First things first. If you missed this before, I already did put together my thoughts about what little we know of Final Fantasy XIV‘s
next expansion and what my initial impressions are of Stormblood
. Today, I don’t want to talk about that at all, except in the lurking background sense that, well, version 4.0 is also the arrival of Stormblood
. Everything else doesn’t touch upon that.
See, there were other things going on at the fan festival, other revelations here and there that I don’t think you can really just tie on to the expansion. While I found the overall information content a bit lacking in places, the pieces we did get to chew on tended to be meaty, and they were pretty interesting on a whole.
So today I want to talk about all of that, starting with something that was easily one of the least controversial moments during the entire weekend, though it has a bit more controversy attached to it after rippling outward.
Being at the Final Fantasy XIV
fan festival was interesting for me on several levels because I wasn’t just there to have fun, I was there to work… but I was also
there to have fun. I was there to cover the event as media, but I’m also
a big fan of the game as it is, so I was splitting my time between being Serious Professional Writer, Sir and just generally having a fandom collapse. This helped me in certain areas and hurt me in others.
The result was that I have several different views of the event, and all of them run an interesting gamut, with some mostly relevant to being media at the event and others equally relevant as a fan and a journalist. And several of them either wouldn’t be visible if you were just watching the live stream or would at least be harder to see and experience. So for those of you who weren’t there – or those who were and just want another take on the event – I’d like to talk about what worked and what didn’t and what could stand to be improved the next time around.
There’s never really a good splitting point when discussing Final Fantasy XIV
patches. They always cover so much
ground with features and additions that any breaking point in a discussion is naturally artificial. There are small quality-of-life changes that I miss in the middle of patch notes, even; I hadn’t realized about the ability to do batch turn-ins for beast tribe tokens until I was actually standing in front of the vendors.
That’s a good thing, incidentally.
For my last column on the topic, I primarily focused on the big story and dungeon centerpieces of the patch, which makes up the bulk of the new content in this patch. But it’s not not all of the additions of the patch, not even all of the new content we got. So let’s dive in once more, starting with another bit of slightly underwhelming story that really feels like it’s approaching a non-climax. (Not an anticlimax; that’s different.)
There’s a mild trend on Twitter as I write this for Final Fantasy XIV
predictions. It makes sense; after all, the fan festival is in just a bit over a week. And I’ll be on the ground as it happens, somewhat unexpectedly but not in an unwelcome capacity. And that just raises the question of what will happen
in Las Vegas, much of which will not stay there despite
Of course, I have predictions. Everyone has predictions. But I notice a lot of the “predictions” getting thrown out are less “this is probably what will happen” and more “this is what I want to happen,” which isn’t so much a prediction as a wish list. I like wish lists too, most of the time, but they’re not the same. And the record will show I’m also happy to make my predictions public, so I can either prove to be very right or very wrong as a matter of public record.
So what the heck: Here are my predictions for next week in Vegas. And no, I’m not going to predict an expansion announcement because we all expect that. I’m going to predict what we’re getting.
We’re on the penultimate patch of the expansion (no, that’s not official, but let’s be real) and Final Fantasy XIV
fans have had a whole week to play around with it. How does it stack up?
Well… that’s an interesting topic. And it kind of merits a discussion about what’s been done differently with this expansion cycle in terms of storytelling. While the 2.x series ostensibly told a continual story straight through until the end, 3.x quite happily ended the story of Heavensward with 3.3. Sure, there’s more stuff to do, but there was no ambiguity about the fact that the war was over and we were moving on to other problems.
The bright side is that the result is a story that flows quite naturally and doesn’t have to share screen time with setting up the next expansion. The down side, however, is that the story has… some issues. That’s kind of a throughput for the patch in general. For the record, while this post may have some spoilers, I’ll keep anything major hidden behind spoiler tags, so it should be relatively safe to read through; fairly warned be ye.
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.