Tuesday, 27 December 2016

JP Fan Fest 2016 RDM confirmed!

So part 2 of the 3 part worldwide Final Fantasy Fan Festivals events has concluded and aside from my cleeng stream being a complete dud i demanded a refund for (though i hear niconico was problem free) we have had some interesting reveals. Not as earthshaking as people expected but nothing that doesn't look fun to play which i guess is the selling point at the end of the day eh?

So first off in a reveal that surprised pretty much nobody FFXIV is getting its third Mage class with Red Mage and as i expected it is still the fencing musketeer archetype from XI. In some mechanics it is surprisingly similar to XI in a way that has finally gotten some diehard XI playing friends to finally make the jump from Vanadiel to Eorzea. On the whole it is an interesting looking class. It is a hybrid of range and melee. Using a Rapier and Crystal the job will have you combine the two to form a stave for spells at range, then boost forwards to pierce the enemy with a barrage of physical strikes from the split rapier and crystal then blink away again to pop off a large spell like Flare. There isn't too much known mechanically other than this Jobs mechanic is called "Chainspell" or "Spell Linking" which i could imagine meaning casting certain spells in one school strengthens one school of magic and weakens others and perhaps a balance allows for RDM specific spells to be used? I suppose we will see in the EU fanfest in Frankfurt in about 8 weeks time.
For now i am happy. It is my main FFXI job returning and it looks both similar enough to that and fresh enough in terms of XIV jobs that it may replace NIN as my new main job in XIV. Though personally i am glad it looks like more of a faithful incarnation than BLM turned out to be.

Next up we have Swimming. Perhaps those FFX outfits for buying a stream are not as random an inclusion as we thought and Blitzball is the next Lords of verminion? personally i kind of hope it is even if i know most folks hated that in X. Swimming itself looks less like FFXIV pulling a WoW style "sunken city of vash'jir" with its underwater combat and more adding little sub zones to areas for gathering and exploration. Along with underwater mount use and a new skill for our Chocobos to learn this makes me wonder what neat things this can be used for in none combat areas. Perhaps some interesting ways to hide some secrets in game? or just a Manderville beach episode adventure.

Then we have the shirt. Because of course Yoshida worse a shirt. This time it was Spiderman and i have NEVER seen people argue and bitch this much in the community. Some are certain it alludes to Sam Raimi which naturally means "SamU Rai-mi", because shut up reasons. Personally? thats a bit reaching. But the people who want SAM reaalllly want SAM in XIV and like the new Ridley in Smash its going to be pushed at every opportunity because that thirst is strong. Amongst other guesses like "web swinging means PUP confirmed" my personal leaning is the straight forward one. Peter Parker was bitten by a Spider and gained the abilities of a spider. That is a 1 for 1 description of how a Blue Mage works. I would be completely unsurprised if BLU is the new tanking job in Stormblood. BST could be a possibility but characters like Raubhan have been teases for BLU for a good while now.

We also had information on the new Beast Tribe of Lamia, the allagan experiments had to come from something right? and their primal. The new raids 'Return to Ivalice' and 'Beyond Time: OMEGA' and a tie in event for a 'mature sentai' series from one of the megaten artists. Aside from that though there wasn't much information about stormblood proper this time around, with the real reveals being promised for Frankfurt. Honestly? kind of a bit of a meh event compared to the US fanfest and i hope the EU one is better. There is nothing i disliked here but it didn't really reveal what we will be doing beyond 'playing more FFXIV'. More zone and enemy previews would have been very welcome since more Primals and Omega Weapon were already a certainty at this point. Perhaps more gear set reveals for the next artefact tier would have been good but with 6 months before release the collectors edition confirmation and the release date of June 21st was better than nothing.

And at least the waifu fans have a new Primal to obsess over on pixiv. Swings and roundabouts and all that right?

On the whole i feel its been played a bit safe this time since everyone outright knew about DRK before its reveals last time and so it fell a bit flat, so mystery is not always bad and the team has earned the positive expectations for their work i just personally wish this fanfest had some more world info, perhaps a picture of Ala Mhigo after its been a none entity in the in game world for all these years now.
Still with some patience we will get it all in the end, for now i am just happy with have multiple new jobs, primals and raids confirmed so i get more of what i love.

Even if the 'Ivalice=Eorzea' tinfoil crowd are now crazier than ever after this event. Remember kids Primals can't melt steel memes.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Well that didn't take long

So this was easy. A little TOO easy in fact. Which really does beg the question: Just how bad is it going to be if the next form is the final stage?

We already know it involves repairing an Allagan mini ADS servitor so i imagine that means Crafted items AND something from Azys Lla.

Hopefully my recently 60 and full HQ Ironworks gathering jobs will come in useful for something, anything beyond making Gil!

Still i can't complain. New shiny weapon for a couple of days work two weeks in a row. Bit underwhelming but after those massive grinds that came before it -and no Umbrite nerf to speak of as well- i think Yoshi wanted to give us tomestone grinders a bit of a vacation this time.

I'm not complaining.

But i'm prepared for the worst in the next patch...

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Beyond Heavensward part 4: Further Skills to pay Further Bills

I dont make it a secret that i love crafting in MMORPG's even if most of them tend to have garbage crafting systems. Luckily FFXIV is one of the good standouts. I love the way crafters are their own valid jobs. Have their own gear and can purchase housing to make a quasi store and so on. I know a few people in game that only play as crafters and love it because it doesn't make them feel like they are a combat class not 'really playing' like so many other games in the genre. That said however i still think there is more that could be done with the systems in Stormblood and i'm here to ramble a while about what i would like to see based on my own likes and dislikes with MMORPG crafting systems.

To begin with lets talk about what got my interest to begin with. For the most part it would probably be early anime based on MMORPG's like .HACK//Sign, though Log Horizon is a more recent well known example of my point. It showed crafters in an online game to be valid players who had different goals more focused on creation than destruction and who's items where lovingly crafted for other players who would need a reliable weapon or tool when out and about exploring the world. I wasn't into games like D&D as a teen so wasn't really experienced with role playing of any kind but the idea of a none combat shop owner in a virtual world seemed like fun to me and still does. Its why i enjoy the Atelier games on the PS3/PS4 so much. 
Sadly however my early experiences in Online games basically summed up crafting as: farm stuff just to make the same stuff for a few ranks till you reach a new material to do the same with till max rank when you make one thing for raiding and thats it. Which to be blunt sucks. Then FFXIV comes along and after the 1.0 debacle it really was not on my radar as WoW kept me happy as it had yet to hit its massive late Mists of Pandaria quality decline and 'The Decade of Lightning' really put me off Final Fantasy as a whole at the time and so i had no interest in FFXIV. That is until i saw a new none combat preview. It showed a lvl.1 Botanist in the central Shroud. They used skills to search for trees, 'mined' some logs and returned to Gridania. Then they switched to a lvl.10 Carpenter and suddenly their gear and 'weapon' changed and they knelt at a log to actually work on it in real time. They were using moves to shape and craft the item towards a final product, tweaking it as they went in hopes of producing a higher quality item as the final result. This reminded me of an itch no game was scratching so i ended up looking into FFXIV 2.0 and the rest is history.

Since then i have seen an alliance of German Free Companies create a grey Market of player goods after a huge French free company decided to undercut everything to 1 gil to crash the market back in 2.0. Seen people actually become the go to guys and gals for certain goods who are known by name as "The really good Blacksmith who gets the HQ stuff every time" and eventually the ability to turn home plots into shops -even if they sadly remain unused 99% of the time since its basically just a retainer interface as of right now. Its a great start but i think in 4.0 we can take the ideas we have further.

