Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s cross-class actions

    
21
Plenty.
This past week, I did what I needed to do before Final Fantasy XIV’s expansion Heavensward launches: I finished the main scenario questline on my second character. Considering that she needed to be Dark Knight more or less a month ago, I think this was very necessary and am glad to be done with it. For those of you wondering about the future, my Au Ra will be leveling and going through stuff after the expansion launch, in no small part to see how viable things are when trying to clear that big gap between level 50 and the first steps into Ishgard… but that’s another discussion altogether.

All of this talk and thought about new jobs naturally raises the question of what people should be leveling going into the new expansion, though, and that’s a tough question to ask. It’s almost impossible to know right now what the cross-class landscape is going to look like, if indeed it looks like anything. With three new jobs and enough levels for another cross-class action, it increasingly looks to me as if that cross-class landscape has eroded into nothing.

Imagine not being sure if this meant a character was a tank, or a DPS, or a caster. For real.Let’s start with a history lesson, starting with the earliest version of Final Fantasy XIV 1.0. Although… on second thought, let’s fast-forward slightly to a time when you could actually equip actions without a several second delay for each command. That sounds far less unpleasant. Back then, every level on a class simply increased the amount of AP you had to equip actions, and the only difference between any two classes was what skills you’d gain as you leveled up, not what they could actually do.

As a concept, this system was pretty cool. As an actual means of character advancement, it was pretty terrible, especially when you actually wanted to work with other players to do anything. It was hardly the only misstep in this version of the game, but it certainly didn’t help matters much.

The system we have now fundamentally came about as part of the sweeping class changes made back in 1.0: Every class learns actions as it levels, and some of those actions can be equipped by other classes. Furthermore, jobs are more restricted in what actions they can equip, being limited to two other classes to pull cross-class actions from. The actual actions and the list of options has changed over time, but the core conceits of the system have remained intact.

In theory, this serves a positive purpose for both the designers and the players. For the players, it means that each new class you play benefits from all of the other classes that you’ve already leveled; leveling something new means drawing a bunch of extra abilities that improve damage and survivability. Meanwhile, for designers, it means that basic utility skills don’t need to be designed in slightly different versions for each class. You don’t need to give every tank class some variety of Provoke; you just need one version of Provoke that everyone learns.

In practice, it doesn’t really accomplish either goal.

Players quickly learn two things about the game’s classes. The first is that post-30, there’s virtually no reason to ever be on a class instead of a job; while you can derive some minimal benefit from it (I’ve seen builds for Thaumaturge that toss specific cooldowns around just to make for some super-potent Fire III casts), you will almost always if not actually always be on a job. That severely limits your cross-class library. And considering that said library consists of maybe 10 possible skills with only five usable at once, and several of those skills are highly useless… well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what you need on any given job.

Look at Ninja, a damage-dealing job. Your skill options consist of two damage cooldowns, two defensive cooldowns, one support cooldown, two ways to inflict Slow, a self-heal, and a TP restoration cooldown. It’s not difficult to conclude that the two damage cooldowns and the TP restoration are near-mandatory, and the rest? Who cares.

I’m not saying that there’s nothing useful in that batch; Mantra and Second Wind are both useful. But your performance as a Ninja is not ever going to be based on whether or not you have Mantra and/or Second Wind. And that’s the extent of customization you get there – are you going to take Mantra and Second Wind, or are you going to take Mantra and Keen Flurry? Hey, maybe you’ll be a real rebel and swap Blood for Blood for Featherfoot, just for PvP. Your customization entirely consists of playing around in an arena full of skills that your job doesn’t actually care about.

As for the benefit from a design side… that’s largely washed away by the fact that it only works so long as all of these jobs have access to the same abilities. Hence why Ninja and Bard both have a different execute-style effect rather than Mercy Stroke, since neither one includes Marauder abilities.

Well, aside form the fact thatit means you're not wasting those DEX accessories on something like Bard.One is left with the sense, fairly or unfairly, that the current design team is not terribly interested in carrying on with this system. Rogue and Ninja were the first casualties, as no Rogue skills are used by any other job. In some ways this makes perfect sense – it would have required a pretty major redesign of a rather fixed system – but it also means that leveling up a Rogue is more or less irrelevant in the overall scheme of leveling.

What we know about the new jobs is simply that they start as jobs and are forever jobs, kicking off at level 30. It’s very possible – even likely – that they will have no abilities to share with other jobs. What other classes they’ll pull from is similarly unclear, although there are some rather obvious guesses to be made; all three can easily pull from both classes in a given role, so Dark Knight could share Marauder and Gladiator skills, Astrologian could pull from Conjurer and Arcanist, and Machinist could grab Archer and… who knows. Maybe even Rogue.

What all of this speaks to, though, is the fact that we currently don’t have a very robust setup for what is ostensibly a customizable system. I’d like to see more cross-class functionality offered, but at this point the system seems to be sticking around more out of momentum than anything, and we’re left with an environment in which every Warrior plays like every other Warrior, allocates the same stat points in the same fashion, and for all intents and purposes is playing the exact same game.

The new jobs don’t seem likely to mix this up at all, which is a shame; one of the things that the expansion could conceivably do is really provide us with more cross-class skills, more options, more chances to diversify and really make things play differently in a new environment. It’s unlikely, and it would require a fair bit of rebalancing work on the part of the designers, but it would be really neat to walk into Coerthas without the same old song and dance awaiting.

All of the jobs in the game are wonderfully designed, play nicely, and are lots of fun. They’re just a bit homogenous from player to player.

