The past week was sure a trip, and a good chunk of it for me was taken up by stuff I didn’t want to deal with but that required attention. That’s journalism for you. So it almost feels kind of quaint to go back to the simple and uplifting times of Final Fantasy XIV putting out the teaser site for its next major patch, like a reminder that things can be exciting and good instead of constantly horrible.
No, the teaser site doesn’t have everything
Actually, this feels like a better place to start because I’m actually seeing some confusion over the fact that the teaser site is missing some patch features. This is actually normal, but the site format has apparently changed again for Shadowbringers in a way that kind of obscures that fact.
See, during Stormblood the patch teaser sites had a nice little rubric right at the top listing everything that was going to be arriving in the patch. Sometimes (often) it was pretty vague about things that weren’t yet officially previewed, but all of the major points were still there. We got accustomed to that over two years of an expansion cycle.
The new teaser site for 5.1 doesn’t have any of that. But we also already know that several things not on the teaser site will be in the patch; the first 24-person NieR-based raid, new custom deliveries, Pixie beast tribe quests, and a new trial have all been confirmed. That’s without touching on things that might be delayed to the 5.15 patch like Ishgard Restoration that has previously been announced as being a part of this patch.
Why aren’t we getting the same breakdown as before? Because the designers like to change things up, and this makes for a different organization, listing a breakdown by category rather than by individual update element. It’s no more or less valid, just different. But it does mean that if you look at that list as the complete breakdown of everything we’re getting, well, it looks thin.
However, it’s not. The teaser site always plays this out slowly, and we know we’re getting more information just like we know we’re getting a trailer and so forth. So don’t panic.
The lands just beyond what we see
So now we know what Grand Cosmos is, at least; specifically, it’s a way too pretentious name for a normal building. This is fine. My first question, of course, is what it means for the overall MSQ… or for that matter, what it doesn’t mean.
See… the thing is that the new dungeons are usually tied to the MSQ, but not always. In Heavensward, the first one was not but all of the subsequent new dungeons were; in Stormblood the first one was and the last two were. It’s entirely possible that this will tie into the MSQ and also entirely possible that it’ll be entirely its own thing, separate from any other story concerns. This has certain implications for the aforementioned storyline, of course.
We kind of finished up the main story of Shadowbringers without any obvious loose ends to tie up on the First. The post-credits scenes were basically all focused around machinations taking place on the Source, and while they were definitely important they didn’t really provide much else for us to do on the First aside from “well, we do need to sort out the situation with the Scions, yes.” It’s quite possible that the Grand Cosmos is the first steps to providing us an actual… you know, antagonist, other than just a situation to sort out.
We don’t actually know what’s waiting for us there beyond the fact that a mage was situated there, so it’s possible that we’re just going there to get some sweet mystical learning. It’s also possible that our antagonistic forces for the next few patches will be more focused around the other ways people were trying to deal with the Flood, those who didn’t indulge in distracting hedonism or a non-stop battle against the tide as the world slowly circled the drain. How did the places just beyond the boundaries react?
Or, equally plausible, it’s not part of the main plot and it’s a side plot talking about the wolves just outside in Lakeland and explaining their genesis. That’s the thing about speculation: It covers a lot of ground.
A whole old game
We do know, at the very least, that there’s a good reason for New Game+ to not feature the ARR quests; at this point, it’s kind of both an excuse for polishing them back up and a place for the feature to expand later. That’s all well and good. It’s also still a little unclear about whether or not the feature will still sync you down to level-appropriate points for the instanced quests, or whether those will be buffed up to level 80. And I still have… well, let’s say questions about who it is had such a deep attachment to the Naadam that it’s something utterly necessary to experience once more.
Then again, I’ve already leveled several characters through the MSQ, so I am admittedly a bit of an outlier.
No, my current curiosity revolves around a different matter: dungeons. We all know that there are multiple dungeons sprinkled along the MSQ path, usually one every couple of levels. This makes me wonder whether clearing through these quests in New Game+ is going to ask for you to clear the dungeons again, and what sort of incentive there will be if so… because that’s when you start moving into the territory of some irritation.
Don’t get me wrong; while I may not share a need to revisit the quests for lore or cutscenes a second time, I do at least understand that rationale. But queueing up for a level 55 dungeon as a level 80 character, thus ensuring you don’t even get the roulette bonuses you’d normally get? That feels kind of annoying unless you unsync it, and there are levels where you can no longer easily unsync your way past things. That’s without even getting into things like the irritations certain Trials can pose.
Of course, that can be ameliorated with rewards (see also: MSQ roulette), but that just raises the question of offering rewards aside from just re-experiencing the cutscenes and dialogue, which raises further questions. In short, I’m interested to see how this gets handled, and how much patience people are going to have for the feature if it stops things to tell you “and now you need to go run this leveling dungeon.”
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, well… more live letter stuff! More speculation! And a patch date, in all likelihood.