Wisdom of Nym: The subtle mechanical shifts in Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers

    
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Speculate!

A lot of mechanics changed with the latest Final Fantasy XIV expansion. You probably don’t need me to tell you that, but there are the bigger changes like the individual class tweaks and then there are… well, other things. Like shared FATEs, and quest sync, and item rewards, and… yeah, the list kind of just keeps going. Point being that even beyond the big shifts that you’ll notice immediately, there are other things that still have a subtle impact all down the line.

While I want to talk about all of these changes in more depth, I should stress that on a whole the changes are pretty unambiguously positive. However, they’re still changes just the same, and that means that even the best among them has some notable impacts which might not be instantly noticed when you start fresh. I obviously think this is a damn good expansion top to bottom, but let’s see how those little mechanical shifts add up.

Shared FATE system

This is the system a lot of people are going to notice first and foremost, because it’s sort of hard to miss. Now, it’s not enough to just clear a zone; no, you need to level up the zone itself by clearing a lot of FATEs, and your reward for doing so is being able to buy stuff like music rolls for the currency you get from those FATEs.

Let’s start with the negative, which is fairly small. Getting gold rank on a given FATE earns you 12 gemstones. You need 66 FATEs to reach the top rank, which means that you’re looking at around 792 stones from just one zone… and until you reach the top rank, the rewards are pretty highly situational for you to spend gems on. There are riding maps, but those cost 70 stones, and that still means you overflow the cap by 222 stones for just one zone.

Also, they’re not in your proper currency tab.

So there are some issues with that side of things, but the actual rewards work out well and mean that you get something out of doing FATEs regardless of your level. It also incentivizes doing the content as you level, and it feels like it’s particularly rewarding when you’re bringing through additional jobs. Or you could try to burn through 396 FATEs in a week, if you’d prefer; I’m taking the attitude that it’s something useful to do over the span of time I’ll be leveling everything, but hey, you do you.

Overall evaluation: Great system, but that currency cap is a bit low.

You cannot destroy my destiny.

Role quests

The change from having individual job quests to having a single line per role was controversial from the start. On the one hand, this has the notable benefit of having a more focused set of experiences and deals with the fact that, well, usually you had some real winners in terms of job quests and some real losers. So now that’s addressed, and you don’t have to level all of the jobs to get all of the story.

On the other hand… well, the job quests are still kind of a mixed bag. I didn’t find the physical DPS line to be all that good, and while they serve to provide more lore about the world, they’re still perhaps not the ideal solution. There’s also the simple fact that having them split up means there are fewer story-based questlines in the game, full stop. It’s a reasonable decision and with good motivation, and it does mean that you have a bit less flab, but the execution ultimately winds up breaking down to having as many flaws as advantages.

Overall evaluation: Right idea, maybe, but just neutral.

Quest level sync

This I adore. There are a lot of sidequests in Shadowbringers, maybe even more than there have been in previous expansions, and now you don’t have to worry about outleveling them or moving beyond a very narrow band wherein the quests are actually useful. Now they’re useful all the way through as you’re leveling, doubly so if you’re leveling more than one job.

Even better is the fact that the level sync doesn’t work like the beast tribe dailies, wherein accepting a quest on, say, Ninja requires you to turn in that quest on Ninja even if it’d be more useful for another job. Instead, the quest just allows you to turn it in and clear the quest however it works for you; if you have a level 80 job and turn the sidequest in on a level 70 job, it’ll just reward you accordingly. No muss, no fuss.

The closest thing that this change has to a downside is that it does create a certain amount of selection pressure to not turn in quests until the last possible moment, including the aether current quests. It also can lead to a bit of quest overload, since the explosion of sidequests sometimes makes you feel as if you have to do all of them as soon as they’re available. But those probably fall under the header of “good problems to have,” so I can’t be very salty.

Overall evaluation: A major improvement in sidequest history.

Guilty or innocent?

Gear rewards from quests

Stormblood gave out equipment pretty frequently, as did Heavensward, but the equipment was usually given out in pretty distinct groups. Case in point, you would usually select between a tanking, maiming, striking, or scouting item on a given quest, then the next quest would give away the equivalent for aiming, casting, or healing. It worked, but it also had the notable drawback of forcing players leveling both White Mage and Bard to make some unfair choices, or make players who only leveled one thing get lots of surplus rewards to be turned in later.

The rewards in Shadowbringers, meanwhile, come in the form of chests. You open the chest and you get a piece of gear appropriate for the job at an indicated level. This creates a different drawback, akin to the sidequest problem but somewhat more pronounced; you have to ask if you’re using the gear chest on the job that’s going to need it the most. It’s pretty straightforward if you’re only leveling one thing, but that’s neglecting that you always wonder what, if anything, will show up in the next dungeon you run, especially given the availability of Trust runs.

Is it a problem? No, not really, or at least not in such a way that it somehow breaks the flow of the game. It is a bit of a drawback, yes, but it’s probably better on the level; the pressure of not being sure if you’re opening the box at the right time is a smaller one.

