Despite the fact that it is not coming out until significantly later, I’m willing to bet that a large part of the work for Final Fantasy XIV’s next limited job has already been done. The play pattern has been decided on, the design has been locked, and what remains is filling in the abilities and programming the graphics. It’s ultimately irrelevant beyond trivia, but just having a sense of how the team works on things this seems reasonable to me. But the real question is what it’s going to be.
However, some of the speculation about it has seemed… well, kind of odd to me. I’ve seen some speculation assuming that the shirt tease Yoshida offered up in Las Vegas was meant to tease the next limited job, which has gone into the realm of the same basic guesses about the job as whatever we don’t get from the options of Green Mage or Pictomancer, as if those were the only choices. So I think it’s past time to point out that it’s unlikely the next limited job will be a mage of any sort.
When it comes to limited jobs, we currently have a data set of, well, one. There’s not enough to draw a meaningful conclusion about what cannot be a limited job outside of jobs that have already been announced or are in the game (so Sage is off the table, for example) and the philosophical underpinnings of limited jobs as a concept. But what are those philosophical underpinnings?
The obvious thing is that they’re meant to be solo jobs, but that’s a lie. Blue Mage has tons of abilities which require a party to get and a whole mechanism for doing content in parties. You can certainly level solo, but this in and of itself isn’t unique; you can’t queue for content normally, but you not only will need to enter group content but even have specific tools to make you a healer, tank, or DPS.
So what is the philosophy at work here? I think the best way to actually look at limited jobs is as a parallel play mode for jobs that otherwise simply don’t work from a balance standpoint.
Anyone who has played as Blue Mage for any length of time will know that the job is phenomenally unbalanced. (Try doing a dungeon with multiple Blue Mages, hope you didn’t enjoy trash pulls existing. They’re just instant-killed.) The point of Blue Mage is that the job is, in the context of the series as a whole, very well known. It’d be kind of odd not to have Blue Mage, but it’s hard to make Blue Mage work in the context of the game because of how it’s designed. Ability learning and balance just don’t support it, so they exist in parallel.
With that in mind, I think it actually becomes a little bit clearer what any new limited jobs sort of have to be, and the first restriction is that they absolutely have to be jobs with a robust history. Blue Mages have existed in several games since Final Fantasy V, and while their idiosyncratic learning method could fit into Final Fantasy XI (which has a very different style of play and ability layout), they don’t fit into FFXIV without a parallel game mode. The new limited job will likely be similar.
As such, there’s no reason for Pictomancer or Green Mage to even be in the running because neither of these hypothetical jobs has a long series history. One of them appears in one main series game, and the other is obliquely mentioned in another while appearing in a couple of titles bastardizing the history of Final Fantasy Tactics. Neither of these is a staple that people have been waiting to see for ages. There’s more history for a job named Ravager.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t some jobs that could fulfill this role – Beastmaster, Puppetmaster, Onion Knight, Ranger, and Geomancer were all jobs I named way back when as potential new additions to the limited job roster. But there’s another point that is worth picking up here, because basically none of these jobs would be casters. In fact, I think it’s reasonable to assume that we’re not getting another limited job as a caster DPS, just because I’m hard-pressed to think of a job that would be a caster and fit in that space.
I also sincerely doubt at this point we’ll get Geomancer as a limited job at all, but that’s neither here nor there.
One thing that I am very curious about is seeing how the new job plays with Blue Mage. They’re both limited jobs, so they have that going for them; at the same time, nothing is quite like Blue Mage in its method of learning. Assume for a moment that it’s Beastmaster, for example. Beastmaster does not learn spells; it captures animals, and it’s pretty clear that it does in fact capture creatures rather than sentient beings. That obviates a lot of potential bosses, who have historically gated some Blue Mage abilities just fine.
Even looking beyond that element, capturing a creature has to be an active decision, and so you can’t really give players an added chance to capture something by going in a synced party. You could certainly have systems for training and enhancing your animals with certain innate bonuses, like a more jacked version of the current chocobo training system, but that can also run into problems where you have less incentive to capture everything. It’d need to be a much more elaborate system.
You could argue that capturing beasts just gives you access to some of their abilities, yes, but then that’s just Blue Mage again with a different flavor. If the designers took seven or so years to do a second limited job (we probably won’t get it until 2025), they’ll be putting something out something with a bit more inspiration than “Blue Mage but it uses Dragoon gear” for the efforts.
Now, having said all this and taking into account the critiques I’ve had about the direction Blue Mage has ultimately moved in, I am excited to see what we get next for a limited job. Not so much because most of the individual jobs are among my favorites in the series or because I harbor some hope that this is not ultimately going to wind up in a similar spot to Blue Mage, but rather because it shows that the designers ultimately consider Blue Mage to be a successful experiment worth trying again.
Blue Mage, as a job, recontextualizes older content and gives you a new reason to explore it and a new reason to level back through the earlier zones of the game. It expands the core combat engine in a unique fashion, and it gives players reasons to think about things they otherwise do not have to. And I’m excited to see where the designers want to take that next.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to email@example.com. Next time, I want to talk about why people are looking so intently for Alphinaud in the Dawntrail trailer, Lyse in the Stormblood trailer, and why people fixate on tiny things that almost certainly mean nothing in the fan festival game. (I promise this is actually interesting.)