Wisdom of Nym: The system changes I’d like to see in Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers

    
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Now the story can be told...

We don’t yet know everything we’re going to learn at the Tokyo fan festival about Shadowbringers, but we can be reasonably confident that it will involve a minimum of stuff about the upcoming system changes to Final Fantasy XIV. The stated plan is to unveil all of those in May, and while we can’t be entirely sure that sounds about right. We’ll learn a bit about Gunbreaker and the as-yet-undisclosed additional job (or jobs), but we won’t know all of the way role actions and job actions are changing.

That having been said, what we’ve been promised is an evolution from Stormblood rather than a revolution. But having said all of that, I can already think of some system changes that I’d like to see, even if many of them seem rather unlikely with the game’s current design philosophy. So this isn’t meant as a list of demands so much as a wish list. If we get a couple of the things on this list, I’ll consider it a big win.

Slotted.

More interesting materia

Materia, right now, is the one “customizing” element you have in a given job. Between a very small spread of options, you have your armor, and you have a pretty predictable number of slots to meld materia on to that armor. And you meld… more or less the same thing, 90% of the time.

This isn’t a problem of stats, exactly. The stats are a bit limited, but you always have four or five to juggle, and while your job may not care about a couple of them that’s still a wide enough spread for the slots available. The problem is that’s all materia does. There’s no reason to worry about anything else, and while “just meld Direct Hit” is more of a meme than actual advice, it doesn’t change the fact that there’s nothing more interesting than that going on.

It’s quite possible that this is all that materia is supposed to be, but I feel like it would be more interesting to have materia with a more abstract function. It’d be neat to have materia that was only obtainable in specific ways and offered things like on-hit effects or potential procs, things that don’t upend the game’s balance or design but allow for some customization in how you gear and play your particular job.

This could also dovetail with the points below, of course. It’d be neat if, for example, finishing the Warrior job quests unlocked the Warrior materia that gave a Warrior-style effect; you could use it on any job and only meld one job-specific materia to your gear at once, so you aren’t diminished with just one job leveled, but you also have options. But none of that is necessary. It’d just be nice to make materia less a matter of “how can I hit the speed threshold that matters and then pump my best damage stat.”

birb are the wirb

Some cross-job incentive

All right, let’s start by totally undermining this header: I think Yoshida is right in wanting to minimize how much leveling other jobs matters.

In Final Fantasy XI, of course, this would be ridiculous. Heck, in any job system game, it’d be absurd; the whole point is to level several things and get the power of all of them in one place, to mix and match as you see fit. But as I’ve stated before, the system in Final Fantasy XIV is explicitly the Armoury System rather than a job system, and so the same rules do not apply.

So yes, it does actually make sense that you can reach level 80 with Shadowbringers on the same job as you started the game with. It is a good thing that you can level exactly one combat job and nothing else, or one combat job and all the crafting and gathering jobs, or a mix of several, or you can level everything. Or you could be an absolute fool who levels everything and has several alts who have also gained levels on multiple jobs.

Not that I know about that.

But the point here is that right now, there’s no cross-pollination between jobs whatsoever. The closest thing you get is the Armoury Bonus, and even that only applies to leveling and only as long as you have one job leveled. You can’t get a further bonus for having leveled more things. And once you’ve reached the level cap, it’s just another option, meaning that jobs leveled just to have them leveled is basically… achievement fodder and nothing else.

It’s complicated coming up with a system that gives you options for leveling other jobs without making it mandatory. I realize that. But I’d like to see the effort made, to offer some sort of cross-class bonus that doesn’t feel mandatory but does feel worthwhile. Heck, I’d even be happy if it just unlocked job-specific glamour for your character.

See a gun, break it.

Some proper custom choices

The main reason that we’ve been told that we don’t get, say, the PvP-style custom choices for our jobs in PvE is because it would lead to flavor-of-the-month builds and balancing issues. There’d always be a “best” set of picks that would make things less fun to play.

This is wrong. Or, more precisely, it’s the kind of right that sort of misses the point. Yes, there would inevitably be certain “ideal” builds over time, some things that would be endlessly debated about which is better, and so forth. But based on the game’s setup and the usual freedom you have to swap builds when not in active combat, I wouldn’t be worried about the prospect of having some options be better than others so long as the choices were interesting; someone would always pick different options.

It’s not that the current design is bad or wrong so much as it’s just a little boring, at least to me, to think that any given Scholar with the same gear is basically playing the same as any other given Scholar. It feels a bit more bland, and it ties into the aforementioned issues at the same time. It reduces your meaningful choices more than it needs to, and it feels to me that it’d be a bit more fun to be able to at least nudge the dials on my jobs to hit their full potential.

