Xenosys Vex is one of the best-known, most entertaining, and certainly most polarizing members of the FFXIV community. His controversial “aggressive style” tanking advice spread through the FFXIV community like wildfire back in A Realm Reborn, garnering a ton of attention (both good and bad) for him and his channel, establishing him as one of the game’s preeminent tank experts, and launching him on the path to YouTube and Twitch stardom. Blunt, brash, and bold; Xeno has a personality that’s just as aggressive as his playstyle and he’s never been shy about speaking his mind, even when his opinions are unpopular.
TMP writer and tank columnist Aurius Rosnsathsyn was thrilled to be able to spend an evening nerding out with Xeno about his thoughts on tanking in Stormblood, his Party Finder experiences, his plans for the future, and his humble beginnings as a self-described casual RPer who didn’t care about damage and says he “just wanted to look cool while doing my moves.”
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Xenosys Vex, aka “Xeno”. I’m a full time Twitch streamer and I want to say I’m a part time YouTuber. The more the more that I stream the more I get away from YouTube because Twitch is just so much better than YouTube.
How did you get started playing FFXIV and what attracted you to the game in the first place?
It was one of my best friends that got me into the game. He played FFXI for years and then switched to FFXIV during 1.0 and tried to get me to play with him.
I started playing Warrior back in 1.0, but I didn’t play for very long, only about two weeks, but it was a very eventful and fun-filled two weeks. I started making macros for when I would use Bloodbath, and that kind of shit. You know those really cringey, shitty people you find that have these dumb ass macros that fire off every time they pop a cooldown? Yeah, I was one of those guys. I got really into it. It was pretty cringey but it was also awesome. Like when you choose to be filthy and you love it kinda thing – that was me and my RP macros.
I played FFXIV for about two weeks before moving on to Terra for a little while, because at the time 1.0 was basically unplayable for me. It was just way too slow, and way too boring, and I just didn’t really care for it. But then 2.0 came out and my friend Nick told me that they’d changed pretty much the whole game and said I should check it out again. I fucking loved Warrior, but this was back when Warrior was BAD. This was when the Warrior cooldown suite was Foresight and Thrill of Battle; that was all they had. So I became a darklight Paladin, just like everyone else during 2.0, but in my heart I was a Warrior! I played Warrior anytime I wasn’t in raid, and I even took Warrior into T1 and T2. I kept playing, and then in 2.1 it was fucking overpowered as shit, and was the best tank ever.
What motivated you to start streaming and making videos for FFXIV?
It all started with a Warrior guide video that picked up a lot of momentum because, to my knowledge, it was one of the first, if not the first, tank video that showcased an aggressive style of tanking. Which, in my opinion, is how the game should be played. But it was pretty controversial at the time. I got called a retard and a bunch of other very mean names because I was a big advocate on tanking bosses out of your tank stance when you didn’t need the extra mitigation from your tank stance because it was useless. There is such a thing as having too much mitigation, but there’s not such a thing as dealing too much damage. So if you didn’t need the mitigation then you shouldn’t be in your tank stance. I also said parry sucked. The fucking villagers picked up their pitchforks and hunted me down for that one! But they came around eventually. The bald idiot was right after all! And eventually parry was removed from the game altogether.
I started on YouTube and then I started streaming on Twitch. It took me six months and like 11 applications to get partnered on Twitch. I got rejected a lot! But it worked out eventually, and now I’ve been a full time streamer for over two years.
Do you do all the recording, editing and production for your videos yourself?
Yes. Lucky for me, Windows Movie Maker is extremely user friendly and easy to pick up. To be honest, the way I make videos is so fucking stupid, man, and I’m very aware of how dumb it is. I’m the type of person that doesn’t like change very much. Once I find something I like, I will do whatever that is until the end of time. I started on Movie Maker, but when I found out that you can’t do picture-in-picture on Movie Maker, because Movie Maker is actually a terrible program, I switched to Sony Vegas, which I now use for extra effects and stuff like that. The one good thing about Movie Maker is that it’s really, really simple and you can do a lot with not much time involved. When it comes to things like copy/pasting pieces of footage, it’s really easy to do. There’s a lot of extra steps in Vegas, because it’s a more advanced program but depending on what you’re doing you might not even need those steps in the first place, so I use two different programs to edit.