 So what do i mean? well by this point as Master Craftsmen on their way to lvl.70 i think more focus should be made on players creating their own stores or workshops. We have already seen items added like the player forges that increase your ability while working at them. With a new housing location and hundreds more wards coming in Stormblood perhaps its time for the long forgotten turn of the century idea of player ran Shopping districts to make a return to form?
 Imagine a place like Uldah only instead of the majority of buildings being walls with doors that never open they can open to little arcades where players skilled in crafting can rent a space or store and peddle their wares and to keep it fresh you must pay a rent/upkeep fee to hold your spot thus ensuring you are putting out product to make money. Think of heading into town looking for a particular item and instead of hoping the market board has it you ask around for a good Alchemist store or something and other players direct you to a small free company ran building where retainers stand at the counter as FC members bring in materials for their friends in the back to process. Really bring the industry side of crafting to Eorzea y'know? Make crafters desired but also make crafting a desirable goal to play as.

The trouble with this however is twofold. On one hand players in the west hate interacting in MMORPG's, its crazy i know but thats the post WoW world we live in. You dont go out and look for other players, you que for something and then back to solo play. They already added Materia Melders in cities even though i had no trouble back in 2.0 finding a crafter to meld the Materia for my Stardust rod questline. People just don't want to interact that often unless they get a good kick in the pants or carrot on a stick. Which sadly means these player houses you see turned into Cafe's or a Blacksmiths Workshop remain empty for the most part. Retainers standing about in silence waiting for customers that never arrive. Perhaps its different on JP servers but for the EU ones housing seems largely for FC's to laze about and shoot the shit between structured content and little else. Which i think is a tremendous shame.
Then on the other the developers themselves basically treat crafters as the gil vaccums that put out some new green quality gear and vanity clothes each patch to get gil out of Combat jobs hands and spent again on materials. Which is really kind of boring when you think about it.
This i think is where Yoshi P's team should look for the future of crafting. Player shops in cities could be a huge recourse hog or simply a lag issue. But allowing people who purchase a housing lot to decide "Do you want to make a Free Company House or a Player Shop?" would be a wonderful step in the right direction. Let players decorate and design clerks to serve customers. Let them advertise them on a new board by the market boards. Maybe remove the selling fee percentage to incentivise private player shop selling over the market board. In a virtual world all these high level crafters should have something to shoot for beyond the next end game Tool and gear set. which in turn gives beginners the inspiration to being crafting themselves with their own dream to shoot for in game. Its probably never going to happen however since the audience of most mmos nowadays are so anti social in an ironic way but player ran shops is my most wanted Crafting change for Stormblood.

Thats not to say its the only thing to think about of course. We dont know if the cross class system changes will effect Crafters as well, which would mean almost all the crafting Macros might simply no longer be viable and for a brief time the number of HQ products will shrink as people rush to figure out the new winning formula to make the best items. Though maybe that might be something of a refreshing new expansion clean slate feeling for crafters who knows?

Personally i feel we may see more new Collectible style sub skills but i imagine the 1-50 baseline will remain the same as it ever has. Though i dont think we will see the return of crafter job gear sets ever again. They were nice flavour wise but took up so much space by the time you got all the jobs to lvl.50 and having one Ironworks set wasn't just space effective that saved a lot of Gil on Materia infusing to boot.

Beyond that i think its time to really look at what some jobs offer. Take Alchemist for example. When Deep Dungeons were announced players expected a huge boom in the production and sales of all kinds of potions and in the end the dungeons showered you with them for free. I havent crafted a potion since as i have 99 X or Mega Potions at all times thanks to running DD just to get the potshards and level alt Combat jobs to 50. That sucks. Its a cool job that supports a lot of other crafting jobs but seems to really exists at endgame just for 3 or 4 types of stat boosting potions for Savage raiding and little else. Why not give the jobs things to do differently? Perhaps Alchemists can make explosive potions you throw in combat for added damage? Or perhaps an 'oh shit' potion that makes you and your party invisible and drop out of combat in the world for a few seconds if you are fate farming in the max level zone and an agg train rolls in?
These are just ideas off the top of my head but you get the idea. Give crafters reasons to make items to keep in the inventory 'just in case' they could use them. It may be a balancing issue to ensure they arent OP enough to become mandatory or weak enough to be never used but making crafters feel like they have an impact beyond farming Gil at the Marketboard is something they could really use looking forwards.

 In terms of player identity and the notion of recognisable crafters i think an element FFXIV sorely lacks is some form of customisability on the crafters side. Why not tweak the system so a player made version of an item has "Made by Edgelord Adjectivenoun" in its description? or naming items? So two Blacksmiths could make a sword for a paladin but based on their skill the stats are different but so are the names? perhaps even letting you alter the colour using a dye? so while it is both technically the same sword made with roughly the same items the player adds their own twist to it. So if you get a purple NIN dagger set with a song lyric for a name and high crit you know it was made by a person and they gain a reputation for their wares?
Really give the player some pride to see players using their creations in town and out in the field. Right now its so ephemeral for everyone to make identical gear, throw it on the marketboard and see it turn into gil and thats that and back to the crafting menu again. Creations we care about, player reputations based on product quality and server communities are a way to make an already great crafting system even better!

Lastly, and i imagine this would not be that popular an idea, i would like to see more ideas worked into the 'well fed' system. I'll always look back in a "what might have been way" at an idea from the earliest days of WoW that was cut. Players would rest at campfires for buffs, make torches to light dark areas and eat to stay strong. Basic survival and nourishment systems that were really stripped back and largely forgotten. 
 But what if they weren't? Culinarians can make lots of different foodstuffs, Blacksmiths can make stoves, Carpenters and Botanists can get a campfire going. One of the comfiest feelings in FFXIV is settling down with a bag full of freshly farmed ingredients and cooking up lots of food as CUL or mixing up some items as ALC or working on desynthing some treasures as BSM. Imagine if they expanded on the idea of your characters resting and maintaining their health? Perhaps a food system where you starve and lose a percentage of stats and well fed that boosts your stats for a few hours? People could survive on buying lemons and bananas from the city vendors but those folks with high CUL or a FC friend who does could stay stronger for longer by eating more extravagant HQ meals. The demand for crafted items would increase e.g Sugar made by Alchemists or new pots and pans made by Smiths and the like. Systems like these would add more flavour to the world and really are no more intrusive than needing to spend gil to repair every few hours of combat or crafting.

I guess my big hope for Stormblood is just to use the Crafting jobs to add more flavour to the world and make it more like a real MMORPG like those shows i watched as a kid promised and less of a single player world where players are just passing each other by and never stopping to say helo and ask directions.

Maybe a hopeless thing to wish for, but a crafter can dream can't he?

Monday, 17 October 2016

Beyond Heavensward part 3: RDM and its possibilities

Fan Fest has come and gone and amongst all the reveals for Stormblood no bit of news has had people talking more than Yoshi P's shirt alluding to Red Mage being one of the jobs in the next expansion.
It could be a troll on his part and we are getting BLU or something instead but assuming RDM is soft confirmed the question remains: what kind of Red Mage will it be? because unlike jobs like Black Mage or Ninja RDM is a job that has had many incarnations in the Final Fantasies games and its spin offs. So lets take a look at a few possibilities for what could be the next Job you unlock in FFXIV!

