All right! So this is not actually the column topic that I announced last week, but in my defense, I legitimately did not know at the time I wrote that we would be getting patch 5.21 the day after the column. So I am wildly altering my existing plans and instead moving over to talking about… you know, the actual patch we got instead of a bunch of speculative stuff that can really go whenever. I suspect this change will be met with an absolute lack of controversy; if you disagree and are outraged, the comment section is below, commence the jigglin’.Final Fantasy XIV‘s second big batch of Ishgard Restoration content! This time it actually has a longer series of quests, but we haven’t seen those yet; that’ll take a little time and I have a feeling that the designers planned for a longer turnaround after watching everything get eaten so quickly the first time. So let’s talk about the changes, the new Diadem, and general impressions of the experience right now.
Diadem is what it always was, but more focused
The thing about Diadem is that it very quickly stopped being useful for actual combat items… but it was always pretty useful for gathering. There were a lot of perpetually available nodes that you could make good use while you were there, crafting items easily obtained through spoils and the like… in short, it was something of a delight to just pop in and load up on Darksteel and the like.
The change to Diadem is technically removing all of the battle content, but since those items can be obtained via scrips anyhow, it’s not that big a deal. Far more important is that as of now, the Diadem is now just directly accessible as a way to gather… materials for earning scrips. Nothing more, nothing less.
On one hand, this is kind of a negative change in that it removes some of the options players had before for gathering materials like the aforementioned Darksteel. (No, I am not counting the Grade 2 Skybuilder’s Darksteel as the same thing.) However, what it ultimately means is that the Diadem remains a useful gathering playground, a bit of self-contained content that works similarly in nature to, well, endgame content for combat classes. You go in, you do what you need to do, you pop bits of enemies to get more materials and feel good about blowing things up with a magical rocket launcher.
Having all of the old materials get removed feels a bit more like a bridge too far, to me, but it does make sense insofar as they clearly want people to be actually using the Diadem. The fact that you can gather a bunch and get both scrips and rating now is definitely a good change, which bolsters the feeling of gathering contributing directly instead of just being the engine you use to fuel actual restoration efforts.
The one big downside to the Diadem is just how random all the nodes are; I’ve seen people argue that the idea is that all of your real gathering is by killing things and the nodes are just a bonus, but since killing enemies almost certainly produces a ton of items you don’t want, that feels a bit cluttered to me. Yes, it’s probably a good thing that you can’t just have people descend on the one relevant portion of the map and gather there forever, but it’s not exactly fun to open four or five nodes and fin that none of them have any items you want or can use. Intent is solid. Execution? A bit more mixed.
Same old song and craft
Here’s where the whole “throwing out the old gathering” bit kind of blows. See, on the one hand, it makes a certain amount of sense to remove all of those old nodes and replace them with the Diadem. On the other hand… now you suddenly have old materials being useless, replaced by new stuff that is functionally identical in difficulty and design, but all that’s really changed is the inclusion of Expert crafting.
This is also kind of non-expert, in a way; most of the solid rotations for it recommend bringing back the old-style Hasty Touch rotations, rewarding you for basically spamming and hoping RNG goes your way for an eternity. It’s an amusing throwback and I’m not at all suggesting I hate it, but it seems mostly for those people chasing a rating rather than farming actual scrips. There are reliable one-button macros to max out on normal turnins, which seems as if it’s going to be faster.
Adding the ranking system also does change things a bit in that way, of course. If you just want scrips and rewards, you’re unlikely to max out on any week’s standings, but you can certainly gain the point-based rewards steadily over time. Instead, chasing the rating is for the people who already have high-end melding and want to chase bragging rights. It is, in other words, non-economic crafter PvP.
Whether you like it or not, you have to admire the chutzpah of that idea. Crafter PvP that isn’t based on the economy?
If the rewards from ranking high seasonally weren’t just titles it’d be kind of a mess, but as it stands it’s more like watching the water rise and marking it off every so often for everyone else. The ranking is a nice addition for those who like it and generally transparent for everyone else; that’s kind of the ideal, so it’s good.
Under my umbrella
Parasols! They’re finally here! And they’re on the cheap side; 1800 Skybuilder’s Scrips sounds like a lot (for the black; the blue is a prize from the scratch-off-tickets), but it’s really pretty easy to farm with a little effort, helped in no small part by gathering in the Diadem. Unfortunately, they have one minor flaw – they basically don’t do anything.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, they let you tote around a parasol. But non-facial emotes aren’t compatible with them, and they’re mostly just there as a vanity item for players who want to walk around with a parasol for a while. You don’t get any sort of parasol animations or anything.
Lest you think that this is groundless complaining over nothing… all right, it is, but it’s complaining over nothing insofar as it feels like this is pretty early in the feature’s lifespan. And, you know, I think it’s important to properly manage expectations. There is no twirling of parasols, no special interactions, no function beyond walking around looking like a boss. Know what you’re buying ahead of time, and all that.
Having said that, I would also totally believe parasols are a feature that can be expanded in the future and a test for similar held items in other contexts. They just aren’t more than what was said on the tin at the moment.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, we will actually talk about features we’re still expecting from the expansion that have yet to be shown off. I really don’t think 5.25 will drop this week, so we’ll be safe.