There’s some stuff we can reliably predict at this point, of course. There are no more patches aside from the last bits of 3.5 between now and Stormblood, and thus this is going to be our densest chunk of information about the expansion prior to launch. It’s also impossible to predict everything that we’ll hear about, since Naoki Yoshida loves to troll and surprise us. So this will, by necessity, be equal parts wishes, speculation, and prediction. Take it with the requisite grain of salt.
New jobs: Samurai, and…?
Datamining is not perfectly reliable. There is entirely a chance that the datamining which has led to the speculation that Samurai is the new job is entirely incorrect. However, that’s the way to bet at this point; it seems like it’s only in a slightly weaker place as a prediction than Red Mage was, when we all knew that was coming but just had to wait to have it confirmed.
The real question, then, is whether or not that’s the only new job getting announced in Frankfurt.
This is one of those things that the community has gone back and forth on almost endlessly, because for everything pointing in one direction there’s something else pointing the other way. We know that the designers were run ragged doing so many jobs close to Heavensward’s launch… but part of that was the addition of Rogue and Ninja. We’d need two new jobs to match the tank-healer-DPS split… but that doesn’t mean we’ll get that matchup. We saw that tweet about one of two jobs… but we don’t know why that tweet was deleted.
My personal suspicion, which is fueled by little more than speculation and observation, is that we’re going to get two new jobs revealed, Samurai as the tank and something unexpected as a healer job. Whether or not that’s what actually happens, of course, remains to be seen. (I’ve got a good track record for these predictions so far, but I’ve only had one actually proven right thus far, and it’s based on feel rather than evidence.) But we’ll know everything we’re getting at that point.
More mechanical information
The removal of cross-class skills as they currently exist is a great thing and also a terrible one. It’s great insofar as leveling job B just to level up job A is one of the most irritating thing that any game in the franchise has ever managed; it was irritating in Final Fantasy XI, it’s irritating in Final Fantasy XIV, and it’s irritating now. A job should be complete without having to level six or seven other things.
At the same time, it’s also terrible because one of the fun things about job systems is that the jobs are not islands. You combine abilities in new ways. One of the other problems with FFXI’s system was the fact that for most of the game’s life, you really did just have one mandatory sub job. So it was the worst of both worlds – your Black Mage levels didn’t help you level Warrior at all, but you absolutely needed Warrior leveled if you wanted to play Samurai.
We’re still seeing the same problem with our current crop of cross-class options. I was teasing a friend just the other day for not having Swiftcast on her Astrologian alt, but it’s kind of absurd to level a class just for that one skill. If it’s that vital for the job, it should be a core ability. At the same time, it’s also one of the few ways that leveling something else matters in the game. Having everything capped on my main is a badge of honor, but it doesn’t really influence my play at all.
So therein lies the struggle. We need something to replace the current setup (which isn’t working) that makes leveling other jobs relevant without making it absolutely mandatory. I’ve tossed ideas around before, but at this point my honest prediction is that we’ll be getting very little to make leveling other things relevant. We’ll get a pool of role-specific skills, sure, and probably some information on the revamped options for job skills that existed primarily to be ported, but I don’t expect we’ll get as much cross-job relevance as I’d like.
Still, I could be wrong. I hope I am.
More on housing
Apartments filled up pretty quickly on Balmung, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to hear more about the new housing district at this fan festival. We had as much hinted before, obviously. So where is the new district going to be?
I’m going to guess Ishgard, for several reasons. First of all, it makes more sense from a story perspective. Ishgard is, at this point, a place where people can live and enjoy themselves. Ala Mhigo, by contrast, is a land where the enemy is currently sitting on the couch and watching television in the den; we are on their turf, and they don’t like that. Second, the environment of Ishgard is more different than that of Ala Mhigo compared to what we already have. Thirdly, it gives players more reason to head back to Ishgard periodically than if we just had houses back in the main cities from before; otherwise, no one would go back.
Of course, the issues of space are going to come up again, and I really hope that by this point the designers have come up with some actual solutions. Instanced housing options in addition to the open-world housing options are something that really needs to be in the game, like, yesterday, and I don’t consider apartments to really be much of a fix upon that. They help, but they don’t solve the issue. Whether or not we’ll actually get a fix is up in the air in the extreme.
Still, there will be that moving system, supposedly. That’s worth something.
I also expect we’ll be seeing at least a few surprises while we’re there, and the fact is that those are hard to predict by definition because they’re surprises. More egi glamours? New abilities for jobs? One of the new cross-job integrations that I’d been hoping for? Perhaps a whole system whereby your “new” abilities for each job are entirely based on having options to integrate from different jobs? Who can say?
It’s going to be cool, though; I have little doubt of that. And we’ll have plenty about it to discuss next Monday. Until then, you can leave feedback (and predictions) in the comments down below, or you can mail them along to firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, I’ll be doing my best to cover the event as it happens, so keep your eyes peeled here if you don’t already have your livestream ticket!