wisdom of nym

Wisdom of Nym is a Final Fantasy XIV column by Eliot Lefebvre. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s Stormblood dungeons in review

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?

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s ability customization

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.

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Wisdom of Nym: Breaking down what we know about Final Fantasy XIV 4.1

I’ve been gathering, crafting, and fighting my way up in Final Fantasy XIV in preparation for 4.1. Not that I haven’t been enjoying the game on its own, of course, but it seemed likely that 4.1 would bring a new set of beast tribe quests, more stuff to nab from the 24-person run, plenty of new main scenario lore… you get the idea. It seemed like the sort of thing I’d want to be as prepared for as possible, in other words. And here it comes in just about a month! That’ll be nice.

Of course, the lengthy anniversary broadcast didn’t reveal everything we’re going to be hearing about for the patch; it was more of a tease than a full rundown. But we can derive a lot from that tease alone, so let’s talk about what we’ve heard so far for patch 4.1. We’ll know more around the middle of the month, but we’re here now.

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Wisdom of Nym: Four years since Final Fantasy XIV’s relaunch

I find it kind of wild to think that when I wrote my last Final Fantasy XIV anniversary column, we hadn’t yet actually heard of Stormblood yet. Obviously we did hear about it a couple of months later and it’s dominated the discussion cycle since then, but we were still just speculating about the game’s second expansion when we hit the three-year mark. Now it’s here and we’re all looking to its first major patch. So by most metrics anyone would care to use, things are going well.

What was once shocking or surprising has now become mundane, and what was unexpected is now the most expected thing in the world. Another expansion is going to come out in a little under two years, we’re going to get more reliably paced patches, the game is going to continue on as it has to this point. Is there nothing interesting to say about all of that?

Of course there is.

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Wisdom of Nym: The jobs in the middle of the road in Final Fantasy XIV

The first time, it was all about the jobs everyone thinks are garbage now. The second time, it was all about the jobs everyone thinks are great now. And this time… well, it’s about the Final Fantasy XIV jobs no one seems to think about much at all. Or they’re in the middle of simultaneously called spectacular and awful so that it all averages out into the middle. In other words, these are the jobs that tend to escape the notice of players.

That makes these jobs a little harder to talk about, because they’re not in the midst of any sort of perception shift. In at least one case, we have jobs that have basically just maintained their position in the game’s overall makeup across expansions, yet they haven’t seemed to change enough for people to really notice what they’re doing now. Are they good? Bad? Neutral? What’s going on with these jobs? Let’s talk about it.

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Wisdom of Nym: The winning jobs in Final Fantasy XIV right now

Last time around, we looked at the jobs everyone thinks is deep in the loser category in Final Fantasy XIV. Some of them are really in a bad place, some of them just seem to be in a bad place due to perception, and some sort of have both going on at the same time. But now it’s high time for us to look at the other side of the coin, the jobs that everyone thinks are just doing great.

The funny thing is that in this case, I feel there are fewer jobs where the reality is that the job isn’t that good but just gets perceived that way; it’s more a case where some of them are being seen as outright overpowered when they’re really in a pretty good spot. But enough of the hand-wringing; let’s move on to the jobs that everyone sees as being the absolute winners of the expansion thus far, and examine whether they’re really so great.

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Wisdom of Nym: Why does Final Fantasy XIV feel so much better now?

It took me a very long time to cap out everything in Final Fantasy XIV when Heavensward was current. Until the moogle questline was introduced, my crafting jobs languished pretty badly. I could have gotten more materials and worked on them, but some of that required leather, and since my options were farming that myself or sending out retainers on ventures… well, that meant leveling Warrior, I didn’t want to bother, it didn’t happen. It took a long time.

By contrast, right now with Stormblood, I’m already halfway done with the leveling of combat jobs. My overall goal of leveling everything to 70 plus all of my alts should be done by mid-November. I know that later today, I’m going to be getting at least two more levels, maybe more, and I’m well on my way to my goals. And I’m not bored or putting in the time, I’m excited.

I’ve seen this sentiment going around from other people, too. There’s a general sense that leveling and just playing is much more fun with Stormblood. So what’s the difference? Why is it that now leveling up seems like less of a chore, when the usual methods of leveling quickly (FATE trains) have basically dried up to nothing?

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Wisdom of Nym: The losers we see in Final Fantasy XIV’s jobs

The biggest problem with jobs in Final Fantasy XIV isn’t always mechanics. Sometimes it’s a matter of perception. With 15 jobs to play in combat roles, some of them are bound to be seen as worse than others… and it’s really easy to see some of them as worse when they’ve actually been brought closer to the middle rather than being horribly undertuned.

I cautioned extensively against people making balance predictions based on early preview mechanics before, and in the case of the jobs most frequently cried about as being dead, that turned out to be right on the money. (Surprise, White Mage isn’t on this list!) Now that we’ve actually been playing the expansion for over a month and have Savage information to look at, we can make a more comprehensive picture of which jobs are seen by the community as being good, which ones are bad, and which ones… just sort of are still there.

