We’re all still basically expecting an expansion announcement for Final Fantasy XIV in November. I’ll talk about the weirdness of the world right now and its potential effects upon the game next week, but not right now, and we still are all basically expecting an expansion announcement. Exact timing may vary, but the nature of the announcement does not. And we are also all expecting that the new expansion is going to contain two new jobs with it because every expansion has contained new jobs. Heck, I’ve opined at length about potential new jobs.
Quick question, though… do we need them?
While FFXIV has never had an expansion without any new jobs, Final Fantasy XI tried it with its second expansion, Chains of Promathia. I’ve seen a few different conflicting reports about why there were no new jobs with the expansion, ranging from the designers feeling that the jobs were in a good place and didn’t need additions to the idea that the there wasn’t enough time to properly balance and test new jobs, but ultimately it doesn’t actually matter. The expansion had new jobs.
And players were… angry. People were angry about a lot of parts of CoP, but one of the reasons was that the lack of new jobs meant that anyone not taking part in the endgame activities had not much to do in the game at that point. It also made the expansion feel a bit more empty, to the point that the designers basically apologized and said the mistake wouldn’t happen again.
This has been reflected in Yoshi-P’s own statements, in which he’s said that having new jobs feel like a core feature of an expansion. You expect new jobs. It’s a major element of expansions.
So there’s no real doubt that we will get new jobs. It’s part of the very basic nature of the game and a big chunk of how the game rolls out new content, and it’s not one I personally dislike; indeed, I’d be a bit sad to not get new jobs. No, my question here is about whether or not we need a new job, whether they serve a practical purpose or are ultimately just sort of a core feature of expansions because they’re now expected.
In terms of outright balance, while the game’s current lineup of jobs is not perfectly balanced, it’s certainly balanced within a close enough metric that the differences are pretty minor. This is usually the case in an expansion with some tweaking, but it is noteworthy insofar as adding a new job to any given role would start to disrupt things again. The jobs that don’t offer utility are all doing more damage than the ones with lots of utility and support, and within a role it feels like you are at least on something like an appropriate spectrum.
That would be the biggest argument against getting a new job, essentially – new jobs upend balance. It’s inevitable. Adding new jobs is a bit like slamming a new cup full of marbles onto the table and hoping it doesn’t knock too many out of the existing cups. The designers have spent a lot of time getting very good at making this work, but the point remains that balance gets disrupted when a new job comes in.
More to the point, it also raises the question about what more space there is to explore. Obviously, there is some, but in broad strokes each role definitely has a fair amount of spread. Ranged damage dealers have the mostly support job, the mostly damage job, and the one that sits on the midline. Casters have one for damage-over-time, one for pure casting, and one for casting and melee as a hybrid. Melee has two fast jobs (one positional and one with spell elements), a medium-speed job, and a slow job. Healers have regen, shield, or support flavors. Tanks? Defensive, aggressive, resilient, or supportive. You have options.
So those would be the obvious arguments against a new job. Given all that, what’s the main reason to add something new beyond just novelty? We can’t argue franchise history; most of the obvious big Final Fantasy jobs are in the game at this point, and while there are a few other common additions it’s really cleaning up the fringes. And since FFXIV has made its new jobs almost universally tie into the higher level caps, they’re not really new things for lower-level players.
However… they kind of are because every new job added expands the number of things for players to level, which extends the leveling pool.
New jobs need leveling. In fact, they need more leveling than equivalent main jobs. That means more people running roulettes, and especially toward the start of the expansion it means people in the right level range for duties that cover the prior expansion’s needed dungeons. That’s worth noting.
More importantly, though, new jobs mean that new people might approach a role they previously didn’t care for. Since each job has such a distinct flavor to it, there are players who are going to be much more excited about a new job offering some different twist on the formula. You may not be interested in any of the existing caster jobs, for example… but maybe you’d be interested in one with a different approach, more like rapid-fire casting? Or one that offered a support-like focus akin to Red Mage but without the melee elements?
That’s not even counting the fact that each new job has a distinct place in the world that gives us a glimpse into very different portions of the world. Whatever is added with the next expansion will no doubt give you a different feel above and beyond the simple mechanics. We’ve got a healer that calls on the elements and light, a healer that’s a tactician, and a healer that’s based on time and the stars… what about magical potions? One that’s all about internal focus? Environmental effects and the nature of the land itself?
Last but not least, new jobs also serve to keep the game evolving. One of the big reasons why healer players were a bit miffed about the lack of a new healing job was that healing has, functionally, been based around three jobs since Heavensward. The basic split hasn’t changed at all, nor has the way the jobs play off one another. A new melee job would change how your melee options work, how the melee setup plays off of itself, which jobs can do what, and so forth. It means that gameplay is less static, even if your choice of main jobs doesn’t change.
And… let’s face it, Yoshida’s not wrong. An expansion with nothing but new areas, quests, dungeons, and such? That’d mostly feel like a patch at this point.
Feedback, like always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, let’s talk a little bit about how much the current state of the world will or will not affect FFXIV’s usually rock-solid schedule… which is purely speculative, yes, but we kind of need to speculate here.