When we last spoke, I had just achieved level 50 on my Black Mage. I had not purchased Heavensward, so I reached the level cap for A Realm Reborn. What this means is I suddenly had nothing else to do. After trying to advance the story, but not being able to gain experience while doing so, I remembered the crafting classes. Goldsmith stuck out to me from the beginning. So, I headed over to the Goldsmith’s Guild in Ul’dah. Little did I know what was about to transpire.
Final Fantasy XIV is undoubtedly the most advanced game I’ve ever played. FFXIV currently has over 18 million active users, but somehow this game still feels slept on. It’s a crowning achievement of technology and programming, aside from the actual gameplay (which is superlative), and I just found out about it. If you have a computer and enjoy games even slightly, you should be playing Final Fantasy XIV.
Upon entering the Goldsmith’s Guild, I signed up and was carted into what amounts to the meat of a game which is already incredibly substantial. Goldsmith’s make items. Specifically, they make shiny, pretty things—but also weapons and armor. They also make the raw metals used to make other items. These raw metals can—and must—be used by other crafting classes in order to make other items. What emerges is a game (multiple games, actually) within a game that expands on what you thought was the sum total of the experience. I started hammering away on ingots and slowly, slowly realized there was more to than this game than I could initially conceptualize.
I climbed the levels of Goldsmith and eventually reached a point where an item I needed wasn’t available. I couldn’t buy it, and it was far too expensive on the Market Board. After running around and a little internet searching, the answer dawned on me: I have learn another class just to get an item for this class. My eyes incremently started opening.
Enter the Miner.
I then rolled over to the Miner’s Guild and “signed up” there. Here, the gameplay experience took on a different dimension than even the Goldsmith. The guildmaster literally gives you a pickaxe and you then dip out into the wild to mine minerals. It was at this point I entered the Meditative Experience. While walking between mining points and chiseling away at ore—walk, click, walk, click, walk—I realized this was a different type of game. Only the Japanese could come up with this type of scenario. The simple elegance of moving between points, clicking and gathering.. only a culture truly tapped into minimalism and essential elements could understand this sort of presentation. I was actually in a state of awe, rolling around collecting minerals.
The trend continued, and eventually I reached a point in mining where I had to learn another class in order to progress. I came across Blacksmithing, Carpentry, Leatherworking, Fishing, and more, just to round out the progression in every other class. Step-by-step, the meaning and nature of this game became clearer and more pronounced.
The first crafting class I raised to level 50 was the Miner. After your final mission, you’re awarded an Ultimate Tool and you can select a special item of gear. I will say this: since I was a kid playing Final Fantasy VIII, Square has never, ever disappointed on the Ultimate Weapons. Ever. The Ultimate Miner Tool was so beautiful, and the name was so cool, that I was legitimately taken aback. Feeling accomplished, I went and leveled Goldsmith to 50, second.
At this point, I’m level 50 in Miner, Goldsmith, and Fisherman. I’m at least level 17 in all the other crafting/gathering classes. I plan to get them all to 50 before I move onto Heavensward. This is a different type of game. The loop of gathering, crafting, gaining experience, upgrading tools and gear, and reaching higher levels of capability is simultaneously exciting and tranquil. I will say this again: If you’ve got a computer, you should be playing FFXIV.
—The Cavalier Nerd