Wisdom of Nym: Impressions of Final Fantasy XIV’s patch 5.4 content

    
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Throw hands.

Here’s something that I think no one, even me, really acknowledged heading into this particular patch: Final Fantasy XIV set itself up with a really difficult act to follow. Patch 5.3 was a real standout in both story and content terms, and that meant that the next patch was always going to be something of a letdown simply because it wasn’t going to be a climactic end to stuff. You can’t go from summoning heroes to dungeon fun times without some whiplash.

Having said that, I always start with content for these patches, so we’ll be leaving the discussion of story elements until next week. Right now, it’s all about the content added with this newest patch, and that means we’re kicking things off with the aforementioned dungeon fun times. Hard to believe it’s been this long since we had a dungeon that felt this much like a romp, isn’t it?

Mouselook

Matoya’s Rumpus Room

Of all the dungeons we’ve had to go through, none of them has ever felt so deliberately light as this particular one. Seriously, we’re not saving the world or even a region with this one, and even though there is danger (and mechanics that can kill you), it is definitely keeping in a feeling of lower stakes compared to the majority of other dungeons even in this particular expansion.

That’s a smart choice, though. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I find this particular dungeon notably more fun than Heroes’ Gauntlet. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s any mechanically simpler, but there was definitely a feel all the way through that the bosses were part of a particularly interesting minigame and the stakes were lower than normal.

One thing that I particularly did like is how both the second and third boss make use of jumping to a different part of the battlefield to continue things. These changes feel akin to the gap-crossing bit of Dohn Mheg but without the irritation of the skill factor, instead allowing you to make use of the mechanics you’re aware of and rewarding situational awareness with more than just dodging or getting hit. Indeed, situational awareness feels key for every fight, a sort of tacit acknowledgement of design lessons learned in the YoRHa raids.

It also feels like the dungeon was absolutely and deliberately packed with visual moments to make use of the explorer mode that was just added, something that I also find blessedly welcome. Between little visual flourishes like the original Final Fantasy sprites lining the bookshelves in the central area, the acid-trip lava, and the general baffling water-pipe layout? This entire dungeon is made for some photo shoots, putting pretty much every prior dungeon to shame in that regard aside from maybe the Grand Cosmos. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

I also can’t help but notice that the dungeon once again plays with the idea of pulling two packs up to a barrier as a gating mechanism, since often you have pulls split up a little bit more or with unusual gating.

As a whole, I don’t think this is a perfect dungeon, but it’s a perfectly placed dungeon. Both in terms of story and in mechanics it’s a bit lighter than usual, something sorely needed after the climax of the last patch. Spend some time exploring and getting screenshots while you’re at it.

Darky Dark-Dark

East of Eden

I am admittedly not doing Savage this tier, due to my not doing Savage for any tier because I don’t find it fun, but this round of Eden fights felt unusually easy. I went in blind to the entire set of fights and only had a couple of wipes on my way through, with one fight having no wipes. More importantly, I walked out feeling like I had a pretty clear picture of how the fights worked even with only one run through.

Part of this is doubtlessly just because these fights make use of clear telegraphing in particularly fun ways. The Cloud of Darkness fight was particularly fun in that regard, teaching you how to avoid each of her mechanics early on and then asking you if you were paying enough attention through steady repetition. In fact, none of the fights here bar the last one seem to have a break from the main boss fight, and even that is more of a setpiece than a real race to prevent a bar filling/emptying.

The last boss in particular is a fun jumble of ideas pulled from Final Fantasy VIII and all those revisited primals, which puts paid to that particular side of things. And the third boss… well, I can only hope that some of the abilities on display there eventually get used by the job that is so clearly represented by that boss, since they seem like fun potential additions to the core mechanics. (Although that is a pretty big lift to assume.)

Overall, though, this was more of a letdown than Alexander or Omega in terms of sheer impact on this last batch of content. I don’t feel that the last sequence of fights were as impressive as those gauntlets, and I definitely don’t think that the final fight is half a patch on those respective battles. Still, I can’t exactly complain about the idea that the farming for weapon pieces and armor sets will be less annoying over the coming months.

Yes, I know, this is fishing.

Collection Objection

Gathering collectible items got a lot easier for gatherers. One could convincingly argue that it’s almost stupidly easy now. Then again, it wasn’t exactly hard before; it just required you to keep a very specific sequence of presses and abilities in your head and you’d get good collection options if you could do so. Making this a bespoke experience was probably the right call across the board.

I still haven’t quite sussed out what is likely the ideal rotation, but I do like that it still feels both easy to get high-quality items if you outlevel the node (fairly important) and a delicate but reliable process for on-level nodes (also important). The new interface also preserves the minigame aspect of gathering, giving you both a target value and an overall sense of how likely each outcome is.

One thing that I’m not as fond of is the feel like you get fewer shots at even low-level nodes than you did before for collectible items. It’s still not egregious or awful, but it’s there in ways that it wasn’t before.

But as a whole, I think this marks the last field that the expansion really needed to polish up before declaring the general crafting/gathering rework to be good. It makes this into a minigame within a minigame in ways that feels far less clunky than the old solution. A good change, on balance.

Feedback, as always, can be left in the comments below or mailed along to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time around, I want to talk about the story beats of the patch, and there were a lot of them. It’s just a pity that so many of the central ones were kind of limp, then…

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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Loopy

Is it just me, or do FFXIV articles not garner too many comments lately? Have people moved on from the game?

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Sorenthaz

They usually don’t generate too many comments from what I’ve seen. That and folks might not want things potentially spoiled one week into it.

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Dagget Burmese

They’re too busy playing the game, and there just isn’t enough drama to get clicks

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cursedseishi

Mix of a few things I’d guess. One obviously being, for example here, people may not want to engage and be spoiled on things. Another being ‘too busy playing for drama’.

And, honestly, because the things worth complaining or railing about have just… been railed at so much now that its pointless. For instance? I love the game, I enjoy playing around with things and messing about… But I hate the housing system. It’s far too limited in supply and at the same time with that too expensive to really serve its intended purpose as a ‘gil sink’. It’s been broken since release, and every patch made to it is just that. A patch. A strip of duct-tape over a hole in a boat. But the boat is so old, there’s zero interest to fix it proper or replace it at this point, so we just have to keep duct-taping over it so it stays afloat a little longer.

The most recent ‘drama’ would be the repeat of Gender-locked Races, and… well, that drum’s been beaten to death too, even by Yoshi-P before, even despite the fact they did it again with Hroth and Vierra. There’s just… nothing new to say to it.

So… Yeah. Nobody’s gonna just comment or bring it up unless there’s some specific reason to do so… Which, there really isn’t.

Also? It’s Patch content. Aside from the Monk revamp mechanically speaking, there just isn’t much to really spark commentary or debate about. Story stuff is fun to ponder about, but you don’t want to be ‘that guy’ who accidentally spoils something since its still early on.

Though… if we wanna bap the Behemoth til he starts chucking rocks again? I will say it is criminal how they’re treating Hildebrand. He got a poor shake on content with Heavensward and the FF14 team seemed to have learned their lesson, and yet they’re doing it again in Shadowbringers. Apparently he ‘maybe’ appears in Hero’s Gauntlet in ‘Summoned’ form, but its more like watching Player Ghosts faff about in a Souls game than anything meaningful.

Godbert-dangit I will craft a finely furnished and expensively inlaid dining room table in my underpants and then flip it over HARD if he doesn’t show up as a quest anywhere before the next expansion.
Also, Party Finder is a mistake to look at. It’s fine generally… then you see the ‘Other Section’, and your only response should be to burn it down with Hellfire.