FFXIV is a very alt-friendly game, but in an unconventional sense – you can be anything in the game on a single character. All 19 base combat jobs, 1 limited job, 3 gathering trades, and 8 crafting trades are yours for the taking.
However, there is something of a limit to FFXIV’s system’s “politeness” as I like to dub it, and for the first day of Blaugust 2022, let’s explore this a little bit.
Savage raiding has the best loot in the game at a given point in time, but it comes with a major caveat for most of the time that it is current content – you can only try to get one piece per week per boss. You get a book a week, and 450 of the high-end current tomestones, and then you get your one shot at loot per boss per week on Savage. This is fine for most players – if you play like a conventional MMO, you raid in one role a fixed number of days per week (or until the boss falls over in party finder), and all of your tomestones go to that job’s specific best-in-slot gear. This is all fine and well, and over time, you can branch out to other jobs with relative ease – over the 26 weeks on-average that raid content remains current in the game, you’ll accumulate 11,700 of the top tomestone, enough to buy 12-13 of the highest-value pieces possible from the tome vendor, and often you won’t need that much to gear a couple of jobs to full BiS. You might not be able to get every job maxed out in full BiS – once you get to the third or fourth job, you’re going to start hitting a wall on tomestones, but you get some choices to make with all their accompanying friction.
However, let’s say you want to progress the tier first on a job you really like, say Sage. That’s great, but you know that you’re going to also be trying to run with some friends, one of whom also mains Sage and a duo-Sage healing comp is no one’s idea of a good time. You can run any role on your main character, who has every job at 90 because you’re sweaty, and will have every job geared to 610 on day one of the patch because you spent 6 hours last week AFK-crafting a bunch of high-quality materials with macros, but now you’ve got a problem – you clear early in the AM hours because that fits your schedule better and then go to that second run with the same character and…they get less loot. It only takes one player with a clear, after all, to cut the chest count on kill in half, and once the clear count hits 5 out of 8 players, no loot is rewarded (save for first-weekly clear books). So you have a dilemma – do you run on your main, consequences be damned, and end up playing a role you’re not as keen on gearing on that character at first priority while also progging PF on the role you want most and end up locking the group out of loot, or do you lock to a path and be unavailable to other options?
That is tough, but there is another way – a raid alt.
In FFXIV, raid alting actually becomes a pretty big thing around Savage – you want to prog the fights in a preferred role, but are committed to a different role with a static or friend group, so instead of splitting gear or gearing the role you less desire, you simply split it out – two characters, two shots at loot, the ability to lock each character to a chosen specialization path and with double the tomestones to allow you to properly gear BiS for each job simultaneously, or rather, with the ability to spend each character’s tomestone income split properly in their jobs. You have a main that can craft gear and consumables for your alt, and you focus the alt onto the progression path you need to fill out most for the other group you run with – so, in my case, my main can prog PF as Sage, gearing appropriately for that job and working back to other preferred jobs per role, and then my raiding alt can gear a job that best suits the group in question, focusing full effort on that BiS and likewise working back to gear alt jobs on that character.
Raid alting has been my first use of a story skip and the first time I’ve set aside fondness for the FFXIV story to sprint ahead. At this point, there are about 3 weeks until patch 6.2 (my estimate, more details on this in tomorrow’s post), so rather than dedicating all my playtime to a re-run of the story or leveling from scratch, I simply picked up a Summoner boost and the full story skip through Shadowbringers, leading me straight into Endwalker. Why? Well, Summoner means I can do Scholar job quests and immediately have a leveled healer as well, Summoner is stupidly-easy DPS to play, and with a job boosted, I can fill in other role gaps with added jobs that start higher – like grabbing Reaper for a melee DPS that starts at 70, Dancer (which is my preferred physical ranged anyways) at level 60, Gunbreaker for a level 60 tank starter, and then I could fill out with a striking melee DPS via Samurai at level 50. With the story skip and by skipping most cutscenes, I can speedrun the required story quests to get caught up (so far, I’m about 8 hours into Endwalker and already near level 87 and in Elpis MSQ), and it also affords me a moment to stop and watch story cutscenes if I want to. Right now, once I hit level 90, it will be easy to gear up to current patch casual standards via crafted gear (the materials for which I still have tons of that won’t be of use next patch), and I can be caught up and ready for a quick main and alt-run MSQ when 6.2 launches on 8/23.
So far, it has been kind of fun. I have never been much of an alt-player in FFXIV, and I was in-fact pretty hesitant to even try alts given how accommodating the game is of alt jobs as a baseline, but it has been nice to see the benefit of having a split and separate path I can gear down to ensure I am useful to friends (and can have more fun runs) while also being able to play the jobs I want. Progging my second-ever Savage tier through two different roles should give me a fascinating look at how things progress over the tier, and it may push me to something I set aside as a goal – forming my own static and getting back into raid leading.
But for now, it’s just a bit of fun to run through the game again like a cheetah on crack, and it is interesting to see how little gameplay the MSQ has when stripped of cutscenes (a similar progression point at launch for Endwalker took me around 24-ish hours of play with all cutscenes watched). However, in a way, it softens the blow of doing a simple search and find quest if you don’t have 20 minutes of cutscene in front of it. I still really like the story of FFXIV, don’t get me wrong, but I maintain that its style isn’t for everyone because of things like that.
And, because a lot of the group are rolling alts with software-themed names, I picked the only alt name that truly called to me.