Wisdom of Nym: A week after Final Fantasy XIV’s Eureka

It’s been a little under a week since the Eureka launch in Final Fantasy XIV, and opinions about the content are pretty universally strong. Some might argue that they’re downright entrenched. Most of the vocal ones consist of a whole lot of griping, and a not insubstantial number of those gripes also dovetail with people who are still playing the heck out of it anyway. Heaven knows it’s not exactly what I had expected, either.

So what do I think of it? I like it. But then, I’m kind of just the right person to like it.

I think there’s a lot of stuff to unpack around it, and I think it’s something where not liking it is both wholly understandable and also suggests a course of action. So let’s talk a little bit about the overall experience, what parts work and what parts don’t, and why it’s important, if you don’t like it, to at least have a realistic understanding of what it’s going to be and what it wants to be in the first place.

See, Eureka is a love letter to Final Fantasy XI. It is also a hate letter to a certain sort of FFXI fan through the exact same means. And it wins up being downright baffling for players who have little to no experience with the game in either form.

I had been hopeful that Eureka’s magia board would have some larger impact on the game, but it turns out it doesn’t. But that’s fine; the board accomplishes the goal that it wants to, which is making a harsher divide between tanks and non-tanks as well as giving a leveling approach to the area without adding new levels. I think it works a little bit better than the start-from-zero approach in Palace of the Dead, although that was also aimed in a different direction.

Much like FFXI, the way you’re supposed to be playing is by getting in a group (preferrably a full group, although you can manage all right in early levels with less) and spec your magicite properly. Minimize the impact on your tank, maximize your damage on your damage dealers, pull and fight single enemies above your level. Those of you who have played FFXI back in the day will find this exceedingly familiar.

It is also capricious, brutal, and slow. At the lower levels, you’re going to be getting very few crystals and not feel like you’re getting much of anywhere at all. As your levels go up, you’ll be able to pick up more and more crystals at faster rates; I personally noticed a big jump in drops as I started farming higher enemies. Gauging the prices of gear now is a little inaccurate, as you’ve got a lot more levels to gain and a lot more work to do.

Have you made a discovery?

In short, it’s FFXI grinding camps all over again. Those of you who asked for FFXIV to be more like FFXI now have exactly what you wanted in this zone. If you are now complaining about the fact that it is a slow, capricious, and brutal exercise, you are politely asked to engage in some self-reflection. Please.

There are two important things I think players are missing a lot in terms of gameplay. The first is that if you’re looking at the current gameplay and thinking “it’s going to take forever to accomplish this,” you really aren’t looking at this in the right way. This is a lot like the atma/aspected crystal grind in the early stages of prior relic weapons; the difference is that instead of being wholly based on random chance, it’s based much more on the time to completion. Drop rates and options increase as you level, so you’re not going to be as reliant on hitting 30 chains just for one crystal as you keep leveling.

People have also pointed out that Aenemos Crystals are best traded in unless you’re close to finishing out a given upgrade step; that’s also important. Hording them when you’re low level is counterproductive.

The second is that this is entirely meant as a marathon, not a sprint. Yes, it will get easier as you get higher, but the harder you try to push yourself to get everything right now, the more miserable it gets. Your elemental level isn’t going anywhere, there’s no weekly lockout, there’s not a huge pressure in place to just keep rolling up. You can duck in and out any time you want. Take it slow and don’t rush it.

For that matter, this is on the highly optional side of content to begin with. None of the upgrades you can get from the zone are going to be terribly necessary if you’re keeping up elsewhere; your 360 tomestone weapon compares more than favorably with the 355 Aenemos weapon. Yes, there are five spots for melding there, that’s 200 points of a secondary stat! But that’s assuming that you have a secondary stat that’s useful in those 200 points, not to mention that you’re trading in straight weapon damage and your primary stat. The 355 weapons will hold their own, but they’re not really better than the 360, and once we’re upgrading to 370 they’ll be lagging behind.

However, if this is more fun to you than capping out? Hey, you’ll be fine with 355 gear. Enjoy yourself and don’t worry about weekly resets at all. There’s nothing in here that is necessary to remain competitive; it’s not like how the game really needs you to do Hunts and/or Alliance Raids, plus Omega, plus dungeons and so forth.

If you really want those cosmetics? Yeah, this is the only way to get them. But I consider that to be on a different tier than “this is gear I need in order to continue playing the game as I have in the past.” It’s optional.

oh heck leaf

That being said, I do feel like there are some missteps here. For one thing, I feel like making the “best” approach be so heavily biased toward full groups of eight is a bit of a misstep; I’d prefer the four-person light party or even a six-person FFXI affair. It’s a minor quibble, and doing a smaller-size group is something possible if a bit slower, but it still bothers me somewhat with the ad-hoc party forming. (The tools provided are a good start, though.)

It also returns the Palace of the Dead/Diadem-style lockbox picking, which is frustrating in the extreme when you’re trying to pick something up. There are a lot of good rewards here, and obviously Diadem-style spoils wouldn’t work, but I had still hoped for a little more reliability than “hunt NM FATEs and hope you get something from the reward list that you want.” Some form of luck correction would be nice, and that strikes me as something that should be in place as an “alternative” form of Protean crystal spending.

For that matter, if you don’t need any of the gear, the stuff you can buy here feels pretty worthless. It’s kind of a case for banking lots of crystals rather than spending them on anything.

Also… I hate to be the one to point this out, but there are a lot of FFXIV players who did not, in fact, play FFXI. In fact, I feel more sympathy for those players than I do for the former FFXI players who asked for this and now aren’t happy with what they got. While I’m comfortable taking it slow on this particular content and don’t feel the need to aggressively chase piles of Aenemos gear, if you were expecting to be able to unlock certain things faster – including something as simple as coloring the AF3 gear – this is kind of brutal.

