Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s second Ishgard season is a touch underwhelming

    
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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s second Ishgard season is a touch underwhelming

In the days of my youth, you usually got introduced to a new band via the radio. (The radio was like YouTube, but no video, only for music, and it was terrible.) Once you heard a new song on the radio, you would often begin a particular cycle of disappointment. First, you’d hear this new song. You’d go and track down the album, and you’d be impressed to find out that not only was the song good, the rest of the album was as well. So you’d get super interested in when the band’s next album came out!

You’d listen to the radio, waiting for the first single. And it sounds good! It’s a new song! And you’d wait for the album release, and you’d listen to the whole thing, and then… you’d feel a sort of weird deflation. The second album wasn’t bad, but it felt worse than the first one for some reason. And you would realize that it was because ultimately, some of your love of this band had been the novelty. You had never heard them before. Now you knew what to expect, and for many bands, the second album was more of the same, just with unfamiliar songs.

Anyroad, that’s sort of how I feel about this season of Ishgard restoration in Final Fantasy XIV.

Some elements of this season may or may not be entirely a matter of the decisions made by the development team. It’s possible that there was a limited amount of time to make new outfits, which is why we get only one new outfit and it’s in the coffers rather than from scrips. Maybe the largely identical gameplay loop is also chiefly a matter of reusing time and assets, too! But… I suspect not. I suspect that what is in this part of restoration is exactly what was meant to be there, especially as there doesn’t seem to be anything missing per se.

And it’s not like it’s bad! Restoring Ishgard was fun crafting and gathering content before, and it’s fun now. Sure, you have to re-learn where things are because they’ve changed, but it’s not so impossible or difficult. There’s new stuff to gather, new crafts to make, new ranking to chase. Maybe there will even be new rewards once we finish this phase! It’s certainly plausible, after all.

But at the end of the day, this really does seem to be what we were already doing but with some names and descriptions changed. There are a few new rewards. I have already purchased the ones available via scrips. Ranking stops in less than a week. It’s a second album. If you didn’t enjoy the last one, you will probably not find this one all that compelling, but it’s still a great way to level up and so forth.

It’s hard for this not to feel like a bit of complaining.

Welcome to funky town.

I don’t know if much can really be done to address the fact that FFXIV proves with its concerted works that there’s a certain critical mass of players that is just too much to account for in a limited space. My machine is a beast and even it struggles a bit during those. Beyond that, though, it’s just… the process. Rank up, turn stuff in, earn scrips. If you really want to be ranked in the top, well, get those Expert crafts done. It would probably feel a bit different if the location weren’t quite so contiguous; as it stands, it really does feel like the same as before, but now different parts of the map are opening up.

And that’s great! I love this. This stuff is like catnip for me, and it’s fun, and watching the servers creep up in progress and work overtime to finish all the crafts is neat. It just doesn’t feel like the same sort of revelation as the first time around. It’s fun, it’s good, it’s the second album that isn’t as good as the first one because you’re not blown away by this thing you’ve never heard before.

It seems clear to me that what we’re going through here is meant to less serve as a one-off style of content and more a prototype for what will hopefully be a new regular sort of content in the future. In all likelihood, the next expansion will feature a different region of restoration. So it’s probably best to not expect anything wildly different for the next two phases after this one (based on what we’ve restored so far, I think that sounds reasonable, especially since that brings us to 5.5). As with dungeons, while this is not a perfect version, this is where we will be for the next few patches.

One thing that is great about it, of course, is the sheer number of people who turn out in force for this content. It seems like the entirety of every server jumps on this crafting content with gusto once it’s there, a far cry from… other titles. Everyone wants to get this thing rebuilt, and the fact that people are still crafting away even when the rewards are largely exhausted shows that there’s something special about it.

I also find myself wondering if the current setup of having the quests all waiting until the restoration is finished works perfectly. It’s easy to forget this will even be a thing for a long while, since it takes a while for that crucial construction finish; that having been said, since the ongoing story here specifically concerns rebuilding the Firmament, it wouldn’t necessarily make much sense for them to be intermediaries (especially since that’d take time away from crafting). I guess part of me just wants for a little break in the repetition.

Also, I'm never going to be less tired about the people whining that this didn't center enough on Doma. Seriously, let it go.

Still, on a whole, this setup worked before and still works, and I like it. I was kind of expecting a bit more out of the new phase, I suppose, but the stuff that already worked has been repackaged and gently altered, and that is more than enough to pay the bills, so to speak.

And, again, this does feel as much like a proof of concept as anything. I’m eagerly looking forward to the world first clears for the stages, for example; I hope that the next expansion contains something similar. (Will we rebuild Norvrandt? Ala Mhigo? Something other than Doma!) It feels more organic and personal than any of the rebuilding processes we’ve seen thus far.

But we already knew that going into this one. And even if it was always a pipe dream, part of me kind of wanted this to feel like another big revelation, something it was never going to do. This means that I suppose I’m complaining about something being very good but not surprisingly good.

That one’s on me, then.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, I want to do something that’s going to seem a bit odd in terms of speculation. If the next expansion really is the last one… what would it look like?

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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kajidourden
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kajidourden

That’s literally FFXIV in a nutshell. It refuses to evolve or build onto itself and instead insists on doing the exact same formulaic content with a new skin.

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Vincent Clark

Tough love time from me. I maxed out my scrips before 5.31 hit and once I got the rewards I needed/that were available I stopped contributing. For the first two iterations of the rebuild, I kept on helping…but this time around, I had zero inspiration to do so.

The fates are the same (meh), the Diadem grind is the same (meh–and worse, they made the default weather heat wave??) and the crafting bit is…well, the same.

They should have released the skysteel tool update with this patch, it makes no sense that they didn’t.

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Ruby Lancer

If this is going to be the kind of content we can expect for crafters and gatherers, or a subset of it, in future expansions and the like, I’m kind of wondering what kind of ultimate reward will they give us.

One of the main driving forces for such a large turn-out for the Ishgardian Restoration efforts right now is the belief that completing it all will unlock the housing ward for Ishgard. Now mind you, I don’t recall them doing anything other than implying that it would be such, but if someone does know and can provide a link to them saying that we would get such after all this without a doubt, please do so.

My point being is that there have been people that have wanted a home in Ishgard for so long now, that they will gladly dive into this stuff and push it forward almost no matter what. Would offering up a housing ward in Ala Mhigo, aside from it being an odd choice for not being connected to a major city hub, be a good reward for the future? The same for Norvandt, a place where I’m sure the folks would love for us to stay and make our home, but also be far removed from… well… the rest of the story at this point.

Not to mention that they keep removing the previous phases’s materials (mostly), as well as just making most of the stuff from said phases worthless to even try. I bring this up mostly to say that it gives the feeling that this is all ultimately a temporary thing. Its not like other forms of content, where you could go in with the minimum ilvl set, and experience it as close to what it originally was as possible. This feels like a thing that once its done, its done, and any crafting or gathering you can do is just to let people pick up those rewards, if they don’t get shifted to pure gil.

I am ultimately eager to see how the future of this stuff does play out, mind you, but there’s still a lot of unknown variables ahead, especially given this is the first version of this kind of content they’re doing. We’ll have to see how it ends up turning out.