I think the censors have gotten a bit overzealous in obscuring nearly every single quest title, but apparently that’s the world we live in and so we may as well all learn to accept it.
As always, there’s stuff that we already know about in the patch and things that we didn’t know about, and there’s stuff we can’t fully analyze without having the patch in front of us. So let’s take a look at what’s going on in the patch that we know of now, piece by piece, and we’ll analyze what’s going on between the lines of explicit content and additions that we already knew about.
More steps to victory
We learned that there are now high-capacity tomestones that players will have to deal with if they want to pick up new weapons… and that doesn’t exactly make me happy. One of the things that I’ve quite enjoyed with Heavensward was the fact that you could simply drop your tomestones and be happy rather than be forced to jump through additional hoops just to progress with your gearing. So that’s rather annoying.
The bright side is that the tomestone in question is not just a drop, but a certain reward for clearing part of Alexander on a regular basis. That turns the whole thing from a tedious exercise in hope a la Syrcus Tower drops into something that can, in fact, be planned around – it’s a bit of foresight about how to keep Alexander relevant and useful for players as opposed to its launch state.
Of course, we still have the item upgrading nonsense, which is irritating; what raises more questions is how materia slots (which are at least theoretically on this gear) will be handled. Will you need to fuse new materia to the normal form and upgraded form? I’m happy to see that acquiring materia is becoming a bit more straightforward with the addition of various items to trade, but re-fusing your gear on a regular basis seems like the sort of thing that normally comes with a cash shop buy-around and much gnashing of teeth.
Still, though, making gearing less of a one-step affair has its benefits, and the idea of having some choice regarding what stats you put on your gear? That’s a good thing. Not a lot of choice, since there are still a pretty narrow set of choices for limited space, but some choice just the same.
Added for what?
Containment Bay S1T7 is not, as it turns out, part of the main scenario or any straightforward crush of content. The non-extreme version doesn’t appear to have any particular elements of gameplay associated with it aside from the natural impetus for players to go kill the big thing, and of course you can’t unlock the extreme version without fighting the normal one. That leaves me just a bit unsure as to what, exactly, it’s there to do.
Is it there so players can experience and important part of the story? It can’t be that important if it’s not tied into the main scenario at all. Are there associated rewards? I don’t know what they might be. Just there for a gating mechanism? Dumber things have happened. It seems a bit like content without a purpose or a goal, which is not something that has worked out marvelously for the game in recent history.
By the same token, having a training dummy to pop for DPS check purposes seems kind of unnecessary and not tremendously helpful. The problem is that it allows you to check your DPS in the most broad sense – there are no numbers and no recommendations if your rotation is weak, just a pass/fail system. The minimum item level already worked for this task. I suppose it’s possible that there will be an NPC there to offer useful advice if you don’t clear it in time, but that’s pure speculation.
The Hall of the Novice, on the other hand, has me very excited, if for no other reason than it promises to offer me equipment for glamour purposes. Yes, that’s really all it takes. (I’m hoping it can be dyed.)
Level life gets easier
The fact that you can queue up for leveling roulettes as a party now makes me very happy. One of the general philosophies that the game has espoused – which I encourage – is the idea that you should be able to play alongside your friends whether or not you’re all at the same level. That’s true as far as it goes, but if you’re leveling something at 54 and said friend is at level 23, you’re either not getting much experience or just leveling apart. Now you can at least run a roulette together.
New Vath quests certainly don’t hurt matters, either; I’m mostly hoping that the Vath manage to be a bit more engaging than the Vanu Vanu. I like the Vanu Vanu, but the storyline for those birds seemed like a joke that had run out of space after the first handful of quests, followed by fluttering around purely for leveling purposes. It worked, but it wasn’t exactly what I would call compelling.
One of the things that I’ve noticed for my own purposes is that some of my general reluctance to level in the current expansion comes down to how much harder it has become to handle leves – in the core game it was quite easy to just camp out by the right location and spam a series of levequests, but at this point you have to get three, head back to Ishgard, head back to their location, and so forth. It’s more obnoxious. Adding a few more bits and pieces to make leveling that much more straightforward is welcome.
It’s also nice that you can get experience in the entire Crystal Tower series now, although why that would be your approach is somewhat more unclear. There are other places to get your leveling done, and you’re going to be waiting a long time for that queue. Maybe if there’s a vanity piece in there which never wanted to drop, but there’s a point when it’s just not worth it any more.
Feedback, as always, is welcome down in the comments or via mail to email@example.com, as has been the case every week. Next time around, I’m obviously going to be knee-deep in the patch and figuring out all of the stuff added, so you’ll be reading about it here. Who wants to hear me rant about Alexander? I really hope you do; it’s going to be a recurring theme, I imagine.