In addition to streaming, you make a variety of different types of videos; raid guides, class guides, crazy comp runs, and even your own podcast. Do you have a favourite type of project to work on?
It depends on my mood, I guess. Sometimes it’s speed running. I really like to speedrun, and try to push damage to the absolute limits, but at the same time I really like doing 8-tank stuff and crazy comp runs. So it really just depends. The 8-tank stuff was more when I was feeling silly and dumb those days. I like doing solo stuff, too, but I haven’t done as much of it as I’d like. Taking Bloodbath away from Warrior made it a lot less fun.
You’re one of the best and most well-known tanks in the FFXIV community. Have you always played tanks? Is there something unique or special about tanking in FFXIV that draws you to that role?
FFXIV wasn’t the first MMO I’ve played, and I’ve always liked classes that wield two-handed weapons. Everyone has their preference. Some people like dual-wield, some people like sword and shield. I like cliche, big-ass weapons! When I first started playing MMOs I was basically a casual RPer – I didn’t care about my damage, I just wanted to look cool, and as long as I looked cool while I was doing my moves, that’s all that I cared about.
I played Rift and that was when I started to become a tank, after playing DPS for a couple of years. I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t find a raid group, so I played a tank, because it’s just common that tanks are one of the hardest classes to find in games. So I played a tank and made my own raid group, and it was pretty successful. I guess it just kind of stuck with me through Final Fantasy.
Ever since Rift I’ve stayed on tank. When I play DPS, I find myself unfulfilled because the only thing I do is damage, whereas on a tank I have to think about other things like mitigation and boss positioning, and I like thinking about those kind of things. That’s why I play a tank, and I play Warrior because it’s the most fun, to me.
What do you think of the new job gauges introduced in Stormblood?
This is the expansion of gauges! Every fucking job has a gauge! Some jobs have gauges they don’t even need! Like, what the hell is the lily gauge, you know? No one cares about a fucking lily! No one gives a shit! The Paladin gauge is cool, it’s whatever, but you could easily just put Sheltron and Intervention on thirty second cooldowns and almost nothing about the job would change. That’s my point. For Scholar and the healing tether, couldn’t you just make it last a certain amount of time on the target and give it a cooldown? Why does it have to be a gauge? I don’t know, maybe I’m just not about the gauges. Maybe I’m biased, but I think that some of the gauges are stupid as shit.
Are you excited for the Unending Coil of Bahamut (Ultimate), aka “Super Savage”?
I am very excited. We’re going to go hard day one, but then after that we’re just going to raid our normal schedule. I’m really glad that they put an extra materia slot in the weapon. That was pretty cool.
I don’t like the glamour of the weapon, but all of the glamour this patch has been absolutely fucking awful. All the Genji armor looks like shit. The 24-man raid gear looks like shit. Now these glowing dreadwyrm weapons? Come on, man. I think it was extremely lazy of them to just take the dreadwyrm model and make it gold. They were kind of hyping up the glamour, then they release it and it’s just like “are you fucking kidding me right now? I got all excited for this?”
You always joke about being a bully, yet on your stream you’re always joining random PF parties and patiently helping them. Have you ever actually bullied a less-skilled player, or did you get that reputation simply from smashing furniture?
Whenever I’m helping people I try to leave all the personal stuff out. I don’t join parties to purposely make people feel bad. Some people think that I do, but that’s not the case at all. If somebody fucks up, I’ll let them know and explain what they did wrong. I think some people just can’t take criticism. There’s been a lot of times where I’ll help groups and afterward I’ll get messages saying “hey, thanks for speaking up about this, this, and this” or “hey, I’ve been wanting to talk about this with the raid group forever but I was afraid of the reaction” and shit. I think it just depends on the person.
