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Wisdom of Nym: First impressions of Final Fantasy XIV's patch 3.5, part one

I can't think of the last time I've played through a patch of Final Fantasy XIV as quickly as I played through patch 3.5. That's not a mark against it, mind you; it's just that usually I find myself drawing things out a bit more, but for patch 3.5 I dove in feet-first and wound up clearing all of the new stuff that I intended to clear by the end of the first day. Both dungeons? Down. Dun Scaith? Cleared. Zurvan? Defeated. The Scholisticate? Boring, but still finished.

Look, I needed that Spectacles emote.

This is not altogether a bad thing, though; it means that I was engaged enough in the moment-to-moment content that I wanted to get it cleared in short order. So, as I do every time we get a big new patch, let's go over what's there, starting with the most mechanical aspects of the content and moving on to lore later. Probably next week, if we're going to be totally honest. These things always run long.

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Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood CE trailer, datamined expansion job

When Stormblood releases in June, Final Fantasy XIV fans are going to be able to play Red Mage and... at least one other job. The other job is a secret to speculate about until the final Fan Festival in February. Unless, of course, you look at the datamining that's been taking place for patch 3.5's files, which suggest that the next job is abbreviated SAM... which would mean that Samurai is on deck for our next big reveal. It's still technically speculation, and there are no mechanical details, but it's on the right side of plausibility.

The development team has also released a lengthy video showing off what you can find in the collector's edition for Stormblood and what the pricing will be for both the physical and digital editions, which is useful for pre-orders starting on January 24th. If you don't have time to watch the whole video (it is more than an hour long), you can catch up with a quick set of slides capturing the relevant data.

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The Daily Grind: Is in-game advertising the MMO genre's post-lockbox future?

Massively OP reader Sally Bowls pointed us to a fun piece on Frankengadget this week about Final Fantasy XV and its overt product placement. "Final Fantasy XV tricked me into buying Cup Noodles" through a "beautiful, devious combination of empathy and nostalgia," the author laments. The story content promoting the noodles seems like the sort of cheesy fake marketing you'd get out of a Mass Effect game -- I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite X on the Citadel! -- only it's real.

Sally suggests that we're all still fighting the lockbox gambling battle -- and losing -- while the marketing departments of online game studios are already dreaming up their next trick, which might just be an old trick that never took hold in MMOs, at least not yet. "I think the next outrage is going to be ads and product placement," Sally writes. What do you think? Is in-game advertising the MMO genre's post-lockbox future? And if it is, do you prefer that to lockboxes?

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Global Chat: Elder Scrolls Online renaissance

As I peruse a hundred or so community blog posts every day, it's fascinating to me to see what games the MMO blogosphere as a whole is playing and discussing. We sometimes end up flocking to certain titles based on recent announcements or because others are talking them up pretty heavily.

One game that's been getting a lot of mentions on blogs lately is Elder Scrolls Online, with players generally enthusiastic about how it's shaped up into a pretty decent MMO. "It's a really solid game that’s much better than the game that launched," writes Occasional Hero. "Visually, I would probably rank it second behind Black Desert Online for the best-looking MMORPG out there," touts Endgame Variable.

Elder Scrolls Online not your thing? No worries; we have articles covering The Secret World, LOTRO, RIFT, and more in today's community blog roundup!

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Final Fantasy XIV patch 3.5 launches today

First and foremost, a public service announcement: If you want to avoid any potential spoilers for today's Final Fantasy XIV patch, you may want to turn off character titles (it's under character configuration; navigate to Display Name, then look under Other). There's apparently a spoiler in there! It's just best to be proactive. But that probably doesn't matter too much, since that'll likely be the first set of quests you tackle when you log in to Final Fantasy XIV for today's patch.

This patch brings the first steps of the path toward Stormblood, along with two new dungeons, the new alliance raid Dun Scaith, new beast tribe quests, more side story quests, new hairstyles, and so on. It's a lengthy list, in other words. Jump down below to check out our roundup of the patch coverage up to this point before you can log in and start seeing what's going down at Baelsar's Wall.

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Wisdom of Nym: Getting ready for Final Fantasy XIV patch 3.5

Welcome to the next six months of Final Fantasy XIV, folks. Yes, there are going to be more changes over time, adjustments and upgrades to be made, but by and large the state of the game after tomorrow's patch is what you're going to be dealing with for quite some time. It's time to buckle in, wrap things up, take care of sidequests, and otherwise get ready for the long wait until Stormblood releases.

Fortunately, we're getting a meaty patch first, as you do. So while you might get a little bored with what's on display by the time June rolls around, at least you'll have something to do with reasonable consistency.

