The Armory of Final Fantasy XIV
Creating a character is first step in the traditional MMO experience, but managing more than one can be both a blessing and a curse. As part of that process, players select a class, cementing their character’s place in the game’s balance- usually as a DPS (attacker), tank (defender), of healer. Final Fantasy XIV still starts you with that choice, but instead of locking you into that selection, it introduces the Armory system. In grand Final Fantasy tradition, the robust job system allows players to switch with very little difficulty– in fact, it encourages leveling many classes so by letting some skills carry over and even offering bonus experience as you level your second class and beyond.
The key here is your weapon – equip a different one and your class changes instantly. The Armory system lets players easily try out any combination of classes they wish. You can try different types of DPS, see if you like tanking or healing, and go back and forth with a simple equipment change. It’s hard to overstate how freeing it feels to switch at will.
To be fair, using multiple classes isn’t unique to FFXIV- many games have let players use crafting and gathering classes in addition to a main combat one, and some games like Guild Wars 2 change skill sets based on weapons or other factors, but letting you keep *everything* under a single character is novel and convenient. In being encouraged to try different jobs and roles, players also better learn the mechanics of each class, and that knowledge can be put to use when considering how other party members can and should approach content. I haven’t experimented nearly as much in other MMOs, and I’m a much better player here because of the experience I‘ve gained.
There are still downsides to the Armory system, though .You still need to level each class separately, but the aforementioned experience bonuses and your character’s shared inventory (no worrying about soulbound items that can be used across classes!) let you build up resources– plus you don’t have to sit through the full run of starter content again. Some cross-class skills even end up being important, if not downright crucial. to high-level play. This can necessitate leveling other classes you may or may not enjoy. The armory system being based around weapons dictating your class also puts limits on what weapons each class can use, so you may not find your preferred playstyle available with your preferred weapon. This has already posed an issue with the introduction of Ninja. Gladiators had previously used daggers as well as swords, but since ninjas use daggers as their main weapon, the gladiator daggers had to be phased out and replaced with new swords to avoid confusion. Lore-wise, this also makes your character a prodigy at literally every profession you can try, but all MMOs require some suspension of disbelief with your character’s feats regardless.
After playing FFXIV, I feel like traditional MMO class systems seem almost stifling– if I pick Lord of the Rings Online back up, for example, or Star Trek Online, I would be locked back to the class I picked years ago or have to start all over again. How convenient it would be, now, to just click a few buttons and try something new. Sure, I can make another character, but I already have one I like and gear to use– if I could experiment with them, instead, that adventure could be even grander and pull me back to something I otherwise might leave behind. Why roll a whole new character and replay old content when I can just stick to FFXIV, swap some gear, and see what the next job is all about right away?