Wisdom of Nym: The space remaining in Final Fantasy XIV

    
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Perplexing.

If we get more than two more expansions in Final Fantasy XIV, we’re going to be moving into some interesting territory: Players are at level 80 now, and there’s not a whole lot of space left for leveling.

I don’t mean that in a mathematical or a coding sense, mind you. There is no natural law preventing a Final Fantasy game having a maximum level over 100; heck, it’s not actually all that hard to add it into older games with a bit of coding for the stored data space, I imagine. It was the upper boundary at one point, but that was then. We could easily go up to level 100 in 7.0 and then be heading to level 110 in 8.0, and the only reason to not have that be the case is that it just feels wrong.

And yet… that actually does sound right, doesn’t it? The more I think about it (and being as it’s part of my job, I think about it a lot), the more it feels to me like we won’t break that level 99 barrier just because series tradition is important there. And this brings us right back to the opening in which I note that there’s not a whole lot of space left for leveling.

We’re officially well past debating whether or not FFXIV was a success with its relaunch. It was an overwhelming success that continues to succeed. All of this is well and good, and the fact that the game has now made it through three expansions with more presumed on the way is proof that things are going right. But it does mean we sort of have to start thinking about… well, the limited amount of space that’s here in the game, and leveling is an obvious example.

It’s hardly the only one, though. We also, for example, have a limited number of Ascians left. Heck, we have a limited number of antagonists; the number of major antagonists who we thought were dead but were not is basically sitting at two, and those two were both special cases (either not actually shown dying or… well, doing something that even he didn’t think was possible at first). We’re not running out of them at a lightning clip, but by the end of Shadowbringers we’ve managed to down a whole lot of them.

That matters because you kind of need that sense of a long-running antagonist to give you a sense of closure when all is said and done. It allows time for buildup and satisfaction as you struggle against one another. You can’t get that if you have an antagonist just introduced at the eleventh hour (shades of a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere).

The hour is nearly here.

We’ve also got a limited number of spaces for new jobs. Again, this isn’t in an absolute sense because the UI can always be expanded; this is more about the fact that there is a limited number of jobs that have historically shown up in the franchise and starting to reach the far points of what can be made to work. Gunbreaker is already a fairly original job, although its roots lie in Final Fantasy VIII and Dissidia’s version of Squall; we could certainly get one or two more original jobs without any prior basis in the franchise, but the very nature of the game leans on having mostly recognizable jobs showing up.

There’s still plenty of space to explore, though, right? Well, that’s mostly true… but it’s also not true because there’s been a general philosophy for a while that a given area gets its expansion to shine and then needs to go on the back burner. As much as there are more places in the original continent to explore, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see them as zones; similarly, we’re probably not going to get an expansion devoted to the yet-unseen spots of Othard or the larger world of the First beyond Norvrandt. Our further places to go are somewhat limited.

“Oh, what, so the game is dying?” Heck no! It’s not even gasping for air. The point isn’t that these are bad things; they’re just things. Even if we assume that there’s absolutely no one talking about these issues behind the scenes and that there’s a company-wide mandate that the game cannot go above level 99 or above an x.5 patch, none of this would actually be an issue until 2025. I feel like this stuff is going to be figured out before then.

Instead, this is about… well, space. There’s really quite a lot of it, but there’s also a lot less than you think.

One of the things I noted when we were moving into Heavensward was that the game’s at-that-point normal pace of having two Hard dungeons and one new dungeon with each patch was eventually going to lead to us running out of dungeons to turn into hard modes. Both Heavensward and Stormblood changed that setup, and since we now get one hard-mode dungeon with ever other patch, we’ll be getting a grand total of two in this expansion. We’ve got that many un-upgraded dungeons in Heavensward alone with more to spare. But it’s still an example of space limitations.

Heck, space limitations even come down to new content available for players. Introducing the Deep Dungeon in mid-Heavensward meant that the expectation was that each new expansion would have its own Deep Dungeon, which means that there’s design resources pre-allocated to porting that into a new place. It also means we have to have a new portion of the game to explore to fit that in. New beast tribe quests are expected. The list goes on.