What would this sort of customization look like? I’m thinking more trait-based than action-based; our two big pushes for action-based customization (role actions and cross-class actions) really didn’t work at all. Having a few different traits to select between would definitely add to a feeling of customization, and it could also be something where you unlock more traits with more jobs leveled. Or they could trigger off of different uses of materia… the point, regardless, is to make things a little more diverse than they currently are.

Do I expect any of this? No, I really don’t. And the game is fine and fun to play as-is. But I’d like to see these things improved because there’s more that the game can do based on how well it already handles the things it does.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, I want to start talking about the jobs we know are getting some pretty significant mechanical updates and why these jobs need it.

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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Mr Poolaty

I don’t even play summoner but as a ffxi veteran I feel people who do are getting a shit half assed job. Every expansion there should be a new summon it should coincide with the primal/s we have to kill… Even if it’s just reskinned with job abilities slightly better than the last or a different set ie like a job change go from tank dps healer support depending on the summons… With a long cool down after switching… Idk I’m just so pissed off about summoner lol… It sux for people who enjoy it now but only get the few options… And it really sux for people who played xi and enjoyed that version…

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Mr Poolaty

I think summoner is a fucking joke! I realize we haven’t hit max job level ie level 99…

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ExcaliburLost

I’d like another slashing of hotbar bloat more than anything. After Stormblood’s attempt, most classes about broke even and I feel there’s way too much that NEEDS to be on your hotbar for certain classes and now there’s almost certainly more coming.

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jbp2388

I just want elements to do SOMETHING(and for summoner to be able to actually summon primals and BLM to not be spam fire spells until you’re out of mp then switch to blizzard which only brings your mp up to spam more fire). On the topic of summoner. I’d love for it to have a complete rework with more primals to summon. I’m getting really tired of Ifrit and Garuda(Titan only being useful in overworld before max level, and with Bahamut he’s not likely to be useful at all anymore now that he loses aggro upon summoning Bahamut). Elements doing something would give a good reason for more summons, and I’m not saying like 2x damage vs a weak element to completely break spell slinging classes, but what even is the reason for unaspected spells OR elemental spells if there’s practically no difference? A 10-20% damage increase doesn’t sound like it’d break the game, especially if you lowered base potency a bit to keep it in line somewhat. I want Black Mage to feel like a black mage and Summoner to actually be more about the summons. I’d also like Carbuncle to be support based like literally EVERY iteration in FF except 11 and 14 but that’s asking for too much.

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cursedseishi

No. For the simple, simple fact that no class has access to every “element” and implementing such in the game would break it. You don’t think an ability doing 5/4ths or 6/5ths of its normal damage isn’t much? Then you clearly need to pay attention better.

Baseline 70 BLM’s best hitting spell, Fire 4, from what I’ve seen (around release, mind) is 14-16k. What you’re suggesting is adding another 3-4k at minimum. And that, again, was near release and without buffs. Even if you played around with potency, there’d be no avoiding a massive increase to damage unless you wanted to make any magic class universally weaker than any physical DPS job. Oh, and forget trying to level or do anything as a White Mage.

It’s a ridiculous idea, and its one that no MMO in the current market will ever bother with. Unless you’re telling me you’d rather have whole jobs screwed out of raids/dungeons because they don’t have that singular element necessary to hit harder. You want elements to matter? Play Blue Mage and participate in the Masked Carnival, it’s the only area in the game where that can be balanced around. Elements, as listed for spells, is fluff unless it is relevant to a class mechanic (such as Astral Ice/Fire).

As for your complain for summons? Egi-Glamours. They do need to work on adding to it, but implementing an ‘elemental weakness’ to everything in the game would do nothing for Summoners either, unless you want 6 shades of generic dps as they’d all have to be normalized. Which, incidentally, would invalidate Bahamut-Egi seeing how he’s non-elemental, and if elemental damage did more, there would be no point to using him. Carbuncle is support-based in FF11 as well, but it has no place in 14 for summoners, unless you want Scholar to get a third one by chance.

But yes, I will agree that Summoner/Scholar need a bit of a reworking. At least when it comes to them sharing a base class is concerned as that base is why the two will play so similarly.

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Sorenthaz

I guess I can see why they don’t want to give us much/any customization choices because they fine tune the game to revolve around the idea that we only have access to so many tools and thus it’s not as much of a balance nightmare for them. It’s part of why WoW has whittled down their talents time and time again as well – simply put it just makes it easier for them to keep track of everything.

