill ceiling separating an average Sage and a masterful one will be high, especially when you look at proper management of Kardia and Eukrasia.

FFXIV Sage in Old Sharlayan
A Viera Sage poses in Old Sharlayan.

While I wanted more from Sage, I found myself still rather satisfied with my playtime. It’s not as straightforward as something like White Mage, but the healing lasers still feel damn good when you throw out a Dosis, Pneuma, and Toxikon back-to-back. That said, I’m most looking forward to seeing Sages throw themselves into oblivion with Icarus, the aptly named gap closer. That’s going to be great comedy.

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is coming to PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 on November 23, 2021. Early Access begins on November 19. Be sure to check out all of our preview coverage related to Final Fantasy XIV in the run-up to the launch of The Linkshell, our Final Fantasy XIV vertical coming soon!