I’m really blunt, and some people get really butt hurt. I try really hard not to sound like a dick, but I’ve been told by a lot of people that sometimes I just come off that way. I can’t change it, so I’ve just accepted it. I try not be mean, but sometimes you just need a sledgehammer to get people’s attention. I’m not going to go into a PF group and say “hey, guys, maybe we can change things up a little bit? Oh, alright, if this is how you guys are comfortable doing this that’s okay.” Fuck that! I’m like “your guys’ strat is ass, and here’s what we’re going to do, and it’s going to be a lot better!” That’s just the way I approach shit. I basically treat every party finder group the same way I treat my own raid groups.
If I’m going to help a group, I’m going to help the group as best I can. Often the best thing I can do is to cut through the bullshit, because no one wants to wipe to the same thing for like thirty fucking minutes because someone is a sensitive flower. We fucked up, here’s what happened, let’s fix it, and let’s kill this shit; that’s my mentality. I can see some people getting upset about some of the stuff I’ve said, even though I never meant it to come off that way.
I have a ton of respect for people that have to do party finder because they don’t have a group. Doing party finder stuff every single fucking week and putting up with all that stupid bullshit that people do in there is crazy. I respect that a lot. Sometimes I’ll see the same people in party finder every week and I’ll try to help them out, because I know that they were in party finder last week and I know that they need help again this week.
What’s your opinion on the presence of, or lack of presence of, elitism in the FFXIV community? Do you wish others did more to help new or less skilled players improve?
Some people don’t like to raid with other people that aren’t as good as them. I’ve never quite understood that, because I really enjoy helping groups and helping people get first kills. I guess, for whatever reason, they don’t, and I wish that wasn’t the case. I’m on Twitch a lot, and I’ve been seeing a lot of terror streams and trap streams and shit, and I think that’s really cool that more people have started to do that.
It almost doesn’t matter how bad someone is, I will still help them. It almost doesn’t matter. I’ve been in party finder a lot, and I’ve helped some really unskilled players. When I go into party finder, I put attitude over skill, because, as long as someone has a good attitude, I almost don’t mind if they’re bad. As long as people are willing to learn and own up to their mistakes and don’t cause any issues, I’ll pretty much help anybody, just because I enjoy it.
If a person wants to be helped but they have a bad attitude, then that’s going to make me not want to help them. You can do this shit on your own. Take your shitty habits and try to kill this by yourself. I wish that people didn’t feel that they were too good to play with other people, but it’s even worse when you have people that have that mentality but are also bad at the game. I think that’s really bad, and those are the one type of people that I’ll never help.
Unfortunately, elitist shit happens, and there’s not much you can really do about it.
After spending so much time in Party Finder groups, do you have any advice for players that rely on Party Finder for clearing content?
One of the biggest things that I’ve noticed about party finder groups is that people give up too easily. They go in, they wipe three times, and they just give up. Fuck it. Disband! That’s a really bad thing to do. If you already have five or six good players then it’s pointless to disband. I’ve been in a lot of groups where there’s been one or two bad players and we’ve kicked them, repped them, and then we killed it. I don’t think people do that enough. Try to salvage as much good out of the party finders as you can, I guess, instead of just giving up and joining another. People give up too much.
When you join a party finder group, or join a static, the mentality should be: I’m going to do what I can to make the highest chance of success happen. There are seven other people in the group, it’s not just you, so you can’t be greedy because you have to think about seven other people. Which is why whenever I join a group I don’t leave. I will be the last to leave every single time, unless I really believe there’s a zero percent chance we will kill it.
People give up too easily because they think that they’re going to kill it. People that use party finder should go in with the mentality that you might kill it. You MIGHT kill it. If you go in with the mentality that you are going to kill it you’re probably setting yourself up to fail. You’ve never played with these people before, and you have absolutely no group chemistry with these people. Especially if you’re a healer or a tank, you have no fucking clue what they’re going to do.
