The next patch for Final Fantasy XIV
is something we should all watch closely. Because it’s going to tell us plenty about where we’re heading in the next expansion.
We haven’t yet been told that we’ll learn about a new expansion this year, but we have a fan festival on the calendar, we’re moving through the middle of the patch, and FFXIV moves on a content delivery schedule reliable enough to set your clock by. So we know that announcement is happening this year, and we can all bet on it coming out in June of next year. (If it’s running really late, maybe July.)
And this is the patch where we’ll find out where we’re headed. Not that we’ll be told yet, of course; we were never actually told in-universe that we were heading to Ala Mhigo until it happened, after all. But this is the point when threads need to start collecting into a useful form, and so it’s best to watch closely and see which elements are being picked up and tugged along for our next destination.
Yes, the latest live letter happened, the fan translations happened, and as one could expect the Final Fantasy XIV
fandom has already taken half-translated facts and suspected tidbits as gospel right off the bat. Who could have seen this coming, and so forth. let’s see if we get actually translated and accurate information any faster than usual, although I suspect it’ll be at around the same pace as always.
If I sound annoyed, that’s because I am.
Regardless of the inefficiency of the presentation, we did find out a fair bit about the next patch and associated features for patch 4.3, so we can start discussing some of the things we need to know about the update. Of course, no small amount of what we know is coming is stuff that we could also have expected to see just because of the game’s fundamental structure, but there’s also a lot of genuinely surprising bits. So let’s start in with the stuff that isn’t a new dungeon, a new Alliance Raid, or points related, yes?
It’s easy to miss one of the worst bits of news about the next Final Fantasy XIV
Live Letter because it’s tucked in the very bottom of the announcement
. But there it is, plain as day. No more translations on the forums, just the important points on Twitter. That
isn’t going to be annoying as hell from start to finish, I tell you what. It’s not like we don’t already have hasty and inaccurate translations floating around with at least something to point to, but now we can be sure that there’s even less
to offer a common reference point!
The irony is that the next Live Letter is coming about a week after the PAX East panel in which one of the major points of discussion was in ensuring that the experience for all players across the world have the same reaction to the game. For the most part, that’s correct; it’s something that Square-Enix in general and Naoki Yoshida in particular has worked hard to ensure. But when it comes to the Live Letters, it’s a principle that doesn’t even pretend to get followed, and it leads to a simmering frustration that might be best served by leaving the whole thing out for good.
With 30 years of history, Final Fantasy
as a series has had lots of riffs on the same basic ideas. It’s the only thing tying the series together in the first place, after all, and I look forward to getting ever more surreal takes on the various nuts and bolts of the franchise as I get older. Final Fantasy XIV
exists as a part of this, naturally; it has yet to have any jobs which are truly unique
to it, as everything in there has showed up at least once before in some capacity.
That having been said, of course, some of that “showed up before” happens in very different contexts. There have been a lot of Dark Knights, after all, but it’s hard to compare the tanking job of FFXIV to, say, the status-based job of Final Fantasy X-2 or the prestige job in Final Fantasy Tactics. The games have very different design goals from the outset.
But we can compare these jobs to their equivalents in Final Fantasy XI. After all, most of the jobs we have now were in that title! So let’s take a look at how the jobs worked in the older game, how they work now, and what consistency might be there if any.
Quick, you there! Tell me what’s going to be in the next patch for Final Fantasy XIV
, patch 4.3! Not all of it, though, just hit the highlights.
Odds are good that you dd not start speaking out loud, because you are a rational person and don’t verbally respond when an article tells you to do so. (If you just started saying the answer out loud in your office, I’m sorry.) But you probably mentally started listing stuff. “More MSQ, obviously, and it’s an odd-numbered patch so we’ll get one dungeon and the next part of the Ivalice raid… no new tomestone gear, maybe another beast tribe for crafting. Oh, maybe Namazu. Probably updates to Eureka…”
Now, I’d like to remind everyone that we haven’t had the first preview about what’s coming out with patch 4.3. There have been a grand total of no announcements or discussions about it yet. But we know the game well enough to know that odds are it’s going to feature certain reliable additions. There’s some stuff that just comes out reliably for FFXIV, all the time. And there’s some question about how much stuff is really evergreen.
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.
