Final Fantasy 14 is rapidly approaching its 10-year anniversary. Over the course of its lifespan, Final Fantasy 14’s 19 jobs have been adjusted, rebalanced, and reworked completely. Some of these playable jobs, like Summoner and Machinist, have changed so drastically that they are almost unrecognizable from their original incarnations. However, some of these changes haven’t necessarily been for the best.

Over time, Final Fantasy 14’s classes have gradually lost their individuality. With each patch, small tweaks and large reworks have eroded class identities, and while this makes it easy for Final Fantasy 14 to balance its mechanics, it runs the risk of watering down the gameplay that attracted players to this MMORPG in the first place.

RELATED: Final Fantasy 14: Euphrosyne Alliance Raid Guide

The Homogenization of Final Fantasy 14

ffxiv ew bard job title card

In the past, some of Final Fantasy 14’s classes had truly unique play styles. Fans who played during Heavensward may remember the infamous “Bow Wizard” Bard, or the original mana-hungry, more aggressive kit of Final Fantasy 14's Dark Knight. While some of these classes were more or less fun than others, few can argue they were not unique. While every expansion introduced heavy job reworks, Shadowbringers brought especially big changes to nearly every one. These changes streamlined classes and improved upon the Job Gauges introduced in Stormblood, but players began to notice certain classes – especially tanks – were starting to play similarly.

Nearly four years later, these similarities have grown more pronounced. Endwalker transformed the Summoner from a complex class utilizing DoTs to a straightforward button masher. More recently, a rework of Paladin saw its combat cadence shifted so that it was similar to the other tank classes. Every one of these changes has squeezed these jobs into one- and two-minute burst windows that line up a little too nicely.

This homogeneity has appeared in other places across Final Fantasy 14. Unpopular FF14 dungeons that were once labyrinthine crawls full of optional mobs and hidden secrets have been streamlined into standard 3-boss, 12-mob hallways, and the bosses themselves all use moves that fit the same archetypes: a tank buster, a room-wide AoE, and a couple of standard mechanics with occasional twists. While this uniformity creates recognizable patterns, it also creates predictability that threatens to become stale.

Final Fantasy 14 Still Has Strong PvP Job Kits

ffxiv pvp crystalline conflict

In Endwalker Patch 6.1, Final Fantasy 14 gave its PvP system a facelift. Alongside a new mode, this patch gave all the playable jobs new kits, including a unique Limit Break. While simplified from their PvE counterparts, these kits are dynamic, reactive, and unique.

For example, Samurai can deliver devastating blows as they race across the battlefield, with a Limit Break that can instantly kill enemies. Machinists cycle through upgradable gadgets, and can snipe enemies from extreme range. Red Mages can swap between White and Black Shift to adapt their spells for support or damage depending on the situation. Each PvP job in Final Fantasy 14 has special mechanics that create a distinctive play style, and ensure no two classes play exactly the same.

New PvP matches in Final Fantasy 14 have been massively successful since its introduction in 2022. The fast-paced Crystalline Conflict mode in Final Fantasy 14 has let PvP truly flourish for the first time since the game’s launch. That said, the strong state of the job actions in PvP only serve to highlight the blandness at the heart of PvE classes.

RELATED: How Final Fantasy 14's 'Payload' PvP Mode Compares to Other Games

How To Preserve Class Identity in Final Fantasy 14

ffxiv ew alphinaud alisaie job buffs reaper dancer samurai paladin black mage ninja

Despite being a cooperative experience, hardcore MMORPG players tend to approach PvE with a competitive eye. Players will always seek the most optimal strategies, the best classes, and the fastest ways to increase their DPS. Homogenizing classes is an easy way for Final Fantasy 14 to ensure its jobs are all worth playing. If all jobs play similarly, it becomes easy to tweak numbers on abilities and ensure no class is inherently better than others. Likewise, the predictability of PvE content ensures players always know what to expect.

This is less important to consider in PvP. Since opponents are also players, there is no way to truly predict what tactics the opposition will use. This means Final Fantasy 14 can design its PvP jobs to be more unique - after all, there are no standardized challenges the job must be able to complete, leaving it open to specialization.

However, homogenizing classes could spell trouble for Final Fantasy 14 in the future. Balance and predictability often comes at the cost of fun. Watering down weapon skills and spells to their base elements can make each job feel the same, leading to Final Fantasy 14’s 19 jobs feeling like just five jobs.

Final Fantasy 14 needs to stop itself from sliding into monotony for the sake of balance. While balance is important in PvE activities, it can’t come at the cost of fun, or else players will lose interest in the game and eventually quit. This will require Final Fantasy 14 to strike a balance between its PvE design philosophy and its PvP kits. If it can inject the personality and uniqueness from PvP job actions into future PvE job changes, Final Fantasy 14 can prevent its gameplay loop from becoming too monotonous.

Final Fantasy 14 is available now on PC, PS4, and PS5.

MORE: 8 MMOs That Have Wacky Immersion-Breaking Cosmetics