FFXIV: The Current State of Final Fantasy XIV

I just completed a post discussing the most recent update to Final Fantasy XIV. But I wanted to take a moment to talk a bit about the current state of the game.

Final Fantasy XIV has been very much an emotional rollercoaster since its release. Like everyone else, I was excited when the game was first announced, only to be be terribly let down by all the bugs and lack of content. Then, we had the announcement of 2.0. I found myself re-invigorated. I soldiered through the bulk of 1.0 and looked forward to the promised land on the horizon. Once 2.0 arrived, it seemed like every promise made to us by SE had been fulfilled. Optimism regarding the game was at an all time high. Frequent updates and ever-changing content kept myself, and other players emotionally invested in the game. This was heightened further with the announcement of FFXIV 3.0. The 3.0 launch came and went. The content was good, but it seemed to lack just a little of whatever magic made A Realm Reborn so great. By now the release/update pattern had become very apparent. Q.o.L patches, followed by content patches, each containing and small chunks of storyline content. Things started to feel pretty routine for me at this point. This pattern continued with 4.0. While I LOVED the new areas, jobs, and music introduced in the Stormblood expansion, I could feel my zest for the game slowly settle into a lull.

If that were simply the only complaint, I think everything would be fine. But, there’s been other issues. The most recent offense for me has been the release of the FFXIV Companion app. For years, SE has promised us an app that will allow us to chat with friends, view our characters, make in-game purchases, etc. While the Companion app does indeed deliver on all of these promises, it has really turned out to be nothing more than a giant cash grab by SE. Nearly all of the good features are locked behind another subscription fee. Once I realize this, I was a bit pissed off (to be blunt). And as it turns out, I wasn’t alone. The vast majority of players share this sentiment. But to date, SE has refused to acknowledge our complaints.

To add insult to injury, SE continues to release more and more emotes, costumes, and other digital content to the real money store. Now, I don’t have a problem with this per se. But in my opinion, a game that requires a monthly subscription, should keep optional purchases to a minimum. Instead, SE seems to have doubled down on their real money transactions adding several every month or so.

To get to the point, there’s very little motivation for my to keep my subscription going. There was a time that I would clock in several hours a day on this game. These days, I barely get several hours a month. I typically only play whenever a new patch is released. I grind through the new storyline and quest content. I run the dungeons a few times, tackle the new raids, etc. Then, I’m  bored and done until the next patch hits.

As I type this, I’m seriously considering taking my first break from FFXIV. Maybe just for a short while or perhaps for good. I really don’t know. If I do quit, I’m sure the next expansion is likely to tempt me. But considering the way I feel today, I’m unsure if I’ll actually take the bait. Of course, I’d still cover any major expansions to the game from an informative standpoint here on the site. But will I continue to invest myself into the game? Time will tell.

FFXIV: Version 4.4 Update

It’s been just shy of a month since the latest Final Fantasy XIV update was released. Historically, I’ve always burned through new content at a rapid pace. However, with some of these more recent releases, things have slowed down for me. To be completely honest, I fear my interest in the game is waning. But, let’s not dwell on that now. Let’s take a peek at patch 4.4; Prelude in Violet.

With this patch, I feel like we’ve reached a transitional period in the storyline. Loose ends are starting to be tied up, yet breadcrumbs for what lies ahead are also beginning to appear. If SE follows tradition, I feel like an announcement for 5.0 is just around the corner. And if I had to place a bet, I’d be willing to guess that the Empire of Garlemald will be the focus of the next expansion.

So, let’s see what’s all included in this update:

  • New main scenario and side quests
  • New dungeons
  • New raids
  • New trials
  • New wedding content
  • New treasure hunt content
  • Squadron/Grand Company updates
  • Mannequins and housing updates
  • Various refinements, balancing changes, items, and Q.o.L tweaks

All in all, 4.4 ends up being a fairly solid update to the game. There’s A LOT of Q.o.L stuff included in this update, as well as a lot of new behind-the-scenes changes that are laying the groundwork for some upcoming enhancements to the game (online settings back-ups, UI skins, etc). Sadly, there’s also very little included in this update to wow players. Most of what we have here is more of the same routine we’ve seen from SE thus far. Some will like that, others (like me) will pine for something different. But, as always the writing and storytelling to second to none.

I give this patch a rating of:  B

 

 

FFXIV: Version 4.3 Update

Real life got me again! It’s been almost a month since patch 4.3 for Final Fantasy XIV was released. I’ve finally found enough time to dive into the new content and I’m ready to share my thoughts.  First, I’m pleased to say that this update is actually quite substantial! There’s a good bit of new content to explore along with the usual enhancements. There’s a little something for everyone this time around.

