[Final Fantasy XI] In Final Fantasy XI players are afforded the opportunity to play as multiple jobs on the same character. The idea behind this is a great one, as players can play as any and all jobs that are available to them (some must be unlocked through quests after a certain level has been attained with one of the basic jobs). Players can become attached to one character, instead of playing a job for the life of the character, as is the case with almost all other currently available MMO’s. Another added benefit is that it prevents the game from getting “old.” Meaning that there will always be players that are leveling low level jobs, and since FFXI is almost exclusively based upon partying after level 10 (out of 75) there will always be players that can party in low level areas (well at least for a very long time).
There is a deep beauty in this formula. If one becomes disinterested in the job they are currently playing, they would only need to return to their Mog house and select a new job. This combined with the sub-job system allows players to create combinations that are useful for leveling, farming, soloing, etc. Many people start off playing MMO’s as a job/class because of the external appeal of the job and are unable to switch when they find that they don’t actually enjoy playing that particular job. Instead of the forced choice of pursuing a profession they don’t enjoy or creating a disconnect by having to produce a new character from the beginning, this system creates a level of immersion in the world that they play and creates the attachment that is necessary to keep players within the MMO.
But with the beauty also comes the woe. I currently play a character who’s main job is Dragoon. This is a job that many people are proud to play because it has one of the deepest storylines in the quest to open it. It is a popular class but it also has some weaknesses as the game progresses to the higher levels. This is not a problem for most people that play it, and there is no real deficit in those that play as Dragoons. But for me, the problem of envy arose. I wished to play a job that was much needed and always wanted. This came in two forms, Ranger and Ninja. Respectively, these are the highest damaging job and most sort after (well, equally with Paladin) tanks in the game. The problem with these jobs is that they cost gil. Lots and lots of gil. Playing these two jobs costs twice the lots and lots of gil. I enjoy them both so I have to pay through the nose to maintain them. This is not a problem, per se, with a system that allows players to have multiple jobs, but it does illustrate the harder work that is necessary to maintain them.
I believe that more and more MMO’s will pursue this multi-job tract. The attachment I feel to my FFXI character is definitely deeper than the attachment I have to my World of Warcraft characters. I suppose this may also be because of the “casual gamer” friendliness of WoW, but others have discussed the potential lack of sustainability of “casual gamer” friendly MMO’s. Attachment to MMO’s come from, I believe, attachment to the player’s role in the game. The friends they make, the level of there character, etc. The ability to sustain the same character while not being locked into the same job helps to cement the commitment of players to a particular MMO.