In this feature I intend to look over the non-combat classes in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. I am going to cover them in an experiential way, focusing specifically on the experience of playing as a botanist, miner, carpenter and armorer. I started off this past beta weekend as a level 17 armorer. My primary goal going into the play session was to figure out how to affix materia, which I knew would require a level 19 artisan. This, as they say, is my tale!
One of the benefits of a week off between beta-3 sessions is that my character had a good backlog of guildleves and rested experience ready and waiting when I logged in Friday. Crafters get bonus XP for their first creation of an item, this is tracked in the crafting log which doubles as your recipe book. I had completed a good number of my 16-20 recipes and I remembered I was going to be short some Elm Lumber, a mess of Iron Ingots, and some Ice Shards going into this weekend.
Lumber is from Carpentry, which requires logs found by the Botanist harvesting class. Normally, I would probably have picked these things up from the marketboards (the auction house), but its still beta-3 and not many people are placing things up on the markets as of yet. This means that I need to be self-sufficient. So, my first step on the road to armorer actually required switching over to Botanist and hacking away at a few trees.
This is easily accomplished using the gear set list, a tool I includes as one of my favorite things in FFXIV:ARR in my most recent column. A quick tool through the UI and my botany gear was equipped. One teleport later I was in Gridania looking for trees. Fortunately, both ice shards and elm logs can be found in the Central Shroud, so I was able to knock off a couple items off of my checklist.
Botany is a probability and exploration game. In the exploration mode, you need to find harvesting nodes. This is accomplished using several “radar” type abilities which help you find either the nearest node or the highest level node you can utilize depending on the ability. Once you find a node, you have a choice of different items to harvest, each with a percentage chance to succeed. You only get six attempts per node (more on guildleves) and you have a few abilities you can use to improve your harvesting chances. Using these abilities drains Gathering Points (GP), so you have a small resource management game happening too.
After that, it was time for some carpentry. I went back to Gridania and went into the carpentry guild. You don’t have to craft at the guild, but it’s useful since the merchants there can sell some of the intermediate items you need for early crafting. Crafting in FFXIV:ARR is a mini-game where you try to complete progress while maximizing quality. You use crafting abilities to advance these states and each crafting ability used depletes your item durability and possibly your crafting points. Elm lumber is a tier-3 resource, so I needed to level up my carpenter a bit before processing them. Yes, that’s actually an armoring screenshot below, I forgot to take a good picture of my carpentry work (it was at the carpenter's guild, so it’s all good, right?).
After completing my carpentry I had elm lumber for my armoring run. Along with the Ice Shards picked up during my Botany run, my inventory needs were nearly complete. I just needed some iron ore, which of course requires mining. Once again, the Gear Set List had my mining profile stored. Lower level Mining is done near Ul’Dah, so after changing into my mining gear I used Teleport and visited Camp Horizon out in Western Thanalan.
After finally finishing getting my inventory, it was time to go to work on armoring. I really needed to knock off two levels and so I set about trying to make some experience. I tapped out as many new recipes I could to maximize the bonus crafting experience from those first combines. After that I turned to levequests. In Limsa Lominsa, levequests can be taken out at the adventurers’ guild. I noticed a few armorer leves with delivery to a fellow named Bango Zhango right in Limsa Lominsa. Thinking this seemed about perfect, I set about making Bango’s orders.
Crafting levequests are fairly similar in A Realm Reborn than they were in FFXIV. You have a fixed allotment of leves available, these refresh every day or so and you stockpile your allotment. That’s great for the casual player who gets one good binge session every now and then. It’s even more perfect for a beta weekend player who has a short amount of time before the beta is turned off for the week. Even better, turning in a level with a high quality (HQ) item results in a 200% bonus (a 3x payout) getting even more mileage from the leves. The primary difference in these levequests is that you aren’t provided materials, to do leves you need to bring your own mats. Fortunately, as you can see above, I came prepared! After helping Bango gear out every ship leaving Limsa Lominsa, I finally achieved my goal. Level 19 and time to go learn about this thing called Materia!