Void-tastic.

If it needs to be said again, of course, I consider the game’s emphasis on predictable stuff to be an asset, not a drawback. The point isn’t that there should be more space here than the game is giving itself; the point is that there are limits. There are places wherein the game is bumping up against the limitations of the space it has, not even counting the simple limits of the game’s database structure (something Yoshi-P has mentioned more than once).

This is part of the reason why part of me feels like Yoshida’s unannounced project is indeed another online Final Fantasy title. Yes, there was that one interview in which he said something which could be read as “that’s not happening,” but it was one German interview and there are a few ways to translate that sentence, and he’s never talked about it either way outside of that point. But there are limits to what can be done with this game, and it feels like one of the natural places to go is, well… another game without those limits.

Given the choice, I’d probably be playing FFXIV well past 2025. Heck, I probably will be; when I have the time (which isn’t often) I’m still playing Final Fantasy XI. But I think it’s worth considering the fact that we do at least seem to be on the back nine with the game, so to speak. There’s only so much more space left in the game.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week? Well, I hope by that point we’ll have a little more 5.1 preview stuff to talk about.

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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GreatOogly

I’ve be theorizing that they will continue with the whole “rejoin with your missing parts” up to level 99 or so. Then when you succeed to the point you’re capable — or if they write in a way to get 14/14 with the missing world — then there will be some type of ascension that is reflected in three ways:

* Advanced Jobs: Paladin -> Holy Knight / Judge or something.

* Level reset with new job: Level 1 but with the stats that have at that point

* Another or the first numbers squish, likely referenced by aesthetics such as changing the colors of our HP and the damage on screen.

Likely this will be needed to beat the unnamed threat that caused what happened to the old world and forced them to resort to what they did to beat it. Though that will probably be after the two that they summoned to deal with it are dealt with.

Given Shadowbringers theme is to harness both light and dark, it may be that you even beat and absorb the two most powerful entities of light and dark to make this happen or something.

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Koshelkin

Level 99 would be a great point to start thinking outside the box but seeing how they actually started to copy WoW’s drive to simplify classes(“reducing input complexity”) I don’t think they will.

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GreatOogly

Wouldn’t worry too much about that personally. Their idea of trimming isn’t the same as WoW’s in any sense of the word.

They’ve been trying to do that since Heavensward with their comment that things won’t be more difficult than ARR rotation wise. The same with Stormblood, saying that about Heavensward. Now Shadowbringers. They keep failing spectacularly and make a lot of jobs even more complex each time. This time it was so bad that they have to redesign three entire jobs with patch 5.1. since the input and ceiling is too high for them. Not to mention a bad job balancing Monks and Dragoons and Ninjas.

The problem is that they lower complexity in one area, but then create entire new UI and resources and abilities and things that interact with each other / need positionals / manipulate server ticks (more a player thing) and trying to make up for it by making several things somewhat complex instead of one complex archtype… which inevitably leads to many button presses and a concept that was five times more complex than the last incarnation.

Their goal this time was to what people found stressful in Stormblood, but then added more things to do and keep track of and control and manipulate to the point where it is all mute. For Example: Take away TP? Add several new AoEs for each job that then interact with other abilities and traits that make you play in entirely new way and manage new things. AoE used to be simple and restricted, but now the flood gates are loose and I find myself putting more or equal effort in mobs than I did in single target with some jobs.

They don’t understand the word “simple” — not even with navigating menus or going through options and confirm dialogs. But ultimately it works out since going after pure simplicity is one of the things that hurt WoW over time.

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Koshelkin

Not sure if we’re playing the same game but all my jobs became simplified in their rotation(PLD,WAR,SAM) and from what I could see that’s true for alot of other jobs, too. I can understand your perspective, though, if you think adding a simple combo chain for AoE’s makes the characters/game more complicated..

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GreatOogly

Hello Koshelkin!

Paladin never had a really complex rotation — in fact, I’d call the current version more interactive than the past versions as per them having an actual AoE rotation as compared to “Scorn Flash Flash Flash” (since Flash didn’t do any damage, it was just Circle of Scorn. One button. Pressed one time since it had a cooldown) Then later they added Total Eclipse with Stormblood, but that is when it truly became a “Spam this when able and without thought”.

