After months of putting it off, Ragar finally talks about FFXIV's crafting system and the changes he'd like to see down the road
Welcome to 2014’s first edition of the Eorzea Examiner, ZAM’s column on Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. For this issue we’re finally going to talk about something I was going to do before Lightning Strikes and the holidays interrupted me: crafting. We’ve already talked about what makes FFXIV’s gathering classes and mechanics unique and how I would improve them, so now it’s time to take all of those materials and turn them into shiny things.
Crafting: Now With Actual Buttons!
Those of you who read the gathering and crafting preview I wrote for FFXIV during the beta will be familiar with how Square Enix’s system differs from other MMOs, but for anyone new I’ll give a quick summary. In typical MMOs crafting is very much a secondary support task. Most players will pick them up to make money or starting equipment for raiding/PvP/etc. and they may maintain them to prepare for future recipes or because there’s some form of statistical advantage to doing so like World of Warcraft’s passive profession bonuses. There may be players out there who take pride in their crafting with these games, but it’s very obvious with these games that these aren’t meant to be a true path of progression; you find the most efficient recipes to level your craft (or whatever you find materials for), click Create and that’s it until the next recipe.
FFXIV’s Disciple of the Hand classes treat crafting as an actual path of progression. When you join the Goldsmiths’ Guild in Ul’Dah, you don’t become a level 50 Warrior with 1/75 in Goldsmithing – you become level 1 in a full-fledged Goldsmith class. You have equipment tailored to crafting professions including class-specific gear, you gain experience as a Tailor/Goldsmith/etc when you craft something from that field and you gain abilities that allow you to craft faster or make higher quality goods than before. The cross-class system even comes into play by allowing some of your DoH abilities to be used by the other crafting classes (eg Innovation from 50 Goldsmithing, Brand of Fire from 37 Blacksmithing), giving crafters tools to carry over when leveling additional DoH classes as well as allowing for an expanded toolset when you’re at max level and trying to squeeze out as much quality out of your materials as possible.
Your abilities as a crafter focus around three numbers: Durability, Progress and Quality. Essentially you want to get Progress to 100% with as much Quality as possible before or by the time Durability hits 0. The higher the Quality, the more XP you’ll receive once the item is finished and the higher your chance of getting a High Quality (HQ) version of the item (and an XP bonus for getting an HQ as well). You have a wide variety of tools to do this, but only so much Durability to use, and hitting 0 without 100% Progress will yield only failure and lost materials. When you begin crafting, you’ll have your full reserve of Crafting Points (CP) to draw from, but there’s no recovering those points once you’ve started making an item. At a glance, one might think you’d simply determine the most efficient use of CP/Durability for your current set of equipment and that would be the end of it, but there’s two more variables to consider: Success Rate and Condition.
Success Rate is something that affects pretty much every ability you’ve got that increases Progress or Quality – occasionally you will fail on an ability and that CP is pretty much wasted. You can mitigate this by using the more advanced (and expensive) abilities which have higher Success Rates and all of the DoH classes have the Steady Hand buff to give them five rounds with boosted Success Rates. Of course sometimes you may feel the need to gamble with that Success Rate, be it from dwindling CP reserves or because of the Condition buff. With every move you make during the crafting process, the Condition listed may change between four states: Normal, Good, Excellent, and Poor. These Condition states have an effect on how much your Quality will go up when using one of the Touch abilities. The better the Condition, the greater the Quality boost.
What all of that means is that crafting in FFXIV has more involved than simply highlighting a recipe and hitting Create. Not only do you need to figure out your ability “rotation” given your current CP and adjust it with future upgrades, but you also need to learn how to react to changes in Condition, determine how much you want to gamble with Success Rates, and choose your equipment and Materia to strike a proper balance between raw Craftsmanship/Control stats and CP to fuel your abilities. All told the crafting system in FFXIV is one of the most involved and well-made I’ve tried in MMOs up to this point. It’s not perfect however, so let’s look into how to improve matters.