Personally, I feel like the first upgrade stage for armor should award dye options, but my guess is that we’ll get some relic armor-style antics as the patch series continues, so that’s probably the reason why cosmetic improvements take so long to arrive. I don’t feel like this was wholly necessary, but I do think it’s at least reasonably explainable.

At the end of the day, though, I do enjoy Eureka. It’s optional for me, and I don’t feel obligated to ride on it too heavily, but I also feel like it’s something where your time to rewards is based pretty thoroughly upon how much time you’re willing to invest. That’s all right with me, and I hope to see it improved through the next few patches.

Feedback, as always, is welcome down in the comments or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time around, I want to talk about evergreen content models, bringing things forward, and older stuff that could use some love in future patches.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.
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Sorenthaz

Honestly I think the idea of this whole thing is really cool even if it feels a bit lacking and disappointing for people who expected something more. It’s a nice love letter to FFXI players and it’s also a cool way to incorporate the FFXI grinding days into FFXIV.

Also people coming in late actually get some benefits, because they can be easily powerleveled by others due to the way this system works.

Still, feels like this is meant to be further fleshed out and what we have now is just Part 1.

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Eamil

Speaking only for myself, even with just a 4-5 person group I really enjoy Eureka. The key for me is that I enjoy it the most when I’m playing it with friends, not grouping up with random people. It’s not exciting or revolutionary but it’s different enough to be enjoyable.

It’s also not even close to as bad as Diadem was, despite some hyperbolic whining to the contrary. Old Diadem felt like the complete content dead-end it was, and it really was just endlessly grinding the same enemies in the same spot and praying for the drops you wanted, and the reworked Diadem was only a marginal improvement. Eureka could be more fleshed-out, certainly, but as Danny says below it feels like a blank slate – meaning I see potential for them to expand the mechanics in interesting directions, whereas that wasn’t really the case for Diadem. It also requires more thought because you can be screwed easily if you’re not careful about which enemies you pull and whether they’re the right level/element.

bereman99
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bereman99

I’m really quite enjoying it (despite not being a FFXI vet) – it’s got an interesting feel that apparently is my jam.

If there’s one change I’d love to see now rather than later, it would be a bit of a boost to successfully getting a full 30 monster chain – say an appropriate amount of anemos crystals for that 30th kill (say 1/10th of what a similarly leveled NM would give) starting at say…level 11 (the same point where you can start losing levels from xp). The boost of xp and the single protean crystal that seems to always drop with the 30th kill feels fairly lackluster, especially when playing solo where getting the 30th in the chain takes a bit.

NMs should certainly be the best option for experience and other such rewards per time involved to defeat/effort put in, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the non-NMs get just a bit of (conditional-based) love.

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Danny Smith

I summed up my thoughts here: http://theeorzeanfrontier.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/eureka-maybe-it-should-have-stayed.html but the TL:DR is it feels unfinished. The mechanics are in place but there is an overwhelming sense of ‘what is the point though?’ since even Diadem had treasures to seek out.

Its a neat idea but the island itself feels like a blank slate with no reason to explore it and for me personally thats kind of a big mmo draw and without it its just not interesting.

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Matt Redding

Not my thing plus the perma-grind of it which far exceeds what you’d get in a big dungeon pull or fate is a big wrist strain for me. I have RSI – I need to pace myself. This gameplay isn’t compatible with that.

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Wolfyseyes

On the one hand, I’m pretty much reveling in some light schadenfreude that FFXI fans who wanted XIV to be more like The World’s Longest Treadmill got their monkey’s paw. But on the other hand, it does appear that, as you stated, XIV fans don’t appear to also have been XI fans. Or at least not as many as supposed.

Personally speaking, I’m comfortable with the memories of XI than I am with forcing myself to go through that again. Especially if the rewards for doing the content are likely going to be made utterly pointless by later 4.x patches.

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Vincent Clark

Reddit and the forums are ablaze…and yet…the zone is packed from early in the morning until late at night. Eureka has definitely brought out the best (people reviving random strangers who lay dead along the way to the next FATE) and the worst (Shout chat–which is normally reserved for Hunts–has turned toxic and people can’t help but aggro half the zone on the way to the next FATE).

The story behind Eureka is interesting, and the zone itself is beautiful (granted, at first you might be too busy zerging mobs to actually notice it). The performance, however, has taken a hit. No surprise, considering it pulls people from the entire Data Center into the instance. Still, I hope they can make some improvements there.

The game has had worse grinds and although I needed a break for a bit after hitting it hard for the first couple of days, I think overall it’s a great start–it just needs some modifications here and there.

Rumor is that this the first of many islands we will be adventuring into (this one, based on the Wind elemental), I’m looking forward to seeing what is in store.

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Dagget Burmese

On the Chaos server 2 days in, everyone in the zone has been experiencing severe lag and disconnects. One can glance out over the crowd and see 1/2 of them marked D/C and the other 1/2 yelling in chat about the issue.

The elite crowd appears to have hit hard early and moved out away from the start area and probably has far less lag.

Mattaui
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Mattaui

I haven’t had much of a chance to poke around in Eureka yet, and when I visited on the first or second day it was open it seemed very busy and chaotic, but I was really glad to see people attacking the new content.

I had a feeling this was more for the folks who needed more ways to progress, or as you noted, people who wanted that olde tyme FFIX flavor. I’ve only got one combat job to 70, so if I’m going to grind I’ll probably do it in furtherance of leveling another job. But it’s nice to know this content is available, especially as you noted a way of putting in time to completion to get upgrades.