Now their AoE rotation is more akin to:

Requiscast -> Holy Circle -> Holy Circle -> Holy Circle -> Holy Circle -> Confiteor -> Fight or Flight -> Total Eclipse -> Prominence -> Total Eclipse -> Prominence, etc. and with mixed in defenses (more in depth on this in the future).

I’m not sure if you played it in the past, but noting Paladin as an example for being simpler than past incarnations is folly. Especially when I specifically noted AoE as being one of the outlets they added complexity to — and leads me to believe you didn’t even read the whole thing.

This can also be applied to their single target, use of MP now that TP is gone and their defensives. Moreever, Intervention and Intervene add to not only their gap closers, but their potential damage and group dynamic. To say nothing that their resource actually has meaning this expansion and several additional uses. With intervention, or protecting the group — along with Cover among other things tied to it. As well as a personal block. As well as their addition of charges to specified abilities.

To say nothing of their new uses of Sword Oath which — in case you didn’t know — is now an active thing to manage as opposed to a click one button and it’s a permanent buff. Which further helps alter the Paladins Single target kit from an exceedingly simple rotation to a comparatively more elaborate one, albeit we’re talking about one of the easiest tanking jobs in the game to play at the moment.

It changes the precious rotation of ARR’s 1-2-3, yay I’m done and Heavensward’s:
FoF
1-2-4-
1-2-3 Yay I’m done…
(Note that Spirits Within — 30 second cooldown — was not included in this due to it being so long with my memory and where it fits in rotations)

and Stormblood’s
1-2-3
1-2-4
1-2-4
Physical
5-6-6-6-6-6
Magical

1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1
AoE

…To Shadowbringer’s

(Thanks to KingYede for the evaluation)
Opener one:

Shield Lob* > Fast Blade > Intervene > Spirits Within > Riot Blade > Circle of Scorn > Goring Blade > Requiescat > Holy Spirit > Holy Spirit > Holy Spirit > Holy Spirit > Confiteor > Fast Blade > Riot Blade > Fight or Flight > Goring Blade > Fast Blade > Riot Blade > Intervene > Spirits Within > Royal Authority > Intervene > Circle of Scorn > Atonement x > Atonement > Atonement > Fast Blade > Riot Blade > Goring Blade

Opener two:

Shield Lob* > Fast Blade > Riot Blade > Fight or Flight > Goring Blade > Spirits Within > Fast Blade > Circle of Scorn > Riot Blade > Intervene > Royal Authority > Intervene > Atonement > Atonement > Atonement > Fast Blade > Riot Blade > Goring Blade > Requiescat > Holy Spirit > Holy Spirit > Holy Spirit > Holy Spirit > Confiteor

Opener Three:

Total Eclipse > Circle of Scorn > Prominence > Requiescat > Holy Circle > Holy Circle > Holy Circle > Holy Circle > Confiteor > Fight or Flight > Total Eclipse > Prominence > Total Eclipse > Prominence > Circle of Scorn > Total Eclipse > Prominence

…as well as making the resource used by more than one skill.

The only thing that was “simplified” was taking away the old version of Sword Oath, which was a permanent buff after one click. As well as less threat, since you had Sword Oath up for more damage (I still miss ARR’s threat and paladins not getting the stance until level 40). As well as now having a passive DR, which was always passive even if you used Shield Oath as it was also a press and forget (in addition, SHB mobs hit for much more, and we’re missing Protect in old dungeons which was a lot of armor at higher levels). If you go into Warrior, then they lost more of their stance dancing, but they too acquired some new toys and additional AoE complexity to make up for it. Though I only have one warrior at 80 at the moment, and I haven’t done enough research on him to do E1-4S yet.

Though I could very much direct you to the last live letter where they said they understand Summoner and Ninja are too complex or work too hard for the damage they put out, and are getting complete reworks to either their systems or their rotations. Samurais are also getting some work on, with them acquiring Meditation stacks in different ways to allow them to use Sho-Ha without manipulating server ticks or “Fishing”.

