It’s hard to say whether 2017 was a good year for Final Fantasy XIV
Sure, on one level it seems obvious. The game launched its second expansion, it continues to drive sales, every financial report shows it doing well, players are happy, content is delivered on a swift and regular schedule, everything seems to be going fine. Yes, the game had a good 2017, it has a pretty good year on each outing. What more needs to be said?
Well, a few things. Because this year also brought out some pretty nasty bits of underlying issues that the game has long had bubbling under the surface, problems that we’ve all known were there but sort of ignored for a long time for various reasons. We’ve got another patch coming around, but the year has shown that as solid and impressive as the title may be (and it is), there’s still room to improve.
Think of all the wacky things devs have said in public in front of gamers and journalists this year.
Now imagine what gets said behind closed doors!
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to select the best (and worst) developer quotes from the year and reflect on what we’ve learned from them. Let’s dig in – we’ve got some whoppers.
One thing you can say for the MMO industry: It never ceases to surprise all of us. No matter what predictions we may make at the beginning of a year, by December we will all be proven fools who lack vision and foresight.
Although 2017 isn’t quite over yet, we here at Massively Overpowered wanted to count down the biggest news stories that crossed over into our neck of the woods so far this year. We witnessed controversies and delights, shockers and sadness. We saw launches and shutdowns, expansions and bugs.
So before we move into 2018, let’s take a look at the year that was and remember the biggest stories that dominated headlines.
Here’s how this column got written. Last week, I was talking about new potential jobs based on weapons rather than on jobs that have existed in Final Fantasy
in the past. The very first comment on the article was this wonderful bit by NobleEinherjar
, which was a bipartite comment that started off by discussing the sharp limitations of the Armoury System and the whole “weapon = class” system in Final Fantasy XIV
. It was a nice digression that I thought deserved a response.
About halfway into writing that response, I realized that I was already most of the way to writing a separate column. So now we have this here.
See, there’s an interesting point to be made about the rigid nature of jobs, the limitations that they impose upon the game’s systems, and perhaps most importantly how we got here in the first place. Especially when you consider that when the game launched, you had a class without any particular restrictions on what it could equip, much less with any jobs at all.
So, what’s the ideal raiding composition for progression in Final Fantasy XIV
right now? If you started listing off Paladin, Dragoon, Ninja, Bard, Warrior… well, you get a silver star. You know the trivia answer. You get a gold star if your answer was some mixture of “there isn’t one” and “it doesn’t actually matter.” Even more bonus points if you highly that the world-first clear of Unending Coil most certainly did not make use of that meta.
There are a lot of discussions swirling around pretty much everywhere about how one aspect of another of the game’s balance is off, and the “raid meta” is frequently brought up as an example of why the balance is overall kind of messy. For example, if you look at the meta composition and replace your Machinist with a Red Mage, you’re losing some raid damage! It’s clearly worse, and casters need something to fix it!
Except it’s not clearly worse. In fact, it’s actually fine. So let’s talk a little bit about what the meta composition is and why it doesn’t matter in the slightest, when you get right down to it.
Crafting is really important in Final Fantasy XIV
. That much can’t be denied; the game places so much emphasis on the options available to crafters, adding in extensive new recipes and options for crafters, new content that can only be accessed by crafters (often with important lore and setting details), and a plethora of gear available just for dedicated crafters and gatherers. It’s indisputably not quite as supported as combat, but it is clearly super important.
At the same time, I think there’s some issues that are still running through the game’s crafting systems at a fundamental level, issues that are easy to overlook for a bit but jump to prominence when you take a closer look. Stormblood has been kind to crafters and gatherers on a whole, but it’s inherited some issues from the game’s initial rollout of systems during Heavensward, and some of these things could use a careful examination sooner rather than later.
Final Fantasy XIV
patch 4.1 fell into a pretty solid cadence right away, from my experience. It’s not one of those patches where absolutely nothing has changed for most of the players (Twitter integration, anyone?), but it does feel like more or less the same patterns have held up in the wake of its addition. You’ve had another roulette added on to your routine, there’s a new dungeon, you want to hit Rabanastre at least once a week… it’s all good enough, but it’s not rewriting the basic structure.
Of course, if that’s exactly what you wanted from it, that’s all more than good enough. Still, while I hit most of the big points this week, I wanted to spend this week skirting around the edges a bit. So let’s dive back into the parts of the patch that are out but haven’t yet been discussed seriously, starting with the arguably biggest feature that I haven’t really touched on at all.
