First off I'd just like to say that everything expressed in this post is my personal opinion, not fact, so any attempts at telling me I'm wrong will not earn anybody additional e-peen points, although any opinions are welcome =) Secondly, I apologize in advance for the long post.
For the past few weeks I've been busy immersing myself in all of the new content released with patch 1.19/1.19a and I feel like at this point I have a pretty clear picture of what the current state of the game is and to a small extent what direction the game seems to be heading towards. So it's not entirely subjective when I voice my opinions on what I think is working and what may ultimately hurt the game in the foreseeable future. Excluding some of the fundamental issues like UI lag, lack of party search, etc, I feel that the Materia system in its current state is one of the worst features of the game and may really hurt FFXIV's development as it approaches version 2.0. The reasons I feel this way are based on three major phenomenon I've seen emerge from this system:
1. Impact on Economy - Ever since the materia system has been introduced the economy has been completely erratic and unpredicatable. Yes, the materia system has given a boost to the market wards with the demand of "cheap" old gear. But the very nature of materia conversion has made people greedy and illogical. How many of us have seen Heaven's Fist materia being sold for 1mil + in the wards or in bazaars? How many of us have KNOWN players that have bought tier IV materia for 600k+?? Many of these tier IV materias were converted from dated gear that went for about 80k-100k on the markets and yet suddenly their materia counterpart (due to a lucky conversion) is worth 5 to 10 times the value? To me that's just insane.. and completely irrational.. but its happening now and on a frequent basis. Not to mention the gouging of dated armor prices. SE's intent for the materia system was to get people to convert their dated armor into materia so when they eventually phase those gears out, at least everyone will have gotten some use out of them. Unfortunately, rather than seeing a decrease in dated gear being made and sold in the markets, I am actually seeing a rise in those particular gears. When tier IV HP materia was confirmed from Dated Mythril Wristlets, the price of those bracelets shot up to 200k on my server before people caught on and flooded the market. Who's to say what the next flavor of the week is and what particular piece of equipment will be priced at ridiculously inflated prices?? A healthy economy is one where value and price coincide, but with this current system I don't see it stabilizing anytime soon.
2. Loss of Exclusivity for Crafters - This one ties in closely with the erratic markets. With the price of some dated gear going up with the demand for spiritbinding parties, it's very apparent that high level crafters are benefiting the most from the materia system. They can craft their own gear in bulk to spiritbind with while covering the cost of any materials (or even make a profit) by selling a few leftover pieces. For this reason everyone I know is trying to level up their craft jobs now. On one hand I think its great that crafters are much more relevent now and have a much bigger role to play in the game. But on the other, people who never had an urge to level crafting or didn't really enjoy it are forcing themselves to catch up. In the long run what we'll end up having is that everyone will have a crafting job leveled and there'll be less exclusivity when it comes to those high level crafters. Personally, i've always felt that crafters should be more exclusive since the boredom that goes into leveling a job solo to max deserves to be rewarded. In ffxi, and even prior to the recent patches in ffxiv, I knew a handful of high level crafters by name and if i ever needed a service from them i'd willingly pay a price and seek their help. Nowadays, as i look through my ls list i see 2-3 level 50 wvrs with 7 more leveling. And its true across the board for all crafts. While its understandable the longer the game is out the more variety we'll see.. but i feel like a lot of the people who are leveling their crafting jobs now are not doing it because they have nothing else better to do, but are rather forced into it by the materia system.
3. Trivializing Rare/EX drops - This to me is the biggest problem I have with the materia system. With the advent of the materia system, rare/ex gear has fallen off the radar for the most part. Any upcoming new rare/ex gear will likely be the hot topic for a couple months before it too will fall prey to the materia system and be forgotten. One of the biggest benefits of playing an immersive mmo is being able to tackle tough NMs and getting rewarded handsomely for the effort. With the current materia system, ordinary gear can be transformed into extraordinary items (achievable without even leaving town). A perfect example is last night when we took a few members on a Dzemeal Darkhold run for their first time. It took a couple hours to get everyone used to the fight and when we finally killed Batraal, everyone felt a great deal of satisfaction... until of course they saw the drops. Most already had melded gear comparable or better than what we got, and the only thrill came from seeing a blue item in their inventory. Down the road when they introduce Job Specific Gear, I want to wear those pieces to identify myself with my job but I fear that felt robe with 3 materias melded will top any possible stats a JSE can offer.
There are however some pros to the materia system, specifically that it does offer people something to do with their old gear and something for end game players to do while waiting for the next patch. I just feel in its current state it is bad for the future of the game and unless they abolish it or revamp it completely, we'll end up with a game completely dictated by a senseless materia system.
Please let me know what you guys think of the materia system and its impact on the gameplay.
Edited, Oct 26th 2011 12:55pm by lightacadi