Wisdom of Nym: Blue Mage in Final Fantasy XIV and what the update needs to deliver

    
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The most wonderful sound.

The funny thing about Blue Mage in Final Fantasy XIV right now is that the only people still really mad about it are… the people who were really mad about it beforehand. Like, if you were neutral or actively liked Blue Mage on a conceptual level, odds are good to absolute that you’re pretty much done with the job by this point. You’ve learned what you’re going to learn and are content to mostly just… wait until the next update, which I have to admit I expected to have already been going live by now. A bit surprising it hasn’t, actually; maybe there were bugs with it or with the new frontline map due for the same release?

Regardless, we know at least the broad strokes of what’s coming with the next update for Blue Mage, but not a lot of the details (and not just because of the whole datamining purge, which was actually unrelated… a topic for another day, really). The people mad about it being what it is are probably going to be just as mad, but what does this update really need to add? What is it that it can do to make things more interesting?

It seems like something that would really need to be broken up into a lengthy set of list items, but the actual answer is pretty simple: repeated activities.

See, here’s the thing about limited jobs. While I like the idea and what it gives the game in terms of overall design space, it does run into a serious problem when it seems like, at the very least, the nature of a Limited Job will always place it behind the current content curve. I understand the reasoning behind that, of course; if or when degenerate combinations come up, the designers want to make sure it’s not affecting anything that would alter actual endgame progression. You don’t want people to be gathering the newest tomestones with dungeon runs that take five minutes each, for example.

The problem there, of course, is that it’s hard not to feel like whatever rewards you’re getting are rewards you already earned. Sure, you get a nice shot of currency, but that runs into the problem that Poetics are not hard to earn in other ways just as quickly. Allied Marks were at least a bit harder to get, but the Masked Carnivale didn’t really have enough beyond that to keep you invested every single week.

So therein lies the problem. Blue Mage needs an endgame that feels like a meaningful one, like it’s accomplishing something. This, hopefully, can also extend to other limited jobs in the future.

SELF-DESTRUCT

Unfortunately, this endgame also can’t replicate the usual gear cycle that has long managed to sustain the game at the level cap. People need that easy Poetics gear to upgrade and use for leveling normal jobs, and so long as Blue Mage is using caster gear it’s going to be ultimately catching up to gear everyone already knows about. This means that it’s a bit of a tricky spot, since you need a sense of repeated new content while also providing rewards that feel relevant.

The Carnivale was a solid effort in this direction. It keeps up a weekly rotation to give you new challenges and also rewards you with a currency that is at least harder than usual to pick up without spending a lot of time farming S-ranks. But even that was kind of catch-up; all the rewards for it had been in the game for ages. Once you had what you wanted there, you could really kind of stop bothering.

Having the added Blue Mage group finder definitely could help, but I don’t think it’s a slam dunk in and of itself because that’s what’s really going to ultimately make the job sticky or not. It’s not about having nothing to do so much as having nothing to do that feels relevant. And the developers know that’s an issue; that’s why we get new things to do on a pretty reliable three-and-a-half-month schedule. Relevant rewards are necessary.

So what can be done here? Well, I think there are actually some options here, but a lot depends on implementation. People will be having fun being able to play BLU as tank, healer, and DPS in random groups, I’m sure, but what’ll keep them coming back is feeling like doing so has some rewards.

All I remember is that he was African-American.

The first possibility is the time-honored way that the game has long rewarded players for taking on optional content: cosmetics. Of course, just having a new cosmetic storefront is probably not enough, so I wonder if this will actually work out; then again, Ishgard restoration has already toyed with this a bit, and allowing new sorts of gear to be sold via Blue Mage unlocks would probably not go awry. It could even be a system allowing you to directly buy dungeon appearances, something lots of players would no doubt like. Or buying some now-unavailable Dated items, perhaps.