Possibility #1: The "Vanilla" Hybrid. -  A true hybrid. Another Mage that uses a sword but still is largely based on rank 1 and 2 BLM and WHM spells. Listed in games past as a "Jack of All Trades, Master of None" but ultimately in MMORPG terms not really exciting enough to warrant the resources for balancing, designing and so on for what is always going to be 'the not as good at its job' Mage.
Likeliness: Not at all likely 

Possibility #2: The "Mix master" Hybrid. - Seen more often in spin offs an titles like Bravely Default/Second this from of Red Mage is similar to #1 however as well as using low level BLM and WHM spells they can combine them to make new options eg a Fire 2 which afflicts the enemies caught in the blast with a damage over time fire damage spell. Could be an interesting way to let players take what they know in a different direction. Though ultimately in terms of time spent vs output its again not different enough to be a new MMORPG job in a game with BLM and WHM already.
Likeliness: Not likely 

Possibility #3: The Swashbuckling Dandy. - Most fondly remembered from Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XI this form of Red Mage is a melee fighter. Using a Rapier, a Rapier and buckler or Dual swords this flavour of Red Mage is a swordsman with a musketeer meets colonial frontiersman theme. Fighting in close quarters and buffing/debuffing based on en spells currently used in game by all breeds of Beastman tribes this brand of Mage would still be using BLM/WHM spells but in different ways. Instead of casting Fire to damage an enemy you could cast En-Fire to light your rapier aflame and deal additional fire damage or use En-Water to increase your speed and add a hp regen. Still using the BLM/WHM spells in name but in an entirely different way. In previous talks about RDM Yoshi P stated "it will come should we ever add a support role" and assuming PS3 being dropped allows for far more engine updates its not impossible that BRD,MCH,RDM and others yet to be revealed could become a 4th role as support. With MCH being a ranged physical support and RDM being a close combat magical support.
Likeliness: Very LIkely 

Possibility #4: The Tanking Mage. - The wild card of the lot since most agree that if they ever add a Mage tank then BLU would take the role. Never the less the image of a rapier and buckler with limited healing and damaging magic does have the beginnings of a possible tank role for Red Mage instead. In FFXI a RDM with a NIN sub job became a popular tank build for solo'ing group content out in the world of Vanadiel and some are wondering if the same may happen again now to balance out another sword and board tank against the two two hand tanks and one sword and shield type we have now. A magic tank could be the breath of fresh air tanking needs however the team has said Samurai or Beast Master may be more likely to take the role next and as mentioned BLU inspired by characters like Raubahn feel like they could pull off the defensive up front mage far better.
Likeliness: Possible but not expected

 So thats the 4 possibilities doing the rounds right now. A lot of it based on assumptions of what the upcoming expansions 'combat system overhaul' will be but for we can only judge on what works in game, what roles are still unfilled and what doesnt overlap too much with others.
My personal opinion is that RDM is going for the Fencing support type and like NIN will be played less for straight DPS but for its utility it brings to a fight. Though bare in mind RDM was my first job in FFXI so with some experience of a FF MMORPG version of the job already working that may colour my expectations some what.

What are you expecting for RDM in Stormblood? New range? new role? or riding the Swashbuckler train right to the station?

We should know by the Japan Fan Fest but its always fun to speculate. Personally i cant wait, new Jobs are what brings me back time and again and i know i am not the only one.

Random 'King Crimson' reference here

-Which may also be a Vento Aureo reference, but in this case a little more of the RDM variety.

So. Stormblood. Its real. Its the expansion and it is coming in summer next year. Surprisingly still not for Xbox One, unsurprisingly however it is not coming to the Playstation 3. Square Enix is finally dropping support and as of the day of patch 4.0 attempts to load the game on PS3 systems simply will no longer work.
The good news however is from today till December 31st PS3 owners who have yet to upgrade will be able to do it now completely free of charge, including collectors editions. Which compared to Bungies "we will give you a bit of a discount but you need to give us more money" approach is very nice, though for a sub game i suppose it all evens out in the longrun.
Its a little sad to see the PS3 era end. To know the copy on my shelf is now just a disc with no use which is odd since i still have my "Vanadiel Collection" of FFXI and its first two expansions i can reinstall and play any time -for now at least- and it feels like the last vestiges of 1.0 are being put to rest in a way. Its officially a PS4 game now with a last gen version running on borrowed time for a few more months. Thats a strange feeling. Though with the PS3 hardware being around 12 years out of date it is a necessary thing. Last gen was the longest console generation in history and while graphics are entering a period of diminishing returns for increased polycounts the background numbers need more power to simply do more things and the PS3 was really holding the game back development wise, hell they are even suggesting you abandon 32 bit OS's on pc as well at this point. Hopefully this means bigger events, bigger areas and jut more freedom to add or change new systems.

Speaking of changing systems how about that "battle system overhaul" eh? half the internet thinks the games turning into Tera and the other half think its going back to FFXI like either of those will ever happen. Personally i think the dropping of the PS3 allowing for larger background changes means we are finally getting a 5th dungeon party slot for supports. Being BRD, MCH, RDM and maybe DNC. Since Yoshi P has mentioned RDM before and said "when we add support jobs" and lo and behold he made a big deal and taking off his hoodie and showing everyone his Scarlet Witch shirt this Fan Fest which isn't exactly the most subtle way of saying RDM confirmed as he did with a Batman shirt for DRK last time around. If RDM is support then at least 3 jobs could be considered as such which is equal to the number of current healers and could justify expanding the party system to incorporate a 4th role people have been desperate for since 1.0.
Beyond that all we know is that the Ui is now going to change 'based on Job' which may mean something similar to many UI mods for World of Warcraft that allow players to change their windows and menus to suit the theme of their class e.g a Druid has wooden looking windows with leaves around the border or something. Accuracy may be gone completely for Healers and cross jobs skills will now be a set list for each role to cut down on clutter and usless abilities. So if you are a tank you can select provoke wether you leveled up a Gladiator enough or not.

Part of this overhaul comes from the new level cap of 70. Which is gonna be a doozy if they increase the exp requirements too much, i still have 3 combat, 2 crafting and 1 gatherer below 60 and while not super hardcore im not exactly the most casual player either. Doing it all again is going to be a slog if it is a huge exp jump. Still with new levels comes new abilities and since this game is reportedly almost 50% PS4 users this raises concerns for button space on a Dual shock 4 to say the least. So they are taking a hard look at skills like featherfoot and armour piece to see if they would be better served as passives instead of an off GDC filler button that takes up space.
For those of us that came from WoW which became a victim of its own ability bloat leading to overzealous pruning, class homogenisation and extremely bare bones class identity by the time i and around 48% of the userbase quit all this news is a little worrying i'll admit. HW classes feel like they are in a good spot right now (even if i think PLD at any level is dull as can be) and the idea of a huge shake up is worrying since this happened a few times before in WoW and one day a class you loved would simply not play at all the same way anymore and it was no longer something you enjoyed playing which sucked to put it mildly. For now all we can do is wait and see.

Story wise its no surprise that this is a story heading into Ala Mhigo to help the Stormblood rebels fight off the Galean Empire. This time around the MNK job will be the focus as DRG was to Heavensward and so far we have seen a soft confirmation of Red Mage and some things suggesting Dancer and a hard confirmation of multiple jobs in the expansion. The new High Legatus enemy Zenos Yae Galvus suggests Samurai so thats also being talked about but i'm still on the fence with this one.
The new hub will be the Rhalgr's Reach which should sound familiar to anyone who levelled a MNK in ARR and looks like a larger, more ornate version of little Ala Mhigo where the forests of the Black Shroud and the deserts of Northern Thanalan/Paglth'an meet so right from the hub the choices of areas seem to be very north or south verdant or sandy in nature to choose. However the concept and live in game dev video showed areas of woodlands, swamps, deserts, mountains and sea. One image has been pointed out as bearing an uncanny appearance to the haunted woods from FFVI where players fought the Ghost Train which as you can imagine has players excited.

