Early results show long fights may be as beneficial as many short fights.
Still early in the life of Final Fantasy XIV, we’re beginning to see a clearer shape of how Square Enix intends for us to party – and reviews so far are mixed.
As frequent poster RattyBatty points out in this thread, FFXIV is fundamentally different than Final Fantasy XI in that there is no apparent benefit to spam-killing weak mobs in order to maximize progress per hour. That’s because in the new game, players are rewarded skill points according to how many actions are taken in battle – which isn’t determined by what you fight, but by how much time you fight.
In other words, players who spend one hour chain killing weaker mobs will take roughly the same amount of actions as players who spend an hour killing stronger mobs. If this holds true through deeper levels of the game, then the TP-burn mentality that dismayed so many players in FFXI will likely never be a huge problem in this game.
It’s times like these when I wish we could get comments from the development team. I am curious to hear whether this is the way the battle system was intended to work. Knowing whether this theory is actually true is also difficult; the skill points distribution bug can mess with data, and we don't yet know whether there's a per-monster cap on skill points.
In the thread mentioned above, players can still earn more physical experience points by chain killing weaker monsters. However, physical points are less important in FFXIV because they can more easily be gained through Guildleves and crafting. So far, earning skill points for advancing different jobs is the primary incentive to group with others.
Oh, and about grouping. So far in FFXIV, small parties of three people seem to be ideal for maximizing productivity. Which is good, because the game’s party search features are so lacking that finding more players to round out your party would be extremely difficult. Until Square Enix finds a way to fix the party invite system, I wouldn’t bet on getting many party invites unless they’re from people you know. If you want to gain experience points, your best bet is to find a good linkshell and build parties with linkshell mates.
It’s amazing how much different the party systems are in FFXIV and FFXI. In addition to the points raised by RattyBatty, I’ve also wondered how FFXI might have been different with a fatigue system similar to what we have now. Would TP burns have become so wildly popular if players could have only earned 20,000 experience points per hour for only a limited amount of time? Might players have been more responsive to partying in older areas, which may have allowed black mages and other jobs to keep receiving party invites?
Hopefully we won’t have to ask ourselves similar questions five years down the road in Final Fantasy XIV. I’m confident the fatigue system (although controversial) will help curb the need for players to exclude certain jobs in order to gain ungodly amounts of skill points per hour. I’m also optimistic that this new way of earning skill points will help keep parties fluid and diverse.
For as much as I loved Final Fantasy XI – and still do – the last thing I want is to spend another six years killing crabs or colibri over and over and over again.