Wisdom of Nym: Going to war in Bozja in Final Fantasy XIV

    
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Wisdom of Nym: Going to war in Bozja in Final Fantasy XIV

Here we are in the wake of Final Fantasy XIV’s latest content patch, and while there are a lot of different things that were technically contained in patch 5.35… let’s face it, the real focus was on the Bozjan Southern Front. A new piece of content that feels oddly segmented, in a way, as if it’s the first in a series of encounters that should stretch longer than what the actual development roadmap seems to indicate. That might also just be me, though. What matters most is that it’s here and can be played.

But how does it actually feel to play? Well, thereby hangs a tale!

The thing is that you can’t really discuss the Bozjan Southern Front without discussing the content that it was crafted specifically not just to replace but to iterate upon in Eureka. That requires understanding what Eureka did that did and didn’t work, where Bozja tries to adjust or maintain those elements, and perhaps most importantly what it adds on to the formula as a whole. So let’s start at the beginning and work our way forward.

Let’s get this out of the way for anyone coming in late: Eureka, as a whole, was not warmly received by FFXIV players and had a downright icy reception at first. This is not exactly surprising when you consider that the zone was structured very much as a throwback to Final Fantasy XI in more than just item names. Between the slow grinding of player levels, experience loss and risk, and the overall flow? The initial release was very much like layering FFXI over FFXIV.

Later releases were more warmly received in the series, to be fair. But right out of the gate, Bozja had to basically be Eureka without quite so much Eureka. It also had to be decent leveling content and provide means to upgrade your relic weapons and so forth. It had a lot of restrictions and needs layered on top of it, in other words.

Thus, the version of Bozja we actually got is partly a more involved overworld zone (shades of Eureka) and partly something notably different. And while it definitely does seem better than its predecessor, many elements of it seem like too many things layered on top of one another with insufficient explanation.

Robot!

For example, one of the things people disliked about Eureka was forming slow grinding parties to get your levels up. Say farewell to that now; instead, Bozja doesn’t give you much of anything for grinding individual enemies other than a chance at some eventual drops at a low percentage. Nope, everything is about the Skirmishes and Critical Engagements, and otherwise you won’t level up at all.

The good here is immediately obvious because it removes slow grinds as your primary way of doing things. But the bad is that this means the enemies scattered around are mostly irritating distractions rather than something you care about. The only things you really want to take out are the star-marked targets which have long respawns and require a fair team to take them out, and that’s mostly for the lost action clusters they can drop.

Not that it’s a huge deal anyhow because your rank barely matters beyond arbitrary capping of areas you can access. This makes for progress, yes, but it really highlights the idea of layered systems. You don’t get anything for leveling up, but leveling up does mean you’re more likely to get more lost actions because of new areas, but there’s no assurance of that.

Lost actions, honestly, are halfway neat and halfway frustrating. The idea is that you have a little holster as you find them, containing both powerful items and actions you would otherwise not be able to use. There’s a mix of stuff that’s class-agnostic and role-specific, but the result is that you can break pretty far out of your normal job comfort zone. That’s good! But it’s also random, which makes it less of “here’s a fun alternate build” and more of a roguelike experience wherein you have to really hope about what you get.

Admittedly, I maybe shouldn’t be complaining about that in wake of this replacing our already roguelike-ish Deep Dungeon? It still does bother me a bit.

It also feels as if a lot of the various currencies and items have a randomized but too-low drop rate in general. Between an assortment of fragments, Bozjan Clusters, the upgrade items for relic weapons, field notes, and lockboxes… the whole thing feels cluttered, top to bottom. It’s kind of weird you can upgrade your relic faster by skipping the Bozjan Southern Front altogether and just working through Heavensward FATEs.

Of course… this is also deliberate. After all, there are people getting into that content for the free trial now, so they want these areas to be more populated. Heck, the second upgrade has you running leveling dungeons. These are not accidental or foolish additions.

SIR

All of this probably sounds broadly negative, and on a whole I don’t think that the Bozjan Southern Front is quite a slam-dunk. This might change as I progress further through the zone, but at the moment, it has the problem of solving lots of problems that existed within Eureka but also excising the positive elements of those systems. However, not being an absolute and unalloyed win is not the same as being a loss, and there’s a lot of stuff to the Southern Front’s credit.

In terms of a zone offering players more open-world stuff to do? Bozja delivers nicely. There is a ton going on, and more going on as more and more people get access to the later areas. I also think that the Critical Engagements offer a neat twist to the existing mechanics, with fights that are far less dense than lots of other similarly sized confrontations but also provide a path for a large number of people to smack through things. It’s also nice that you can tailor some of your specialized actions for specific fights, to boot.

Plus, I like that it moves away from one of the biggest weaknesses of Eureka in that there are loads of reasons to do stuff in here even without relic weapons. Indeed, your relic weapon is almost a secondary concern; you’re not so much working on it in Bozja as you are doing stuff in Bozja while making progress.

I’m also hopeful that as you get higher (and people start maxing out), rewards are adjusted so that you find yourself more easily able to gain rewards for time spent. Since the rank scale caps out at 15, it wouldn’t surprise me if Mettle translates to some other rewards at higher levels (and thus smooths out the edges of the leveling process).

