When the first game in the Final Fantasy series was released in the West, it was obvious to many fans that the developer took a lot of inspiration from Dungeons & Dragons. When you select your first party of four characters, you must choose from six different "jobs" that defined their abilities. This comes straight from D&D, where every player must choose a "class" for their character. These can be anything from a wizard who can hurl fireballs, to an armoured knight who stands on the frontline of the battlefield.
As the Final Fantasy series continued to grow, more and more games used a variation of the job system. The later games would often allow you to change jobs outside of battle, which allowed for an extra degree of customisation for characters.
We are here today to highlight the best of the best from the many different jobs appearing across the series. From the broken cowgirls of Spira to those who form contracts with the spirits from beyond.
Here are the 15 Most Powerful Jobs In The Final Fantasy Series!
14 Gunner (FFX-2)
In Final Fantasy X, all character growth was determined by a "Sphere Grid". This was a large board that contained most of the abilities in the game. Levelling up allowed you to move across the Sphere Grid in order to learn new attacks and gain stat points. This was totally removed in the sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, as a new job system was implemented. The characters could find items called "dresspheres", that represented the different jobs and abilities they possessed. These could be switched in battle, through the use of a "garment grid".
The default dressphere for Yuna was the Gunner. This gave her a Lara Croft style outfit, along with two handguns. It isn't all that special of a class, except for one incredibly exploitable ability.
When a character has the Gunner dressphere equipped, they gain the "Trigger Happy" ability. This allows the Gunner to perform a hit whenever the player presses R1 within a short period of time. If you give a Gunner the Cat Nip accessory, then all hell breaks loose. Cat Nip raises the damage of all attacks to 9999 if the user is in critical health. By entering a battle with one wounded Gunner and two healers, you will be able to deal massive amounts of damage in a short period of time.
13 Ranger (FF5)
The Ranger job of Final Fantasy V (sometimes referred to as the Hunter) is the key to creating some of the most broken combos in the game.
On its own, the Ranger is a decent enough job. It is one of the few classes in the game that can use a bow. This means they can deal physical damage from the back row without penalty. While bows tend to have low accuracy, this is made up for with the Ranger's "Aim" ability. This boosts the accuracy of their attacks to around 100%.
The most interesting thing about the Ranger is an unlockable ability called "Rapid Fire". When used as a command in battle, Rapid Fire performs four weaker attacks in one round, all of which ignore defence and evasion. While this is useful with the Ranger, it is even better when used in conjunction with other classes. By combining Rapid Fire with the Ninja's Dual Wield ability (equip two weapons at once) and the Mystic Knight's Spellblade ability (power up your weapons with magic), then you can perform eight fully powered attacks per turn.
12 Monk/Master (FF1)
In the original Final Fantasy, the effectiveness of a lot of the classes can be weighed in gold. The Fighter class is awesome, but it requires a lot of money to buy equipment for. You need gold to buy the spells used by the various Mage jobs in the game, otherwise, they are totally useless in battle. The Thief class is only good for fleeing from battle, at least until they change into a Ninja.
One of the best classes in Final Fantasy is the Black Belt. They cost no money to maintain, as they can equip very little in terms of items. While they start off weak compared to the Fighter, they will soon outpace them in terms of speed and power. Despite not wearing any armour, the Black Belt will gain a naturally powerful defence against physical attacks. By the end of the game, the Black Belt (or his upgraded form, the Master) will be outperforming all of the other physical classes in terms of damage.
11 Dark Knight (FFTWOL)
One of the lesser known urban legends of the Final Fantasy series involves a character named Gaffgarion. He appears in Final Fantasy Tactics as a Dark Knight, who acts as the leader of a mercenary company. Ramza Beoulve (the main character of the game) serves under Gaffgarion before the two split apart and become enemies. At one point during the game, Ramza must battle Gaffgarion beyond the walls of a castle, while their troops fight outside. When you defeat Gaffgarion, his body instantly turns into a crystal. This led to a lot of speculation about there being a way to somehow gain Gaffgarion's unique job from his crystal.
When Final Fantasy Tactics was remade for the PSP, the Dark Knight class was added into the game. It was actually quite difficult to unlock, but once it was, it was clearly in a league of its own. Not only does using this job give you access to Gaffgarion's abilities, but it gives character unique access to the powerful "fellblade" weapons. In terms of sheer power, the Dark Knight is almost unmatched.
