What a year it has been for Final Fantasy XIV! First we had the dramatic conclusion of the A Realm Reborn story and after that, Heavensward came out with guns firing, and for the most part was an amazing addition to an already fantastic game.
Now, on our Aetheryte Radio Podcast, I’ve been accused of being too much on the “positive” side of my viewpoints, and it’s true. In fact, you are going to get some of that here, but I want to also look at what FFXIV did right this year, and what I believe it got wrong.
Last October, after having returned from Fan Fest 2014, I was riding a high with the news of Heavensward on the horizon with all the new information to dissect and the potential that is included with any expansion to a game like FFXIV. With the announcement, I said on the podcast that Heavensward is stepping out of the Shadow of 1.0, and that 2.0 was always an apology to the players and fans who were burned by the game’s original launch. I have to say, Yoshi-P and the rest of the development team did not disappoint. Heavensward launched to rave reviews and for good reason. The game improved upon 2.0 in the areas that were needed, but didn’t need to change the overall game to do so. It built off the foundation that was setup with 2.0 and allowed us to charge in full speed ahead into the expansion. This was a big plus, and the only real downside to the expansion was that by the time I had finished the main story, burnout set in. Not with Heavenward, just with MMOs in general. I knew the feeling going into the spring, and I would have taken a break, but I was very excited that I decided to power though and make sure all my jobs were ready to go the day the expansion dropped.
Burnout can be a good thing, it can be an opportunity to step away and enjoy some other games, which is what I did. I stayed subbed, and would pop in and check out my retainers, and play the Cactpot every now and then, but stepping away from actively trying to cap and level my other jobs ended up being the best thing for me to do at that time. This was mostly due to the biggest disappointments that people felt with the game in 2015, and that is that 3.1 took forever to release, and when it did, it dropped on the game-apocalypse where there were so many amazing games to drop all on the same day that there just wasn’t enough hours in a day to take it all in.
Many XIV players have been feeling burnt out with such a long gap in content, and for me, I think the gap really falls on the head of Yoshi-P as he is in charge of the whole ship. I’m glad to hear his team was able to take vacation, and I know they worked really hard on the Heavensward expansion, but the concerns this raises for me is the thought that Square Enix might not be giving him the budget and staff needed to keep content flowing at a regular pace. More specifically that staff size and time off needs to be factored into the whole development process. Now the reason I bring up burnout, and taking a break as a good thing for me in 2015, is that by the time I came back which was right before 3.1, everything was still exciting and running the dungeons wasn’t horrible, as I hadn’t been running them for the past 5 months. I took that time to focus on leveling up my Paladin to level 60 and getting it geared up. When 3.1 dropped I couldn’t pull myself away, and have used that content to get caught up on my item level, and have been loving every minute of it.
Aside from the long gap from 3.0 to 3.1, the only real issue that I have with the expansion is how they handled the new jobs, locking them behind the story. When the expansion released, I supported the idea that you needed to get though the main story before you could find yourself in Ishgard. Now, months later, having helped a few friends new to the game level up and progress though the story, breaking the news that they can’t play as a Dark Knight, or one of the new jobs until they beat the whole 2.X story arc, felt like a major disappointment to them. So I’ve reversed my position on this subject, and now feel that something more should have been done, and hopefully we will see this change at some point in the future.
Lore wise, I understand that Ishgard has been closed off to adventures, but it would have been nice to see that adventures could have been able to enter the city itself, but just not take part in any quests, etc, or even use any of the features of the city (Markets, Retainer Bells, etc…) to play into the aesthetic and the lore. I think it would have been a better option for new players who have the game and want to play as one of the new jobs, to be able to switch to those jobs at level 30, without having to clear the whole game. They would need to own the expansion, just like how the level cap was raised to level 60 without having to beat the game. The other features, story, and quests make since to keep them locked, even the zones would make sense to keep locked, at least, this is just my updated opinion on this issue. I believe Yoshi-P did say that there would be adjustments to this implementation with the release of the next expansion.
From my perspective FFXIV went from a game I love to play to a game I still love to play years later. We started off 2015 with a powerhouse of updates that really drove us into the expansion excited, and my expectations were blown away by the story presentation. There are a lot of systems and updates that we have been promised as part of the expansion that we haven’t gotten yet, which has me looking forward to every update in hopes that we will see those new systems finally put into the game. Personally I’m really excited about the Gambit System coming into the companion system, and I hope we will see more of an expansion to this system altogether. It’s cool to fight alongside your chocobo, but I think it would be better to fight alongside characters that you have made, or retainers that you have as well. And I’m also looking forward to the summoner glamour system, allowing summoners to pick what their pets look like from a list of available summons that we have at our disposal will be a big win for summoners out there.
If I was going to rate Final Fantasy XIV’s 2015 on a ten point scale for the content that came out and my enjoyment of the game, I’d have to give FFXIV in 2015 a clear 9.0 score. The game wasn’t without some issues, but the beauty of the MMO genre or most games today is that these issues can be resolved with a patch. This really sets us up for an amazing 2016- no expansions will drop this year, but we will get a lot of updates as well as learn about the next expansion, and then there are the next round of Fan Fests! So rest up Warriors of Light, and gear up. We’ve got a world that needs us.
Highlights (in no specific order)
- Flying – Wow, I love flying in the new zones, really enjoy every time I can take off and seeing the world with a bird’s eye view.
- New Jobs – Personally I love how the Dark Knight plays, I haven’t spent too much time with the other two jobs, so everyone is welcome to their own opinion on this item as I’m sure there are those who would say this item should be in the lowlights section, but to each their own. I’m happy to see three new jobs, and am looking forward to more jobs in future expansions.
- Story – The story, and presentation of the story was top notch, and in my opinion, is the best Final Fantasy story to date.
- Free Company Crafting – I love the workshop, we have only scratched the surface of this system, but me and my free company are having fun building our airship.
Lowlights (in no specific order)
- Patch 3.1 Timing – Long gap between the expansion and the first patch
- You Want To Play As What? – New jobs locked behind the main story
- Hurry Up And Wait – Features that were talked about still aren’t in the game, and no set date before we will see them currently.
- Maybe Not The Best Use Of Time – Lords of Verminion really disappointed me, but not enough to really care, it’s cool we have this system, I just don’t see myself doing any more of this content anytime soon. I don’t know how others feel about this, but I’d like to see something else that we can use our minions for at some point in the future.
- Mac OS X Client Issues Continue – seems that Mac users out there who wanted to play the game have a bitter sweet taste in their mouths. Hopefully 2016 won’t have that continue.
- Still No XBOX One Support – really it doesn’t seem to be an Square-Enix issue (who knows) as Phil Spencer seems to say it has something to do with exclusivity, but I’ll continue to beat this drum for as long as it takes.
Thanks, and your feedback is always welcomed.
Here’s to 2016!