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The Mog Log: Point two one

Eliot Lefebvre

So patch 1.21 has finally come out, after what feels like a wait of several thousand years. It's the biggest patch since the last one, certainly, and headlining the whole thing is the introduction of the Job system. Final Fantasy XIV players the world over can finally experience the game as one of the iconic classes that have pretty much been the other shoe waiting to drop since the game's launch. But there's also chocobo barding, new dungeons, new functional improvements, private rooms... the usual confluence of many separate elements in a single patch. It's the biggest one since the last one, in other words.

The problem this patch faces with its marquee element, of course, is that jobs are something players have anticipated for so long that there's no right way to do them. However jobs get put into the game, some players will be happy and some won't. The best outcome has never been a perfect implementation so much as an implementation that's done consistently and hits the right notes. And that's arguably what happened, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'll agree that this was the best implementation possible.

Yes, even with a bow, bards are still kind of silly.  The awesome kind of silly, but still.Job security

If you have a level 50 character, many of the job quests will be easy to blow through without a problem. When you start getting to the end, though, you might well hit some stumbling blocks. And if you're still in the process of leveling, you're going to need to wrangle a group together to tackle these quests. Any doubt about these elements has been summarily removed at this point; this is what you need to do to unlock your abilities and your full set of armor.

On the one hand, this is a really silly thing to be upset about. Oh, no, I have to group to get my group-specific class to work? Perish the thought! The whole point of jobs is that they work as a big boost of focus when you're in a group rather than replace the core classes. Paladin isn't there for just soloing random things; it's there so you can go from being a decent tank to being an excellent one without even trying all that hard.

But there is another hand, that being that these quests are frequently of the brutally unforgiving variety. It means that you have to devote the time to getting a group together to tackle some rough fights or clear through some of the high-end dungeons, stuff that does not exactly encourage more relaxed play. If you can't or won't do that, you aren't going to get to experience this feature. It's essentially locked off to you.

As I mentioned in the opening, jobs were something that had to just be put into the game, and any implementation was going to have its good and bad points. The one that was chosen, though, feels... well, like a throwback. It feels like a partial attempt to turn the clock back to the days of Final Fantasy XI, even if that wasn't the actual goal. And for players who are a little less comfortable being in a high-stress situation with strangers, the job quests are probably not good times.

I can't call this bad by any means. Again, this is meant to be a way to enhance yourself in party play, so requiring a party to unlock it makes a lot of sense. But it also feels kind of archaic.

The actual jobs themselves are pretty good, and they certainly function according to the indicated parameters. Paladins remain incapable of doing anything but tank, but they also get bracingly better at it compared to their other tanking brethren. Black Mages wreak appropriate levels of destruction, complete with requisite animations. Bards are a little silly. It's nothing you wouldn't expect if you were familiar with the history of the jobs, but each does feel appropriately spry and capable. There are no glaring omissions from skill lists or the ilk.

You can really taste the galago.Feed me, Seymour!

Food, accessories, and medicines all got an overhaul for this patch. This is a good thing, since some items previously did pretty much nothing, particularly potions. It wasn't that potions didn't work, per se; it was that you had so many other ways to heal yourself, and the healing received from them was so small, that the only conceivable situations in which you wanted a potion was one in which it was no longer useful.

The changes here are pretty universally good. Gone are mismatched earrings and the whole notion of slot cost, which was a fine idea in theory but a poor one in practice. (Final Fantasy XIII-2, for the record, hits the note that I think the devs were going for here.) Gone are the days of just eating something, anything, in the hopes that it might be vaguely useful. I know what all of my food does, and I know which piece I want to munch on, so the overall effects feel appreciable without being mandatory.

A lot of recipes have also changed, but not being a chef, I can't speak to whether those changes are for the better or not. Considering how things looked after the last round of recipe revisions, I'd cautiously say that it's an improvement, but part of the problem there was a mass of ingredients for limited recipes and even more limited utility. This is no longer the case so much.

New dungeons?

They're there. I haven't done them yet. In initial reports and a quick glance, they look to continue the trend of previous instanced outings; they're difficult and sometimes frustrating but definitely doable with a little practice. Having a full group of jobbed players running through these group outings is no doubt going to make life a lot easier, as will figuring out how to beat everything (I remember when Darkhold was seen as brutally impossible).

Other stuff

First of all, my hat is off to whoever thought up purchasing materia with guild marks. It's such a simple and elegant solution that I feel dumb for not having thought of it myself.

Beyond that, there are a lot of changes to quality of life -- nothing that jumps out at me now, just a lot of little updates and little improvements to what's going on around everyone. Many of these improvements continue the job started by the last patch, which is all around a good thing.

And the patch is all around a good thing, even if some of the elements aren't quite where I'd wish. There's stuff to like, in the short version. Stuff to dislike, too, but isn't that always the case?

Feedback is welcome, as ever, in the comments or by mail to Next week, time to finish out the series on the various cities of Eorzea, which means that I'm not even going to try to obfuscate our next destination.

From Eorzea to Vana'diel, there is a constant: the moogles. And for analysis and opinions about the online portions of the Final Fantasy series, there is also a constant: The Mog Log. Longtime series fan Eliot Lefebvre serves up a new installment of the log every Saturday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.

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