Let me make an agreement with you, dear readers: this column about Final Fantasy XIV
will not talk about the housing situation in Shirogane at all. If you’re wondering “why wouldn’t you cover that,” the answer is that I already did and you can read the whole feature on that
. (You can also read the follow-up
.) So for the remainder of this column, we’re going to talk about all of the other features of this particular patch, which seems like a better use of our time anyway.
Heck, the whole stupid housing mess was only released with this patch, it’s not like the mechanics or anything are new.
And hey, there’s some good stuff going on with this patch, along with parts that are well worth discussing for where they don’t work as well. So let’s dive right in, starting with the obvious centerpiece of every patch, the continued expansion of the game’s storyline… as perfunctory as it may feel sometimes. Some mild spoilers are possible, so be fairly warned.
Patch 4.1 arrived in Final Fantasy XIV
, and the Shirogane housing rush came and went exactly how everyone familiar with the game had been expecting for months on end. The plots available sold out in a matter of minutes, the people who were lucky enough to get in ahead of the queues were the ones who got new houses, and everyone else was left to rant and rave. Frankly, it all worked great, technically speaking; there were no sudden disconnections, no horrid lag spikes, no zone crashes, nothing. Everything worked exactly as it was supposed to and nothing broke, which means that by definition, nothing went wrong.
Well, unless you count shining a harsh light on the game’s horribly misguided housing design as “something going wrong.”
A lot of discussions about this seem to be missing the point. It’s not that what happened with Shirogane housing was a disaster; it was a model of efficiency and the game working as intended. Calling it a disaster is mischaracterizing the situation, making it seem like something didn’t work, when the real problem is an underlying issue of an open-world housing system that completely fails to adequately serve the needs of players.
Here we are, folks, staring down the barrel of the latest major patch. If you’re feeling a minor set of trepidation simply because that means it’s time to contend with Final Fantasy XIV
housing and all the racing that implies… well, I’m right there with you. But hey, however that turns out tomorrow morning, there’s new stuff to do in the actual patch, and I always do like to pick apart the patch notes when the time rolls around.
The notes are as extensive as ever, of course, so I’m going to be hitting the highlights rather than going line-by-line. The patch as a whole does feel a little bit thinner, but there are some pretty notable changes tucked in there that you either didn’t notice or did notice and might not have internalized. So let’s take a trip down patch note lane.
Well, time to get my running shoes on, Final Fantasy XIV’s
next patch is coming out on October 10th and I’m aiming for a Large house. After I’m done with that, I can think about everything else in the patch. We already heard about some of it during the previous reveals, of course, but now we’ve got a bit more context for the additional… er, additions. And that’s not counting the stuff we still don’t know about, elements which I’m willing to be we’ll hear about when the patch actually goes live and for interval patches after 4.1 launches.
So let’s talk a little bit about what we’re getting with this patch, along with the things we’re not getting and the elements that raise an eyebrow slowly. We’ve already mostly heard about several parts coming with the patch, but let’s start with the updates coming to Adventurer Squadrons, a feature that was sadly kind of introduced without full expansion and is hopefully coming into its own with the next patch.
Did you think that the final boss of Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood
was difficult? You’ll probably be singing a different tune when you face off against the Minstrel’s Ballad version of the boss with patch 4.1, which is coming out October 10th. But perhaps you’ll never even go down that route, focusing instead on new custom deliveries for crafting starring M’naago of the Ala Mhigan Resistance. The latest update to the official patch site shows off these additions and more.
Players can also gawp at the new screenshots for the Rival Wings PvP battles, which looks to bring a slice of MOBA action into the game’s PvP scene. There’s also a preview of the continued Inspector Hildibrand story and the beast tribe quests focused around the Kojin, and there’s still more to come before the patch goes live in October. The latest producer’s letter also covered things like the coming adventurer squadron updates and miscellaneous changes, like the ability to remove materia from items. So isn’t that exciting? There’s even a trailer!
The next major patch for Final Fantasy XIV
is on its way, and like every patch, it starts with a new portion of the main scenario quest
. Sure, the end of the Stormblood
story saw the liberation of subjugated provinces… but what does that mean for the many people who had long seen that end as an impossible dream? We don’t know yet, but we know that Raubahn and Lyse both will have some important questions to answer… and quickly.
Players will also be exploring the Drowned City of Skalla, ruins flooded beneath what is now Loch Seld in the wake of the Sixth Umbral Calamity, now filled with the remnants of a once-grand civilization. Over in Kugane, players will be meeting up with the Majestic Imperial Theater Company on the performance airship Prima Vista, learning more of the company’s legendary performance of the Zodiac Brave story and diving into the legend of Ivalice. And that’s only the stuff we already know about on the preview page; there’s still more to come.