Altoholic Cure

Good morning you happy people in digital land.  I am sitting here trying to wake up.  I kind of feel like death warmed over right now because my allergies are going into overdrive.  My throat just feels absolutely raw and no amount of Benadryl or anything else seems to make the allergic crap go away in full.  I had a pretty great day yesterday, and today I am looking at just milling around the house doing as little productive as possible.

Altoholic Cure

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One of the interesting things that FFXIV seems to have made me finally understand is that I am not in fact an altoholic.  Now if you look at the long history of me and games… you will see many screens that look like that filled with multiple max or at least high level characters.  In Rift for example I have a 60 warrior, 57 rogue, 51 cleric and multiple 20 something’s scattered out along multiple servers.  You would immediately think that I am in fact an altoholic… but recently a series of games have proved this otherwise.

One of the things that has proven the most tantalizing for me about The Secret World and now Final Fantasy XIV Realm Reborn is the fact that I can literally have one character and do everything in the game on it.  One of the frustrating things about playing alts for me has been that I did not always take everything I had acquired from one character and carry it forth into the next.  I hated the feeling of starting over on achievements and mounts and pets etc.  So when I started playing The Secret World, it was completely mind-blowing that I literally could have one character that could do anything at all in the game.

Multiple Roles

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I have come to realize that I don’t start alts because I necessarily care about playing another character.  This should have been clued in by the fact that in WoW every single human character tended to have the exact same appearance.  Belghast and Belgrave look exactly the same… minus the fact that Belgrave has the nifty Death Knight glowing eyes thing going on.  I end up starting new characters because I want to fiddle with new mechanics.  So much of the appeal of Rift to me has always been that I had up to 9 saved specs per character and could switch between them at will to fit my current mood.

Final Fantasy XIV is proving to be the ultimate distraction at the moment, because I can play every class and do every tradeskill on one character.  It is not only supported, it is in fact suggested because you open up the maximum number of possibilities with cross class actions by doing this.  To some extent it reminds me of the way Horizons was in the ability to freely switch between classes at will.  Horizons is one of those games that you either loved or you hated… and for me I mostly mourned the potential the game had.  My main character was a Reaver, which was an advanced class that required I believe 20 warrior and 15 spiritualist.  Then in addition to that I poured on 24 levels of Cleric so I could have some cross class healing, and 15 levels of Mage so I could have access to all the elemental weapon buffs.

The way the game worked is when you were playing another class, you could carry with you 1/2 of the levels worth of spells.  So at 24 cleric, I would use up through level 12 healing spells on any other class I chose to play.  This lead to some really open ended gameplay that I loved… I could build my own class of sorts by picking up the abilities that I liked best from each of the other classes.  Granted they gimped you slightly by doing this… making your xp gain go drastically slower based on your number of classes.  I did love however playing a character that was in essence a jack of all trades…  and not limited to only one specific role.  Post Horizons this has been a concept I have missed greatly, and what I believe has lead me to rolling tons of characters trying to reclaim that freedom.

Class Freedom

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One of the things that feels the coolest while playing Final Fantasy is that each of us have multiple roles that we are actively or semi-actively leveling.  For example my character is 27 Marauder, but I also have 18 Fencer, 16 Gladiator and 6 Thamaturgist.  Instead of running dungeons last night with our main spec we realized that we had a pretty solid group composition with our secondary specs.  So instead of tanking, I switched to dpsing as a fencer, and we had two arcanists that both served the role as part time dps and part time healer… letting someone who is traditional dps try out his tanky marauder.  We went back and re-experienced the lower level dungeons and had a blast doing it. 

The most awesome thing about this is… as you are tanking on your main spec… you can acquire those drops that would have been excellent for another class but would end up rotting on the ground of a dungeon somewhere.  This was always something that stuck in my craw as a tank.  I didn’t mind being needed in the specific role, but I always hated seeing gear that would have been awesome for an alt rotting on the corpses of bosses because no one in the instance needed it.  I always longed for a way to pass that gear along from my main down to an alt and see it go to good use.  I personally hate seeing gear sold or disenchanted… I love seeing it go to use regardless of WHO can use it.

So as a result… as I am playing my main spec I am picking up quest rewards that I can use later for various other classes in the game.  Likewise there is never a case where I don’t have access to my full compliment of mounts or pets or other cosmetic goodies.  All of this is why that Final Fantasy XIV is turning out to be way more compelling for me than I ever expected going into this.  Originally I thought this was mostly a game I would play occasionally because I had some friends playing it.  Instead I am finding a game that is so much better than it has any right to be based on the past track record Squaresoft’s MMO failures.

I find myself looking forward to each little milestone in the game, and likewise looking forward to switching weapons and leveling my little lower level classes.  When you switch roles, you have access to various cross class abilities from each.  So as a tank I can cherry pick all of the various survival abilities so that my Marauder has 4 “Oh Shit” buttons I can press in an instance.  Likewise as a DPS I can cherry pick abilities that will either increase my survival or increase my dps.  While you don’t have as much freedom as you did in Horizons, it still feels the same… that each of your classes is making every other class you play better in the process.

Wrapping Up

Well I had no clue I was going to write a love song for the class system in FFXIV before I started… but now that I did it makes sense.  That is the one aspect of the game that I find the stickiest so far.  It is making me really wish that I could have a Warrior, Cleric, Rogue and Mage all in the same character in Rift even if it meant having to pay for adding the additional classes.  Anyways I hope you all are having a great Sunday and that you have a great rest of the Labor Day weekend.

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