Now we enter the descending period of Stormblood. This isn’t exactly a bad thing or a problem or anything; it’s just the way things go. If the x.3 patch is the middle of the expansion, the x.4 and x.5 patches are the ones that close things up, tying up loose ends and getting us all ready for when things move on to the new continent. And that’s fine; we’ll all pretend to be very surprised in November when the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion is announced and someone is enraged because a favorite job isn’t included.
Oh, boy, another promotion for Grand Companies! And new gear! And… uh… what is any of that?!
Let’s take a brief walkthrough of why we don’t get new items listed with patch notes until much later. Back when the game’s first major patch was coming out, the preliminary patch notes were released early enough that players could see the materials required for the new items being added. It was also when players first found out that the housing prices for free company housing would be absurd based on the in-game economy at the time. So a few enterprising players took it upon themselves to… well, ruin everything not already ruined, if you like. “Crash the economy” is a more charitable way of putting it.
The problems here were multiple, starting with the fact that one of the real problems was that housing simply cost far too much. (There was a time when most house plots on Balmung were empty! It’s crazy to think about.) But yes, one of the problems was that people knew exactly what would be needed and could play the markets pre-emptively. Since then, the policy has been to hold off on sharing items getting added until after the patch has been out for a bit.
Here’s the problem. Yes, this is helpful when we’re talking about crafted materials. But it’s not helpful and is actually somewhat harmful when we’re talking about the mere existence of items.
I cannot crash the economy on Grand Company seals, because they’re a currency used for one thing (Grand Company items) and any new cosmetic gear wouldn’t be tradeable regardless. Not even letting us know what is being added here is actively somewhat bothersome. Ideally we’d get an actual rundown of the sets being added to the game, instead of encouraging everyone to guess at what we’re getting until the day of the patch itself.
That’s not a huge deal, but it bothers me. Teasing me with “adding new gear” is bothersome because it lacks context. New weapons for jobs currently lacking? New armor? Both? Old armor with dye channels? Give us some idea here.
Beyond that, it’s pretty much straight buffs for a few jobs, although I’m not sure Red Mages really need the extra damage considering their extant flexibility. Samurai almost certainly does, as Samurai has spent most of the expansion fencing with the fact that while people like playing it, the job doesn’t deliver much utility. That’s not what it’s supposed to do, but it’s hard to tune exactly how much additional damage a job should do before it makes up for a lack of utility.
Red Mage, on the other hand, is highly flexible as it is and offers plenty of utility without offering too much utility (no DoT effects, no vulnerability, no proactive damage cuts). Part of me wonders if the change is more about making the choice to access that utility less punishing on a whole, but that seems a bit unbalanced in and of itself. We’ll see how this one pans out.
Look, we all know that this game’s housing system has issues, but the biggest issue is access simply because there’s a lot to like. This patch is actually adding lots of things to like, simply because mannequins aren’t just for decoration. They’re also allowing you to set up what amounts to a gear shop direct from housing.
This appeals to me. I like the idea that you can, in fact, set up a dressmaker’s shot and have it behave more or less like an actual tailor’s shop, and you can double down by adding in all of the necessary mannequins and such. You can even tag the store appropriately now so people can know to search for your house! That is commendable.
Of course, we’ve also got new furnishings and the like being added, so people will have new things to play around with and new options. I’m particularly interested in how the bunk beds will work; I’m hoping “correctly,” of course, but just the concept is neat at face value.
Catching up again
One of the other little changes I appreciate is the fact that the FATEs for entering the Crystal Tower series have finally been removed as a requirement. While those were a decent idea at the time, it’s rather telling that we’ve not seen FATEs used for quests like this again; any sort of FATE-based quest is usually based around picking up any FATE instead of specific entries. This actually leaves the original Hildibrand series as the one holdout, I believe.
Naturally, part of me is curious about why this change was made now and not earlier. After all, it would make sense to add it in with we first gained access to the alliance raid roulette, but instead it’s happening much later. Could it be a hint about something else? Could our next journey have something to do with events within that tower? You know, the tower where we know a portal to darkness exists, lending a little bit more weight to the rumored title of Shadowbringers?
Or maybe it was just too much to change all at once. But speculation is fun.
As always, feedback is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, well, the patch will actually be here and playable, so we can talk about that. And probably some spoilers, so… you know, be warned.