Wisdom of Nym: Forgotten and abandoned systems in Final Fantasy XIV

Oh, right.

The weird thing when talking about Final Fantasy XIV when compared with a whole lot of MMOs is that it doesn’t have a lot of dead ends. I don’t mean that entirely as a pejorative. Most MMOs, by the simple nature of how they’re designed and how teams work on them, tend to have a lot of ideas that show up for an expansion or two and then get quietly shuffled away. Occasionally this is because something was a good idea executed badly or it was a good idea executed well that the designers didn’t like; far more often it’s due to more foundational problems that made it a major problem to expand upon.

FFXIV doesn’t have a lot of that. That’s not to say that every system has survived intact to the present day; to use an obvious example, I still kind of miss levequests as a way to level combat jobs, and that hasn’t been a thing since Heavensward (and it was awkward there, too).

But that doesn’t mean there are no design cul-de-sacs laying about through the game, and so today I want to take a peek at them. Shine a little light on things that the designers have clearly designated as vestigial features now – not things that have run their course but systems that seem pretty much abandoned.

Guilty or innocent?


Every so often, someone will float the idea that maybe we’re going to get another new job branching off of an existing class, and while I get the desire for that, I also think it’s kind of important to remember that the last time we got a new job branching off a class was back in 2014. And that was a bespoke class made just for that one job. I’m sorry, folks, but this ship has absolutely sailed.

There was perhaps a glimmer of this not being the case when Heavensward was being designed. While I don’t have all of the interviews saved, the team has described how originally Dark Knight, Machinist, and Astrologian all started with classes, hence why they start at level 30 with their job form. But Machinist was having trouble keeping wholly within its class theme without branching out, and since then it’s just been a case that every new job starts 20 levels back from the new level cap (so it levels through the prior expansion’s worth of content) and it doesn’t have an associated class.

And honestly, the writing was on the wall for this one for a while. Even before then, the only class that split into two jobs was Arcanist, and at this point both Summoner and Scholar have been thoroughly changed so many times that they bear very little similarity to one another in terms of abilities. The original plan of having your class be for solo content and your job be for group content never panned out very well, and why would it? The balancing just didn’t work out quite right there.

In many ways, you can look at all of that as vestiges of how the Armoury System worked back in 1.0, with its much more open selection between literally every ability in the game. At first, the designers were very much trying to have their cake and eat it too, splitting the difference between letting you do a little bit of everything and keeping you stuck in a much more narrow laneway of character ability. It became clear that this particular way of handling things wasn’t going to work over the long term, and so we wound up instead with different systems for everything from mandatory cross-job abilities to how we unlock jobs in general.

That’s not a bad thing, it’s just… a thing. It just means that the game changed. But it does mean that classes are this awkward thing hanging off the front of the game before being totally forgotten, and it’s why pretty much every expansion lead-up sees someone thinking “maybe this time our new job will be based off an existing class” and someone else saying “here’s when classes finally get removed.” The latter is more likely, but neither seems to be happening soon.

Bit of a shame, but hey, the game works in the form it is now. (Does that mean I’m going to stop advocating for more player choices in each job? You must be new here.)

Oh no, manchildren!


So the current system for leveling up and improving your chocobo works. It’s entirely functional. It gives you a summoned companion you can have accompany you on open world content if you so desire for the price of a single bundle of gysahl greens. That’s all great. The only problem is that there’s no open world content that makes any use of it at all and basically none that will require you to have your companion out ever for any reason.

Seriously, the places where you might think that your companion could actually be useful are almost universally places where you can’t use your companion and the remaining options are all far too easy to require one. You barely even want your chocobo flapping alongside you most of the time when you’re hunting in the open world for blue magic, because it more than likely will kill the thing you’re trying to bait into using a skill. It’s not powerful enough to make a difference in FATEs, you can’t bring it out during instanced combat, and so forth.

Now, in some ways “summon your chocobo and fight together” is one of those elements from the 2.0 design document that doesn’t match how the game actually developed. In that regard, it’s not altogether different from the idea that primals would show up in the open world and an FC would gain the ability to summon one again within a certain timeframe. Chocobo companions are just one of those ideas that actually made it to a release state, complete with a tool to surpass the level cap and a small reward for reaching level 20.

But reaching level 20 with your bird is… really just something you do for bragging rights. It doesn’t actually change anything about how you play beyond that. You can’t summon your bird when you would actually want your bird alongside you.

In some ways this is also entirely understandable simply because if open world combat was balanced around having your chocobo out it would kind of suck – not just because of the gil you’d spend on gysahl greens but simply because it would probably be a nonstop mess wherein every single fight brought you within an inch of death no matter what. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like a fun time to me. Wanting open-world content to be more relevant is all well and good, but making it significantly harder is probably not the way to go.

Still, it means that your chocobo is just something you have rather than something you use all that often. There are decent odds you barely even ride it any more. And that is a little sad, especially when every so often someone remembers it and says that we’ll get more companion content one day. Next year in Jerusalem.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, I want to take a look at Eureka and Bozja and ask if that particular style of content seems like a hit or a miss now that the dust has settled.

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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