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Forums - Gaming Discussion - What makes a RPG's Class/Job System interesting to you?

I was reminiscing about many of the great RPGs of yore' and all the interesting approaches that developers have had in how to make different character classes interesting to play.

From stat growth/progression, to perks/skills/passives/abilities/etc., to class specific equipment, to backstory, to class specific speaking styles, to even the specific visual styles/movements/animations of each class, etc. developers have explored quite the variety of simple to super complex RPG designs in the quest to bring the player something both fun and interesting to engage with.

Some different RPG Class systems I thought where interesting...

--- Star Ocean: Second Story ---

In this game, the characters/classes/voices/asthetics/roles/etc. were very defined by their back stories and in an odd manner the combat style of each class/character was very animation dependant. i.e. the actual attack animations were pre-set, but had to connect with your opponents to actually hit. This worked both ways so you could overcome some very tough enemies with certain techniques.

The game was also interesting in that you could make your characters overpowered in so many ways if you knew what you were doing early in the game. It also had interesting approaches to its crafting/passive skills systems as well.

I had a lot of fun trying a lot of different things on different playthroughs of this game. Also, there were some characters that could not be gotten on the same playthrough, so that also added a bit of variety on each time around.

--- Final Fantasy Tactics ---

This game has so much to explore when it comes to interesting characters/jobs/skills/recruiting enemies/monsters/etc. The fact you can make many silly combinations with the Job/Sub-job system just adds to its charm as well.

I got a lot of replayability out this game, so many ways to experiment even before the end of the first chapter of the game.

--- Pre-Renewal Ragnarok Online ---

This game's job/stat systems really inspired me to experiment with tons and tons of characters over many years.

This game had many many changes over its life, but the core interesting thing for me was trying to balance the stats and skills of the class I was playing.

I really liked that there were an excess of skills in a skill tree to choose from, so you had to make choices, and other people playing the same class would end up with very different balances of stats and skills.

Especially as character stats costed more and more every 10 points a specific stat increased, this encouraged players to spread character stat points out more and led to many unique builds that people would share on forums.


RPG Job/Class systems that have room for a lot of variety in progression/experimenting seem to be the most interesting for multiple playthroughs of a game. i.e. the interest with the class system itself encourages another playthrough of the game.

Where as a class-less RPG system (such as Elder Scrolls Oblivion) seem to be so super open at first, until you realize that a single character can master all skills, spells, stats, etc. in a single playthrough.

So, there isn't really much to explore once you have one character that does everything. And the progression to that master of everything character tends to not have a structured role.

A similar issue comes up with instant re-specing. You can instantly switch roles as one character at any time, there isn't any reason to explore the journey of a character's growth choices if you can just skip to each end point instantly.

In experience, it feels more like selecting a load-out, rather than a character that has grown a certain way. Which is fine in many game genres, but kind of drifts away from the RPG ethos.

I think experimenting with imposed limitations is where a lot of the fun in RPGs lay.

Too many limitations leaves to little room to experiment, but in an ironic manner, too few limitations also leads to the same result. (i.e. one character does it all and there is nothing left to explore)

So, what do you all think makes for interesting class/job systems in an RPG?

Also, What are some of your favorite ones you have come across?

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Depth, if it allows you to approach things in various ways.

I love just how personal it is. It makes it that one playthrough of a game doesn't have to be the same if you wish.

I fell out of love with Final Fantasy a while ago, but this is one thing I felt that Tactics and Final Fantasy V did very well. And I think that's why FFV Fiesta is still going strong today. When the game puts you in charge of how you want to handle a battle it then becomes less of a "game" and more of an experience in my opinion. Being able to mix job abilities also is a huge plus in my book. Rather than the game deciding what each character is able to do in their growth, putting that decision in your hands allows you to make God like characters and I think that's the height of enjoyment of games that include these systems.

Balance and difficulty are important aspects for me when it comes to an RPG's progression system. Ideally, for me, if I was to play through a game without grinding at all, I'd want the difficulty to be quite high, and by investing time in leveling up or getting new gear, the game would fall to a moderate difficulty.

This is my problem with Pokemon games, which I enjoy playing, but I feel tempted to avoid optional encounters in order to maintain some of the difficulty. Pokemon Let's Go is a major offender here, where you level up so quickly it takes away from the experience (pun not intended).

FF15's issue was that battles could be cheesed. You could hold 99 Phoenix Downs with you, and you were allowed to use them on yourself after dying, so it made the game trivial from start to finish. A difficult battle turned into a question of whether or not I was willing to spend 15 minutes spamming Phoenix Downs or not.

In old school RPG games, MP used to be a precious commodity, and the only way you could recover it was by resting at an inn or using an expensive item. I like this. Persona 5 does well in this regard, where going through a Palace is a risk/reward based on "can I make it to the next safe room with my current SP". It had the difficulty and the balance as well.

I think a game's length also plays a role. Most of us like long games, or at least when it comes to RPGs. Investing time into developing your party is satisfying, and having long-term goals can make it really feel like you've grown as a character once you've reached the end.

FFV had a really deep Job/Class system...I still remember 20 years ago I beat that game by throwing all my money at the last boss lol. Star Ocean 2 is brilliant me the greatest game in that particular series. I spent too many hours grinding and getting bunny shoes to succeed in the last few bosses. The bunny shoes are a must.

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Not having a Job/Class system in the first place, as it constrains your character too much, often unrealistically so. Weapon limitations, anyone? Have a broad selection of skills, a small amount of learning-by-doing for the skills

The problem is, that very few games manage to pull that off, Nethack (many Roguelikes in fact) and Dungeon Siege are some of the few titles that come to mind.

That's just it, what defines an RPG is it's ability to assume 'unique' job/class system because without it there is no such thing as 'roleplay'. Each jobs/classes are INTENDED to have a unique role so don't think of each job/class as being 'restricted' per say but think of it as each having "EXCLUSIVE capabilities" since a true RPG doesn't aspire to give the protagonist(s) every available ability at all times because otherwise it'd be no different than an either an action game or an adventure game ... 

It is this unique roles or sometimes referred to as job/class systems in RPGs that separates it from EVERY other game genre out there ... 

That is why series such as Dark Souls, Kingdom Hearts, and The Witcher or the likes of will NEVER be RPGs in a true sense ... 

The more you can customize it, the better. I want RPGs to give options.
For example I think its great that FF12 Zodiac Age lets you pick 2 classes per character, cause you can combine it in many ways to mix weapons, magic and equipment, unlike lets say FF13 which sucks imo because its very rigid and you cant do much about what your characters do in that game.

So long as they serve fundamentally different roles in combat I enjoy tinkering with different characters and combinations. If their "class" is just window dressing I often have a hard time getting into an RPG.

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