heavensward

Heavensward is an expansion for Final Fantasy XIV.

Perfect Ten: The best expansions for specific MMOs

Looking over the past two decades or so, MMORPGs have grown by leaps and bounds with regular releases, events, and (of course) expansion packs. Hundreds of expansions have now flooded the scene, with some of the longest-running titles seeing upwards of two dozen or more.

That got me thinking: Which expansion was the best? Not overall, I mean, but the best for each game that it serviced? Every MMO player harbors strong feelings about which was the best expansion for the titles they enjoy, and I have read many articles in which expansions were ranked, reviewed, and debated.

For this week’s Perfect Ten, we’ll be trying to put a finger on the best expansion for 10 specific MMOs. I’ve taken the additional step of polling the Massively OP staff to give me input on MMOs that they have played extensively over the years. So what’s the best? Let’s find out!

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s lightness of dungeons

It feels really weird to think about just how few dungeons we’ve gotten in Final Fantasy XIV for this expansion. Not that it’s the start of a new trend; Heavensward already dropped the numbers compared to the base game, and thus Stormblood continued in a similar trajectory. But when you think about the fact that the game used to have three new dungeons per patch and compare it to an average of one and a half… it’s still adding them on a regular basis, but it’s a much slower basis.

The slower pace of dungeons was something that was announced well before the expansion actually launched, of course. So I think it’s interesting to look at the slower pace, at the stated goals, and see how well the changes have actually achieved those goals. Or, perhaps, if the whole thing didn’t work out very well and we should hope for an uptick again in the next expansion.

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Wisdom of Nym: Checking out Final Fantasy XIV’s patch 4.3 notes

As it always has been, so it is again; we’ve got our next patch for Final Fantasy XIV just around the corner, and thus we have a new set of patch notes to peruse well ahead of the actual patch. But we don’t have the full list of new items, which is frustrating. Especially if you’re thinking about which furnishing items you want to move around and so forth, because really, what other stuff is important in a given patch? Endgame progression? Who cares.

Reading through the patch notes is always a bit like some sort of ersatz holiday, because you already know the majority of the things you’re getting but not all of the details until the patch notes come out… and then the patch notes deliberately obscure some things so you still don’t know everything. But I can live with not knowing exactly what quests are in Return to Ivalice just because I can see that there are a lot of them. So let’s start taking this apart before we get to actually play it.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s next patch reveals our future story

The next patch for Final Fantasy XIV is something we should all watch closely. Because it’s going to tell us plenty about where we’re heading in the next expansion.

We haven’t yet been told that we’ll learn about a new expansion this year, but we have a fan festival on the calendar, we’re moving through the middle of the patch, and FFXIV moves on a content delivery schedule reliable enough to set your clock by. So we know that announcement is happening this year, and we can all bet on it coming out in June of next year. (If it’s running really late, maybe July.)

And this is the patch where we’ll find out where we’re headed. Not that we’ll be told yet, of course; we were never actually told in-universe that we were heading to Ala Mhigo until it happened, after all. But this is the point when threads need to start collecting into a useful form, and so it’s best to watch closely and see which elements are being picked up and tugged along for our next destination.

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PAX East 2018: Final Fantasy XIV’s main scenario writing and localization

It’s easy to have little to no idea about how Final Fantasy XIV is localized. Obviously the localization team has advanced beyond the days of Final Fantasy Tactics (which apparently was translated by someone with Babelfish and a rampaging hangover), but it’s still pretty easy to picture the localization as a matter of the Japanese staff dropping a stack of untranslated text on someone’s desk with a laugh and a note to have fun figuring it out.

The note, presumably, would also be in Japanese.

This is not just wrong, but it bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the actual localization process. I had the chance to talk with main scenario writer Natusko Ishikawa and localization lead John Crow, who helpfully went into some details on both the localization process and their personal feelings about the story and characters therein. You can also check out the embedded footage of the panel below, which goes into more detail on the writing process.

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Wisdom of Nym: Mechanical issues for jobs in Final Fantasy XIV, part two

Last week, we covered the mechanical issues for about half of the Final Fantasy XIV job lineup. This week, we’re covering the other half. That seems rather straightforward, doesn’t it? There we go.

The thing about mechanical issues is that they’re sometimes hard to identify; they’re not as simple as weaknesses or balance issues. A job not dealing nearly as much damage as other jobs in the same role is a balance issue, while a job having to deal with mechanics differently is a weakness (like how Summoners have fewer options to quickly dispatch adds, or melee jobs have to deal with avoiding AoEs differently). Mechanical issues are specifically places where the mechanics of the job are the issue, leading to gameplay that’s disconnected or irrelevant.

But people seem to have gotten the idea from the first installment last week. So with all of these facts in mind, let’s start talking about the other half of the game’s jobs, not first on deck but no less important.

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Wisdom of Nym: Looking at Final Fantasy XIV’s patch 4.2

A lot of times, I spread out my time with Final Fantasy XIV patches, unlocking and finishing up content at a reasonably sedate pace. For whatever reason, that wasn’t my approach this time around. I cleared through all of the day one content that I had any designs on doing right away, which means I’ve already gotten through the end of Sigmascape, the Jade Stoa, and both of the dungeons in short order. It went faster than I expected, truth be told.

