- Will start at level 1
- Initial level cap will be 50 which will be raised at later dates
- Gear will be from ranged magic DPS
- Initial amount of monster skills will be a count of 49
- 24 monster skills will be equippable at once
- Developed more for solo, including new content "Masked Carnival" for Blue Mages
- Various restrictions including not being able to use Duty Roulettes to enter parties
- You can enter pre-formed party instances, but obviously the level cap is at 50
Basically, the Blue Mage learns skills by fighting monsters with that skill. There is no obvious order in which skills are gained, or what skills a Blue Mage can choose to use. This is apparently very true to the way Blue Mage has been depicted in previous Final Fantasies.
The big controversy is that SE is locking them out of random match-making content like levelling dungeons. The obvious reason is to keep Blue Mages who don't have the necessary skills equipped or learned from negatively affecting the party.
Blue Mages can do content in pre-made parties, but in FFXIV the vast majority of content is done through automatic matchmaking.
I think it's a very interesting experiment, seeing how far SE can push the current FFXIV class/role structure. I believe they're being conservative for now. FFXIV has had several classes introduced with unique mechanics at the start, but ended up having to be brought in line with the existing classes, and much of their uniqueness removed. Dark Knight suffered from this a lot, I believe.
If Blue Mage works out, I imagine that automatic matchmaking will be opened up to allow them in, perhaps with extra requirements on which skills must be equipped.
I'm a big fan of experimentation, so I'm excited to see how this will work out.