First off, players who were hoping to wrap up the “Yotsuyu storyline” in the main scenario will be very happy to see this chapter come to a very satisfying close. This plot took a direction I was not expecting, but rest assured it was concluded in a way that you’ll only find in a Final Fantasy game. There’s also a number of little new sidequests peppered into this update as well. This means there’s plenty of stuff for lore-nuts to enjoy in 4.3. Taking a closer look at all of the additions to the game in this patch, we have the list below:

  • New main scenario and sidequests
  • New Dungeons
  • New raids
  • New Beast Tribe quests
  • “Doman Enclave Construction” activity
  • “Message Book” for housing
  • New Treasure Hunt content
  • Various refinements, balancing changes, items, and Q.O.L tweaks

Sadly, there are a number of features that have been delayed until patch 4.35 and 4.36. This includes new Eureka content (something I have yet to fully experience), and the new Deep Dungeon content. Now that I’m finally caught up with all of the new main scenario and quest storyline, I expect to have the time to fully explore Eureka in time for the new updates to that system. Despite my own delay in checking out all of the new activities available in game, SE has really been on a roll with all these new additions. They finally seem to have the update schedule down to a perfect science.

It seems every time you turn around there’s some new system or activity being added to FFXIV. The one thing I’m looking most forward to is the upcoming FFXIV Companion mobile app that is scheduled for release at the end of next month. This app will finally bring some in-game functionality to players outside of the game. This is something that is LONG OVERDUE. I plan on posting a full review of this app once it is available.

In closing, 4.3 brings more welcome enhancements to an already thriving game. SE continues to do a wonderful job with the storytelling in this title. The new battle content is fresh and innovative. Players couldn’t ask for anything more than what we are seeing with these updates. Even the pacing of these patches seems pretty on-point with the needs of the community. They are spaced out just enough to hold players interest, while also giving players time to consume them at their own pace. There’s a little something for everyone in this update. Raiders will find a lot to enjoy here, as will fans who only play for the story content. Excellent stuff.

I give this patch a rating of:  A

 

FFXIV: Version 4.2 Update

I’m little late getting this post in, but I’ve finally had time to dive into the latest update for Final Fantasy XIV. Like most point releases, this patch adds several new things to the game. But sadly, one of the biggest pieces of content will have to wait a little while longer. The addition of the Eureka battle system has been pushed back to 4.25. I won’t be reviewing that update separately, but I will throw a little sidebar discussion into my 4.3 post at a later date.

So, what is included here?  Well, the BIG focus on this patch are some new main scenario quests. (Including the introduction of a new character). These are very story-focused. And, I LOVE where the story is headed! This new storyline sucked me right in and really got me excited to see what’s coming down the pike. I hope SE can maintain this momentum. Of course, there is more packed into this update. So let’s take a look in detail:

  • New main scenario and side quests
  • A new Aetheryte
  • New Dungeons
  • New Raid content
  • New Omega content
  • A new trial (The Jade Stoa)
  • An update to the glamour system and the addition of a glamour-related minigame
  • New beast tribe quests
  • New Treasure Hunt content
  • A new Submarine option for Free Companies
  • New PVP content
  • Various refinements, balancing changes, items, and Q.O.L tweaks.

I was really bummed to see the Eureka content and the new Hildibrand quests pushed back for a future update, but I was quite pleased with many of the surprise changes that were included. By far, one of the most welcome is the revamp to the glamour system. Glamours have been redesigned from the ground up. As a result, the system is much more useful and also helps alleviate inventory woes by converting a large chunk of vanity gear into “glamour plates” that are stored outside your character’s inventory. This change has also resulted in SE again making an update the inventory UI. Many people are complaining about this, but personally – I’ve have no issues with the change. What inventory space is seemingly “lost” by the update, is regained in the form of a saddlebag.

Another interesting new feature is the ability to now record duties for later playback. This is an interesting concept. The idea here is to be able to playback battles and other group content for review and learning purposes. You can switch between the perspective of various players, pause, and slow down/speed up playback, etc. A very handy feature!

In a nutshell, 4.2 is a pretty typical but solid update. Final Fantasy XIV continues to grow and expand, and this patch really gives a glimpse into what type of changes might lie in store. This game has come extremely far since the rough days of 1.0. I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon.

I give this patch a rating of:  A

 

It Came From Netflix: Final Fantasy XIV – Dad of Light

Welcome to the very first “It Came From Netflix…” post! If you’re not sure what this is all about, you can read my announcement here: “It Came From Netflix…” – In my first review for this new feature, I will be discussing an interesting Japanese drama; Final Fantasy XIV – Dad of Light.  Since Final Fantasy games are a big part of this site, I thought this show would make a perfect segue into this new series of articles.

