In Final Fantasy XIV, DPS (“damage per second”) is king. The more DPS a party puts out, the quicker a battle will end, period. Higher DPS can even make a fight easier by limiting the number of mechanics and attacks that appear, commonly called “pushing phases” by the game’s community. At the higher end of gameplay, players will even try to raise their DPS for competitive per-fight rankings on websites such as fflogs.com. But which damage-dealing job (or “DPS class”) is best for dealing the biggest numbers?
This article will give you a basic idea of what the highest theoretical DPS is. However, a good Bard will out-DPS a bad Samurai almost any day of the week. As such, saying that any one DPS class is absolutely better than any other should be taken with a few grains of salt.
Individual DPS vs rDPS
Individual DPS is important, but the rDPS (or “raid DPS”) of a whole party is more important. In order for a party’s rDPS to matter, you need synergy with your team. If your static’s Astrologian gives the wrong person a damage-up card buff, or if your Dragoon gives you the Dragon Sight tether while you’re handling a mechanic and able to use your best and strongest attacks, then your theoretical rDPS doesn’t matter. Your individual DPS for a fight might be fine and good in such cases, but when a party’s synergy is on point, not only will your own individual DPS be even better, but so will the rDPS of the entire party. That means that not only do your own attacks matter, but so do your skills and abilities that help others do their best, too.
Finally, keep in mind that every raid tier in FFXIV is designed to be clearable by any combination of DPS classes. So even if you want to do big numbers, you’ll be best at the class you like to play, and you’ll likely do higher numbers as that class than trying to understand and execute a rotation of a different DPS class that you don’t like nearly as much.
#1: Summoner (SMN)
FFXIV’s Summoner is generally considered to be a convoluted class with a ridiculously lengthy rotation, but in terms of straight DPS, it’s hard to beat when played by a proficient player. It even brings party-wide synergy in the damage-boosting ability Devotion, which is a fair improvement over fellow caster class Black Mage.
What makes Summoner tricky isn’t necessarily its complexity, but the fragility of its long rotation in most endgame raids: if you die while in the middle of that rotation, you’re essentially sent back to the beginning once you’re resurrected, and your DPS will suffer dramatically as a result. This is because a Summoner’s attacks build on each other towards transforming your summoned pet into grander and more damaging beasts, and interrupting that is a significant DPS hit. But if you’re fine with playing a class perfectly under almost all situations for the greatest DPS payoff, Summoner is for you.
#2: Samurai (SAM)
In sharp contrast to Summoner’s complexity, Samurai almost seems too simple: charge your Sen Gauge with three short and simple combo attacks, hit an enemy with Midare Setsugekka, rinse, repeat. There’s more nuance to that, of course, but big damage for far less work relative to other DPS classes is Samurai’s hallmark in FFXIV’s player community by this point. The difference between a good Samurai and a great one, then, is knowing when to use your biggest attacks at the best possible times for maximum damage, according to the synergy provided by your teammates. Samurai has no synergy to offer a team in return other than the damage it deals, however, so if you choose to play this class, be prepared to bring that heat.
#3: Black Mage (BLM)
Black Mage puts out high DPS numbers, but like Samurai, it doesn’t really contribute to the rest of the party. It can be a challenging class to play well because of its “turret” style of gameplay: when you’re in the midst of dealing your most damaging attacks, there’s a better-than-average likelihood that you’ll be stuck in one spot and open to attacks that more easily avoided by other DPS classes. Owing to stiff movement since the days of the Heavensward expansion, Black Mage is often regarded as an uncompromising class.
This reputation can be deceiving, however, as Black Mage nevertheless has a variety of abilities available that facilitate quick movement, such as Triplecast and Aetherial Manipulation. These abilities are best used when you already know how a fight works, and if you know exactly when and where you’ll need to move according to a boss’s attack pattern. If you’re good at planning your movement 30 seconds ahead of time, then you’ll do well as a Black Mage.
#4: Ninja (NIN)
The Ninja class received a significant boost in Patch 5.1, removing a great deal of clunkiness from how its “mudras” were executed, which made it much easier to play by players with slower internet connections. Besides that, it had received a tremendous overall potency boost by the development team to many of its attacks; as such, a good Ninja player can give even better Samurai players a run for their money.
Ninja is a very busy class, however: you’ll constantly be hitting a lot of buttons for that high DPS with only the briefest of times to rest during a tough fight. The ability Ten Chi Jin – necessary for higher-end gameplay and for putting out that aforementioned high DPS – remains one of the clunkiest abilities in the entire game, and can take a while to get used to using efficiently. And like Samurai, Ninja doesn’t really offer any party synergy outside of the role abilities available to it as a melee DPS. At the end of the day, though, who doesn’t love summoning a giant red frog that spits a fireball at your enemies? Ninja brings all that to the table, and more.
#5: Red Mage (RDM)
Once upon a time, Red Mage was viewed as a relatively weaker DPS class that was better utilized for its party synergy while raiding – specifically, its ability to resurrect two fallen members of a party in quick succession thanks to its native Dualcast trait, when combined with the role ability Swiftcast. While FFXIV’s player base still largely prefers to use Red Mage in this way – having a Red Mage in the party while learning and progressing through a fight, and then switching to a different DPS class when its utility and synergy is no longer needed – that doesn’t mean that this class is weak on DPS by any means.
