Wisdom of Nym: Benchmarks and lore for Final Fantasy XIV

    
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Cold analysis.
Maybe it’s just me, but with the steady drip of information that we’ve gotten about Final Fantasy XIV‘s first expansion, I find myself sometimes having trouble keeping track of what has and hasn’t been discussed to death. There’s a lot of stuff! And it’s almost universally interesting stuff, at that. At least, it is if you’re almost pathological in your fixation on this game’s lore and such, which I feel I can safely assume you are if you’re reading this column on a weekly basis.

I can also assume that you’ve probably grabbed the Heavensward benchmark by now and played with it, which I certainly have (Extremely High on Maximum, for the record). So let’s talk about that marvelous program with its character creation, and let’s also discuss a bit of that lore we got on the official site not too long ago. It’s all fascinating stuff.

Makin’ lizards

Literally everyone she knows is two feet taller than her.Let’s get something obvious out of the way: There are some issues with the gender split for the Au Ra. The fact that the character creator even calls out the gross sexual dimorphism between the genders is kind of telling. It’s not the best setup in the world, with the men perfectly poised to create big scary demonic dudes and the women apparently deviating pretty far from the existing demonic options for ladies (looking at you, Amandine) to make sure that they’re petite and cute.

Hey, I said I would reserve judgement until we got to the character creator. It’s here; no more reservations.

That being said, the Au Ra fit pretty nicely with the other races, and the options that you do get are pretty great. I’ve been playing with the creator quite a bit just to see how I’ll want my Au Ra to look, and she has a variety of styles available to her. We don’t get the full range of poses available, but there’s a definite style and energy to the race, and much like other races they feel appropriately non-human without being wholly alien. I like them.

The other big thing to do is to play around with the new hairstyles, which I haven’t done much outside of the Au Ra. I’m pleased that we’re seeing more and more styles ported between races or made universal; there are still some styles I’d like to see more widely available (a Hyur midlander style springs to mind as being an obvious fit for every race but miqo’te), but that message seems to be gotten.

Benching and suggestions

Deriving conclusions about what the game will look like solely from benchmark videos is tricky. We see animations and moves in action, but nothing is locked in stone, and as a result we’re given just enough of a hint about what comes next that we know something is changing.

There’s also the temptation to read something into the zone screenshots, which is almost certainly a bad idea, since by the standards of the original benchmark that should mean we’re fighting Ifrit out in the open world.

The Paladin skills are the ones we seem to get the clearest view of, and there are two tricks there, one obvious and one less so. The little armored wall effect is interesting, and it seems as if it was enhanced for dramatic effect, but I do wonder how that one’s going to work. I don’t think it’s a limit effect; we know that the Dragoon level 3 break was on display, but nothing else. So it’s likely a skill. Part of me wants to hope it’s something bonkers like a party-wide absorb or making a safe zone behind the Paladin, but more realistically I think that it’s going to be another defense boost of some kind.

If you can seriously pick out a whole bunch of information from this picture, honestly, how I envy you.Of course, PLD doesn’t lack for defensive cooldowns as it stands, so maybe I’m wrong. It would be really cool if the effect were something along the lines of a one-shot absorb shield, taking the hit from the next attack and then dissipating no matter what.

Equally interesting is the sudden Paladin upswing after a straight stab. The first time I watched it, I misread that as Spirits Within, but it appears to be Riot Blade preceding the swing. That would give PLD a second three-hit combo, which is an obvious extension the job has needed for some time; part of the reason people perceive the class as boring is the fact that you spam the same combo over and over while rotating your cooldowns.

A lot of other new tricks are on display, but many of them aren’t readily apparent due to the fact that they’re being used in the midst of huge battles without obvious cues. I’m curious about the Ninja in the opening dungeon using a palm strike on an enemy; based on that scene, it looks almost like an execution effect, but obviously Ninja doesn’t want for those to begin with. What could it be?

We also still need to find out what the “solution” will be for the fact that there are no classes in existence with loads of empty slots on their hotbars. Still need to wait for that, apparently.

Oh, right, the lore

I have to admit that I was intensely satisfied with the huge unloading of lore on the official site recently for largely selfish reasons. After spending a great deal of time setting up my characters to play certain jobs in Heavensward and expecting that I’d have to fudge some details, I find out that Machinist and Dark Knight are exactly in line with all that character prep work. I guessed right, hooray!

The addition of Skysteel Manufactory particularly intrigues me because it speaks to an obvious and awesome element of the game that’s been danced around without being stated outright. Ishgard has engineers that haven’t ever intersected with the Ironworks or the Garleans, but that knowledge came from somewhere. Perhaps – and this is wild theorizing – the reason that there are vague hints of Goblin aesthetics among this equipment is that that’s the point of origin? Might we be learning a bit more about those masked beastmen?

