I’m going to be honest: I hope this is the last time we have to wait for a halfway patch to get our tribal quests in Final Fantasy XIV. I completely understand the reasoning behind putting these back a little bit, don’t misunderstand me; the halfway patch is supposed to be when the sheen of the new stuff is wearing off, so you still have something to attract you and keep you logging in, and it’s also a convenient way to delay development a little bit for stuff that’s not quite ready on patch day for whatever reason.
Let’s start by establishing something that seems obvious to me but might not be obvious to everyone: The more you trim abilities, the fewer options there are for fine tuning.
To use a wholly hypothetical example, let’s imagine that both Warrior and Gunbreaker have regular damage rotations that consist of twelve abilities used in a sequence. (Not the same sequence, obviously.) If it turns out that Gunbreaker is doing 150% of the damage of Warrior when it’s supposed to be more like 105%, there are 12 abilities on both jobs that can be tweaked to bring Gunbreaker down a little bit and Warrior up a little bit. You don’t have to wildly change any one ability, so you can keep, say, Gunbreaker’s big hits mostly the same with only a slight decrease. You can just slightly bump up Warrior’s hits while keeping the same utility. There’s a lot of space for fine adjustment.
However, if their regular damage rotations consist of three abilities, this becomes a lot harder. You have a much smaller number of variables to adjust, and you also have to consider the impact of each one as being far more impactful. This is relevant in PvP because every job has been stripped down quite significantly, and while there are more than three abilities in play, the fact is that managing PvP balance now requires a much smaller spread of different abilities and performances.
This need not be hopelessly dire, but it does mean that even minor shifts can have a big impact. Unfortunately, in stark contrast to FFXIV’s usual operating philosophy, the designers did not make minor shifts to Black Mage with the last PvP patch, and now they sort of have to eat crow… which really is just the latest example of memeworthy flavors in PvP.
Like, this is not actually something that was unique to Black Mages. Warriors, Dragoons, and White Mages started off staggeringly overpowered, and that’s been only somewhat mitigated over time. Anyone who’s playing one of the many jobs that have yet to have their day in the sun in PvP is probably very used to the idea that some jobs are just inherently better in this contest. Not an outright “I Win” button, but if your team has a Warrior and the other team has a Gunbreaker, your odds of winning are definitely lopsided all else being equal.
Is this indefensible? Yes and no. No, because no matter how much time or effort you put into balancing PvP you are always going to have outliers and issues… but yes, because quite frankly I get the sense that this design wasn’t entirely ready for prime time. (Some of this may also be a personal reaction because I refuse to play a meme job in PvP just to up my win percentage, so account for that particular stubborn mindset when taking this with a grain of salt.) And none of that really fixes that Black Mages were the beneficiary of some really knee-jerk design corrections.
Was that because they’re Yoshi-P’s main job? Probably not. But it isn’t a good look just the same.
Beyond that… well, tomorrow’s patch will bring in our first look at what we’re going to get out of Tataru’s venture and what we can expect from it. To be honest, I find this to be more of a question mark than the Arkasodara or Ameliance’s custom deliveries. Those are well-worn systems, while this is the first time I can think of that we’ve had three ostensible new quest lines that may continue into the future in a single patch. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Omega followups end with this patch, but Tataru and Hildibrand are quite likely going to run through the rest of the expansion.
Hildibrand, of course, is the always-welcome and always-necessary opportunity for the writers to poke fun at their own creation, and his absence was felt in Shadowbringers. (And that’s from someone who is generally of the mind that each Hildibrand story after ARR’s first line has been a little bit less funny.) So that’s just welcome in general. But what is Tataru’s line going to look like? What is it going to be offering?
The fact is that it could go in a lot of directions. It could be the prelude to more crafting and gathering content. It could also be a prelude to the relic weapons, or even the trials questline. Or it could be something totally separate that offers just some new cosmetic options in the end. I do feel it’s going to have some material reward in the end, partly because of greed, partly because… well, it just feels odd for us to have a series that would be all lore at this point. It isn’t impossible but it feels a little off.
After all, if we’re all starting on new adventures, why not have a new experience with Tataru too? All the former Scions have places to go and courses to chart, why not her? Why not everyone?
We’ll find out soon enough, obviously, but it’s fun to speculate at least a little. For that matter, it’s fun to speculate about what we’ll get for our other two tribal quests now that the Arkasodara are (most likely) taking the role of our combat leveling group… but that will have to wait for the future. Right now, I’m going to focus on getting up early to get in an extra set of quests before the reset. That seems like a healthy expression, I think.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I will naturally be taking a look at the content in actuality rather than just in theory. It is possible that I will use the word metatextual more in that column. I can’t say that for certain, but at least one of our readers clearly likes it.