Oh boy, here comes patch day!
And to my surprise, it's coming way
earlier than I expected. It shouldn't
be surprising - we're just a hair over three months from the last big Final Fantasy XIV
patch - but somehow I really felt as if this patch would last longer into October, maybe to have more preview stuff for the fan festival. Instead, those of us who will be heading off to the convention (which includes yours truly) are going to have a little time to digest the MSQ, earn some tomestones, and otherwise prepare for the next expansion.
Yes, we all know it's Ala Mhigo, but we have to pretend we don't for another couple of weeks.
However, right now we're not talking about the future beyond Tuesday, and boy, there is a lot of stuff to dissect for the patch! As so frequently happens, I am beyond excited. So let's go through this, step by step, in small doses, and I... you know what? We've done this format many times by now. I think you can suss out how it works.
Balmung, if you are a Final Fantasy XIV
, is the mysterious land of milk and honey. Or it's home. Heaven help you if you're in the former group, though, because you're going to be hard-pressed to join the latter.
The Balmung server, aside from having an absolutely horrible name, is also the unofficial RP server for the game. As a result, it's one of (if not the) most populated servers in the game. When people talk about the problems with the housing system, they're talking about the situation on Balmung first and foremost. The server has gone from having somewhat restricted hours for allowing character creation to just being closed to new characters pretty much all of the time.
And it's an odd situation to look at in hindsight, especially as someone who's been on the server since it was Besaid pre-merging. It's a situation full of poor communication, some lacking support, and a whole lot of community pressure that produced an enormous server that's basically inaccessible to everyone else right now.
One of the many things I like about Final Fantasy XIV
is the fact that its scaling difficulties for dungeons don't simply mean more health and damage. Stone Vigil (Hard) is not a more punishing version of the exact same dungeon but a separate experience with different tuning, different encounters, and so forth. It means that a new hard mode is itself a new dungeon by its very nature.
At this point, though, we have hard modes for most of the dungeons in the game, with another one coming out with the next patch toward the end of the month. So today, I wanted to look at the dungeons that have as of yet not been announced, to speculate about both what comes next and whether or not these dungeons could even fit another dungeon out of them. That includes the dungeons that have languished because they're not exactly new to the second version of the game, which are... different, too. It's all complicated.
One of my favorite parts of the Transformers Wiki - which is already wonderful - is the myths and misconceptions page
. It's really
well written, and it covers a whole lot of things that dedicated fans see crop up time and again despite not having much basis in reality. For people with a longtime interest in the history of the brand, sure, a lot of it just serves as a reminder; however, there were things in there that I didn't know, bits and pieces of trivia that I had absorbed or assumed to be true without knowing better.
I don't have the same amount of history with Final Fantasy XIV as I do with Transformers, of course; there's no way that a game from a few years ago can gain three decades of history, after all. But there are still some misconceptions that people have about the game that are, objectively, not true. You can argue over whether white or blue is a better color for a piece of armor, after all, but you can't argue that the white one is actually blue. So, in the interest of clarity, let's look at some of these misconceptions and address them in turn.
The anniversary has arrived, and to no one's great surprise, we started hearing about the next big Final Fantasy XIV
patch. The fact that said patch is going to be releasing in a month
did serve as quite a surprise, though. There were lots of surprises contained therein, even. I didn't expect hard modes for our Ishgardian dungeons until the next expansions, for example.
I also had honestly not expected we'd see patch 3.4 until October to coincide with Fanfest, although I imagine that the flipside of this is that 3.45 will likely be closer to the NA Fanfest dates. Or maybe we'll just learn more about the expansion at fanfest than we had previously expected. There are a lot of possibilities. Regardless, we know now that we'll have some time to play around in the post-Dragonsong world in a month, and that in and of itself inspirse speculation.
Along with, you know, the huge amount of content that we're being promised for the next patch.
When the last anniversary rolled around, we were coming off of an expansion launch for Final Fantasy XIV
, one of the smoothest launches I can imagine. This year, we're sliding into
an expansion announcement
later this year, and the air is charged with anticipation. But hey, the state of the game is still in a pretty good place, since we cleared the third-season rollout.
I have a bit of a theory regarding television shows, you see. The first season is basically a matter of seeing whether or not your show can sustain interest over the first set of episodes. If you get a second season, the question becomes whether or not the show can do that again, whether or not it can be consistent. That means the third season is a question of whether or not you can play around with the established formula enough to keep interest while still repeating that initial success.
Final Fantasy XIV can, apparently, do exactly that. This means that the past year has been a success, even if it's had a few checkered moments along the way.
One of the things I do in this column, at times, is stomp on dreams. It's not really an intended
function, but it's one of those things that I can't help
but do by the nature of the column. As I've said before, speculating about Final Fantasy XIV
is about guessing what will most likely
happen rather than what I necessarily want
to happen, and that means sometimes that I have to say what you really
want will probably not come to pass. Blue Mage? Probably not. No level cap increase? Unlikely to happen. Five dungeons per patch, completely new rather than hard modes? Yeah, I think the development team would die.