We could also that tied into or separate from specific currency for Blue Mage, which could be used for cosmetics or actually helpful items. One possibility, for example, would be allowing you to buy current tomestone materials with some sort of Blue tomestone or whatever, a boon for people who have lots of use for even the unlimited level 80 tomestones and thus have a hard time spending them on just materials

There’s also the (very unlikely) possibility of some form of progression tied to Blue Mage, or at least optionally tied to it. Ironically, if FFXIV had something akin to Merit Points, this would work pretty well; the equivalent of grinding Merits on a lower-level class would ensure that you’re still making progress even if there are other ways to make progress. Of course, that would be… a bit of a huge system to just casually add with no forewarning into this smaller patch, so probably not.

Last but not least, it could always sport new systems for cosmetic progress in some fashion. For example, imagine if Blue Mage ties into unlocking not new appearances, but the option to glamour stuff that normally cannot be glamoured. Want to get certain Egi-Glamours? Learn them via Blue Mage. Want a new cosmetic customization for your job abilities? Earned through Blue Mage. It’d functionally just be more cosmetics, but of a different category and thus justifying Blue Mage getting something very different.

Of course, I don’t doubt that the people working on the game have come up with better ideas than these (or reasons why these ideas wouldn’t work; that’s equally possible). Rather, I think the salient point is that Blue Mage needs to feel like it at least has an endgame with rewards that are… relevant to it and give you a reason to play this, rather than stuff you can get through other means.

Otherwise, that problem is going to just be coming back around for Blue Mage with players finishing it up and then being done, which would be kind of a disappointment.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, aside from hoping that we’ll be getting our next small patch sooner rather than later, I’d like to talk about how the various crafting jobs look in terms of relevance of product.

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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paladin81
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paladin81

I’m not into the whole “limited job” thing.. It doesn’t feel useful in anyway. Its fun for a bit, but once you attain its max level, there is no reason to go back to it. This was the case with BLU. I hit 50, did the Colosseum to get the rod, and I had absolutely no need to touch the job again. I don’t know why it was said, the job was “overpowered”, it sure doesn’t feel as if it is.

Just adjust some of the abilities, and make it a normal job.. Most of the players, were excited about BLU (especially having played XI), what we got in XIV. was very meh.

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John Smitheson

They could add a few role-specific premade spell sets you can use for actual full-on duty finder content with other players and with a few tweaks group up in a legitimate autofilled party, swapping back to your customized bars in premade/unsynched party and open world content sort of like how pvp does it. That on top of continued support and level cap raising and content could make it almost a real job worth playing apart from the gimmick and eventual mount.

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Sorenthaz

Part of what I dislike about BLU is it feels like they played too safe with it and as a result its abilities are like 90% useless/conditional and only a few actually have any kind of oomph/wow factor to them.

Like I was under the assumption that part of why it’d be ‘Limited’ is because it would break the balance and be overpowered, but it’s like they were too afraid of that and made it feel severely lackluster instead. And then it’s basically a painful trudge/grind of RNG to get abilities that are actually useful.

WrathOfMogg
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WrathOfMogg

Or make it a real job like 95% of the player base wants.

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cursedseishi

Cosmetics is definitely a good spot to start with. Blue Mages only have a couple options for weapons–and since the weapons themselves are literally cosmetic? Expand that!

Heck, give them their own variation of a relic line and play that off the current ‘Carnival’ mechanics. Endeavors that are won through creative use of blue magic rather than outleveling or overpowering things through brute force–ala casting ink on a boss with reflect to blind yourself to avoid the room wide gaze attack or the like. Heck! There are other summoners now in the game’s lore thanks to the summoner questline. Have special ‘Egi’ battles that rotate on a weekly basis that give you the chance for Primal-themed canes as well as offer a chance on your own to get their Blue Magic skills.

And once that is done? Guess what?! That Levi-Egi or Ramuh-Egi made for the fight? Allow summoners the ability to utilize them for completing that rotation.

Or give Dragoons a chance to have ‘Circle of Thorns’ back as an emote… please? I miss my stripper pole move…