FFXIV’s class system is interesting. It was advertised that players simply equip a weapon and they’re immediately that class. That’s actually how it works. You put on a cane and you’re a Conjurer; put on a spinning wheel and you’re a weaver. It works for combat and crafting and you can be all of the classes at once. When you use your class’ abilities you gain class experience. When you do anything worthy of gaining experience you get general experience which levels up your “physical level”. Physical level determines your stat by granting you points to allocate each time you level up. Gaining rank in a class gives you new abilities and strengthens your abilities.
It’s not as simple as killing a mob and getting 2 sets of exp. You definitely get general experience for just about everything, but class experience is more random. For my Conjurer I do not get much Conjurer exp at all if I nuke mobs dead in two casts — in fact I often get none. If I just use my cane to attack, which is like a wand in WoW, then I get more attacks in per mob which increases my chance to get a little nugget of exp. As you’d expect, the strategy is to just attack with the cane to optimize exp gains. Random chance benefits from repetition so I can’t say it’s a flaw in the system, just an unfortunate reality for casters at lower levels.
Being able to put on any hat whenever you feel like it is awesome. I think they’ve done a very nice job creating an experience similar to SWG with the one character per person feel. Spending points into certain stats is a limiting factor, but it appears that you can reassign points. Mixing and matching abilities from classes is also something worth noting. The recommendation from most people is that you pick two classes that compliment each other and use their abilities. Weapon use, stat type, and other limiting factors seem to favor sticking to a lower number regardless of whether or not you have the time to level 5 at a time.
The questing system is very important to understand. There are regional leves and local leves. Regional leves are the “quests” that you’ll be used to doing which give you some nice coin, maybe an item, and lots of experience. You’re restricted to just 8 of these in a 36 hour period. Local leves are crafting and you have a limit of 8 on those as well. This means that if you play several hours in one day and just do leves, you’ll be out of luck. You can group up with others and get some credit for helping them with theirs, though. This encourages grouping in a big way.
What do you do when your leves are gone? As far as I can tell, you grind. I like to mix grinding, exploring, crafting, and leves together so that I find a harmony and never really burn out on one thing or run out of stuff to do. Unfortunately, if you play a lot you’re going to be stuck grinding.
Crafting is beneficial. The economy is entirely player driven from what I have seen. Players are hocking their goods in chat channels, putting up their little shop ala Asian style games, and some are successfully getting rich. Others look like they’re just crafting for themselves. Many tradeskills feed off each other and when you can be anything and everything whenever you want, it’s not hard to be self sufficient.
The crafting system is one of FFXIV’s better systems. I chose to be a Weaver which makes cloth armor. Crafting consists of putting materials in the material receptical that satisfy a recipe. You learn these recipes two ways (that I’ve found). 1) You pay attention to Local Leves or 2) You look them up online. Put the right resources in the receptical and begin crafting. It’s not just a combine mechanism though. You actually to actively participate. With Weaving a little colored bauble will appear on my tool. Based upon its color (Green, white, yellow, red) you will get different outcomes for actions you take. The actions are to do a standard synthesize, a bold synthesize, or a rapid synthesize. Standard seems to be the middle and the others are obvious. You have a quality and durability number and based upon which action you choose matching the color appearing (and your tool quality and other factors) yields your end product. It’s overwhelming at first and I’m still learning the ropes, but it’s a heck of a lot better than just combining.