Final Fantasy 14 has always had some truly fascinating Jobs. And few among them are quite as interesting as the Bard! This damage class doesn’t hit as hard as some of its peers, but makes up for it with powerful songs that buff the entire party. Now, with the release of the Shadowbringers expansion, the Bard is basically better than ever. But there are a lot of changes to parse through. That’s why we’ve gone and created this guide to the Bard class in FF14! Let’s saunter on over and take a look.
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FF14 Jobs are all going through some major changes in Shadowbringers. The new expansion includes major reworks across the board, as well as two entirely new classes: Dancer and Gunbreaker. Between these additions and another massive payload of story content, Shadowbringers almost makes FF14 feel like an entirely new game. And that’s exactly why you might need help picking your new main Job or Jobs this time around. We’re here to help with another FF14 Job guide — this time for the soothing Bard class.
Bard Role – FF14 Shadowbringers Guide
The Bard is far and away one of the more complex damage-dealing classes in FF14. They’re a ranged physical DPS Job — just like the Dancer and Machinist. That also makes them a relatively rare sub-type. Ranged physical classes don’t have to worry about “cast times,” which force them to stand still while charging attacks. As a result, the Bard can deal damage more consistently than nearly any other Job in FF14 (especially when you deal with endgame bosses and their constant AoE attacks). But these classes also tend to have lower raw numbers than, say, a Black Mage.
Less directly, Bards suffer from how common DPS players are in FF14. A Bard can’t often get “Hero in Need” XP and gil bonuses by participating in daily roulettes — except sometimes in Alliance Raids. This makes Bards (and any other DPS for that matter) somewhat harder to level up than tank Jobs and healers in Final Fantasy. On the upside, they’re a lot simpler to play than either of the other two roles.
Bard Rework – FF14 Shadowbringers Guide
The Bard saw a pretty significant rework in patch 5.0 (a.k.a. the Shadowbringers expansion). And pretty much all of the changes are good! There is somehow both more and less randomness in the class’s usual move set, but it evens out in a way that mostly benefits Bard players.
Case in point, the most basic Bard attacks — Heavy Shot and Straight Shot — now work completely differently. Heavy Shot used to be a basic arrow shot that gave Straight Shot a high critical hit chance. Straight Shot, in turn, used to be a powerful hit that provided a broader 10 percent crit chance buff. All of that has gone out the window… Now Heavy Shot has a 20-35 percent chance of letting you use Straight Shot. Full stop! To offset this, both skills now do considerably more damage — especially when you reach level 70 and Straight Shot just permanently becomes Refulgent Arrow.
The short version? The Bard lost its personal crit buff, but gained a lot of raw damage. The downside is that you need to rely on a random proc to use your more powerful basic attack at all. This puts the Bard more in line with the design philosophy seen on Dancer, and to a lesser extent the Machinist from before Shadowbringers. Although many other abilities now combo into Straight Shot/Refulgent Arrow, too. You can also trigger it manually with Barrage: the Bard damage buff that every player previously just used on Refulgent Arrow anyway.
The missing crit buff has also been replaced… after a fashion. Bards got a slight buff to Battle Voice which increases the entire party’s chance of dealing a Direct Hit (basically a baby critical).
Let’s not forget the songs, either. Bards are as much about buffing party members as dealing damage directly (if not more-so). The oreviously uninspiring Army’s Paeon got a neat tweak. Now, besides just giving the Bard a damage speed boost, it can overlap with other songs that feature more utility. And the more you play the song, the more powerful that overlap becomes.
Topping it all off, the Bard has a new Job gauge resource called Soul Voice. The more the class plays a given song, and deals damage over time, the more Soul Voice they prepare. And the more Soul Voice they prepare, the more powerful the Bard’s new ultimate attack becomes. This is called Apex Arrow, and basically just does big, honking damage in a straight line. Neat!
TL;DR The bard play style in FF14 remains more-or-less the same. You shoot bad guys while playing songs that make your friends feel better. Now, though, the songs build up to something much more powerful with Apex Arrow. And the kinda-sorta less RNG around Refulgent Arrow should make you do more reliable damage. Higher potency doesn’t hurt, either. You can look at a full lists of all the Bard changes in FF14: Shadowbringers right here!
Bard Tips – FF14 Shadowbringers Guide
- Deal damage over time. This might be obvious, but it’s doubly important on the Bard compared to other Jobs in FF14. You need to deal your damage over time. The abilities Windbite and Venomous Bite don’t just deal damage, after all. They also have a chance to power up your Job gauge Repertoire with every tick. This is one of the true sources of your damage on Bard.
- Always shoot your Straight Shot. Old school Bard players may be used to spamming Heavy Shot over and over again, hoping to boost their next Straight Shot. That is no longer a concern. Straight Shot Ready is a buff applied by a variety of different attacks, and should always be expended on Straight Shot (or Refulgent Arrow when it upgrades). Since you’re going to use a ton of attacks that can proc Straight Shot anyway, you want to make sure you get your powerful attack out ASAP — before automatically fishing for more just by playing.
- Barrage is meant for Straight Shot, too. There’s a reason Barrage now automatically prepares Straight Shot and Refulgent Arrow. It’s what everybody wants to use it for! You can technically burn this triple shot on many different moves, but there isn’t much point. It doesn’t triple the bonus effects of those moves. So you might as well put it on your dearest damage dealer.
How to Unlock the Bard Job – FF14 Shadowbringers Guide
There are two ways to unlock the Bard in FF14. The first is to simply start the game as the Archer class. This is the level 1-29 equivalent of the Bard — and will be able to upgrade to the full Job at level 30. On the other hand, if you’ve already started FF14 and want to switch, you just have to find the class in the world. Simply head to the Archer’s Guild in New Gridania. Speak to the attendant there to begin the quest that will put you on the path of the Bard Job. You will still need to begin at level one and work your way up, however.
That’s all for now, folks! Thanks for taking the time to read our guide to the Bard in FF14: Shadowbringers. We hope it helps you master this explosive DPS to the best of your ability. Until then, good luck learning the new reworks, abilities, and intricacies of the Bard going forward.