So Final Fantasy XIV has some zones, huh. Now, this in and of itself is neither an issue nor a problem. There are a lot of spaces to explore, and the game generally does a pretty good job of having quests that send you to a variety of zones even after the MSQ has long since faded into the background in those areas. This is good. But… well… that only goes so far, and it does have a bit of an issue when it comes to the simple spacing of leveling. Most people aren’t hanging around in Yanxia on the regular once they’re done with the MSQ, and that means the zones feel a bit empty now.
Is that a touch inevitable? Yes. It’s always going to be a reality of MMOs that as the overall population reaches the level cap, and since FFXIV does offer a lot of ways for players to level together and keep players teaming up at disparate levels, it’s not a crucial problem. But it is an issue that can be addressed by the game as a whole, and I wanted to touch on a few ideas that might help the existing zones to feel a bit more populated even as players move on and finish up the MSQ.
Old zones, new tribal quests
I’ve mentioned before that I kind of have fatigue with the Loporrits and the reasons behind that, but I don’t think that in any way impedes having new tribal quests being added. In fact, I don’t think we need new tribes at all in order for tribal quests to happen. We have the Lupin in Othard, we have the Gigas in Mor Dhona, we have the Qiqirn, we have Mamool Ja… there are a lot of options throughout the world, and the fact that we don’t have quests for some of them is kind of weird.
There’s a lot of precedent in the game – especially in the original zones – for having regions that cover a couple different level bands. Yes, in many cases this would probably require expanding the maps a bit so that people could have new spaces to quest and explore. But that’s something that has happened before as well for previous tribal quests, and there are many places in the game where the map is just… missing kind of important details.
Tribal quests do a good job of bringing in players who are leveling alt jobs as well as players who are at the level cap but want to explore the new stories and content. And having players out in the world offers more chances for even high-level players to stop and engage with older FATEs, keeping content more vibrant at lower levels and making them feel reasonable and rewarding. But as long as we’re looking at FATEs across the world…
Better FATE rewards across the board
The gemstone rewards introduced in Shadowbringers were a good effort to keep people doing this content even once leveling was done. I don’t think they completely worked, though, and you can kind of tell why. Sure, the gemstones are nice in terms of what they can buy and the rewards offered, but all the rewards for them are either trivial in price or so expensive that you have to be an unemployed public nuisance who can just grind content for 16 hours while everything that makes you a human gets worn away in order to afford them in a reasonable timeframe.
Neither of these things is ideal. Even if your hyper-expensive reward is something everyone will want (which never is the case), most people are going to peace out pretty dang quickly if half an hour of play gets them only 0.2% closer to getting the reward. That’s boring and not fun. Especially since they’ll be inclined to just do FATEs in new areas, so all of the older areas become abandoned, and yeah, this becomes a vicious cycle.
One of the things I’d really like to see the game do is adjust FATE rewards dynamically; experience rewards become meaningless after a point if you’re already done with your alt jobs, and the fact that you get the same amount of the reward you actually want feels superfluous. Combine that with other elements, and honestly, I think more work needs to be done to make FATEs feel rewarding for people who are overleveled and want to take part, even in older zones.
Now, as mentioned, having tribal quests in older zones would help drive people to these older zones. But that’s just one component, and I think there’s another option that might help people get pushed into more zones away from the current high-end zones and into more diverse options. And it involves stealing an older idea…
Eureka/Bozja, but not in new zones
I’ve talked before about how Eureka and Bozja are commendable and interesting experiences, but they ultimately ran into some notable problems along the way. But I think one of the reasons for that is that these zones, as totally separate things, have to create an entirely bespoke structure for players to operate in. It requires new content, new paths, new enemies, and a whole new structure of play that consists mostly of farming FATEs in the new zone for a new arbitrary leveling system that doesn’t feel particularly impactful most of the time.
But we already have zones where we could use alternate leveling content and a reason to farm FATEs without worrying about levels – zones that don’t actually require a whole bespoke line of content just to explain why we’re here, since there’s already a presence in these zones and a reason players might be called back to sort things out.
Now, there does need to be narrative, maybe some new regions to unlock, and a means for the leveling. But these systems do not have to be baked into the structure of the zone or offer entirely new zones made just for these purposes. It’d definitely be some work to make, say, the Sea of Clouds work as both the zone as it stands for leveling through the MSQ and a post-MSQ content zone. Tricky, yes! But it can be done, and frankly, I believe in this team’s ability to do that.
Now, there are also a load of chances and motives for higher-level players to help out lower-leveled players already, and it’s not like the huge number of ways in which players already can team up is somehow grotesquely lacking. But I do think it’s worth considering the way that various parts of the game world are emptier than they need to be, and as we move forward into the 10-year anniversary of the relaunch, these are questions to answer and consider.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to email@example.com. Next week, we will almost certainly have our patch notes to peruse ahead of the patch, so that is naturally going to be my focus. I mean, what else would it be?