10 Alchemist (FFX-2)
Healing items are some of the most underutilised and unappreciated forms of recovery in the Final Fantasy series. As players, we are conditioned to use up our finite source of healing (usually magic) before we tap into a limited supply (like items). This means that you will often have a large stock of Elixirs, Megalixiers and Mega Phoenixs at the end of the game. Most players won't touch them until the final battle (and only then if they see a giant neon sign, confirming that this is indeed the last fight of the game).
The one game in which items were not a problem was Final Fantasy X-2. Once you unlocked the Alchemist dressphere, the rest of the game became trivial.
One of the Alchemist's abilities was called "Stash". This allowed you to use a specified item for free. When Alchemist was mastered, you could use an unlimited amount of Elixirs and Mega Phoenixs in battle. This meant that you could completely heal the party, as well as resurrect everyone who had died, for no cost at all.
Of all of the different jobs across the Final Fantasy series, the Black Mage from the first game is probably the most iconic. Black Mages rose to prominence during the early days of the Internet, mostly due to the popularity of 8-Bit Theater, an old sprite webcomic that starred Final Fantasy characters. The Black Mage sprite is one of the most popular forum avatars, even to this very day.
The original Black Mage (and its upgraded form, the Black Wizard) set the stage for the job in its many appearances across the series. They rely on powerful spells that deal damage to entire groups of enemies. This is supported by their ability to inflict status effects upon their foes. The Black Wizard is the only class that can cast NUKE (later renamed Flare), which is the most powerful attacking spell in the game. The sheer utility of the Black Mage makes them one of the best jobs in the game.
9 Chemist (FF5)
With the advent of Let's Plays, it has become popular for gamers to try and complete a game while working under certain restrictions. When it comes to RPGs, this usually means trying to complete a game at the lowest level possible. People have accomplished some absurd feats during these runs, like completing Chrono Trigger with Crono still at level 1.
One of the easiest games to complete a low level run with is Final Fantasy V. A big part of this is due to the Chemist job and their "Mix" ability. When the Mix command is used, you combine two different items in order to create a unique effect. As the game doesn't tell you what these mixtures do, most players simply ignore this ability.
The Mix ability is so broken, that it allows the game to be completed with an average party experience point total of 142. By mixing items together, you can artificially raise a character's level by up to 20 for a single battle. You can also make a character immune to status effects and temporarily increase their stats beyond what is normally achievable.
8 Mascot (FFX-2)
It is not unusual for a Final Fantasy game to hide its best jobs behind difficult challenges (as we will see later with Final Fantasy III). One game that did this was Final Fantasy V, as you had to travel to a secret underwater dungeon and defeat a puzzle boss, in order to earn the powerful Mime job.
Final Fantasy X-2 hides its best job behind achieving almost 100% completion. You have to perform annoying tasks, like repeatedly talking to everyone in the game and watching all of the cutscenes. Once you do, you will unlock the Mascot dressphere.
The Mascot allows the three main characters to dress in costumes that resemble classic Final Fantasy creatures. Yuna dresses like a Moogle, Rikku dresses like Cait Sith and Paine dresses like a Tonberry. Each version of the Mascot dressphere has a unique set of abilities. The Mascot grants lots of powerful status buff effects, along with giving you access to the mastered abilities of other dresspheres.
7 Calculator (FFT)
The Calculator job from Final Fantasy Tactics had its name changed to Arithmetician in the PSP remake of the game. This is a shame, as the original name far better suited the job. If you plan to use a Calculator on your team, then you best buy a real calculator and keep it close to hand.
Once you have learned spells from other jobs, you can apply them to the Calculator's Math skill. By working out a set of calculations based on a set of rules, you can cast a spell that can potentially affect every unit on the field.
You don't have to be good at maths to effectively run a Calculator. Simply buy items that resist or absorb the element you intend to use and have them cast spells that affect everyone on the field. You will damage the foes will healing your allies. The only real downside to the Calculator is that they take a lot of work to unlock and require abilities from other classes in order to function.
6 Storyteller (FF4HOL)
Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light was an RPG for the Nintendo DS. It is not as highly regarded as other games in the series, due to a few major flaws. Despite having four main characters, the game would often force you to use one or two during quests. This happened a lot at the start of the game, when your characters were at their most vulnerable, making for some frustrating quests. The other major problem was that you couldn't choose which enemies to attack. If there was more than one enemy on the field, then the target of the attack was chosen randomly.
The job system in 4 Heroes of Light involved "crowns". This meant that jobs were defined by headgear. The best crown in the game was the Storyteller. This would allow you to use the mastered abilities of all the other crowns in the game. While lacking in high stats, the Storyteller more than made up for its weakness through sheer utility.
