All right, here’s the deal. Every time we get a new patch, I wind up finding that I have two of these columns’ worth of material, but this week I want to try something a little bit different. Usually, I split it up between the biggest-ticket items and the smaller ones, but I never really liked that format, I just find that’s how it breaks down. So this time, I am instead going to split it up by spending this week just talking about the content, the nuts-and-bolts mechanical execution and such of Final Fantasy XIV’s latest patch. The follow-up column will be the one about the story stuff, full stop.what was originally going to be PAX East stuff but is now not, but I haven’t tried the format before and can’t tell you how well it’s going to work overall. But it feels like it has some potential, at least. So let’s give this a shot.
This dungeon had me mildly annoyed until I realized that despite how it’s set up, this is not another Amaurotine dungeon; it’s a Sahagin dungeon. All right, fine, it’s the Ondo and not the Sahagin, but in all practical terms it’s a chance to dive into the realm of these aquatic beastmen. The only real part that nods to the ostensible origins of the region are the various enemy summons and it justifies making a second boss that isn’t just another fish-man with a spear, so that’s fine.
One thing that is a little disappointing (but verges into being a story thing) is that our first glimpse of a female Sahagin/Ondo is… well, retextured Genbu. This is fine, and it’s perfectly fitting, but it’s far from this monstrous creature we’ve been told to expect from many, many quests. It doesn’t even look like she’d have a hard time on land. Ah, well, mild weirdness.
Mechanically, the dungeon feels no less dense than the Grand Cosmos; in many ways it feels similar insofar as the first boss is easy to die to with an odd dodge mechanic that’s going to trip people up for the first several runs. I almost feel like the critter’s weirdness deserves more explanation than it gets as just a blanket “Unknown.” Yes, that sort of name should follow an inscrutable boss, but… ah, well.
The second boss is mostly just familiar mechanics in a different balance and a very constrained arena, while the final boss does do some genuinely neat things with its crashing water-claws and a callback to the only other fish-person boss we’ve had. It’s a pretty solid dungeon, overall, and I definitely liked it a lot more once it clicked in my head as being primarily a fish spot.
Oh no Eden’t
More so than the first tier, this set of bosses struck me as a lot more confusing in their mechanics. That’s not to say that they are confusing, exactly; once you understand how you’re supposed to handle each individual fight, the all make sense. It’s just that the first runs through all of them left me with a feeling of “what is even happening” and, judging by the other players in the run, I was not alone at all.
Still, they make sense. Ramuh summons multiple lighting rods, but of course the shortest one is the safe zone. Garuda does a lot of stuff with wind. Ifrit calls back to explosions and radiant plumes. The one totally new fight has lots to do with portals. Shiva is definitely still thematically relevant to her original incarnation. Once you start understanding what’s going on, you can start understanding the context, like how the third fight is very much about locking down specific zones to stand or the second is about controlling your movement as much as possible.
I wonder if one of the main reasons Garuda and Ifrit got double-billing and ultimately merge was just that a lot of their individual mechanics from the original form wind up… well, feeling either basic or impossible to replicate without just doing that mechanic again. Like, Ifrit in particular feels almost like the platonic ideal of an FFXIV boss fight these days. Maybe it’s also the fact that they had wanted a dual boss and they were the least interesting on their own?
I will say that I like the mirror mechanic on Shiva just for the cheekiness that these bosses are literally reflections to start with. It does feel like it could be telegraphed better, though; my first thought of how that mechanic would work was literally reflecting the attacks, not mirroring them a second later. Minor quibble.
Ultimately, it’s a good set of bosses that definitely build up in mechanical complexity, although perhaps a bit more than is entirely necessary. Still, they’re nice new takes on classic fights, and now we can move into newer territory for our last outing.
Red Red Weapon
Well, I have to say the second half of this fight was one I… did not see coming. It’s surprising to me that every so often it’s easy to forget that this is the horror expansion… and every so often it pushes that in a new way, this time with an homage that feels right out of Parasite Eve as much as any entry in the mainline series. If you haven’t done this yet… well… just keep an eye out for it.
As always, I find myself walking away from the normal version of the trial feeling like it really needs more reason to be run more than once; this is a neat fight. Even on the normal mode, it’s a fight that neither feels overly punishing for execution nor so easy that you can sleepwalk through it. Instead, it’s a shocking and weird fight with some unusual mechanics, and sometimes you can find yourself struggling to keep up not because you don’t know what to do but because you got fixated on what to do now instead of what comes next.
Still, for something that’s had minimal buildup beforehand? Oh, yeah. I like this, and I’m looking forward to the continuation of this quest line.
The ocean fishing setup seems to be everyone’s favorite new thing, and… yeah, I can get that. It’s very much a reminder about how much can be developed for this game without necessarily worrying about dungeons or battle content, and a lot of what people see as inconveniences are… well, they are inconvenient, but they’re the inconveniences that actually make this content work.
It wouldn’t be as fun without the old-school fixed times, for example. In many ways, it’s bringing back the feeling of taking a boat in Final Fantasy XI and fishing as you did so, just so you were doing something of interest. And the rewards seem tailored specifically for people who are less worried about perfectly melding everything and more about just… fishing. Going out to relax and catch fish and get a shark.
I kind of love this. I love that it’s a main patch feature. I love that it’s weird. I love that it’s just for fishing for the heck of it. Good on you, patch 5.2.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, either I’ll be talking through the story beats of this patch or I’ll be covering some big not-actually-PAX announcements. We’ll see!