*spoiler alert: I will be talking about MSQ and new raid lore, so approach with care
Right, so I’ve tested the many new things about 6.1. patch, and ready with my impressions post. Mind you, I’m a casual player, so I’m skipping the big ass raiding apart from the basic level, min-maxing, gear and other things that I’m avoiding in the game.
First of all, queues – the plague of Endwalker launch which inflicted a PTSD I’ve not overcome yet! Seriously, I’m still employing a bitter-earned habit of not logging out and preventing it – for example, if I need a 20-minute grocery trip, I would move my character a bit before walking out of the door…
Anyways, it is all good now. The patch 6.1. launch hours in the afternoon met me with a 220-people queue which was resolved in 3 minutes, and relogging in the evening when most people came from study/work had… only 60 people? The very normal count? Whether this is a result of optimizing servers, or lesser popularity of a patch rather than the whole new expansion, maybe both, I don’t know. But thank god, currently it’s not an issue anymore.
MSQ in 6.1.
Obviously, it’s the first thing I did upon login – a meeting with Tataru and go! Overall, it’s your normal FFXIV experience: I specifically paid attention to how much I would fight, and yes, it was only in the new story dungeon when I got my spear out. Otherwise, it’s walk-and-talk-and-fetch throughout the 4-5 hours – well, nothing unusual.
I need to state that this is my first current x.1 patch, played without an immediate sequel of x.2., x.3 and so on, so I checked back the previous expansions to see if the amount of content was comparable. Pretty much it, yes: for example, Stormblood’s 4.1. was about seeking mad king’s treasure and fixing merchant bonds between Ul’dah and Ala Mhigo to help the latter recover after Empire’s occupation, cue Raubahn’s dilemma. Shadowbringers’ 5.1. set the ground for a several patches arc of how to return Scions to the Source, and dealt with Eulmore’s new leadership and operation (plus introducing Zenos/Fandaniel villainy in the climax solo duty).
Endwalker’s 6.1. is quite comparable to that. We see what Scions are about, and the new adventure brings many of them into the fold, so you don’t travel on your own. If I need to point fingers, we assembled a dungeon party – G’raha as tank, Urianger as healer, Y’shtola and Estinien as melee and ranged DPS to cover the Trust dungeon needs of any job you play. Nothing wrong with that, of course, it does not seem artificial or badly explained, but it’s amusing nevertheless.
The story itself is brilliantly weaving a lot of stuff into a strong thread, like everywhere within Endwalker – a nod to the past, tying old stories with the new ones and promising closure, dealing with the 6.0. aftermath of one of the capital cities through a deep personal arc of its ruler, and setting stage for the future endeavors. I liked the Vrtra’s story a lot, a thorough nod to Crystal Tower events was precious, and resolving his trouble will also open way to exploring all the other shards. The new villains are intriguing, and left a lot of interesting questions to explore.
My guess is that the trip to the shadow world will not be the theme of an expansion, but rather a short voyage to find and save the dragon sister, resolved in Endwalker patches – and possibly dealing with the threat of its rulers, seeking to penetrate the veil. From what we were shown, it’s not a welcoming world, and all denizens are hostile demons, so nothing to save there really like we did with the First.
The new villains kept me confused and with oh so many questions. There was an “I have returned” guy, which I presumed was Diabolos, then there was a “Thanos” knight on the throne with elemental cronies, and then the patch ended with something really weird… Zenos? Did not look like him, nor sounded like him (although hard to tell with vocoder) – but the scythe! Is it three different villains? Does Zenos really return as a shadow thing? So many questions. I only hope it’s not Zenos, cause his arc ended perfectly, and he died at peace, with no reason to return, having fulfilled his dream – no revenge, rematch or anything which could motivate or take him back to the fold. If they do, it’s gonna be such a cheesy fan service.
Anyways, like previous x.1s, MSQ in 6.1. perfectly suffices. It sets stage for future patches, maybe expansions, it addresses stories old and new and binds them beautifully, it introduces villains, and it is still set with troubles and antiques of the current expansion’s nations and cities without walking too far into uncharted territory.
Sidenote: the loporrits are planning to turn the Moon into an adventurer theme park?! This calls for the wildest dungeon possible, although not a viable idea by common sense. When you know that challenges are pre-designed… well, it’s not exactly an adventure, but rather an obstacle/training course, fun as it may be :)
New Raid: Aglaia
The first wing of the Myths left me with the most pleasant aftertaste. First and foremost, the story is quite interesting and compelling. For once, it does not look like a weird appendix from other game or even media universe, but deals with the very core of Eorzea – you pick your deity at character creation screen, no less! Naturally, it allows to revisit all the nations and dive deeper in what makes the societies tick, and finally explore the faiths properly – outside of “by the Fury” and “Seven hells” casual phrases.