In case you weren’t familiar, many of the 95%+ Samurais were using special tricks and stuff called “Fishing” to get an extra Shoha, and the monks use an unintended rotation and use of mechanics (and anatman) that make them surpass everyone else as well — while still maintaining positionals. This artificially inflated the complexity of these jobs somewhat and was unintended, though we could go into detail as to what is more complex in SHB over Stormblood with them as well. With a special exception on Samurai since it is still a new kid on the block and by virtue of them adding new abilities it has new things to worry about. Though again with Monk — as with Warrior — I’ve not done a Savage raid with them to see how easy all the tips and tricks are for it.

The World First for Savage was actually done with a Summoner in group. Though he had to switch to Black Mage for the last fight, simply because his hand was hurting so much from the rotation. It’s sad when your long time main has to be pushed aside due to such, but it is what it is.

Hopefully you understand now what I’m saying. There is looking at things at face value and then there is actual comparisons and looking also to what they acquired. In addition to what replaced some old systems. Playing at exceedingly high skill levels also changes the intended rotation for some jobs as well. Which is what I said about their balance being horrible with some jobs.

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Grim? Darhk

I resubbed…And then realized I’m only 72. Bloody hells I hate leveling in this game. The amount of main story quests I’ve done already makes me feel like I should be almost done, not barely starting. ;_;

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GreatOogly

That’s what I love about it, personally. It really lets me live that never ending JRPG story that I wanted in my youth. Granted, road blocks aren’t fun if you find yourself in one. Though there are substantial tools to avoid that: I’ve personally almost never hit one (I did back at the start of ARR with the whole 45-50 skip) due to doing all my roulettes, using my trusts, leveling alts through squadrons or PotD or HoH, getting higher FATE reputation and acquiring gems (while also leveling the chocobo companion), etc. Not to mention side quests offer some good rewards lately and sync down to your level.

Then again I go for my gathering and crafting levels first, leaving me to get 4-5 levels at the start since I make sure to do my roulettes in those first couple of days. But I noticed that dungeons give something like 5-9 million experience per 16 minutes or so (or 25 with instant-queue trusts). Plus all those items for either equipment or turn-ins for quick seals.

That sigh of both relief and accomplishment when you beat the expansion is just amazing. Just simply from beating the game and thinking back on the story to say “What a journey”. Just don’t get that anymore in most games, except maybe Classic WoW when you reach level 60 and feel like you’ve actually had a journey instead of taking a bullet train. But I did my time with Vanilla and its missing a lot of modern MMO features is what keeps me away now.

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Sorenthaz

Eh, I’d be okay if we hit level 99 and then had an alternate progression method moving forward. Maybe have a new type of relic system and put more emphasis on materias as well. Or basically do something akin to Elemental Levels in Eureka.

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Java Jawa

There’s nothing stopping the team from new lands, both planets and above the clouds or under the sea. There are precedents for all.

I think the levels are arbitrary at best. Unless there’s some indication of a new online FF series it’ll keep going as long as it’s profitable.

They can pull out a new big bad of the xpac all day long…looks there’s a meteor coming towards eorzea….or a new super primal…or look a magical keyblade …jk on that last one…

If I were a betting man, we probably have a solid 2 decades left on this title.

As a side note they have the entirety of the tactics line to draw from and that’s a lot. They could even go as far as re-introduce cross class specializations. Although doubt it, they are aiming to streamline things more.

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styopa

Hell, Shadowbringers sent us to another DIMENSION basically, so precedent’s pretty open on that score.

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Max Sand

The First, to be specific……of thirteen(14 including our home world, The Source). Now 7 of them are presumed destroyed but that still leaves 5 more, and that’s just within the existing lore we know of. Not to mention Garlemald based zones which seems to be inevitable. Plenty of places to go.

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GreatOogly

There were a few islands mentioned in 1.0 and had a couple mentions in 2.0. Would have to go back in new game plus when they include it all to get their names. But we also have The New World which is depicted in the Blue Mage quests and how they say it is difficult to navigate there at present. Not to mention backgrounds of old areas where they show how expansive the continent really is, even though you’re blocked from flying out of the zone.