wisdom of nym

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

Wisdom of Nym: Looking ahead to Final Fantasy XIV’s 2018

It’s not quite 2018 yet, but it will be next week. That means we have a whole year of Final Fantasy XIV to enjoy, and that also means that we have to wonder what’s in store. Although we also don’t have to wonder, because the game has a very reliable update schedule, and it doesn’t exactly take rocket science to extrapolate from 4.2 in late January. “Does that mean the next patch will be in late April to late May?” Yes. Yes it does.

In short, it seems transparently obvious to me that we’ll have another trio of large patches this year, along with more story development and lots of other relevant bits of content. So rather than guess at how many patches we’re going to get or whether or not we’ll hear about the next expansion (which is inevitable), it’s far more productive to speculate about the content of those patches and the expansion. Let’s head down that road.

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Wisdom of Nym: Taking a peek at Final Fantasy XIV’s next patch

Gosh, I feel sort of bad for the person whose job it was to make the next Final Fantasy XIV fan festival reveal seem novel. That must have been a really important job, and I am sure a great deal of time and work went into that. And none of it mattered at all, because everyone already knew that there was going to be another fan festival in about a year, because this game is nothing if not endlessly reliable in this regard.

I can’t tell you the response they were hoping to generate, but I feel relatively confident that “duh” was not it.

Of course, that was a side note to last week’s live letter; the main event was the first preview of the game’s next patch, which is still rather ambiguous but is coming more into focus. No doubt we’ll learn more with the next letter and then move into the new year, so… well, let’s move forward. Let’s stalk about what we know and what is actually surprising.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s 2017 in review

It’s hard to say whether 2017 was a good year for Final Fantasy XIV.

Sure, on one level it seems obvious. The game launched its second expansion, it continues to drive sales, every financial report shows it doing well, players are happy, content is delivered on a swift and regular schedule, everything seems to be going fine. Yes, the game had a good 2017, it has a pretty good year on each outing. What more needs to be said?

Well, a few things. Because this year also brought out some pretty nasty bits of underlying issues that the game has long had bubbling under the surface, problems that we’ve all known were there but sort of ignored for a long time for various reasons. We’ve got another patch coming around, but the year has shown that as solid and impressive as the title may be (and it is), there’s still room to improve.

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Wisdom of Nym: Speculating on the next few years of Final Fantasy XIV expansions

My friends, I can see the future for Final Fantasy XIV. And by “see” I mean that I can guess at it with reasonable reliability.

As we move into the holiday theory, I figured it’d be fun to lay out a large-scale theory about the game’s future that’s based on a fairly thin slice of evidence that has every reason to turn out wrong or misguided. You can feel free to look back in the past and evaluate my history for yourself, if you’d like; as someone who has been writing about the game for years, I have lots of predictions for you to draw upon to see how well I tend to do at predicting the future. (About 60-75% accuracy, or something like that. Far from perfect.)

So let’s speculate, starting with the assertion that’s going to perhaps set up the biggest bit of debate: We have three more large boxed expansions coming. Anything after that is very much up in the air.

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Wisdom of Nym: Classes, job, and the Armoury System in Final Fantasy XIV

Here’s how this column got written. Last week, I was talking about new potential jobs based on weapons rather than on jobs that have existed in Final Fantasy in the past. The very first comment on the article was this wonderful bit by NobleEinherjar, which was a bipartite comment that started off by discussing the sharp limitations of the Armoury System and the whole “weapon = class” system in Final Fantasy XIV. It was a nice digression that I thought deserved a response.

About halfway into writing that response, I realized that I was already most of the way to writing a separate column. So now we have this here.

See, there’s an interesting point to be made about the rigid nature of jobs, the limitations that they impose upon the game’s systems, and perhaps most importantly how we got here in the first place. Especially when you consider that when the game launched, you had a class without any particular restrictions on what it could equip, much less with any jobs at all.

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Wisdom of Nym: Speculating about future Final Fantasy XIV jobs from weapons

The Armoury System places a certain unique burden on Final Fantasy XIV. Any new job doesn’t just need to have a distinct mechanical identity, it needs to have a distinct weapon. Which worked well for the first expansion and a half or so; after all, there were a lot of obvious weapons that existed in the game in some abundance but didn’t necessarily have jobs associated. A bit of massaging and we had a job for daggers, a job for great swords, a job for… spinny card-balls…

Yeah, this analogy falls apart pretty quickly. But the point is that it’s still just as viable as a means of predicting new jobs as looking at past titles, especially as Yoshida has stated on multiple occasions that he’d like to have a job that was unique to FFXIV. So let’s look at some weapons we’ve seen in the game, ones that show up in other titles, and ones that make a certain degree of sense as a prediction method.

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Wisdom of Nym: Examining the nature of Final Fantasy XIV’s metagame

So, what’s the ideal raiding composition for progression in Final Fantasy XIV right now? If you started listing off Paladin, Dragoon, Ninja, Bard, Warrior… well, you get a silver star. You know the trivia answer. You get a gold star if your answer was some mixture of “there isn’t one” and “it doesn’t actually matter.” Even more bonus points if you highly that the world-first clear of Unending Coil most certainly did not make use of that meta.

