One thing that annoys me about a lot of MMOs is “add it for the bullet” features. Basically stuff like crafting, PvP, ‘exploration’, etc tacked on when they don’t fit just so the back of the box (or in modern terms, the Steam page) can include that aspect of the game in a bullet list.
Most of the time the addition is little more than a distraction and a waste of dev time, but occasionally it ends up crippling the main point of your MMO (PvP gear being better for raiding, throwaway PvE deciding PvP balance, etc). I always point out that EVE is the best-designed MMO out, and it’s primarily for this reason; everything is important, and everything works together. That’s very difficult to do, but is critically important if you are actually attempting to achieve a virtual world (most modern-day MMOs don’t aim for that of course).
FFXIV is by no means a virtual world. It’s as themepark as MMOs come, but it also features a crafting/gathering game that is, well, an actual game rather than a throwaway feature. I can’t talk yet about how it integrates with everything at the level cap, but even halfway in there is a lot to like about it.
The main thing I like is that FFXIV lets you play one character you identify with, but due to how job switching works, you don’t constantly progress in power in everything and have to ‘downlevel’ should you go back to something. This means that when I switch from my main class down to something new, I feel like I’m playing at level 1 rather than being a max-level character with reduced stats simulating level 1 (usually poorly). This also means my main level job stays put, so playing side stuff doesn’t put me ahead, which pretty key for enjoying the game as a duo. It’s not a totally new concept in the genre, but it’s by far the cleanest implementation I’ve seen in an MMO.
Crafting and gathering greatly benefit here because each profession is its own job rather than skill, meaning you actually level up your miner or blacksmith job, so a level 1-10 zone that you finished as your primary class becomes relevant and challenging again when you enter it as your level 4 miner, and again it’s not ‘fake’ challenge with the game down-leveling you (FFXIV also does that should you enter an area above level, and it feels as wonky as in other MMOs).
The same applies for different combat classes. I finished the 1-20 quests in one area for my main job, but rather than down-level to experience the other two starting area questing zones, if I switch to a new combat job everything feels appropriate, while I still retain the name and look of my character. It sounds like a minor thing, but feels very smooth and makes enjoying all aspects of the game much easier without the ‘roll an alt’ hurdle.
I’ve got more but RL just happened and it’s off to the hospital right now (blogger dedication!), clan is expanding.
As someone that has all gathering/crafting classes to 50 I can tell you that while I enjoyed a lot leveling the crafting classes I got disappointed at the end because the stuff you make is inferior to dungeon gear (the one you buy with dungeon tokens, not the one that actually drop on dungeons).
You can make lot of gil by crafting low level gear to sell or crafting tools (at least when I was playing) but the point is that as far as character progression goes, nothing will change at the end. Your main and only source of advancing will be dungeon/raid.
But crafting in FFXIV is by far the best crafting system I found and much more enjoyable. And once you get several cross skills, you will craft HQ items very easy :)