Review: Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker Patch 6.1 Newfound Adventure
After being one of our top 5 reviews of last year, Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker had a lot to live up to with its first major patch following its release last December.
With Patch 6.1 Newfound Adventure, FFXIV begins a new narrative instead of simply continuing where it left off, a first for the game in its more than ten years of operation. We also saw the addition of a brand new PVP mode with Crystalline Conflict, in addition to other features.
This review was conducted by the four hosts of our Final Fantasy XIV Podcast Aetheryte Radio. Let’s see what they had to say! If you would rather hear what they had to say, make sure to check out this episode!
Fusionx: At the end of Endwalker, we were giving a list of possibilities to explore after the climatic conclusion to what had been the story of the past ten years. With Newfound Adventure, the story immediately begins to tackle that list, helping to aim the story at its next major destination. As much as I love the overall direction, it does feel like the narrative had to backtrack a bit to re-create a more accessible version of the narrative that we tasted during the heavily gated void quests from Shadowbringers. That said, I will never not enjoy a nod to Final Fantasy XI, and this patch had a pretty awesome callback with its newest dungeon.
We also got our first taste of the Myths of the Realm story in this update, which is slowly starting to answer the long-asked question “Who are the Twelve?” The first installment sprinkles in some answers here and there, but with two more installments to go, it will take more time for the answer to become clearer. My biggest issue with these quests were that for characters as prominent as the Twelve, it seems incredibly odd to have them voiced during battle, but not in the cutscenes that make up the bulk of the story telling. If Square Enix has voice actors attributed to these characters, they should use them more!
Xenedra: I know we were all thinking, “How can they possibly go on from here?” And while it seemed like a daunting task, I had faith that they could and would move on from Endwalker into something just as juicy. Actually seeing it happen, though, was a thrill! It was like they’d reached into my head, pulled out three of my favorite topics and designed a fresh storyline around them. It’s wonderful to see, that even after so many mysteries were solved, they’ll still be giving us Answers (pun intended) for years to come.
Even though I was gobbling up the lore of the new MSQ, the real stand out for me this time was the new 24-man raid, Aglaia. I’ve been chomping at the bit for Myths of the Realm since the moment they announced it. The Twelve’s mythology has always been near and dear to my heart, but the actual amount that we’ve gotten has been so little. There are so many theories swirling around my head and I can’t wait to learn more!
Aldianaux: The new Main Scenario Quests are a very compelling start to our new adventure. For myself, the pacing was close to perfect. As Yoshi-P said, this story is not over, and we have some fun mysteries yet to solve. There are also some standout character moments with Estinien and Y’shtola. While I doubt that we’ll have the full roster together again for a while, this will give us a chance to see much more characterization from the Scions that haven’t felt fully fleshed out so far.
The new raid, Aglaia, mixed the current story, deep lore, and mechanics together in a near-perfect package and I can not wait to see the rest of the Twelve and learn more about their nature.
Rook: The narrative of the MSQ, 24-man quests, and the new capstone role quest are all satisfying experiences. It’s no easy thing to try and rope an audience into a new adventure after the culmination of a ten year story arc, but FFXIV does exactly that. The story manages a well-balanced blend of new adventurous horizons and teasers for greater story arcs ahead.
Throughout the entire experience, additional charming character moments flesh out our companions in heartwarming and comical ways. This patch clearly lacked the emotional resonance of something like the famous patch 5.3 due to its positioning as the start of a new journey, but it still delivered a highly enjoyable narrative that didn’t feel like padding or dead space. Not to mention, the new 24-man really shines as a long unexplored facet of lore that had me dying for more!
Push the Crystal
Fusionx: The biggest surprise of this patch is the new Crystalline Confclit PVP mode. It’s good. Like, really good. Final Fantasy XIV has always had players that enjoyed PVP, but for some players, myself included, it was never a major point of the game with its long matches, and even longer queue times. With Crystalline Conflict, the team has finally made a small, five minute match PVP mode that is easy, and more importantly, quick, to jump into.
While there certainly are some improvements that can be made in terms of a more understandable UI, or a better UI navigation experience for players, PVP’s future in FFXIV never looked as bright as it currently does.
This patch also saw several dungeons get re-worked, mostly to accommodate the new NPC companions that players can take through older content now. The inclusion of bosses teaching mechanics is a welcome one, but some of these aesthetic changes feel simply “okay.” The worst of these changes however, such as those made to The Thousand Maws of Toto-Rak makes the dungeon feel like it was completely stripped of its personality. The dungeon is a hollow, empty shell of what it once was.
