Last updated: 5/5/23
I feel like the number one thing you can do to be a better player in FFXIV, if you have the time and energy for it, is to level/play one of each of the following:
All of these (yes, I'm singling out black mage as its own thing, red mage I feel like you can somewhat extrapolate from melee/black mage and summoner is a ranged DPS) have specific things that they Need to be able to do their jobs well and properly that aren't immediately intuitive to other roles - and in fact, there may be things that solo play has trained you to do that are hellish in group situations! For example, as a ranged player you might have learned to stay as far away from your target as possible. This makes sense when you're handling some solo duty/open world mobs on your own, but in a group, this makes it VERY hard for the healer to get you with their AoE heals following a raidwide. (and this is doubly painful for any healers whose whole deal is working with limited resources, like both barrier healers)
For those who don't have the time or energy to level each of these, though, here's a very incomplete list of things I've learned from each off of the top of my head:
(a bunch of these overlap with "how to make a healer's job easier")
In dungeons, if you grab aggro from the tank for whatever reason (unloaded your burst while the tank was still pulling, tank's AoE missed a mob, hit a mob before the tank), bring the mob over to the tank. Don't run off to Narnia and force the tank AND the healer AND any melees in the group to chase after you! Tanks do have a ranged attack and a longer-range Provoke ability, but even that doesn't help if you've ran out of range, and also it's just easier for them to grab the mob if you run it into their AoE range.
This is a spicy take for some reason lmao but please do not pull more than the tank has decided to pull. In addition to it just being rude, both tanks and healers have a limited number of "die less fast" abilities, especially in early leveling content. (especially in ARR.) A skilled tank doesn't mindlessly pull wall-to-wall, but gauges pull size based upon the circumstance to avoid getting everyone killed. There's a good chance that if a tank is slowing their roll, most of their abilities are on cooldown and they're playing it safe while they recharge. (This especially tends to happen in groups where the DPS are new/undergeared and pulls are taking extra long to kill.) Remember: pulling more isn't actually faster if you wipe!
That red stack marker with two red orbs orbiting around the tank is a "tank stack" marker. That means both tanks have to be stood together to share the damage, or else the marked tank will take a fuckton of damage and probably die. If you're the cotank, get your butt over there - if you're anyone else, get your butt OUT of there.
The above is NOT to be confused with the regular tankbuster marker aka the red safety tape circles, which means that the tank (and possibly anyone around them) is about to be hit with a big whopper of damage. Do not stand near them, even as the cotank, and if you're a healer, dropping a shield on them is always appreciated.
(There's also a tankbuster marker that's yellow square safety tapes instead, which is pretty much the same except that it means everything in the tank's direction will be hit with a big conal AoE. Don't stand next to or behind the tank.)
The number one thing to remember is that it is not the healer's fault if you die to avoidable damage. The healer's job is to keep the tank alive and to heal off unavoidable damage. No healer can save you from an instant death because you ate five vuln stacks before the raidwide. I personally will do my damnest best to keep people up anyway because I know hecking up is part of learning but like. yeah. dead DPS do no DPS!
If you're a ranged player, please be mindful of where your healer is and try to be where their heals can reach you after damage goes out. It's fine if you're in Narnia to do a mechanic or just because things got crazy, but try to get back in range in advance of/immediately after the raidwide so you can benefit from the party heals.
If you do take avoidable damage and/or are in Narnia after a raidwide, consider using your self-heals to top yourself up (Second Wind for melee/ranged, Bloodbath for melee)
If there's a raidwide incoming, consider popping any group defensive buffs that you have (and Reprisal for tanks) to reduce the chance that someone dies and reduce the amount the healer has to heal.
As a tank: you should be popping a defensive for incoming tankbusters anyway, but if a bunch of people are dead/critical health/etc, that's a great time to proactively use an extra defensive to buy some time for the healers to pick folks up.
(+ some more from Rui / someone in a Discord server I'm in)
"If you're not a tank, try not to stand in front with the tanks. Sometimes mobs and bosses target only the front, and they hit really hard."
"When you get resurrected, try not to attack immediately. Your Transcendent buff will render you invulnerable to most attacks for a few seconds; it gives your healer extra time to heal you up. Otherwise, you may risk dying again and again to unavoidable damage." (Phosphor's addendum: Some mechanics go through Transcendent regardless (e.g. the Big Thing that you gotta tank LB3 for in the 5.3 EX) so in those cases it's best to hold off on accepting the rez until it's over.)
If you're the tank, avoid spinning the boss around or moving it unless you have to (e.g. there's a mechanic incoming that forces you to move). Melee DPS have abilities that depend upon hitting the enemy specifically from their side or rear, and spinning makes it harder for them to land those + potentially puts them in danger of getting cleaved.
(Addendum: if you're the cotank, especially be mindful of your stance and provoke. You don't want to make the boss spin wildly between you and the main tank because the aggro is ping-ponging between you two.)
If you know you'll be targeted by a mechanic that shoots big line AoEs or the like at you (example: Susano's big storm multiline AoEs, which actually focus on one specific player), try to position yourself so that they won't go off near the boss. Both your melee and your tanks will thank you for not forcing them to run away.
What I just said about not aiming mechanics at the boss? Don't aim them at the black mage, either. Especially don't aim them at them while they've put down their leylines.
In general, just like. Don't stand next to the black mage unless there's a mechanic that requires it.
As much as the black mage "I'm not moving" thing is a meme, there's a really good reason for it: black mages have super long cast times and multiple job mechanics that depend upon them a) consistently casting, and b) casting X number of spells within a certain timespan, and forcing them to cancel a cast to get out of the way of a mechanic can mess up their entire setup. It's still their responsibility to not get hit by avoidable damage, and a good black mage will know how to use their tools to do so (Swiftcast, Triplecast, teleports, etc), but you can make things easier for them by, say, moving away from them if you or they have a spread marker instead of standing there and waiting for them to move.
This is my personal take which other healers/black mages might disagree with, but: if you're a healer, don't use Rescue on black mages. Either they're planning to teleport to you right after their next spell, know something you don't and are doing a galaxy brain play (did you know that on the second boss of the level 79 dungeon, if you squeeze yourself into one of the far corners most of the mechanics will miss you???), or they're going to fuck around and find out and it's not your fault if they die doing so.
(thanks Rui for the reminder!)
It can be jarring to move to one role from another, like if you've only ever done ranged DPS and you're trying out tanking. It's a big shift! It's perfectly normal to be confused and to struggle!
There are many, many exceptions to the rules. For example, most ARR encounters have "double autos" instead of telegraphed tankbusters; some pre-Endwalker tankbusters with cast bars still don't have the tankbuster marker; some tethers want you to spread while others want you to be close. While there have been some efforts to standardize things, it's also just part of the nature of a decade-old game.
Dying is part of the learning process. Don't stress about it.
It's okay to miss things or to not understand them. It'll come with practice.