Wisdom of Nym: Does Final Fantasy XIV not have enough minigames?


Based on a wholly out-of-context reading, the headline for this edition of Wisdom of Nym might sound completely ridiculous. Final Fantasy XIV is not a game lacking for minigames. Heck, FFXIV is not a game lacking for content in general, but minigames? You have the Gold Saucer which exists purely for minigames, which includes a card game that can be played the world over, a chocobo racing game, a mahjong game, and a minion-based strategy game. There are also special jumping puzzles on a rotation, along with special limited-time minigames like the Fall Guys crossover. That’d be a lot of minigames even if the game didn’t have, say, seasonal minigames without rewards that you can unlock. Which it also does.

When you factor in that these are all side activities, you have content for miles in this game. So why am I even raising the question?

The answer is that there may still be something to it, a thought that’s on my mind every so often. But the reason for it doesn’t really come down to whether or not the game meets some arbitrary standard for how many minigames a title should have so much as it comes down to a question of whether or not there are incentives to engage. So let’s dig into this starting with Triple Triad.

Triple Triad in FFXIV is a slightly simplified version of the game from Final Fantasy VIII. While the game in FFVIII has some problems (mostly down to the way that the game’s systems interact with it and the game’s leveling system being a mess), at the end of the day it has one big advantage that FFXIV simply does not have: FFVIII is a closed game.

When Dawntrail releases, we are going to get more Triple Triad cards. That’s just a reality. We always get new Triple Triad cards. One of the big rewards for the Final Fantasy XVI crossover is the Clive card. But if I just told you the numbers and the rarity, what about the Clive card would tell you “oh, that’s Clive”? I’m going to go ahead and say not a whole heck of a lot.

There are, theoretically, a lot of Triple Triad cards that you can make by rearranging numbers. Strictly speaking, 1-8-6-7 is a different card from 1-7-8-6 or 6-8-7-1. But the emotional impact of that difference is negligible. With a sufficiently large backlog of cards, you need to save decks only for specific challenges. Otherwise, there’s just no point in bothering. So beyond collecting, why should you care?


My point here is not to say that Triple Triad needs to be remade or have wildly different mechanics introduced, just to point out that there is an upper limit at which point Triple Triad is kind of done. And we have, in fact, already hit that limit. We now have a large number of cards that exist to be a thing to collect, and that’s cool and all, but from a practical standpoint they don’t really matter because every deck is still going to be made up of three 3-star cards, one 4-star, and one 5-star unless there is a major mechanical change.

So why do we still get Triple Triad cards at all? Well… because it’s the card game. There isn’t another one.

When Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth first arrived, lots of people were going gaga for Queen’s Blood, and I get it. It’s the first time we’ve tried a new card game in a title since Tetra Master (which does not hold up well at all), and it is pretty fun as a whole, with a few different strategies to perform. I can understand why people would want to port it over and play it more by itself! But it also does have a ceiling. There’s a certain limit to how many cards you can fit within this particular style.

For single-player games, this is really not a big deal because you don’t have four expansions, then five, then six, and so on. You don’t have to figure out a new set of rewards every four months. But the simplicity also means that you do hit an upper limit of How This Works.

“All right, so adding Queen’s Blood to FFXIV would offer a new kind of card, that makes sense,” you say. But that’s not really my point. In fact, FFVII: Rebirth has a lot of minigames, starting with how its open world works. That itself is basically a steady minigame with a few low-impact activities. Turn on towers, kill certain targets, and so forth in order to reward a thorough exploration. FFXIV doesn’t have any of that; you have quests, some FATEs to do, maybe hunts, but there’s not a whole heck of a lot to do in each zone. Once you’re done, well… you’re done. Totes done.

Of course, the flip side of that is that Rebirth also structures its rewards along a narrower track. You aren’t activating towers because you think they’re funny; you’re activating towers because this is how you get data points you use to make specific materia. Everything funnels back toward combat progression, which is not something that FFXIV can do. And let’s not forget that this is a single-player game where you are supposed to be done with a zone, not endlessly re-activating towers over and over. It’s not all that different from hunting down aether currents, if you think about it.

Walk free.

Looking at all of this end-to-end, I think it’s hard to really say that FFXIV lacks stuff to do by any standards, and while I’ve long been bringing up the idea of the game’s reward tracks (because those are going to be something to think about basically forever), I also see the inherent issues in adding new things moving forward. Adding Queen’s Blood would not be popular if it replaced Triple Triad; it would mean players expected two sets of card rewards. And even if it did replace the old game, it would just mean kicking the can down the road until we wind up in the same spot of over-saturation for two card games.

But it is also something we kind of need to think about – not just now (although now too) but in general. It’s hard to be excited about a new raft of cards that aren’t functionally different from the hundreds you already have and never use, and adding new Triple Triad NPCs in far-flung corners of the world don’t matter if beating them just adds another card to that list. You do it until you get the card, and then they’re irrelevant.

Sure, another new set of minigames on top of what we have wouldn’t just fix everything, but there is a problem to be considered all the same as we pass our decade mark.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time, I want to talk about something that has been made very clear now that we’ve got the Dawntrail benchmark and we’ve all had time to play around with it, even if parts of the creator engine are getting changed. Your character is going to look a bit different, just like mine will… and that’s honestly fine.

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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