FFXIV might be one of the biggest and best MMORPGs going, but it’s only fairly recently managed to attract its audience to the PvP space with the addition of Crystalline Conflict. As FFXIV celebrates the ten-year anniversary of its rebirth and prepares to sail towards a new adventure with the FFXIV Dawntrail release date next year, PCGamesN asks Square Enix’s FFXIV battle system designer Hikaru Tamaki what makes the mode so special, and what he loves most about it.
Final Fantasy 14 has risen to heights beyond anything expected after its initial, failed launch back in 2010, with its reworked A Realm Reborn and the award-winning expansions that followed propelling it to the very peak of the genre, but Square Enix has long struggled to find a footing in the PvP side of things – until the arrival of Crystalline Conflict, that is, which released with the Endwalker expansion’s patch 6.1 in April 2022.
I ask Tamaki why he thinks the mode is great for players to jump into, even those who might not be familiar with FFXIV PvP. He notes that the ease of jumping into a game without high commitment makes it easier to try out than other modes. “The time per match is short in Crystalline Conflict, allowing for fast-paced play whether you win or lose, and rewards for participation include EXP for your job and Series EXP for exclusive rewards.” There’s also the option to play casual matches, where there’s no risk of dropping down to a lower tier if you lose. “So I’d love for players to take it easy and enjoy the content,” Tamaki adds.
Another key feature in Crystalline Conflict’s favor is its visual clarity. Over the years, FFXIV has gotten increasingly better about striking a balance between good-looking effects and making sure players can clearly tell what’s going on. This becomes especially important for bigger mechanics, such as the eruptions in the Volcanic Heart map – something Takami says he’s rather fond of.
“I think we succeeded in making it visually appealing and flashy, while incorporating the bomb monster, which is popular throughout the mainline Final Fantasy franchise,” he explains. “As with other mechanics, we are conscious of making sure that even beginners and those who enjoy spectating can tell that something great is playing out in front of them.”
Map-specific tricks and mechanics are a big part of the appeal of the various Crystalline Conflict maps, making each stand out from the others. I ask Tamaki which is his favorite, and he tells me, “As a mechanic, it’s simple, but the sprint lanes are my favorite. Simply moving faster can be exhilarating, and it can also be used strategically, such as chasing after or running away from enemies.”
“From a more developer’s perspective,” he adds, “the sprint lane is also a useful mechanic in that it can be incorporated as a conduit of sorts between points that are slightly separated from each other, regardless of the map’s characteristics, and it allows battles to occur at various points over a large area of the map.”
As for what we can expect for the future of the mode, Tamaki says, “Personally, I am looking for a little more expandability for jobs controlled by the player.” While he notes that new maps and improvements to the systems and UI will continue to roll out, the most recent of which are due to arrive with FFXIV patch 6.5, he thinks that “if we can make some enhancements to the actual characters and actions players can operate, they will be able to appreciate a sensation of ‘change’ as they play the content.”
So which jobs does Tamaki prefer to play in the mode? “Partially because I’m originally a fan of healers anyway but my favorite would be Astrologian with its particularly high healing potency,” he responds. “Depending on how the actions are used, it can make a significant contribution on the offensive side, and I like the fact that there are many options available. My answer is dark knight for tanks, and for DPS, I often play ninja and dancer!”
As for which jobs he’d recommend to new Crystalline Conflict players, he notes that “it’s best to play what you actually feel comfortable with,” but suggests players consider starting out on tanks or using ranged jobs that might be a bit more survivable, as newcomers to the mode won’t be used to PvP-specific actions.
“I think the first barrier for newcomers would be PvP-specific actions such as Guard and Recuperate,” Tamaki says. “Sprint and limit breaks work on a different system from PvE as well.” He recommends playing the larger-scale Frontline mode as a way to get to grips with these, but notes that the team is considering ways to introduce “a system for players to learn about the functions of such actions and the specific methods for using them.”
Also recommended are the jobs “that are not so difficult to play, but with powerful limit breaks that make it easy for players to enjoy the sensation of making an active contribution to the team.” Tamaki points to the Warrior as a good tank pick, but also suggests that “Dragoon from melee DPS, Machinist from physical ranged DPS, Summoner from magical ranged DPS, and White Mage from healers are especially recommended!”
Once you’ve dominated on the battlefields of Crystalline Conflict, why not relax and work on your FFXIV Island Sanctuary with the help of our comprehensive guide? We’ve also picked out the best single-player MMOs if you fancy more games as well-suited as FFXIV to playing by yourself.