Lots of information this time around! Famitsu has a giant spread for Final Fantasy XIV this week that featured a number of job classes, complete with Abilities and Weapon Skills! They also found the time to grab three developers for an interview: Atsushi Okada 岡田厚志, FFXIV Battle Planner; Sei Sato 佐藤制, FFXIV Planner; and Kenichi Iwao 岩尾賢一, FFXIV Planner.
Let's jump into the interview first, and then see what the developers had to say about each job!
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Battles in Final Fantasy XIV
- First, give us an overall image of battles in FFXIV.
Okada: Players can fight in parties or go solo in FFXIV, but the monsters can be in parties as well. There will be battles where it is "party vs. party." Battles won't be fought by pulling enemies back to a set camp, but rather we are envisioning players moving about as they fight. [Elmer Point: think nomad camp style]
- So the feeling is you rotate from enemy spawn point to spawn point with some healing in-between?
Okada: Yes. But, one of the aspects of FFXIV is that you don't recover MP. Of course, that isn't to say there is no way to do so; there will be abilities players can learn to recover MP, Aetheryte will heal both HP and MP, among other methods.
Iwao: Don't think of it as individual encounters, but as managing your MP over the course of a one, prolonged battle comprised of a number of fights.
Sato: When everyone goes to a certain place to accomplish some goal, it is important to manage your MP in a way that allows it to last until you achieve that final goal. There will also be classes that serve as "MP controllers" that can help manage the MP of the party.
- Looking at this chart, is it safe to say each class has their own specific range from which they attack?
Sato: Yes. In FFXIV, one's position, as well as the position and orientation of the enemy, has a large effect on battles. Following that line of reasoning, there will be appropriate distances for classes that maximize their effectiveness.
Iwao: We plan to have enemy classes follow these rules as well, and also include some techniques they can use in conjunction with each other. The idea is a battle where you are constantly moving, trying to attain the best position. So when it's party vs. party, this can get really exciting. It's not about sitting in one spot and striking away at an enemy; the player needs to consider the enemy's position and act accordingly.
Sato: It's not an action game, but there's a little taste of action in there.
- So if players need to move around during battle looking for the sweet spot, wouldn't this make close-combat classes much easier to play?
Iwao: Close combat classes need to be more aware of their orientation, while ranged classes must pay particular attention to distance.
Sato: When fighting close combat, your orientation will have different effects. I wouldn't say fighting close up is any easier than fighting at a distance.
Iwao: Also, there is the important factor of "area of effect." This mostly comes into play with magic, but there are many techniques utilized by classes outside the Disciples of Magic that have areas of effect.
Sato: We want you to think of the area in which you do battle as really your party's space -- a place where you work together. To that end, attacks with an area of effect will be even more important this time around.
Iwao: There are several aspects to areas of effect, such as spreading benefits across party members, or blasting through a bunch of enemies from within. We hope that this, combined with distance and orientation, will make for fun, tactical battles that players will enjoy.
- Can you give us anymore information on how the elements come into play in FFXIV?
Okada: In the world of FFXIV, there are 6 elements: Fire, Ice, Wind, Earth, Thunder and Water. They will all have their characteristics as well, such as Water being strong against Fire, but weak against Thunder.
Iwao: Both players and enemies will be affected by their affinity with the elements. Also, there exist forces aligned to these 6 elements called "Star Poles" and "Spirit Poles." They are like the magnetic poles of our Earth, attracting different energies.
[Elmer Point: The poles are called 星極 (sei-kyoku) and 霊極 (rei-kyoku). The first means Star Pole and second means Spirit Pole. As Iwao said, "pole" refers to a magnetic pole, such as the North and South poles of Earth. These sound like Protocrystals, in that they serve as focus points for the energy of a particular element. The official names will most likely be different, though.]
- What kind of effect will these elements have on the player?
Okada: Each player will have their own strengths and weaknesses regarding each element. For example, one person could be particularly strong against Fire.
- Is this decided upon during Character Creation?
Sato: No, this aspect of the player will improve along with other stats, like HP, as they grow. Depending on how you raise your character, you could be a specialist against a certain type of element.
Okada: If you are strong against Water, an enemy's water-based attacks won't hurt you so much.
Iwao: Two Conjuerers also could specialize in separate elements. One could excel at Ice magic and the other at Fire, thus serving two separate roles.
- This really heightens the individuality of players!
Iwao: One could even decide to improve all elemental resistances equally, which would make them somewhat effective against all elements at the expense of specializing in none.
- It would be funny to see cliques form between people who specialize in the same element.
Sato: Like an Association of Fire-based Players (laughs). That just might happen.
Iwao: This is a class that can really excel at defense. They can equip a wide range of defensive equipment and even large shields! They will be called upon to protect party members by drawing the enemy attack towards themselves.
