Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s crafting and gathering endgame in Heavensward

    
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Crafting and gathering has never been a primary goal of mine in Final Fantasy XIV so much as a secondary one. It’s something extra to do, but it’s also a lot of fun, and the fact that it has a bunch of gameplay all to itself makes it even more satisfying. So my first goal wasn’t to get a crafting or gathering class up to the cap, but now that I’ve gotten some combat classes up there my eyes have turned to the cycle of acquiring materials and the like.

Also because I need to make money, of course, because who doesn’t like making money?

Heavensward brought a pretty major revision to the way that the endgame for both crafting and gathering by adding in collectables, which brings with it a new way of gating advancement and doling out gear in smaller doses. That means good things and bad, and it’s worth examining what the endgame was like for crafting in gathering in 2.0 compared to its current state, the good and the bad.

The melding pot

What turned a lot of people off from crafting and gathering in 2.0 wasn’t the mechanics of the classes, it was the endgame. Buying up or crafting several sets of high-quality endgame gear for these classes wasn’t so bad, but if you really wanted to reliably be doing stuff at any level, you needed to start melding.¬† And overmelding. And eating food before any major gather or craft, and…

The point is that advancing past a certain point was very much limited not just by gil but by the ability to throw a lot of gil at something and getting lucky. Overmelding had its risks, and it was limiting, and I know a lot of people spent lots of gil on being able to craft higher items reliably only to find that those items weren’t all that valuable and didn’t offer much in the way of return on investment.

It was kind of mostly satisfying at the time, anyway.

In and of itself, this wasn’t a terrible system, but it did create a pretty high barrier to entry that didn’t really get eased until nearly the end of the cycle – and even then, the trade-in gear that you could access wasn’t all that great. It made for a pretty irritating experience for anyone who wanted to craft or gather as a hobbyist, and it certainly didn’t encourage getting in on that side of the game unless you wanted to throw plenty of gil and time at it.

While I don’t have any hard proof of it – I don’t sit in on design meetings – I think that a lot of what was planned for 3.0’s crafting and gathering was specifically to address those issues. On the one hand, crafting and gathering overmelding kept gear and crafting gear more relevant through the expansion; on the other hand, it wasn’t exactly an easy barrier to overcome, and it shut people out unfairly. It was a de facto money gate simply because the game wasn’t set up to have any other gates in place for players to overcome at the level cap, because there was no real system for gating gear in the same fashion as it was handled for combat classes.

The collection rag

Crafting good-looking gear is nice, but it can be a mixed bag.Collectables, fundamentally, are an attempt to correct this issue. By making them bind-on-pickup for the person crafting or gathering, you avoid making it purely a money gate, but making them difficult to acquire also ensures that people can’t just slink in without bothering to get upgrades. It also creates a better method for gating high-end gear in much the same way that the game gates combat gear, with lower gear being purchased, then higher gear coming in to fill in the gaps.

In theory, anyhow. In practice, it has a few holes in it, starting with the fact that the collection system is meant to work the same way for both gathering and crafting. That doesn’t quite work, because it is a whole lot easier to make solid collectable items as a crafter than as a gatherer. Crafting, it’s just a matter of raising an item’s quality up to a holding point; gathering, you have to play an entirely different game with unspoiled nodes that already severely trims down your GP and makes harvesting a whole lot more difficult than it needs to be.

Obviously, yes, upgrading your gear is a component of this and it should be. But you can stumble through crafting collections far more reliably than you can stumble through the heavily chance-based collections of gathering, and you can do so a lot more frequently than twice every Eorzean day. It leads to a lot of unpleasant waiting for unspoiled nodes just for a chance at what you need, a chance that you’re sure to flub the first few times.

In other words, tying all of this to unspoiled nodes makes things much more obnoxious than it needs to be for the gathering side. Not that the crafting side is a whole lot better once you get into the red scrips, which are very strictly limited in their availability per week and need to be turned into another currency to actually buy the high-end crafting gear that blows away what you could otherwise get through purchasing.

Once you can start getting blue and red scrips, it’s a solid system, and it works better than the old system of throwing gil at your gear and hoping that this meld is actually successful. The problem is getting over that hump, and sometimes that feels like once again throwing gil at something and hoping it works. It’s an advancement system that doesn’t lock crafting solely to the province of those with lots of time and money to devote to it, but it’s still not something that I’d call exactly welcoming.

That’s without touching upon the fact that all of your accessories and offhands are still very much limited by gil and melding. A step forward, a step nowhere, in other words.

Moving forward

It’s long been an established fact that the game’s updates alternate between upping the cap for combat classes and making it easier to reach that cap, going back and forth between another set of tomestones and a new item level cap and then adding in the 24-person runs to make reaching that cap easier. There’s every reason to believe that this will continue in 3.1 and beyond, as well. What I’m hoping will also happen in 3.1 is that advancing with crafting and gathering will start following the same cadence.

Beats 1.0 crafting, all right.I’d also like to see the gathering log in particular get an upgrade; with unspoiled nodes becoming such a major component of the gathering classes even through leveling, it would be wonderful if we could at least have the times listed that the nodes spawn within the game rather than looking them up. Something to make it a bit more straightforward when you’re just idly taking care of things and want to know when your next gathering window might be.

The fact that we have a proper gathering and crafting endgame is great and valuable, and I’m not saying that players should be able to just be crafting the best things as soon as they hit 60. But the easier it is to get into crafting,the more people will want to craft.

Or perhaps crafting is and should remain solely the domain of the truly dedicated. That’s not my particular preference, but it’s certainly a valid approach.

Feedback, as always, can be left down in the comments or sent along to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, I’ll be writing a little early, but barring any unusual developments I’ll be continuing on with my little class series by looking at the ranged damage dealers in the game at the moment.

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.
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