We’re going to be hearing about the next expansion to Final Fantasy XIV in… several months, actually. We’re in no kind of rush here. But I promised last week that we’d be continuing on the speculation train this time around, and even if I hadn’t promised it, I would still be eager to do so. I like speculation about this sort of thing, and the fact is that we have a wide-open field of things to speculate upon for the next expansion vis-a-vis jobs.
I see three likely possibilities for the next expansion, but I can’t list all of the possibilities for the next job. There are countless options. A quick glance at the history of the series reveals countless possible jobs, and that’s assuming that the next set of jobs is something entirely predictable rather than something totally out of left field, which it completely could be. We could get a job none of us have ever heard of, and it would make perfect sense.
So let’s talk about what I see as the most likely possibilities, and we’ll move forward from there.
This seems like an obvious option, really; we know for a fact that Samurai and Dark Knight were close contenders for the tank job in Heavensward, which means work has already been done upon the job. If we’re going to Othard, this seems so obvious it’s almost silly to ask the question because it’s obvious. If we’re going anywhere else… well, it still seems obvious, another piece of culture from that region of the world or perhaps even coming over from Ala Mhigo (which, you’ll note, gave us monks).
What raises a question mark about this job, aside from the fact that we haven’t been told that it’s one of our new jobs (which makes sense as we haven’t been told there’s an expansion coming), is how much work for Dark Knight and Samurai was along the same basic lines and how much is still usable. It’s possible that Samurai and Dark Knight were far closer in nature than we realize or is immediately obvious: The MP focus of DRK might be unique to that job, but the heavy emphasis on parrying and mechanics like Dark Arts might have been inherited.
Or perhaps not much design work was actually done before the job was put on the back burner, which at once makes it more and less likely. Regardless, I see it as the most likely single option, but far from definite.
The fact that we still haven’t gotten Red Mage in the game is somewhat astonishing to me, but here we are and there the Red Mage is, somewhere in the future. I don’t think it’s really a question of whether with this particular job, just like Samurai; extend the timeline far enough and it becomes virtually inevitable. No, the questions are how and what.
Red Mages occupy an uncomfortable position for FFXIV insofar as they’re traditionally jacks-of-all-trades in a game that really prefers jacks of individual trades. This hasn’t stopped the job from having a role in the past, of course; Final Fantasy XI gave us Red Mages with a solid role as casters first, Final Fantasy V made the job into a useful casting engine, and the original Final Fantasy actually had them as slightly more useful than Black Mages for a few reasons. There’s lots of space for the job to occupy.
My personal hope is for Red Mage to occupy a sort of melee DPS role with traces of casting, not unlike the Enhancement Shaman from World of Warcraft, but that’s almost entirely based upon the En-spells from Final Fantasy XI. I harbor no expectations, simply hopes.
Might we actually have a healer whose primary concern isn’t MP? If that is possible, I think Chemist would be the way to go. It would have the minor issue of not fulfilling the usual item requirement – I don’t think that the game will require you to mass-buy potions just to heal, although there are enough of them floating around at this point – but I can definitely see a Chemist as a healer with a different playstyle and less focus on running out of MP. Something closer to Scoundrel/Operative healing in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I imagine.
This also relies on the assumption that the designers want to have a less cast-based healer, of course. At this point there’s no necessary reason to assume so, and I can see this being a bit more of a long shot. Still, it would fit in nicely with the very technological focus of Ala Mhigo and surrounding cultures.
Here’s another job that could really be cast in several different roles, depending upon what the developers want to do with it. Geomancers have, over the course of the series, made excellent caster DPS, healers, and even got rather tanky in Final Fantasy Tactics. It’s also a job that could fit in rather handily in almost any expansion – there’s always land, and there are always cultures where the land is revered and welcomed with open arms. Giving them the more traditional bells and having them serve as either healers or caster damage makes perfect sense to me; giving them hammers and having them as tanks also seems plausible.
Geomancer’s main fault, then, becomes the simple fact that the job isn’t as beloved or well-known as several others. I don’t see people clamoring for Geomancers, and even the various titles of the series usually regard the job as an additional curio rather than a major fixture. It seems more like a wild card to be used at some indeterminate point in the future.
Gambler jobs are fairly rare through the series history, and even more rare in having any sort of effectiveness. The least useful part of Setzer in Final Fantasy VI was his Slot ability, and he was sort of the type specimen. Corsairs are widely loved, but also known for being kind of quirky in several ways. Gamblers do not have a great history of being the most useful characters in the games where they do appear.
Still, we have obvious stuff to ground the archetype upon – Ul’dah as a whole and the Gold Saucer in particular are tailor-made for hosting an origin point for a job devoted to gambling. Limsa Lominsa could easily facilitate a Corsair-style hybrid. The pieces are all there, and with a solid role and a bit of creativity the game could easily fit a Gambler in wherever the job would fit.
Here’s the biggest upshot for Beastmaster: If we’re heading out into the wilds, having trained animals makes a certain amount of sense. This seems like the sort of job that just fits alongside so many different bits of lore. The mountainous regions around Ala Mhigo, the far lands of Othard, even the less traveled bits of the Black Shroud. It’s not hard to imagine people skulking through dark places with native fauna padding alongside, possibly serving as a useful counterpoint to the upcoming summon glamour system.
So what’s the downside? Well, Naoki Yoshida doesn’t like pet classes very much, and having Beastmaster without some sort of pet gameplay seems… silly. So as much as it makes sense, I’m unsure if we can get over the pet aspect.
Feedback – and your own speculation – is welcome in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I’m going to likely be responding to the live letter and whatever useful fragments of information can be gleaned regarding patch 3.2.