Gathering in Final Fantasy XIV — specifically mining and botany — looks a lot different when players log into Endwalker for the first time. The new expansion takes steps to lighten your load (literally) by removing High Quality (HQ) materials from the game. Since these items took up their own bag slots, they made a bit of a dent in the backpack for prospective prospectors. Now that they’re gone, gathering feels awfully different.
Upon logging in for the first time, you’ll notice something like half your skills have fun, red lines stricken through them. That’s the game’s way of saying “delete this.” Those skills are gone — and in some cases replaced with entirely new options. This is nothing new to FFXIV. Every expansion removes and/or replaces some actions. Gatherers just really got the axe this time around.
Harvesting HQ materials used to be about half the reason these Jobs exist; the other pillar being the number of items you could collect at once. That push and pull between quantity and quality was, in fact, the backbone of gathering. Skills that increased your yield and skills that increased the odds of better items both cost “GP,” the gatherer’s equivalent of mana. You had to choose whether to prioritize more raw materials or more valuable HQ items. Both were meant to use in crafting (or sell to other players for that purpose). Though only HQ materials provided a boost for that reason — making it easier to craft HQ weapons, armor, potions, etc. with better stats.
Now gathering is a good deal simpler. Even more-so than crafting itself. Nearly all of your skills simply gather more. Perception, the gatherer’s stat that increased the odds of HQ yields, has been repurposed to that same end. Instead of HQ items, it now raises the odds of something called “Gatherer’s Boon.” This is a semi-random effect that occurs when gathering and basically just provides one or more free items with every attempt at harvesting. Longtime Miners and Botanists will recognize the “ding” sound effect associated with it as the old HQ gathering noise. So that’s still there, at least.
How you feel about this may depend on how you feel about the logic behind it. FFXIV has a convoluted and very limited inventory system. Slots are at a premium. Literally, since you need to pay real-world money for more room to store junk after a point. No more HQ crafting materials means everything you gather (or loot off dead monsters) now takes up half the potential space. Recipes had their difficulty adjusted to compensate, as well, meaning crafters aren’t left in the lurch.
As someone who crafts and gathers a lot these days, I’m pretty happy with the change. Even though it’s been a real pain to manually re-sort my inventory. That’s on me for being such an ingredient hoarder. In the long run this should punish players a bit less for pursuing Miner, Botanist, and crafting classes in general.
That reminds me. I haven’t even mentioned fishing yet. As ever, that’s its own ball of wax. Though the principle remains the same: No more HQ fish! Fishers didn’t lose nearly the same number of skills, however. Actions previously designed for catching higher quality whoppers simply boost fish size in your logs instead. But don’t worry. Fishers have their own class changes to learn — specifically the new Spearfishing mini-game that came with Endwalker. Most changes to the class’s abilities relate to that.
For some, the downside to all this is the simplification. Miners and Botanists in particular are very much streamlined, which might irk some players who enjoyed managing GP. I’m sure those people exist! I’m mostly here for the relaxing, cathartic sounds of a pickaxe hitting digital stone. That much at least is intact.