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Discussion What is, in your opinion, the best job-based JRPG? (excluding SRPGs)

Yzz

Shy Girl
Pronouns
She/Her
With Xenoblade 3 setting to become the most ambitious job-based JRPG, I thought it would be cool to discuss some of our favorite games in the job JRPG subgenre.

For those that you don't know, a JRPG is job based when the player can select the classes (also called jobs or vocations) of every member of the party, which allows for a vast amount of strategies and playstyles. Dragon Quest III popularized the concept in 1988, and a year before that, Final Fantasy I allowed for fully customizable parties (ie you could have a party full of black mages if you desired, similar to some tabletop RPGs). Final Fantasy III in 1990 allowed the player to change jobs at any time, a feature that would soon become a mainstay in the subgenre.

DQ III attained a legendary reputation in its home country and a lot of developers wanted to recreate its magic, including Horii in future DQ installments like VI and VII. This resulted in the birth of a subgenre with a VERY rich history and one that is still going strong to this day. Unfortunately the subgenre still is viewed as low-brow outside Japan, with many western gamers describing it as grindy and bloated, which is the reason why there is not a lot of discussion for these games. In the FF series, for instance, job-based entries like III and X-2 are divisive and not as acclaimed as more streamlined titles like VI or IX (although VI and VII somewhat emulate the job system, not a lot of people would describe them as job-based FFs).

The influence of the vocation / job system is also very visible across japanese SRPGs, a very well known case being Final Fantasy Tactics. Another example is the Fire Emblem series which introduced branching classes in The Sacred Stones, reclassing in Awakening and fully customizable characters in Three Houses. Despite all of this I believe these games get enough praise that I prefer to not discuss them in this thread.

Anyway...
Job-based JRPGs have been around for like 30 years by now and many of them had tried some really crazy stuff, which is what makes this subgenre so great. Take a look at Golden Sun for example, which IMO has the most creative class system of any game:

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source

Golden Sun class system differs from any other game (that I know of at least) in having a modular class system, with the Djinns serving as the building bricks. I'd say that the FF VII materia system is the closest thing to it, but GS's take is, IMHO, much more fun and interesting.

The system also ties very well into the exploration aspect of the game. Instead of opening chests with items that will be outclassed some hours later, in GS you fight and collect the Djinns which are carefully hidden like the Pieces of Heart in Zelda. While you collect more Djinns, you will gain access to better classes and better party customization, so the reward for exploration is pretty great.

On top of its insane class system, Golden Sun took the FFIII's "reclass at any time" concept to the next level by allowing the player to reclass in the middle of the battle (which is done via summons). Is this idea perfectly executed? In my opinion it isn't, but it shows how JRPG designers are not afraid of trying really crazy stuff and how the genre still has a lot of potential.

So job-based JRPGs are pretty cool and because of this I ask you: What is your favorite game in this subgenre? What concepts do you want to see expanded or revived? Why do you think is the reason that big japanese developers / publishers seem to care so little for this subgenre?
 
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HockeyBird

Kremling
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He/Him
I know you said no strategy RPGs but I'll just say that I think Final Fantasy Tactics has the best class/job system out there.

In terms of just regular RPGs, I really enjoyed Bravely Default II's job system. It's what puts that game over something like Ocotopath Traveler for me. Getting new classes was a great carrot on the stick to move you through the story and I liked how all the classes looked. They had some pretty embellished designs.

It's been nearly 20 years since I played it but I remember liking FF X-2's dress sphere system. You could switch dresses/classes during battle. Because it's been so long, I can't recall how much customization there was though.
 

NabiscoFelt

CrossCode superfan
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he/him
FamiGold
7
I don't know what that chart is doing but it definitely makes me more down for a Golden Sun revival than I've ever been (haven't actually gotten around to playing the game seriously since that intro is sooo slow)

I'll give the shout out to the "basic" answer, Bravely Default 2. Really fun job system that allowed for a variety of creative and occasionally broken strategies.
 

ermitron2

Moblin
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He/Him
I'm going with DQ3 and FFV, even decades after its release you know it's well done because everytime you replay it you can have a different experience by using different classes, but if I have to go for a more modern game, I'd say FFX-2 or Octopath
 

Stephen 776

perpetually tired
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He/they
I enjoyed Final Fantasy V for its sheer simplicity. Get AP and learn job skills that can be carried over to other job classes so you can mix and match, and if you somehow learn them all, the original freelancer class just has more skill slots. That was nice.
 

xghost777

King B00 Fan
The first game I always think of when I hear job system is Final Fantasy V and it's the game I judge all others against so that's my pick. The basic hook of learning new skills and then bringing over abilities to create hybrid classes is still the coolest and most immediately satisfying. You have four blank slates to do it with who can learn anything so there is just completely unrestricted possibilities as you acquire more jobs.
 

Skittzo

Pikmin
Founder
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He/Him
FamiGold
13
Dragon Quest 7, since you have monster classes and then class fusion for human classes and monster classes on top of that.

Sorry, vocations or whatever the hell they changed it to.
 

karmitt

Koopa
Founder
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He/Him
I haven't played that many to be honest, not that I remember. It's going to be a tired answer due to recency, but Bravely Default II's system was really satisfying.

Can't wait to explore Xenoblade 3's
 

Weebos

Plural
Founder
For me it's either Bravely Default or Bravely Second, both games revel in the possibilities provided by their jobs.

Sadly, Bravely Default II felt like a step down from the first two games, the jobs were not as fun to play around with.
 


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