And otherwise… well, too bad.
That might seem a little harsh, and to a certain extent it is, but I have to admit that there’s a certain sense of breaking in the summer nap a little early here. Patch 5.57 was definitely focused around speeding things up so you could more easily get to a place you’re comfortable waiting in until patch 6.0 rolls around, and that’s all well and good, but November is still a long ways off at this point, let’s be real.
On some level, this is understandable. The biggest thing that’s going to be influencing players during this gap is taking advantage of new people showing up, and the reality is that most of the players who are seeking endgame tomestones aren’t doing so via leveling roulettes and the like. It makes sense to put a cap on that and let people finish up their endgame projects now instead of later. That gives you more space for leveling and other stuff instead of focusing on the endgame progress.
At the same time, though, by opening everything up now, you’ll find it’s easy to reach a point where you may very well be… well, done. Speaking for myself, I’ve been done with leveling everything for ages now, and I’m increasingly reaching the point of diminishing returns by doing stuff in the game. Having more tomestones to get each week just accelerates that process; it doesn’t inspire me to do more different stuff.
Now, this is kind of complaining about something that the developers don’t consider a problem at the same time. If my main complaint is “I have nothing left to do and thus this inspires me to take a break from FFXIV,” the official response would be “all right.” Seriously, I’ve written articles about this. Just last week I was noting that this is a part of the game’s philosophy.
It just feels a little earlier than usual. Normally, it feels like we’re into the “wrap-up” stage later in the progression. With five months to go, it seems as if we’re hitting pause early.
What I do find pointedly interesting is adding the option to swap world servers directly from the character select screen. That’s… not really the data center visit that’s probably coming in 5.58 (complete with inevitable issues), but it does help encourage players to make use of the feature when dealing with queues. It’s a smart addition, especially in terms of forward planning for the next expansion, which will almost certainly have queues ahead of time for the most populated servers, and it’ll hopefully help players who are otherwise locked to heavy servers a chance to log in more efficiently.
Seriously, not everyone can just log in at the start of the day and then never log off all day around early access.
I also do find it interesting how many elements of this particular patch deal with minutiae around relic weapons and the Save the Queen content. In fact, let me use this as a bit of a segue to talk about the whole “Matsuno is no longer involved/there might be no content in this line” topic because it’s not worth a whole column but it does actually fit in nicely there.
So, for those who missed it, Matsuno basically tweeted over the weekend that plans changed and he would not be continuing to write any more of the story. Now, the replies are… vague in relation to future plans. He makes it pretty clear that he will not be continuing, that the story had mixed reception, and repeatedly states that the Save the Queen story is over. This, however, is not quite the same as the Ivalice-related story being over. At the same time, if you read several of the field notes, you know they paint a story of a whole lot happening after Save the Queen wraps up
Yet… all of that was also written after a cutscene was scripted and put together that ends on a painfully clear cliffhanger. Literally, the end of Save the Queen ends with the main antagonist still not actually making an appearance facing off against the player characters in the slightest. Noah van Gabranth is still the force behind things rather than being an active participant, and if we’re never actually going to explore that, there’s a whole lot of story buildup and cutscene for what amounts to nothing.
Is that impossible? Definitely not. The Save the Queen story does tell a complete story. It has a weird teaser at the end and defies much in the way of concluding material, but it does conclude. But it would definitely be odd to leave it there, and I have the feeling we haven’t seen the last of Noah van Gabranth.
“But Matsuno,” you say. And to that I reply that I never said Matsuno would be writing it. I just said that it would continue.
Of course, all of that is pure speculation about the future rather than the present, and in the present we’re dealing with… well, not the last minor patch (that’s at the end of July or start of August) but probably the last very substantial acceleration of content. Seriously, there’s no reason to make anything faster a month later; the next patch will probably be data center visiting, the unlocking of the weapon upgrade items for NieR coins, and maybe a few other fixes and minor additions.
It’s not a terrible place to go into that long period of doldrums. I think some people have been inspired to be more active this particular week just because, well… there’s a new cap, there’s a reason to do more. It’s going to take people a little while before they feel burnt out on that. Heck, some people are just going to be happy to have the motivation to run things for a few weeks and that’s going to make the next month or so fly by, especially until we start getting some events rolling into the game to keep people around.
Still, it feels a little early. Maybe that’s just me; maybe I’m feeling a little burnt out or cynical. It wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to email@example.com. Next week, let’s go back to asking questions way too early and take a loot at what the various jobs could be getting in Endwalker, starting with the tanks.