Also it makes it to where the variance/customization is how one uses the tools of each job. Not everyone is going to likely utilize the full potential of a Monk for example because it can be hard to keep up with everything. Same goes for simpler jobs like Redmage imo – there are a few ways Redmages can sort of ‘speed up’ white/black gauges, like quick-casting their 11-pointers (verthunder/veraero or whatever) which not everyone would think to do, but it’s a great choice to do that when you’d otherwise be stuck opening up with Jolt. It’s nuances like that I think that can help separate better players from average ones who might not look at how to maximize one’s performance/potential.

Idk. I’d be fine either way with more customization or the current path where there’s little/none beyond some skill-oriented nuances. I just want to see certain jobs get reworked to be less painfully complicated to play, i.e. Monk and MCH.

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Vincent Clark

Agreed, MCH desperately needs a rework. I love the idea of the job, but the way it plays currently…meh.

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styopa

First item, no question: make buffs STOP TICKING DOWN DURING CUTSCENES. Or at least let me into my UI/inventory during said scenes so I can do something, eat, buff, draw cards, etc. Then maybe people will queue for MSQ roulettes. Last night we ended up in The Praetorium and everyone was like “hello, to my family for the next 45 minutes…”

Second: I agree with your point on materia. Honestly, they’re utterly irrelevant to the game until endgame and even then…not that much. They could simply make them more powerful stats, but that’s pretty dull.
Now if they could figure out some sort of random-buff effect on materia not unlike Project Ascension random buffs, stuff that I dunno, might materially affect how you play a job, that could be really interesting – say you have a chance on generating Piety materia of getting one that reduces the cooldown of ONE of the healer abilities by 0.2 sec. Or even better, make it more general (and simultaneously possibly make more of them relevant) have these impact specific ROLE actions, the largely-abandoned stepchild of a previous expansion….

Seems like there are lot of OPTIONS but of course the devil is in the balancing.

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Beowulfgang

Job actions for combat classes used to be cross class. Heck, even unlocking jobs used to require cross classing. People hated it. My main character is a level 26 Thaumaturge, a class I despise playing, simply because you had to get 26 to unlock Swiftcast (The most useful OGCD in the game)
The same character is a 15 PGL for no reason other than that I needed the self heal of Second Wind, and 15 Maurader because I had to get 15 to unlock Dragoon, because for some reason whacking things with an Axe helps my lancer learn how to jump.

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be rewards for multiclassing, but the old method requiring it was broken and annoying. Further, don’t even get me started on Disciple of the Hand cross class abilities. If you want to be a serious Culinarian you NEED level 50. FIFTY. in Alchemist, Carpenter, and Goldsmith, as well as 15 in every other class, just to unlock cross class skills that are REQUIRED to craft hq 4star foods with a reasonable chance of success.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah to be an optimal crafter you pretty much are required to level them all. I can see why that wouldn’t be something on the flip-side for War/Magic Disciples.

WrathOfMogg
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WrathOfMogg

Customization beyond cosmetic stuff is desperately needed.

I also agree that it would be amazing to have some benefit to leveling multiple jobs, even if it’s ONLY cosmetic. I’m imagining that if you, for example, have both a monk and a summoner at max level, your Dragon Kick on monk has a Bahamut effect and your Aetherflow on summoner has a Meditation effect. Obviously you could toggle these off or mix and match the different effects depending on which jobs you’ve leveled.

FFXIV’s job system is one of the unique things about it compared to most major MMOs, and they should leverage that somehow.

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styopa

Agreed, they’re the only game around that can ostensibly inherit the mantle of GW1’s lauded cross-class system to any degree (now that I type that, I sort of see a role for another limited BLU style class…think about it?). GW2 clearly has abandoned the mechanic and the only other game that is close is Archeage, which is a dumpster fire.

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Vincent Clark

“to me, to think that any given Scholar with the same gear is basically playing the same as any other given Scholar.” You would be surprised. It took a couple years (I’m afraid to admit) to learn how to properly weave my skills in coordination with my OGCD’s etc. I was fine mashing my buttons the way I was doing it, and I’d wager a significant portion of players feel the same. It was only being a part of savage raid static group that my eyes opened up a bit.

Having said that, stuff dies a lot quicker now and the flow of my main job (SMN) seems more natural. I think the jobs are a bit more complex than people realize (and least, played at near max capacity) and that is why I’m fine with a single job not having 2 or 3 separate trait lines in an attempt to give the illusion of customization.

WrathOfMogg
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WrathOfMogg

Adding customization to jobs won’t magically make anyone better or worse at the job than they were. It’s just giving players variety and some ownership of their playstyle within a job, which the game could use any of at all.