Okada: As a class that excels with a shield, the Gladiator is like a "defender" job that is good at absorbing damage.
Sato: Gladitor is offense and defense rolled into one -- a class that is good at taking hits and dishing out the damage. Because of its versatility, I see it becoming a popular class.
Okada: One can choose between making slicing attacks or piercing attacks and that lets them employ some strategy towards giving their strikes the maximum effect.
Iwao: You could say this is a class with an abundance of fighting styles.
Iwao: This class can use spears and lances to attack from a longer range and in a wider variety of styles. Besides normal attacks, Lancers can disrupt an enemy's movements and utilize other special attacks.
Sato: Lancer attacks from a farther range than most melee classes and has a wider sphere of influence. They can easily adjust their position to help out back-end members that get into trouble.
Iwao: Lancer is a class that receives a great effect from maintaining their sweet spot. They must always be checking their position relative to the enemy, as well as other party members. Strategicially, this is a class that is always on the move.
Sato: This is a class that needs to consider many factors in a battle besides just what the enemy is doing.
Iwao: Despite their short reach and low defense, the Pugilist is a class that can really turn the tide of a battle with their tricky techniques. They will also employ a number of "stances" that will prove effective based on the condition of the enemy and the party.
Sato: Stances will have a number of effects in battle. Offensive or Defensive -- the player has to assess the battle situation and decide which one they should select.
Iwao: The more you maintain a single stance, the more that stance improves, opening up new things you can do with it. You can change your stance at whim, but if you do so, its strength reverts to normal. The player must consider when it is appropriate to maintain a stance and strengthen it, and when they must give up that power and switch for the benefit of the party.
[Elmer Point: An assumption on my part, but I don't think this refers to giving up character growth, but rather temporary growth. As they mentioned before, they want you to consider your overall objective over individual encounters. So it's a question of "Can I maintain offensive stance and have it super buff for the boss? Or should I switch to defensive here so we can survive?" The stance improvement mentioned here sound temporary and independent from raising one's character.]
Iwao: This is a class that can really deal out massive damage. However, if there are many enemies to deal with, they can forgo storing up that power in order to strike more often.
Sato: Marauders use battle axes, which give them more attack power than any other class at the expense of some accuracy.
Okada: While their special attacks are powerful, some require that the Marauder be stantionary while they activate. Due to this, a Marauder must be adept at reading an enemy's movements.
Iwao: More than anything, the Archer is a long-distance striker. From a range, they have to decide where to stand and what archery techniques to employ. Their defense is low, so if they catch the attention of the enemy, they could be in trouble. A good Archer needs to keep watch over the entire battle and adapt to the situation by firing off the most effective shots possible without incurring the wrath of the enemy.
Sato: Archers have a variety of abilities that are effective at various distances from the enemy. Their job is to work out how they can best contribute to the battle.
Iwao: Arrow selection is also key. It's more than just choosing the arrow with the most damage, an Archer can also use arrows to effect the status of the enemy or even support their allies.
Iwao: A Conjurer is a Disciple of Magic who excels at manipulating the elements.
Okada: This is a class that starts by assessing the condition of the party and the enemy and using that to consider which element to utilize in battle.
Iwao: Attack magic, defense magic, healing magic -- a Conjurer has many different lines of spells to choose from. It's safe to say it's like an almighty magic-user that can serve as attack or support. Conjurers can also place magical effects on themselves that affect the area around them.
[Elmer Point: This sounds like an AoE spell that follows the Conjurer around, as in everyone in range of the Conjurer gets a bonus while in range. Whether that's true or not wasn't specified.]
Okada: By the way, actions you take in battle in FFXIV all accumulate TP, magic included.
Sato: That's why there are some strong TP abilities prepared for Conjurer as well.
Iwao: Thaumaturgy is filled with spells that can cause status effects on the enemy as well as your party members. Their area of effect is fan-shaped [cone-shaped for you D&D'ers] and attack power high, so when compared with Conjurers, this class needs to get relatively close to the enemy for maximum effect.
Sato: Basically, Thaumaturges have magic that does powerful damage. However, there also are great risks to balance this out. This is one particular area where we are waiting to hear feedback from the players.
Iwao: The Thaumaturge also has several spells that can steal abilities from the enemy. The key is reading the flow of a battle and deciding what kind of spell would most effectively turn the tide in your favor.
[Elmer Point: I would assume the Thaumaturge can cause *good* status effects on party member, though after reading about the "risks" involved, I'm not so sure.]
Iwao: Blacksmiths are Disciples of the Hand who use metals to create and repair weapons and armor. Miners are Disciples of the Land who dig up ore. These classes will have very limited battle-related abilities, but may receive other things to compensate. For example, a Blacksmith may get an ability that enfeebles a gold-based enemy or one that increases the chances of having treasure drop.