For those persons unaware, SquareEnix has created another MMORPG in the numbered Final Fantasy titles with FF14. This game had a rocky start at its 1.0 launch. But under the guidance of a new director, who the community affectionately calls Yoshi P, Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn (2.0) turned the franchise around and became a success for the company. The game has technically been out for 5 years but most players consider 2.0 the real start of the game. In 2014, the game launched its first expansion, Heavensward (3.0), which has received mixed reviews from new players and current veteran players alike. This game is commonly compared to World of Warcraft (WoW) which just launched their Legion expansion in late August. This isn’t a comparison post for both games since I have not played WoW and can’t make an informed post. This post does contain the new features added to the game with the launch of patch 3.4 Soul Surrender. Here is the trailer below.
Meat of the Patch
Main Story Quests (MSQ):
Final Fantasy is a story driven game and this patch is no exception. You can find the patch notes and additional things I’m covering here. This patch’s main story quest took me about 4 hours to complete without skipping cut scenes and talking to all the NPCs around the quest givers that offer interesting flavor text. The story this time around continues after the conclusion of the Dragonsong War and begins to usher players into the new 4.0 expansion by tying up loose ends. The player will finally confront the Warriors of Darkness and can expect a lot of fan service with the reintroduction of Alphinaud’s sister, Alisaie. The only minus here would be that Yoshi P hinted that players should complete the Binding Coil of Bahamut raid from 2.0 to see different dialogue options with Alisaie but the differences were minor. Overall I was satisfied with the story, which was way longer than they have been, and even had some surprises along the way.
This dungeon is the Ixali Beast Tribe homeland and is said to be a mountainous region. The dungeon itself is beautifully designed with dynamic set pieces that let the player see they are traveling upward and through the mountain terrain. The bosses offer a few new mechanics that are easy to master once they are seen and don’t offer any real danger unless you are perpetually unaware of your surroundings. Even if players tend to be oblivious to mechanics, once the dungeon is complete you will probably never make the same mistakes again. The music in this dungeon is also very pleasing to the ear. Outside of that, the only detraction is that these encounters are a bit too easy for players coming in at the previous level cap of 235 to 245. The other complaint from lore lovers is that this region is represented as a big area on the map and they are saddened to see it reduced to an instanced dungeon. I could agree with that but I am still pleased with the dungeon we do have.
Great Gubal Library Hard Mode
This dungeon takes the player back into an expansion leveling dungeon and brings it up to our level cap. Gubal is the first of the Heavensward dungeons to receive the hard mode treatment and it is more of the same. They varied the music a bit this time around which is a welcome change. One of the criticisms from its first iteration was that there were no readable lore books for players to peruse but this was rectified for this run. The bosses offer some mechanics that have been seen in the previous raids. If you are a new player that hasn’t had the chance to see them they will be new to you. There is also a boss, Living Flame that is a call back to one of the previous Final Fantasy titles. This dungeon is the more difficult of the two offerings but all in all, still easier than expected for a geared player.
It should be noted that Xephetol requires for you to complete up until a certain point in the MSQ before it is accessible. Both of these dungeons drop gear including left and right side pieces. Also, until both of these dungeons are completed, players will not be able to access the expert roulette.
Alexander the Creator: Normal (Story) Mode and Savage Mode
Alexander is the last raid tier out of three for this expansion and contains the conclusion for the story of Mide, the Goblins and the Primal, Alexander. For those familiar with the different summons in Final Fantasy, Alexander is the guardian of time and that plays a role in the fights as well as the story. Each tier of Alexander—Gordias, Midas and now Creator, had 4 floors to them.
I will say that I was pleasantly surprised how the developers managed to increase the difficulty in these fights but not make them punishing for normal mode. I was on the official forums today and there is already a thread calling for the fights to be nerfed but I am hoping the developers ignore them. The fights are easily recoverable as long as people take the time to learn the mechanics and apply them properly. The music has also changed for the last 2 floors and players are rewarded with all of the scrolls at the end of the story line.
Some of the criticisms for this raid tier have been the lack of story payoff and the decrease in dynamic environments in the raid in comparison to the Binding Coil of Bahamut. I could write a whole other article about that but I’ll say this, the payoff in the story for this tier did take a bit too long reach. Full disclosure, out of the entire roster of summons Alexander is my least favorite so I wasn’t too impressed to begin with then add Goblins and I was even more disengaged. The conclusion was worth it so new players who begin the raid will have the whole tier to judge it unlike the rest of us who went piece by piece.
