Ragar looks through old Final Fantasy games for jobs he'd like to see in FFXIV
Hello and welcome to the twelfth 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 delving back into one of the aspects of FFXIV I like the most, the Armoury System. In particular, we’ll be talking about Jobs for existing Classes. With the exception of the Arcanist, the rest of the Disciples of Magic and all of the Disciples of War have but a single Job available to them. While these new Jobs do give new abilities to their base Classes and they change the gameplay to an extent, you can’t really claim that they provide the player with options to make their character unique when there’s one path available and you cut down the cross-class skill options for all Jobs. This is a modern MMO, after all – we’re used to the idea of multiple specializations for our classes and being able to fill multiple roles with most base classes. Let’s see if we can come up with some potential choices for our favorite classes, shall we?
Dark Knights: For the Marauder That’s Tired of Queuing As Tank
We’ll start things off with my main class, the two-handed axe-wielding Marauder. I’m a tank at heart and I loved playing my Blood Death Knight in World of Warcraft, so playing a guy in plate armor with a giant axe as a tank works great for me. It’s not ideal for everyone though, since many players will look at someone with a two-handed weapon and assume he’s there to bring the pain as melee DPS. If we had a class built around another heavy weapon like a two-handed sword, they might have an alternative, but right now the only other option those players have is the Lancer/Dragoon. A perfectly valid option for melee DPS, but it’s not the same to go from picturing yourself swinging a heavy axe/sword in plate armor to poking at someone with a lance in chainmail. So how do we take an existing tank-focused Class like the Marauder and turn him into a damage-dealing machine? Enter the Dark Knight.
There have been various interpretations of the Dark Knight in the Final Fantasy series, but for the most part they focus around characters in heavy armor that specialize in dealing damage. The bulk of this damage is from their melee weapons, often two-handed, but they also mix in dark magic, allowing them to sacrifice their defenses and even health to further damage their opponents. To mitigate their self-damaging abilities, they typically also have some manner of life draining attacks to use on their foes as well. So that gives us a heavily armored, large weapon wielding warrior with attacks that regenerate their health. Sounds familiar, huh, Marauders? We already have part of that self-healing toolkit anyway – all we’re missing is the self-damaging attacks and some actual DPS.
So the Dark Knight Job is a mechanical and aesthetical match to the Marauder Class, but what about lore? How do we tie the Marauder to a class that’s got a rather unpleasant reputation in most FF games? This one’s actually fairly simple given that Marauders already have the Warrior Job. Light spoilers ahead: the storyline for the Warrior Job focuses around the “inner beast” the Warriors must learn to control. This force grants them great power, but they must always strive to maintain control lest they slip into a berserker state, lashing out at anything they lay eyes on. By the time you finish your quest chain, you’ve essentially conquered your inner beast. A similar approach could be taken with the Dark Knight Job chain, though I’d say this quest chain should have more of an internal focus. You can still have the “go here and kill X monster for a piece of your armor set” quests, but given the solo-instance nature of the majority of these quests, they should take advantage of that and add in some internal struggle.
Those of you who played Final Fantasy IV might remember Cecil’s fight against his inner dark self (I refuse to call this a spoiler – you’ve had two decades to play this). In that game the struggle was meant for Cecil to cast off his ties to the dark power to follow the path of the Paladin, but we can still use the same idea for the Dark Knight. Players could go somewhere and suddenly shift to a shadowy mindscape, where something inside your Soul Crystal tries to tempt you towards evil. Resisting the call of darkness would lead to the voice sending shadowy apparitions to overwhelm you so they could take over, but the player would rise triumphant and snap back to the real world. As you move further through the story, the spirit would push harder and harder with stronger shadows until finally you face him – a shade version of yourself. Striking down your shadow self would cause the Soul Crystal to stop pulling at you as you would have shown yourself to be immune to its call, leaving the player free to continue as a free Dark Knight.
So You Think You Can Dance?
