I can’t tell you the response they were hoping to generate, but I feel relatively confident that “duh” was not it.
Of course, that was a side note to last week’s live letter; the main event was the first preview of the game’s next patch, which is still rather ambiguous but is coming more into focus. No doubt we’ll learn more with the next letter and then move into the new year, so… well, let’s move forward. Let’s stalk about what we know and what is actually surprising.
Somewhat unfortunately, a lot of what we learned about the patch was equally unsurprising, in much the same way as the fan festival reveal. It’s not that anyone who likes the game would be unhappy about this; it’s that all of this was stuff that you could see coming a mile away, so it’s less “big surprise” and more “yes, things are going as you expect.”
The story focuses on Doma and will probably incorporate the new dungeon in the Ruby Sea as part of it? Yes, we can guess that. Two new dungeons, one hard mode and one totally new? Yep, predictable. Snake lady beast quests? Uh-huh. New trials based on the Four Symbols starting with the white tiger Byakko? Slightly less predictable, but all of the seeds were sown ages ago and we’ve run out of obvious primals from the story, so it would seem like a given that we would head down this route.
So a lot of these things are things that feel rather… expected, I suppose. That’s probably why a lot of focus was placed on the stuff that wasn’t expected, or at least doesn’t slot into the same general layout of content.
Eureka, for example, is an odd animal right away, because there will supposedly be some leveling content included. You’re also aiming to strengthen your gear while there, which makes me wonder if Eureka isn’t meant as both a fusion of the game’s Deep Dungeon system with its existing exploratory missions. I hope not; while I ultimately like both, I think they fill very different spaces, and I would be sad to think of not actually getting a new portion of the Deep Dungeon to explore.
It’s also slated for the mid-point patch, which is something the game has been getting better about over the years, making sure that the interquel patches still add something new to do for players and spacing out content slightly more. I’m not exactly sad about the idea that this might well be in replacement of the relic weapon quests; we’ll see how it shakes out once we know a little bit more.
We’re also getting some new sort of glamour improvement, which is currently… vague. Like, we know a bit about how the whole Glamour Commode is going to work, but only a bit; there’s a lot of vagueness and a lot of details yet to be revealed. And while it’s a welcome change for anyone who has far more glamours than space to store all of them (hello), the mechanics still feel a little unclear, especially insofar as you need a reason to have this system not wholly replace glamours in general.
Compiling every glamour prism down to a single type is a bit of a surprise, but the writing for that was on the wall once we could buy glamour prisms for seals. Combine that with the new stack limits, and we should all be able to make ourselves look excellent with minimal effort. And we can toss all of our weathered gear in the glamour storage and free up many inventory spaces.
Moving forward, we’ve got more changes coming to the Feast and the addition of PvP teams, which strikes me as some long-needed functionality in a game still struggling to find a way to work out PvP seasons to be enticing without being limiting. I’m also hoping for some new cosmetic gear to pick up along the way, as well; we’ve had the same sets as rewards since Stormblood’s launch, and the result is that you probably have all of the pieces you want by now (if you ever wanted any of them).
We also still don’t have any details on how the “new” housing purchase system is going to work, which is… worrying. The reality is that the designers obviously want this time around to not be a frantic, angry dash into the housing districts, and players who want a house should have the option of getting one. Fair enough. But with no details at this time, it can’t help but seem like there isn’t currently a working solution on the table, or at least not one that’s ready to be discussed.
Not that this isn’t a serious problem with lots of moving parts, but the core problem is the extreme first-come first-served nature of the beast, which means that most of the obvious solutions either shift around the issue or start a whole new problem. (Someone suggested auctions, for example, which creates a whole new problem such that people who can buy the plot are still effectively priced out; it also feels predatory.)
This is one of the things that I think is most important for this patch, I’m not going to lie. The game’s biggest current black mark is how horribly housing has been handled from top to bottom; this patch needs to seriously address it, if not fixing it outright. So the fact that we still don’t know anything about how it’s going to happen makes me nervous.
Overall, though, this is one of those patches where it’s hard to feel super-excited just because, well, all of this is the straightforward stuff that you know is going to happen and you aren’t surprised by it. That isn’t a bad thing; in fact, in the context of the game and its reliability, I would argue that it’s downright good. I am happy that we can consistently expect certain things from this title, and patches arrive reliably and with excellent content. But it does mean that it’s hard to act shocked and dazzled by what you already expect to happen.
Perhaps I’ll feel more excited with more housing news and an Omega preview video. I mean, they can’t hurt.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next time around, as you have probably guessed, we’ll be continuing on with our usual end-of-the-year antics by looking to the next year of Final Fantasy XIV. Not that you’ll probably read it at the time, considering that next Monday is some holiday or another. Go throw some presents with a bear.