5 Sage (FF3)
The original version of Final Fantasy III is one of the most unforgiving games in the series. It relies on you knowing what job to use at specific times. This is achieved through trial and error, that will often leave you with a dead party. The updated remake on the Nintendo DS made things slightly easier and even attempted to balance out the different jobs in the game.
Final Fantasy III has a frustrating final dungeon. This is because it gives you no option to save once you are inside. In order to complete the game, you have to survive a mammoth run of several dungeons and boss battles, without ever screwing up once.
Within this final dungeon, the last two jobs are sealed away. The first of these is the Sage, which is an incredibly powerful spellcasting class. When a character becomes a Sage, then they can cast every single spell in the game. As soon as you unlock the final jobs, you have should switch two of your characters into Sages. The other two should be turned into...
4 Ninja (FF3)
If we were going to use multiple variations of the same job from throughout the series, then this list would mostly consist of Ninjas.
Throughout the series, the Ninja job has consistently been a powerhouse. This is because they usually grant you the ability to wield two weapons at a time. In games where you can mix and match abilities (like Final Fantasy V or Tactics), this can lead to characters swinging two giant swords around. Some of the most broken combos in the series are based around dual wielding weapons.
As one of the final two unlockable classes in the game, the Ninja is one of the best jobs in Final Fantasy III. Their speed, combined with their ability to dual wield makes them a force to be reckoned with. This level of excellence would be repeated many times throughout the series. Every time a Ninja is created in a Final Fantasy game, you can expect them to be amazing.
3 Assassin (FFTA)
While the Final Fantasy series clearly took a lot of inspiration from Dungeons & Dragons in the beginning, they left out one crucial part of the D&D character creation process. In most of the Final Fantasy games that include a job system, you are limited to playing as humans. In Dungeons & Dragons, part of the fun of the game is being able to play as other demihuman races. These include things like elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes and half-orcs.
Outside of the online Final Fantasy titles, the only games that let you choose to play as other races that possess unique jobs are Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and its sequel.
One of the playable races in these games is the viera. They are a race of beautiful women, with long rabbit ears. The best unique class for the viera is the Assassin. Their entire set of abilities is based around incapacitating or knocking out their foes in one turn. They can also perform the Ultima Masher attack, for a massive amount of damage.
2 Mime (FF5)
As you progress further into Final Fantasy V, the game throws an interesting revelation at you. When you start the game, all of your characters are members of the Freelancer job. This is the default character class that has no abilities of its own. You will likely switch to a new job as soon as it becomes available and forget that the Freelancer ever existed.
It is revealed later that the Freelancer has a lot more utility than you first thought. The Freelancer can equip the abilities of previously mastered jobs. Not only that, but there is an even better version of the Freelancer job hidden in the world. Once you have defeated Gogo at the end of Walse Tower, you can transform into the mighty Mime!
The Mime job allows you to equip abilities from previously mastered classes. Not only that, but it gives the character the "Mimic" command. This allows them to repeat the last moved used by another character, without using any MP. If another party member casts Bahamut, the best summon in the game, then you can Mimic it the following round for free. If you have another Mime in your party, then they can also Mimic the Bahamut. If you have a fourth Mime... you get the drift.
1 Summoner (FFT)
The ability to summon monsters is one of the most powerful abilities of any Final Fantasy character. The summoned monsters have become some of the most iconic creatures in the series, with stories that have intertwined with those of the main characters. There is almost nothing in the series that can equal the might of the Knights of the Round or the instant death attack of Yojimbo.
In Final Fantasy Tactics, there is an entire job dedicated to the art of summoning monsters. This is the instance where summons can be at their most powerful. In Tactics, the summons cannot harm allied characters, even if they are within the area of effect of their spell. The Tactics Summoner also has healing spells (in the form of Moogle and Faerie) and a defensive spell that absorbs damage in the place of all characters (the Golem). They also have a chance of learning the summons of enemies, provided they can survive them. This is the only way to learn the most powerful summon in the game (Zodiark).
Final Fantasy Tactics is a game that starts out hard, with some ruthlessly unfair fights. Things become easier once you start getting some of the powerful unique characters during the main story (like T. G. Cid and Beowulf). If you want to have a better chance at surviving the early battles of Ivalice, then you should add a Summoner to your team.
What's your favorite job or class in Final Fantasy? Let us know in the comments!