Netflix has recently introduced a number of foreign films and television shows. Dad of Light is one of them. Now, let me state of up front that this show does not chronicle the events of a particular Final Fantasy game, nor does it feature characters from the series. Instead, it’s a show about the game. More specifically, it’s a story about a father and son who bond through the online world of Final Fantasy XIV.

The plot is simple, it revolves around a young adult named Akio and his father. Akio works a full time job but still lives at home with his family. When he was a little boy, Akio and his father used to spend time together playing old Final Fantasy games. These days, they have drifted apart. One day, Akio’s father suddenly announces his retirement with no explanation. In an effort to rekindle the relationship with his dad, Akio purchases a Playstation 4 and a copy of the online game Final Fantasy XIV and presents them as a gift to his father. His plan is to secretly meet up with his father in the game and befriend him. Then, eventually reveal his identity in hopes of forging a stronger bond through the experience.

The series takes place largely in the real world. But occasionally, certain scenes are shown from an in-game perspective. A large part of the comic relief comes from the interactions between the father’s character and Akio’s in-game persona. The show itself is presented in Japanese with English subtitles. As is the case with most Japanese dramas, it can be oddly quirky at times. But is overall, very charming. There are a few adult situations but for the most part, the show is largely family friendly.

When the series was originally announced in Japan, it went by the rather unflattering name “Daddy of Light”. Yuck… I’m glad to see that Netflix took some artistic privilege when bringing the title to US viewers. I first heard about the series online, shortly after it’s Japanese release. It was no secret that the production company was shopping the series around to American distributors. I was nearly certain that it would be snapped up by Crunchyroll, a company that specializes in Asian media. But, much to my surprise, Netflix got the exclusive rights to the show.

The good thing about this series is  that even viewers who have no interest or knowledge of Final Fantasy XIV will be able to watch and enjoy this show. Of course, players of the game will certainly recognize certain elements and may get a bit more out of the experience. I watched this series with my entire family, and it was enjoyed by all.

All in all, Dad of Light is a heartwarming series. The storyline is very self-contained and there’s pretty much no chance of a second season. Many Japanese television dramas typically only last for one run. In a way, they could be compared to what US viewers know as a “mini-series”. So there’s very little time investment if you simply want to try something new.

If you’re new to foreign media, this series is a pretty good starting point. It’s familiar enough to comfortable, but it still has just a touch of foreign “strangeness” to stand out on its own.

Target Audience: This show is aimed towards a general audience, but fans of Japanese culture, anime, and Final Fantasy are likely to be more drawn to it than others.  It’s a good launching point for Western audiences who are not familiar with the Asian Drama genre.

Number of Episodes: 8

Netflix Exclusive?:  YES

Score (1 out of 4): 3

 

FFXIV: Version 4.1 Update

The first update to Stormblood is here! I apologize for taking so long to write about this update, but real life events really cut into my playtime for FFXIV. But, I’ve finally finished all of the content included in this patch and I’m here to share my thoughts.

Like most incremental patches for FFXIV, this one includes a number of quality of life improvements, a few new dungeons, a new raid, and several side quests. This patch also saw the release of a whole new housing area. This is something fans have been clamoring for. (Although, the new plots were snatched up pretty quickly as expected… this has become a recurring problem).

Breaking down the contents of the patch into a list, we have the following additions to the game:

New Main Scenario quests and side quests

New Dungeons

New Raid Content (Rabanastre)

New Beast Tribe content

New Treasure Hunt content

New Grand Company Squadron content (Command Missions)

Shirogane Housing and housing enhancements (relocations, etc)

A slew of refinements, big fixes, new items, materials, mounts, minions, etc

I was little disappointed to see only one quest in the Hildibrand quest line in this patch. Hildi is one of my favorite characters in the game, and I was really hoping to see his full return in this update, but sadly all we got was a set up to his reintroduction. But, I don’t mind waiting a bit longer.

For me, the most enjoyable change has been the new Squadron content. I really enjoy the squadron “mini-game” and SE is doing a great job expanding this content. Players are now able to run instanced dungeons with their AI squadron members. It reminds me a bit of the Trust System from FFXI, and I’m very curious to see just where this is headed in the long run.

I’m a bit on the fence when it comes to the new raid. I’m torn on seeing the introduction of something as specific as Rabanastre brought into Final Fantasy XIV. For those that might not know, Rabanastre is a city from Final Fantasy XII. It seems that the world of FFXII and FF Tactics is bleeding into Eorzea a bit. This seemed a bit confusing to me at first, but the in-game lore does a decent job of smoothing over this merge. While I can certainly see the value in plucking out imagery and lore from other games in the series and inserting them into FFXIV, I feel this should be done with care or the game could easily end up being an unrecognizable mish-mashed mess.

