So in exploring all the content of Patch 4.1 one thing has surprised me by how i have enjoyed it. Namely the new Squadron activities. I remember back in HW Squadrons were a chore us completionist's did to unlock the new rank and then most never touched it again. It was boring. It felt pointless. That isn't quite the case anymore. A quick visit to your Squadron hall will show you dont just send them on missions like a bad clone of WoW's infamously bad Garrison Quest system. You can join them and run dungeons almost like fighting with trust NPC's in FFXI. As well as customising their appearance.
Two positives immediately spring to mind with this. First people afraid to even try healing or tanking in an mmo can now try it without that stress and anxiety of 'letting down the other players' that puts so many off leaving them stuck only in dps jobs forever. Second adding customisation and glamour makes these characters feel connected to you like your retainers. You could even argue now they are even moreso your allies than the retainers were as personalities. My conjurer Cecily is easily my strongest Squad member and is leveling and unlocking masteries fast. This makes me want to give her a cool glamour and take her on more runs. Thats a level of npc party interaction that feels more offline final fantasy in some ways and considering the state of single player final fantasy games right now thats a really neat thing.
So far i've done more Command Missions than dungeons and i hope they add more things to do. Hopefully they one day make them into full Trust NPCs and you can take them out into the world with you instead of your chocobo. Theres always the sincere worry of npcs killing the mmo aspect but as long as they are not part of endgame or simply max difficulty content of any expansions level caps they are really just your own final fantasy party unique to you and now thats all the more so true when you can actively customise them.
Sure they are still a little dumb but for a side minigame this has a lot more legs than Chocobo Racing or Lords of Verminion had even from the outset. Hopefully we get some fun stuff to do with them thats unique in future. Like maybe redesign guildhests so two players and two npcs can team up or something? let you show off your Squaddies you worked hard on to others or something?
Either way its been a pleasant surprise in a very good patch i'll talk about after i've done all the content but for now they took a subsystem nobody cared about and made something fun out of it.
Maybe they should have called it 'a Squadron Reborn' instead? :p