Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV leaves the Deep Dungeon for now

Is that a good choice, and will we go back?

Oh, right.

We don’t quite have patch 5.35 here yet, but we do know that the patch will add the Bozjan Southern Front to Final Fantasy XIV in lieu of prior expansions offering the Deep Dungeon at this point. This is kind of significant. For a long time, this was a feature that I just assumed we would be getting in the expansion at some point because we always have; only when it was officially confirmed that we would not get a new Deep Dungeon did I start internalizing that aspect. It’s surprising!

Of course, it’s not the most surprising thing at this point; after all, Shadowbringers has changed a lot of things that had heretofore been accepted and normal parts of FFXIV’s content schedule, like hard modes for existing dungeons. So today I want to talk a bit about the loss of the Deep Dungeon for this expansion and what it might mean for this expansion and the future… as well as whether or not this was, ultimately, a good call.

First and foremost, I want to note that as with the hard modes, this was an intentional design decision announced a long time back as something the team wanted to do in order to focus on allocating design resources in different directions. And to a certain extent, it’s probably too early to really evaluate what the long-term impacts of that decision will be simply because we haven’t seen the far side of the expansion. We can’t decidedly say if the lack of a Deep Dungeon was a good or bad thing without having finished an expansion without it, after all.

Having said that, well… thus far, our results have been an extra EX trial, which is at least to my evaluation not really as interesting as a new hard mode dungeon. But that’s a bit reductive because it also means time for more polish on Eden and YoRHa content, which has definitely been very good all the way through.

Still, we’re here to talk about the Deep Dungeon. It’s an interesting case because it’s always been great leveling content that’s struggled a bit to find a niche in the larger game.

Nothing horrible can come from glowing red weapons!

Everyone who reads this is no doubt well aware that I’m very fond of this particular content. It’s a fun challenge! But in terms of where it falls in the overall arc of content, Deep Dungeon runs have always been more useful for leveling than as an endgame activity. Sure, you can get some tomestones at level cap, but it’s slower than just running a dungeon and the weapons you can get don’t hold up to upgraded tome weapons, savage weapons, or relics. Heck, many of them falter compared to EX primal arms.

This isn’t a huge problem, but it is something that I feel like the team has looked at with a more critical eye for a while now. It wouldn’t exactly surprise me if someone looked at the work put into Eureka and the work put into Heaven-on-High and wondered why these two things were separate projects when both were only useful for one particular segment of the playerbase.

There’s also the issue that leveling solely or even primarily via Deep Dungeon produces some odd results. The stuff that’s valued in that content is not the same that’s valued across the majority of the game. That’s not to suggest that this content results in people not being good at the level cap; rather, it means that people who are good kind of have to re-learn how to play at the cap, which is somewhat less than ideal.

All of this appears to have been flattened together into the Bozjan Southern Front, which makes me curious whether the Front will allow you to kill two birds with one stone and level your alt jobs while working on your relic weapon. It’s hardly assured, but it would certainly offer additional incentive.

But that’s talking about the replacement and not the dungeon itself. What will this mean for Deep Dungeon content moving forward?

In the short term, probably nothing. We still have Palace of the Dead and Heaven-on-High, for example; it’s quite possible that we’ll get another installment with the next expansion, but they didn’t want to shoehorn one into Norvrandt for whatever reason. (Or the next one will be in Norvrandt, and that’s a reason to go back there again.) At most, I could see HoH expanding to cover an additional band of levels, or both PotD and HoH consolidated a bit.

But does this mean we’re never going back to the format? Well… maybe not. Because without some changes, there might not be a lot more to do with it in the first place.

Let's protest by playing!

I can definitely feel the differences between rising in the Ruby Sea and sinking into the ruins of Gelmorra, but in many ways these dungeons are largely similar. They’re not identical, but there’s not as much variation as you see in new dungeon runs; the biggest difference in Heaven-on-High were the wide-open floors. And it might very well be that there’s not a whole lot more you can even do with Deep Dungeons as a concept beyond adding in different sets of wall dressing and new sorts of enemies to kill you on the penultimate floor.

Not that I’m bitter.

If that is the case, my biggest hope is that the developers make the two Deep Dungeons we do have a bit more flexible in terms of level. Right now, you have no reason to go back outside of achievement hunting. It’s a bit disappointing that we have two of them that are so segmented right now, and making them more relevant to a wider swath of levels would be a good thing.

I also hope that the fun design lessons of the Deep Dungeon carry forward no matter what. One of the things I like about the runs is that no two experiences are quite the same, and while FFXIV‘s dungeon runs are very refined, I’d love to see cases wherein, say, you get one of three random segments to run through that have the same basic duration but slightly different pulls. Copied Factory plays with this idea, too, and I really like it in there.

And I do hope we go back to this style of content at least once because while Heaven-on-High might have felt a little too soon, it’s hard to imagine never diving into the roguelike-like experience again. It’s fun and players generally like it, and while the leveling might be the primary motive for some, it’s still interesting and pretty unique.

Plus it’s just plain weird that we’re not getting that content at the same time another game is about to get a new sort of endless dungeon. That’s just some unusual timing.

Feedback, like always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, I’ll have a new Live Letter to discuss and recap! Joy of joys.

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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