FFXIV: Version 3.3 Update

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Since completing my post on Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, Square Enix has released the anticipated 3.3 patch. For many players, 3.3 was expected to be a much needed shot in the arm for a game that has slowly been slipping into a lull. So, what all is included in the 3.3 patch? Let’s take a brief look:

*This patch adds new content that continues the main scenario (Heavensward) story line, and makes a adjustments to previous main scenario quests.

*New misc quests added and adjustments to existing quests (Including a new category of daily Beast Tribe quests)

*New Raid added: The Weeping City

*Two new Dungeons, and new trials added.

*Adds a new tier to the Anima Weapon progression

*A new “treasure hunt dungeon” the Aquapolis.

*More Player Housing zones added, new furniture items added and a new “Flower Pot” system introduced.

*New items and mini-game adjustments, new player hairstyles and emotes.

*New “RaidFinder” system added.

*New PVP System “Shatter”

*Misc fixes, balance adjustments, and UI updates

Wow! That’s quite a lot of content. Sadly, one of the announced features that I was most looking forward to, was not included in this update (The Undead Dungeon), so I supposed I’ll have to wait a little long for 3.35 before I can sink my teeth into that one. But aside from that, this was my experience with the 3.3 update:

I played through all of the new main scenario and misc quests in about three days. This includes the new dungeons and trials. By the 5th day I had completed the new raid. Despite having cleared a majority of the new content already, the rewards provided by these new additions certainly make the very re-playable. It’s easy to see that the Heavensward story is quickly coming to a close. I expect soon that SE will make an announcement regarding the next expansion. Once that occurs, I only expect a couple more major patches for 3.x.

All in all, I give this patch a rating of:   B

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Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

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Almost two years after the release of A Realm Reborn, Final Fantasy XIV received it’s first official expansion: Heavensward. This expansion focuses on the long talked-about, but never before accessible Kingdom of Ishgard. Ever since the earliest days of 1.x, players had been clamoring to explore and experience this area, only to have their hoped squashed by the failure of the original game.  Well, finally with release of Final Fantasy XIV 3.0 – the gates to Ishgard were thrown open.

With this new city-state was a plethora of new open-world zones to explore. Including one area that was previously accessible in FFXIV 1.x, but not seen in A Realm Reborn. Aside from new areas, there was a whole new slew of dungeons, raids, side quests, and main scenario missions to undertake. The storyline of Heavensward picks up right where main scenarios of 2.x end. In fact, none of the content from this expansion is available to players until they complete all of the 2.x storyline. (with exception of a new playable race –  but more on that later)

This expansion also increased the maximum level cap from 50 to 60 and introduced a new class of flying mounts for players to use in the Heavensward areas.

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As the name suggests, a big focus of Heavensward is the theme of flying and flight. Aside from flying mounts and open-air zones, SE also added the ability for player-owned Free Companies to build their own Airships. Ships can be sent off on exploratory missions, or used to reach a new large-scale battlefield zone known as: The Diadem.

Also, an MMO expansion just wouldn’t be complete without the addition of new playable classes… or more specifically jobs. That’s right, Heavensward introduces three new jobs, but unlike all other jobs in the game so far, these are not directly tied to character class. The new jobs are: Dark Knight (tank class), Astrologian (healer class), and Machinist (ranged-dps class). Also, interestingly enough, these jobs start at level 30 instead of level one. (A move seen in other games such as World of Warcraft)

As mentioned earlier, there is also a new playable race in Heavensward: The Au Ra. This is a race of scaled, horned humanoids, that some believe to share ancestry with dragons. A player who owns the expansion can create an Au Ra character from the beginning, while current players wishing to keep their current progress can use a “Fantasia potion” to change their existing character.

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I have to admit, that I was initially VERY excited for this expansion. I plowed through the 3.0 content in a matter of days. Only to find myself, at the end of it, feeling somewhat shorted. Yes, there was a great amount of new storyline content to be had – but once it was all said and done, it felt like I had hit a brick wall. There was really nothing new to explore at that point. The 3.1 patch that came out a few months later did little to rekindle my excitement. In fact, around December of 2015, I actually found myself canceling my FFXIV subscription for the very first time. It seemed that while Heavensward did deliver on everything it promised, it turned out that it’s promises were not really all that exciting to begin with. At least, that’s how I felt after conquering all of it. The post-expansion lull hit HARD.

