About a month back, I got a comment in this column with an absolutely spectacular question
. We’ve got two cosmetic systems that basically only concern two jobs in the game, Bards and Summoners. What could other jobs get for similar systems, stuff that’s going to be fun to play with but wouldn’t actually affect any sort of gameplay?
This question almost immediately struck me as marvelous, because one of the things I love about Final Fantasy XIV is its attention to detail with stuff like this. A music system can be added to the game that only works for Bards, because that’s a thing Bards do and you can just be a Bard if you want to. So why shouldn’t other jobs get similar toys?
It was also the first time that I’d really thought about egi glamours as being in the same category, and that category has somewhat suffered from a lack of updates lately. So let’s talk about these sorts of enhancements, more character options for out-of-combat customization.
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.
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.
I’ve been leery for a long while now of Final Fantasy XIV’s
“you get your details just before patch day” stance vis-a-vis the housing situation. Thankfully, that isn’t quite what happened; we got our information, at least in broad strokes, before the patch notes thanks to the live letter. We’re getting six wards in four districts for a grand total of 1,440 new housing plots, which should put a pretty thorough dent in the game’s current shortage; it’s not a doubling of the existing size, but it’s another half increase again.
The new housing rules, though, are probably going to make some bigger changes. And they’re changes that we can analyze and speculate about, even though some of them have some potential impacts we just won’t know about until later. So let’s start in, piece by piece, with the question marks and the known quantities.
And I will also be laughing at the frustration of people who screwed the system and are now sad about it.
Here’s a fun question for you about Final Fantasy XIV
: What’s the difference between a trial and a raid in the endgame?
At first glance that’s the sort of obvious question to prompt eye-rolling and derisive smirks. That’s obvious: A trial is just a contained boss fight in a specific arena, while a raid is a mini-dungeon followed by a boss fight! And then you remember that a whole lot of raids, such as all of Deltascape and the last fight of each Alexander wing, don’t actually have any sort of dungeon attachment. So maybe a raid just means that they’re thematically linked… oh, wait, except that we’ve had sequences of trials linked like that with the Warring Triad.
Two difficulty modes? Well, yes, that means they have different names, but not different structures. Oh, let’s also remember that Extreme Primals, much like Alexander and onward, have a largely token-based loot system! Figured out the difference yet? It gets more fun when you remember that raids are technically different from alliance raids. Or that technically, Praetorium might qualify as a raid!
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.
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.
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
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.
It’s not quite 2018 yet, but it will be next week. That means we have a whole year of Final Fantasy XIV
to enjoy, and that also means that we have to wonder what’s in store. Although we also don’t
have to wonder, because the game has a very reliable update schedule, and it doesn’t exactly take rocket science to extrapolate from 4.2 in late January. “Does that mean the next patch will be in late April to late May?” Yes. Yes it does.
In short, it seems transparently obvious to me that we’ll have another trio of large patches this year, along with more story development and lots of other relevant bits of content. So rather than guess at how many patches we’re going to get or whether or not we’ll hear about the next expansion (which is inevitable), it’s far more productive to speculate about the content of those patches and the expansion. Let’s head down that road.
Gosh, I feel sort of bad for the person whose job it was to make the next Final Fantasy XIV
fan festival reveal seem novel. That must have been a really important job, and I am sure a great deal of time and work went into that. And none of it mattered at all
, because everyone already knew that there was going to be another fan festival in about a year, because this game is nothing if not endlessly reliable in this regard.
I can’t tell you the response they were hoping to generate, but I feel relatively confident that “duh” was not it.
Of course, that was a side note to last week’s live letter; the main event was the first preview of the game’s next patch, which is still rather ambiguous but is coming more into focus. No doubt we’ll learn more with the next letter and then move into the new year, so… well, let’s move forward. Let’s stalk about what we know and what is actually surprising.
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.
My friends, I can see the future for Final Fantasy XIV.
And by “see” I mean that I can guess at it with reasonable reliability.
As we move into the holiday theory, I figured it’d be fun to lay out a large-scale theory about the game’s future that’s based on a fairly thin slice of evidence that has every reason to turn out wrong or misguided. You can feel free to look back in the past and evaluate my history for yourself, if you’d like; as someone who has been writing about the game for years, I have lots of predictions for you to draw upon to see how well I tend to do at predicting the future. (About 60-75% accuracy, or something like that. Far from perfect.)
So let’s speculate, starting with the assertion that’s going to perhaps set up the biggest bit of debate: We have three more large boxed expansions coming. Anything after that is very much up in the air.
Here’s how this column got written. Last week, I was talking about new potential jobs based on weapons rather than on jobs that have existed in Final Fantasy
in the past. The very first comment on the article was this wonderful bit by NobleEinherjar
, which was a bipartite comment that started off by discussing the sharp limitations of the Armoury System and the whole “weapon = class” system in Final Fantasy XIV
. It was a nice digression that I thought deserved a response.
About halfway into writing that response, I realized that I was already most of the way to writing a separate column. So now we have this here.
See, there’s an interesting point to be made about the rigid nature of jobs, the limitations that they impose upon the game’s systems, and perhaps most importantly how we got here in the first place. Especially when you consider that when the game launched, you had a class without any particular restrictions on what it could equip, much less with any jobs at all.