I also had honestly not expected we’d see patch 3.4 until October to coincide with Fanfest, although I imagine that the flipside of this is that 3.45 will likely be closer to the NA Fanfest dates. Or maybe we’ll just learn more about the expansion at fanfest than we had previously expected. There are a lot of possibilities. Regardless, we know now that we’ll have some time to play around in the post-Dragonsong world in a month, and that in and of itself inspirse speculation.
Along with, you know, the huge amount of content that we’re being promised for the next patch.
If there were a clearer indication that we’re heading toward Ala Mhigo, I don’t know of one. Getting to explore Xelphatol really sends a message, and it’s also a really interesting choice when you consider how little we’ve interacted with the Ixal in this expansion. Which makes sense; Ishgard’s attitude toward the Ixal and beast tribes in general has always been one of benign neglect. They don’t bother the tribes, the tribes don’t bother them, everyone’s happy and no one feels the need to start a Gridanian-style vendetta over a few chopped trees.
Of course, there’s the possibility, odd though it might seem, that Xelphatol isn’t a main scenario dungeon. The Great Gubal Library might be what merits a story-based return trip.
What we know of the main scenario thus far is that it’s going to involve the Warriors of Darkness, which implies that Alisaie and Urianger are going to be playing parts in the unfolding drama. And we know that the Great Gubal Library contains some tomes of interest to both of the above, especially after certain story stingers that we’ve seen along the way. Could that be why we’re getting a hard mode for a dungeon not so long ago in our memory?
I don’t know. I do know that this is an interesting wrench in the sequence of dungeons with hard modes, though. A shame, I was looking forward to Snowcloak.
Grand Company updates
Hooray, at long last we’ll have something new to do here! This is a system that’s been unfortunately stagnant for quite some time, and I’m eager to see how the whole Squadron system plays out. The interface that we’ve been shown certainly is reminiscent of Garrisons, and to be real, I would not exactly be surprised if FFXIV dropped that entire system into the middle of a patch cycle just like it weren’t no thing.
What gives me pause is that we’ve been specifically told that there’s content we can challenge with our squadrons, which implies something very different than just passively sending them out and seeing what they bring back. Especially since that basically sounds like a light reskinning of retainer ventures anyhow. I’m very curious about how this is going to shake out, as well as what players can expect from the new gear; the fact that it’s doable solo gives me hope and should provide some extra stuff for the more solo-happy community in the game.
The new rank is also interesting, which lends some support to my thought that this bit of the story is going to involve much more Grand Company business than before. For that matter, I think it’s interesting to consider that in light of the Xelphatol addition; the Grand Companies, for better or for worse (worse), have had a long history of being very focused upon fighting against the beast tribes.
Tails and tales
I have no idea what the Wondrous Tails feature is supposed to be, because we have yet to be told what it is outside of it involving a miqo’te kitten and weaving stories. My first instinct is to say that it’s my sort of thing, just the same. That sounds like my sort of thing, after all.
Oh, yes, and we’re getting more stories about the Scholisticate and more Hildibrand quests. I have to admit that I’m not as excited about that. The Hildibrand story thus far has left me kind of cold compared to the humor of the 2.x storyline, and the Scholisitcate stuff in general never did much for me. It’s enough to make me miss the postmoogle quests, even if they serve the same function.
Apartments and what?
If there were any major missteps during this particular letter, and I’d argue there were, the apartments were the big one. Players had been promised that Apartments would “fix” the major issues with housing. Then… we’re told that apartments will be high-rises and… nothing. Nothing more is shared. There’s a communal area, there do appear to be limits on how many people can have apartments, and there’s a chocobo stable.
Really? Nothing? How big are the rooms? What are the limits? If it’s 512 apartments per ward, that’s a lot more housing… if it’s 512 rooms per district, it’s not fixing anything about the current housing problem. Can you still use the residential aetheryte? Can you have an apartment and a house at the same time? Are more apartment buildings easier to add than more housing plots? Why is this not instanced?
The answers to all of these questions is apparently “dual cross hotbars!” Because that was what followed the whole apartment bit, and it followed it with so many crucial questions left unanswered that anyone with a passing interest in housing was left staring in disbelief. How can you make such a big point of discussing this only to leave out, like, every relevant piece of information?
I’m still really annoyed by the way in which housing has been handled in the game overall, and this is not changing that fact. It’s an uncomfortable middle ground between limited land and instanced housing, and the result isn’t optimal for anyone. My hope had been that this mechanic would include Ishgardian housing options and be more inclusive, but at this point it’s still a big question mark. More information is needed, and what we know so far is not as heartening as I’d like; if all we were going to get was this, I almost would have preferred that it not be brought up at all beyond “we’re not ready to talk about apartments” followed by all of the dual cross hotbar nonsense.
Frankly, I’d like more features to not make my existing non-controller hotbars less of a hot mess, thanks.
Feedback, like always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to email@example.com. Next time around, barring unexpected announcements, I want to take on something that I’ve had bouncing around in my head for a while as a useful reference point by noting some myths and misconceptions about how Final Fantasy XIV works.