In Central Thanalan (near Ul’Dah),there is a bonfire. At that bonfire is a goblin named Mutamix. Mutamix specializes in Materia and he and his novices happily teach characters above level 19 about the Materia system. I trekked over to Mutamix’s campsite and gathered up all the information I could about the Materia system.
Materia is the Final Fantasy system involved with customizing your gear. It’s also part of the item sink for the economy. Additionally it serves as a way to tie together the various adventuring classes, crafting classes, and harvesting classes. It’s a fairly complex system and it looks like it will be a core part of crafting for middle and upper level characters.
After talking to Mutamix and his novices, I discovered I had hit a small snag. Making and affixing materia requires three things: a piece of gear you can break down and turn into materia, a new piece of gear which you will affix the materia, and a catalyst obtained from harvesting tier 4 nodes (level 16+). I had old gear I could break down to materia, I had new gear that I was eager to apply the materia too, I had a crafter high enough level to do the work.
I lacked the catalyst. Indeed, in my travels I had not yet seen the catalyst at any mining node I had visited. After a bit of searching trying to find this elusive catalyst, I sat down and read through my harvesting log. It turns out that the harvesting log provides clues as to where to look. To my surprise, mining goes global after level 10 and are no longer confined to the Thanalan region. The nodes I was looking at were over in La Noscea, outside of Limsa Lominsa. A quick detour over to La Noscea and a bit of practice using my mining “stealth” skill and I had my catalysts. It was time to affix my first piece of Materia!
I had a pair of Decorated Bronze Mitt Gauntlets that were eligible for Materia affixes. I also had a few Materia from breaking down my old gear. Swapping back over to armorer, I opened up the Materia interface. The UI for materia is pretty self-explanatory, I was quickly able to ascertain the right way to put the combine together. One click of a Meld later and I had succeeded in adding some Accuracy to the Mitt Gauntlets.
I had travelled a good portion of the low level game world. I had completed a number of steps and made a bunch of levels. Most importantly, I had unlocked and learned a process that I had been
Crafting Final Thoughts
You just read about my most recent Beta Friday. A more organized approach, or a more informed approach, would have reduced some of my running around (or at least reorganized it). This was a learning approach, though, I didn’t know and couldn’t really know how to accomplish some of these things up front. I had to talk to the right NPCs, finish the right prerequisites, and experiment with the right game systems to put it all together. I will do the path a bit differently in Beta-4, but that’s because I now know a path.
The crafting game in FFXIV is complex. The intricacy comes from the interdependencies between classes and the number of different things you can do. The crafting complexity also increases from the minigame of the crafting process.
The impressive thing is that it never really feels that overwhelming. That’s a credit to the streamlined UI and the reasonably solid in-game help messages. It’s also a credit to the manner in which the game layers on the complexity. You start out doing little more than processing a few resources and banging them together. Every few levels you get a new ability, some new wrinkles, some more breadth in the game. Before you know it, you are neck deep in a complex and enjoyable crafting system.
We haven’t seen really complicated crafting since Star Wars Galaxies. We have seen games with crafting mini-games and we have seen games with “critical” combines (HQ items in FFXIV). We haven’t seen many games in which the crit system is tied to your own skill and resource accumulation, though, in some time.
I don’t know yet just how integrated crafting will be in the final game. It’s clear that with multiple classes per character and lots of leveling across those characters, that crafters will be involved in producing gear. It seems that crafters will be deeply involved in end-game itemization via the materia system.
What do you think about crafting and harvesting? What are you excited about and what are you worried about with the crafting and harvesting systems? I’d love to keep writing, but I got a big order of bronze plates to kick out and those ingots won’t smelt themselves if you know what I mean! Hop into the discussion below and join the conversation.
Ryahl / Ryahl is a columnist for MMORPG.Com. He is also the host and primary author for Eorzea Reborn and TSWGuides. He has been playing MMO’s since 1999 and once baked (yes baked) a pair of Ry’gorr leggings in a horrible in the field crafting accident. You can follow him on Twitter @EorzeaReborn or just argue with him in comments anywhere he posts.
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