The new areas will be connected to Gridania via Gyr Abania and Bealsars Wall that has tantalised players since 1.0 will finally be breached leading into a swampy region that is now just as filled with Garlean constructions as Ala Mhigan ruins. The Garlean Empire has been in control for 20 years. Many have acclimated to them and the children dont know anything life but one under the heel of the Empires rule. The Stormblod revels however remember when Ala Mhigo was "The Shield of Eorzea" and want to route the Empire from their lands and retake their homeland for themselves and all the refugees stranded in Thanalan.
So basically what everyone expected really. Not exactly a huge surprise but a necessary step in the story and a chance to restore the human capital? i imagine Hyur players will be really engaged with this since i can't name another mmo where Humans have no land of their own to call home and i'm sure that resonates with the players.

Outside of the story and new Jobs we have Eureka, the Forbidden Land a more exploratory and 'jump in friendly' Diadem 2.0 with world bosses, Notorious Monsters and will possibly be used for the 3rd XIV Relic instead of grinding tomestones, which would be nice. To grossly understate it. Along with new Primals (Doomtrain and Magus Sisters are my guesses) and "At least as many zones as Heavensward" and flying is making a return along with the aether system used in Coerthas/Dravania.

Overall Fanfest gave a lot of announcements but not too much concrete information with Yoshi P stating "if i dont save some stuff for the JP and EU fanfests they will kill me" and promises a bunch of new reveals in live letters and even in game in the next two months. Personally i am thinking Yda will be given a more prominent role in Heavenswards final patches and Alisae will be revealed to be a Red Mage which naturally would raise the question "Red Mages are not Sharlayan Magicians so where in her travels over the last few years did she learn the art?" Perhaps she will introduce us in the next patch to the future RDM class trainer? or perhaps in XIV Red Mage are brand new and she is the first and will herself be our teacher?

Stormbloods reveal has left us with a lot of speculation and food for thought, but over the next couple of months a lot more infos going to come in, for now all the internet can do is speculate and wonder.

But thats always half the fun isn't it?

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Dawn of the Final Day.png

Its late Thursday night as i type this. The day before Fan Fest 2016. Where con flu will spread, Fat Chocobos will be mounted -hopefully unrelated events- and we will be hearing the announcement of version 4.0 of Final Fantasy XIV and the games second Expansion Pack.

At this point its half predictions and half very likely expectations. We know that Square Enix has trademarked the term "Stormblood" for something and with no new game announcements its looking as though this is our expansion title. We also know Ala Mhigo is the next big story hook as we will finally see the Human Capital which was not even in the 1.0 Version of the game after all these years. Aside from that however its all a blank slate and educated guesswork for tomorrow. So how about some late night, the night before the day after guessing games?

First off i think its safe to say Playstation 3 support is finished. It was intended to end at 3.0 and quite frankly it should have ended there. It sucks for PS3 owners i know but it has reached the point where the 12+ year old hardware inside the PS3 simply cannot deal with FFXIV. The consoles were freezing up as far back as Leviathan and World of Darkness, they were crashing at the Void Ark and from what i have heard recently the final Alexander fights simply hardlock the console entirely. The PS3 had a rocky start but its become a stellar console with an amazing library of games but it is simply too old. Its had one of the longest lifespans of videogame hardware in history and its just not capable of running things designed for large scale multiplayer content anymore. It could barely deal with single player games like Metal Gear Solid 5 by the end and things like Alexander Prime and Ozma are just too much. Even the "Magic of the Cell processor" could only keep up for so long and i believe 4.0 is the time we see Square Enix finally give up the ghost and retire the version for good. Which considering the ads on the Playstation Twitter for a FFXIV PS4 edition sale listed as "the perfect time to upgrade" right before the 4.0 reveal i think thats a telling sign that the PS3 support is coming to an end in the next few patches.

Next up we need to talk about classes. I've said before what i think will occur in terms of place fillers should the class to job system return but since then more and more interviews suggest it isn't going to happen. So even though i would love to see Conjurer get Geomancer so everyone has some offensive capabilities it sounds like thats not the case, so what do we expect in that scenario?
For one thing the roles suggest Dancer or a new job like Machinist. Simply because the only Job left other than Dancer that heals is Chemist and thats a little too close to Alchemist in this game. Therefore it makes sense that a new healer job in 4.0 must be Dancer or something new. In terms of role based predictions i am still confident this is the safe bet for healers.
As for other jobs a lot of the community are expecting Red Mage and Samurai. Personally i think Red Mage is a sound bet for tomorrow. We are getting a dps job, thats a given. Following Machinists physical ranged dps with a close range magical dps like the fencing variant of Red Mages is a perfectly logical choice that i would expect -and it was my first FFXI job so i would love to give it a try! but that said, and i know this is a band aid ripping off situation for many, i don't think Samurai is going to happen.
See heres the thing. Samurais are desired to the point it makes people crazy. Ever since 1.0 "S-samurais the next job!" has been the mantra and people have been so crazy for this job there have been dozens of faked screenshots suggesting its "coming in the next patch for real this time, swear on me mum!" and it never does. We have seen one Samurai in game from Doma and thats it. Not an order willing to impart skills like Ninja. One guy. Which granted is kind of the same as the Dragoon story in a way but on the whole feels to constrained. In your story YOU are the azure Dragoon but there are plenty of other Dragoons. Thus far there is one Samurai and thats it. Not exactly the start of a new trend sweeping Eorzea is it?
While they could always simply address this with "the rest of them are in Ala Mhigo with the resistance" the last patch suggests this is not the case and the left behind Ala Mhigans are barely hanging on and resisting the empire completely alone. So while it would be nice to be wrong (i main NIN like a good piece of weeb garbage filling the stereotype remember) i sincerely believe Samurai isn't happening. Not just for lore reasons but because half the people want a dual wield melee dps and the other half want a spear using tank and a lot of recent comments about no class to jobs because of the balancing mess of Scholar and Summoner makes me think Samurai wont be a class upgrade like Dragoon but its own thing and right now they can't do that without upsetting half the people going crazy for its addition so its still on the drawing board. Thats my guess at least.
Of course there are also more theories that "Stormblood" will have a more Viking inspired theme and as such Final Fantasy 3's dual wielding axe/hammer using tanky job the Viking will be making its reveal tomorrow.

So new jobs are expected, Ala Mhigo is expected and PS3 support being dropped is looking extremely likely. I guess the only other reveal is the last untouched frontier for the game: Will they finally sort out a deal to bring XIV to the Xbox One? if there was ever a place to announce it that would be here and with MS's current Xbone/Windows 10 cross play strategy it would make sense to bring it over, if only Microsoft could finally deal with the 'cross platform play' issue thats been holding it off for the last few years. Personally i'm no fan of the system for a lot of reasons but there were lots of FFXI players on Xbox 360 and they have been very vocal that it sucks to see Playstation consumers get the next online title in the series while they simply get a "Not right now" reply for over 4 years and counting.

So here we are. Tomorrow brings the Fan Festival and while tie in events to things like FFXV and the FFXII rerelease are to be expected the real bread and butter is 4.0 and i guess by this time tomorrow we will know if "Stormblood" is our next big adventure or not. Till then sleep tight Warriors of Light, its a big day tomorrow!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Three Thousand, Seven Hundred and Two.

