None of this suggests something wrong with the game as a whole, but it’s interesting to see the many ways that the game’s events have shifted over its lifespan. We’re moving into the game’s third year of operation post-reboot, and both rewards from events and the content of events have been in a degree of flux for a while now. So as FATEs are chased on the beaches around Costa Del Sol, it’s interesting to consider the game’s history of events and what may yet come.
Let’s start with the obvious: Almost every single holiday event in the game since the relaunch has involved FATEs in some way. The few that haven’t used them tied into other mechanics in a similar fashion, like the treasure maps used for the most recent doll festival. And while I’m not a fan of FATEs in general, the design team has clearly learned quite a bit about how to make this work for events.
See, FATEs have a couple of major issues, especially for people trying to grind through levels with them, as they involve very little mechanical awareness and emphasize spamming AoE skills over anything else. They are, however, great for content where you just want a bunch of people in the same place to be able to participate in something. That’s exactly what events need, and the extra experience and such make for a nice bonus if you have a lower-level class rather than feeling like something solely for leveling purposes.
The most recent incarnation sets up a few unique FATEs and has those on what appears to be a short and separate respawn timer, which is very good. Some previous events have either had a single FATE spawning over and over (the Moonfire Faire when it was first introduced after the relaunch) or just used existing FATEs (hello, Lightning), neither of which has worked well. There’s the definite sense that the developers are trying to find new ways to work in content that’s repeatable without being automatic.
There’s also a sense of trying to find the right way to distribute the old seasonal rewards, and – let’s be honest – filling out the cash shop without pissing people off to no end. I think the current approach is about as equitable as can be, as dedicated players always have a chance to earn the rewards along the way or you can just pick it up if you missed the event. What seems a bit less equitable is the fact that players who have the achievement can just buy rewards from the Calamity Salvager, although I like that by and large players can just re-buy items they may have replaced or thrown away.
I’m also happy that this year’s event lets you immediately store rewards in the armoire. Every inventory slot I have is precious, and this year’s Moonfire Faire understand and accepts that. I need that level of acknowledgement.
The problem is that the previous solution of just letting people drop gil on old rewards wasn’t a good scene either; people were effectively encouraged to not take part in this year’s festivities because next year would come around and make items easier to get. I don’t exactly like the idea that there’s a month or so to earn the right to purchase these items followed by nothing but the cash shop, and I’d like to see some sort of happy medium. I especially feel this with emotes like the Bomb Dance, as locking it away for characters who weren’t around earlier feels a bit limiting.
This year’s Moonfire festivities also have a benefit that previous years’ events haven’t insofar as they make an effort to get everyone involved in the fun. Dedicated crafters and gatherers have a function to perform, quests and opportunities for making money that wouldn’t be there otherwise. That’s a worthy inclusion, especially when most of the holidays rely upon someone having at least a moderately leveled combat class. I recognize that the game has moved on from the days when every class could do every quest, and thank mercy for that, but that doesn’t mean holiday events need to be gated.
What players need, I think, is a feeling of how events are supposed to work. Part of me wonders whether the game’s somewhat scattershot event approach is a matter of the designers trying something new with each incarnation rather than settling on a style of content; I’m fairly sure that this year’s Halloween event will be completely different from previous Halloween events, use a totally different item to trade in, and ask players to undertake altogether different tasks. There’s also the fact that the events are not really time-gated in any way; it seems that most people who care plunge into the event on day one, then ignore it for the rest of its running time.
Of course, the alternative is having to carefully pace out the quests if you want to get everything, as was the case for the last winter holiday event. I don’t think that’s exactly a better solution, but some of that comes down to the limitations of the timeline given. Allowing people to get everything with only, say, five days of questing might be ideal, a compromise between having everything available on the first day and forcing you to slowly bleed it out.
By and large, I’m a fan of the game’s events. They don’t serve as content and aren’t put forth as content, but they generally are there to fill out spaces in the game’s patch cycles wherein not a whole lot is going on other than the usual routine. They’re something to do beyond the usual routines of crafting, gathering, dungeoneering, hunting, and so on. The game doesn’t lack for things to do, but the whole thing can fall into routines, and having something new for a little while is a good thing. Perhaps the experimental nature of every single event is just to avoid making the events routine, to give us something new to even further divert us from our usual behaviors, even if not for long.
I really would like to have something for the anniversary other than a lengthy stream, though.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You know how I do. Next week, regardless of silence about anniversaries, I want to talk about the second year out from the relaunch and the things we’ve learned and seen.