Now that we’ve given one of the tank-only Classes a DPS option, let’s see if we can add a little choice to a DPS-only class, the Pugilist. Currently the only Job available for Pugilists is the DPS-focused Monk class, continuing on the Pugilist tradition of "punch bad guy till he falls down" and dancing from stance to stance to combo as many attacks as possible. The Monk is a perfect match for the Pugilist as is, so any additional Job we give them needs to be up to that standard. We need to find a Job built around characters wearing light armor, wielding something similar to the Pugilist's Fist Weapons, with a heavy focus on controlled body movement and agility, all while giving the Pugilist a specialization other than DPS. This may seem like an impossible task, but there is actually a Job that fits every one of those requirements: the Dancer.
Now before everyone starts calling me crazy, let's think about it. Dancers in the FF series have been used in many games for a variety of roles: debuffs, damage, as well as healing. These characters wear light armor similar to the Pugilist/Monk and their signature weapon, a pair of Fans, would fit rather well for a base class that focuses on a pair of fist weapons. Finally all of the classes abilities, be they damage or healing, are built around moving from dance to dance, similar to how a Pugilist/Monk would shift from one stance to another to combo their attacks for various effects. Not as much of a stretch as you would first think, is it?
So if we're adding in this Dancer Job to the Pugilist class and they've been jacks-of-all-trades before, what do we do with them in FFXIV? Since we're trying to give the Pugilist a non-DPS Job to specialize in, my thought was to make the Dancer into a healing spec. There are two ways I can see a healing Dancer being designed for FFXIV. One would be either a HoT heavy build similar to Restoration Druids in WoW; this would line up well with a sustained dancing model with flourishes used for spike healing. The other would be closer to the Mistweaver Monk design, allowing for a healer that can do damage as well as heal his fellows by mixing in his healing dance styles as combo moves with his normal Pugilist attacks and stances. You would likely need to sacrifice some healing power, be it throughput or cooldown selection, but the ability to burn bosses down faster while keeping the group up may outweigh that. They could even incorporate a more traditional healing style for the Dancer by including something like the Conjurer's Cleric Stance toggle ability, allowing them to go full healer.
Now that we've come up with a rough design for the Dancer Job and why it meshes aesthetically and mechanically, let's see if we can figure out the lore to back it up. This one's actually fairly simple as we can just play off the typical "warrior travels the world looking for new techniques" trope for martial artists. It's not uncommon in games and films for a martial artist to search in unlikely places for new established techniques or even for inspiration to develop his own. Once the Pugilist has finished his basic training (hit 30 and finished his other prerequisites), he would go off into the world to continue developing his skills. In a new area he may come upon a Dancer performing for a large group. While the crowd is cheering at the show, the Pugilist would be watching their techniques and noting how similar the movements are to his own attacks or how to adapt them to combat. Afterwards they could walk up to the Dancer about studying their techniques. This would lead to quests like sneaking off to observe beast tribe dances, performing for a crowd (targetable NPCs you must heal to 100% to succeed), with the finale of a Dancer's Duel between you and your instructor, requiring you to mesh your new healing techniques with your Pugilist combat maneuvers to prove you have successfully incorporated their style with your own.
It's likely that we'll see the Dark Knight or the Dancer show up in some incarnation or another in Final Fantasy XIV one of these days. The developers have already said there will be new Classes and new Job options for existing Classes in future content. Will these two show up exactly as I've laid out here? Probably not, but like I've laid out here, there are plenty of ways to fit the Jobs from previous FF canon into the world of Eorzea. I'm curious to see exactly what Square Enix will come up with for the actual version of these and all of the other Jobs from the series.
That’s it for this edition of the Eorzea Examiner. What Jobs would you like to see for existing Classes? Have your own ideas for how one should be added to FFXIV? Tell us in the comments below. If you've got any requests for column topics, add those as well. Until next time, see you in Eorzea.
Michael “Ragar” Branham