So the patch is here! It brought a whole bunch of content! And the content is… actually kind of a mixed bag, if I’m going to be honest. I wouldn’t say that it’s bad by any stretch of imagination, but it’s definitely not all sunshine and rainbows for this particular mid-patch update for Final Fantasy XIV. There are some decided low marks, and unfortunately those low marks are places where I had really expected the game to knock things out of the park.
On the other hand, it’s not like 6.35 was an open disaster or somehow didn’t work at all. It just isn’t a universal slam-dunk, that’s all. So let’s talk about the stuff that works, the stuff that doesn’t work, why the stuff that doesn’t work doesn’t work in the first place, make some accepting gestures toward that stuff despite not working, and ultimately end up with me figuring out what I want to talk about next week. You know, standard operating procedure around these here parts. (Minor spoilers will follow if you haven’t done quests, for the record.)
Finally, Some Good [Redacted] Hildibrand
I’ve long been willing to extend a lot of leeway to the Hildibrand series, in no small part because the 2.x Hildibrand quests were just outrageously funny. Unfortunately, well… the Heavensward quests weren’t nearly as funny, and the Stormblood ones hit me cold, too. Even the first couple installments in Endwalker didn’t work for me. I was really kind of growing tired of it.
So I am happy to be the first to say that this time, the Hildibrand quests land like a goddamn Manderville meteor to the face. I was crying.
It took us a while to get back here, and I don’t know why, but every single part of these quests worked. The failed clone. The roleplaying fight. The follow-up with Godbert and Gerolt, and yes, I’m counting that as part of the same overall sequence. The jokes were sharp and stupid, the scenes were well-staged, everything was ridiculous, and I was overjoyed at just getting back into the comedic groove for all of these absurd antics.
Heck, I even like the meta-joke that the next stage of the relic quest is… exactly the same as the first stage. It elicited a smile from me and I appreciate it, and if we’re going to see the joke extended through the whole expansion, that would just be so perfectly ironic I would find it wholly fitting.
I have criticisms of the patch as a whole, but I have no notes on Hildibrand whatsoever beyond “good.” This was fun and funny and just right, and for the first time in a long while I am genuinely looking forward to more installments in this line again. Well worth the wait.
Eureka, I’ve Discovered Tedium!
By this point, the developers have gotten Deep Dungeons down to something of a science. Unfortunately, Eureka Orthos feels like a reminder that sometimes science is what tells you that the Easter Bunny isn’t real.
It’s not like Eureka Orthos is bad, it’s just… tedious. I don’t find it too hard to get through, and in fact I appreciate that the designers have mixed in more of the enemies who will happily kill you on the earlier floors rather than saving them for halfway through the optional floors. And it’s not like you have no chance to deal with those enemies. You know how Swinge works by this point, right?
The thing is that while these are all things you can deal with and prep for, it makes even the lower floors just… slow. Tedious. And that’s a shame because we have some genuinely really cool aesthetics in here and some neat boss fights mixed in along the way. But I find them less than worth the kind of anemic rewards and the simple tedium of getting through most of the floors on the way to the bottom.
What I do really like about this particular dungeon is that it’s the first time within memory that there’s not even the vague implication that you’re averting some catastrophe or another. If you never went into Eureka Orthos, you’d be fine. Nothing bad would happen. The reason for venturing in is not preventing a disaster; it’s because this may be your last chance to see something that’s worth understanding.
Also, it’s another reminder of how the Allagan Empire operated, which feels like just another little nod toward Meracydia. Those are piling up, huh?
But at the end of the day, I just didn’t find Eureka Orthos to be all that good. It’s hardly an unqualified disaster, but it’s all of the familiar parts of a Deep Dungeon mixed with a lot more gotcha mechanics along the way. If that’s what does it for you, you’ll be happy, but it’s not doing it for me.
This is pretty much what I expected from these quests. Which isn’t really a celebration or a condemnation, but it does mean that we’ve still seen the whole Loporitt storyline get really overextended now. Again, it’s not that I don’t like our dumb rabbits, it’s just… we get the joke, there’s only the one joke, and you’re not going to do a better version of it than already got done during the Omicron quests. You’re just not.
The goal seems to be “if we can’t beat it, just… hit the same notes again, but quieter,” but the result is that the most pointless plot cul-de-sac from the MSQ is now getting a coda explaining things we weren’t asking about. Heck, if anything it removes some of the poignancy. Instead of Loporitts leaving the moon and coming to Etheirys, they’re basically locking themselves back in their tomb. Not really working, in other words!
Mechanically, of course, the quests are fine. And the story isn’t bad; it’s told with the right level of charm and the necessary callbacks to everything that happened through the MSQ. It’s just a coda answering questions that nobody asked or really needed answered in the first place. Just not quite working beyond a thing to do.
Hopefully it will pay off because we will hopefully actually get a tribal coda this time around; we didn’t in Shadowbringers for what I imagine are multiple reasons, but I’d be disappointed if we don’t get one this time. Still, it’s just possible we won’t, which would make this ultimately feel… well, even less consequential. And could we just once get a tribal quest for crafting in which we’re not helping tiny idiots make things? We’ve had three now.
At any rate, feedback is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I’d like to take a look at something we’d normally have a pretty good idea of right now but we don’t right now: where our next expansion destination is most likely to be. I keep alluding to it in the abstract, but I feel like things are starting to take a little shape, and it’d be nice to sort out the main candidates.