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.
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.”
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.