Reading through the patch notes is always a bit like some sort of ersatz holiday, because you already know the majority of the things you’re getting but not all of the details until the patch notes come out… and then the patch notes deliberately obscure some things so you still don’t know everything. But I can live with not knowing exactly what quests are in Return to Ivalice just because I can see that there are a lot of them. So let’s start taking this apart before we get to actually play it.
Adjust those jobs
The adjustments to Dark Knight are a pretty universal set of buffs, although at least one of those buffs seems like it’s something we didn’t necessarily need; increased enmity on Plunge is a nice touch with Dark Arts, but Plunge rarely seems to be a tool for chasing down errant enemies and far more often is quickly followed by an enmity grab anyhow. Regardless, the overall enmity buffs should make establishing a threat lead easier, while Dark Mind and Shadow Wall make it that much easier to survive. I don’t feel like the Power Slash buff with Dark Arts is really needed (unless you’re trying to tank without ever using Grit and thus aren’t very good at this) but it sure helps.
Monk and Samurai both got a little bit of adjustment, too, although it’s mostly about tweaking numbers and threat rather than making large-scale changes; I can’t help but feel like Merciful Eyes still doesn’t look like an attractive option for that particular proc, especially as Samurai has enough threat management to handle itself just from role abilities. The problem is frequently less about tools and more about willingness to use them.
I find it interesting that Astrologians are getting a little more aggressive in this patch; the removal of Cleric Stance has had a lot of knock-on effects, and it seems like the changes to Diurnal Sect have also had some longer-term effects. Or perhaps the designers decided that AST DPS was low enough that buffing it didn’t really upset the balance. Not that they really need the boost.
Also, you can now Sprint in Hide. That seems like a nice quality-of-life thing that will never affect actual play (I spend about no time ever in Hide outside of popping it to reset cooldowns), but it’s nice to have.
A strange new chain
One of the general elements of FFXIV patches, as much as I love them, is that they tended to fall into something of a rote system past 3.1. New dungeon in the MSQ, new trial as part of a sidequest, one quest with a million cutscenes for the next alliance raid, another one to follow up. Reliable, functional, but not exactly novel.
None of that is the case for this patch. The new dungeon, just like the last dungeon, is part of a side quest; you can open it up as soon as you load up the patch without a single bit of the MSQ. The new MSQ content is a trial, and we can only guess at what that boss will be. (Although “something involving Zenos” seems to be the reliable prediction.) Meanwhile, the alliance raid also has, as mentioned, a bunch of quests leading off of it. It’s not clear yet when in this chain the new one opens up, but my guess is “early,” as the designers seem to generally try to allow unlocks earlier so you can do other stuff in downtime.
The presence of a new trial in particular makes me think that much like in Heavensward, we’re looking at a major story turning point right here; however, unlike in HW, it doesn’t feel like this works for a moment of “and now we defeat the real enemy.” Whatever happened with Zenos, it’s hard to make it feel like beating the snot out of him now changes so much aside from beating the snot out of him before; this feels like the moment to set up our problems rather than solve them.
Of course, that’s part of what I like about the game in general. Any sort of routine lasts long enough that it can be deviated from, but you still have an overall sense of what will happen reliably. So I can’t know just what’s going to happen with all of the stuff related to Return to Ivalice, but I know that I’m going to like it.
So… I’ve been excited about the prospect of the whole “deliver stuff to the Doman enclave,” but right now the patch notes appear to have left out much in the way of compelling reasons to do so. Yes, rebuild the enclave, that’s a nice thing, but I must admit that without some idea of what I’m rebuilding toward it leaves me a little bit cold. Considering also that the various items apparently just offer slightly more recompense than selling to a vendor…
Like, there’s almost certainly going to be associated unlocks with this content. I accept, predict, and support this. But without knowing what those things are, it’s hard to get super excited. Even if they’re planned for much further in the future, just a mention of what they will be would help; otherwise, it’s a lot of work to build the place up without any obvious reason to do so aside from “something to do this week.”
That’s why they show you a palanquin being carried by Namazu even when you can’t get it for several weeks. Because then you know what your destination is (being carried by catfish). You guys know this, don’t disappoint me now.
Of course, I might be a bit too greedy here. We don’t know much about the system, and maybe it really is meant far more as a way to gently improve things and offer an alternative to just vendoring garbage. So let’s find that out first before being too harsh; right now, it just sounds like a limited-time Vendor Plus system. Which I’m hoping is just a dearth of information.
Unfortunately, we won’t get all of the information until tomorrow, when I will come down with a mysterious wasting disease that prevents me from working but somehow doesn’t prevent me from playing at all. Funny ol’ world. Until then, leave feedback and speculation down in the comments or send it along to firstname.lastname@example.org; next time, well, we start reviewing what we actually got.