But let’s start with the losers. Because that makes a fun headline. Who’s on the downward path, and are they actually bad/worse, or just not as good as before?

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV issues that don’t exist yet… but will

One of the bright sides of having so many alts (specifically, six of them) in Final Fantasy XIV is that I’m getting a picture of things that would otherwise remain largely invisible. It’s easy to miss certain issues on a character who has been playing since 1.0, simply because… well, at that point you have things. You don’t need to ask certain questions, because those questions have been answered, those problems solved, those bits of content unlocked.

Having characters going through fresh allows me to ask questions from the perspective of someone going through for the first time. And the result is a game that is actually astonishingly well-assembled and relevant at all levels. Heck, the changes to 50/60 roulette and tomestones alone make for a set of relevant dungeons that could easily be consigned to history; I appreciate that immensely.

But having said all of that, I can’t help but notice that there are issues the game is going to have to deal with, probably sooner rather than later. This expansion? Likely not. Next expansion? By that point, definitely. So let’s talk about the problems that aren’t currently there… but totally will be.

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Wisdom of Nym: What happens next in Final Fantasy XIV?

It’s pretty clear that the Final Fantasy XIV team (and the localization team specifically) are pretty huge fans of Hamilton, to the point that I’m surprised that the Emperor didn’t specifically burst into a song from the musical in the ending sequence. Especially because it’s… kind of a relevant question at this point, once you’ve seen the end of the MSQ.

So what does come next?

Obviously, this column will feature spoilers, so consider yourself fairly tagged. But I think this is a relevant question to ask because this expansion is, in its own way, a very different animal from its two predecessors right out of the gate. The relaunch ended its story in a place so open that it could really go wherever without a problem, while Heavensward ended the 3.0 MSQ with obvious points for continuation. (It helped that the obvious thrust of the expansion took a sharp left turn around level 55.) In the case of Stormblood, though…

Yes, I’m avoiding saying more before the cut. Spoilers down below, people.

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Wisdom of Nym: The numbers game in Final Fantasy XIV

It’s not really hard to figure out the best stats for melding in order to do the maximum damage in Final Fantasy XIV. You have, ultimately, only a few real options, and with the removal of Accuracy as an option, none of them is actually going to make or break important points. The problem is that asking “what can I meld to do maximum damage” is perhaps not always the right question to ask.

The matter of stat weights and best-in-slot gear has already been attracting ferocious debate in various parts of the community, and you know the debate has gotten to a fever pitch when Yoshida actually addresses one of the stupider new customs in a live letter. (That would be tanks wearing 270 STR accessories, for the record.) So I think it’s well past the point to talk about the issue of tank damage, tank scaling, and numbers in general. They may not carry the allure of story sequences, but they’re still important.

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Wisdom of Nym: Diving into Omega in Final Fantasy XIV

It’s kind of ironic that Omega may be the first time in Final Fantasy XIV where the eponymous foe is our actual antagonist. The Binding Coil of Bahamut and Alexander both featured the named Primals, but in both cases we weren’t really picking apart anything they did; Bahamut was just doing what came naturally while Allagan devices prodded at him, and Alexander was essentially fulfilling something that had already happened. Omega, on the other hand, is aware of us and not our biggest fan to begin with.

I wound up powering through the entirety of Omega’s normal mode on the same day it was released, somewhat to my surprise. (It was a bit of a highlight.) Obviously, not everything is going to be clear on just one playthrough, but now that we’ve gotten our first week or so with our new high-end endgame stuff, it seems like a good chance to pick apart what worked, what didn’t, and what’s worth considering with this new raid. Both in terms of story and mechanics, I might note.

Please note, of course, that there may be minor spoilers within. There’s nothing that gives away big chunks of plot, but if you haven’t yet done Omega and really want to remain wholly unspoiled… tread lightly.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood’s story and the lack of MacGuffins

I think I was about halfway through the Stormblood story when I noticed that it was avoiding more or less every single bit of storytelling in Final Fantasy XIV that I usually dislike. It surprised me, at least a little. I’ve quite liked the game’s storytelling as time has gone by, and I had a lot of praise for the Heavensward story as a whole, but this was pretty unambiguous. Most of my complaints centered around things like “this side plot seems to be overstaying its welcome” rather than “it’s another chase after some magical nonsense with little grounding.”

Obviously, for this column I’m going to be discussing spoilers for the MSQ. I am going to be doing so in a fashion designed to obscure as much information as possible for people who have not yet finished the plot, and I’ll spoiler out any big plot reveals, but be fairly warned as you dip into the comment section. But be fairly warned, there may be spoilers ahead. The good news is that spoilers don’t matter too much because even with them the plot is really good. And not really reliant on shocking swerves.

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