So at the end of the day, it’s… all right. It’s not as good as it could be, and I’d love to see some more meaningful interactions between things like Resistance rank and your overall performance. But it’s a good iteration on the Eureka design, and I’m hopeful that the next similar installment will bring us into better territory as the team keeps improving this general design.

Feedback, as always, can be mailed to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, let’s talk about something tangentially related to this particular system when it comes to borrowed power.

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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axemtitanium

Like prior relics before it, the Resistance weapons are best grinded by those who understand the system. Yes, you can get the 66 memories you need from HW fates and dungeons in maybe 6 or so hours, but you can get them much faster with the right setup in Bozja. You can actually get 10+ memories in a matter of minutes (and some nice Lost fragments and Bozja clusters as a side bonus) by farming enemies as an alliance. It’s literally not faster to farm fates. https://www.reddit.com/r/ffxiv/comments/je1xdm/psa_its_much_faster_to_farm_bitter_memories_in/

The straightforward path through HW fates is a red herring/bone to throw to people who so hated Eureka that they refuse to step into Bozja on principle. I love that there’s this alternate route that rewards mastery of understanding the system. It reminds me of the ways you can break the single player FF games by making unbeatable job combinations or junctioning certain abilities early.

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Vincent Clark

The Southern Front delivered in many ways and in some respects, I hope it is a sign of what we can expect in open world content in 6.0 (oh to dream).

However…the decision to make it so much easier to get your relic weapon upgraded by doing HW FATEs is kind of baffling to me.

Also, we are only a month and a half away from 5.4…the gear that drops in the Southern Front should be of a higher ilvl or at least provide 5 materia slots. The fact that the upgraded versions costs 999 (!) coins for one chest piece and 500 (!) coins for other pieces is just…well, it’s a choice.

There is so much to really like about the Southern Front, it’s just a few back end decisions seem a little bit odd.

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Vitamin ω

As one of the only Eureka fiends in my circle of friends back when it was relevant, there’s a lot they did right here. Introducing lost actions out the gate with the basic stances, and even making them items instead of taking up once of your two duty action slots is a major plus for getting people into a system that was before locked behind two zones worth of long grinds. They’re also just less annoying to gather in general – gone are the days of certain key logograms only dropping from bunny chests. Nearly every fragment has a way to guarantee drops with a party, if not have a decent chance of obtaining solo.

That does bring to mind one of the problems, as highlighted by the article’s mention that fragments have a low droprate, is that you need to seek out data on how to farm them. You can farm mobs with a 100% drop rate of one or more of a fragment, you can reflect farm sprites, you can poke star rank monsters with Death until they explode and rain fragments on you, but unless you seek out that information or ask someone you just aren’t gonna know. A lot of times I’ve started a party inside and a couple of people exclaim “oh I never knew that!” when I recommend something to farm. Information sharing like this is definitely intended by the devs, but it feels like a lot of people (in the English speaking community at least) aren’t accustomed to learning mechanics like this.

As a side note, I’m personally okay with memories having a 100% drop rate outside of the zone – at first brush it seems strange, but while inside you’re not only working on your relic but on your mettle and your item farming. I’ve seen fragments drop from random trash mobs while farming fragments, so they’re not only limited to the skirmishes or critical encounters inside. But again… you either know that or you don’t.

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axemtitanium

You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. I just cleared all three solo engagements in Bozja and it was a thrilling time. I’m happy to report that after a week of ups and downs, most Castrum assaults now result in success (with all prisoners saved to boot!). I think the information sharing network is as strong as ever, like it was for Eureka, and it can create amazing stories. I bet some of the people you partied with couldn’t wait to share your method with their friends.

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Ruby Lancer

My issue with the relics is more just the drop rates and how it honestly feels like they dropped the ball on it.

The whole relic line so far feels less like its actually focused on content that’s at the level cap, like the relics before it, and more trying to get those at the level cap to do older content specifically to help out newer players. If that’s the point of the relics, then why go through all this extra work to create Bozja and this story as it is?

And there are folks just saying “Oh, this is future proofing for when Bozja is devoid of players in the next expansion!” as if Eureka is a desolate wasteland devoid of players all day long. Its content that, gasp, has people that enjoy it and even willing to help folks out with it if you’re willing to do the time to look for them.

I’m fine with the alternate path existing. Hell, I’ll be doing at least 3 relics, if not more, and I don’t want to do all of them in Bozja, especially once I’ve maxed my rank out and gotten all the other rewards out of it that I want. I just feel that the 100% drop rate for Gold ranking a HW Fate is too much at this point in time. That should be the drop rate after 6.05 or 6.1, not when its the newest step.

I don’t see Bozja running terribly low on players doing things yet, as there will be folks wanting to farm up fragments and coins at the very least after a month or so (and maybe still folks farming Clusters to sell the items on the MB), its just sad that what was supposed to be one of the main reasons to do the content was basically dead on arrival because of how much easier and faster it is to do older content.

Why give Eureka 2.0 a chance when you can avoid it and still get your relic faster and easier than before?