Overall evaluation: A cleaner solution with some mild downsides.

Secrets?

Trust leveling

Without spoilers, once you clear the main scenario, you get all of your Trusts brought back down to level 71 and then have to level them all back up to 80. This means that you’re stuck doing Holminster Switch for a long while; it’s like seven runs to 72 and a few more to 73, so you have to put in some effort to use them for farming levels and-or items.

The down side to this is, well, the obvious fact that you have to do a lot of runs with your Trusts to make them useful again. However… I think that aside from the grinding aspect, this is also something that sort of needed to be in place. Being able to have a group ready for instant queues at any moment with only half of the items dropped but a quarter of the people rolling for them is going to make for a bit of a mess in terms of farming.

You also get to switch costumes when you get them to 80, so that’s some additional motivation.

Overall evaluation: Odd in terms of a minigame, and it raises questions for the future, but it does facilitate leveling more jobs.

Feedback, as always, can go into the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week let’s talk a little bit about the story… but specifically, about the questions I still have from the story that I suspect are unlikely to be answered. So there will be spoilers, but they’ll sort of be side-spoilers.

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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bereman99
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bereman99

You also get to switch costumes when you get them to 80, so that’s some additional motivation.

I’m a simple fellow that enjoys customizing my NPC team, so this is enough motivation for me, ha!

Really, though, somehow I’d not heard about this feature, and I typically keep pretty well abreast of additions and changes to XIV. Though if it was mentioned when you first are told about Avatar Levels that might explain it…as it was early in the morning and I had stayed up way too late working on making it to the end, so engrossed was I in the story.

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cursedseishi

It has been mentioned a few times here and there… But as a whole, the focus has largely been on everything BUT the Trust system. Aside from mentioning that they’d be usable for the current MSQ dungeons in Shadowbringer, and that your Trusts would have unique dialogue depending on the areas and everything? Literally nothing else.

First time I’ve heard any articles mention leveling–at least far as I can recall–as a necessary thing for them and not simply you. And this is most definitely the first time I’ve heard anything about cosmetic rewards being tied to their levels being capped.

Dantos
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Dantos

I’m kinda disinclined from doing trust leveling. I went through the story as Drk, and used the trusts the first time for each dungeon so that I would feel better about learning it blind and easing my way back into tanking after healing for so long.

I’m leveling Whm now, and with how in need healers are, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for me to use trusts with how slow they are vs my instant queues and groups that actually aoe. It might be different when I level Mch and add in the longer dps queue, but I’d have to stay in a dungeon much much longer than Id need to to get them to the next dungeon level, add to that you basically get a level a day from roulettes, which the trusts cant do, and you very easily outpace them.

It doesn’t help that I almost have to throw myself at enemies sometimes as a healer in order for the tank to engage.

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Sean Walsh

Quest sync has been by far the biggest game changer for me this expac. Having to make sure I had different jobs at various different levels just so that I could do the sidequests optimally pre ShB was a major pain. This time, I’ve just been doing all the sidequests in a given area once they unlock via the MSQ and it’s been so immersive. It brought me the amazing moment of doing the [spoiler title=”Kholusia Sidequests”] singing girl quest in Gatetown, followed by the seaside witch quest in Wright. A literal LOL moment after those wrapped. Let alone how more involved I feel with the world because I’m interacting with the people in each zone that I’m trying to help before I go and help them in a major way via the MSQ.

Re: Trusts, my favorite thing is they allow me to “try out” a new dungeon with no pressure before I go in with real people. As someone maining a tank this go-around for the first time, it was super helpful to queue up for Holminster Switch with my trust buddies for the first run. Especially because the healer AI doesn’t seem to make mistakes. Sure the single target thing slows progress down, but that just let me take in the scenery.

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Josh

Maining a DRK and this is exactly what I did with new dungeons (barring the other 2 experts after the MSQ obviously) it was super helpful to quash any anxiousness I could have since I could see the dungeons at my own pace first

Dantos
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Dantos

Did the exact same thing.

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styopa

My suspicion on the role quests is yeah, sure, it’s a lower-labor-investment instead of having a series of class quests for each class…but it’s ALSO a fairly handy yardstick about where those classes are at, performancewise. I imagine they’re gathering MASSIVE amounts of data on class v. class performance (if all the tanks are doing the same challenge, then one should be able to see in a very holistic way how they perform in comparison).

Quest level synch, brilliant. Because even if you do pile them up, you can turn them in on something else (I understand) so you don’t have all this wasted xp because the class you did them on hit cap in the meanwhile.

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bobfish

I haven’t used the Trust system yet, even on my main I just did it the old fashioned way.

Curious how it actually works out for leveling alternatives jobs, you say 7 runs for 71 to 72, is it also 7 runs for your character level or just the Trust companions?

I keep forgetting that Command Missions are a thing, so I’m sure I’ll keep forgetting about the Trust too. Can’t help but fall back into old habits of deep dungeons and dailies.

bereman99
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bereman99

It works out so that they get about half what you get per run, give or take, with you getting the normal amount as Eliot said.