With the removal of the perpetual server restrictions and the opening of personal housing again, Final Fantasy XIV
seems to have decided that its housing problems were fixed. Or, if not fixed, at least significantly ameliorated. The game added a huge chunk of new wards, rules were put in place to make sure that people couldn’t snap up tons of houses for themselves, and I will definitely concede that a whole lot of stuff was different this time around. For some time after housing was introduced, small houses were actually available
, so Free Companies who wanted one but hadn’t quite made it were ready.
I will be the first to say that the new rules and restrictions were definitely a success. In terms of getting people connected with houses, this all worked, we got stuff more sorted out, and this is definitely the best we’ve had it since housing was first introduced. That doesn’t mean that I think the problem is really solved yet, though; a lot of the rules as they stand are inelegant solutions to a problem, and that’s part of why we are where we are.
Last week, we covered the mechanical issues for about half
of the Final Fantasy XIV
job lineup. This week, we’re covering the other half. That seems rather straightforward, doesn’t it? There we go.
The thing about mechanical issues is that they’re sometimes hard to identify; they’re not as simple as weaknesses or balance issues. A job not dealing nearly as much damage as other jobs in the same role is a balance issue, while a job having to deal with mechanics differently is a weakness (like how Summoners have fewer options to quickly dispatch adds, or melee jobs have to deal with avoiding AoEs differently). Mechanical issues are specifically places where the mechanics of the job are the issue, leading to gameplay that’s disconnected or irrelevant.
But people seem to have gotten the idea from the first installment last week. So with all of these facts in mind, let’s start talking about the other half of the game’s jobs, not first on deck but no less important.
There are a lot of people who are quick to complain about issues with their personal favorite jobs in Final Fantasy XIV
. No matter what job you’re playing, there are people that will eagerly point out all of the screamingly wrong things with the job whilst completely ignoring how well the jobs actually do work together. When you can seriously clear stuff with anything, someone is doing something right, and that’s why a lot of the complaints come down to “well, I don’t like it, so it’s bad.”
However, that doesn’t mean that the game’s jobs are devoid of mechanical issues. They’re pretty well balanced at the moment (not perfectly, but acceptably so), but each job does have certain mechanical issues that are probably going to need to wait until the next expansion to really be properly fixed up. So, while that next expansion is probably a bit more than a year away now (June 2019, I’d imagine), let’s take a look at the actual mechanical issues facing all 15 jobs.
About a month back, I got a comment in this column with an absolutely spectacular question
. We’ve got two cosmetic systems that basically only concern two jobs in the game, Bards and Summoners. What could other jobs get for similar systems, stuff that’s going to be fun to play with but wouldn’t actually affect any sort of gameplay?
This question almost immediately struck me as marvelous, because one of the things I love about Final Fantasy XIV is its attention to detail with stuff like this. A music system can be added to the game that only works for Bards, because that’s a thing Bards do and you can just be a Bard if you want to. So why shouldn’t other jobs get similar toys?
It was also the first time that I’d really thought about egi glamours as being in the same category, and that category has somewhat suffered from a lack of updates lately. So let’s talk about these sorts of enhancements, more character options for out-of-combat customization.
A lot of times, I spread out my time with Final Fantasy XIV
patches, unlocking and finishing up content at a reasonably sedate pace. For whatever reason, that wasn’t my approach this time around. I cleared through all of the day one content that I had any designs on doing right away, which means I’ve already gotten through the end of Sigmascape, the Jade Stoa, and both of the dungeons in short order. It went faster than I expected, truth be told.
There’s always a lot to talk about with these patches and a lot of opinions, which is always fun. But one of the interesting points that I found comes up when I consider how the game divided up its storylines for this patch. I had misunderstood what the patch notes noted about Hells’ Lid as a dungeon and where it fit into the MSQ, and the change in this case makes me very happy for both storytelling here and in the future.
My initial plan for this particular column was just to write “woo patch notes woo” but I was informed that this plan had certain problems. For one thing, usually my weekly columns about Final Fantasy XIV
clock in around 1200-1400 words; this one was four. Also, none of them were actually commentary or analysis of any sort. Thus appropriately defeated (for now), I suppose I’ll spend this column actually talking about the patch notes while we all wait for the servers to come back online tomorrow.
Some of what’s on display is actually not all that surprising; we could have ascertained long ago that the dungeon would be tied to the MSQ, for example, because that’s exactly what has happened with every single brand-new dungeon added to the game at the level cap since patch 3.2 (and it was surprising when that wasn’t the case in 3.1). But there are still some surprises in the mix, and some things that are well worth considering as we wait for servers to come back up once more.