I had heard about this feature from a friend of mine, but didn't entirely understand how it was supposed to work or what benefits the level sync system was suppossed to bring. Now, some light has been shed on the matter as I read the newsletter sent to my e-mail inbox by Square Enix. First off, I am no longer playing the game. The last time I played the game was about a year ago; I experienced a lot of resistance from Square Enix to help me retrieve the account I made back when the game was released, and was forced to buy a new copy of the game. I later cancelled after the staggering realization that I'd have to spend so much time of my life working on re-gaining what I had lost, and only then could I begin working on what I hadn't finished. That's another story, altogether, though.
The level sync system appears to be in place to allow people with higher level jobs to group with people of lower level jobs by down-ranking their own level(similar to Age of Conan's mentor system, except you make your friends higher in level). This, apparently, allows players in your linkshell to down-level their higher level jobs and assist you in the, usually, extremely excruciating process that is leveling in FFXI. I decided to further study how the level sync system reads, by actually following some of the links on the newsletter. Just think, I'm one of the most pessimistic people I know, and I was excited about Square Enix getting something right. As I continued to read about the level sync feature, it became clear that my excitement was not misplaced.
Now, Final Fantasy XI has always been one of the most time-consuming games on the market. Whether you're an avid lover of the game, or simply hate it for your own reasons, you can't dispute this fact: the game was simply designed to eat up half of your life. Now, I had a couple of classes at level 75, and every other class at random levels ranging anywhere from 10 to 56, so I originally thought: Why not just use one of your alts to help your linkshell friends level? What's the use in bringing your higher level guy when you could be leveling another job?
First of all, the system will benefit both the higher level jobbers, and the lower level jobbers. If you thought there was nothing in place to benefit veteran players, and that this is one of those features to attract new players, then you are absolutely wrong. Quoting from their article: "When Level Sync is in effect, players will gain 100% of the experience and limit points possible to gain at their reduced level." Just imagine! Being able to obtain limit points on your level 75 warrior while helping someone level an alt job! This is great for people who don't have the patience to level alts themselves, and instead want to focus on one character. Rather than ignoring everyone else for self-benefit(one of the oldest features in FFXI), you can now benefit yourself and others by partying with them at lower levels!
Before I continue my analysis, let's post a few more facts about the system:
- The system works in a way where the party leader designates a "target player." Everyone in the party will become the level of the target player. When the target player levels, everyone will be bumped up a notch, granted they have already completed that level previously. For example, let's say you have four level 75 characters, a level 22 character, and a level 23 character. The leader designates the level 23 character to be the target level. Everyone will be level 23, but the level 22 character will remain level 22. If the level 23 levels before the level 22, everyone but the level 22 will become level 24.
-Square Enix is usually for preventing problems before they begin. Unless you count their customer service, but we'll make my blood boil later. For now, let's discuss the restrictions. Firstly, the player must be at least level 10; you can not designate a player below that level to be your target player. The party leader and the target player must be in the same area, and finally, there will be what they call a "buffer period" for 30 seconds once the feature has been deactivated.
-Lastly, the system introduces a way to down-rank your gear when you down-level. Finally, something extremely useful for people who were used to carrying thousands of sets of gear, or paying an extra $10 to have enough alts to hold that gear. Now you can join BCNMs, mission scenarios, Ballista, and other level-capped events without having to bring level 40, or level 50 gear, or whatever the level cap happens to be. Instead, your level 75 gear will be down-ranked so that it has stats appropriate for the level you're being capped to.
Let's consider the benefits. You can now level an alt with an army of level 75s with downranked gear, that will still be incredibly amazing since there are many stats that end-game gear has that leveling gear does not. Using a stupid example, enmity. Enmity- is not seen until the 70s on caster gear, and even if it is downranked, it is unlike any other stat found on gear for level 40, let's say. Now the characters are incredibly overpowered, right? Wrong! I comically misled you, sorry. According to SE, a lot of the stats found on higher armor will be negated entirely. Things like enmity will be downranked to match the level you are downranking to. So, if you're downranking to level 40, it's obvious that your gear will lose its enmity bonus.
Now let's talk about the negatives. As far as I read, there aren't any. Sorry, I misled you again, there are in fact some negatives. This appears to be in place mainly for people who are leveling alternate jobs in the game, and want a quick way to get up to 75, or any target level they might be shooting for. New players, who may not know about the feature, or may not have joined a linkshell will completely miss out on the benefits of the system. Let's face it, none of us want pugs in a group, and that's why the system was introduced. What reason do linkshells, or even a small group of 75s partying with a friend have to invite a complete and inexperienced stranger into their fold? The truth is, they have no reason to do so, and they probably won't.
Then again, the FFXI community is a relatively small community where most people who play now have played the game before. There are very few players who have had no previous experience with the game lining up to join the virtual world of Vana'diel. Whether they heard from me that it was an incredible time-sink, or they simply don't even know the game exists, it's just not a heavily marketed game in most places of the world(except maybe Japan?).
Regardless, the level sync feature even had me excited to give the game another chance. Unfortunately, I later remembered that I destroyed the latest copy of the game I bought in a fit of rage. The only thing that remains is my user ID for my old account that SE kept so they can use it to play themselves. But, uh...if you're still playing, I guess this feature is cool and all. Enjoy it!