In a game full of magic, old-fashioned weapons, and otherworldly powers, there’s one class that stands out. It’s cool, it’s flashy—and it’s got a meme-y reputation for giving its players carpal tunnel.
Yes, I’m talking about Final Fantasy XIV’s machinist class.
One of the three new classes introduced for Heavensward, the machinist has long been my absolute favourite class. As busy as it can get sometimes, I loved the idea of a class that goes outside the game’s typical class style and instead of relying on innate abilities or skills, left all the power up to technology.
In fact, at the time, it was the only one, and that’s only recently changed with the sage class.
So today, let’s explore the machinist class—how it works, how to play it, and why you’ll end up loving it.
First up: What's the machinist?
The machinist is FFXIV’s second physical ranged damage-per-second (DPS) class, which puts it in the same category as the bard and dancer classes. Unlike those other two classes, however, which both have strengths in buffing other party members, the machinist is what I like to call a selfish DPS. It’s just out to deal as much damage as it can.
To make this happen, it has a balanced kit that gives you a variety of ways to smack things as much as possible—and which ultimately gives you two primary playstyles.
The machinist's core playstyle: Steady damage
Like most classes in FFXIV, the machinist has a core one-two-three combo that deals more damage when used in order. This is your Split Shot, Slug Shot, and Clean Shot combo—all of which later power up into Heated versions.
This combo is what you’ll use to increase both your Heat Gauge and your Battery Gauge, which unlock the machinist’s more powerful abilities as they fill up.
Of course, these skills are a great source of consistent damage. But for the most part, once you reach higher levels, the only time you want to be using this combo is when everything else is on cooldown.
The machinist's secondary playstyle: Burst damage
Where some classes specialize in being able to deliver consistent damage all the time, the machinist is a burst DPS. It specializes in building up as many resources as possible and then unleashing in a powerful way on its enemies.
Because of this, you’ll want to make sure you consider your timing. You don’t want to kick off a burst just to have a boss mechanic interrupt halfway through and waste your damage!
There are three main components to your burst damage: Reassemble, Wildfire, and Hypercharge.
Reassemble: This ability lets you guarantee that your next weaponskill is a critical direct hit. That’s important because it’s essentially the most possible damage you can deal in one hit. For the most part, you’ll want to use this with your hard-hitting skills: Drill, Hot Shot (later Air Anchor), and Chain Saw. Even using it for Clean Shot at the end of a combo is a good option.
Wildfire: This ability is the foundation of the machinist’s burst because of how it stacks your damage. It lets you plant a sticky bomb on your target, which will explode after 10 seconds. On its own, it actually doesn’t deal any damage. But for each weaponskill you land in that 10 seconds, the potency goes up by 150.
For the most part, the machinist can land six hits within that time. So if you time it right, that bomb’s power goes up to 900 potency in essentially free damage. That isn’t possible with your normal combo—but that just leads us to the next component.
Hypercharge: This ability, which the machinist will have when it unlocks at 30, is what I affectionately call the rapid-fire skill. When you build up your Heat Gauge to 50, you can use Hypercharge to overheat your weapon for eight seconds, which unlocks either Auto Crossbow, a great area-of-effect (AoE) weaponskill, or Heat Blast, a single-target skill. Unlike your regular skills, which will likely have recast times around 2.46 seconds, both of these skills have a recast time of 1.5 seconds.
This means that in the eight seconds your weapon is overheated, you’ll be able to land five of one of these skills. And because this is only eight seconds, you’ll have time to use an additional weaponskill before Wildfire times out—making this the only way to land six hits.
Using your Heat Blast also resets the timers for Gauss Round and Ricochet, so if you can fit them in, it’s great to weave them between Heat Blasts. But if you have any lag at all, it’s better to stick to Heat Blast while Wildfire’s up; they’re both abilities, so they won’t count toward your hits landed.
As a machinist, you also get additional burst damage that doesn’t come from you.
Automaton Queen: One of my favourite parts about the machinist is that it gets its own robot to help it fight. She doesn’t directly contribute to your burst damage through Wildfire, but she’s a great support for your burst damage. At earlier levels, this is your rook autoturret, but at 80, it evolves into the Automaton Queen. This ability uses your Battery Gauge; it needs at least 50 to activate, or 100 to maximize how long your turret or queen is out.
Note: The length of time doesn’t scale between 50 and 100, so use it at one or the other. Using it in between will just waste your gauge power.
Typically, I like to activate my queen when the battery gauge hits 50 because while she’s out for a shorter time, it doesn’t take as long to build up—and in some cases, I can have her out pretty much constantly. That also gives her more opportunities to use her big burst skill, Pile Driver, when she leaves the battlefield.
So far, we’ve covered pretty much everything you need to play machinist effectively—and when you start to see the big chunks go out of enemies’ health, especially when you use Reassemble, you’ll start to see why I like it so much.
That said, there are a few other good skills to know for any FF shooter!
Bioblaster: This weaponskill, which is the machinist’s only damage-over-time (DoT) skill, shares a recast timer with Drill. Because of this, it’s better to stick to Drill in single-enemy fights—but if you’re facing a big mob, it’s better to use Bioblaster. Why? Because Bioblaster is an AoE DoT, which means it can deal more damage overall by applying consistent damage to a large number of enemies.
Spread Shot: This skill later upgrades to Scattergun (which is the most satisfying shotgun-sounding ability ever) and is your primary AoE skill. It also stacks up your Heat Gauge faster than using your primary combo, so you’ll want to use this in mob situations to get your Auto Crossbow faster.
Flamethrower: Though this is definitely the coolest skill machinist has (and may or may not be why I wanted it originally), it hasn’t really scaled with the rest of the build well. So at least for me, this has been relegated to the status of the skill I use when literally everything else is used up, and/or my hand is tired. You’ll want to be careful using this with a lot of enemy AoEs; it cancels as soon as you move or even turn, and you’ll have to wait for its recast time.
So there you have it: How to play machinist in Final Fantasy XIV. I hope this guide has helped, and happy playing!