3702. Thats a small number in terms of MMORPG playerbase numbers in any regard. Unless you are Wildstar i suppose. In XIV however thats pretty damn small. After all its the 2nd biggest sub MMORPG after World of Warcraft. Thats not small numbers is it? but in comparison 3702 certainly is.

See the census is in and if you happened to complete the Youkai Watch event, which has recently finished and its rewards can no longer be claimed, then you are one of 3702 players worldwide that has gotten that above pictured Neon Nightmare that is the Whisper A-Go-Go! mount. So yeah, savour that exclusivity i suppose.

You could wonder why but i think its rather obvious isn't it? It was the grind of it. People saw the increasing number of Legendary Youkai Medals required and the rough estimates of around 1700-2000 Fates to attain enough -personally i think it took me around 500 so either they upped rates or those estimates were waaaay off the mark- and people were simply scared away from it.

 That and it probably didn't help that Youkai Watch has been something of a dud in the West. At the time of writing the second game has been announced but compared to its "This could be the replacement for Pokemon!" reaction in Japan the western reception to Youkai Watch has been largely unnoticeable. It released to no fanfare or critical praise, review scores didn't exactly suggest anything groundbreaking and the sales were pretty low. Perhaps the roots in Japanese folklore being more prevalent than the Pocket Monsters more eased in folklore roots just has no appeal outside its native region? Regardless this was a tie in event for a game in the west that is already being forgotten as the 3DS reaches the end of its life cycle and Pokemon Sun and Moon is really the last big hurrah for the system and choosing between Youkai Watch 2 and that isn't going to be a hard choice for anyone under the age of like 30.

So thats the thing though right? Its not a Square Enix title, its not a title popular in the west and there must have been enough data from the Anima Relics at that point to suggest people at large have tired of the grind heavy nature of Heavenswards none story content. So why put it in at all for us? theres other regional things we have missed. Every MMORPG has them. For years completionists in WoW were haunted by the images of a Gold Pig pet on their forever incomplete pet lists from a China only Coca Cola promotion for example. Lots of events are region specific in online games. Hell back in my teens i was way into Maple Story and that actually had region specific zones! So why add Youkai Watch to western servers at all?

Simply put? Filler. Of course there is the fact that our server divides are a lot less important than other games where regions are locked and you must rebuy a different version of the game to play in different regions but even with that in mind i believe the event as a whole was not just an advertisement for a 3DS game that had long since released in Japan and somewhat bombed in the West. I think it was a good way to try and give players a time consuming activity in one of the largest dry periods in the game to date. Did it work though? ehh kind of. I breezed through getting the Minions in a weekend and then ended up getting a couple of weapons a week over two months after the fact. In objective terms all those fates got me a lot of exp. for alt Jobs i am still levelling and the insane number of Grand Company seals bought enough maguffins for multiple Hyperconductive Relic quests to be completed when the nerf hit.

I can't exactly say this was a fun experience however. It was basically equivalent to leveling Miner or Botanist for me. Throw on a podcast or a Lets Play video on my Laptop and watch/listen while mindlessly grinding enough fates hoping a coin would drop till i had enough and left it for a few days and then repeated till i was done. It wasn't exactly hard, or even that tedious. It was mediocre and inoffensive but ultimately not fun or that rewarding and i just did it because it was a dry spell and i am a completionist. Its over, i got one of 3702 copies of this mount and years from now people will say "dude where did that ridiculous mount come from?" and will probably sigh and make some comment about 'a lot of hours wasted thats where' and thats really all you get from this event. A few neat weapon Glamours aside that is.

Ultimately though i don't think i will miss this event like i have missed some of the others including the FFXIII ones and i cannot stand Lightning at all. Its over and i got all the rewards. Checklist complete right?

Though when its said and done the amount of people i saw regularly venting how "This has actually put me off buying Youkai Watch and i was planning to before this!" might be suggesting that this event may in fact have had the opposite of the desired effect for this brand exercise. Can't win em all i suppose.

Still with this out of the way and the Unidentified step nerfed the game is once again lacking a big grind outside of the Umbrite. Which just makes me worry whats in store for the next Relic stage. Thats a ways away though and for now i can relax and finish leveling up my last few crafters and combat jobs before the expansions over.

Till the next grind hits that is. Which i will complain about but i know i'll do it. Gotta chase that shiny carrot and all that.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Patch 3.4 - Soul Surrender trailer drops!

Now thats got me pumped for the next update! Granted its muh MMO of choice so i was regardless but this has me much more excited than i was for 3.3 which wasn't a bad patch but felt a little thin on things to interest me if that makes sense. Though granted 3.35 included a lot of stuff aimed for my kinda gameplay style. Still lets do the rundown!

-First off we see a hooded man in a mask rallying some Ala Mhigans at the Sunken Temple of Kharn, perhaps an Ascian trying to lure humans into summoning a new primal? Maybe Doomtrain or Eden? or maybe they are somehow involved in the final of the Warring Triads release in 3.5 or 3.6?
-Alexander finally wakes up. Hopefully we see some actual changes reflected in the Dravanian Hinterlands this time since even a step is supposed to 'drain the land of aether' as it moves. Perhaps pull a "Vale of Eternal Blossom" circa Seige of Orgimmar to use a WoW reference where a verdant land was ruined by a would be world conqueror that really upset the players and showed how they cared for the world. Inside however i dont see much of the changes they mentioned when they said "players arent as big a fan of steampunk as we thought so the final wing will be time travel based" unless perhaps thats reflected in the outside areas we dont see.
Still the fights all look great and it will be great to fight the 'true' Alex in his core but to see more brown and bronze its still a shame we got an Alexander that in my opinion artistically speaking doesnt gel with the themes of FFXIV and the FFIX or FF Type 0 Alexanders would have been far more inkeeping with the aesthetic. Perhaps this one will see a longer lifespan but i still get the feeling this doesnt mean a final Void Ark is how the expansion aids its raiding cycle. I foresee a one boss raid trial after all is said and done. Alex ending now leaving only a 'raid finder' raid to finish the expansion just feels strange.
-Apartments which will probably sell out in minutes as usual for housing. Cute locations that remind me of my FFXI days, but when i already have a small house in the Goblet i'm not gonna be a dick and buy up an apartment, gotta get those cold and tired Lalas off the streets!
-New Hairstyles including Gladiolus from FFXV that i could see a lot of femroes rocking if its not genderlocked for dat amazon warrior cred.
-New outfits and eehhh not really feeling these. Maybe the Ishgard Aesthetic has runs its course but after all this time getting very similar sets in terms of design and sillouette theory i'd like to see a return to some more traditional Final Fantasy looking gear. I can't remember the last time my Black Mage got a dyeable pointy hat outside of a raid or a tome vendor but it was probably lvl.50 content at the latest. I really hope we see more of an FFXI/FFIX inspiration in some 4.0 sets myself. These aren't bad at all but all starting to feel very samey.
-New dungeons! first up Xelphatol looks huge and foreboding but i expect more wind mechanic related rage ala Neverreap based on what we are seeing here. Interesting to see the Ixal Cheiftan summoning Garuda not unlike the Ultima Weapon did. Maybe its another instance of a beastman with an Echo related power like the Sahaghin Priest from the Leviathan storyline?
 And then we get one of my predictions for 4.0 a few posts back coming way sooner than i expected, Great Gubal Library hard mode, and boy does this look like a crazy number of bosses. It looks less like a story heavy instance and more another 'just for fun' dungeon like Hullbreaker Isle and i can't complain. Theres only so many times you can fight that Ymir fight without getting bored and wanting something new to tackle.
-Duels, so finally the "1v1 me bro!" audience has an outlet. Can't see it leading to much other than maybe some silly tournaments for gil in party finder but who knows?
-Hildibrands story continues, i found the last entry far better than the first for 3.1 which was honestly pretty lame. Hopefully we get to find out if Gigi really is a Time Mage to see if they are canon in this FF world.
-Garrison followers -duh i mean Adventurer Squadrons! Hopefully they end up a little more like the Trust NPC's of FFXI than WoW's infamously disliked system where you sent out npcs to do quests for you and it killed off the open world aspect of the game for many. Jurys out on this one till i get my hands on it but i am wary to say the least.
-Palace of the Dead floors 51-200 i am honestly surprised this is coming so soon but like i said just the other day its inoffensive optional content you can dump some hours into for an instant que that doesnt rely on the 'holy trinity system' theres no reason to complain about more of it, especially if we get some more story from it especially!
-Sophia the Goddess, Containment Bay P1T6 and man thats a cool looking boss. Lotta Yunalesca vibes from this one and its not like they have added a bad primal fight yet so i can't wait.
-and we end with the Main Story questline which seems to be revisiting the older primals so perhaps Xelphatol has a tie into the warriors of darkness AND the Ala Mhigo storylines? perhaps this is what ties it all together to set up 4.0? either way this was some interesting stuff to mull over. Still not sure on just who the Warriors of Darkness are. I have a few theories but i'm still guessing till the day it releases like everyone else. Its just nice to be back to crystals, primals and ascians again after the months of dragons and goblins!

