It finally happened, folks; we're done with the fan festivals until next year. (Yes, I fully expect to hear about the next set when we're getting about halfway through 2018. This is not an unpredictable development team.) We know the big elements of what Final Fantasy XIV
will be seeing with its next expansion. So I find myself sitting here and asking, more or less for my own edification, how was my aim
I made my guesses about what we were going to see, after all. I did them publicly, so everyone could read them. And I think I did pretty well overall. You can read my predictions before the Las Vegas festival and this past weekend's Frankfurt festival; I didn't have a specific prediction for Tokyo, although the aftermath gave me the chance for some speculation.
So how did I do? And how cool was what we actually saw? Let's go over it.
Boy, the wait for this one has felt long
. It hasn't been any longer, and it's not as if we haven't had plenty to do in Final Fantasy XIV
between the last fan festival and this one, but it's still felt long. Perhaps just because this, at least for me, is the time when I find out what my characters are actually doing
post-expansion instead of just hopelessly speculating. I've got several
alts hanging on the final job announcements.
There's some stuff we can reliably predict at this point, of course. There are no more patches aside from the last bits of 3.5 between now and Stormblood, and thus this is going to be our densest chunk of information about the expansion prior to launch. It's also impossible to predict everything that we'll hear about, since Naoki Yoshida loves to troll and surprise us. So this will, by necessity, be equal parts wishes, speculation, and prediction. Take it with the requisite grain of salt.
There is, really, no need to have a single alt in Final Fantasy XIV
. This makes it a point of open curiosity for me about how I managed to wind up with six
of them -- plus my main character.
It's not exactly a secret that FFXIV is not an alt-friendly game, and it never has been. Leveling alts is, by and large, a thankless and uncomfortable prospect mixed with the fact that a lot of the stuff you have to do on alts is a repetition of things that you have already done. The game doesn't offer you any alternatives to the MSQ in the long run; you're going to have to level through it, one way or another.
And yet people still play alts in the game; I know for a fact that I'm not the only person with more than one character at reasonable levels. And while there are things that could be done to make the game more alt-friendly, I suspect some of the obvious options would actually lead to a worse game overall, which makes "how can the game be more alt-friendly?" an interesting question.
I mentioned previously that I went through Final Fantasy XIV's
most recent patch faster than I can recall going through a patch in recent memory. This is true. However, that doesn't mean the patch is bad
; it just means that I was motivated to get through as much of it as possible as fast as possible. So last week I could spend all of my time talking about the mechanical side of things, but this
week I can talk about the storyline implications. And there are lots
I can also warn you right up front that there will be spoilers here, since otherwise the entire post would probably be enormous spoiler tags. Which it might be anyway. Fairly warned be ye.
There's still one more big patch left to go, of course, as patch 3.55 is meant to finish the transition into Stormblood and wrap up everything completely. But we still have lots of side stories that have finished up, and even if we know more MSQ is coming, we can talk about what we have so far. So let's get cracking.
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.
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.