Xenedra: Off and on through the years, jobs have been declared “unplayable” for one reason or another, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a slip up like Bard had this time that actually made it unplayable. What makes it worse is that the change was, at least from the perspective of several Bards I’ve talked to, pretty unnecessary. Both Bard and Dancer got changes to their gauges to try and make it more apparent when those resources were ready for use, that also seem mostly unneeded, but that may have contributed to the accessibility of the class, so I’ll count those as a win.
A few other jobs got changes that seemed questionable, but one that affects me was a solid change. For Dancer, the procs you get based on hitting your basic attacks are more separate from the procs you get by hitting Flourish, meaning that these will stack! Dancers no longer have to push dance timers to avoid losing a proc!
Once again I need to bring up the 24-man raid. Mechanics that shuffle 24 people in a dance of doom are always fun, but this tier blows the previous ones away for me. Yes, it’s partially because I’m a big nerd when it comes to The Twelve, but I loved the gameplay in this raid! There are a lot of little indicators to watch for in addition to things that try to trick you in a playful way. These make the raid an enjoyable romp while also helping to characterize the Gods as well.
I’ve had a pretty rocky relationship with PvP in most games. I wouldn’t say I’m not a fan, but for the most part I won’t go out of my way to play it. There was a point where I liked FFXIV’s PvP well enough, but then they made the way jobs play different from PvE and it sort of lost its luster. Now that they’ve compacted down the abilities even more, I find that it just… works? Playing them has been a blast, and even when you end up in situation that isn’t quite as fun, the matches are so fast that you’ll escape that loss of morale in no time. Trust me when I say you should give it a try.
While probably the least dazzling bit of combat content this time around, I thought the dungeon was quite enjoyable. For me, seeing so many call backs to my favorite part of Final Fantasy XI gave me such a full heart. Plus I love a good smoosh-word pun. Clawtrap? Classic.
Oh yeah, and of course, Endsinger Extreme. That was a thing! It was… fine. Good, pretty cool, OK, not bad. Dancer finally got some pretty weapons that fit my taste, so I like that!
Aldianaux: PvP in Final Fantasy XIV has finally become a standout feature! I love this for the incredibly dedicated and enthusiastic part of the community that has always kept PvP going. The overall design of the Jobs has each of them feeling new, but incredibly thematic.
In PvE content however, I’m in a strange place with the Job Adjustments. I feel as though things are being simplified in a way that removes some of the fun optimization that each Job has had, instead of just addressing button bloat, or general streamlining. It might just be my personal feelings after the changes to Summoner, so I’m not going to knock too much off my score just yet. I will say that the Dark Knight changes to Living Dead are amazing and finally address the imbalance between the tank’s invulnerability cooldowns.
Rook: The actual gameplay of patch 6.1 introduced enjoyable mechanics, content, and a total revamp of the PvP system.
The new dungeon scratches that treasure hunting itch that classics such as Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider likewise deliver, but the new 24-man is where we really started to see the new content shine. The fights are not only visually, cinematically and musically fantastic, but also offered an array of mechanics that bring the entire experience to life.
However, the gameplay is really taken to the next level with the PvP overhaul and additional gamemode: Crystalline Conflict. Classes each have a unique and exceptionally designed system that makes battling over the payload an entirely fresh start in a game that has long struggled to deliver a PvP experience that resonates with a large portion of its population. This change has led to me playing PvP almost constantly since release and has reinvigorated the tournament scene with more players than ever. For that alone, I would gladly give patch 6.1 a perfect score!
The Winning Number is…
Fusionx: For each wonderful step forward the team has made to Final Fantasy XIV in recent months, they seem to somehow find a way to take a step, or two, backward. This patch, unfortunately, is no exception. Prior to the release of the patch, Naoki Yoshida previewed the additional hairstyles that would be made available for Hrothgar players. They looked… off- to the point where more than a few people thought that it was an April Fool’s joke. Now that the hairstyles are here, they are still… not great. Yoshida has commented on the way Viera and Hrothgar models were created, giving reasons for why things are as they are. Ultimately, these statements come off as tone-deaf, with the team not understanding that many players feel the races are incomplete in their current state.
Another surprising, and disappointing, issue with this patch is that multiple times during PVP, my audio has simply stopped. No music, no sound effects. Total silence. I have to restart the client to fix it. Many players have reported the issue to Square Enix via the official forums, but in the wake of the complete disaster that was the housing lottery, Square Enix has yet to even acknowledge that this sound issue exists.
Xenedra: As far as some other inclusions go… I won’t say much here because I know that everyone knows, but the Hrothgar hair debacle was pretty bad. That, along with the housing issues have definitely affected my score. Sometimes people make mistakes, and those affected by those mistakes have a right to be upset, but they should also keep in mind that not even Naoki Yoshida is infallible. The team dealing with the housing issue is doing their best to make sure that everyone involved will still get their fair shot, even if they do end up having to wait a little longer. The harsh reactions from the community, including death threats, were completely unwarranted here.