All in all this looks like a really solid patch and i havent been this excited for an update for a while. A new raid, new dungeons, new story, more deep dungeon and we still havent seen things like the journal we are working on with the Miqo'te girl yet. This time of year is also getting close to the seasonal events too -and i LOVE Halloween events in MMOs especially!- so there is going to be lots of fun stuff to do when this drops at the end of the month. See you in Eorzea then!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Down into the Deep Dungeon they.. Dove? Dived? whatever!

I've spent a while thinking about what to write about the Deep Dungeon experience in FFXIV. Mostly over how my past experiences in other games means my opinion may be a very extreme minority in terms of likes and dislikes over the additional gameplay mode. Does it invalidate my opinion? not really but i wonder how many people i would actually be recommending it to in the long run.

See its like this. Another game i own on PS4 besides FFXIV is Bloodborne by Fromsoftware. Bloodborne is one of my favorite games of all time. When you have been playing games for nearly 3 decades thats no small feat to achieve, especially when my reaction to modern games is a resounding 'meh' 9 times out of 10. Why am i mentioning Bloodborne? Well you see there is something Bloodborne did that no other game in the 'souls series' of games did. It added a new area separate to its interconnected quasi open world. A place where the game randomly generated a small series of interconnected caves and tunnels full of random enemies and a number of unique bosses to fight to farm for certain items designed to be repeated again and again. They called it "The Chalice

Sound Familiar?

 So heres the thing. I loved the chalice dungeons. But i have never ever heard of anyone else who has. Not one. ever. Now when i saw Deep Dungeon being announced everyone else was referencing systems from FFXI but right away i went "hey. This is the Chalice Dungeons again. Sweet. Everyones gonna hate this." because the repetitive, farm heavy nature of the Chalice Dungeons actively killed any love a lot of people had for Bloodborne.
Now i wasn't expecting it to ruin XIV for anyone but i was really not expecting people to like it and personally i can say i have seen a fair few 235 Glowey weapons out in the world (and i've got a fair few ready for the Jobs i have yet to hit 60 on for an easy boost) but i can't really say thats a sign of it being enjoyed it might just be an easy weapon for players who dont want to do the Relic and are not a fan of farming Primals either. I can say i'm one of two people on my server dumb enough to grind for the mount however so take from that what you will. But Shiva EU is a pretty laid back server in terms of chasing the carrots in most regards.

So baring in mind that my own opinion may not represent mosts on this sort of gameplay what did i think of Deep dungeon? simply put there is not enough of it and i am glad thats being rectified in future, but for now the amount of content is an adequate timesink, but as a Lore nut they really did not deliver on the final Edda story i wanted but the ending at least was a touching end to a character whos kind of been on their own journey since our own began 3 years ago now. Still i wanted more of her, more dialogue, more development and more Cutscenes. She watches us on each floor then shows up to be the "Black Bosomed" boss with one mechanic to watch -or not as the case may be- and she says she was controlled before her spirit moves on for good. Leaving the player sad, unsatisfied and slightly creeped out wondering if the little ahriman thing on her shoulder was a withered version of her 'Husband' or if they managed to produce some form of offspring that will want revenge later.
 Its always a good thing for a dev to leave the player screaming for more but still i wanted more story given the mode than the level we got which is less than the Golden Saucer or PVP which really, really sucks. Edda was a really interesting character even if she is at her base just the Japanese 'Yandere' stereotype really but i wanted a more fleshed out end to her than we got.

Story isn't for everyone though so in terms of gameplay? pretty solid actually. The traps are suitably annoying, the enemy placement can range from faceroll to "oh shit i turned a corner into the wrong neighbourhood and theres a dozen dragons in this room!" and in general every mechanic works perfectly. The leveling balances the floors out and makes them play differently and is also a good way to learn a new job and set up that hotbar before you even get past lvl.15. The Aetherpool gear makes it a fun risk vs reward with the Silver Chests that may be mimics and the various items that effect a floor are something i have never experienced in an mmo before and thats always a good thing.
Compound all this by the most important factor: No holy trinity. You can -and i have- done all dps runs, all healer runs and all tank runs. Sometimes its a 10 floor all dps run with no heals bar potions and the one Monk self heal you can cross class or cure/physick and nothing else. It can be tense and strategic. Repeating the same 10 as all heals can be easy in terms of risk but you also have to deal with the very real time limit. All tanks can be a healthy mix of the two but make bosses a joke if you save a Succubus morph item. Its never really the same experience. You could get one Bard and 3 Astrologians, all Monks or nothing but melee which really sucks on higher floor pulls.
 Essentially its the most mixed bag experience Final Fantasy XIV can provide which can be awful and can be amazing. Which basically sums up my general opinion of the experience in the grand scheme of things. Its a mixed bag. Some will love it, some will hate it. Some will breeze through it and others will have a terrible time. It really is an mmoprg experience that is so basic in design but can lead to so many different kinds of experiences and little touches like the FF5/6 style character UI's are really charming and thats how i would sum it up really. Its a charming experience. You wont play it as your endgame. But it showed up in a patch one day, i had fun and its there whenever you want that kind of experience again. I would recommend it though it absolutely isn't going to be fun for everyone. Though in any good MMORPG what is without suffering from hyper homogenisation in this day and age?

All in all look forward to the extra floors and i hope we get some armour glamour out of it along with new traps and items.

Only maybe not just glowing white models next time eh?

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Beyond Heavensward part 2: More dungeons, less Dragons.

