I’m going to be entirely candid with you, folks: You all probably know by now when the media tour embargo lift is at this point (Wednesday of this week), and so you probably know that it’s kind of hard to find a whole lot to write about ahead of time. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to write about Final Fantasy XIV, obviously; I have been writing a lot about it in preparation for exactly this day. Rather, it means that the big thing to cover isn’t happening until later this week, so now seems like a good time for something fluffier.
Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that when I do actually have some fluffier topics to discuss, and so this week I’m turning my gaze back toward what we already know about jobs from the most recent live letter. I think we can actually get a peek inside where our next jobs will be going there in at least one way, now that we know that Summoner is going to be a very different job than it was before now.
Here’s the thing about Summoner: For many years, it’s been a job very much of two parts. On the one hand, it’s been a job about damage-over-time effects with mechanics based around that. On the other hand, it’s also been a job about having a pet and making use of that pet in combat scenarios. The pendulum has been steadily swinging toward the pet end of the spectrum for quite some time, and now we’re going full on in that direction with the revisions that the Live Letter revealed about how Summoner will work moving forward.
This is honestly a good thing. But it’s a good thing for two reasons. The first is that it means that the job gets to really lean in on the flavor of being a proper summoner rather than its existing half-measures, which will no doubt make a lot of people happy. (Some people will probably be less happy because where are Shiva, Leviathan, and Ramuh, but one thing at a time.) But the other is that one of my old bits of speculation about a new casting job just inherited a whole bunch of design detritus if it wants it.
I don’t mean “detritus” in this case as a pejorative as much as a description. There is probably not enough in and of itself to make an entire job out of the parts excised from Summoner ahead of these revisions. Rather, there is enough to at least give a foundational starting point. A mage that focuses on damage-over-time spells and consuming or spreading those effects is definitely a place to start with a new caster DPS job, and considering that we haven’t gotten a new one of those for the longest time I remain pretty certain that is the plan for the next new job to be added.
This doesn’t mean that it will be that, of course. But there’s good reason to take that nugget and expand it. While we’ve had jobs get pretty big revisions before, none of them quite ran as long as Summoner while being split between two different design goals. Machinist got a big revision, for example, but it was also a job that had been seen heavy revision pretty much since it was introduced; Monk is getting some changes, but the big problem Monk consistently has had was that it didn’t flow nicely, not that there were two different job concepts jockeying for space.
The closest thing you have to a problem is that Final Fantasy doesn’t have a whole lot of separate jobs that traditionally bust out Bio and other DoT effects and the like, but there are still other caster jobs that can be pressed into service there. And it’d create a unique space as a job that has a slower ramp-up compared to most of the caster jobs, which can often go hard right from the start.
Here’s where I get a bit more speculative, though. There are some jobs out there that could actually have a relationship with damage over time spells quite convincingly. Green Mage, for example, focuses on buffs and debuffs during its limited appearances. But there’s an even more obvious candidate for a job that would care quite a bit about damage over time that, while it would use very different thematics for it, could easily be seen as a DPS job accelerating time and casting debuffs as necessary.
What job is that? It’s obvious. Time Mage.
“Wait a second,” you cry, “that’s Astrologian’s inspiration!” And you’re entirely right. Astrologian has a lot of Time Mage stuff to it, right down to the job’s main AoE ability being Gravity. Conversely, Time Mage is generally more about non-damaging debuffs like Slow, Stop, and Silence, rather than simply damage over time spells. It’s definitely a support-oriented job, though, and it’s far more of a caster DPS than it is anything else…
And you know what? It wouldn’t be hard to give it a couple of workalikes to Bio and Miasma (or even give it those direct abilities) and have Fester-style mechanics talking about “accelerating the flow of time.” Add in some more support spells and make it more supportive than Red Mage, and that fits nicely into the current lineup of jobs quite well.
Here’s the thing, though. Where did Time Mage originate? What was the first game that made it a distinct job? Final Fantasy V. A game that was all about going off to a strange new land that was unfamiliar to the majority of its cast, littered with some advanced technology from an earlier conflict. You don’t think that some parallels could be drawn there with Meracydia, the continent where the Allagan march of conquest was stopped, do you?
I’m being facetious, of course. There’s an obvious parallel there, especially as we haven’t yet had nearly the weight of Final Fantasy V references in the game as we’ve had to most of the other titles in the franchise. It’s well past due, and this would be a perfect time to sandwich them together.
Obviously, this idea requires a lot of assumptions. It’s assuming that the next new job is even going to be Time Mage in the first place, after all. I freely expect that this is going to be proven entirely wrong, and to be honest, that’s fine. It’s kind of silly to speculate about the next set of jobs we’re getting when Sage and Reaper are just around the corner for the current expansion, which is getting ever closer as we speak.
But if we do wind up going to Meracydia for the next expansion… well, this will look eerily prescient, won’t it? And hey, you know that I love putting my speculation out there well in advance. I’m not always right, but at least I own it.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to email@example.com. Next week? I’m sure I’ll have some leftover stuff to talk about in the wake of the media tour, so that’s what I’m earmarking the column for ahead of time.