Wisdom of Nym: Spoiler-free thoughts on Final Fantasy XIV patch 6.4’s content


Here we are with another Final Fantasy XIV patch to experience, and as is tradition, we’re going to spend this week talking about the content alone while giving people a little more time to get through the story. It’s interesting in this case because as a whole I feel like the story beats are much more interesting for one side of the content we got while the mechanics are more interesting for the other. Given prior experience, you can probably guess which is which.

Regardless, this week we’re talking purely about the actual mechanical experience of the patch, so even if you’ve not yet made it through all of these battles, you can read on without concern. There will be no spoilers beyond the basic mechanical outlines, so if you consider the fact that the new dungeon is broadly structured like pretty much every other dungeon in the game to be a spoiler, it will be shocking. For normal people, this is fine. Onward!


Trials and dungeons, as always

I’m going to be honest, I’m in the camp who definitely thought our trial in the last patch was way too easy. So I’m glad to see that this one will kick us around a fair bit. It’s not intensely difficult on a whole, but I have watched groups who were not paying attention and took the whole thing as a joke die repeatedly to an elemental onslaught.

In fact, just a life tip for melee: When you see the boss winding up Shadow Crescent, you cannot sneak in that last hit. You need to remember that there is no time between the room cleave and the circle AoE. You will get hit if you try to do this, and you will own that vuln-up stack. Just don’t do it. Be smart.

Honestly, thought, as a whole this patch felt harder than prior patches. The dungeon is not egregiously difficult, but it is definitely far more willing to put you in situations where you either step up to the plate or get hit and it hurts. Even the first boss, who is the dopiest-looking critter that we’ve fought in ages, is very capable of shredding your party if you don’t pay attention. Part of this is because his main AoE stacking mechanic isn’t communicated as well as it could be, but even once you understand it, the margin of error is strikingly slim. These bosses will mess you up.

As always, it’s a fine line to be walked. Make it just a little too hard and you wind up with basic content that not everyone can do; make it just a little too easy and it all feels perfunctory. It’s a moving target. I feel that the last couple of dungeons and trials erred more on the side of easy; seeing things move back in the direction of being more challenging is welcome. That’s not to say that they’re punishing to the point of impossibility, just that they provide a more welcome balance. You have to be paying attention and putting the effort in.

One of my friends also mentioned that some elements of the story seem as if they are a result of “needing” to put the trial where it happened, but I don’t think that’s the case. While we’re not talking about story beats today, it’s worth noting that this is a result of where the developers wanted the story to go. And at least we got a pretty fun dungeon and trial out of it.


Clearing out the prison

This raid series has had problems more or less since the start, but one problem it hasn’t had is the fact that all of the fights could immediately be unpredictable. There was no list of bosses that had to be here, no obvious final boss we had to fight. No, it managed to at least be novel straight through to the end, including an eponymous fight that I didn’t really expect in a place where I didn’t expect to see it.

In a far cry from the alliance raid structure, this tier definitely seemed as if it kept raising the stakes throughout the experience and like the last fight was indeed the hardest one of this particular wing. It also felt appropriate in a way that doesn’t always happen. Both Omega and Eden had odd little conclusions against bosses that didn’t make a tremendous amount of sense, whether you stuck with Normal or Savage. (Sure, the final fight against Savage Eden made sense in terms of “whom you hadn’t fought at full power,” but it was mostly a fight to have that fight.) Here, the last boss worked mechanically and aesthetically for me.

Between this and the dungeon, I also appreciate how willing these fights are to experiment with arena layouts. That’s been something of a theme in this expansion as a whole, and while circular or square arenas are still the most common settings for boss fights, it’s good to see the developers willing to experiment with other options.

Heck, that’s kind of a good way to sum up this entire tier of Pandæmonium: The developers were experimenting and trying new things. You may not think all of them landed quite right, but the experimentation is valuable in and of itself, and I’m glad they tried it. It makes me hopeful about the sorts of abilities we’ll get in the next expansion and the battles built using these tools.


And of course, the island

I’m glad the developers not only found space to expand but did so without wildly altering the structure of the sanctuary. I have a feeling that this is going to be a bit more demonstrative of the expansions we’ll get with the next patch, as well; it just seems as if we’ll naturally cap out at Rank 20 on our Sanctuary.

That being said… yeah, this patch still isn’t quite as satisfying as the initial release. And I think a big part of the reason is something that it’s time to just accept will be the case insofar as the first expansion was paced better than any subsequent expansion has been.

It also doesn’t help that from a purely mechanical standpoint, very few of the “issues” with Island Sanctuary have actually been fixed but have instead become more pronounced. We don’t have more space for crops; we just have more crops, and the mechanics of those crops have not changed to make them inherently interesting. We don’t have easier tools to acquire persistently rare items, just more items. Maybe it’ll all feel a bit different when patch 6.5 rolls around, but I’m not exactly holding my breath.

I still really like the sanctuary. I think it’s a lot of fun, it’s neat content, and I’m glad it’s here instead of another round of Bozja or Eureka or whatever. But it also does have some issues that aren’t really being addressed.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, we will talk about the actual story, and there will be spoilers. Please be respectful in the comments this week and avoid including spoilers; the time for that is next week.

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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