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Beta FFXIV: Gathering Impressions

August 17, 2010

I had intended to make two follow-up posts on the other gathering professions after my examination of the Botanist class.  However, as I thought more about it, all three classes work exactly the same.  So instead of an in-depth look at the Fisherman and Miner classes in Final Fantasy XIV, I will give you my overall impressions of Gathering as a whole.

Is FFIXV Fishing Fun?Everything has a Mini-Game

All three Disciplines of the Land are basically mirrors of each other.  They all have Main Hand weapon and Off Hand weapon based gathering nodes.  The only glaring difference is that Fishermen can use their Main Hand (MH) fishing skill  just about anywhere there is water deep enough to do so.

All MH gathering skills include the Chocobo Hot-n-Cold like mini-game that I described in The Botanist overview.  While the game takes slightly different forms for all three classes it is still there.  This is the biggest downside of gathering.  No gathering profession is all that unique from one another.  For a game where every skill set from Swordplay to Weaving to Fishing is a job class, this is a huge disappointment.  I can understand having crafting generally the same, but they could have created separate mini-games for each of the gathering professions in the game.  Our only hope is that the final Discipline of the Land, The Shepard class, has an entirely different outlook compared to the other three in the category.

I was most disappointed by the fishing.  After the great addition of the fishing mini-game in Final Fantasy XI, I had extremely high hopes that this time around we would see something active and engaging again.  What we ended up was a lackluster version of the Hot-n-Cold game where you need bait to catch certain fish instead of finding certain kinds of trees or rocks to hit.

Mining a node in Final Fantasy XIVThe actual mini-games themselves can be a pain to play successfully.  Sometimes there is a large amount of room for error, sometimes there is not.  I am sure that these games are supposed to get simpler as you level up your skill in the profession but up until now, I have not seen it.  What makes this worse is that the game itself has so much input lag that you really have to time your hit of the Enter key at the exact moment you need to while taking into account the ever-changing amount of interface and server lag.  The game itself is not purely in the client which is a huge issue.  The client has to send the server your input and then the cursor stops.  This of course is probably an anti-RMT/bot countermeasure, but it creates a highly unresponsive system that is simply annoying and un-fun to play at times.

Secondary Skills are Generic

While all three gathering classes have mini-games in their Main Hand, all three lack any form of a game in their Off Hand gathering skills.  For example, Harvesting is merely opening the UI menu and choosing the Harvest prompt.  There is no real problem with this, but it seems unfinished and unsophisticated.  There is always the hope that it is indeed unfinished and we will see something new soon when Phase 4 begins in early September.

The Yield

What do we get when we gather?  In other games we know exactly what we are going to get.  If we go to a Mythril Node in WoW, we know we are going to at least get some Mythril.  We may get some other bonus item, but we get what we expect.  In the current version of XIV, we never know what we are going to get.  If I run up to a Willow Tree, I could walk away with anything from Nothing to Beeswax to some of the actual Willow Tree.  Correct me if I am wrong, but if I take an axe to a Tree I should at the very least get some of the wood right?  Fishing is a different kettle of fish.  We all know that it will eventually be more complicated and allow you to focus in the type of fish you really want, so why not let us do the same with Botany and Mining?

Conclusion

The real question is whether or not these tasks actually live up to being a class of their own.  Right now, I would have to say unequivocally, “No they do not.”  Each gathering class is a mirror of the others and that is simply not good enough for an MMO in this day and age.  If Square-Enix really wants these to feel different from each other and a heck of a lot less tedious, then each one should have something actually fun to do while gathering.

There is a fine line here of course.  Most games either have a simple point and click gathering set up.  World of Warcraft falls squarely into this category.  You fly or ride around a zone, find a node and run up to it and click it.  You instantly loot the node and move on.  In other games, you had to go up and hope the progress bar got to 100% before you failed.  We do not need it to be as cut and dry as hitting the node and hoping for the best like it was in XI and SE definitely doesn’t want to stick with that dynamic.  However, we do need it to be more engaging and fun than Madden Placekicking.

The final straw here is the fact that I will never go out trying to gather a certain item and be happy with the result when I finish.  It is impossible to go looking to cut down some Maple Logs so you can use those to make yourself a Shield and come back to town having succeeded in a timely manner.  Things need to change here for people not to get extremely unhappy with this system.

A few more screenshots from my adventures in Eorzea.  Some people asked me where I got the Fishermen’s Straw hat since I didn’t start as a fisherman.  The answer lies in the screenshots below.  You can also find a shot of one of the outer towns that the La Noscea area has to offer.  Well, at least the front gate as both of them are currently locked in the Beta.

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