At the time of this writing, Heavensward has reached version 3.2. This most recent version update added a new tier to the Heavensward-exclusive raid “Alexander”, as well as some of large quality of life improvements for new players. I resubbed to check out this patch and I’m happy to report that I’ve been more than pleased. I can’t quite put my finger on it… maybe it’s some of the new content or maybe I just needed a break – but coming back I’ve found myself engaged and having a wonderful time. I’m anxiously awaiting the new upcoming PVP content and looking forward to seeing where the game goes from here.

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Now, for the first time ever since I started this blog, I have to decide how I’m going to handle reporting on future updates to FFXIV… You see, up until now, I’ve always been playing catch up. reviewing things after the fact. But with the publication of this overview, I find myself actually current in a living, breathing game world.  Waiting for each new expansion, than playing for six months before reporting on it is not very exciting…

So, after giving this a little thought, I’ve decided that I’ll be making a post for each content patch that the game receives. Then adding a link to these posts to the FFXIV Hub article. That way, I can stay up to date with the game – yet still keep a link to all the information in a single place. So… stay tuned to future updates.

Patch 3.3      Patch 3.4    Patch 3.5

FFXIV Hub

** Final Fantasy XIV  (1.x)  –    A Realm Reborn  –    Heavensward   –  Stormblood **

Final Fantasy XIV: 1.X

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Having been an avid fan of Square Enix’s first MMO; Final Fantasy XI, I remember the excitement that everyone in the community felt when the announcement was made for Final Fantasy XIV. The next generation massive multiplayer Final Fantasy title. Having long been rumored, SE finally confirmed it’s existence and upcoming release. To say I was excited, was an understatement.

Lorewise, the game takes place in a land known as Eorzea. Eorzea is the home to four major nation-states (three of which can be starting areas for new players). On the outskirts of Eorzea lies the Garlemald Empire. In terms of the game’s story, the Empire has slowly been conquering neighboring realms, and fear hangs heavy that they will soon push their invasion into Eorzea itself. This certainly seemed like an interesting set up. It was a world I was excited to learn and explore.

FFXIV was built using the Crystal Tools engine, the game engine that powered Final Fantasy XIII, so graphically it was going to be leaps and bounds above FFXI. Also, the developers promised that XIV would be more casual-friendly and less grindy. Yet, the game would cater to XI players, in that the in-game races available during character creation would favor those previously seen in XI. (This way, a player could “re-create” the look of their old XI character if they chose to do so.) The races of FFXIV, while similar to FFXI, have different names. These are as follows:

Hyur – A human-like race.  (Essentially the Hume of FFXI)

Elezen – A tall, elvish like race  (similar to the Elvaan of FFXI)

Roegadyn – A stout, but hardy race – Playable as male only (similar to the Galka from FFXI)

Miqo’te – A catlike humanoid – Playable as female only (similar to the Mithra of FFXI)

Lalafell – A short, cute humanoid race (Similar to the Taru Taru of FFXI)

The game was slated for release on the PC. A PS3 version would be coming shortly after release. XIV would feature a new system for character progression, a new class system that allows players to change character class on the fly, a new quest system, a new imaginative form of crafting, a seamless world, etc. It seems that SE was finally starting to listen to their fans…. except, not really.

When Final Fantasy XIV was first released, it became obvious very quickly that there was a problem. First of all, at release day, there was a shockingly little amount of content. In the entire game, there was only a handful of main scenario quests and a small number of class-related quests. The new “Levequest” system touted by SE as being one of the cornerstones of the game was clunky and restrictive. With players only able to take on a small number of quests per day. As a result it was largely ignored. Players resorted to the old time-tested method to grinding to gain experience points. Only to find that SE had quietly implemented a experience point throttle to slow down players who were leveling their characters too quickly.

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Other complaints included concerns about the combat system, as well as the overall world design and server stability. Players also complained in droves about lag in the UI and a convoluted/overly-difficult player market system. As the weeks went on, the situation only got worse. It was so bad, that SE actually asked the media to please refrain for posting reviews of the game until they could roll-out the first big post-release patch.  Sadly, this patch did little to address the majority of player concerns.

