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.
wisdom of nym
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.