It’s been a little under a week since the Eureka launch in Final Fantasy XIV
, and opinions about the content are pretty universally strong. Some might argue that they’re downright entrenched. Most of the vocal ones consist of a whole lot of griping, and a not insubstantial number of those gripes also dovetail with people who are still playing the heck out of it anyway. Heaven knows it’s not exactly what I had expected, either.
So what do I think of it? I like it. But then, I’m kind of just the right person to like it.
I think there’s a lot of stuff to unpack around it, and I think it’s something where not liking it is both wholly understandable and also suggests a course of action. So let’s talk a little bit about the overall experience, what parts work and what parts don’t, and why it’s important, if you don’t like it, to at least have a realistic understanding of what it’s going to be and what it wants to be in the first place.
I think Naoki Yoshida has severely overestimated how much I wanted to chase after a Scorpion Harness again.
One of the things that I mentioned way back when about the Diadem was that it felt like a Final Fantasy XI zone in Final Fantasy XIV. We don’t know all of the details about Eureka yet, but what we’ve learned so far definitely seems to indicate that it’s meant to be a similar experience. Heck, the visuals alone are doubling down on that; you can’t add in gear that’s specifically meant to look like the Scorpion Harness without inviting comparisons to the original Final Fantasy MMO.
We don’t know nearly as much about Eureka as we might like to know, but we do know something, at least. So let’s review what things we do know, speculate about the stuff that fills in the gap, and start considering what the experience of exploring this new zone will feel like, yes? I’m excited, at least.
Last week, a reader named Chris, who is writing a paper on the MMO industry and revivifying sunsetted games, dropped an intriguing question into my inbox. It’s about bots – but not the sort of bots EVE Online is constantly fighting. The good kind.
“Do you think people would be interested in coming back to ‘closed’ MMO games if they were populated with AI bots instead of real players (to make them feel alive/populated)?” he asked me.
Let’s ponder that for today’s Overthinking. Certainly we’ve seen bots put to work in games like Camelot Unchained, which uses them to test massive numbers of players on the battlefield. Would you want to see them in live play? Would they help the feel of the world in ways that default NPCs simply would not? Is the AI even doable? Could AI bots take our place to make MMORPGs even better – or even to keep them viable and save them from destruction?
For those of you who were wondering when Final Fantasy XI started supporting add-ons… it didn’t. The game has never supported add-ons, and using Windower and its associated add-ons is totally not allowed and could get you banned. Except that it won’t, and functionally no one is particularly concerned about it. So you have players who use the software and its various functions to do awesome stuff like turn the game’s interface into the interface from Final Fantasy XIV.
Obviously, it’s not a perfect translation; FFXI is a very menu-driven game and FFXIV is not, there are lots of different mechanics at play, and the hotbars alone are a rather experimental bit of additional coding. But it’s pretty neat to see the older game gussied up to look like its newer cousin. And if you want something to slightly ease the adaptation curve, you could do worse.
This is what add-ons exist to do.
The first update for Final Fantasy XI is scheduled for later this month, and it’s hitting the ground running with controversy. See, it’s the year of the dog, and that means that the first new Ambuscade content involves the two most famous dogs in FFXI, Fenrir and Carbuncle. But… is Carbuncle a dog? Producer Akihiko Matsui firmly declares it to be so, but we have no doubt that many other players have wildly different views about the radioactive fox-squirrel-thing’s proper taxonomic classification.
Regardless of whether or not you agree with Carbuncle as a dog, he’s still floofing about in battle content, and there are also changes to the items required to Oboro’s job-specific equipment by changing the rather obnoxiously rare Iridal Staves requirement. There’s also the continuation of the game’s anniversary events and various other quality of life improvements across the board, so it’s pretty clear that the game is hitting the ground running for 2018. Which should mean you have plenty of reason to get in the game as you argue about whether or not Carbuncle is, in fact, a dog.
I have never been one to make specific resolutions in my gaming. I might plan from month to month, but mostly I go where the wind blows me. But some folks on our team do have a map and a plan, so this week for our last Massively Overthinking of 2017 (as last year!), I’ve asked the Massively OP writers to share their own gaming resolutions or just basic MMO goals for 2017. Won’t you join us?
My friends, I can see the future for Final Fantasy XIV.
And by “see” I mean that I can guess at it with reasonable reliability.
As we move into the holiday theory, I figured it’d be fun to lay out a large-scale theory about the game’s future that’s based on a fairly thin slice of evidence that has every reason to turn out wrong or misguided. You can feel free to look back in the past and evaluate my history for yourself, if you’d like; as someone who has been writing about the game for years, I have lots of predictions for you to draw upon to see how well I tend to do at predicting the future. (About 60-75% accuracy, or something like that. Far from perfect.)
