Of course, the patch notes rarely contain a whole lot of surprising stuff; we knew all of the major additions coming with this patch well in advance, and in some ways the biggest surprise is simply what isn’t coming with this particular patch. There are no new big systems coming with patch 3.3, nothing to turn the existing rules on their ear, nothing but more content. Of course, it’s new content almost everywhere, so this may not be a bad thing. So let’s take a trip through what we know of the patch and get geared up.
Dungeons, trials, and the main scenario
Sohr Khai, to no great surprise, is linked in with the main scenario. The same is true of the Final Steps of Faith. Neither of these facts will be even slightly surprising to anyone who has been paying attention; a quick stopover at Limsa Lominsa before the MSQ will ensure that you can quickly get into both of the new dungeons with minimal fuss while you watch the Dragonsong War come to an end.
I think it’s also interesting that much of the denouement is shuffled off into sidequests; this, I think, is an important distinction that had not been previously made with the main scenario. While I’m all in favor of requiring players to clear the story in order to advance to the next major story (this isn’t Final Fantasy XI with its branching main plotlines), there are usually a lot of extraneous quests along the way, helped by the sprawling cast and varied objectives going on at any given time. Going through the main quests in the future with alts will allow you to bypass some of this fluff in the name of expediency, which is certainly welcome.
There’s also the Weeping City out there, but I have to be honest, I find this particular story to be a bit of a non-starter except in environment. I’m looking forward to experiencing it, but I don’t really care about the characters involved. So it goes.
New crafts and new reasons to craft
Having the moogles be the “crafting” beast tribe is something I like from a mechanical standpoint. We’ve needed a set of crafting-specific quests, after all, and the nature of the Vanu Vanu and the Gnath make them suitable for sustained leveling in a way that the other beast tribes weren’t. I do, however, wish that the game had a better header for these quests than beast tribes, since they… sort of aren’t. It’s a nitpick of terminology, I know, but it still bothers me a little.
Craftable and dyeable Ironworks gear for crafters is pretty great, as is the addition of Dreadwyrm gear along the lines of the previous Coil gear. I am, however, a bit sad that we are getting a melding NPC added to the game. Certainly it makes the process of melding much easier, but it also makes crafters a bit less relevant and severely damages the catalyst market for players. It may be a necessary evil to keep things balanced with more melding for gear from here on out; that doesn’t mean I entirely like it.
I will admit to a certain degree of anxiety over new crafted gear for crafting/gathering, seeing as how that has the potential to head back into the same dark territory as before, where it was all about sinking extraordinary amounts of gil into melding if you wanted to be on even footing. But that’s just a preference thing.
No, we’re not having this discussion about the enormous mess that the housing system still is right now, we need some actual changes here, more wards do not count as changes, see you all here the next time this erupts in problems. There, we’re done, good night.
The addition of Aquapolis seems… cool, on one level, I suppose. Also largely arbitrary, insofar as it’s not really tied to much of anything. Map groups had traditionally not been the most coordinated lot, but it’s as solid an incentive as you could ask for to get back to forming parties and jumping around. There’s a general malaise around maps at the moment, so this could help bring back some of the fun of searching and digging.
I wonder if some of the purpose behind Aquapolis is just testing the waters (pun not intended) for the upcoming Palace of the Dead. We’ll have to wait and see.
No expeditions after all
The Diadem was the first area for players to explore via airship expeditions, and on some level it seemed like it was a concept we’d revisit for 3.3. But there are no new expedition areas being added, and it’s kind of conspicuous in its absence. The implementation in the first version was kind of a mess, but it’s still odd that we’re getting… nothing whatsoever. Not even a mention.
In fact, this marks something of a departure insofar as there are still some odd balance issues with gear availability. Yes, we’ll start getting upgrade items, but it’s still a pain to get a 230 weapon (or a 240 weapon). Albeit less of one, since the drop rate for luminous crystals is being improved and it should be that much easier to level along now. I wonder if the lack of a new area for expeditions comes down in part to a need for more control over the upgrade flow than had existed in 3.1. More testing is needed.
Not that I’ll exactly be sad if that whole system dies a soft and quiet death. We’ll see what future patches and/or expansions bring, but this would have seemed to be the ideal time if we were getting another one.
Old content gets easier
The looting restrictions for Alexander have been relaxed, you no longer need to run Void Ark for Mhachi matter, and the new dungeons drop 215 gear which will blow any older bits of upgraded armor right out of the water. This is generally normal, but still welcome. The fact that the whole raid finder is in place also makes queueing up for older Savage content that much easier, even if you’re primarily going to be there for glamour purposes now. It’s not like additional story is unlocked or the rewards are incredibly valuable.
Ultimately, what we see now is the closest thing we’ve had to an entirely by-the-numbers patch, with all of the normal content and very little in the way of new systems until the Palace of the Dead releases. Of course, seeing as how “normal content” means new dungeons, a new raid, a new trial, new hairstyles, new quests, new daily quests, new crafting recipes of varying levels, and a new battleground, it’s hard to be unhappy about all of that.
Feedback is welcome in the comments below or via mail to email@example.com. Next week… you know I’m going to be talking about the patch. There may be spoilers. Just expect it.