One of the things I still love about covering Final Fantasy XIV are the patches. These things are always bulky in terms of added content, often including a whole dump truck full of stuff that players can enjoy moving forward. It’s kind of amazing, both in terms of sheer volume and just in the sense that it seems as if this should not be so reliably expansive after so many years. But here we are, yet again…
Anyhow, the important thing is that now we have those all-important preliminary notes, and during this long day of unbroken maintenance we can speculate a little about them. That’s it, that’s what these columns are for. I have some trouble writing intros for these things, they’re kind of exactly what they say on the tin. And no, I know, we don’t quite have the item list yet, but I’m sure we’ll muddle through somehow.
So, one of the immediately obvious and welcome changes that was slipped in there is that old endgame rings are no longer Unique. In other words, you don’t need to have one un-upgraded ring and one upgraded ring and find yourself just a little below the item level cap. There’s no word about things purchased vis current tomestones, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the newest tomestone rings just lack that property without the need to concurrently announce it. It feels on-brand.
It’s never been a huge problem, of course; the result is that you’re usually one average level below the theoretical cap, which has never mattered substantially. But it’s always been kind of annoying, and this means that gearing up older jobs now has one less nonsense hurdle for players to jump through. A good call.
One thing that surprised me, at least with the preliminary notes, is not having a full outline of how the Monk changes are going to work. This is a pretty substantial shift, and I remember getting a better picture of how things were changing for Ninja before those changes went live. (It’s possible that these changes are happening in 5.41 or 5.45 and I just forgot it; feel free to call me out if I’m wrong in the comments.)
(Late-day edit: the full patch notes just arrived as of this writing, and now the Monk changes are in there. They weren’t in the preliminary notes, however, which is what this column was written about. Annoying!)
We also continue to get new quests for the alliance raid series even during patches without new dungeons to explore, which is a nice change. I’m a little surprised how brief the Eden wrap-up appears to be; with just five quests, you have four bosses to take out and then it’s time for the final farewell, which is a little more abrupt than usual even if it’s not altogether unusual. But more bridging actions for the YoRHa stuff is welcome just the same.
In fact, one of the definite themes that I’m noticing is that this patch doesn’t appear to have leaned hard on volume. The new trial, the new MSQ, everything has a smaller number of quests, which probably means that each quest has some rather lengthy cutscenes to go through. We also has some additional quests for people who had already gotten through all the role quests, so it’s kind of nice to see older stuff getting linked together.
There’s also more New Game Plus. For some reason.
I joke, I know some people are really happy about that feature and probably enjoy the fact that you can relive even more chunks of the story. It just means very little to me. But then, I imagine some people aren’t excited for the game’s new option to tour completed dungeons, whereas I’m super eager to roam through the landscape and take screenshots in them. Everything is for someone.
Sadly, as many people have pointed out, the Triple Triad changes don’t really fix the main problem that the game has, which is that four-star cards are useless because they’re just as limited as five-star cards but strictly worse. Your best deck is going to be all three-star cards and one five-star, and that’s as true now as it was before. It’s not a huge deal since, as noted, it’s a side activity, but it does mean that the changes mostly just let people get into the top-end game faster.
While we aren’t continuing on with the relic weapon just yet, I do find it very interesting that this new content is taking the form of a new sort of battle content rather than another new zone. On some level, that’s really weird, since Eureka covered several new zones. On another level, though, it actually makes a certain amount of sense because the Bozjan Southern Front is meant to serve as the Deep Dungeon equivalent; just adding a new zone to level through would kind of undercut it.
In other words, I think it’s possible (if not probable) that we’re not actually going to get another full zone and that the reason Bozja felt a bit front-loaded in that regard was… well, it was supposed to be. We’ll get another couple of duties and that’s where we’re going with this. Although the fact that it’s just the southern front makes that stand out a bit more, so don’t be stunned if I’m wrong here.
I also am very curious to try out the new collectable interface for gathering. The whole collection procedure was always a bit wonky, even though I loved the idea, and I’m happy to see some of that becoming more accessible especially for players who may not have been knee-deep in all of the systems around raising collectable items. There’s been a lot of welcome changes to crafting and gathering this expansion, and while I think this is probably the tail end of it, it’s good just the same.
Oh, and I love the new Classic theme for the interface. Just saying.
Ultimately, there’s not a whole lot here that’s shocking, but it is yet another meaty patch that made it in under the wire ahead of the year’s end. And I’m looking forward to it. It feels weird, especially after the long and unintended duration of patch 5.2, to be back on our regular cadence. It feels like we only just got into this patch, and suddenly now we have a new patch to explore? But it’s something to be excited about just the same.
Although if we’re really not going to hear anything more about the next expansion until February, that’s going to feel a little weird. I mean, think about it, we should also be hearing about patch 5.5 at that point. And I’m only partly saying that because I want more ahead of time. It’s a legitimate concern.
Feedback, as always, may be left in the comments down below or mailed along to email@example.com. Next week, obviously, I’m going to be talking about the patch from a reaction standpoint. This is also how we always do these things.