Final Fantasy Tactics is a gorgeously intricate game. It’s not only one of the best installments in the Final Fantasy series, but one of the best tactical titles ever released. It’s a beautiful game. But, it isn’t just the graphics and storyline that are so impressive. Even the job system is delicately designed in such a way that, while it may seem complex and intimidating, is pretty in its own right.
It all begins with the Squire and Chemist. These two are the seeds for the 18 other jobs in Final Fantasy Tactics and 20 in Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions. These two form a solid foundation for all the physical and magical jobs in the game. By leveling up a Squire and its subsequent professions, you can eventually unlock the Knight, Archer, Samurai, Monk, Thief, Ninja, Dragoon, Geomancer and Dancer. Likewise, the Chemist eventually leads to the White Mage, Black Mage, Mystic, Arithmetician, Time Mage, Orator, Summoner and Bard.
What makes it even better is the manner in which things unlock. Everything trickles down. The Squire branches off to the Knight and Archer. The Knight and Archer each branch off into two additional classes, with the former spawning the Monk and latter the Thief. The same happens with the Chemist, which unlocks the White Mage and Black Mage. The White Mage begets the Mystic, while the Black Mage offers the Time Mage. It spindles off in a way where you’re quickly and easily, consistently and constantly acquiring more proficiencies for your party members.
That it gets even more complicated makes Final Fantasy Tactics’ job system more intricate and engaging. Once you have the basic building blocks, you get access to so many diverse roles. The Ninja, Samurai and Dancer all unlock once more advanced jobs are leveled, as do the Arithmetician and Bard. Getting everything you need mastered to have Dark Knights, Mimes and Onion Knights is magical and beautiful. Because with them there, you know the journey you took to get them there.
But what really proves the beauty of this implementation are the fan-made grids that result from their structure. People have constructed these Celtic knots that help you understand how everything correlates. Hart Biber’s job tree for Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions clearly and evenly divides the roles into what looks like two towers or waterfalls. Square Haven places them in a shape of a crystal, very appropriate given the recurring theme in the series. BaoHouse ties them elegantly into a tree shaped like a bowtie.
Final Fantasy Tactics is an extraordinary game in so many ways. The care that goes into the job system is just one reason it’s such an essential game. The roles flow into one another and intertwine in a way that encourages use and trickles down like an incredibly skilled waterfall. The resulting job trees show what a beautiful thing this is and allow us to better appreciate how everything comes together.