I haven’t exactly made a secret of the fact that I’m on a bit of a low pulse for Final Fantasy XIV
at the moment. Some of that is just me and being in a rough place mentally; some of that is the game being in a rather in-between place
as it gears up for the still distant second expansion. But this is the week of Thanksgiving for those of us in the US, and let me tell you: Even if I’m not playing as much of the game at the moment, I’m still immensely thankful for it.
While I could talk about cool people I’ve met or nifty parts of the community, the fact of the matter is that I feel like the game only deserves peripheral credit for that; after all, lots of games (darn near all of them, even) have cool community stuff and the like. So instead, I want to talk about the cool stuff that’s unique to FFXIV. What makes me thankful for this game in particular?
It’s a big question to answer, but I think a large part of it comes down to an anecdote from liveblogging.
It’s kind of weird to think about the fact that we just passed the four-year anniversary of the end of an era in Final Fantasy XIV
. The world came to an end in a way that could only
happen in an online game, a moment that felt like nothing so much as the halfway marker of Final Fantasy VI
. We fought, and we strived, and we did all that we could, and we completely failed.
And there are people who are playing the game as their main experience who have absolutely no memory of it because they weren’t there.
If you think I’m upset about that, you’re wrong; I’m thrilled. I’m glad that the game has advanced to the point where people are playing the game and enjoying it without any real conception of the huge mess that was the original version. But now, three years away from that conclusion, I find myself looking back and thinking about it… and how it was at once awesome and something that no subsequent experience in the game can ever replicate.
My original plan for this week was to dive into the newest parts of the the Palace of the Dead, but I shan’t mince words: That didn’t happen. There are several unrelated reasons complicating my lack of motivation, but unquestionably part of it is down to the fact that this right now is the worst
time to be a big fan of Final Fantasy XIV
Back in July, I noted that the game was at a really flush point, with plenty of content and plenty of motivation to steamroll along. Now, however, we’ve gone in the other direction, plummeting down until the next few months start pulling us up once again. I touched a bit in that column on why this was inevitable, but I want to talk a little bit more about why this cycle is probably one of the worst places for the game, even if we’re not exactly hurting for content compared to a few months ago.
As a horror game, Final Fantasy XIV
fails, due largely to the fact that it isn’t a horror game and never attempts or pretends to be one. It’s the same sort of charming Renaissance fantasy as Final Fantasy XI
, and that’s exactly what it wants to be. If you want to play a dedicated horror MMO, you play The Secret World
That having been said, there’s a lot of difference between a horror game and a game containing horrific things. FFXIV does not try to be the former, but boy, it loves introducing you to the latter. Lest we forget, this is the game that also only just wrapped up the story of a woman carrying her dead fiancé’s head in a bag, and that was just an aside.
I won’t surprise anyone by revealing that today is Halloween, and since that’s my favorite holiday I won’t surprise anyone by saying that I want to look on the frightening side of things. So let’s look at the scariest everything in Final Fantasy XIV today. Or at least, everything that I can think of for one column.
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.