Ragar looks through old Final Fantasy games for classes he'd like to see in FFXIV
Hello and welcome to the seventh edition of the Eorzea Examiner, ZAM’s column on Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. For this week’s column, rather than looking into one of FFXIV’s gameplay systems or their design philosophy, we’re going to play with one of the aspects I like the most, the classes and jobs. The Armoury System is one of FFXIV’s more unique areas, allowing players the option of taking abilities from a variety of different classes and mixing them together to make a unique build for their preferred main class/job. The system’s not perfect and there are some right and wrong choices for each role with the current implementation, but the concept is sound and the idea of having a variety of options is quite appealing. You know what would make it even better though? More choices, which the previous Final Fantasy games provide ample inspiration.
Thief: Because Giving Daggers to Gladiators is Kinda Silly
Let’s start things off by looking at our standard RPG archetypes. You have your sword-and-shield character, your two-handed weapon users, an archer, an unarmed fighter, and a variety of spellcasters. Notice anything missing? There’s no stealth combat class! Right now the only way you’re going to walk in the shadows in FFXIV is if you have a pickaxe, hatchet, or fishing rod in your hand. So how do we go about making a Thief-style class in FFXIV’s Armoury System?
Given that the Armoury System is built around each class and its respective jobs having a unique weapon type, we need to start with something that’s iconic for these sneaky characters. If we look across other MMOs, single-player RPGs, pen and paper games, etc, there’s a wide variety of weapons used by Rogues and Thieves. One in particular stands out as their signature weapon of choice: daggers. No other class really builds itself around this generally low damage per swing weapon, but stealth classes tend to make them shine through a combination of backstabbing, dual wielding, sneak attacks and more. There are even daggers in FFXIV already. The problem? They’re currently assigned to Gladiators as they’re technically one-handed bladed weapons. If we’re going to add a Thief class to FFXIV, these weapons really need to be reassigned to a class where they’re an appropriate fit. After all, daggers aren’t wielded anything like a one-handed sword and there are very few things that look sillier than a Gladiator in full plate with a tower shield wielding the equivalent of a dinner knife.
Now that we have our weapon, we need to figure out some abilities and a role for the base Thief class. The role is pretty simple: find target, stab until it stops moving, stop stabbing. For the abilities themselves, let’s think about what makes a Thief stand out. The first iconic ability that comes to mind is, well, thievery – stealing things is where the name came from after all. Of course this is an MMO, so we can’t just drop a single-player RPG mechanic in without a little tweaking. You can have something simple like World of Warcraft’s Pick Pocket ability, but a bag with a handful of Gil isn’t very exciting. There is a missing mechanic in FFXIV that stealing could work to fill the gap: disarms. Thieves could have an ability to temporarily steal an opponent’s weapon, which in the case of PvP could lock out part of an opponent’s action bar and PvE targets would suffer a damage penalty for the duration of the disarm. An ability like this would give Thieves their own niche to fill in 8- and 24-player raids, especially for those fights where control is key.
Control is actually a fairly common theme for Thief classes. Stuns, blinds, disarms, snares – there’s a variety of abilities these classes can use to help manage mobs in a pull through crowd control abilities, damage reducing mechanics, slows and more. For some examples we could have abilities like Smoke Bomb (reduced chance to hit within the target area), Sap/Blackjack (pre-pull crowd control) and Hamstring Slash (snare). On top of all of those there could be your standard Thief poisons to add some additional debuffs beyond the control ones. Damage is important and all, but you have to bring more to the party/raid than topping the damage meters, and it’s not like Thieves casting buffs on party members would make much sense.
Finally we can’t really plan out a Thief class without addressing how to handle stealth. It may not be something they’re in very often for combat situations, but it can affect how the class opens up on monsters, their crowd control options and more. The current Stealth mechanic the Disciples of the Land use is suitable for a Thief-class, though the class should have some unique Traits to show that they’re a little better at this Stealth thing than the Miners and Botanists. Increased movement speed, reduced cooldown on Stealth, bonus damage to first strikes from Stealth and more could make the Thief a true force to fear in both PvE and PvP.