Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s eternal restoration of Ishgard

Bring the light

As of this writing, the Final Fantasy XIV server that has made the most progress on Ishgard restoration is Tonberry on the Elemental data center, which is on stage 35. It is still going. I have no idea how many stages there are, and frankly when it passed 30 I was already amazed. At this point it feels like it’ll just keep going on forever. The next expansion arrives, and we’re rebuilding Ishgard. The game goes into maintenance mode, we might be close to finishing.

It’s certainly moving much more slowly than the initial rebuilding phase did when the restoration commenced in 5.1. Indeed, I think that’s altogether intentional. But part of me wonders if the net result isn’t just to ensure that everyone gets to take part in restoration but to turn the whole thing into too much of a slog, something I’m noting especially as participation slows down in the wake of the end of rankings. It isn’t exactly a sign of doing things wrong, but it may be a bit of an over-correction.

For those of you who somehow missed it, the first segment of Ishgard restoration was… well, not a mess exactly. It worked. But it did have a pretty notable problem insofar as people were basically descending on any server with active concerted works, then swarming to push another server up, on and on in a rolling pattern. The net result was that people couldn’t take part in their home server’s restoration, and a lot of people wound up just being spectators to snippets of scenery changing.

Dragons really wrecked up the place, huh.

Obviously, this was not ideal, which is why everything was changed ahead of this stage. Now restoration is limited to people from a home world. There’s a lot more to the restoration. We’re restoring a bigger chunk, the materials you need are acquired in a more straightforward way and allow gatherers to make a direct impact, and so forth. It is, by and large, devised to ensure that the problems from before are no longer problems in this version.

Of course… the flip side is that we’ve instead inherited a bunch of new problems, starting with the fact that the rating season was way too short.

The idea of having a rating season was a stroke of brilliance, honestly. I think it’s a great move to keep people engaged in the content and to encourage people to chase the highest difficulty recipes which are, otherwise, a bit beyond lots of players. Good calls all around. The problem is that the rankings ended on March 19th, when the patch deployed on March 10th.

A bit more than a week, in other words. Perfectly logical if we were talking about the speed with which everyone blew through the first round. But it’s been another month since the rankings ended, participation has slowed down, and there’s still a lot more to be done with this setup. A seemingly unending amount, even.

Right away, this looks like an over-correction. While we knew that there was a problem with the first phase going too quickly, the developers responded by making sure that not everyone could swarm in to clear these objectives and gave us more. It definitely worked, but it created the alternative problem wherein there’s just too much to do. Is it just that, though?

I think the answer is yes and no. I think that this is taking about as long as the designers had intended; it wouldn’t surprise me if faster servers are finishing up in late April or early May and other servers are getting through by June, when the next patch was originally scheduled to hit. But I also think that even if that was the intended pattern, the developers made some mistakes in terms of implementations.

See if you can get some masonry away from the Firmament while you're out there.

Let me break that down a little bit because on the one hand it sounds like I’m arguing that this is fine while also saying that it’s taking too long. When it comes to rebuilding Ishgard, players have three major motivators: Seeing the Firmament rebuilt (and probably meaning housing), buying rewards, and getting ranking. You could argue that leveling is also in there, but because the individual leveling recipes make so little progress toward the end goal that’s a pretty minor element overall. Once you’ve leveled a craft, that one is done.

Ranking is already a non-concern; you got what you were going to get. (The only reward was a title anyhow, which is correct and proper.) Rewards, though… rewards are something you likely already have capped out on if you’ve been actively participating up until now. I have long since gotten everything I wanted and then some. As an active participant I’ve gotten all the stuff I wanted, and all the stuff I sort of wanted, and all the things I didn’t care about that might be nice to have… I have picked over the rewards extensively, that’s the point.

The thing is that as a general rule, content in FFXIV is designed to take as much time to get the rewards as it takes for new content to arrive. If you cap tomestones every week from the start of an even patch, you should have a full set of tomestone gear right as the next patch is arriving for you to upgrade it. Unfortunately, the way Ishgard Restoration is set up, it’s easy to get everything you need and want… and still be stuck with lots more ground to cover.

So what’s left? Housing. Or the prospect of housing. At some point in the future, which brings to mind all sorts of horror stories about how housing works in this game, and suddenly people feel more stressed than anything. Not conducive to grinding repairs.

If it seemed like the housing involved would ultimately be something different than the usual housing rush, that would mean something, but right now it feels like it is on some level perfunctory. We don’t know the details yet, but in lieu of that we have no reason not to expect that this is, ultimately, going to slow-roll out another housing district.

It’s possible that this is not the case, though… and there is, in fact, some reason to believe that it isn’t. Obviously, some of that is down to the fact that we haven’t yet had it confirmed, but another is that on some of the more advanced servers there seems to be work done on constructing buildings. Sure, this could be a model district before full housing… but it’s also possible that this is a prelude to actual instanced housing of some kind, which would no doubt delight everyone and would help motivate people a lot.

But without that sense… like, no one genuinely believes that housing is going to not happen at an agreed time with the next expansion just because of Ishgard restoration not going fast enough. So there’s not a whole lot to motivate people to keep progression going other than dogged determination, completionist tendencies, or just raw, unfettered spite toward another server possibly finishing first.

Ultimately, it does make all of this a bit of an overcorrection of the first phase. Not to horrible degrees, but as usual, the Diadem seems to be associated with too much effort to fix things.

Feedback, as always, is welcome via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com or in the comments below. Next week, let’s talk about the live letter on Friday. You know, as we do.

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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