I find it kind of wild to think that when I wrote my last Final Fantasy XIV
anniversary column, we hadn’t yet actually heard of Stormblood
yet. Obviously we did hear about it a couple of months later and it’s dominated the discussion cycle since then, but we were still just speculating about the game’s second expansion when we hit the three-year mark. Now it’s here and we’re all looking to its first major patch. So by most metrics anyone would care to use, things are going well.
What was once shocking or surprising has now become mundane, and what was unexpected is now the most expected thing in the world. Another expansion is going to come out in a little under two years, we’re going to get more reliably paced patches, the game is going to continue on as it has to this point. Is there nothing interesting to say about all of that?
Of course there is.
The first time, it was all about the jobs everyone thinks are garbage now. The second time, it was all about the jobs everyone thinks are great now. And this time… well, it’s about the Final Fantasy XIV
jobs no one seems to think about much at all. Or they’re in the middle of simultaneously called spectacular and awful so that it all averages out into the middle. In other words, these are the jobs that tend to escape the notice of players.
That makes these jobs a little harder to talk about, because they’re not in the midst of any sort of perception shift. In at least one case, we have jobs that have basically just maintained their position in the game’s overall makeup across expansions, yet they haven’t seemed to change enough for people to really notice what they’re doing now. Are they good? Bad? Neutral? What’s going on with these jobs? Let’s talk about it.
Last time around, we looked at the jobs everyone thinks is deep in the loser category in Final Fantasy XIV
. Some of them are really in a bad place, some of them just seem to be in a bad place due to perception, and some sort of have both going on at the same time. But now it’s high time for us to look at the other side of the coin, the jobs that everyone thinks are just doing great
The funny thing is that in this case, I feel there are fewer jobs where the reality is that the job isn’t that good but just gets perceived that way; it’s more a case where some of them are being seen as outright overpowered when they’re really in a pretty good spot. But enough of the hand-wringing; let’s move on to the jobs that everyone sees as being the absolute winners of the expansion thus far, and examine whether they’re really so great.
It took me a very long time to cap out everything in Final Fantasy XIV
was current. Until the moogle questline was introduced, my crafting jobs languished pretty badly. I could have gotten more materials and worked on them, but some of that required leather, and since my options were farming that myself or sending out retainers on ventures… well, that meant leveling Warrior, I didn’t want to bother, it didn’t happen. It took a long
By contrast, right now with Stormblood, I’m already halfway done with the leveling of combat jobs. My overall goal of leveling everything to 70 plus all of my alts should be done by mid-November. I know that later today, I’m going to be getting at least two more levels, maybe more, and I’m well on my way to my goals. And I’m not bored or putting in the time, I’m excited.
I’ve seen this sentiment going around from other people, too. There’s a general sense that leveling and just playing is much more fun with Stormblood. So what’s the difference? Why is it that now leveling up seems like less of a chore, when the usual methods of leveling quickly (FATE trains) have basically dried up to nothing?
The biggest problem with jobs in Final Fantasy XIV
isn’t always mechanics. Sometimes it’s a matter of perception. With 15 jobs to play in combat roles, some
of them are bound to be seen as worse than others… and it’s really
easy to see some of them as worse when they’ve actually been brought closer to the middle rather than being horribly undertuned.
I cautioned extensively against people making balance predictions based on early preview mechanics before, and in the case of the jobs most frequently cried about as being dead, that turned out to be right on the money. (Surprise, White Mage isn’t on this list!) Now that we’ve actually been playing the expansion for over a month and have Savage information to look at, we can make a more comprehensive picture of which jobs are seen by the community as being good, which ones are bad, and which ones… just sort of are still there.
But let’s start with the losers. Because that makes a fun headline. Who’s on the downward path, and are they actually bad/worse, or just not as good as before?
One of the bright sides of having so many alts (specifically, six of them) in Final Fantasy XIV
is that I’m getting a picture of things that would otherwise remain largely invisible. It’s easy to miss certain issues on a character who has been playing since 1.0, simply because… well, at that point you have
things. You don’t need to ask certain questions, because those questions have been answered, those problems solved, those bits of content unlocked.
Having characters going through fresh allows me to ask questions from the perspective of someone going through for the first time. And the result is a game that is actually astonishingly well-assembled and relevant at all levels. Heck, the changes to 50/60 roulette and tomestones alone make for a set of relevant dungeons that could easily be consigned to history; I appreciate that immensely.
But having said all of that, I can’t help but notice that there are issues the game is going to have to deal with, probably sooner rather than later. This expansion? Likely not. Next expansion? By that point, definitely. So let’s talk about the problems that aren’t currently there… but totally will be.
It’s pretty clear that the Final Fantasy XIV
team (and the localization team specifically) are pretty huge fans of Hamilton, to the point that I’m surprised that the Emperor didn’t specifically burst into a song from the musical
in the ending sequence. Especially because it’s… kind of a relevant question at this point, once you’ve seen the end of the MSQ.
So what does come next?
