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
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.
It occurred to me as I penned last week's column that I hadn't actually been talking about Final Fantasy XIV's
next patch very much at all. I discussed our first preview of the patch back in November, and then... nothing. Not a word. Pretty much all of my attention has been mirroring that of the larger community, which has a whole lot of thoughts and theories about Stormblood
but has largely left the speculation train at the station for the next big patch that's going to lead into
So perhaps you can look at the timing of this patch intentionally. It can be a weaker patch and no one is paying attention. If "weaker patch" meant much for FFXIV, anyhow.
At this point we don't have the patch notes, but we do have the trailer, and that means we have some idea of what we're going to be dealing with once the patch goes live. So let's talk a bit about that before we're analyzing raw gameplay, because I feel like it deserves more space in the sun than it has had.
Here's a fun question for the series fans in the audience: How many party members in Final Fantasy VI
had traditional jobs?
The answer, somewhat ironically, is six of them. Sabin, Setzer, Strago, Umaro, Gogo, and Cyan all have listed jobs you can expect to see on a regular basis. Of course, the imagery of several other party members lends itself to other jobs; Shadow is obviously a Ninja, Locke is obviously a Thief, and so forth. Heck, a solid case could be made that Terra is clearly meant to be a Red Mage. But the majority of the game's playable cast is not listed with traditional jobs, and even those who have jobs that you can find elsewhere often play nothing like you'd expect.
Yes, this is relevant as we head into the second expansion for Final Fantasy XIV; understanding how the various games in the franchise use job imagery is pretty important when we're speculating about the next job to be added and future jobs in the pipeline, and it's important to understand the way that this franchise has used its imagery more or less from the start. Sometimes it's straightforward, yes, but sometimes it's anything but.
Ah, that moment when something is revealed that everyone already knows about. There was no real ambiguity about what the first new job was going to be before
the second Final Fantasy XIV
Fan Festival, but we had to get that as a "reveal" right here. I'm still of the mind that I would have preferred a name at the first festival and a mechanical reveal here, but I suppose that's slightly hypothetical; the important thing is that it's official now.And that was, in many ways, the least of what was revealed.
As was the case in Vegas, FFXIV fans got plenty to chew on from the first day and slightly less to munch on from the second day, so much of what got covered in our initial post is what there is to be known. But there's still space for reaction, isn't there? The answer, as far as I'm concerned, is "definitely yes" - starting with the speculative side of things.
We're not there yet, but 2017 already makes me anxious. That's not going to stop it from arriving, though, however much I might want
it to. And hey, we've got some stuff coming for Final Fantasy XIV
for this year, so that's something to look forward to. Including the second expansion, which currently has some pretty darn big shoes to fill and a lot of content to deliver. Stormblood
has to do everything right that Heavensward
did right while also improving all of the things that its predecessor didn't do quite as well. That's a tall order.
Am I worried? Not particularly. So now that we've looked back, let's look forward at 2017 and what we can reasonably expect to see in the game over the upcoming 365-day stretch. Aside from the obvious stuff, anyway; if you're curious about whether or not we're going to get new tomestones, I don't know what to tell you.
If you care about awards - and let's be real, we all do, even if they don't inform our emotional states - you'll notice that Final Fantasy XIV
won this year's award for the most underrated game
. That seems appropriate to me, this year in particular. Because when I look back at 2016 for FFXIV
, I see a year that is on one hand tragically
boring, but on the other hand is astonishingly
consistent and together.
Trying to remember exactly what was patched in this year, for me, is an exercise in frustration; we had three major patches, and objectively a lot got added for each one, but it's harder for each individual part to stand out from the crowd. But that's also a very good thing, because it means that the game spent the year doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing by providing steady, quality content to entertain players. So let's take a look back over the year, the good, the bad, and the just-sort-of-there.
About a year and a half ago, I first put (digital) pen to (theoretical) paper about Final Fantasy XIV's
Machinist. At that point, Heavensward
had just recently launched, so the new jobs were still in something of a grace period, but right out of the gate Machinist felt like it needed a tune-up
. Heck, I know a few people who abandoned any and all plans for the job after having played it for a few weeks.
I am not one of those people, obviously; I've stuck with the job from launch until now. So now that we've seen the job actually play out through all of the various updates (with, admittedly, one more patch for potential minor tweaks), it's safe to say that Machinist has gotten at least some of the adjustments it needs and enough buffs to be more competitive. It's just still not going to be what some of the people looking for the job have wanted.
