When I started my relic grind in Final Fantasy XIV, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But after finishing the first few steps, I was in too deep and I just had to finish. Besides, patch 5.45 had just dropped, and this was going to be the best time to do the steps since the most players will be working through the content.
The Bozjan Southern Front
Those who’ve at least played through Eureka from FFXIV: Stormblood will be familiar with the Bozjan Southern Front. It’s a separate instance with a separate leveling system and gear scaling. It’s basically borrowed power.
The Bozjan Southern Front will take players to the frontlines in a war between the Bozjan rebel forces and the Empire’s IVth legion. Again, I skipped through the story, so I have no clue what’s going on. All that I need to know is that instead of levels, there’s resistance rank, the current maximum being 15. And instead of experience points, there’s mettle. As players accumulate mettle, they gain resistance ranks. Easy right? To help players gain said points, there are FATES in this special area. And to spice things up a bit, dying will cause players to lose these points. Worry not, though: You will never lose rank.
There are also these special events called critical engagements, which recruit players who’ve been doing the FATES. (It’s incentive to just not sit there and wait for other players to do the work for you.) I really like this piece of content! The resistance ranks are tied to your character, and not their jobs and everyone is level 80 with a standard gearscore of 430 while in the instance. So yes, players can bring in their level 50 warrior and level up their characters while they’re in there! Very useful.
Naturally, there’s a bunch of story quests to slog through, each of which unlocks at specific resistance ranks. In order to unlock the quests for the next stage of the relic weapon, players will need to complete the rank 10 quest called “The will to resist.” It’s a fair ask, and most parties will clear it in one go. But the problem isn’t the difficulty of the content. It’s organizing it.
The logistical nightmare that is Castrum Lacus Litore
This was the worst part for those catching up with the content. Castrum Lacus Litore is a 48-man raid instance. It’ll take about 30-45 minutes to complete, and all things considering, it’s a blast to play. The problem is what it takes to even access the dang thing.
Remember the critical engagement system I mentioned earlier? It’s one of those. So that’s already one problem. On average, it’ll proc 40 or so minutes after a fresh instance is created. So even before players can access it, they’ll need to be in the instance for however long it’ll take for the engagement to begin recruiting. To make things even more complicated, players will need to be rank 10, meaning that if a majority of the players in the instance aren’t rank 10, then they won’t be able to help or even sign up. Since each instance has a maximum of 72 players, some players will just be plain unlucky and will not be in an instance that doesn’t intend on doing it, wasting 40 minutes.
Both Eureka and the Bozjan Southern Front harken back to the days of classic MMO design. This type of content encourages teamwork out in the field, players level up by eliminating mobs rather than quests, there are consequences for pulling too many mobs, and sometimes sneaking through the field and avoiding aggro is the best way to go. FFXIV embraces the best parts of that design philosophy. Unfortunately, the Castrum also embraces the logistical nightmare of those early days.
I’m sure there’s someone out there who appreciates this as he smugly watches modern MMO gamers struggle to find a party, but this just sucks. The resistance/relic weapons is a grind that players can do at their own pace. With this, players will have to work with the game’s pace and are also at the mercy of fate. And while there are dedicated Discord servers to help finish this content, it’s a massive hassle. It’s backwards MMO design in the worst way. Please, Yoshi P, change this. Please. As the content gets older, it’ll get more and more difficult for players to access this content.
Moving forward, I highly recommend this content become something players can just queue up for. As of right now, this will be enough to make many players give up on their journey.
I wasn’t about to let it stop me, though. I promised myself that I would finish it. So I did. I streamed myself doing it on my Twitch channel since I believe in streamer’s luck, bent on finishing it. And I was lucky: I got into an instance with players who knew how to do it, and 40 other folks who wanted to do it too. And I had a blast! I was sooo happy to finish it. And then it was time to move on to the next step: collecting loathsome memories of the dying.
The long climb
In order to get the loathsome memories, players had to do the Crystal Tower 24-man raids 15 times. But since players can knock out a Syrcus tower in sub-15 minutes, that’s what most players ran. I queued up for all three, and in 15 runs, there was one instance where the raid I got was World of Darkness. Plus, 94% of my runs were totally positive. Players were just chatting, talking about how many runs they have left and we’d make jokes to spread some good vibes. Only one run, the sole World of Darkness run, had some very salty players.
At this point, most players are overgeared for this content, and as long as the tank tanks, the damage dealers deal damage, and the healers deal damage, things are copacetic. But one pull was a total mess, and even though we beat the encounter, some folks just had to complain about the tanks (I was one of them, but I was busy dealing damage, so I stayed out of it), and it became this whole blame fiesta leading to a player actually getting kicked. I don’t think I’d ever seen that happen before in FFXIV, but I was just laughing at how absurd the situation was. Imagine getting that mad over a sloppy pull in six-year-old content.
But aside from this, the most enjoyable part of this portion really was the players. It was fun running the content with my fellow gamers. Because of how easy the content was, things were much more relaxed. And we were all in it together. We all had just been through the logistical nightmare of the Castrum, and we had one simple goal: making our weapon light up by any means necessary. As someone who originally played (and burned out) at the highest and most sweaty level, I rarely see this side of the community. It was nice to not worry about my DPS (even though I still did), positioning, food items, and the next major mechanic.
When I completed my 15 runs, I turned in my memories and the Crownsblade evolved into the Law’s Order manatrigger. And while I’m glad I finished it, I’m even happier to have played with the literal hundreds of players I had the pleasure to share the grind with. You were all fun. Even the one who got kicked out.
I did not expect to go three articles deep for this, but I’m going to, so join me in a future Why I Play as I complete the journey and obtain the current form of my blade: The Augmented Law’s Order Manatrigger!