Today, I want to dive into that realm, some of the stuff that’s been mentioned as an offhand at various points, features “promised” insofar as someone said they were coming along at one point or another, and so forth. Some of these features are still coming. Some of them probably aren’t. And some of them… we might not really want after all.
One of the most striking moments in the first benchmark for the rebooted game is when we see a whole alliance of players battling Ifrit out in the open fields of Thanalan. It’s still the same basic battle against Ifrit that we’ve all seen before by this point, of course, but there’s something to the sheer scope of it, the idea that Ifrit is now so powerful that he can’t be contained by a battlefield. And that level of power can’t help but spark the imagination, because that’s the sort of thing we immediately think of when it comes to summons – massive, powerful, and world-shattering beings imparting a fraction of their power.
Back when the game was still preparing to launch, there was a great deal of talk about the idea that free companies could head out, slay primals in the field, and then acquire the right to summon the primals for a short time. Unlike proper Summoners, these summons would be enormous effects that wouldn’t stick around. It’s something that still gets mentioned from time to time in interviews. So what happened?
The answer, obviously, is that it would be a mess even just from the setup stage. We all know about the drama that already exists around A-rank and S-rank hunts when they pop up in the world, and those barely add anything. They’re just another way of getting resources you can already can get at a steady rate. Imagine all of that with the added “benefit” of people trying to pull things just for a specific free company.
Then imagine the drama over when it’s acceptable for someone in the free company to use that super-powerful summon, because you know someone would want to roast something solo in otherwise unsoloable content. If it’s one-time use, it winds up being too awesome to ever use.
We’ve also seen the technical side of the problem when it comes to the Odin spawns throughout the Shroud – it’s very easy for people to have a hard time even seeing Odin, much less to engage and defeat him. Odin’s the only thing along these lines that we’ve seen, and we wound up getting a trial to battle Odin just to give us all a real chance at fighting him one-on-one.
At the end of the day, it’s just not something practical within the game’s framework. We’ve even moved on from having primals show up in FATEs; while Heavensward has big currency FATEs, they’re just for particularly notorious monsters. That may be the legacy of this idea, which sounds neat but would cause a hell of a mess in implementation.
This is something that was mentioned around the same time that it became clear Summoners were not going to be getting any new egis for Heavensward. The idea, as stated, was that players would be able to select their egis from a pool of available summons. You wouldn’t just be limited to Titan, Ifrit, and Garuda, with the Carbuncles making an appearance, other primals like Leviathan, and so forth.
So where did this go? We don’t know, because the answer may very well be that it’s still entirely a thing that’s happening. It just hasn’t happened yet. Because this is a time-intensive sort of operation.
We’ve gotten a pretty steady stream of unique glamour options for weapons for various jobs. There are the Gold Saucer weapons, the new kettles and the “invisible” fist weapons, the Odin sword for those who successfully slay the Dark Divinity frequently enough… all of that fun stuff. We don’t have many fun cosmetic options for Scholar and Summoner at the moment, and part of that is probably because altering pet appearances is both the most straightforward and most obvious way to do so.
Unfortunately, it’s also kind of resource-intensive. You have to decide where the list of egis stops, for example – is it just the big six? Does it include 2.0 mainstays like Odin and Bahamut? Does it also include Ravana and Bismarck? The final boss of 3.0’s storyline? For that matter, you also need to decide what qualifies as “defeating” these bosses, whether the story version is enough or you need to do extreme versions where applicable. There’s a lot of fine detail to be considered, that’s the point.
I don’t think there’s any reason to assume it’s not coming, but it’s going to take a little while, and the past two patches have had enough big stuff in them that it’s understandably not in yet. When it will be in is an open question; I’m honestly not expecting it until closer to the end of the patch cycle, probably working ahead to all of the options players can have by the end of this particular expansion.
This is actually skirting the edge of stuff that was actually said; there have been intimations made that new content is coming which will make use of new companions and Magitek Armor in particular, but it’s never exactly been a promised feature. Still, we’ve long had our customizable chocobos as a feature of the game along with a wide variety of companions that we can’t customize, and players have been asking for more variety for quite some time. Are we ever going to get companion options other than chocobos, or for that matter the option to bring our companions into more places?
The problem here has a lot to do with the way that companions are currently coded into the game, acting as AI-controlled party members. There has been talk about giving options to run content like Crystal Tower and the like with other NPC companions, but as of yet nothing has come of this, in part because it’s pretty darned difficult to make AI companions that actually pay attention to mechanics properly.
I don’t think that the thought of more companions and/or more things to do with companions has fallen off of the radar so much as it’s become a complicated matter to work through for the designers. It’s definitely important and worth doing, but much like the aforementioned egi system it’s not very useful done by half measures. Better to put the whole thing together in one big update rather than just slowly trickle out marginal improvements here and there.
And perhaps when it does finally come out in one big rush, we can finally do things like have our companions out when we’re queued up for content. I can dream.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next time around, I’d like to chatter about the beast tribes, what we know about each of them so far, and where we may go with beast tribe lore and quests as we progress through Heavensward.