The importance of multi-classing and the Armoury System in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Becoming master of all (the classes)
For the impatient people out there: Yes, you can indeed craft your own personalized Eorzean who could well differ from any other class out there.
The reasoning is simple: Cross-class skills, first of all. Every class can equip 10 cross-class skills from whichever other class you like – with a caveat, not all skills are “sharable” between classes, as might be expected. Certain universally useful spells, such as Cure or Protect, can be used with all the classes in the game. Yes, they will lack the potency of the class usually wielding them (Conjurer, that is, and White Mage later on), however, they can be a lifesaver on their own.
No matter what your preferred “role” is, a healer, a DPS or a tank, there are very tasty abilities to be found in other classes. Some of them (such as skills shared between a Gladiator and a Marauder) are expanding the toolset of the class under broadly the same direction; others can provide you with a damage boost you would not normally get access to, or the capability to convert certain spells to instant ones, or the chance to become nigh invincible for a period of time.
While theory-crafters and number crunchers will easily declare certain “skill builds” as “the ones to keep an eye out for and use”, there’s nothing preventing you from equipping, say, Gladiator skills on your Conjurer, even if you only use them sporadically or while playing solo.
You might wonder at this point, what happens when a major source of your EXP runs out, i.e. you complete all side quests in all major areas? The new feature introduced in Beta Phase 4 grants you an “Armoury Bonus” for FATE participation and monster-slaying, which grants you additional experience points when you are leveling a secondary class, other than your first one.
In fact, said bonus depends on the difference of the levels between your first class and the additional one(s), so you can expect to speed through early levels when you have a level 50 primary class to begin with.
Gear is re-usable in more than one class in the majority of circumstances (weapons excluded of course), and class quests do exist for each individual class, granting you weapons, other gear and experience as you climb the EXP ladder.
The truly dedicated ones can—and will, in due time—end up having all their classes and jobs maxed, able to quickly switch into the class they want to play at a given time of day with a single command.
Straying away from “trees”
The Armoury System presents an interesting choice to the player: They can completely experience all the classes and jobs in the game with merely one character; in fact, the “Entry” subscription plan does exactly that, allows one character per server to be created.
This design choice is interesting and somewhat intriguing: Setting aside the population who just loves alt characters, and will go on to create multiple ones anyway, people who like their already created character will go to great lengths to ensure he / she is equipped to handle the challenges present in the game.
It also marks a departure from the “talent trees” or “specs” found in several RPG games, massive online or not. The Armoury System eschews specialization within a class, embracing the multi-class mantra as the characters’ nature. The specializations present in jobs still allow—although in a more limited fashion— certain cross-class skills to be used and customize gameplay experiences.
While this method has some practical disadvantages (the variety and type of weapons found in the game is directly linked to classes, for one), it can provide veritable expansion avenues, without affecting existing player skills and progression. A Dark Knight, when and if it arrives in the future, will not really affect today’s Paladins, for instance.
Something that will need to be tackled is the variation within a class, since a class which right now leads to a tanking job would not easily be able to support a second healing job for instance. But, as the Arcanist has already proven, hybrid paths can and will exist, inviting players to explore all class / job possibilities.
The system certainly is promising, and we will judge its effects on balance and experience in the future, after we see it fully in action.
Feedback is always welcome on both this particular article and any other FFXIV: ARR element you’d wish discussed. Feel free to leave a comment here!
John "Sovjohn" Matzavrakos