Wisdom of Nym: Everything we learned from the February Final Fantasy XIV live letter


So what did we learn from the latest Final Fantasy XIV live letter? A lot, and most of it good, although some of it might not be what people had wanted to learn. Really, the biggest thing I can see people being a little sad about is the reality that we’re extending the patch cycle very slightly, so now it’ll be an even four-month cadence between releases. Beyond that… well, most of it was either expected news, stuff for the future in 7.0, or just good stuff to know that’s not immediately relevant but will be interesting to see develop.

Obviously, I have more thoughts than just that paragraph about the developments that we learned of and the overall direction that we know the game is heading in right now. Those thoughts are basically all positive, though, so let’s start working through them from the start on down.


Doing a glow-up

I have little to no feelings about the graphical upgrade. Is that what you expected to hear? Well, it’s the truth.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think it’s unwelcome. The game’s graphics are still good and solid, but they do still have some lingering problems from the fact that the game was designed to run on the PS3 at one point even with more adaptation done for the PC. There’s space for them to look better, but the overall art style and strong direction have kept this from being too much of a problem.

Am I happy to see the idea of this game looking even better? Of course I am, especially as worries about the PS3 can completely fade into the background. But I don’t feel like as much of the game looks visibly and painfully dated as, say, some of the old assets in other MMOs can look. It’s nice to have, but it doesn’t really strike me as “oh, thank goodness, the game really needed this glow-up.”

Still, I’m never going to say no to something that’s nice to have, you know? And make no mistakes, things like improved grass and the like are welcome changes to the game. I just don’t feel much more than “oh, that’s nice” and continued enjoyment of the game’s existing style and art.

Deep blue sea.

Slower patches

By contrast, I’m… only a tiny bit sad about this. Mostly happy about it, if you can believe that, just because I think we’ve reached the point when FFXIV’s team is officially in “no need to prove anything” mode, and that means more time off and more space for the entirety of the team. And to explain that… well, let’s talk about how often 2.x dungeons were awful.

I’m not saying that all of them were, mind you. But usually in each batch of three dungeons you had the one that was just overtuned, annoying, slow, or otherwise not nearly as fun. People always had the one dungeon they loathed doing, and usually it was the same dungeon for everyone. Pharos Sirius at launch was considered to be straight-up murderous, and nobody wanted to get that dungeon if they could possibly avoid it.

While you can be sad that we no longer get hard mode dungeons any longer (I certainly am), one of the things that’s hard to miss is that the dungeons we do get tend to be better managed and overall better balanced. Part of the reason for that is that because of how the game is structured now, each individual dungeon is given more time to be designed specifically, rather than being part of a larger batch that has to all be balanced and tuned at the same time. We’re getting less quantity but more quality.

I can’t help but feel like something similar is at work with changing the patch cycle somewhat. Yes, we’re going to have to wait a little bit longer for every individual patch, and that’s a little bit of a bummer. On the other hand, it also means more time for each patch to be polished and generally be better, and frankly, after a decade or so of regular patches of exceptional quality I’m willing to allow for two freakin’ extra weeks to make the patches better overall. So I think this is a worthwhile change.


No Final Fantasying Thanks

There’s not much to say here. Yoshida brought up the NFT thing and said no, don’t worry about it, not happening. This is good. It’s reassuring. We can debate over whether or not his negative answer was dismissive enough or not (I think there’s a certain degree of politics involved here, so he can’t just say his boss is full of crap), but the point is that this is not happening and we can collectively relax. Nice.

The roadmap ahead

We got a pretty comprehensive roadmap for the next few patches, and in some ways I think that’s actually the most surprising thing here. Usually the team plays a little coy with how the game’s patches are going to be structured, but in this case it was just all laid out clearly and transparently for the next several patches. It’s not surprising, but the candor was appreciated.

What was clearly most important in this particular case was giving us a top-level overview of what we can expect from the patches that we might not be expecting. The emphasis definitely seemed to be on an idea that all of the parts of the expansion we would expect would still be there just the same, so my assumption is that we’ll be getting a new dungeon per patch, the usual trial series, possibly even new zones for relic weaponry and the like. In that regard it’s pretty exhaustive, and it also seems like we’re getting overall more content than we did in Shadowbringers.

Of course, the flip side is that there’s not much to say yet about things like the Criterion dungeons; we know the name and the broad strokes of the design intent, but we don’t yet know anything about how it’s going to work, and speculating on how it’s going to work feels a little early for precisely that reason. I’d definitely love to learn more about that, although we’ll be waiting for a little while yet.

Still, in the broadest strokes, the live letter did exactly what it promised and what it was supposed to do. While it didn’t really lay out the next decade of FFXIV, it definitely made it clear that more stuff is coming right around the corner, and if you’re enjoying the game right now there’s every reason to be excited about the future just the same. In other words, it was telling people to not go anywhere just because the first story has ended, because there’s more in the wings.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, I want to talk a little bit about some stuff that our letter didn’t really touch upon, and things to think about for the future of the game beyond what we already know. Not quite speculation.

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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