 There will be new dungeons in 4.0. Thats no great leap in prophetic deduction its going to happen. But two questions persist regardless: What should change and what Hard Modes will it bring? Mechanics wise i believe there is a simple change people are asking for and thats Extreme Mode dungeons. Folks don't want to organise a raid group for harder content and doing the same Primal or Trial for a quarter of a year gets old eventually. But a new tier of 4 man content? thats an idea with legs. Its a natural part of the FFXIV life cycle now that max level dungeons come out and eventually it will reach the point a year down the line that players have their gear scaled down to try and keep it a challenge and that is debatable if it works at all to begin with. However there is still a point where better gear means the difficulty becomes none existent and its just a repetitive act of dodging aoes and doing the stance dance just for the roulette rewards and thats a soulless exercise.
 So naturally the answer is Extreme Dungeons that increase the difficulty for a group past a certain gear threshold. Maybe keep the loot the same or change its colour but give more tomes at the end? it doesn't even have to be a story sequel/continuation rather than an option to keep endgame dungeons relevant when level scaling cannot be employed? We all reach the point regardless of skill level where we crave a greater challenge when we can faceroll our way through content to the point mechanics can be ignored or outright out dps'ed by the party. Thats not fun, just an expeditious way to farm tomestones. Thus my prediction for dungeons is an extreme mode roulette replacing the current max tier content dungeon when you reach a certain item level, perhaps include a stone sky sea test or some sort or a rework of the hall of the novice almost in the vein of World of Warcrafts Proving Grounds system that tests you for your role? This gives people more challenges without needing to make new dungeons or shoe horn another 24 man alliance raid in too soon between raid tears which might make the 8 mans stay relevant to casual pick up groups for longer?
My second prediction would be options/routes in dungeons. In HW they added more "heres a treasure if you want to risk another mob pull for it" with marketplace approved Minions up for grabs. Compound this with the added the concepts behind places like Deep Dungeon and Aquapolis with their 'choose your own path to endgame' i expect this ethos to show up in Dungeons as well. Because lets be honest one problem with games like FFXIV and the games it borrows from like World of Warcraft in particular is linear dungeons. So with so many dungeons already having "kill mob for key to unlock a door to progression" mechanics why not give the player a branching path? perhaps one leads to a mage boss and the other a magitek war machine? perhaps one has less mobs but more environmental hazards?
 Eventually the userbase would figure out an optimum route and then you could argue it then becomes as linear as it is now and would waste resources but then isn't that the entire design ethos behind Hard Mode dungeon layouts to begin with? I imagine its not as likely as Extreme Mode Dungeons but i think this may also be a way we see a dungeon shake up.
 My third and final expectation is an increase in dungeons not tied to the main story questline. We have seen already that 3.0 put beginners off by being so MSQ mandatory and when people crave variety this seems like a poor gating mechanics even if you love the story like i do. So i believe things like Neverreap were the beginnings of some dungeons completely unrelated to the main story. After all we are seasoned adventurers right? surely if there was a dungeon style event unconnected to our 4.0 quest we would still be called upon to help right? I imagine there will be more Haukke manor "out in the woods" dungeons in 4.0 that will be optional to find and will not lock you out of the roulette. Perhaps with their own side stories, perhaps they show up in the random selection but if you go there and get the quest you get some glamour gear for the trouble? It would really feel more like you are being rewarded for exploring and not just sticking to the rails of your themepark ride and with things like Deep Dungeon being a new example of "because its there" questing and adventuring thats proved very popular i can see this impacting the choice in some Dungeon placement and access in the leveling process for 4.0

But of course new dungeons are not the only given in FFXIV are they? There also comes new Hard Mode dungeons that see the Adventurers revisit an older dungeon where time and the story have progressed in your absence and either directly or indirectly your actions have lead to new tenants moving in and setting up shop for you to deal with. So as well as looking forward we must also look back at what places shall we revisit in 4.0? here are my predictions:

The Aery Hard Mode

Why: Why indeed. The Dragonsong War is over right? Nidhoggs gone and theres no story left untold here right?
 Not entirely. You ever pay attention to the final area of this Dungeon? Ever stop before heading up the final ramp and avert your gaze from the looming loot pinata and look down?
 Probably not but if you have you would notice that the bare depths of the Aery are in fact a layer cake of Allagan technology right out of Azys Lla and that is never brought up in the story, has nothing to do with the dungeon and remains an untapped vein of possible dungeon story. Because we have seen that kind of tech in two places. The Binding Coil that was contained in Dalamund and in Azys Lla where Tiamat is imprisoned and a currently unused floating installation named a "biohazard containment unit" filled with parts of dragons in tanks of fluid. Who is currently chasing such tech? The Garlean Empire. With Niddhogs brood dispersed and the Aery now abandoned it is the perfect place for Allagan tech hungry Legion treasure hunters to avoid the adventurers and Scions in Azys Lla and attempt to capture some tech that its fair to say the Dragons, The Ishgardian people and the Scions would not want to see them get a hold of. Of all the Heavensward Dungeons i believe this is the one most likely to be revisited in a future Hard Mode story.

 The Aetherochemical Research Facility Hard Mode

Why: This again is a dungeon that seems to have run its course with its story exhausted and no possible hooks left until you go back and look at what actually happens in the dungeon.
 Remember the second fight? the transforming boss in the Bioweapons Testing facility? most players assume it is just a dormant weapon not shipped out for use that you accidentally wander into. However take a look at its often ignored dialogue. When it transforms into a Cobra it states "Testing Anti Cobra capabilities" which doesnt makes sense for a Cobra to be doing that. It does however make sense if it is in fact your 'Anti Cobra Capabilities' being tested. The boss is not a Bio weapon, it is the machine that tests the products viability before approving the product created in the labs before it.
 So you defeat the boss and if you stop to notice its dying words instead of rushing for the elevator it says the following: Combat abilities - Outstanding. Approved for mass reproduction and again if this was talking about the boss it wouldn't make sense. It just lost the battle and clearly is not the 'Outstanding' product here. You are. You have just been approved for Mass reproduction in a facility which immediately after this area shows it has Allagan cloning facilities. You were so busy chasing after the Ascians and trying to stop Thordan you fail to notice this ancient facility has recognised your combat prowess and has began mass cloning of you and your party. You defeat the Ascians, King Thordan and the Knights of the Round and leave the facility. In the Dark. Unmanned. Chugging along and starting up those cloning machines ready to make a new martial force for a war long since ended and forgotten. The warriors of light are being mass reproduced here, unknown to the world and eventually they will make their presence known and who else can be called in to put them down or reason with them?
 Just a theory mind you. However that dialogue is there for a reason. I think Yoshi has plans for this facility and Azys Lla to be used again, its story is not over yet.

The Great Gubal Library

Why: So far each new wave of Hard Modes has seen a "Because why not?" dungeon chosen less for lore reasons and more because Yoshi's team want to have some fun with an idea. In terms of the Heavensward Dungeons i can think of no more obvious candidate than the Great Gubal Library dungeon.
 A colossal repository of knowledge and unexplored corridors and secret passages could house any number of demons, magical tomes and if they take some more FFV inspiration even some ancient technology far more advanced than the Empires Magitek waiting to be woken up by explorers taking a wrong turn down its labyrinthian corridors.
 Very few lore reasons for this one but i can't see the team giving up another chance to visit a place like this, perhaps to looks for more information to heal Yshtola or save Minfilia from the Lifestream?

Dzemael Darkhold Hard Made

Why: With the Heavenward dungeons covered you must also look back to the A Realm Reborn dungeons that did not get any love in 2.0 or 3.0 in terms of revisits and the first dungeon that springs to mind is the winding caves and demon infested pits of the House Dzemaels forsaken mining complex in Coerthas Central Highlands.
 We have cleared the Aurumn Vale of its monster infestation, helped the Ishgardians retake the Stone Vigil but in this instance we merely took out the strongest demons we cold find in what corridors we could explore. However this is a massive complex and as we pass through the largest open areas we can see multiple bridges and pathways we cannot currently access leading even deeper into the complex. We never solved the source of the problem in this Dungeon. We cleared the strongest monsters and the corrupted Crystals but what was corrupting them? did it leave? or is it waiting for us deeper in the dark?

