I personally liked the fact that FFXI required you to form parties. I liked that the jobs were so highly specialized that you had to work with others to kill difficult mobs. It made sense to me that damage dealers like Blm and Sam couldn't solo difficult mobs because they specialized in damage output at the expense of their physical defense, and that Pld didn't take as much damage as other classes, but couldn't deal out as much damage either. In earlier games in the Final Fantasy series, your damage dealers wouldn't last long without Cure, and your healers would die pretty quickly without a tank. I liked that FFXI chose to keep this dynamic.
But with the announcement that FFXIV will cater to casual/solo players, I wonder how much this dynamic will change. To be honest, I can't really imagine a soloing Whitemage, or maybe I just don't want to. Damage dealers who don't take much damage themselves or mages with high defense would seem imbalanced, but non-specialized classes who do everything moderately well would seem a little non-Final Fantasy.
One solution would be to let players hire "mercenaries." If you're a Whitemage, for example, and you want to level up on some mobs but don't have time to find a party, you could head to the local tavern and hire an npc damage dealer. Or, if you're a Warrior you could hire an npc healer. Maybe there would be a deposit and then the npcs would collect half the gil and items dropped from the mobs killed. This would allow SE to keep the jobs highly specialized, and could also eliminate all the time spent trying to put a party together. More casual players could rent one or two computer controlled party members, kill mobs or complete quests, then log off whenever they were done playing without feeling guilty for breaking the party up early. There would still be incentive to party with actual players, as humans would be more skilled than npcs (not counting Valkurm Dunes of course).
Any other ideas, or are highly specialized classes pretty much over?