Is feedback welcome in the comments below or by mail to eliot@massivelyop.com? You know it. Next week, assuming that we don’t have another big bit of news explosions, I’m going to go back to a well I haven’t touched on for a while and discuss the game’s endgame dungeons, from Wanderer’s Palace to the Keeper of the Lake. Which one is the best, and which one should never be discussed again?

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.
Advertisement

No posts to display

newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
seemsthatway98
Guest
seemsthatway98

Tridus I’m not a fan of DPS meters or garbage like that, but i’m glad someone gets it. I had a friend quit WoW when Cataclysm launched because they ‘ruined the talent tree system’. I told him they didn’t. They only removed the illusion of choice. The more choice you give people, the more you’ll get that group pushing for others to use ONLY the ‘optimal build’. I’m a firm believe in playing how you want, but I prefer 0 talent trees to having one in a multiplayer game. Having ‘choice’ brings out the people who insist on turning the game into purely math, and then the elitism starts.

seemsthatway98
Guest
seemsthatway98

JonBuck Just a heads up, since most don’t seem to know this, but, you can’t access Ishgard or the new classes unless you’re done with the current story. If you’re not one of those ‘go go go go’ people, take that break. But if you need to be on top of things when they’re new, you have a lot of work to do before launch! (I just play casually, ‘go go go’ peeps get to me!)

seemsthatway98
Guest
seemsthatway98

Oyjord Well it IS a Japanese produced game. And I think it’s a nice change of pace from everything else on the market being gritty Western-style.
I will half agree with you on combat animations. I don’t mind the animations themselves, but why does EVERY ability have to have such a light show going on? I know you can turn it down, but it messes with the animations sometimes too. I just want to keep the animation, and have less of a light show going on. They toned it down from beta to release, but not enough.

bakkahentai2600
Guest
bakkahentai2600

…Last I heard there was going to be new cross class skills come Heavensward.

starcallerasterei
Guest
starcallerasterei

themindstream starcallerasterei Rogue itself isnt, ninja slightly is with keeping up the buffs. At least it would be for brand new mmo players, which seem to have special consideration with many things in 14

themindstream
Guest
themindstream

starcallerasterei Rogue isn’t really more advanced, just more secretive/selective. Level 10 and access to Limsa Lomensa isn’t much of a gate, just enough to pass off the Rogue’s guild as an underground organization. By comparison, the new jobs in Heavensward have been called “advanced jobs” in some official sources.

starcallerasterei
Guest
starcallerasterei

I think its understandable that nothing pulls abilities from rogue, or most likely the new jobs either. They’re supposed to be more advanced, kind of a washy reason but hey, call it the basic/beginner classes are the ones that grant the cross class abilities.

It is kind of sad that the class/job system is essentially being phased out, but I suppose it just didn’t work right. 1.0 it just didnt matter what class you were on, other than their name and the weapon they had equipped all the classes were essentially the same. You could be a pugilist shooting arrows out of your fist (which sounds pretty awesome, acutally). When Yoshida and the new dev team took over they had to work with what they had, which was the class system. Jobs were introduced, and it was carried over to 2.0. I recall the original idea was that Jobs were meant to be for party play, and Classes were for solo play, but since there’s nothing really dangerous out in the open world (reason being you’re the warrior of light you shouldn’t just die when you step outside and run into a rat) there isnt really any reason to be on a class, you don’t need that versatility. You can kinda just keep hitting stuff and hope/assume it dies before you do.

Whether that was the plan or an oversight, at this point of classes just never working after so many years and changes, there’s not much point in trying to continue to force it on the players. If you’re never going to play a class after level 30ish (and most of your useful cross class abilities are gained around then) there’s not much point in trying to keep using them. But then again, maybe there will be new abilities that can be cross classed after 50. Maybe the floating continent will be a more dangerous place for soloers (I doubt it). Maybe the new idea of having npcs accompany you into old instances so you dont need an actual party will require a player to be more versatile and go as their class instead to have a wider range of abilities.

DPandaren
Guest
DPandaren

I thought 1.0 was more like, here are some skills and some AP points to spend. But not all skills from one class can be used on another. I know I couldn’t use Gravity or whatever on my Conj no matter how many AP points I had, but I could use the DoT variant of it on my Conj. Like, there were common pool skills, but not all skills were common pool, like Twin Snakes wasn’t common pool, even though Second Wind was. And the AP required to equip them was one point more then the class that unlocked it. 

Also skills were still locked behind levels. It was just normally by the time you got to that level, you could equip the skill because you’d just have the amount of AP required to equip it at that point, not to mention that there were also skills you had to pick up from some books from the Guilds. Unless you were Conj, because at some point they just gave you like 4 new spells in a row that lower the resistances on mobs for the general nuking versions of them. That was really the only class that had issues where you had to kinda of ‘spec’ into a couple of elements like Fire and Blizzard, rather then the entire spectrum. 

I think the only class you can stick as for some heavy damage might just be Arcanist. I’ve seen an Arcanist deal some retarded amount of damage because of the sheer amount of cross class skills that they have access too when I ran a parser with them in a CT run.

Noble_Einherjar
Guest
Noble_Einherjar

jmadfour I feel the same way. Cross-class skills have become something I loathe in FFXIV. Especially for those few skills that you don’t get until a job is 30+. I was a DRG in my static raid group, and everyone really wanted me to have Mantra. But, sorry, I’m not leveling MNK to 42. I don’t enjoy that class, and I’m not going to do something in a game if it isn’t fun. It’s not my fault the game is designed the way that it is.

Barachiel
Guest
Barachiel

jmadfour I feel your pain.  I’m leveling a Paladin and I absolutely dread going back and leveling Conjurer.  I’m not a mage player.  I’ve never been a mage player, and I have no desire to grind up to level 34 for a single skill.