I have just recently learned about Limit Breaks in Final Fantasy XIV. What I have learned makes me very excited. Limit Breaks give every member of your party an “Oh shit!” button. The problem is, if you use yours, no one else can use his or hers for a while afterward. Let’s explain.
Approaching the Limit
The concept of Limit Breaks dates back to FFVII, that early-90s classic with big hair and bigger swords. In VII, each character had a separate Limit Break gauge. Each would fill up over time when the character took an action in combat (attacking, spell, healing). Once full, the character could perform a suped-up move that differed from character to character.
Walk Along the Razor’s Edge
The basic concept of Limit Breaks remains the same in FFXIV. Combat actions charge up a gauge that, once full, unleashes a powerful ability that differs from class to class. The major difference here is that your party shares one meter. Each party member’s actions charge it up, but when anyone uses it, the meter goes to zero.
The different Limit Breaks generally are:
Tank classes: essentially a group Shield Wall, increasing defense for all party members for a short time.
Melee DPS: High-damage single-target attack.
Caster DPS: Big AOE explody.
Healer & non-magic ranged DPS: AOE heal.
Now think about all the different mechanics you face in an MMO dungeon, and you will understand the beauty of the system. For example, is there a burn phase you are struggling with? The extra, powerful single-target attack could fix that. But, if you use it, you deprive your healer and tank of some defensive tools. I have also heard of casters using their AOE Limit Break to make short work of trash.
Limit Breaks are a great addition to the game. They encourage people to bring each type of class (where melee DPS may otherwise be disfavored). More importantly, they encourage a different type of cooperation and coordination. In Full Parties (8 people) you are probably going to designate one person to trigger each type of break. Beyond that, does the raid leader micromanage the use of them, or do you trust that to the team? The answer probably is dictated by fight mechanics, which is the way it should be.
The only thing I don’t like about the system is that Archers/Bards share a Limit Break with healers. You are always going to have a healer in your group, which means the ARC/BRD Limit Break will always be unneeded. In my mind, ARC/BRD should share a Break with casters. That puts them on the same level as other DPS, but does not take away one of the benefits of melee bringing a unique ability to the table.