There’s always a lot to talk about with these patches and a lot of opinions, which is always fun. But one of the interesting points that I found comes up when I consider how the game divided up its storylines for this patch. I had misunderstood what the patch notes noted about Hells’ Lid as a dungeon and where it fit into the MSQ, and the change in this case makes me very happy for both storytelling here and in the future.

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Final Fantasy XIV gets a dazzling centerpiece snow sculpture for the Sapporo Snow Festival

The storyline for Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward was not just about dragoons fighting dragons in snow. But it was prominently about the great wyrm Nidhogg, the vengeance-driven Estinien, and the way that their conflict played out across snowy Coerthas. So it seems only appropriate that their rivalry has been given tribute in the form of an enormous snow sculpture as part of the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan.

Yes, it’s an enormous wall-sized mural of Estinien and Nidhogg made out of snow, complete with projection lighting after dark to use the sculpture as part of a storytelling exercise. It’s a pretty cool and appropriate tribute to the previous expansion’s storyline, and you can get a taste of what it looks like from the photos below. (We are going to go ahead and assume that you cannot fly out to Japan just to see this. If you can, of course, let us know how it goes.)

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Wisdom of Nym: Reacting to the Final Fantasy XIV patch 4.2 notes

My initial plan for this particular column was just to write “woo patch notes woo” but I was informed that this plan had certain problems. For one thing, usually my weekly columns about Final Fantasy XIV clock in around 1200-1400 words; this one was four. Also, none of them were actually commentary or analysis of any sort. Thus appropriately defeated (for now), I suppose I’ll spend this column actually talking about the patch notes while we all wait for the servers to come back online tomorrow.

Some of what’s on display is actually not all that surprising; we could have ascertained long ago that the dungeon would be tied to the MSQ, for example, because that’s exactly what has happened with every single brand-new dungeon added to the game at the level cap since patch 3.2 (and it was surprising when that wasn’t the case in 3.1). But there are still some surprises in the mix, and some things that are well worth considering as we wait for servers to come back up once more.

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Wisdom of Nym: The final countdown before Final Fantasy XIV patch 4.2

We still don’t technically know when Final Fantasy XIV is launching its next patch, but we can also figure it out. It was always slated for late January, and there’s another live letter this Friday, which means that the patch is almost certainly arriving on the 30th. Considering that we always get patch notes before the actual release, I’d say it would be a bit silly to have a whole preview event the day before patch notes come out, and it wouldn’t really mesh with prior experience.

In other words, we’ve got a little more time before the patch, and there’s more to be seen about what it actually entails, so let’s talk about both our known unknowns and our unknown unknowns as well as breaking down some other bits that we haven’t heard about yet which are conspicuous for their absence. It’s worth paying attention to some of this; that’s my point here.

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Wisdom of Nym: Materia and stats in Final Fantasy XIV

When Heavensward was the current expansion for Final Fantasy XIV, we were introduced to the idea that you could meld materia onto valuable endgame gear. It was a big shift, made only slightly smaller by the fact that pretty much every single job required the exact same melds without the slightest amount of consideration. You didn’t really need to think about it except for a handful of cases, and even in places where melding something else might be useful (like melding just enough Piety for Black Mage to get another cast off), you weren’t going to be suffering if you just ignored it.

This has changed somewhat in Stormblood. At this point, melding is a simple game, but it’s more complex than it gets credit for, while also perhaps being a bit simpler than it needs to be. Or perhaps it’s just as complex as it needs to be. It’s a multi-faceted issue, in other words, and one that deserves more nods than it gets.

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Wisdom of Nym: Actual outdated content in Final Fantasy XIV

As we start down the road through 2018, I feel it’s important and appropriate to look at the content in Final Fantasy XIV that could actually use an update and/or some way to become more relevant in the current environment once more. Surprisingly, that list is not terribly lengthy.

Perhaps it shouldn’t surprising at that; one of the things that the game has consistently done is find ways to make sure that important content this week is still important next week, even as you continually have new content to experience. The addition of the Alliance Roulette seems tailor-made to ensure that one of the older bits of content is still very desirable to players, and it hits that mark nicely with a big chunk of experience and a bounty of tomestones.

But there is still some content that’s languishing somewhat. Not just stuff like exploration missions and Palace of the Dead, either (those both need new installments, but traditional roulettes aren’t even viable there). So let’s look at where we can get some updates, expansion, and improvement to some content that’s just not relevant any more.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s 2017 in review

It’s hard to say whether 2017 was a good year for Final Fantasy XIV.

Sure, on one level it seems obvious. The game launched its second expansion, it continues to drive sales, every financial report shows it doing well, players are happy, content is delivered on a swift and regular schedule, everything seems to be going fine. Yes, the game had a good 2017, it has a pretty good year on each outing. What more needs to be said?

Well, a few things. Because this year also brought out some pretty nasty bits of underlying issues that the game has long had bubbling under the surface, problems that we’ve all known were there but sort of ignored for a long time for various reasons. We’ve got another patch coming around, but the year has shown that as solid and impressive as the title may be (and it is), there’s still room to improve.

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