Wisdom of Nym: The non-combat side of Final Fantasy XIV patch 4.3
Last week, I covered the main scenario, our new dungeon, and so forth. This week, though, there are a lot of stupid catfish that bear further examination. Along with changes to loot mechanics and reconstruction efforts… a whole plethora of thing that are a bit more varied than just “non-combat,” honestly, but the header works better focusing on a single thing. Including covering some content that I was entirely wrong about, based on preview images.
But first, let’s go fishing.
One of the biggest struggles of the development for FFXIV seems to be balancing the “silly” beast tribes.
The game clearly has a lot of humor to it, there’s a good sense of jokes running through the entire game. But every so often we have a set of beast tribe quests that are clearly meant to be more on the silly or humorous side, and how well those hit or miss is pretty variable. Kobolds largely hit, Sylphs largely missed, Vanu Vanu felt like a miss, and Moogles are debatable about whether or not they even wanted to hit that. Also, they’re not a beast tribe, so that still bothers me.
It was obvious from the start that the Namazu were going to feature a more humorous bent, but this set of quests pulls that goal off wonderfully. More to the point, it manages to create a set of quests that are both incredibly funny and entirely compelling at the same time. You keep playing and seeing what comes next not because you’re necessarily concerned about what will happen to the catfish, but because you know something will, and odds are high it’s going to be amusing to watch.
This is helped by the fact that every other civilization in the region seems to regard the Namazu as something of a punchline, and they routinely back that image up unintentionally. They’re not very smart. But they’re cute and helplessly incompetent.
It also helps that the balance of these particular quests is far improved from the past. You can do the quests as a crafter or as a gatherer, with different conditional dialogue for both; the quests also sync up nicely with all of the above, right down to giving you crystals based on your chosen craft’s “main” crystal type. So you’ll always end a set of quests done on Carpenter with more wind crystals than you used, for example.
I always make a point of maxing out my beast tribe quests, and this particular set reminds me of exactly why. I’ll be hitting the top rank very soon, but these are still good quests to do for lore and for the simple, straightforward satisfaction of helping catfish build a society. Yes, yes.
Rebuilding with vendor trash
Doman reconstruction is not quite what I had expected it would be, but it’s a great excuse for getting my fishing challenges out of the way every week. Which means more gil for those and more gil for selling them useless fish.
I’d initially been wondering exactly what this project was going to add to the game that wasn’t there already, and it’s a little bit thinner than I would like. The service right now is basically an extra chunk of money from vendor garbage for 20,000 gil a week. As someone who doesn’t put a whole lot of effort into making money, that is not a high number. By itself, it doesn’t do much.
However, what it does nicely do is motivate you to do other things. For example, it gives me a good reason to farm demimateria through desynthesis, because that clear demimateria is an easy way to get more stuff to sell to the Domans. (No, I don’t know why they would want that vendor trash to rebuild, but it works.) It gives me a reason to fish, because again, filling my bags up with vendor trash is much more fruitful when there’s a vendor who really wants all of this stuff. In short, it facilitates doing other content, serving as a nice set of milestones to hit while you’re doing other stuff.
Of course, it also serves to remind you of how many things in the game are useful in some way, shape, or form. I’ve noticed stuff selling for a lot more on the market boards simply because items that are priced below vendor prices now sells immediately… because why wouldn’t it? You can buy that and hand it to the Doman efforts, they’ll be happy with it. Reuse and recycle.
So while I was a bit dubious, this has done some good things for the game as a whole. I do wish the interface was a little bit better and that it was unlocking more than just visual effects, but perhaps that needs to wait for later stages of reconstruction. For that matter, it’s nice to have reconstruction feel like part of the actual game instead of just happening by patches.
You get your loot
The one rule that almost no one seems happy with for this particular patch is the change of all Alliance loot to greed-only. The thing is, this is really two separate changes: Ridorana is all greed-only, and the older raids are also greed-only. The former tends to get a little more of a pass from me, but not much.
From a foundational standpoint, this is an understandable and good choice. You no longer feel pressured to go as an undergeared class for a better shot at the gear you want from the Alliance raid; if you’re looking for Bard upgrades, you have just as much of a shot if you’re a tank and your party consists of five Bards. For Ridorana particularly, that’s a good thing.
Where this gets problematic is that it’s also much more scattershot for people who are actually going as the jobs they want to gear up with, or players who are running old content in the hopes of picking up glamour. You can ask the group to work with you, but there’s no assurance that anyone will actually listen, and as a result you can get stuck rolling against seven other people for a needed upgrade. Ridorana is a bit easier because your other party members can only win one item each, but it still doesn’t fix things.
That’s not counting the fact that it’s very easy to go through the entire raid without anything dropping that the party actually wants, which just compounds the problem. And you never know if you should roll on the first item or if it’s better to wait for the last boss…
I think what we’re ultimately seeing here is the core problem with how loot is managed in Alliance Raids, which is halfway between the token system of normal raids and normal dungeon drops. No, I don’t think this was an extraordinarily bad decision, but I think in the future a token-based system might be the way to go. Something worth considering for the future.
Feedback, as always, is welcome down in the comments or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, since we’ve all had some time to digest the game’s latest set of revelations, let’s talk about some spoiler-tastic story stuff.