Wisdom of nym: the cancelled future of Final Fantasy XIV
Every game has stuff in it that’s dummied out. There are ideas that the developers brought to a certain point without ever finishing, and that’s fine. But Final Fantasy XIV has an entire development line for the game that never went beyond the very early concept stages, a set of planned updates that were unceremoniously canned when the game encountered intensely negative reception for good reason.
The question, of course, is whether this stuff might be more relevant than we think for determining the future.
A lot of speculation was flying around when we still had yet to find out the new skills being added to the game with the launch of Heavensward, but there are a lot of points to still be seen within there, and it’s not as if speculation about what comes next has stopped with the expansion release. So let’s take a look at the stuff that was going to be in the game and answer with some certainty the question of whether or not any of it is still relevant.
First of all, if you’ve never seen any of the datamining surrounding what would have been in 1.0, then you should check it out on the many sites archiving it hither and yon; this is a fine place to start. Some of the potential added skills and the like have been floating around the interwebs from shortly after launch.
Of course, we can discard any and all story progression right away. Not only have we already seen Titan, the Grand Companies, and most of the would-be Garlean opposition in detail, but we also know full well that few to no parallels exist there. There are points of comparison, but it’s not exactly useful information to see how things might continue on in the future. Whatever the original long-term plans were for the story, they have officially left the building.
However, we still do have things like the various skills and professions that everyone thought (and knew) were coming next. After all, while we might not be seeing the future story of 1.0, it’s very clear that things like Musketeers are very much still around. Arcanists were promised, and they’re here, too! So isn’t that educational? We have seen a couple of promises from 1.0 made real, but neither of them has more than a passing similarity to what was going to be added into the game.
Arcanists, as originally designed, bore no resemblance to the job that we actually can play with now. Instead of utilizing a pet and a strong debuff focus, they were meant to act more along the lines of Hunters from World of Warcraft, creating fields and traps that played with enemy positioning. How useful or worthwhile that sort of playstyle would be in the current setup of the game isn’t really the point, far more relevant is the simple fact that that was the plan. Now we’re dealing with something completely different.
Similarly, Musketeers are something that we should probably give up on, at least until the third expansion at the bare minimum. We’ve been told in no uncertain terms that part of why we wound up with Machinist as a job only is that the developers couldn’t find a good way to make Musketeer interesting as a base job, so assuming that Musketeer will magically become interesting on its own is a bit of a pipe dream. That’s without getting into the obvious fact that the game is moving emphatically away from classes even being a thing.
The other new classes that were in the planning stages, too, seem to have waved farewell to functionality, if they were ever truly considered for addition. It’s quite possible that things like Shepherd were just planned early in development and never really planned for full use in the game proper.
Some of the originally planned skills came from a time when the division of skill and abilities were substantially different than they are now. Seeing the higher-level elemental spells having been planned is pretty irrelevant when you consider that said spells are no longer part of the class wheelhouse, and it becomes even more irrelevant when you realize that the idea of adding another level of Fire spell isn’t exactly novel or unusual.
Skills that have a long history in the series are going to be added, piece by piece. There may not be certainty, but there is definitely the chance. Most of the skills that don’t currently have any analogues are based heavily on either a state of the game that no longer exists or on being useful for other classes. They’re screwdrivers in want of screws, essentially.
Is anything from 1.0 still relevant? Content like caravan escorts and hamlet defense may find some sort of implementation, there’s the possibility of seeing a return for factional leves in the future, too. But I wouldn’t consider these useful tools for predictions. For better or for worse, the first version of the game is gone and doesn’t seem to be indicating the future of the game.
We really would have liked to have Musketeer implemented as a base job, to see that lingering element from Limsa Lominsa sealed up rather than remaining ignored. But wanting something doesn’t make it real, and the reality is that the past is no longer an entirely reliable predictor of what’s coming next. I would even go so far as to say that we may not even see elements which were close to completion for Heavensward, our next tanking job may very well not be Samurai, even if it was running neck-and-neck with Dark Knight for a while.
The upshot is that we can put down speculating based on what may have been planned for 1.0, which I think is a good thing. Players enjoy reading about the items that were buried in the files before the management shift, but they’re purely historical curiosities, not indicators of what comes next. They’re more fun that way.
So we don’t know what’s around the bend. We know the larger structure, but adjustments are always being made to make the game a little bit better, and what was planned before may not turn out to be the case now. Things like free companies summoning primals might never make it into the game. And that’s all right; it’s part of the vetting process that the best stuff gets implemented and the early plans get changed. I think it’s just important to let the past be a historical curio rather than a forecast of what must – or should – be coming along.