I guess people should take the party finder just a little more seriously. If it’s labeled as a weekly and you see a bonus just leave, kick the bonus, and you put the party finder back up. There should be no question about that, and it has nothing to do with being nice. It’s a weekly clear and they’ve never killed it. That’s cool that they’ve been to 1%, that’s great, but go join a clear party. This isn’t a clear party, it’s a weekly clear, and there’s a difference. Don’t waste time fucking around.
Initially you were pretty unhappy with 4.0 Warrior. How do you feel about Warrior now?
I thought 4.0 Warrior was horrible, because it was, and they changed it. They removed the rage cost of Inner Release and Unchained, and they made it so when you swap your stance you no longer lose your resource, which is really, really awesome. That was the main fix.
They also buffed Storm’s Path, but that should have been obvious, because if you’re going to spam Storm’s Path it should do as much damage as Storm’s Eye. If Storm’s Eye gives you a buff and is 270 potency, and Storm’s Path is going to give you 20 rage instead of 10, then it should be 270 potency, instead of the 250 it was before the buff. The buff was needed in order to compensate for the amount of times you have to use Storm’s Path. It was the same principle as the Rage of Halone buff. People see these as buffs, but I see it as them fixing a fuck-up, and there’s a difference.
I hate the 2 minute cooldown on Inner Release. I think it’s an overly punishing cooldown for not very much reward. It’s very clunky, difficult to use, and if you fuck it up, you’re left with some dumb ass fucking 25, 35 or some dumb ass amount of rage that you can’t even use. If you have 25 rage that’s no different than having 20, and the extra 5 is literally just wasted. Not only did you lose a GCD, but you also lost usable rage, too. So that cooldown, in my opinion, is really, really awful, and it doubles or triples the skill cap of the job. I think they should change Internal Release so that it buffs the next 3 FC’s by like 30% and have 1 min CD. Not only does this make the class easier to play but more fun and forgiving if you fuck up.
I still don’t like that Unchained and Inner Release are on the same cooldown. As long as Inner Release is in the game, Unchained is unusable, in my opinion. The damage that you lose from not having Inner Release is just tremendous.
I think that Fell Cleave should do more damage. Five hundred potency is not a lot anymore. It’s just not. People call me a fucking retard, and say “why would you buff Fell Cleave, it’s so powerful” and it’s kind of not. Not when fucking AST has a five hundred potency ability. Every job in the game has a five hundred potency ability, it seems. It was crazy in Heavensward, but not anymore. Paladins have a ranged ability that hits almost as hard as a Fell Cleave now. That means that they can move away to do mechanics and still get their Fell Cleaves in. I wish I could do a fucking Inner Release window from halfway across the room!
For Warrior, the average potency across the whole rotation is really, really bad. Fell Cleave is almost double the potency of Storm’s Eye and Storm’s Path (combo finishers), so Warrior damage is heavily based on how many Fell Cleaves you crit. Dark Knight and Paladin don’t rely on crits nearly as much because their damage is more evenly distributed across their whole rotation. If you don’t crit a Fell Cleave, you kind of just want to unplug your computer, put it in the fucking truck, and drive off a cliff while uninstalling as you go down. That’s kind of what you want to do. Every time you see a non-crit, non-direct hit Fell Cleave, you just don’t want to play the game anymore. Five seconds into the opener and you’re just like “yep, I’m already done.” That is just the nature of RNG based classes though so I understand that not every run is going to be a good one.
A way to adjust Warrior damage without buffing Fell Cleave would be to actually lower the potency of Fell Cleave and buff the three core combos, instead. That would distribute the damage output more evenly across the entire rotation, and Warrior DPS would no longer be so dependant on Fell Cleave crit RNG, because that one move would no longer be responsible for such a huge portion of your total damage.
Another interesting option would be to consider adjusting Warrior in a similar way as the recent Dragoon changes. In patch 4.1 the damage buff from Heavy Thrust was reduced and Dragoons received across the board potency increases to compensate, in an effort to make the rotation more forgiving for less skilled players. Dragoons only need a single GCD to put up Heavy Thrust while Warriors need 3 consecutive GCDs to put up Storm’s Eye. If they made similar adjustments to Warrior and reduced the damage buff component of Storm’s Eye in exchange for potency increases the lesser skilled players would do more damage by default.
