The thing about Final Fantasy XIV is that it’s big. Really, amazingly big. There’s a lot of stuff, and if I wanted to go into truly mind-numbing detail about everything (spoiler: I do not) it wouldn’t be hard to make this series stretch on much longer. Heck, I could still be writing about this well into September while still covering new topics. Fortunately for my own patience and the steady march of time, by September I will have other things to write about, so now it’s time to catch the bits that otherwise slip away.
It feels like I should have talked about crafting and gathering
I don’t mean that categorically, but as a sign of some confusion. How could I have not brought these things up yet? They’re important! Crafting and gathering are big parts of the game, but I guess somehow they just slipped my mention until now despite having all of them leveled and kitted. And it’s especially weird because this expansion’s changes to both things were pretty much good across the board.
More custom delivery clients? Great! A better collectible flow? Great! Recipes requiring less random crap from the old world? Great! A more straightforward means of getting the artifact gear? Great! Really, this expansion took everything that was a touch dicey about the previous expansion and made it much more accessible.
Heck, I can’t give enough praise to the simple fact that the quests now have you crafting quest-specific items from quest-specific materials, or harvesting quest-specific items. That might seem like a small change, but it’s so nice to know that you can just throw away the gathered items you don’t need or whatever. It makes like much easier and never leaves you feeling like you’re trading a valuable resource for functionally nothing.
And believe me, I still had crafting quests from the last expansion. It took me nearly a week to get through those. I blew through the Stormblood ones in two days. Not because they were so much easier, they were just less obnoxious.
This is another area wherein the game really can just carry forward from where we are in this expansion into the next one with an additional system for restoring Ishgard and it’ll be all good. Custom deliveries are fun, the system is nicely refined, and overall I look forward to continuing the pattern of crafting items through Shadowbringers. All that was needed was gentle refinement, and we got that here.
From a scientific standpoint, it feels like Eureka was a very successful experiment that produced lots of interesting data. From an experience standpoint, it seems to have largely been a hideous failure. And it’s a sign that no, the paradigm it was build around isn’t really going to work here.
I don’t think many people would argue that Eureka was widely reviled for varied reasons, and a lot of that comes down to the fact that it was built around a party-and-grind approach that players never fully embraced. That’s not the same as it being bad, of course. It was actually good at what it was trying to do, and more than just a grinding spot, Eureka was trying out a lot of new systems and ideas within a fairly contained region. Instead of trying to shoehorn these concepts into the main game, it was optional side content that provided some different ways of doing things.
Did I dislike Eureka? No, not really. I think it delivered what it wanted to be. I think it was a neat approach to a new sort of gating for upgrades and equipment. At the same time, it’s also evident how much development work did go into this particular content, and on the grand scheme of it I feel like it always wound up erring on the side of “too much grind, too little reward.” It was the worst parts of Diadem mingling with the worst parts of its antecedent title, which just is not a good look.
Also, it was a fat nothing for crafters and gatherers, which meant that it took away one of the elements I did actually really like about Diadem.
Would I like to see the concept of Eureka come back for Shadowbringers? Well, seeing as we’ve yet to hear about anything similar, I’m going to guess that it shan’t (remember, we heard about Eureka during the fan festival run-up), but that’s not entirely certain. However, I’d like to see some of its genetics carry forward. The party-and-grind mechanics got tedious pretty quickly, but the idea of a specialized zone with a different leveling focus definitely still has some legs. Here’s hoping for our next relic march, then.
In every expansion, we get a hub area for trading our stuff. We also get to watch an area get built up from a series of shacks and hovels into a functioning little village. The big difference is that this time, the place getting rebuilt and the trading hub wasn’t the same spot; instead, the Doman Enclave got built up by buying our garbage.
This feels like a bit more of a split benefit than other items on this particular list. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense from a lore standpoint and thus gave us something different to focus on in terms of gameplay; I liked the idea that Rhalgr’s Reach doesn’t simply become a hub of activity, which would be rather at odds with the story itself, even if I would have liked to have explored the actual streets of Ala Mhigo outside of a dungeon. At the same time, it felt weird that the big “developing” area was one you only visited if you were invested in that development.
It didn’t help that in order to take part in this particular expansion, you had to also do a series of sidequests involving faffing about with Doman children back in Revenant’s Toll due to a tenuous story connection. I appreciate how well the game’s stories are tied together, but this is one of the few places where it chafed.
To the line’s credit, this also ultimately offered some cosmetic and furnishing rewards that would otherwise be difficult to deliver. There’s also some nice lore and backstory tied up with it, so you definitely feel the impact of it, and I’ve repeatedly gone on record stating how much I do like this particular sequence. It just is a bit of a thing when the major zone changes are happening off in a corner rather than at center stage.
Still, better than sticking with formula three times in a row, I suppose.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next time, we’re finishing this up at long last with a final assessment on the expansion as a whole. It’s been some time getting here, all right.