Red Mage brings a simple and almost rhythmic rotation to the table that doesn’t get interrupted easily by a sudden death like with the other caster classes, and its Embolden ability has useful damage-up synergy in any endgame party composition. And as much as you might think you won’t need Verraise after you’ve cleared a fight a couple times, let’s be honest: there’s always going to be times where something goes wrong and you’ll be glad there’s a Red Mage around to resurrect one or both of the healers. As it happens, not being dead is an overall rDPS increase!
#6: Monk (MNK)
By rights, Monk should be as heavy-hitting on individual DPS as any of its fellow melee DPS classes, but poor design and skill implementation has held it back over the last few years. As such, it’s currently a good class for people who don’t mind positionals and a lot of extra button-mashing work in order to get the best DPS numbers. And much like Summoner, a Monk can be prone to having to restart their entire rotation from scratch due to an untimely death, although Monk is far quicker to get back on its feet on account of having an easier rotation.
Fans of this class shouldn’t despair: the development team is presently designing a rework of the class, and particularly its finicky implementation of the Greased Lightning traits, that should make the class more friendly to play relative to the amount of damage that it’s capable of putting out. This rework should hopefully be implemented in Patch 5.4, so please look forward to giving Monk a try then, if you felt it wasn’t the best fit for you before. Like with Ninja before it, the changes could be drastic and very positive.
#7: Dragoon (DRG)
Dragoon was the king of the hill as far as individual DPS was concerned back in Stormblood. Even now, an experienced Dragoon player can outshine many of the DPS players around them, owing to the fact that Dragoon’s gameplay hasn’t changed much in two expansions, aside from quality-of-life improvements that make dishing out its best attacks easier to perform.
That said, Dragoon suffers from slightly lower attack potencies compared to most other DPS classes, but it makes up for this with excellent party synergy in the abilities Battle Litany and Dragon Sight. When used at the right times, these abilities can greatly help a party’s rDPS. Moreover, paying attention to positional requirements can improve a Dragoon’s damage output by a significant margin. It’s also just simply a fun class to play, period – but be careful when executing one of your many jump attacks during a mechanic that will likely kill you!
#8: Machinist (MCH)
Machinist got a significant rework for Shadowbringers that made it significantly more enjoyable to play, especially compared to its clunky and needlessly complicated pre-expansion rotation. This DPS class has a lot more flavor to it now, with flashy attacks like Bioblaster and the hard-hitting Drill.
Unfortunately, as we approach the end of this list, you might notice something interesting: the three DPS classes with the lowest current theoretical individual DPS are all ranged physical classes. These classes were designed more with party synergy in mind over their individual DPS strength, but unlike Dancer and Bard, all Machinist really has for that at the moment is its Tactician ability, which reduces party-wide damage taken for a short time. It makes up for this by having the highest DPS of the three ranged physical DPS classes, as well as by having a not-that-complex rotation that’s a literal blast to play, but with any luck FFXIV’s development team will give Machinist’s attack potencies a little love in a future patch.
#9: Dancer (DNC)
The important thing to know about the new Dancer class, introduced with Shadowbringers, is that high individual DPS was never the goal of the class from the onset. Dancer’s real strength lies in its incredible party synergy, including Curing Waltz, Shield Samba, and the real star of the show, Closed Position, which grants a fellow “Dance Partner” DPS teammate every buff that the Dancer gives itself as it goes through its rotation. Much like with Dragoon’s Dragon Sight ability, it’s important that a Dancer knows who best would benefit the most from being their Dance Partner for the sake of the party’s overall rDPS. And while the Dancer class doesn’t have the highest theoretical DPS output, it’s extremely fun to play a class that acts as its own laser light show and dance party all at once.
#10: Bard (BRD)
Between the damage-reducing Troubadour, the DPS buff Battle Voice, and the ability to remove a debuff from a party member (even ahead of when it hits!), Bard’s party synergy isn’t shabby at all. Each of its songs confer small party-wide buffs, as well. Unfortunately, the attack potencies found in a Bard’s own attacks leave a little to be desired. Besides having overall weaker hits, Bard simply requires more outright thinking and careful song use in each fight in order to get the most out of its toolkit, and Apex Arrow, its “big hit” attack gained in Shadowbringers, feels the least satisfying to charge and use out of all similar attacks added to other classes in the expansion.
Thankfully, FFXIV’s dev team is aware of Bard’s damage shortcomings, and they intend to implement big potency increases (and perhaps other small changes as well) in Patch 5.3. If nothing else, don’t forget that even if Bard has the weakest theoretical individual DPS of all ten DPS classes in FFXIV, a Bard player still brings considerable utility and synergy to any party when played well, and you’ll almost certainly use it to out-DPS a Summoner that can’t use Dreadwyrm Trance effectively. If you like the class, that’s going to be the biggest DPS buff of all in this MMO in particular.