The last patch of Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward
is on its way. It's not here
, of course; we'll have to wait until January for that. But it's coming, and we got our first look at what it will contain. And it's... well, it's the most boring parts that we know about right now.
All right, "boring" is arguably the wrong word, but it's still the parts that you didn't really need a preview to learn about. Is anyone actually surprised at the thought of us getting a new dungeon and the last part of the Mhach raid? Of course not. We've all been waiting for this for some time. It's a foregone conclusion.
Just the same, there's stuff to talk about and some interesting points to unpack, so I've done precisely that for this week's column. I've also put together some of the nicer-in-isolation screenshots from the official transcript, if you'd prefer them in a straightforward gallery. So let's get started on the completion of preparation for the preparation of completion.
I haven't exactly made a secret of the fact that I'm on a bit of a low pulse for Final Fantasy XIV
at the moment. Some of that is just me and being in a rough place mentally; some of that is the game being in a rather in-between place
as it gears up for the still distant second expansion. But this is the week of Thanksgiving for those of us in the US, and let me tell you: Even if I'm not playing as much of the game at the moment, I'm still immensely thankful for it.
While I could talk about cool people I've met or nifty parts of the community, the fact of the matter is that I feel like the game only deserves peripheral credit for that; after all, lots of games (darn near all of them, even) have cool community stuff and the like. So instead, I want to talk about the cool stuff that's unique to FFXIV. What makes me thankful for this game in particular?
It's a big question to answer, but I think a large part of it comes down to an anecdote from liveblogging.
It's kind of weird to think about the fact that we just passed the four-year anniversary of the end of an era in Final Fantasy XIV
. The world came to an end in a way that could only
happen in an online game, a moment that felt like nothing so much as the halfway marker of Final Fantasy VI
. We fought, and we strived, and we did all that we could, and we completely failed.
And there are people who are playing the game as their main experience who have absolutely no memory of it because they weren't there.
If you think I'm upset about that, you're wrong; I'm thrilled. I'm glad that the game has advanced to the point where people are playing the game and enjoying it without any real conception of the huge mess that was the original version. But now, three years away from that conclusion, I find myself looking back and thinking about it... and how it was at once awesome and something that no subsequent experience in the game can ever replicate.
My original plan for this week was to dive into the newest parts of the the Palace of the Dead, but I shan't mince words: That didn't happen. There are several unrelated reasons complicating my lack of motivation, but unquestionably part of it is down to the fact that this right now is the worst
time to be a big fan of Final Fantasy XIV
Back in July, I noted that the game was at a really flush point, with plenty of content and plenty of motivation to steamroll along. Now, however, we've gone in the other direction, plummeting down until the next few months start pulling us up once again. I touched a bit in that column on why this was inevitable, but I want to talk a little bit more about why this cycle is probably one of the worst places for the game, even if we're not exactly hurting for content compared to a few months ago.
As a horror game, Final Fantasy XIV
fails, due largely to the fact that it isn't a horror game and never attempts or pretends to be one. It's the same sort of charming Renaissance fantasy as Final Fantasy XI
, and that's exactly what it wants to be. If you want to play a dedicated horror MMO, you play The Secret World
That having been said, there's a lot of difference between a horror game and a game containing horrific things. FFXIV does not try to be the former, but boy, it loves introducing you to the latter. Lest we forget, this is the game that also only just wrapped up the story of a woman carrying her dead fiancé's head in a bag, and that was just an aside.
I won't surprise anyone by revealing that today is Halloween, and since that's my favorite holiday I won't surprise anyone by saying that I want to look on the frightening side of things. So let's look at the scariest everything in Final Fantasy XIV today. Or at least, everything that I can think of for one column.
First things first. If you missed this before, I already did put together my thoughts about what little we know of Final Fantasy XIV's
next expansion and what my initial impressions are of Stormblood
. Today, I don't want to talk about that at all, except in the lurking background sense that, well, version 4.0 is also the arrival of Stormblood
. Everything else doesn't touch upon that.
See, there were other things going on at the fan festival, other revelations here and there that I don't think you can really just tie on to the expansion. While I found the overall information content a bit lacking in places, the pieces we did get to chew on tended to be meaty, and they were pretty interesting on a whole.
So today I want to talk about all of that, starting with something that was easily one of the least controversial moments during the entire weekend, though it has a bit more controversy attached to it after rippling outward.