Also, this savage tier has been considered the easiest of the three tiers including Coils when it was relevant. When Alexander Gordias Savage was released it was a huge skill and difficulty increase from Coil raids and decimated most servers’ raid teams. It had gotten so bad that a lot of “hardcore” raiders on smaller servers migrated to larger servers to have a chance at progression. Some quit the game all together which further put raiding on the decline. This tier’s difficulty was necessary in order to re-introduce newer players to raiding and reinvigorate the raid scene before the next expansion. There will be many calls for FF14 to introduce a third raid difficulty or to even ignore the “casuals” who want a story mode and go back to one overall difficulty but we shall see how it gets handled in 4.0.
Sophia The Goddess Normal and Extreme
This fight is a continuation of the Warring Triad series in this game. If you’re a FF fan then you know what Warring Triad I’m referring to. These are the same figures but of course the lore has been switched around a bit to accommodate FF14. Players are directed back to Azys La with Unukalhai to try and put this goddess in her place. Since she is the guardian of balance I’ll let your imagination go to how this fight is designed and you’re probably correct. The main difference between this fight and the last Eikon battle is that falling off the ring does not mean instant ejection for that player. This makes the fight easier to recover from even in Extreme mode. This fight has some of the best music in this patch hands down. The only detraction is that while Sophia is voice acted, there is no actual dialogue with her addressing the player outside of battle which seems like a waste to me.
Quick Hits of the Patch
New Side Quests
· New Hildebrand and Scholastic Side Quests
Grand Company Squadrons
· Allows for players to recruit up to 8 NPCs to venture on missions to level up and bring back rare items.
· New Grand Company rank of First Lieutenant is locked behind leveling your squad
· Getting new recruits is locked behind completing weekly challenges in your challenge log and can appear to be random.
· Squadrons may seem pointless or premature since they cannot travel into instances with the player (yet) and are very similar to retainers.
· Weekly log that rewards players for completing current and old content.
· Gives bonuses for completing content with new players with “second chance”
· Gives relevant rewards like MGP for the Gold Saucer, Minions, Materia and i250 crafted gear
· Cute Miqote children to see every week. (Oh wait that’s my reason lol)
Palace of the Dead Brief Update
· Introduced Horde treasures which contain all the prizes that players could win in the Aquapolis
· Can get one of the new introduced hairstyles only from dropping here or the market board
· The rest of the 150 floors including the conclusion to the story to be released in patch 3.45
Duty Finder and Raid Finder Updates
· All Alexander Creator Savage floors and all of the 3.0 primals/eikons have been added to the raid finder
· Triple Triad and Lords of Verminion halls have been added to the Gold Saucer but can be accessed through the duty finder
· All previous savage floors were removed
· 1 on 1 and Light party (4x4) dueling has been added to the Wolves Den
· Dueling can only happen in the Wolves Den
· Players can que for other content while participating in a duel
· There is a spectator mode to watch duels with several options but players must be a part of the party participating in the duel in order to access those features
· No ranking system for Dueling at this time
· 90 Apartments have been added to EACH WARD in the housing districts
· Players must go to the apartment building in order to rent an apartment
· Apartments cost 500k
· Apartments are not subject to demolition
· If apartments run out, up to 500 apartments can be added to any building instantaneously according to devs
· Rooms are the size of an FC/Inn room
· Players will be able to stable their chocobos, change their plume color and train them
· There are no gardens available at this time
· Esoteric tomes are being phased out and can be exchanged in Mor Dhona for Lore tomes
· Lore tomes are now uncapped and used for everything Esoterics used to buy
· Tomes of Scripture are the last tome of this expansion and will be capped weekly.
· All Weeping City Gear/Token drops are uncapped but players will still only receive one mhache matter for material weekly
· The ilevel has been increased from i240/i245 to i270/i275 including savage gear levels
· There are four new hairstyles in the game, three can be accessed from the aesthetician and the other from Palace of the Dead of the Market Board
· New crafter recipes have been added but you do not need new master books
· New Gatherer nodes have been added
· New Housing, glamor and minion options have been added
· New loot drops have been added to the Aquapolis
· New Double Cross Hotbar has been added for controller players under settings
New Chocobo House siding has been added
· New Mounts have been added
· New Triple Triad Cards have been added
All in all, I would say this major patch has been filled to the brim with things to keep players occupied for a while. In the coming weeks, we will be sure to hear comparisons to WoW and how they have done things better and what FF14 could learn from them. With 4.0’s announcement right around the corner, we will see what SE will offer for the players looking for something different or possibly more of the same.
Have you played FF14? Have you played MMORPGs at all? What has been your experience with the patch if you do play? Let me know in the comments below.
Until Next time,
All images and information belong to Square Enix. All pictures were found at their website.