If you’ve ever played any of the other tank classes before, there will be some things about FFXIV’s Dark Knight that do look familiar. However, Darkside adds an element of MP management that doesn’t exist with the other tanks, Paladin and Warrior. Let’s start with the basics first though.
During dungeons, you’re usually going to be fighting groups of two to three enemies more. Pull these enemies using your ranged attack Unmend, which has the added benefit of increasing your enmity (or hate if you prefer). Once the enemies are grouped together, regularly hit them with Unleash, which dishes out AoE damage that also increases enmity. Be careful though, as Unleash does drain your MP. Once you’ve got all the enemies together (and pointed away from the other party members, especially the healer), begin your Hard Slash -> Spinning Slash combo which quickly builds enmity on a single target.
Now FFXIV’s Dark Knight has two stances that can both be used at the same time but have very different functions. The first is Grit, which is similar to Shield Oath on Paladin. It will reduce your damage but greatly increase your enmity generation and reduces your damage taken. This should always be on if you’re main tanking (read: any four man dungeon). Next is the ability you just unlocked, Darkside. Darkside rapidly drains your MP but in return increases your damage. With this on, you can greatly aid your team’s damage per second (DPS) but you’ll need to keep your MP intake high to maintain this.
While in Darkside, the only way to reliably refresh your MP is by using Syphon Strike after Hard Slash instead of Spinning Slash. The problem is, this messes with your enmity generation. The trick is to start off by building hate with Unleash and Hard Slash -> Spinning Slash (with Darkside on if you’re starting with high MP), but then once you have hate pretty much locked, start using Syphon Strike after Hard Slash instead, mixing in Spinning Slash everyone in a while if your MP is high. By doing this, you can offset the damage that is reduced by Grit while still maintaining all of its benefits.
While that’s going to be your combo rotation of sorts, there are other important abilities to mix in as well. Low Blow is an off GCD (read: doesn’t count towards your cooldown timer) Stun, but does have a cooldown before it can be used again. Stunning deadly AoEs are crucial to surviving tough fights as a FFXIV‘s Dark Knight.
Shadowskin reduces your damage taken and can be combined with Reprisal (which can be used after a successsful parry) to provide some quality damage mitigation. Finally, Scourge should be used as much as possible to keep DoT on your enemy and increase your party’s overall DPS.
And that just about does it as far as beginner Dark Knight tips are concerned in FFXIV: Heavensward. As you level up, you’ll acquire new abilities that you’ll need to work into your rotation. But as long as you understand the basics, you’ll be in a great position to learn how to use these new abilities with ease!