Or rather, you will, but not for what you did but what you were supposed to do.
The big problem with role actions, simply put, is that they never actually accomplished their stated goal at any point. It’s part of the game’s complex relationship with character choices and actions I’ve discussed before, but seeing as role actions are soon going to be altogether yanked from their current state, it seems worthwhile to examine why they didn’t work and what (if anything) would be helpful in replacing them.
We’re not going to spend much time on the cross-class action system because I’d wager that basically everyone currently playing the game remembers that clearly enough. For that matter, I don’t really want to talk about 1.0’s system. While it was definitely open for customization, you had basically none of what defines FFXIV‘s current mechanics within it; ever job was more or less a skeleton to fill with your best abilities rather than having its own mechanical quirks or goals or whatever. It’s not coming back.
For that matter, the main motivation behind yanking the cross-class actions still holds up because that system also did not work. Whatever good it accomplished by giving players a reason to level other jobs was wholly undone by the fact that it was fussy, only used a few classes, filled out lists with useless tricks in leveling, and so forth. That was not a good system.
But role actions didn’t work either. So why didn’t it work? For that matter, why did it so distinctly not work that it basically is getting murdered partway through an expansion? The answer, I think, lies in Protect.
FFXIV has a paucity of fire-and-forget buffs. Most buffs you use on your party members last less than a minute, often less than 30 seconds, and that’s part of the gameplay; you aren’t just choosing who gets the buff, but when. Protect, thus, is a rare exception in that it has a long duration and buffs something fairly passive. You take less damage from everything, and while it’s not enough to allow Black Mages to take tankbusters to the face, it’s enough to make healing more manageable.
When it got turned into a role action, though, the problem became notable because in a good run, Protect is useful once. It does nothing else through the whole run.
The whole point of having role actions and having to choose is that it creates some design pressure. You have to choose between being able to do X or being able to do Y, both of which offer situational greater utility. Esuna is a great example; there aren’t a whole lot of debuffs you can use Esuna on, but when you can use it that makes your life easier as a healer. But is it worth passing up Cleric stance for? Is the chance of removing a debuff that might not even crop up worth trading off some damage?
There’s no pressure with Protect. You always need it. And yet it’s never interesting past that first casting. Every subsequent part of the run sees it sitting there as a dead skill.
This is the same problem that ultimately stuck all through the role actions in general. You generally had 3-4 useful actions that everyone would want constantly, which was good insofar as it meant role actions mattered. But then you also had a pile of actions that were all useful only in narrow, specific situations, several of which were unlikely to come up often if at all. Has anyone ever had particular use for Rescue? Break? At least Drain can mildly improve survival for a couple of jobs, but not for long…
No one liked having to choose between the things everyone would always want and the “fun” role actions, but the choices presented were perfunctory. You needed to pick up Protect. Tanks need Rampart and Provoke. And while the system freed us from issues of leveling jobs we never wanted, it didn’t address the core problem of the cross-role system, which was that just picking from a bunch of actions was always going to have some things that are vital and some things that just aren’t.
Yes, you could theoretically not take Provoke for soloing or whatever, but the reality is that outlook doesn’t work either. It makes the choices feel more narrow, since it doesn’t take much to swap role actions. For that matter, what would you replace it with? What other choices would actually make your Paladin play differently?
On this matter, role actions are silent. And the reality is that it’s because the system doesn’t really work. It solves the problem of piling up actions in other classes when every tank needs them, for example, but it doesn’t actually change the way tanks play in any fashion. So removing the restriction isn’t actually going to alter anything significant either; it just means you have access to all of your situational tricks for your role at all times.
Of course, that raises another interesting question. If this was what we had for customization, what are we going to get to replace it? How will things change?
That’s a question we’re not going to have answered until the next expansion. I have no doubt it’s something being discussed and debated from months ago; the change to role actions was not something done on a whim but something planned back when it became clear this wasn’t quite working. Of course, that doesn’t mean we know what’s going to replace it yet, but it likely won’t be until the next expansion.
What we’d need, of course, would be something that accomplished the goals we’ve been sort of ignoring here for a while. All right, there’s a drive to have choices, to let players decide how they want to play their jobs. That means we can’t make these choices between things that everyone will want; we have to make these choices universal. Your White Mage isn’t choosing between four healing tools but four abilities that could all be useful, without a thought toward role.
More to the point, they have to be things that are limited in some way (presumably with longer cooldowns) to avoid seriously disrupting rotations. Ideally, it could be abilities that also cost either MP or TP for jobs that only use one or the other, so you could also make that intelligent decision. And something that would be limited by design, while we’re at it, providing useful benefits that are significant but not expected to be maintained.
And hey, if we want to really make smart use of the series elements, it ought to be something that will be familiar while also not fitting into a job that works well. Something players want in the game, but wouldn’t work as a job on its own because it crosses too many lines.
…say, didn’t someone mine out something about Blue Mage actions a while back?