Aldianaux: The Housing issue was a bug, but one that really can’t be ignored.
With the state of housing scarcity and the increase in player count, we’ve been at an impasse for years. The lottery system was set to alleviate at least some of this, so now was the worst time to run into such a huge bug. At least they seem to have the fix well in hand.
I’m not really going to get into the Hrothgar hair saga, other than to reiterate my hope that the big graphical overhaul coming with 7.0 will also include character models.
Rook: After releasing previews of the ‘new’ Hrothgar hair to be added into the game, community feedback was incredibly divided. To get additional hairstyles that remove a defining feature of the race (ears) was bad enough, but upon release it was revealed that the actual head shape of Hrothgars had been distorted into something closely resembling an egg-headed alien for these cosmetics. Why the team designed the structures of the race knowing they are utterly incompatible with customization options in the game still remains a huge mystery. The bestial ‘uniqueness’ of these races are not so extreme as to justify the limitations placed upon them and many players, myself included, have switched off races that may be their favorite aesthetically, but bar them from a large portion of self-expression and glamour in the game.
Of course, another major stumble in the overall polish of this release came with the housing bug. Tensions in the community don’t justify the level of anger and harassment that some chose to pursue in regards to their anger with the developers, but are indicative of the overall level of frustration in the player base as to the outdated and restrictive housing system. In this day and age of MMO’s, many games with housing are offering players multiple instanced houses, fully flexible furnishing and decorating systems, and even allowing programming of routes for NPCs, mounts, and minions within these residences! A lottery system is a quality of life improvement for housing, but clearly not a solution that will truly make housing accessible to the entire population of the game.
Other minor bugs in this patch held back the overall presentation rating including the PVP sound bug that causes audio to periodically drop while in a match, requiring a restart of the entire game client.
Glamour Continues to be the True Endgame
Fusionx: There were some great things added with this patch in addition to the usual suspects. The new adventurer plates especially are something that I can’t wait to see more development on. Currently in beta, the system has issues ranging from plate resets, design issues, and unneeded complexity with its active plate option. However, what has been introduced so far is great, and I would love to see it used in more areas besides the newly introduced PVP mode.
Another highlight for me this patch is undoubtedly the new furniture item that’s a bookcase, but also a secret door. Whoever is working on furniture over there is doing some very cool things!
Xenedra: Have you ever received something you didn’t even know you wanted and then fell in love with it? For me, that’s adventurer plates. What a FUN idea! It’s a thrill to check out everyone’s portraits at the start of PvP as well, to see what sort of people you’re playing with. I only wish I could still type to them to tell them how cute their glam is or how clever their pose is. I hope to see these used other places in game as well!
I also want to mention the new furniture with this patch. This team is definitely paying attention! The new outside gate, the curved partition, the loft with the recessed lighting underneath, and the bookshelf with the secret door are sure signs of that! I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!
Aldianaux: Adventurer plates are a triumph and should be everywhere once they are out of beta. Replace that old commendation UI with portraits at the end of dungeons! Use them everywhere- show me the plates!
The Unending Codex is another great addition that could help us overcome the only downside of this amazing story- there is too much for a lot of people to remember. Having character and concept recaps at hand will help those who forgot or didn’t have time to get into the story before.
Finally, removing the gender lock from more gear is always welcome.
Rook: The new gear sets, furnishing items, emotes and mounts added with this patch offer a huge range of rewards for players. As previously mentioned, the rework of old content and dungeons were also well implemented alongside the introduction of Trusts for the base game. The return of the Garo event has brought back titles, gear, and mounts to PvP for players engaging with the new PvP. Ultima Unreal was also an enjoyable jaunt to revisit, though not wildly difficult for those in the know about the mechanics.
The truly revolutionary miscellaneous addition came in the form of Adventurer Plates. While still in beta, the new variety of customization options and portraits is an incredible addition to the game that offers a new level of self-expression I have yet to see other MMORPG’s attempt. The potential to include plates even in PvE content is clearly there and I can only hope SE does indeed make them more prominently featured. While there are certainly bugs at the moment and counterintuitive systems that make setting up a plate or setting portraits in PvP a bit confusing, these are still a fantastic addition to the game.
Overall, patch 6.1 is a great follow-up to Endwalker and sets us on an exciting path going forward. While there were, and still are some major issues with the game at this point, we feel that at the end of the day, patch 6.1 just might be the best post expansion patch that Final Fantasy XIV has ever received.