All right. We’ve moved on from the Endwalker delay at this point. Let’s talk about how much the Feast sucked.
Final Fantasy XIV’s live letter did actually contain a solid chunk of information about the game’s next expansion, although it followed the somewhat annoying habit that the past few live letters have had of recapping everything about the game’s expansion as if you missed all of the previous reveals. I understand why this would be the case in broad strokes, but why is it always the first thing these letters focus on? Why can’t the recap come later, instead of being what’s up-front?
Regardless, one of the big new reveals was the Crystal Conflict mode and the changes coming to how the game structures its PvP. Which means that now is, as mentioned, a good time to talk about how the Feast is just not a very good mode as it appears to be going away for good. It shall not be missed.
The history of PvP in FFXIV is kind of weird. It’s always been one of those things that the developers want to have in the game and be balanced and functional, but it’s also always been something that the developers wisely do not want to interfere with the PvE side of the game. Both of these goals are laudable. Having PvP in a game is one of those features that does help flesh out a game and make it more fun for everyone, but I don’t think it’s really a controversial statement to say that the title is a PvE game first and foremost.
Direct arena PvP also is kind of weird in MMOs. In theory, it makes a lot of sense. You toss your combatants into a ring and have them fight it out, a format that has successfully worked for boxing, MMA, and arguably for professional wrestling (yes, it’s scripted, but the illusion is of a direct cage match). But in practice, it’s usually… kind of bad.
Some of this is down to the disconnect between PvP and PvE. Abilities, roles, and designs that are perfectly balanced in PvE can make PvP matches very lopsided, which means you either have to accept that PvP is really a contest between a handful of character options (boring and not ideal) or you have to balance PvE and PvP separately (so you’re no longer really testing your clever use of the same skills).
It’s also down to the sheer nature of MMOs allowing for, well… more interesting options. You can create matches with more going on than just “let’s make these two teams fight” pretty easily, and that tends to be of greater interest to people who enjoy more interesting match styles.
In FFXIV’s case in particular, The Feast kind of highlighted the inherent weirdness of how PvP works. You’re kind of playing a funhouse mirror version of your regular job, and it feels like The Feast was always predicated on the idea of exploring whether or not it worked as some kind of esport thing. There was never a big push for it, of course, just a casual exploration of whether or not the playerbase liked it and whether there was an audience there for the game mode.
The answer appears to be “no.” Development on The Feast seemed pretty slow, and most of the PvP motion we’ve received in recent years has been focused on more unique modes of gameplay. I don’t begrudge the designers exploring the option and seeing how well arena combat would work in FFXIV in the first place, but The Feast was never very good, and the loss of it in favor of the new Crystal Conflict style feels like it’s largely a good thing.
This is bolstered by the fact that Crystal Conflict actually does look pretty fun! It has an interesting split from the usual with a five-person party, it offers a few different maps for players to explore, and it has a neat objective to reach for. We’ll probably see more of it in the lead-up to patch 6.1, but it seems clear that a lot of thought went into changing up the small-scale PvP environment ahead of Endwalker.
Other people have noted that the game’s Series concept also feels a bit like a battle pass in terms of format, and I think that’s broadly accurate; it’s probably what the developers were thinking of without a paid component, and it provides a way for players to earn what had previously been Feast rewards without necessarily chasing the immediate highlights of seasonal competition. A lot of this is going to depend on what the rewards actually look like, of course, and we aren’t going to know that until this is actually implemented.
Moving on, we… supposedly learned more about how gathering is going to work without HQ gathering drops, but we really didn’t? We know that HQ item claim skills will be reworked in some way, but we still don’t know how. This part was remarkably light on details beyond the spearfishing minigame, and while I do like it in broad strokes, I also find myself a little miffed that this major change to a gameplay field apparently doesn’t merit concrete information.
That spearfishing minigame does look fun, though. That’s a good thing.
Housing lottery details make a fair amount of sense, although I’m curious about why they’re keeping some of the first-come first-served wards out in the wild. It seems like an odd decision in light of the fact that basically no one likes that particular system, and it doesn’t seem to really add much with the changes to relocation and the inclusion of the lottery system. It’s also a bit odd that lottery entries will also be required for relocation, but I think that makes a little more sense in terms of unifying mechanics across the various wards.
The “only one entry” also seems a bit odd. Like, it makes sense; you don’t want one player winning multiple lotteries, after all. But it also does mean that players are much less likely to have “backup” plans succeed; you’re going to go for the spot you want and that’s the only place you’ll have a shot at for the entire lottery period. I’m curious if you’ll be able to see how many people are in the lottery for a given plot, as that might affect player behavior as well.
Beyond that… well, we know what our new tomestones are called and what the gear will look like (a bit boring, but that’s the unlimited gear anyway), and we have most of the idle information we always get from these live letters. When you look away from the unexpected delay announcement, it was in many ways a very standard pre-expansion live letter, albeit with a couple of changes that we might not have otherwise expected.
Oh, and cheaper tomestone weapons! That’s nice, at least.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I’m going to talk about the plot threads that I hope get addressed and wrapped up in the Endwalker MSQ, even though I’m not sure if any of it actually will be.