With the lack of information and the mass speculation, people are bound to post thoughts on the same subject multiple times. Regardless I apologize if there's been an overabundance of talk on skillchains in relation to Final Fantasy XIV.
Skillchains were one of the most interesting things about FFXI's battle system. It took the simple early MMO format of auto attack or sit back and cast spells repeatedly into an engaging and tense affair. By forcing the players to work together in order to produce the amounts of damage needed in order to safely off a monster, SE managed to enforce a strong party structure while simultaneously further promoting individual character development. Working on multiple weapons and mastering new weapon skills sounds like a chore, but it was really a thrill to be able to set up complex chains with any given party's fighters and mages. I expect some other MMO has copied the idea by now, but personally I've never seen that kind of teamwork in any other online RPG.
Sure, it could be a hassle to look up which WS's work with what and make sure you had a worthwhile chain to burst off of (Ex: Why would you bother making a skillchain to burst Aero when your black mage's highest spell is Water II? But if you didn't have the WS's to accommodate that spell, it sort of killed the enthusiasm) but in the end, a strong skillchain with a powerful burst was a beautiful sight to see. I'll never forget my days in the Crawlers Nest as a Samurai, setting up with Enpi for a SATA'd viper bite, enjoying the **** out of the Distortion damage alone and laughing as the black mages finished things off. Nor will I forget when you first get into the 50's and your black mages go from casting steady spells throughout a fight to blowing **** to pieces with an MB'd Freeze. Having to time your skillchain in the middle of your black mage's casting so that everything comes together within an exact amount of seconds is magnificent, and as you repeated the skillchain and burst with each fight, you fell into a sort of groove with the party that proved entertaining no matter how often you did it.
Nowadays you have mages who've ended up nearly soloing to 75 and have no idea how to magic burst, warrior's who've been /NIN since 20 and don't even know what Raging Rush is, and newbies never learning how to make a skillchain because no one cares to teach them. It's depressing.
How does all this have a darn thing to do with FFXIV, though? Well, that's a good question. They seem to be heading in a more solo friendly direction--as the direct statements explaining that, "We want FFXIV to be more solo friendly" seem to say--and that's a far reach from what FFXI started as. We've also been told that they want to have content for all types of players...I wonder what that means. For me, the greatest joys of FFXI were in two completely different areas. I loved a solid, well structured party with members that were eager to work together. To me, a party is a group of individuals who apply their singular skills to achieve a goal. On the opposite side of things, I loved adventuring. Taking the time to wander around the world, to explore places people don't often visit and hunt the lesser known notorious monsters was how I spent a lot of my free time. Just me and a vast world. I'd meet a lot of people and see a lot of things, and I made quite a few friends while simply adventuring alone.
Based on my experience with FFXI, the game had an incredible amount of solo content that many don't recognize. Solo play isn't only about getting experience points and leveling up. I loved that you were forced to party if you really wanted to level up--people who wish to play an online game in order to spend the brunt of their time alone make no sense to me. And even then, there were jobs that catered to such people. But I'm starting to go off on a tangent. The goal to make FFXIV more solo friendly is a curious one. Because of the way FFXI is designed, it became pretty much the most group oriented MMO of its time. You were literally forced to play with other people, and despite a lot of issues and hardships, in the end it probably left you with countless memories of people you met and experiences you had. I worry that FFXIV will lose a lot of these aspects. Meeting people and sharing experiences is an event that can be replicated in ANY multiplayer online game. But FFXI placed so much emphasis on it that, unless you quit early on or were one **** of a jerk, you were guaranteed to meet some interesting people.
Skillchains. Those wonderful explosions of color and damage, built on the blocks of your clashing weapons. There is heavy speculation on the importance of weapons in FFXIV--I think that it's possible for a skillchain like system to return. If that's the case, I'll be very happy. Even if the game is very solo-friendly, it will also have a system in place that encourages people working together.
How do you feel about skillchains in general? Do you want some sort of similiar system to reappear in FFXIV's battle system, or would you rather FFXI's battle system be completely ditched in every way?