With all of the systems getting rebuilt in A Realm Reborn, what do crafters and gatherers have to look forward to?
Craftsmanship, Control, and CP – Why Should Other Classes Get All the Stat Fun?
Before I get into what makes the current crafting system great, let’s take another look back at the dark days of v1.0. If you wanted to craft back then, you were in for a long, very unexplained process of trial and error. Once you opened up your crafting window, you’d be greeted with a box for materials; there were no saved recipes unless you’d successfully made something before.
Assuming you’re like most MMO players, you would take the easy route and pull up a list of recipes in a browser tab and get to work. Once you fought through the old interface to get all of your materials in the box and told it to craft, that’s when things got even more complicated. The game would present you with a rapidly depleting timer bar and a list of options with no explanations. Clicking one option would make your Progress and Quality bars move up and the Durability go down. Another would give more Quality, but less Progress. The third would be more Progress, but almost no Quality and a huge chunk out of Durability. The fourth would be a small amount of Progress and Quality, but with almost no Durability loss.
There were elements to a good crafting system here, but between the UI issues in v1.0 and the almost nonexistent explanations of why you wanted Quality or how you avoided losing Durability and running out of time, it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Luckily for me though, when they took everything back to the drawing board for v2.0, crafting got some major improvements.
The first major change with ARR’s crafting comes when you open the window; like combat classes with their Hunting Log and the Disciples of the Land’s Gathering Log, crafters have a Crafting Log to let them keep track of items they’ve made, recipes available to them, what materials each takes, how many you have, and even how many of those are high quality. While the other logs are primarily for reference (or a list of free XP in the case of the HL), the Crafting Log is how you’ll actually choose your recipes, assign your normal and high quality materials, etc. before you actually begin crafting.
Once you’ve selected your recipe, it’s time to start crafting. To begin with, the game actually tells you what those Durability/Progress/Quality bars are for, which was a marked improvement over v1.0. There’s no timer now, so you can take as much time as you want – the only thing between you and crafted glory is the Durability gauge. This gauge is a set value for each recipe, so no more using HQ materials to bump that up.
When you start out crafting, you’ll just have the one move that will give you some amount of Progress for ten Durability. If you manage to fill the Progress bar by the time the Durability hits zero, you get your item and some crafting XP. If not, you might lose a material or two and go back to the Crafting Log to try again.
Early on, the system’s fairly simple and even with the 80% or so success rate on your first Progress move, you should have plenty of Durability to make all of the low-level items you want. It’s once you start unlocking more abilities and recipes that things get more interesting.
The next move you unlock as a crafter is something that adds to your Quality meter for ten Durability. It doesn’t help your Progress, you still have to use that first move to fill the bar and complete the item, so you might wonder why you have this button.
You’ll notice an HQ percentage on the crafting window along with all of those other bars, similar to the HQ percentages you’d see on the gathering windows. The same principle applies here, but it’s even more important with crafted items. High quality items give bonus crafting XP and high quality crafted gear has better stats than normal pieces. Since we all love bonus experience and higher stats on our gear, the question is how do I get these high quality pieces? Sure there’s the base 1% chance, but the real trick is using your good materials and your crafter abilities. The higher you can get your Quality bar, the greater the chance of seeing an HQ result. Using HQ materials will boost your base Quality and give you a head start, but if you really want to boost your odds, you’ll need to boost Quality through your abilities. Of course you have only so much Durability to go around and you still need to fill that Progress bar to actually succeed, so that’s where things get more complicated.
Abilities you pick up later help you out somewhat, like a power that restores three hits worth of Durability, another that increases your base success rate with each Progress/Durability move for five moves, one that gives you a scaling success boost based on your Quality, etc. Of course to use any of these abilities requires Crafting Points, so that makes matters more difficult.
Every move besides your first Progress ability requires some amount of CP to use. Depending on the item you’re making, you might be able to splurge on Quality moves and try for an HQ result or you might need all of the Durability refills and success boosts you can get if you’re trying to get a higher level item. Eventually you will reach a point though where you just don’t have enough to make an item; there’re only so many CP to go around and your Progress move only does so much. That means it’s time for some new gear.
Just like gatherers get their own special gear to boost their gather and HQ rates, crafters have equipment with stats just for them. You’ve got Craftsmanship which boosts how much you get out of a successful Progress/Quality hit, Control which should increase your chance to actually hit with those moves, and +CP to give you more points to work with for your abilities. As a gatherer I don’t have much need for multiple gear sets: pretty much slap on the best stuff and get to work. For crafting though, I can definitely see reasons for having at least jewelry to swap between. Maybe have some Craftsmanship/Control pieces for when I’m trying to push for recipes that should be beyond my reach, with some CP pieces to swap in when I’m trying to crank out HQ items and need as many hits as I can get.
I’ve seen some games attempt the more in-depth crafting system. Vanguard made crafting a mini-game with random events crafters have to react to. Firefall and Star Wars Galaxies let you pick different materials for recipes to change the stats of the finished product. In each of those cases, however, they really have only a piece of the puzzle for making crafters feel like they’re a full-fledged job and progression path. Gatherers had it even worse, since other than Firefall’s Thumper events or WildStar’s random events, gathering has been regulated to just right-clicking a vein/plant/etc. until depleted and moving on. From what I’ve played of FFXIV:ARR so far, it feels like they’ve actually made these two activities not only full-fledged paths of progression, but given them the ability and gear progression they’ve needed for players to be able to choose a crafting or a gathering class and not feel like they’re only playing half of a game.
After a weekend jumping between Miner, Goldsmith and some dabbling in Alchemist, I’m looking forward to seeing what else FFXIV:ARR has to offer me as a crafter and gatherer. Now they just need to let me back in so I can see what recipes are on that next page.