Snowcloak Hard Mode

Why: One of the few places never truly explored upon in 2.0 onwards was the area of Coerthas inhabited by the Gigas Beastmen, the tribe that worships Shiva as their patron Primal. With Ysayle and her Heretics gone and no forces left to attempt to resummon Shiva to help fuel Zodiarks birth into the realm outside the void its a given the Ascians will once again return to driving the Gigas to summoning their Primal once again. With the Snowcloak remaining one of the few other pre 3.0 dungeons never revisited and its gorgeous theme and music only remaining relevant as part of the stage 2 anima relic step it makes sense that Snowcloak returns as a Hard Mode in 4.0 as the Ascians teach the Gigas to summon a very different Shiva than the Moggle Mog style interpretation/idea conjured up by 'Lady Iceheart' in the Heart of Ice content patch of ARR.

These are just my rough predictions for dungeons in 4.0 but the only way we know is when Yoshida and the team reveal them, perhaps at fan fest or maybe not till the expansions release. Till then all we can do is play the guessing game, but its fun to do while we wait eh?


 Well i've already spoken myself about the extreme rarity of current end stage Anima Relics in the wild and i am not alone. It finally looks like SE themselves have decided to put out a fix to this and given by the extreme nerfs to the gathering stage requiring Unidentified maguffins it looks like the numbers on their end for finished Relics must have been very low indeed. Heres the fixes coming in 3.38 straight from the Lodestone:

Unidentifiable Bone and Unidentifiable Shell can now also be purchased in exchange for Allagan tomestones of esoterics or Allagan tomestones of law.
Unidentifiable Ore and Unidentifiable Seeds can now also be purchased in exchange for Allagan tomestones of poetics.
The number of tomestones required to purchase the following items has been adjusted:

ItemBefore After
Unidentifiable Bone680 Allagan tomestones of poetics300 Allagan tomestones of poetics
Unidentifiable Shell680 Allagan tomestones of poetics300 Allagan tomestones of poetics
Unidentifiable Ore680 Allagan tomestones of law300 Allagan tomestones of law
680 Allagan tomestones of esoterics300 Allagan tomestones of esoterics
Unidentifiable Seeds680 Allagan tomestones of law300 Allagan tomestones of law
680 Allagan tomestones of esoterics300 Allagan tomestones of esoterics

The number of Allied Seals required to purchase Unidentifiable Bone and Unidentifiable Seeds has been reduced from 1,000 to 300.
The number of items required to exchange for the following items has been adjusted:

ItemItem RequiredBefore After
Unidentifiable BonePrecision Gordian Bolt103
Unidentifiable ShellPrecision Gordian Lens103
Unidentifiable OrePrecision Gordian Spring103
Unidentifiable SeedsPrecision Gordian Shaft103

The number of items required in exchange for Unidentifiable Bone, Unidentifiable Shell, Unidentifiable Ore, and Unidentifiable Seeds from beast tribe vendors has been adjusted as follows:

Beast TribeBefore After
Amalj'aaSteel Amalj'ok x13Steel Amalj'ok x3
KoboldTitan Cobaltpiece x13Titan Cobaltpiece x3
SahaginRainbowtide Psashp x13Rainbowtide Psashp x3
SylphSylphic Goldleaf x13Sylphic Goldleaf x3
Vanu VanuVanu Whitebone x18Vanu Whitebone x6
GnathBlack Copper Gil x18Black Copper Gil x6

The following items can now be purchased in exchange for Grand Company seals:

ItemTypeRequired SealsRank
Adamantite FrancescaMiscellany5,000Second Storm Lieutenant
Titanium Alloy MirrorMetal5,000Second Storm Lieutenant
Dispelling ArrowMiscellany5,000Second Storm Lieutenant
KingcakeMeal5,000Second Storm Lieutenant

Order of the Twin Adder
ItemTypeRequired SealsRank
Adamantite FrancescaMiscellany5,000Second Serpent Lieutenant
Titanium Alloy MirrorMetal5,000Second Serpent Lieutenant
Dispelling ArrowMiscellany5,000Second Serpent Lieutenant
KingcakeMeal5,000Second Serpent Lieutenant

Immortal Flames
ItemTypeRequired SealsRank
Adamantite FrancescaMiscellany5,000Second Flame Lieutenant
Titanium Alloy MirrorMetal5,000Second Flame Lieutenant
Dispelling ArrowMiscellany5,000Second Flame Lieutenant
KingcakeMeal5,000Second Flame Lieutenant

The number of items required in exchange for the following items has been adjusted:

ItemBefore After
Enchanted RubberUnidentifiable Bone x20
Adamantite Francesca HQ x4
Unidentifiable Bone x10
Adamantite Francesca 
Fast-drying CarboncoatUnidentifiable Shell x20
Titanium Alloy Mirror HQ x4
Unidentifiable Shell x10
Titanium Alloy Mirror
Divine WaterUnidentifiable Ore x20
Dispelling Arrow HQ x4
Unidentifiable Ore x10
Dispelling Arrow
Fast-acting Allagan CatalystUnidentifiable Seeds x20
Kingcake HQ x4
Unidentifiable Seeds x10

 So yeah. Dang. All of a sudden making us grind all those fates for Youkai Legendary Medals seems a lot more welcome when you realise 10 days of ARR dailies and 80k seals will get you a once major pain in the ass grind in just over a week of extremely casual play. So my advice is start on the ARR beast tribes now and check your normal quality Kingcake equivalents before they skyrocket in price on patch day. Though naturally they will become worthless a fortnight later with undercutting being the name of the game but if you want that step done easy on multiple relics it doesnt hurt to prepare.

Personally i'm like 2 unidentified's away from my DRK relic clearing this stage, i guess this just means my DRK and BRD Relics will be completed on the same day. It still leaves the umbrite stage and its massive eso grind to complete it but if you want a unique model and dont want to farm the also nerfed Alexander weapons now this is a ridiculously easy way to get dat purple weapon slot filled.
 To be honest it almost seems like too much of a nerf, but considering Yoshi has just been talking about 4.0 being "ahead of schedule" this really cements the "we are about to start the final third of Heavensward and begin the final act of the expansion" feeling thats been building lately. This is a catch up to ensure this expansion doesnt remain "The one nobody got a relic outside the JP servers in" and i imagine we will see a LOT of Deep Dungeon weapons getting a new glamour after this and at least a minor decrease in que times as more players get on the Umbrite train to boot.

All in all the weapons for this step are kind of outdated by now, but its getting players up to the current step in days rather than over a month of none stop work per job, which hopefully gives people something to do in a pretty quiet period for the expansion with 3.4 estimated to be dropping the last week of next month at its earliest. Folks are bored and a legendary weapon becoming easier to get might just be the thing to pad up numbers again in a time when they are in their typical summer time low.

Hopefully the experience taught the team a lesson in how giant tomestone farms are a huge put off for their western audiences, i got mine because i am a crazy person. The majority however simply did not bother and content not bothered with is content wasted in my opinion.

Maybe they can look back to the Trial of the Zodiac Braves and new systems like the Hunt or Deep Dungeon to revitalise the Relic system in its next and possibly final installment for Heavensward?