Is it too late to hope this patch ends with a bunch of NPCs from the First watching everyone walk back to the Source before someone says, “Truly, they were… Shadowbringers” in what would no doubt be the stupidest possible ending to the quest line? Yes. It is both too late and a bad idea. But also a little hilarious, and considering that Final Fantasy XIV‘s final story patch for the main expansion line is likely to have us sobbing or at least sad, I feel it’s appropriate to make the joke. Yes? Yes.
Credit where it’s due, this climax is probably going to work a bit better than the one did for Stormblood. While I really did like the ending of Yotsuyu’s story for wrapping up that particular plot, I also can’t help but note that it felt a bit less consequential simply because there’s no dungeon tied into it. It was just talking, fight a sad boss fight, then you’re done. Here, the dungeon is still part of the main story.
That leaves the lone Werlyt quest a bit weaker, though. Sure, it’s going to be a good quest with some neat stuff in it, I have no doubt, but it’s not going to be an urgent clear for anyone who isn’t very invested in this particular storyline. It’s just not that big a deal.
Of course, the patch notes are still playing coy about the identity of the new trial boss and what we’re going to be facing therein. This is to be expected. It’s also worth noting that a lot of the more oblique aspersions about the old Crystal Tower series being required only apply to characters currently up to date except for that; there’s no reason to assume that this patch is going to otherwise require that background except that it’s been added back into the overall base game revamp.
Not that any of this changes my theory about what we’re going to be fighting, which I believe I’ve stated many times by this point – especially since the teaser site mentions that it will challenge us in a way we’ve never been challenged before. It’s going to directly involve the Exarch, in other words, and it’s going to be sad.
Why do I say that? Well, that line is clearly referring to challenge in a story sense, not in a mechanical one. So who else could it be? If it’s some random big bad fanged thing, well, we’ve fought a lot of those. Elidibus? We’ve fought him a bunch of times. Elidibus possessing someone important? We’ve already done the “fight the possessed person” several times. With a hostage? Also done it. In fact, about the only configuration we could have is fighting someone whom we don’t want to fight and doesn’t want to fight us… but who does have to be put down just the same.
But let’s talk about more subtle stuff. Like the welcome removal of Collectable Synthesis.
While that particular action made sense when we first had to start worrying about collectable items, the fact is that it hasn’t made sense for a while. For much of what you would want to synthesize as a collectable, it was the only use for those items, to the point that it was just made non-optional eventually. And the main reason for having the separate system was mostly to prevent the rather absurd stat inflation of Quality and using that directly for collectability.
So now you synthesize collectable items as that, and the old stuff you don’t need are just… not there. It’s probably for the best, all things considered. I have no doubt some people are going to be a bit miffed about it, but it strikes me as a good choice overall.
Removing the open-world spiritbond gain feels a bit odd. Obviously, spiritbonding parties have largely fallen out of fashion with more ways of getting materia and easier availability, especially now that you no longer destroy gear to get the materia in the first place. But there were still ways that it could be useful; it feels like a change that should be more meaningful than it actually is, I suppose.
Some bits are also clearly setting things up for the future, of course, like the whole fashion accessories category. That means very little right now, but the addition of more stuff with Ishgardian restoration will change that in the future. So far, so good. As usual, the patch has a lot of stuff devoted to overall quality of life improvement rather than just new content, though there’s certainly no shortage of that as well.
Part of me is also still interested in where the “Unreal” stuff will slot in challenge-wise. The fact that it’s confined to the raid finder implies that it’s similar in challenge to fighting Varis for relic gear, so slightly below Extreme, but it’s not entirely clear; at the same time, the obvious categories of rewards as purely cosmetic support that theory. But it still raises the question, even as I think it’s all right to have some stuff that doesn’t evenly slot into familiar content spaces right away.
And of course there are new items to be gained from treasure maps. That’s almost de rigeur at this point.
The one thing that this patch kind of makes me sad about is the fact that, well… the two subsequent patches have a lot of the repeatable content that’s meant to keep you occupied for a while. This one has a big story drop, and I’m looking forward to it, but beyond that it feels largely like it’s familiar stuff aside from Dwarf tribe quests. And part of me kind of misses having all of the content unlocked at once. Yeah, it meant that it aged a bit faster, but it did help with the waiting.
Then again, I am almost certainly nitpicking too much. There may just be no pleasing me. It looks like a meaty patch with plenty of stuff to do, and if there are some minor quibbles here and there like the delay in weapon upgrade tokens still being a thing… they’re hardly enough to make a big difference. It’s new story, and I have no doubt that the emotions of that are going to carry us for a while.
And I haven’t even talked about Puppet’s Bunker yet, gosh. So I might be overly contrary.
Feedback is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, as always. Next week? Patch in review, of course. It’s how we do things here.