Second, the gods are weird :) It is still to be revealed what they want and why do they fight with you… benevolent, yet? If they’re not a world threat for once (trope subverted right after raid), it’s refreshing.
Third, your companions are very nice guys, without exceptional drama or hidden motives. So far, it’s a pleasure to explore the mystery with them. Although time might come when they produce a sinister crystal from underneath their robes and proclaim the “mwahaha finally I can claim the gods power to myself”, but that seems very unlikely as of yet.
And finally, the raid itself. The fights were very interesting, I’m inclined to learn how the Byregots cubes actually work! All the encounters were just what I want from a raid boss – requiring skill, yes, but nothing too insane to hate them. My favorite is obviously Rhalgr – playing with “the measure of his reach” is such a cool design. And Nald’Thal’s music… well, it’s just over the top and makes it to my playlists immediately.
Glams are pretty great, and I think I would actually farm the raid on weekly basis – my first raid farming in FFXIV, yay! Besides, 590 gear is a nice replacement for Tataru’s 560 set, even if Tataru’s latest design is arguably the best in the whole game, most of my jobs are wearing/glamming it.
Sidenote: speaking of Tataru’s sewing skills, her brand new Wayfarer set from patch intro quest is what my red mage needed for the whole time – obviously, dyed in red. Aside from that, no other chest piece left me happy, and that’s super important: if you hate how your character looks, if the looks don’t play well with your class fantasy, you’re simply reluctant to play it. Now this problem is solved!
All the Small Things
Main Scenario Duty Roulette: not bad? I’ve seen only double Ultima part – twice, and it is good. First of all, 40% of level for a 15-minute run is a good time/XP rate totally worth it. Second, the encounters are redesigned for 4 people, have new mechanics, and in general feel quite epic, in contrast with no-brain marshmallow versions of pre-patch experience. I’ve yet to random into other wings, but nothing wrong with this one.
ARR Dungeons and Other Group Content: I say they ramped them up. I’ve ran Qarn Temple – normal and hard versions – and Brayflox Longstop, as a dps and a healer. Wall-to-wall pulls are not advised anymore, it seems, and dungeons now seem to pose challenge rather than stomping over an anthill – or maybe tanks were a bit wary and did not pull as much. Brayflox’s final boss, the dragon, got rid of the WoW-style mechanic of moving out from healing pool, and now employs poison bombs, which look like a great mechanic in every sense – both by gameplay and visual design. I would revisit older dungeons just to see what else changed!
Guildhests left mixed impressions: the very first boss, Bockman or smth, dies as easily as before, but turtle-sniffing-herbs one seemed more challenging than before. Crystal Tower raid remained the very same, apparently no tuning done.
Class/Job Changes: White Mage fares better with its mana problem, no question, although Lucid Dreaming is still an important part of gameplay. Samurai got rid of an extra button, and I think all jobs will require certain pruning in expansions to come – there’s simply too much to handle.
My major issue with FFXIV jobs in general is that they all have a ridiculous amount of nukes, coming off cooldown at the same time. You play a 5-8 button nuke sequence, and often do not have time to perform your basic rotation: at best you perform one round, then you have to play nukes again. That dilutes the core gameplay of the job, and it is very annoying. For example, my favorite dragoon has a long, satisfying and spectacular basic rotation, but you get to do it once at best before you revert to jumping nukes. I say nothing about ninja, as knives/bladework are ridiculous in time spent compared to casting, and so on. Long story short, I would prefer to have perfectly designed windows for at least two rounds of basic rotation before nukes come off cooldown.
Adventure Plate/Portrait: so simple and well-thought feature, and it addresses one of the core benefits of an MMO: character customization. The amount of options is simply thrilling, and it’s a mere pleasure to play with. I think Blizzard would never pull anything remotely elaborate and exciting if they employed this idea. I’ve made a simple enough plate:
The only thing I wish is that portrait changed according to your current job, changed gear to current while maintaining the same camera/design settings. So far I found just the option of changing job name to current, but it makes no sense to spell “astrologian” near a dragoon portrait, so.
In short, it’s a totalyl vanity feature which does not affect anything, yet gives so much room for creativity and expressing your personality, and another thing to check out at other players. So well done!
Well, I guess this is all I’ve seen in the past few days worth mentioning, apart from some QoL/UX improvements, and now to catch up with lalafell and proceed with leveling and whatever activities.
The patch is awesome, holds so many content (great content, mind you!) and – well, again it makes clear that players are the focus of developers. I’m so happy with my gaming choices. Now, back to Eorzea.