So let’s speculate, starting with the assertion that’s going to perhaps set up the biggest bit of debate: We have three more large boxed expansions coming. Anything after that is very much up in the air.
The Armoury System places a certain unique burden on Final Fantasy XIV
. Any new job doesn’t just need to have a distinct mechanical identity, it needs to have a distinct weapon. Which worked well for the first expansion and a half or so; after all, there were a lot of obvious weapons that existed in the game in some abundance but didn’t necessarily have jobs associated. A bit of massaging and we had a job for daggers, a job for great swords, a job for… spinny card-balls…
Yeah, this analogy falls apart pretty quickly. But the point is that it’s still just as viable as a means of predicting new jobs as looking at past titles, especially as Yoshida has stated on multiple occasions that he’d like to have a job that was unique to FFXIV. So let’s look at some weapons we’ve seen in the game, ones that show up in other titles, and ones that make a certain degree of sense as a prediction method.
Speculating is fun, as I’ve opined in the past. We’re a while away from the next Final Fantasy XIV
expansion, obviously, but one of the interesting things about the game as it stands is that we have already nearly exhausted the usual suspects for likely future jobs. Seriously, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I keep databases about these things; most of the jobs that show up in multiple games with job systems or the equivalent have already showed up by now or have fundamental structural issues with FFXIV
So, for this bit of future speculation, I want to start by talking about the jobs that I imagine are still on the table from the past. I’m leaving out the ones that are almost certainly off the table, either for reasons that I’ve discussed before or because they don’t really work with job mechanics as they stand (don’t hold out hope on getting Onion Knight). From the remaining jobs we could turn to, which ones have some odds of showing up?
This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of Final Fantasy XI
, and Final Fantasy XIV
wants to celebrate that milestone. But how? Why, with a trip back to the Final Fantasy XI celebration event
, naturally. It’s good for old fans of the game, for players who missed the celebration the first time, or just people who can’t get enough of seeing a character from one game cross over into another game.
Characters who have already completed the event once will not be able to clear it again, of course (although they can feel free to participate in the event FATEs along the way). Clearing the full quest line opens up a set of cosmetic armor based on Iroha’s outfit from FFXI and FFXIV. Just be sure to take part in the event before it goes away on November 29th if you’d like to get the appropriate garb; the crossover starts on Friday, November 10th.
Have I really not talked about the dungeons of Stormblood
yet? That’s unexpected. Usually I would have mentioned them by now, I talk about these things a lot. Yet here we are and I haven’t really given a deep look at any of the dungeons through the leveling experience up to the top. It is, frankly, a shocking realization, and it’s all the worse that I spent a lot of time thinking (and working on) columns on more esoteric elements of Final Fantasy XIV
before remembering this obvious one.
So let’s correct this now and talk about these dungeons. The level range for things was adjusted after my initial preview, and we have a similar leveling arrangement to how things were in Heavensward, but I honestly like this batch more. Part of it is familiarity, sure, but I remember feeling like the first two dungeons in Heavensward were kind of clunkers even when they were new, compared to really enjoying the heck out of everything in Stormblood. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t high points and low points, but… well, let’s just get to it, yes?
The Job system is a staple of Final Fantasy
as a series, which is a little odd when you consider that it’s only showed up by that name in three main series games. Go ahead and double-check; outside of Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy V
, and Final Fantasy XI
, none of the games use the Job system. And careful observation will note that Final Fantasy XIV
is not, in fact, on that list; it uses the Armoury system, by its own description.
This is relevant because the Armoury system, as we’ve seen so far, doesn’t emphasize the mix-and-match nature of Jobs (which we also see in other games with similar systems, from the aforementioned main series titles to the various Final Fantasy Tactics installments and more peripheral derivatives like Bravely Default). It emphasizes roles.
And I think it’s interesting to consider this fact in light of the fact that Stormblood, in many ways, has kind of put nails in the coffin of cross-job pollination. And all of that kind of centers around understanding the shift in PvP.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the long-awaited mobile version of Final Fantasy XI developed by Nexon had been unceremoniously banished to the land of wind and ghosts. (So Ru’Aun Gardens, basically.) But that’s not the case! The most recent investor call for Nexon lists the title as one of its upcoming offerings for Q3 2017 and beyond, so it looks like the game is still alive. Just… quiet.
This is a far cry from the desktop version of FFXI, which has a maintenance mode more active than some live titles.
The down side is that there’s not actually any news or surprises about the title, just the title itself on the list for the future. But that alone should assuage some amount of worry; we can hope that there’s more news about it when Korea’s annual G-star convention starts up in the not-too-distant future.