With all of the systems getting rebuilt in A Realm Reborn, what do crafters and gatherers have to look forward to?
With the rerelease of Square Enix’s second MMO, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, a few months away, a few of us here at ZAM have had the chance to try the beta and see what’s changed. We all tried out the combat and looked at some of the major system changes and you can find out more about those in Corey’s post. While I put in a good amount of time questing and fighting like the other writers, it wasn’t my primary focus this time around. What I wanted to know was this: did Square Enix finally give me full-fledged crafting and gathering classes like they were promising when the first version of FFXIV came out in 2010?
When Square Enix originally started talking about its second MMO, Final Fantasy XIV, one of the points it kept bringing up to show its game was unique was that crafters and gatherers were now true player classes. Players that wanted to dabble in crafting or gathering could still do so on the side, but those who were primarily interested in finding/selling crafting materials or in turning those materials into equipment and supplies for other players now had full-fledged classes to specialize in. There would be actual abilities you used, gear with crafting/gathering specific stats to get, and technique to learn beyond just clicking on an ore vein or hitting Create in a crafting window. When I played the open beta for v1.0, I was… well, I had a lot of less than kind things to say that are unfit for print, especially about crafting and gathering. Fast forward almost three years and a remake later, it was time to find out what had changed and if it was for the better.
I Didn’t Become A Blacksmith So I Could “Throw Rock”!
During character creation in the original iteration of FFXIV, you could choose to start as any starting job you wanted (some classes required quests to unlock). You could go the normal route of choosing a combat-oriented class like a Pugilist or a Thaumaturge or you could choose something like Miner or Blacksmith right from the beginning. Players interested in the non-combat professions could skip straight to what they wanted. Well, theoretically. What actually happened was you’d finish making your character and join the game in the exact same instanced intro as all of the other classes. Once you finished talking to whoever the game wanted you to chat with, a fight would break out. If you were a combat class, this would be where you’d start using the skills/spells on your hotbar to assist the NPCs and take out your foes. As a crafter or a gatherer, you’d look at this and go, “Why the heck am I here? I thought I picked Miner/Blacksmith/etc.” You could sit and stare at the monsters, hoping they’d go away once the other NPCs who looked like actual combat classes stepped in and dealt with the problem. You might even cheer them on while they fought. Nope – as far as you were concerned, those NPCs were blind until you decided to pick a fight with something and they heard squishy you screaming for help.
Picture yourself as a Miner or a Blacksmith looking at this situation. All that stands between you and your tradeskill-based glory is a handful of level 1 monsters. It’s a tutorial mission – surely they’ll die in a couple of hits, right? You’ll just break out my blacksmithing hammer or mining pick and… oh? What’s that? You’re not actually able to hit them with your weapon? Well, what can you hit them with then… Ah, there’s a button on your hotbar! It’s called “Throw Rock”! Time to throw some rocks! You hit for… one damage. This thing has like 300 health and it’s hitting you for a tenth of your health each swing. Math says you lose. Luckily for you, after about a third of your health’s gone, the NPCs take pity and one-shot the monster. Repeat this two or three more times and the intro is complete. It’s not exactly the best introduction for a new crafter/gatherer, given the whole lack of any crafting and/or gathering. Now let’s fast-forward a few years and a remake later to ARR: are you still spending your early days throwing rocks at monsters and hoping you live longer enough for the NPC to save you?
To begin with, in ARR your crafting and gathering aspirations will have to wait for a few levels. Only classes from the Disciples of War (melee classes as well as the Archer) and Disciples of Magic are available. Once your class is chosen, you cannot switch until you finish your level 10 class quest and are given permission to join other guilds. At first this might seem like a downgrade from the previous system – it may have been broken, but you could still start as what you wanted, right? However, doing things this way actually makes quite a bit of sense. Questing for those ten levels not only gets you familiar with the surrounding area (very useful for any would-be gatherers out there), but it also provides you with the opportunity to make some starter funding.
That was one of the other major issues with crafters in the first version of FFXIV. Sure you could be a crafter in name, but with no funding to buy any materials, let alone afford gathering tools to find your own, you could find yourself in quite a predicament early on. Sure there were guildleves you could do that might provide some cash if you could craft from the materials they provided, but if you failed at crafting it (I’ll get to that later) then you couldn’t complete it and you’d have to wait 36 hours to try again since there was no dropping a quest and picking it back up. With ten levels worth of combat class questing under your belt, you’ll have plenty of money to work with as starter capital and if you need some quick cash while waiting for your retainer to sell your wares, you can just strap on your sword/staff/etc. and go earn some more. So after ten levels of running around as a Gladiator, slaying monsters for my Hunting Log and just being happy there were finally quests in the game, it was time to try my hand at some non-combat professions. Considering the city I started in only had access to some of the various job classes and I seemed unable to go to another city until further in the plot, I looked at the options available. Since I didn’t have a friend to funnel me materials as a crafter, I decided to farm my own and start with Miner.