Dark or Light

Were Jump Potions a Game-Changer?

Michael O’Connell-Davidson Posted:
Columns 0

Jump Potions are a relatively new addition to FFXIV, though they aren’t something I’ve covered before. Introduced alongside Stormblood, they’re cash-shop purchases that let you skip much of the game’s levelling process and start straight on one of the expansions.

People were horrified when they were first suggested — “This isn’t World of Warcraft!” was a regular cry — for reasons that are probably ingrained in those who have played MMOs for a long time. Conventional knowledge says the initial leveling process is crucial to teaching someone about the game and the world characters inhabit. How can you expect someone to be any good if they’ve skipped all that?

It’s been a few months since they were introduced, so I figured now would be a good time to take a step back and see what impact they’ve had. In short? They haven’t really changed all that much. In fact, I know there are some people who don’t keep up with the game’s news or community who don’t know they exist at all.

The nightmare scenario that it would lead to a flood of bad players just hasn’t happened. This isn’t to say that jump potions are attracting exclusively people who are good, but that the overall proportion of players who are noticeably unskilled hasn’t really changed.

It’s a fact that MMOs are a lot easier than they used to be. Remember the days of losing EXP or items on death? If it feels like ancient history, that’s because it is. Getting to max level just isn’t a meaningful indicator of how good someone is or could be. Of course, the journey should teach you a lot along the way, but with abundant quest EXP and dungeons designed not to fall apart if there’s a weak link, you can get through the game learning surprisingly little.

I used to be in an Free Company with a guy who, if told he was bad (and he often was), would do this absurd thing where he’d say ‘Look at my job levels!’. He had everything maxed out, but played like garbage, so all this really demonstrated was that he had more time than other people. I’ve had some pretty good experiences where I’ve played with people who have used jump potions and are receptive to feedback or learning new dungeons because they haven’t had the same opportunity to develop years of bad habits, or fallen into a position of comfortable ignorance.

It goes without saying that I’ve had the opposite, too; I was forced to abandon a dungeon after I was matched with a Dark Knight jump-potion user who clearly had no idea how to tank and was offended when my party members tried to help him learn. But I’ve had that with people who’ve clearly leveled up from scratch, too. We all have.

When you buy a jump potion, it solely applies to one job. It’s an unfortunate consequence of XIV’s rigid holy trinity that if you purchase a jump potion for a tank or a healer, you’re going to be tanking or healing — no ifs, no buts, that’s just the way it is. At least in WoW if you played a Warrior (which is often played as a tank) you could specialise with a DPS build. This is compounded by the fact that the webpage for jump potions doesn’t actually say what role a job falls into. 

Going by the name alone, a Paladin could easily be a healer or a tank, and while you’d expect someone to do the research before buying a level boost, what if they don’t? More fundamentally, what are they supposed to base that decision on? Those are questions I don’t think the current system answers, and requires a degree of initiative that shouldn’t be optional, but is.

But if people buy a jump potion after trying a job for a little while — you can experiment relatively freely before making a hard commitment, even within the space of the free trial — I think it’s a totally legitimate way to get to the content you want to experience, or to skip the stuff you don’t. They’re also a good option for people with excess disposable income who don’t want to go through Cutter’s Cry for the Nth time just to level up their sixth job.

They’re not something I’d ever use, and there’s a lot of content that I think it’d be a shame to miss. But the journey to current content is incredibly long — there is days’ worth of story between A Realm Reborn’s conclusion and the first expansion, and that’s just a fraction of the campaign — so I don’t really begrudge anybody for skipping either the story or the leveling process (you can skip both, but be warned: they’re separate purchases).

The reality is that most learning in XIV happens at the endgame, when you’ve got all your skills and your objectives go beyond ‘kill mobs as fast as possible’; you can learn your rotation, get a feel for where your place in the community and figure out what you’re comfortable doing. I don’t think there’s anything innately wrong with getting people to that point earlier.

Of course, if you’re thrusting people into max-level content who aren’t ready for it, that’s not good. But you’ve got to traipse through Stormblood to get there (there are no level 70 boosts yet; you can only go to 60, the start of SB’s campaign), and there are plenty of people who have hit the level cap the hard way who’re just as clueless as anybody else. It’ll take something much more fundamental than jump potions to change that.

A second farewell

The Maiden’s Rhapsody, a crossover event that serves as a fond farewell for FFXI, is set to return on November 10. It is strongly suggested this is a straight rerun of the 2015 event (I can’t believe it was two years ago), so if you did it at the time, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything for you here.

If you didn’t, though, make sure you do; it’s pretty charming, even if you have no familiarity with XI, and the glamour set you get as a reward is one of the very best in the game. Now all they have to do is bring back the Shantotto event too, and we’d be set.


Michael O’Connell-Davidson

Michael O'Connell-Davidson is MMORPG.com's FFXIV columnist. Follow him on twitter @mikeocd.