As is the tradition before each major patch, I'm taking a look at the patch notes and evaluating what we see therein before the actual patch goes live. It's possible that we might wind up with some other particularly cool additions or some neat stuff might be different when we're playing it, but... at this point, we'll just have to wait for Tuesday.

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Final Fantasy XIV details its GARO crossover event

It should be evident by now that Final Fantasy XIV is more than willing to have crossovers that not everyone will love. If the Yo-kai Watch crossover wasn't to your taste, that's fine; perhaps you'll prefer the new crossover with the Japanese show GARO. Or perhaps you won't care much for the crossover, but you will care for picking up some pretty new dyeable armor in exchange for PvP. Whichever one works, ultimately.

The GARO-inspired armor is available in two separate forms; you can purchase undyeable versions for MGP, or you can pick up dyeable versions as PvP rewards. This coincides with improvements to PvP which will allow players to queue up for Frontline independent of FC affiliation, so it'll be even easier to get into the matches you need whether you want GARO gear or other rewards. There are also equine mounts available for those who rack up impressive kill streaks, so you may want to take part in PvP either way. Check out a trailer for the crossover event just below; it starts when patch 3.5 goes live on January 17th.

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Final Fantasy XIV releases the preliminary notes for patch 3.5

Players will have to wait until Tuesday to actually experience everything in Final Fantasy XIV's Patch 3.5, but that doesn't mean you can't still get a visceral feel out of the patch notes. The preliminary version (i.e. the version without the materials for new crafted items) is out now, giving players a look at all of the content meant to hold players over until the release of Stormblood in June. And to the surprise of no one... well, there's a lot in there.

The patch brings two new dungeons, a new alliance raid, a new trial, new quests for the main scenario, new beast tribe quests, new side story quests... lots of content, in other words. It also brings along plenty of system changes with cross-server parties, egi glamours, more structural improvements to Idyllshire, and so forth. And there's even more to the patch once part two releases in March, but the large amount of content in this patch alone should keep players occupied for quite some time.

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Nintendo Switch reveals include paid online service, Dragon Quest X MMO

If you somehow missed the Twitter explosion last night, the full Nintendo Switch reveal happened, unloading a ton of details about the company's $300 console.

The Switch will go on sale on March 3rd and will have a "fully featured" online service via WiFi that includes multiplayer support for classic and modern Nintendo games. The service includes an online lobby, voice chat, and a free NES or SNES game download each month. It will be free at launch as a "trial" but will move to a paid model come fall.

"Subscribers will get to download and play a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) or Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super NES) game (with newly-added online play) for free for a month," Nintendo wrote on its site.

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Massively Overthinking: Tab-target vs. action combat in MMORPGs

Massively OP patron Duane is kicking the new year off right: with a brawl over combat types in MMOs.

"Tab-target, action, or hybrid combat, for many MMO gamers the combat system, regardless of whether it is a well-made, is a deal maker or breaker," he writes -- I like to imagine he wrote it with a mischievous glint in his eye. "What is the superior combat system, and why is it superior (please give examples)? Let the battle-lines be drawn!"

I posed his question to the MOP writers for this week's Overthinking. Here we go!

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Final Fantasy XIV shows off new camera features coming with patch 3.5

You can do a lot with Final Fantasy XIV's /gpose feature. You have access to all sorts of camera options that you can use to create the ideal screenshot, something that really shows off your artistic side. And that's just with the feature as it stands now; when patch 3.5 releases next week, the feature is getting even more robust, allowing you to take even more elaborate shots and apply all sorts of filters.

Players will be able to position three separate light sources using the /gpose camera features, with each light source having variable position and hue. You can also loop certain emotes, use status expressions, add filters, adjust the roll angle of the camera... in short, you can do lots of things before you pick out just the right frame and take the screenshot. Just remember to at least complete some of the storyline quests before you spend an entire day getting ready for your close-up.

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Final Fantasy XI updates monthly content and powers up alter egos

Do you feel like your alter egos are moving a bit too slowly in Final Fantasy XI? The most recent monthly update will help with that, as it adds in a new Haste effect for alter egos if the player calling them is at or above item level 100. There's also an increase to the effect provided for clearing portions of the Rhapsodies of Vana'diel story, to boot; you can be even faster than you thought possible.

Of course, the patch isn't just about updating your alter egos. There's also the usual monthly content rotation for Ambuscade, as well as several adjustments and a monthly update to Omen content. New spoils for various battlefields and bug fixes round out the January update, which should give players a new slice of things to enjoy within the game. (Which, we are obligated to remind you, is technically in maintenance mode.)

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 99: Landmark goes into the dark

We're not yet a full week into the new year and we've already been delivered news of a major shutdown. In today's episode, Bree and Justin talk about the fallout of the Landmark announcement, the Hi-Rez Expo, and several major patches.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

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