I also hope we learn about all of these cat engineers chasing and whapping at screws knocked under tables.Or they just figured it out on their own, sure, but the game loves having intellectual osmosis as a plot point. See also: Garlond Ironworks, the Ixal beast tribe quests, the Black Mage questline, and so forth.

Dark Knight’s lore nicely tanks rumors that a major NPC from the end of 2.55 would serve as the class trainer; there would be way too many story developments that would need to happen for that to make sense, and given that we can apparently pick up the new jobs just by walking into Ishgard, there’s not enough time for that. I do like the idea that they essentially serve as a “who watches the watchmen” for the nation’s knightly orders, with the implication that they’re tacitly accepted even though they’re technically criminals.

Last but not least, we have the Astrologians, which… I’m going to be honest, I still have no strong feelings about these guys. I totally get why they’re in the expansion, even discarding the need for a new healer, because I’d be dollars to doughnuts that Ishgardian Astrologians are derived from the pure art. But so far they just don’t feel as connected to what’s going o. They’re an aspect of Ishgardian culture that we already sort of knew about that’s tied more heavily to a nation we’re not visiting yet. They look cool, though.

While I’m not as psyched about the Au Ra dimorphism, I do like that the Xaela in particular have strong shades of Mongol culture, right down to riding horses on the steppes. Raen seem to be more Tibetan/Bhutanese, although we’ll likely have to wait until we head to Doma to get all the details.

I can wait, though. I’ve got some Dark Knight action to get on.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments or by mail to eliot@massivelyop.com; I would prefer if you keep the comment section largely spoiler-free this week, as I’m going back to a general spoiler blackout for those who are still working through that story. Next week, assuming we haven’t gotten another big unexpected infodump, I’m going to talk about cross-class abilities, what we can expect in 3.0, and whether or not the Armoury system is still serving its intended purpose.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.
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Sobach
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Sobach

Oprah Elemental: “You can be a padjal…. YOU can be a padjal…. EVERYONE can be a padjal!!!”

Sobach
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Sobach

we have races with zero dimorphism, why is having one with dimorphism bad all of a sudden?

Sobach
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Sobach

if the new jobs are the ONLY thing that’s interesting to them, they won’t stay anyway. lvling in this game is trivial, what are they gonna do once then done and have nothing they find interesting to do?

mindfulpizza
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mindfulpizza

I see a problem with the expansion , It going be like chains (CoP)  from ffxi all over again , were returning players are left out.

Even though many may have  stop at/or  before the  2.3 version, and  the new players are left out also .  There is going to be no reason for them to purchase the expansion or the bundle If i am correct. It. worthless for them.  

Unless they, the new players or the returning players ,  get the new jobs with out beating the story , then there no reason for them to  return or, and try the game out for awhile again , unless there is  a good sell price at at steam or amazon or ect site. 

That hurts the game in long run, less subscribers . 

I Thought that expansions were supposed to be design bring back old players and new players , with great content for the more season mmo player. Middle stuff on the patches for the more season vets , for extra jobs like versions 3.5 you have new job but hard to get . 

This game looking to go backwards to yesteryear.  

I already know a few that wanted to play darknight from after Pm to the conclusion to get to the main expansion story there like , screw it not getting it ,  That way they had more game play hrs to the main story of the expansion .

Cindy_Adorkly
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Cindy_Adorkly

ReginaldAtkins As am I. This is the first job that I want to do and not just settle with like I did with Scholar and White Mage.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

themindstream Eliot_Lefebvre ManastuUtakata 
…those elementals could always have a Padjal “fire” sale. >.>

ReginaldAtkins
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ReginaldAtkins

honestly I’m seriously seriously looking forward to Astrologian.

xania
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xania

I love my Au Ra, fiddling around and making every detail of her appearance perfect in preparation. Until I actually watch her in action in the benchmark and realise she’s half the height of everyone else. It truly does ruin the hype I have. :( 

The dimorphism doesn’t even make any sense – the most popular male characters are Lalafell and Miqo’te too! So how come we didn’t get another bunch of cutesy guys? Oh right… variety. But apparently girls don’t get any of that and must all be slight and cute.

themindstream
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themindstream

Eliot_Lefebvre ManastuUtakata Also, Padjal are not born that way, they are normal people chosen by the Elementals
as more-or-less emissaries between the forest and the spoken races. The
horns and the eternal youth are side effects of that. And we know
how…tempermental, to put it nicely…the Elementals are.

dustbunnyb
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dustbunnyb

oda_duh It’s on the Heavensward official site under the lore tab:

http://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/heavensward/