But I am not insensitive, and I am a creature of my own wants and wishes. My gaze of "unlikely to happen" does not solely extend to things that other people want. So here, then, are some things that I'm really hoping for with the next expansion that smart money would put in the "not going to happen" category. Fair's fair, after all.
Not every topic that I can talk about in this column is actually a good column topic because some stuff just... isn't robust enough.
I'm probably not going to surprise anyone with the revelation that I play a lot of Final Fantasy XIV. With friends and alone, even. I'm kind of happy that the game is not on Steam because it'd be sobering to see how many hours I've clocked into the game thus far, especially when I still have more stuff to do. I don't mean to say that as if I'm an unparalleled master of the game, but simply to illustrate that I play the game a lot, and thus I think about it a great deal.
But sometimes I have stuff that I want to talk about that just doesn't fill out a full column. So here are three such topics, sort of off-jots for the game as a whole. Really, some things are worth discussing even if they don't make it to a full column's length.
The fact that Final Fantasy XIV
has now officially had a crossover with Yo-kai Watch
feels rather odd to me. I'm honestly not a huge fan of crossovers in general
because they raise a whole lot of questions that aren't really going to be answered, but at least stuff like the Lightning crossover or Dragon Quest
is reasonably easy to smile and nod about. Sure, there was a lady in weird armor marching around; there are golems that look unusual stomping about in Thanalan. I can accept these things.
Yo-kai Watch, by contrast, really never settles well against the game world. But I also recognize that's my hangup more than anyone else's, and it's still something that merits further discussion. To the surprise of no one who has read the obvious headline, that's actually what I plan on discussing this week. So now that I've spent the introduction explaining that the event doesn't entirely sit well with me, let's start in on why the event is totally fine even if it doesn't sit well with you.
Speculating about the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion is something that I engage in quite a bit, but the fact is that there's an area of the expansion that I don't tend to speculate about a great deal. In fact, I don't see many people speculating about it. We'll all talk about where the expansion will be set, we talk about what the focus will be in terms of storytelling, we talk about new jobs, we talk about new or returning content... but we don't talk about the actual leveling experience.
It makes sense, on some level, because the odds are that leveling from 60-70 will be functionally more or less like leveling from 50-60. You do your quests, you gain experience, you get another level. People spam FATEs for subsequent jobs and then have no idea how to actually play the job. The usual. But there are some important questions to ask and answer before we hit another batch of levels, and with the first fan festival just a couple of months away, I think it's worth considering those points.
Let me start by getting my biggest beef with the Palace of the Dead out of the way right off: I don't like the fact that we only have two save slots. One more would make a world of difference and would also be entirely in keeping with the 16-bit look that this addition to Final Fantasy XIV
And... we're good. That was it.
I was excited about the Deep Dungeon before it launched, but I had understandable misgivings here and there about how all of its various mechanics would play together. I'm happy to say that those misgivings were addressed, and the net result is new content that's fast, fun, repeatable, changing, and incredibly neat. It's the sort of thing that serves as a real game changer for the game as a whole, so let's step inside and see what there is to be seen when you venture into Gelmorran ruins. (At the behest of Wood Wailers who ought not be there, but that's more of a lore discussion.)
There are going to be spoilers in this column. Let's make this entirely clear. If you read this column without having finished up Final Fantasy XIV
's main scenario up through patch 3.3, you may very well be spoiled. There will be few, if any, spoiler warnings or cuts within the text itself. Are we clear on that? Grand.
I've long been very fond of the stories told in FFXIV, and while 2.0's overall main story left me a bit cold, Heavensward on a whole has been a massive improvement and has done a great job. The conclusion to the arc feels organic and fulfilling, filled with satisfying resolutions for characters and story arcs, endings that felt fitting if not always entirely positive. Not everyone got what they wanted, but everyone had an ending. It's good.
Now, let's talk about all of the ways that it was rather bad and could be improved in the future. (And remember, there will be spoilers.)
We know now that patch 3.35 and the Deep Dungeon will be landing on July 19th. That's a little bit later than I had expected, but it doesn't change one of the fundamental things that I've been observing with Final Fantasy XIV
: The next few months are going to be absolutely golden
for the game. If you've enjoyed Heavensward
, this is the time to really sit back and bask in the game because it's going to be a good time to explore what it has on offer.
I freely admit that this might seem like an odd statement when we know that we've still got plenty more to see. And it's important for me to say that I don't think the subsequent patches are going to be bad; far from it. We're going to have a lot of fun when the next patch drops around October or late September, we'll have plenty of things to do when the next patch after that hits in February of 2017, and the expansion launch in June of 2017 will be fun times. But the next few months are going to be among the best times to be adventuring around Ishgard. Why? I'm glad you hypothetically asked.