Obviously, this column will feature spoilers, so consider yourself fairly tagged. But I think this is a relevant question to ask because this expansion is, in its own way, a very different animal from its two predecessors right out of the gate. The relaunch ended its story in a place so open that it could really go wherever without a problem, while Heavensward ended the 3.0 MSQ with obvious points for continuation. (It helped that the obvious thrust of the expansion took a sharp left turn around level 55.) In the case of Stormblood, though…
Yes, I’m avoiding saying more before the cut. Spoilers down below, people.
It’s not really hard to figure out the best stats for melding in order to do the maximum damage in Final Fantasy XIV
. You have, ultimately, only a few real options, and with the removal of Accuracy as an option, none of them is actually going to make or break important points. The problem is that asking “what can I meld to do maximum damage” is perhaps not always the right question to ask.
The matter of stat weights and best-in-slot gear has already been attracting ferocious debate in various parts of the community, and you know the debate has gotten to a fever pitch when Yoshida actually addresses one of the stupider new customs in a live letter. (That would be tanks wearing 270 STR accessories, for the record.) So I think it’s well past the point to talk about the issue of tank damage, tank scaling, and numbers in general. They may not carry the allure of story sequences, but they’re still important.
It’s kind of ironic that Omega may be the first time in Final Fantasy XIV
where the eponymous foe is our actual
antagonist. The Binding Coil of Bahamut and Alexander both featured the named Primals, but in both cases we weren’t really picking apart anything they did; Bahamut was just doing what came naturally while Allagan devices prodded at him, and Alexander was essentially fulfilling something that had already happened. Omega, on the other hand, is aware of us and not our biggest fan to begin with.
I wound up powering through the entirety of Omega’s normal mode on the same day it was released, somewhat to my surprise. (It was a bit of a highlight.) Obviously, not everything is going to be clear on just one playthrough, but now that we’ve gotten our first week or so with our new high-end endgame stuff, it seems like a good chance to pick apart what worked, what didn’t, and what’s worth considering with this new raid. Both in terms of story and mechanics, I might note.
Please note, of course, that there may be minor spoilers within. There’s nothing that gives away big chunks of plot, but if you haven’t yet done Omega and really want to remain wholly unspoiled… tread lightly.
I think I was about halfway through the Stormblood
story when I noticed that it was avoiding more or less every single bit of storytelling in Final Fantasy XIV
that I usually dislike. It surprised me, at least a little. I’ve quite liked the game’s storytelling as time has gone by, and I had a lot of praise for the Heavensward
story as a whole, but this was pretty unambiguous. Most of my complaints centered around things like “this side plot seems to be overstaying its welcome” rather than “it’s another chase after some magical nonsense with little grounding.”
Obviously, for this column I’m going to be discussing spoilers for the MSQ. I am going to be doing so in a fashion designed to obscure as much information as possible for people who have not yet finished the plot, and I’ll spoiler out any big plot reveals, but be fairly warned as you dip into the comment section. But be fairly warned, there may be spoilers ahead. The good news is that spoilers don’t matter too much because even with them the plot is really good. And not really reliant on shocking swerves.
You know, I was going to talk about the end of the Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood
MSQ this week, but I decided against it. Not because I don’t have things to shout about when it comes to the expansion, nor because I’ve already done a lot of shouting to some pink-haired cat who helped me along through most of it (a creature of mystery, that one), but because I am probably
in the minority in being through the whole thing. So let’s give it another week. It hasn’t even been a week since the actual launch
at this point.
Instead, I want to talk about some pretty interesting changes that can easily slip under the radar in terms of currencies. I wouldn’t say this stuff is easy to miss, exactly, but it’s easy to not really think about it when you’re knee-deep in going through the game. So let’s talk about currencies, what you can buy, and what implications this has for the game moving forward.
There have basically been two attitudes throughout the past weekend with Final Fantasy XIV’s early access to Stormblood. Here, we’ll run it like a Tumblr meme; tag yourself appropriately in the comments:
- “Wow, all of this stuff is really cool!”
- “A system error occurred during event movement.”
I spent Friday and Saturday stuck in the latter, but Sunday I moved on the the former. But I can’t really talk about this early access period without talking about the server errors, what may have been causing them, and what should be considered when discussing them.
Because, make no mistake, this was not a fun weekend to be trying to play FFXIV much of the time. It was often dizzying in its frustration, and it was made all the worse because there’s always a communication gap with the game despite the best efforts of the staff. This in and of itself is something I really should write a column about, but that’s not today’s column.
Friday, folks. Friday is when Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood
enters early access, which means heading to Gyr Abania, heading to Othard, unlocking Red Mage and Samurai, and trying not to discuss spoilers. As always, I can promise this will remain a spoiler-safe space in the intro and the article itself, so you needn’t fear coming across something untoward here; in the comments I cannot make promises, although we do try to keep an eye on these things.
But all of that’s in the future. Right now we’ve got a couple of days left, and I’m here to tell you that it’s your last chance to get everything ready to go. If you’re pumped as heck about this expansion – and let me tell you, I certainly am – you’ll want to make sure your last few checklist items are taken care of. So let’s give a last-chance checklist for people to accomplish over the next four days, yes? Or, well, three and a half now. It’s the noon slot, you see.