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.
I’ve been leery for a long while now of Final Fantasy XIV’s
“you get your details just before patch day” stance vis-a-vis the housing situation. Thankfully, that isn’t quite what happened; we got our information, at least in broad strokes, before the patch notes thanks to the live letter. We’re getting six wards in four districts for a grand total of 1,440 new housing plots, which should put a pretty thorough dent in the game’s current shortage; it’s not a doubling of the existing size, but it’s another half increase again.
The new housing rules, though, are probably going to make some bigger changes. And they’re changes that we can analyze and speculate about, even though some of them have some potential impacts we just won’t know about until later. So let’s start in, piece by piece, with the question marks and the known quantities.
And I will also be laughing at the frustration of people who screwed the system and are now sad about it.
Here’s a fun question for you about Final Fantasy XIV
: What’s the difference between a trial and a raid in the endgame?
At first glance that’s the sort of obvious question to prompt eye-rolling and derisive smirks. That’s obvious: A trial is just a contained boss fight in a specific arena, while a raid is a mini-dungeon followed by a boss fight! And then you remember that a whole lot of raids, such as all of Deltascape and the last fight of each Alexander wing, don’t actually have any sort of dungeon attachment. So maybe a raid just means that they’re thematically linked… oh, wait, except that we’ve had sequences of trials linked like that with the Warring Triad.
Two difficulty modes? Well, yes, that means they have different names, but not different structures. Oh, let’s also remember that Extreme Primals, much like Alexander and onward, have a largely token-based loot system! Figured out the difference yet? It gets more fun when you remember that raids are technically different from alliance raids. Or that technically, Praetorium might qualify as a raid!
We still don’t technically know when Final Fantasy XIV
is launching its next patch, but we can also figure it out. It was always slated for late January, and there’s another live letter this Friday, which means that the patch is almost certainly arriving on the 30th. Considering that we always get patch notes before the actual release, I’d say it would be a bit silly to have a whole preview event the day before patch notes come out, and it wouldn’t really mesh with prior experience.
In other words, we’ve got a little more time before the patch, and there’s more to be seen about what it actually entails, so let’s talk about both our known unknowns and our unknown unknowns as well as breaking down some other bits that we haven’t heard about yet which are conspicuous for their absence. It’s worth paying attention to some of this; that’s my point here.
was the current expansion for Final Fantasy XIV
, we were introduced to the idea that you could meld materia onto valuable endgame gear. It was a big shift, made only slightly smaller by the fact that pretty much every single job required the exact same melds without the slightest amount of consideration. You didn’t really need to think about it except for a handful of cases, and even in places where melding something else might be useful (like melding just enough Piety for Black Mage to get another cast off), you weren’t going to be suffering if you just ignored it.
This has changed somewhat in Stormblood. At this point, melding is a simple game, but it’s more complex than it gets credit for, while also perhaps being a bit simpler than it needs to be. Or perhaps it’s just as complex as it needs to be. It’s a multi-faceted issue, in other words, and one that deserves more nods than it gets.
As we start down the road through 2018, I feel it’s important and appropriate to look at the content in Final Fantasy XIV
that could actually use an update and/or some way to become more relevant in the current environment once more. Surprisingly, that list is not
Perhaps it shouldn’t surprising at that; one of the things that the game has consistently done is find ways to make sure that important content this week is still important next week, even as you continually have new content to experience. The addition of the Alliance Roulette seems tailor-made to ensure that one of the older bits of content is still very desirable to players, and it hits that mark nicely with a big chunk of experience and a bounty of tomestones.
But there is still some content that’s languishing somewhat. Not just stuff like exploration missions and Palace of the Dead, either (those both need new installments, but traditional roulettes aren’t even viable there). So let’s look at where we can get some updates, expansion, and improvement to some content that’s just not relevant any more.