Wisdom of Nym: What cosmetic features could other jobs get in Final Fantasy XIV?
This question almost immediately struck me as marvelous, because one of the things I love about Final Fantasy XIV is its attention to detail with stuff like this. A music system can be added to the game that only works for Bards, because that’s a thing Bards do and you can just be a Bard if you want to. So why shouldn’t other jobs get similar toys?
It was also the first time that I’d really thought about egi glamours as being in the same category, and that category has somewhat suffered from a lack of updates lately. So let’s talk about these sorts of enhancements, more character options for out-of-combat customization.
Obviously, no features like this should ever affect the actual combat balance in the game; they should literally just be toys to play with that add a little more flavor to the job as a whole. Which, in some cases, is hard to do. Paladin, for example, doesn’t do a whole lot that you can easily replicate out of the realm of combat, since the job’s other big in-universe feature is swearing oaths to stuff. Most of the stuff you’d actually want to do would fall under the header of just being emotes unlocked by raising the job.
That was a feature of Final Fantasy XI, for the record, and I’d be happy to see that ported over to this game as well. Adding job emotes for leveling other jobs doesn’t add much to balance, but it does offer a quick way to show off your experience and give a little extra visual flair. But we’re talking about more elaborate stuff.
To start with, two other jobs could use a system similar to the egi glamour system right away, and part of me wonders if the lack of further glamours is caused by expanding this interface to also cover Machinists and Scholars. After all, why not give people more options about the stuff that gets summoned as a helper? It’s the same basic system with more applicability, and the big stumbling block is just giving players a reason for using different turrets or fairies as needed.
But let’s go a little bit further. Specifically, let’s talk about Eureka and Black Mages. We already know that Eureka is going to be heavily involved with elemental properties, and we also all know that Black Mages don’t use elemental attacks so much as elemental-themed attacks. You cannot stack Fire affinity to make your Fire spells more dangerous. It seems a little silly, but it makes sense for balance purposes; these are just the elements these spells use.
Except we’ve also seen that this is hardly the only set of spells or elements usable. So why not let Black Mages rotate their displayed elements too? Why can’t a black mage use Astral Thunder, Umbral Earth, and Water as a damage-over-time spell? From a system standpoint, there’s no real reason; from a flavor standpoint, it would all still make sense within the realm of the game world.
This wouldn’t make much difference in terms of actual game mechanics (especially if Flare remained untouched by such shifts, as it’s usually its own non-elemental thing anyhow). But it would give players another chance for character customization.
Customizing the “skin” of jobs like this would be a good feature for a lot of different jobs anyhow; when other elements would make an equal amount of sense, it’d provide a fun bit of flavor if you could have a Dark Knight whose spells all have holy-looking effects. But at a certain point you wind up just recreating the ability customization system of some other game I really liked, and there’s not exactly a lot of reasons for that other than just liking it. So let’s leave that there.
Let’s step back into more performance-style options, and one that really should sound like an actual system. You know what Samurai need? The option to duel. Not fight it out one-on-one but actually have an open system wherein two Samurai challenge one another, prepare, and then clash and finish it. It’s a very Samurai trope, and it’d be great fun to meet other people, have the momentary flash of glances, and have a quick flashy confrontation wherever. No rewards for winning, no stats, just a basic fun system.
I also think it would be fun to let White Mages get back to their elemental-summoning roots and stimulate life and growth in an area, a way to make the plants grow wherever you happen to be. It might not have the aural effect of a bard playing a tune, but it would make sense for the job as it exists in lore.
Similarly, Monks could have a similar chained effect for working through katas; not exactly a series of dances, but moving from one stance to the next in something both visually impressive and offering in-character benefits to the Monk. Not any actual game benefits, though; as nice as that would be, it starts getting into the territory of being outside of the realm of purely cosmetic toys.
And that’s the biggest stumbling block that’s easy to run into. One of the big things that makes stuff like Perform work is that it doesn’t feel like it should have any sort of in-game benefit outside of letting you make music if you want to. A lot of other jobs feel like they don’t have that sort of lore or presence. What Warriors do is fight and get angry, neither of which really suggests any sort of performance for an audience.
Obviously, there are other cosmetic systems that can be added into the game to improve the flavor of these individual jobs. But I also don’t think it’s necessary for every job to get one, nor do I think it’s even necessarily productive. All of the jobs are capable of doing stuff in combat, but for some jobs, that’s just what they do.
Giving everyone some elaborate out-of-combat cosmetic system just makes the ones that are already in place feel a bit more like they’re filling a slot for the sake of having it filled. Some jobs have different out-of-combat capabilities, and while I wouldn’t object to a system allowing for trick shooting from a Machinist, I also don’t think it’s a necessary part of the game and don’t feel the job is lacking as a result.
That having been said, I’m hardly going to say no to more such systems. Especially if some cosmetic options for abilities let me get rid of the Hellfrog Medium summon and remove the Gauss Barrel visual.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I’d like to talk about mechanical issues actually facing the various jobs in the game, above and beyond simple number tweaking.