Thanks to the Tokyo Game Show, we’ve had our last Final Fantasy XIV live letter live letter before the patch, and aside from the expected date of October 3rd, we did wind up getting a little more information along the way. Sadly, we didn’t get anything substantial on at least a couple of points (I haven’t seen any translations that hint at more info about the tabletop game, for example), but there’s still enough to chew on for the next not-quite-a-week.[AL:XIV]
So let’s start with something a bit mysterious, shall we? That’d be the trailer. Specifically, let’s skip ahead to about 2:40.
We don’t know what’s going on here. At a glance, the map seems to match one we saw earlier in the trailer, which itself resembles Baron from Final Fantasy IV; this is an entirely reasonable thing to expect to see here, considering the plot this particular patch series has been focused around. But one moment it’s filled with far more NPCs who are non-Trust companions, then there’s a boss fight that looks like it is filled with trusts.
Is this part of the dungeon? Is it a special duty? What’s going on here? It feels like a big question mark because it definitely doesn’t look like it’s part of Thaleia. I sincerely doubt that we would get two dungeons this patch without any prior confirmation or hint about it, much less two bespoke dungeons, but it’s an odd inclusion that begs for some additional context.
Beyond that, what we did see of the duties on the live letter looks fairly standard. Not in a bad way; just that if you’ve played this game for a while, you can recognize that these are at least somewhat familiar pieces. I’m also curious about where the Asura trial fits into all of this; is that scaled up for Thaleia? It could be, but we haven’t been told about it, and it would be a weird sudden inclusion. I find it odd that we have two question marks going into the last patch at this point.
Moving on, we seem to be getting some extra rewards added to the criterion dungeon, which is… interesting, but it also raises some questions about what those rewards are actually going to be. And they’re rewards that raise questions for the structure moving forward, especially since the sound of it appears to indicate that the increased difficulty will add some extra opportunities to get upgrade items rather than dropping independent gear altogether.
Here’s the thing: As a rule, variant/criterion dungeons are usually added on the halfway point patch, like new Blue Mage content or new Hildibrand adventures or whatever. They’re not launch day content; they’re something added partway through the cycle. In this particular case, we’re getting the dungeon a little earlier than usual, but if it’s offering upgrade items, it’s still coming out after Thaleia has already been around for a few weeks.
This doesn’t inherently break the structure, but it does make me wonder how viable this is in the long term and how much difference it will actually make in terms of the game’s overall gearing curve. I think it’s a good idea, definitely; having upgrade items be available by both hunt marks and the alliance raid has been a good thing, and adding an additional path isn’t a bad thing. But is it going to make that much of a difference? Heck, is it going to be a thing during the midway patches before the alliance raid comes out, when theoretically Savage is supposed to be the one route to upgrades?
Yes, these are more larger structural issues than things which need to be sorted out this patch; it’s just interesting and worth thinking about.
The new PvP map looks interesting and I’m happy that this next season at least includes some Trophy Crystal rewards that aren’t recolors or the like of existing gear; I also appreciate the UI changes making things a little easier to read. None of this really changes the fact that I’m still not a big fan of this format, and while it remains better than the Feast, that’s not really much of an accomplishment. I do, however, appreciate the work that’s been put into this.
It’s also funny how whining about less content is ignoring the fact that this expansion has seen a whole new PvP mode complete with five separate maps, all of which are bespoke and not even reusing assets from the PvP mode that has been replaced. There’s also been an entirely new system of rewards and new glamour and mounts from that. Another nail in the “but where’s my new Bozja, which I’m pretending everyone liked” coffin.
One thing that’s odd is how coy the updates have been about job balance tweaks. We know that we’re getting some tweaks, and that makes sense; after all, this is the patch we’re going to be on for the next nine months or so at minimum, so it should be the best balanced form of the game. But we’re done with Savage, and experience and history has made it clear that whatever people think the meta is for Ultimate makes not the slightest whit of difference.
“Because people who clear it do so with no regard for the meta, or because people will just cheat to clear it?” Let’s say both, dear reader.
Regardless, I admit that most of my questions are mostly on the periphery. I have little to no doubt that Thaleia’s going to be a fun ride and I’m looking forward to the conclusion, but that was always going to be the case. Gotta do something until Corsair is confirmed, after all. Island Sanctuary stuff looks fun as always, but most of the game’s content for this expansion is already a known quantity. You know how you feel about it, and you’re either on board or you aren’t.
A lot of things will no doubt be made much clearer when we get our patch notes this week, so as always, please look forward to it. Until then, we have little to do but speculate and prep, and on Monday we’ll be enjoying another day’s worth of maintenance. Which is going to make next week’s column a little interesting, but hey, this is the struggle I have created for myself.
As that line implies, it’s time to get to the usual point where I note that feedback is welcome either by mail to email@example.com or in the comments down below. Next week, it’s going to be a combination of commentary on the patch notes and thoughts about the schedule that we know is occurring during a pretty well packed October.