Then again, perhaps it’s only fitting, because this patch is… not the end of an era, but the start of a big sea change. Just like patch 2.3 marked the start of a change from the relaunch story into Heavensward, patch 3.3 looks like it’s going to start setting the stage for the next expansion. Unless, of course, we’re getting elaborately faked out. Regardless, let’s look at what we know so far about the patch.
The end of the Dragonsong War
One of the surprises that came out of the letter was the promise that the next patch’s MSQ will include the final chorus of the Dragonsong War, which I honestly had not expected to see until much later in the expansion cycle. I expected it to happen, of course; it’s the next logical step for the story, and too many hints have been dropped. But it seemed as if it would make for a better big conclusion than anything, and it’s part of why I see this and suspect that we might be getting faked out. Perhaps the end of the war will not mean the end of the most obviously associated NPC, or perhaps there’s something else yet to come which we aren’t aware of…
Regardless, I’m looking forward to it. Part of what has made Heavensward so compelling, story-wise, is the fact that the central conflict really does feel at once sadly inevitable and entirely fixable without serving as any sort of allegory. You can completely see why Nidhogg would hold on to so much anger about what was done to his siblings, and yet it’s also very obvious that it’s pointless anger directed at descendants too far removed to have a personal stake in matters any longer. And all of that hate is now quite effectively bundled up in one place.Mild spoilers herein if you haven't already finished the MSQ for the expansion. Although you should probably be taking a break from the column for a while if that's the case, we're midway in an expansion cycle.
Of course, assuming this really does wrap up the war, we’ll have to be doing something else for the next couple of patches… but given the whole Warriors of Darkness subplot and the repeated hints about Yda and Papalymo, I’m sure we’ll have plenty of directions to go from here. I also can’t help but wonder if there’s a particular reason we haven’t yet seen Yda’s face during the bits of story hinting…
More moogles (and dragons)
I will admit that I’m not terribly happy for the upcoming moogle/dragon beast tribe quests for a few reasons, not the least of which being that it’s muddying the waters pretty thoroughly. Neither of the races in question are exactly beast tribes unless you really squint and struggle to make the connection; I’d much rather see actual beast tribes getting more time in the sun. Granted, it’s probably going to be a while before we get to chat it up with Mamool Ja, but I can still wish, can’t I?
Aside from definition pedantry, there’s also the fact that unlike the other tribes, there’s not as much to explore with these two. All of the beast tribes are more integrated along the main scenario path this time, definitely, with plenty of screen time given over to the Gnath and the Vanu Vanu even if you never do the daily quests. But learning about the dragons has kind of been the entire point of this expansion, and I’ve already learned more about moogles than I ever felt a need to know. I’m dubious that there’s much new to be shown.
Not that it’s going to stop me from playing the quests. It just has me less excited than I might otherwise be.
More dungeons, more Mhach
I am still kind of sad that we’re going back to Mhachi dungeons for this part of the Void Ark series. Not super sad, but I’d love to see more of the Nymian or Amdapori culture beyond the small hints we’ve gotten in dungeons. Then again, the fact that we’re getting some possible insight into the antecedent of Ul’dahn culture does cover a multitude of sins, especially when one considers that Ul’dah has a huge amount of history which is more or less altogether forgotten. Also, I’m on board with anything that involves a pyramid.
Hullbreaker returning is in keeping with the progression up until now; I don’t think expecting Snowcloak for 3.4 is unreasonable, although it’s going to be very curious to see what Keeper of the Lake looks like for a returning hard mode. Unless, of course, we already know the answer if we think about it a little bit. We already have to fight off a Garlean salvage operation in the original form, after all.
Regardless, Hullbreaker makes me happy because much like Halatali, it’s a dungeon we’re revisiting for reasons other than it being re-infested with new horrors. That always makes me happy, because it shows how the world changes over time and how players have a longer-term impact in the game world. You cleared this place out before, now it’s being used for something different. Add to that how much I liked the original Hullbreaker and I’m very excited to dive back into the island.
There’s not much to be said about the new story dungeon, but I do expect that will serve as one of the big capstones for this particular patch cycle. There may even be a trial associated with it, although we’ve heard no whispers of such. Sohr Khai is rather obviously a Dravanian name, but what awaits therein is as of yet unclear; if it’s not the end of the Dragonsong War in and of itself, though, it’ll no doubt be close.
There’s still a lot to be talked about from what we already know about the patch, of course – new grounds for Frontline, the treasure hunting dungeon, more housing – but there’s only so much space in a given column, and much of what we’ve had hinted about is still just hints. Still, you can feel free to share your own thoughts about what we know so far in the comments or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I want to sing a song in praise of Merit Points and how I still hope for a similar system to arrive in FFXIV at some point.