I’m not going to lie: I don’t like having to wait for my tribal quests. I recognize that might seem more than a little silly, especially since I have nothing else to level and the addition of quests to help me level in Final Fantasy XIV is functionally immaterial to me. But I like getting on that right away, it’s a project I always take part in, and lacking those tribal quests right on the quest morning made me feel kind of sad. This is unusual. Not sure why the change was made, even.
Before I begin, however, an important point of order: If you’re hoping I’ll dig into the ongoing housing issues, I will, but that’ll be in a separate column coming tomorrow; it’s even longer than normal and addressing some of my past columns! Fun for the whole family.
Digging into a treasured dungeon
I really was not expecting this whole dungeon to be an extended reference to Final Fantasy XI, but that’s what we got here. Yes, that’s why I just straight-up used a screenshot from that game for this section header. You will either immediately recognize the names, maps, and enemies as direct references to parts of Treasures of Aht Urhgan or you will not, but after an entire expansion replete with Final Fantasy IV references, I’m happy to be brought back to something I actually like.
Of course, a reference alone does not make a dungeon any fun. Fortunately, this one manages to be pretty fun too, at least once you get past the kind of boring first boss. There’s nothing wrong with the first boss, it’s just… very basic “dodge those AoEs” stuff with slight delays on the indicators. Fine, functional, and boring.
However, the very next boss has a neat set of reflection and dodge mechanics that are very simple to understand but also nasty if you get caught in them, and I honestly sort of love that. It’s easy to get caught the first few times, but it’s less Boolean than a lot of dodging mechanics; you have time and space to get out if you’re paying attention. I rather like that, even if it does make your life harder.
The last boss, though, I’m of two minds on. On the one hand, this boss absolutely sucks if you have the slightest interest in your performance as DPS because he has a lengthy invulnerable phase that can really throw off your pattern. On the other hand, it’s also a really fun invulnerable phase in which you’re spinning around and dodging, and while you have to pay attention to your momentum it feels less annoying than the “spinning cursor for movement direction” bits other bosses have.
This is a fun dungeon and I like it. I feel like it does drag a little on that last boss fight just in terms of time to clear, but that may change with some more time and experience. And at least it’s a fun slowdown.
Fighting something deific
On one level, Aglaia is really interesting. On another level, it continues a trend that really bothers me that has increasingly become a thing in FFXIV, wherein the game basically refuses to bother with trash fights in any groups larger than light parties, and it’s… kind of boring, honestly.
Now, to a certain extent I get it. Boss fights are more engaging, you can do more interesting things with boss fights, and with large groups it devolves into AoE spam even more intently. But there are also interesting things to be done with having multiple tanks and multiple targets that need to be managed, and I feel like by increasingly making this content a hallway with several boss fights (some of which contain loot) it becomes visually interesting but mechanically a bit more boring. That’s sort of a failure of imagination.
Having said that, the centerpiece of Aglaia was always going to be the actual boss fights themselves, and on that level the fights deliver. There’s one fight where I really cannot read the tell at this point for a mechanic (which is unfortunate), but for the most part these are fights that have interesting arenas, different sorts of mechanics, and different challenges to overcome. Byregot in particular is a really interesting fight with how he reshapes the arena as you go.
Some people have been really happy with this particular raid, and I don’t entirely agree with that; it’s pretty good and solid, but it does have some weaknesses and some tells that seem a bit too clever for their own good. At the same time, it’s a good first entry in the alliance series, and it has some interesting stuff going on… as well as having story-side things to discuss next week.
So the PvP job changes are… well… wide-ranging. Some of them are indisputably working better than others, and I’m not altogether sure if a full rewrite of PvP was necessarily something that the game needed at the moment. But that’s what we got, and it goes hand-in-hand with Crystalline Conflict, which is… definitely different in the game’s PvP offerings!
I feel torn about Crystalline Conflict at this point because the mode does exactly what it sets out to do. It’s very quick, it’s engaging, and it keeps things moving at a decent clip. The addition of the series rewards also has kept people playing beyond the initial surprise and tests of the mode, which is sort of necessary; people need to be engaged in PvP long-term, and this provides that.
At the same time, it’s also a mode that I personally find frequently devolves into a one-sided match almost immediately.
That’s really the biggest problem. Depending on the group you wind up with, it’s very easy to find yourself on the back foot or on the winning side, and more often than not the stuff that caused you to wind up in that situation persists through the rest of the match. If the other team is good about rotating targets, working as a team, and calling out targets, and it has access to solid crowd control, you have very little opportunity to regroup and push back. Crowd control in particularly is immensely powerful, explaining in part why so many jobs that have it are proving quite powerful in PvP matches.
I don’t dislike the mode, and I’m going to keep playing around with it, of course. I like the series gameplay and I’m happy to see that the pacing of series rewards seems to be good. But at the same time, I’m not altogether sure it works just yet. And that’s is fine; you try something new, you iterate on it over time. The team has proven good at doing that, and they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt in that regard.
As for things in which the team has not necessarily earned the benefit of the doubt… well, I’ll talk about tomorrow. For now, you can leave feedback in the comments below or via mail to email@example.com.