by Nyena Nosidam
Three new jobs were added in the Heavensward expansion! Hooray for Mechanic, Astrologian and Dark Knight! I think anyone playing FFXIV from launch was ready for new options on the DPS, healer and tanking fronts. It was interesting that SE added these jobs with a small caveat: you could only unlock and play them if you’d finished the ARR storyline which essentially meant you had at least one job at 50. And that when you unlocked the jobs, they started at level 30.
Starting MEC, AST and DRK at level 30 makes sense in the context of the FFXIV 2.0 class/job systems. These new jobs are actual jobs; upon completing the unlock quests, you receive a soul crystal for each which is standard for FFXIV jobs. To my mind, MEC, AST and DRK really don’t play like classes. I can’t quite imagine base classes for MEC, AST and DRK anyway. Maybe Engineer, Time Mage and Great Sword Swinger? I am grateful that SE didn’t just tack the new jobs onto the old base classes. I don’t think that would have made much sense in terms of the storylines for the class guilds. I also really don’t like that jobs with a shared base class share attributes. It does seem that SE is moving away from the class part of the job systems which is good since there doesn’t seem to be distinct advantages of playing classes post 30.
Do I think that introducing the new jobs at level 30 is a nerf or a lazy way out? Not so much. In my experience, the grind through levels 1-30, is pretty one dimensional. People generally spam FATES or low level roulette to level from 1-30. If you’ve played through those areas once, you get the idea. You use about 3 spells or abilities and the rest is dodging 101. If SE was really concerned about overall player mastery of the new jobs, they might have added a restriction that you needed to have a healer job at 50 to open AST, a DPS job at 50 for MEC and a tank job at 50 for DRK. But perhaps SE thinks that players have ample opportunity to the perfect their new job games in the crawl from 30 to 60.
Maybe that’s why Heavensward, to date, doesn’t feature any particularly difficult content. Alot of the MSQ content features rehashed, recombined and slowed down versions of mechanics from past dungeons, Coil and the ARR Primals. That’s not to say that the new dungeons are not a blast; I love them all, especially the Aery and Library. The music in the Library is so good! I get a thrill from recognizing and executing the repurposed mechanics in new context. It’s like a secret testament to my ability to adapt and react, a pat on the head from SE for all the hours I spent in Coil honing my dodging skills. There are some new, unique mechanics here and there but those have been easy to read and react to. Fun stuff but I kinda wish the content was harder. I know this is story mode content, intended to be enjoyable and beatable by majority of the players the first time through. Still, I would have liked to wipe to something or spent a moment puzzling out mechanics with my party members.*
Maybe I’m just ready for Alexander Savage Mode? In the later segments of the MSQ and beyond, FFXIV kinda morphs into a grind to get your ilvl high enough to take on more relatively easy content. It’s a very good place to hone your skills and practice, practice, practice. As seasoned healer, I’m left wanting for a bit more. At this time, ilvl is more a measure of how much time you have to put into the game than anything else. I wish I could say I’m at the top of the ilvl game but I just don’t have the playtime. I’ll get my grind done but I miss the ego boast of being able to say that I beat content that I spent more than 15 minutes learning and that had mechanics that required party coordination and player reaction speed. I miss at level Coil! I’ll just go crawl back under my ilvl rock for a few more weeks…
Heavensward has been filled with fun, exciting and easy to beat content with major moments of level grinding. SE has made everything accessible to the majority of the player base. They’ve provided us with many options to learn and master new jobs, both new and old. But still I can’t wait for the endgame experience of Alexander Savage Mode.
*I admit that I ran through the MSQ on my SCH. I probably play SCH well and/or Eos is a really good healer. I also did most of the content with people who were ahead of me in the MSQ and/or who are very good dodgers. I did receive a few cryptic hints on what to expect on the bosses in the Vault. But for the most part, the people I did content with think it’s fun to watch people blindly flounder through new mechanics. It’s a gamer life lesson.