Expansion mode is that state where your character is as ready for the expansion as you care to be. Sure, you could run more dungeons in theory, clear another piece of content or two… but what’s the point? You’re not trying to catch up. You can get into Ishgard. You are, for all intents and purposes, done with the majority of the game as it stands now. That means that by definition you are not the person that the last incremental patch is designed to address.
There have been two significant intermezzo patches that I haven’t really discussed here. The first was the Steps of Faith “nerf,” which I don’t really think deserves the name. Second, of course, was the bump of the Poetics cap from 450 a week to 900 a week, or what I described as the death of my motivation to bother capping every week.
It’s not that I couldn’t do so to keep fleshing out one of my other classes; I could most certainly finish kitting out my PLD or SCH or whatever. It’s that I cannot, really, get 900 poetics in a week on demand. Once it became something that I couldn’t do without murdering myself with constant roulettes, my interest dropped pretty rabidly because seriously, it doesn’t matter. I’m at 130 on my main job, I’m in expansion mode, and I just needed something to do.
But, of course, it’s not for me.
Let’s step back for a moment and talk about the Steps of Faith, which was recently toned down. I don’t care for the phrasing of nerf because leaving aside how mangled that term has become, the actual mechanics of the trial are identical. Cast times for abilities are no shorter, stuff like Landwaster will still wreck your day just as certainly, and you still have to pay attention to when you fire those Dragonkillers.
All that’s changed are the numbers. The last time I ran the trial pre-tuning, a single missed dragonkiller was death. Afterward, we succeeded with a missed Killer shot without too much trouble. It would have been better to hit, and we hit with both of the other killers, but that wasn’t the point.
If you want to argue that the trial is easier, you’re allowed to, but I don’t think there’s much actual change there. What I feel has changed is simply the amount of margin for error present in the trial. It’s no longer a matter of hitting perfectly with every part of the trial or dying immediately, then watching as Vishap slooooooowly marches along the bridge.
In other words, it’s not for the people who could not get the mechanics down to save their lives. It’s for the people who haven’t already done the trial to death and just want to be able to clear it before the expansion launches. Having brought my alt up to that level and done the trial again pre-tuning, it feels like a reasonable change; I ran with at least two groups that ended in failure even though everyone knew the mechanics just because tuning allowed for no gaps in execution.
Not everyone was clearing Steps of Faith on the day it came out. Some people came to it later. Some people are just now getting to this content, and since the powers that be have decided that it’s necessary content to see the expansion… well, Square-Enix is not stupid. It wants people to experience the expansion and the content therein.
The poetics cap is a similar function. If you wanted to, you could have a full set of 120 gear in a handful of weeks with the new cap. Sure, it’d take a whole bunch of dungeon running, but you could. You could definitely go into the expansion well-kitted and ready to hit new challenges right in the face. The goal is not to make sure that the people who have capping religiously can ascend a bit higher; it’s to make sure that everyone who has been playing catch-up can, in fact, catch up to a reasonable degree.
None of this does anything to mollify those of us who are in expansion mode, but what in the world could? By definition, we’re pretty much done. What we need now is more content, like, say… an entire expansion. And that’s not coming out until next month.
I may have a countdown running.
Part of what I enjoy about FFXIV in philosophical terms is that while the team doesn’t seem to be perfect about it, there is a general acceptance of the idea that people coming in later should be able to catch up and get to the top. There is not a slow grind to the apex that requires doing steps along the way which you don’t care about; there’s the apex, but as that height gets bigger, the steps along the way become easier. The Crystal Tower series, the ever-rising tide of tomestones, everything is a matter of releasing the new best and brightest, then making it easier to get up there. This is how it’s always been.
So right now, it’s easier to get up to a good place for Heavensward‘s starting gun. I think that’s pretty awesome. We’ve even been promised that once the starting gun goes off, we’ll have a little time to get comfortable and get going before we have to worry about weekly caps, which it a good thing for me, since I’ve got at least one character who will need to make up 20 levels before getting back to current content.
It’s been more than a year, we’ve all settled into a comfortable routine, and I’m not going to lie and pretend I haven’t been having a grand old time. With occasional missteps. But as far as I’m concerned, all of this is signaling that the game no longer cares about this stuff right now. There’s an expansion coming, and it’s going to be a whole new ball of wax.
Until then, I’m sort of stuck in expansion mode. It isn’t fun for me, honestly, but it means that the people who aren’t stuck in expansion mode have more space to catch up. I consider that a net win.
As always, you can feel free to tell me that I’m full of it down in the comments or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can agree with me if you can really think of no finer use of your time for an idle evening. Next time around, I want to talk about what we’ve seen of the new skills so far… or not, because we’re kind of lacking in context for all of them and don’t know what they’re going to be. (It will make sense when I write it, promise.)