There are a lot of discussions swirling around pretty much everywhere about how one aspect of another of the game’s balance is off, and the “raid meta” is frequently brought up as an example of why the balance is overall kind of messy. For example, if you look at the meta composition and replace your Machinist with a Red Mage, you’re losing some raid damage! It’s clearly worse, and casters need something to fix it!

Except it’s not clearly worse. In fact, it’s actually fine. So let’s talk a little bit about what the meta composition is and why it doesn’t matter in the slightest, when you get right down to it.

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Wisdom of Nym: Musings on Final Fantasy XIV’s current crafting game

Crafting is really important in Final Fantasy XIV. That much can’t be denied; the game places so much emphasis on the options available to crafters, adding in extensive new recipes and options for crafters, new content that can only be accessed by crafters (often with important lore and setting details), and a plethora of gear available just for dedicated crafters and gatherers. It’s indisputably not quite as supported as combat, but it is clearly super important.

At the same time, I think there’s some issues that are still running through the game’s crafting systems at a fundamental level, issues that are easy to overlook for a bit but jump to prominence when you take a closer look. Stormblood has been kind to crafters and gatherers on a whole, but it’s inherited some issues from the game’s initial rollout of systems during Heavensward, and some of these things could use a careful examination sooner rather than later.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV 4.1’s squadron dynamics, alliance roulette, and materia

Final Fantasy XIV patch 4.1 fell into a pretty solid cadence right away, from my experience. It’s not one of those patches where absolutely nothing has changed for most of the players (Twitter integration, anyone?), but it does feel like more or less the same patterns have held up in the wake of its addition. You’ve had another roulette added on to your routine, there’s a new dungeon, you want to hit Rabanastre at least once a week… it’s all good enough, but it’s not rewriting the basic structure.

Of course, if that’s exactly what you wanted from it, that’s all more than good enough. Still, while I hit most of the big points this week, I wanted to spend this week skirting around the edges a bit. So let’s dive back into the parts of the patch that are out but haven’t yet been discussed seriously, starting with the arguably biggest feature that I haven’t really touched on at all.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV patch 4.1 in review

Let me make an agreement with you, dear readers: this column about Final Fantasy XIV will not talk about the housing situation in Shirogane at all. If you’re wondering “why wouldn’t you cover that,” the answer is that I already did and you can read the whole feature on that. (You can also read the follow-up.) So for the remainder of this column, we’re going to talk about all of the other features of this particular patch, which seems like a better use of our time anyway.

Heck, the whole stupid housing mess was only released with this patch, it’s not like the mechanics or anything are new.

And hey, there’s some good stuff going on with this patch, along with parts that are well worth discussing for where they don’t work as well. So let’s dive right in, starting with the obvious centerpiece of every patch, the continued expansion of the game’s storyline… as perfunctory as it may feel sometimes. Some mild spoilers are possible, so be fairly warned.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV has a serious housing problem for basically no reason

Patch 4.1 arrived in Final Fantasy XIV, and the Shirogane housing rush came and went exactly how everyone familiar with the game had been expecting for months on end. The plots available sold out in a matter of minutes, the people who were lucky enough to get in ahead of the queues were the ones who got new houses, and everyone else was left to rant and rave. Frankly, it all worked great, technically speaking; there were no sudden disconnections, no horrid lag spikes, no zone crashes, nothing. Everything worked exactly as it was supposed to and nothing broke, which means that by definition, nothing went wrong.

Well, unless you count shining a harsh light on the game’s horribly misguided housing design as “something going wrong.”

A lot of discussions about this seem to be missing the point. It’s not that what happened with Shirogane housing was a disaster; it was a model of efficiency and the game working as intended. Calling it a disaster is mischaracterizing the situation, making it seem like something didn’t work, when the real problem is an underlying issue of an open-world housing system that completely fails to adequately serve the needs of players.

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Wisdom of Nym: The key bits of Final Fantasy XIV’s 4.1 patch notes

Here we are, folks, staring down the barrel of the latest major patch. If you’re feeling a minor set of trepidation simply because that means it’s time to contend with Final Fantasy XIV housing and all the racing that implies… well, I’m right there with you. But hey, however that turns out tomorrow morning, there’s new stuff to do in the actual patch, and I always do like to pick apart the patch notes when the time rolls around.

The notes are as extensive as ever, of course, so I’m going to be hitting the highlights rather than going line-by-line. The patch as a whole does feel a little bit thinner, but there are some pretty notable changes tucked in there that you either didn’t notice or did notice and might not have internalized. So let’s take a trip down patch note lane.

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Wisdom of Nym: The last batch of revelations for Final Fantasy XIV 4.1

Well, time to get my running shoes on, Final Fantasy XIV’s next patch is coming out on October 10th and I’m aiming for a Large house. After I’m done with that, I can think about everything else in the patch. We already heard about some of it during the previous reveals, of course, but now we’ve got a bit more context for the additional… er, additions. And that’s not counting the stuff we still don’t know about, elements which I’m willing to be we’ll hear about when the patch actually goes live and for interval patches after 4.1 launches.

So let’s talk a little bit about what we’re getting with this patch, along with the things we’re not getting and the elements that raise an eyebrow slowly. We’ve already mostly heard about several parts coming with the patch, but let’s start with the updates coming to Adventurer Squadrons, a feature that was sadly kind of introduced without full expansion and is hopefully coming into its own with the next patch.

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