The Warrior rotation overall is so fucking complex, and every single Trick Attack window is different. Every single Trick Attack window in every single fight is different. It’s never the same. I have nine different Fell Cleave rotations, based on raid buffs and when the Trick Attack goes up. It’s fucking stupid. The skill cap is just insane! So to sum it up I will say I still feel unrewarded on the damage output for the amount of effort put into the warrior rotation. I feel that so much work should yield higher results based on my experience with all three tanks.
How do you feel about the current tank balance ?
I think when the devs were making Stormblood, all they saw was a lack of balance and they didn’t look at the reasons behind it. They saw everyone taking DRK/WAR and decided they needed to fix Paladin and make it more appealing, which they did, but they didn’t go about it in the right way.
Between the three tanks the balance is just as fucked as it was in Heavensward, but it doesn’t look that way, and the reason why it doesn’t look that way is because the content got easier. I also think that the slashing debuff is no longer a huge necessity because Samurai and Ninja both have it, in addition to Warrior, so PLD/DRK is fine. It also appears more balanced because the threat difference between tanks now doesn’t matter, thanks to Shirk.
The more raid utility a class has, the less solo damage it should do. Because if that’s not the case then you end up in situations like the current one, where Dark Knight is just abysmal. After the Shake it Off change there’s no reason to bring a Dark Knight, because Warrior does more damage and now has better utility.
Paladins have insane amounts of utility, and they still do more damage than Dark Knights. Why would a job that has more utility do more damage than a job that has less utility? That doesn’t make any sense at all.
Paladins have Intervention, Divine Veil, and Cover! Cover is so stupid good it’s insane, and so is Intervention. Sheltron is also busted. The fact that you can block magic now just completely shits on Dark Knights. That literally took away all of their individuality. They were supposed to be the “magic tank”. Why can magic be blocked, but not parried? If you can block it, you should be able to parry it.
Both of the other tanks have more utility than Dark Knight, so Dark Knight needs some potency increases so they can do more damage. That’s all they need. Dark Knight needs to deal more damage than a Paladin, and it needs to be enough more to outweigh the extra healer GCDs that you get by bringing a Paladin.
Shake it Off was useless at 4.0 launch, but is now really good. It’s better than Divine Veil because the cooldown is 30s shorter, you can buff it to be more than ten percent, it works on the Warrior, and you don’t have to spend a GCD on a heal to proc it. But Shake it Off is the only utility Warrior has, while Paladin also has Intervention and Cover. So Paladin has a lot more utility than Warrior, yet they still do just as much damage as a Warrior. Paladin’s DPS potential is actually a little bit less than Warrior, but if you fuck up even one time on Warrior, then a Paladin will out DPS you, at least in my experience, because Paladins do a lot of damage.
Of the three tanks, I think Paladin should do the least damage, because they have the best utility. Paladin is really fun, and I don’t think it needs a nerf. It’s in a perfect spot right now. I just think that Dark Knight and Warrior should do more damage than Paladin. I know that Warrior can do more, but that’s only if you have a perfect run. A Paladin should not rival a Warrior in damage, not when they have all that utility, as well.
I think that Warrior and Dark Knight both need some potency buffs, especially Dark Knight. But nobody listens to me, man! I got told for two and a half years that I was a retard and that parry was great. Then they ended up taking it out and NOW everyone agrees with me!
What’s your opinion on tank aggro in Stormblood?
Shirk is really awesome, and it’s mandatory. If you’re a tank and you don’t have Shirk, you’re a fucking idiot. Bottom line. Shirk is ridiculous. It allows you to not have a Ninja and still be okay, and still tank in your DPS stance, if you choose to do so. What the fuck else are you going to take, Anticipation? Are you serious right now? Come on.
I think Shirk is really good, but you have to think a little bit to use it, and a lot of party finder tanks just don’t want to put in the effort. Which is really unfortunate, because they could make things a lot easier on themselves. But I think in that regard the aggro is awesome.
