I’m going to be controversial right out of the gate by saying that I wouldn’t do a Class System. Look, yes, Reclassing adds replayability and gives players freedom to experiment and do their own builds. But, at the same time, it bothers me a TON when you give characters lore and background and then they can’t do stuff that they should have training to do at base because they’re arbitrarily restricted by a “Class”. (i.e. Cherche had training as a cleric prior to the events of the story and has it as a Reclass option, but can’t make use of that training in any other way.)
So, I would ditch classes altogether, especially with the focus on the series (and even moreso in the modern era) on the characters themselves. Give all of the relevant attributes to the characters themselves (mounts, skills (and learning them), weapon proficiencies, etc.) and go from there. I would rather all of the characters have individual and unique loadouts (learned skills and magic, weapon proficiencies, etc.) and the replayability be on using different units than necessarily trying to build a character a different way on later playthroughs. (Though, I would advocate a skill “tree” of sorts where you get options to pick between when learning a skill for a character and those choices are how you vary the unit with replayability, though there is no actual tree structure for the skills.)
The only main downside that I’ve heard to the idea of having a Class-less system is not being able to tell what enemies do what from the map view, which admittedly I haven’t completely worked out 100% beyond randomly picking a “class model” to view them as based on their weapon type options and their general stat trends and attributes.
The way I’d go about it would be the following:
Characters start with very low-level weapons and no specific class. Characters have skill levels in various atributes (Sword, magic, etc. Like the Elder Scrolls.) Depending on the player’s playstyle, certain abilities level up, for example, if I decide to go with the protagonist’s friend wielding a sword, then you level up sword skill.
Once you have enough skill, you actually start unlocking classes, like swordsman and stuff, and the more advanced skills you have, more advanced classes you can apply for. For example, if the guy has enough skill with “sword”, he can use the “myrmidon” class. If he gets even more, he can apply for “swordmaster”. If he has enough skill in “sword” and “magic”, he can unlock “magic knight”, etc.
You can change this out of battle, like jobs in Final Fantasy.
Classes would grant passive bonuses and active abilities. Each unit can then have a primary class (Which grants the good stuff) and a secondary class from which they draw passive bonuses. They may also gain a small amount of the abilities of the secondary class. The more you use a class, more bonuses you get like a skill tree.
When a mid-high level unit joins, they already start with a class, but they also have point in character skills, so they can reclass. They may also have passives from secondary classes.
This would give a lot of chance for customization.
I feel the solution is to keep classes as like, a general baseline, but give attributes to characters if need be, like Cherche, for example. She had cleric training? Fuck it, give her a staff rank, but not other generic wyvern riders.
That way enemies can be identifiable as a class and purpose instead of “dude with a sword” “dude with an axe” “dude with a sword but they can fly”
I would structure the class system to give each class a specific role. This group of classes can tank, this group can put out high damage per round, this group can duel effectively, this group can chip opponents at range, etc. Currently, I feel like all classes do more or less the same thing, but a few classes outshine the rest. The classes that are outliers, like knights and archers, are exceptionally weak. An alternative would be to buff or rework these existing classes into something more functional.
Imo a reclass system takes way the individuality of units and can turn them into stat sticks. Need a SM? Your best unit can do it. Need a sniper? Your best unit can do it. This map is filled with fliers? Turn your best unit into a dracoknight!
The class is part of the character. If everybody can be any class, then there isn’t much sense into say, using a general when your other units can just go general and go ham on defense. It’s free flexibility for the sake of customisation, not to mention that more often than not there aren’t any downsides on doing it. The only thing I can think of is going Dracoknight for too much time in FE12 and being unable to grow speed as a berserker but that’s like a super niche context (and even then on H4 you can just buy boosters to replace those lost procs).
Well, all of that is assuming a design pov where classes have niches and those niches are important, though I don’t even know how you can design a class where all classes are “balanced”. Some classes just kinda naturally end up better than others depending on the map context, which is not a bad thing as long as you don’t make classes pointless.
I think that they way I’m looking at it, I don’t want characters to be defined by their classes. If nothing is the same between two units that would normally be classified as, say, a Wyvern Rider, besides the commonality of their mount does it make sense to label them both as the same baseline when their skills and weapon proficiencies could be vastly different?
I mean, I suppose it still does make sense from the point of view of classifying enemies so as to give them general common traits to help the player, but I don’t think it necessarily needs to be the case for player units.
With as freeform as Three Houses made the class system, it’s almost irrelevant already beyond what skills you learn and whether you have access to magic (both of which would be determined by unit with my proposal), so the way I look at it, why even factor it in? Just ingrain what makes the character who they are to the actual unit instead of the unit plus their class, which in turn should make the unit still feel like they retain their individuality.
Also, going to throw this out there as an alternative idea separate from my previous design thoughts for those that like being able to swap parts around to tailor them to any given situation: why not adopt the Valkyria Chronicles approach to classes? All characters share class levels with those of the same class but have their own skills, so when the Knight class levels up, all of your Knights get the benefit of that simultanously. And, while there are common skills for all units of the same class, units have their own personal skills (which could unlock through battle experience) so as to still keep the individual growth portions of FE but allow for rotating units much easier to accommodate one unit’s strengths in one map and another unit’s strengths in another without having to worry about having to use deployment slots to train both units prior to that point.
It’d be different than how things normally work and would need to be tailored to make sense with the flow of things (do it like Three Houses where you have a set roster and no later joins so that you don’t walk into a scenario where the “Est” shows up and somehow has training on par with your fully kitted squad despite being a fresh recruit, etc.), but I think it’s a different idea worth exploring if set up right.
Class is less important than enemy strength relative to your enemies. If your enemies are not strong or have good items, you can just throw your highest move units with hand axes onto forests and win without issue - the class system doesn’t matter because there’s no reason to leverage each of their nuances.
The existing class system in FEGBA can work pretty well with simple some tweaks to base stats, enemy base stats, and general map and enemy design (higher attack and hit, more speed, more effective weaponry).
You have to remember though, when you directly boost enemy speed you can easily over tune it since player stat variance could actually end up softlocked due to several units in your army being stat screwed or the enemy avoid getting to ludicrous levels once a throne or gate get added onto it. I’ve had more then one hack i’ve played force me to deal with trying to kill a boss when the highest hit out of my entire supported army having a 37% chance to hit.
I really like what fates did with class changing, each unit has a starting class and a heart seal class that they can go to, in addition there are also friendship and partner seals that allow units to go into the base class of any unit they A+ or S support with. On top of that in a non restrictive scenario with child units, this idea is even better since the child unit inherits both of their parent’s class options.
this is what makes fates infinitely more replayable for me than most other games in the series so this is how I would go about implementing a class system.