Fashion Frustrations: “Eastern” Gear

If there’s one thing about FFXIV that I wish was more like FFXI, it would be the latter’s wide availability of “Eastern” gear for Monks, Samurais, and Ninjas. Monk was available from launch in FFXI as a base class, which meant numerous pieces of gear that were tailored to to a certain martial arts/Far Eastern (which was a catch all term for Ninja and Samurai traditions in FFXI) aesthetic that’s easily recognizable, though a little hard to define in just a word or two. When Rise of the Zilart released, along with it came Ninja and Samurai, along with their own Artifact sets that had similar vibes. As the years went on, further sets were added, both in the form of job-specific sets and as armor sets that could only be equipped by MNK/SAM/NIN (and later, Puppetmaster, for some reason—I guess they had to stick them somewhere).

Now, the thing with FFXI is that nearly all of its gear was built on certain base models, with very little in the way of variation. But that didn’t stop them from working within the boundaries that they had:

From left to right: Ninja Chainmail, Iga Ningi, Jujitsu Gi, War Shinobi Gi, Arhat’s Gi.

All of these are quite obviously the same base model, but the art team for FFXI did what they could to allow for variations on the theme in any case. Of course, there are a number of other examples, many of them recolors of the above, that I didn’t happen to have in my inventory, including Koga Chainmail (a recolor of the Ninja Chainmail), the Shinobi Gi (Jujitsu Gi recolor), Kirin’s Osode (which was similar to the War Shinobi Gi, but still unique), the Usukane Haramaki (a much fancier Jujitsi Gi), and the level 8 Kenpogi which served as the base model for all of these.

Most of these was accompanied by a full set (the pictures were taken with Ninja Artifact equipped, as I didn’t have any of the remaining pieces anymore—at least not that I could find in my cluttered array of inventory spaces).

In FFXIV, though, Monk and Ninja aren’t base classes: they’re tethered to Rogue and Pugilist, classes which are more “Western” in terms of their aesthetics. As far as I can tell, this has generally lead to gear for the two jobs largely being “Western,” or at the very least, not overtly “Eastern,” since most gear needs to make sense for the base classes as well as for the jobs associated with them. Only a rather small fraction of the gear available to Monk and Ninja for glamour has that same sort of feel..

From left to right, again: Ninja Chainmail, Iga Ningi, Rainbow Shirt of Scouting, Asuran Togi of Scouting, Amatsu Togi.

These were again drawn from what I had access to: I’m missing a piece or two (such as the Fuma Koromo from Labyrinth of the Ancients or the i180 PvP set). In terms of models, these are a lot more varied than the ones from FFXI, which is great, but that variety can be sort of frustrating when you’re trying to get a particular aesthetic and only certain aspects (say, the colors or the profile) of a particular piece work with what you’re going for. Having the base aesthetic for the classes in FFXI at a lower level simply meant there was a common style to work from and expand on. Some classes/jobs in FFXIV have the same thing, really: tanks, for instance, had a few styles at the earlier levels that were elaborated on over time (the base Cuirass set, for instance, which was fancied up at level 50 for the Fending PvP gear).

Monk and Ninja (and Bard, too, for that matter), though, had to share gear with Lancer and Archer in the early levels, so there was never really a solid “Eastern” foundation for gear to be built from, as was the case in FFXI.

Since Heavensward, the availability of that sort of gear has been expanding, slowly, as the game moves away from the base classes in general and embraces the fact that the jobs are the core of it’s class system (which is essentially the opposite of the original intentions when jobs were introduced prior to A Realm Reborn, as I understand it). But most of the gear we’ve gotten has been very “unique,” in that it’s often endgame gear that’s really meant to stand out. One of the only “basic” pieces we have for a martial arts or Eastern is the Rainbow Shirt of Scouting, and that’s not even available to Monks!

What that tends to mean for me is that, whenever I go to make a glamour for Ninja, I hit a brick wall. Since most of the available gear that has the aesthetic I want is unique, it doesn’t really work with much outside of its own set. Finding gloves, pants, and boots that work with the Iga Ningi, for instance, is a real pain. It’s also very hard to mix and match what similar gear we do have: the Amatsu set (ironically, based off of FFXI’s kenpogi model) doesn’t blend with the Asuran gear, for instance. And the Rainbow Shirt of Scouting, though basic, doesn’t even have a full set to go along with it: the hands, legs, and feet are all simple recolors of older Disciple of War gear.

That really makes me long for a solid foundation of “basic” gear for the Monk, Samurai, and Ninja in FFXIV’s gearing options, which is probably never going to really happen. For one, new jobs are always going to be using Disciple of War gear prior to 50, and I can’t see the team going back and adding new low level gear at this point when they have to create unique gear sets at a far more rapid pace than the FFXI art team ever needed to. In addition to that, both Monk and Ninja very often share gear with Bard and Machinist—of the three gear sets in any new “batch” of gear, only one of them tends to have a unique model, and the other two typically share the same one. That means that, in effect, new gear sets for Monk and Ninja still hew pretty strongly to a more generic aesthetic (such as with the Orthodox sets from Aery or the Halonic sets from Vault).

Basically, what I’ve taken over 1000 words to say at this point is that I just want them to bring over the Arhat’s Gi or something from FFXI, much as they brought over Koenig and Ares gear (for the i110 Wootz gear for tanks and Dragoons). I’d love to have a range of sets all throughout the leveling process with various levels of aesthetic simplicity and complexity, but since that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

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