If you’re a Paladin, you should not be pulling the boss, even in casual groups, because Paladins lose so much when they have to pull. Rage of Halone is not only a DPS loss, but it doesn’t restore MP the way the other combos do, which can easily end up delaying your next Requiescat and throw off your whole rotation.
On Dark Knight, it’s not really that bad if you have to pull. If you have to do a Power Slash it’s not exactly the end of the world. Yes, you’re going to lose some mana, and yes, you’re going to lose some potency, but it’s not as big of a loss as a Paladin using Rage of Halone.
On Warrior, well, you can just do whatever the fuck you want. You don’t even have to do a threat combo when you pull. You just Tomahawk that shit, pop Equilibrium, and then you’re good to go! Deliverance the entire fucking encounter after that, if you want, it doesn’t matter.
Whenever I help groups, if the other tank is a Paladin I just pull anyway. I tell them “okay, you’re not going to pull, I’m going to pull, because we’re going to do this the right way.” There’s been some groups that refuse to try doing things differently, but whenever I help groups, we’re going to do shit the right way. Especially groups that are like “Yo, we just wiped at 0.2%!” Well, maybe you should have had your fucking Dark Knight or Warrior pull instead of this Paladin bullshit, you idiots?! You just wiped at 0.2%, don’t you think that you could really use that little bit of extra damage? Like just a little bit more damage, come on, please?
Do you plan on making any 4.0 tank guide videos?
Yeah, I plan on making them. I have this really, really bad business mentality when it comes to that kind of stuff because if I’m not one hundred percent confident in a video I won’t put it out. I plan on making the Warrior one first, and then Paladin, and probably Dark Knight last, because I have the least experience with Dark Knight.
I stream full-time, and the reason I’m able to do it is because of the support I get on Twitch, not YouTube. I think I gain a fraction of a penny for every YouTube view, so it’s not like I’m trying to do this for money. I’m strictly doing this because I enjoy doing it, and because of that I will not make a video unless everything I say in it I can back up with reasons and is one hundred percent accurate.
I’m really confident on Warrior. I think I’m ready to make the Warrior video, but I’m going to wait until after super savage because I need to focus. I like to take my time on videos. I don’t rush to be the first, because I don’t care about being first; I care about the quality of the strategy. I try to mix simplicity with optimization, because the less you have to think about, the less chance there is that you’re going to fuck something up. That’s basically my mentality, as far as my guides go.
The more that I do them, the more that I see people rush videos, and the more that I wish people wouldn’t do that. When you’re the first to put out a video, people are obviously going to go to that video first because it’s the only one out, and I think people should take that responsibility more seriously. People rely on these videos. Some people don’t even go into the encounter without a video. I think some people severely underestimate the impact that these videos can make. If people are doing a strat that’s wrong, then the guide maker should feel bad because their strat is bad, because their strat is wrong. They’re setting up a whole group of people to fail, without even realizing it, and it’s all because they want to be the first. It shouldn’t be that way. Some people look at this from a purely business standpoint, but I don’t. I do it for fun.
Do you have plans to continue the Unchained podcast?
Yeah. We’re going to do another one after Bahamut dies, I think, to sum-up the raid tier as a whole and the new super savage content. Unchained isn’t like State of the Realm or Mog Talk where they do it every single week. We already talk enough on Unchained, and we’re trying to make each episode really, really strong instead of having some that are just okay. There’s only so many times that you can talk about PvP, or a Warrior’s rotation, or certain mechanics in a fight before it starts to become boring and you start repeating yourself. That’s why the episodes are so few and far between, I guess.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us! Do you have anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?
I’d like to shout-out everybody on Twitch, the people that come and hang out every day. It really means a lot seeing the same people in there all the time. Also my raid groups. I wouldn’t be anywhere near as skilled without the people I play with. It’s because of them that I’m one of the top tier players. I’ve learned a lot from them and I have a lot of respect for my raid groups. I’m lucky to be in them.