I’d forgotten that upon reaching level 10 I could start to train in the gathering and crafting professions – or Disciplines of the Land and Hand in game terms.
It wasn’t only level 10 that was required, it was that plus finishing the mandatory Gladiator introductory sequence. I almost felt guilty being tempted when my Guildmistress told me that much as she hated to say it, I was free to go and train in other Classes.
What I didn’t realise was that training the Hand/Land classes was the same as switching to an entirely different Combat Class. When I trained as a Miner I suddenly lost all my Gladiator skills, my action bars swapped, and I was suddenly near-naked in the middle of the Mining Guild.
Working out how to dress more appropriately, I soon found the ‘Recommended Gear’ button on the UI, which very smartly worked out what gear I should equip for my current Class. And then I could save that as a Gear Set, and switch between Combat and Profession equipment with ease.
I was equipped with a Mining Pick and had a single action available called Prospect, which promised to reveal mining nodes on my minimap when active. This is very different to my experience in other MMOs where gathering and crafting are very much secondary skills, requiring only a tool or two in your inventory. Here you become a miner, or goldsmith, or tailor, etc.
At first I was sceptical that this was a good idea – having to swap entirely to a new load out and skill set just to mine some ore seemed quite cumbersome. And it means that you can’t just spot a node as you’re adventuring and gather it on the move. You need to set out specifically to gather, or craft, and abandon your combat role entirely.
I do worry what would happen if you set out with mining pick and sub-optimal armour equipped, only to encounter some aggressive mobs that needed your full kit to counter. I wonder if you can swap mid combat, or if it’s like other games where once you’re engaged you’re locked out.
Mining pick equipped, I ventured back out into Thanalan and soon found my first node. They are much prettier than Warcraft that’s for sure.
I duly started picking away at it, and discovered that FFXIV has a much deeper crafting system than I expected. One you find a node, you can choose what you want to try and extract from it, and what the chance of recovering each possible reward is.
This kind of blew my mind, as this made gathering is a game in itself, with chance and gambling and decision making instead of just mindless clicking on shiny nodes. There’s a full list of levels and skills to be learnt, quests and objectives, and I presume you could play the game as solely a crafter if you were willing to forgo combat.
I’ve always been intrigued by Bhagpuss’s reports of the full crafting storyline in EQ2, and it looks like FFXIV has at least some semblance of that, though whether it goes quite as far as EQ2 does is yet to be seen:
It’s completely viable [in EQ2] to have characters who only craft and still have a well-developed, structured throughline from creation to cap that includes everything an Adventurer could expect. There are signature questlines at all levels, side-quests, storylines, upgradeable gear and tools, important NPCs to meet, titles to earn, achievements, you name it. There are even craft raids.
Training Mining also unlocked a Gathering Log full of lists of items to find while Mining. Similarly training Weaving created a Crafting Log, though it was more functional, containing recipes for how to make gear and accoutrements. Crafting an item involves chance, material wear, and action bar skills in order to make the object you desire. The animation is also pretty great, a full spindle or needlecraft pad appearing for weaving, and accompanying over the top excitement when you successfully make a ball of twine.
Exploring this has opened up a whole new world within FFXIV, and I found myself excited to start progressing the profession chains – perhaps even more than following the actual storyline. The fashion, armour, and weapons you see just wandering around Ul’dah continue to be astonishing, and I assume that much of it is created via crafting, no doubt at great expense. The bigger capitals and endgame hubs must be a sight to behold, and I can imagine setting up as a crafter of exclusive goods must be an excellent earner and satisfying game in and of itself.
My only regret is Fishing isn’t available in Ul’dah, for that I need to travel to somewhere called Limsa Lominsa – and to get there I need to get to Level 15 apparently. I’ll do that on my Gladiator given I’m 12 now, unless Gathering ore becomes more interesting!