The playerbase fell dramatically in the weeks immediately following release, with most players not renewing their subscriptions at the end of the free-30 days. I have to admit, even though I love Final Fantasy games with a passion. FFXIV was shaping up to be a total mess. As a concession, Square Enix apologized profusely and suspended charging subscription fees while they worked on addressing play concerns. But as more weeks came and went, no relief was seen.

Eventually, a major announcement was made. SE had essentially fired the original producer and replaced him with a new face, Naoki Yoshida. A man, that the community would come to affectionately call “Yoshi P”. The first thing that Yoshi P did, was take as the players to participate in a number polls and questionnaires. I participated and I remember seeing questions like “Would it be acceptable to radically change the core battle system for the game?”. When you start talking about doing things like replacing entire core-game mechanics, you know things are about to get interesting.

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When it was all said and done, Yoshi P did one of the ballsiest things I have ever seen in the gaming industry. This man, who was hired to FIX a broken game, went before his superiors and told them: “Your game is so broken, it cannot be repaired. If you want me to fix this mess, you will have to provide me with the budget and resources to rebuild it from the ground up.”  This statement, uttered in any American game company would have immediately signaled the death and write off of the title as a whole. But perhaps, due to cultural differences and Japanese pride, SE agreed. Thus began the road to Final Fantasy XIV 2.0.

The announcement was made to the public, that the entire game was going to be scrapped and recreated using a completely new game engine. What normally takes nearly 10 years in research and development would be escalated and delivered within a mere two years. In the meantime, a special team would continue to work on improving the existing game as best they could: fixing what could be fixed and adding content to keep players busy. To fund this, the subscription for the game would be returning. But players willing to pay during this time, would be privy to exclusive once-in-a-lifetime content as well as a perpetual discount on the game’s subscription. It was also announced that the PS3 version of the game would be placed on hold until after the release of Final Fantasy 2.0.

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In the game’s world, this translates to what is known as the Seventh Umbral Era. Essentially, the redesign of the game would be rolled into the lore of the gameworld itself. Starting with the next patch after the announcement, a small red star appeared in the sky. Patch after patch, as time went by this star grew bigger and bigger. Over time it became obvious what was happening: A meteor was coming… and it was going to cause havoc in the world of Final Fantasy XIV.

Some of the biggest changes to occur during this time were core redesigns to the character progression system. The “character rank” leveling system was removed and now character progression would be measured on a per-class basis. The very core mechanics of the battle system were overhauled and drastically improved. A new “job system” was added that brought many of the classic Final Fantasy-themed jobs to the game. Until now, the character classes in FFXIV used obscure, unfamiliar names, and as a result, just seemed very un-Final Fantasy like. Also, a new “Grand Company” system was added to game that both served as a segue into the new lore as well as a portal to launching some of the newer dungeon and boss-battle content. Things were actually starting to come together quite nicely. In fact, I daresay I became quite satisfied with the game during it’s final few months.

Eventually, the time came when the original version of Final Fantasy XIV would need to go offline for several months while the team prepared the release of the now fabled Final Fantasy XIV 2.0.   – Character data would be preserved and would carry over to this new world. So now players only had to wait. Would SE be able to pull off the impossible and revive a game that had largely failed in the eyes of the public? Time would tell.

In the weeks before the servers were turned off. Players were treated to amazing content. Swarms of monsters were invading towns, Imperial airships would be seen patrolling the skies. The weather in the game world changed, bringing constant lightning storms… Then on the final night, players were instructed to journey to a remote area of the gameworld known as Mor Dhona to engage the Imperials in a massive ground battle. Once the clock counted down and Final Fantasy XIV 1.x was taken offline, players were provided with a YouTube link to view the final cutscene for the game. From the bright red star of Dalamud, emerged the legendary dragon Bahamut. Who’s megaflare attacked caused what would later be known as The Calamity.

Despite it’s rocky start and terrible reputation, these events ended up making Final Fantasy XIV 1.x a truly fantastic and memorable experience for me. In someways, I almost miss it from time to time.

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FFXIV Hub

** Final Fantasy XIV  (1.x)  –    A Realm Reborn  –    Heavensward   –  Stormblood **

Hub Post: Final Fantasy XIV

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Finally, we are brought to the most recent entry in the numbered Final Fantasy series: Final Fantasy XIV. This is the second MMO in the series and one filled with both controversy and success. I’ve been an avid player of this game since it’s release and  I’ve written a little bit about this game before, so for those interested, you can read my initial thoughts here: “A Look Back: Original Release”   –  “A Realm Reborn Beta Test”  – “The Rebirth of Final Fantasy XIV” — But, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the game in the posts to come. Just like with my FFXI hub, this post will serve as a Table of Contents for any future posts regarding Final Fantasy XIV and it’s expansions.

FFXIV Hub

** Final Fantasy XIV  (1.x)  –    A Realm Reborn  –    Heavensward   –  Stormblood **

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – Thoughts on the Beta Test

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Well, the fourth and final test phase of the new Final Fantasy XIV beta test is now complete. I spent the entire weekend putting the game through it’s paces. Overall, I had a very positive experience. Launching an MMO game is much more difficult than most people realize. It’s certainly more challenging than releasing a single player game. Knowing this, also take time to consider that data had to be imported from the old version. This makes for an even trickier launch.

The beta started out great for most, but by the second day error messages started to crop up for a large number of players preventing them from logging on. After more than twenty-four hours of this issue, SE was finally able to identify the root cause and issue a fix. The beta was extended by a few hours as a result. While I heard about the glitch, I did not experience it myself.

As I said, I really put the game through it’s paces. I completed a good chunk of the main scenario story, a few of the class quests, several levequests and guildhests, I even participated in an instanced raid and founded a Free Company (guild).

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Personally, I feel that game is ready for launch assuming SE has, in fact, sorted out their server issues. I think the test as a whole was an overall success. No launch is without its problems, and considering that this weekend was actually still a phase in the beta test, I am assuming in good faith that SE now has whatever data they need to ensure a successful launch day. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

I enjoyed this game enough to declare without hesitation that FFXIV is certainly going to be my new full time MMO of choice.

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The Rebirth of Final Fantasy XIV

In just a few hours the fourth and final beta phase of Final Fantasy XIV 2.0 goes live. This phase is significant because all content and progression will carry over to the actual release of the game. Nerds everywhere are quivering with anticipation. I am no exception. I haven’t talked about it too much on this blog, because I was waiting to discuss Final Fantasy XIV after I had a chance to review the other games in the series. Of course, at the rate my playthroughs are going, that may take a quite a while.

So, allow me to introduce Kijimuna…

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Kiji is my Final Fantasy XIV character. I have not had a chance to spend any quality time with him since the original version of the game went offline back in November. I wrote about this briefly at the time. You can view that original article here:

A Look Back at Final Fantasy XIV 1.0

In a nutshell, the original version of Final Fantasy XIV was poorly received. It suffered from major issues at release. Everything from lack of content to massive server lag cause players to quit the game in droves. Reviews of the title were brutal. Even many hardcore fans, such as myself, had to admit that the game was a complete bomb.

Things got so bad, that most of the original development team was fired or assigned to other projects. A new producer was promoted and after a long hard look at the current game, he declared that the current implementation of the game was simply unfixable. His solution was a complete redesign, starting with the very game engine itself. Never before had such a massive task been proposed. Many players expected Square Enix to simply pull the plug on the title and cut their losses. Luckily, the corporation threw their support behind the idea and now, almost three years later, we are on cusp of the long awaited Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

To usher in the change, the original game continued to be patched and improved on while the new version was being developed. Many of the original issues that plagued the game were fixed but a good number of them, such as server lag and UI complaints remained until the very last day of service. To keep players interested, special storyline content was added to the game. This once-in-a-lifetime content was only available to players who continued to subscribe while the new version was under development. Perks like exclusive titles and equipment were made available during this time. Also, players who subscribed for more than 90 days during the original run also had their game accounts flagged with a special “Legacy” tag. Legacy Accounts are treated to special pricing as well as some in-game perks when the new version is finally released. I’m proud to say I was a supporter through both the good times and bad. I was there for early access, and I was there until the very minute the servers were shut off.

Even though the official release is still just under two weeks away. For many of us, Phase 4 represents the start of 2.0.

I imagine I will post a brief update after a couple weeks, but I’ll save my big review of the game for later. In the meantime, those of you interested are welcome to read my in-character XIV blog located at the address below:

Dear Friends – In-Character FFXIV Blog