The first incremental patch after an MMO expansion is usually iffy. It tends to contain more fixes than content, and that’s certainly true with this patch. But considering the amount of new stuff introduced in 4.1, I have to praise Square Enix. Stormblood was a boon for Final Fantasy XIV and they don’t show any sign of slowing their momentum.

All things considered, I am giving this patch a solid:  A

 

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood

It’s been two years since the release of Heavensward and SE has spent that time working on the next chapter in the Final Fantasy XIV saga: Stormblood. Well, it’s finally here! I’ve spent the last two weeks playing the new content and I’ve finally completed the expansion. So, as expected, I’m here with a full review!

Stormblood brings Final Fantasy XIV up to version 4.0. With that version bump comes a ton of new content. Stormblood adds two new (long awaited) jobs to the game: Red Mage and Samurai. It also raises the level cap to 70 and adds an entire new continent to explore. The focus of the expansion is the retaking of the nations of Ala Mhigo and Doma from Imperial control. The occupation of Ala Mhigo has long been a part of the game’s lore, reaching back as early as 1.0. In this way, Stormblood finally brings a capstone to nearly every loose-end that is left from the original version of the game.

Whereas Heavensward introduced flying to the world of FFXIV, Stormblood brings about the ability to dive and swim. Even some areas of the original game have been updated to allow players to swim in shallow waters. For many of the new zones, players are able to dive down and explore areas of the deep. Flying mounts are also able to traverse the underwater zones as well.  Currently, this ability is pretty novel and really only comes into play for the new scenario missions. But SE has hinted that more content might be coming that incorporates swimming/diving.

I have to go on record and state that the storyline for Stormblood is absolutely fantastic. At worst, it is on par with A Realm Reborn, but I daresay it even exceeds it. To me, Heavensward was a decent expansion. But, at times it became very repetitive and downright boring. This was not the case with Stormblood. Everything about this expansion felt fresh and interesting to me.  From the storyline, the new cities and zones, the innovative dungeons and even the boss fights, the whole of Stormblood was just spot on for me.

Aside from all the new content, Final Fantasy XIV version 4.0 also marked a major revamp to the core game itself. The whole job system received an overhaul of sorts. Skills and abilities were streamlined, with several actions being revamped or even eliminated. The pointless concept of customizing character ability scores (an old mechanic from the now defunct 1.0 version) has finally been removed from the game. 4.0 also introduces the “Job Gauge”, a job-specific on-screen graphic that is unique to each job and related to that job’s special abilities.

A major theme of Stormblood is that of the Far East. Pretty much any type of Asian flair is represented in the new zones. From the Japanese-inspired city of Kugane, to the Chinese-like landscape of Doma. There are even elements of ancient Mongolia, Turkey, and Slavic inspiration found in the new zones.

At the time of this writing, Stormblood has received one minor content patch, bringing the game up to version 4.01. This patch added the highly awaited Omega raid to the game.

All in all, I cannot say enough great things about Stormblood. If I had to find a complaint, it would not be with the expansion itself, but rather with SE’s recent decision to sell level boosting potions on the Mog Station store. For cold hard cash, players can now purchase an item that will level their characters to either level 50 or 60, and even one that will clear the main scenario content for A Realm Reborn and Heavensward.  I understand the concept behind such items: they allow new players to jump right in and join their friends on new adventures. But at the same time, I feel they cheapen the game play experience somewhat. As a player who has stuck with FFXIV since the early (and often dismal) days of 1.0, I couldn’t imagine spending money to purchase a game, then spending more money so that I don’t have to actually play it. But, to each their own I suppose.

I’m going to continue my tradition of reviewing each major patch as they are released. So stay tuned and as they say in the FFXIV community; “Please look forward to it!”

Patch 4.1    Patch 4.2   Patch 4.3   Patch 4.4

FFXIV Hub

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

FFXIV: Version 3.5 Update

The latest update for Final Fantasy XIV has finally arrived. Version 3.5 (The Far Edge of Fate) is here and with it, we see the final winding down of the Heavensward story and the slow build up to the recently announced version 4.0. Playing through the new main scenario quests included in this patch make it clear that the narrative of the game is about to change. It’s being handled very similar to the way the transition from 2,x to 3,0 was presented. As always, Square Enix has proved themselves to be master storytellers.

As the 3.x storyline winds down, this patch provides two new dungeons and one new raid to hold fans over until the big update to 4.0 this summer. Along with this new major content, there are also a number of new sidequests and other activities for players to enjoy.

Breaking down to contents of the patch, we have the following:

New Main Scenario quests and side quests

New Trials

New Raid content:  (Dun Scaith)

New Dungeons

New Limited Time Cross-over Event  (GARO! Anime  PVP-gear content)

New Anima Weapon tiers

New Player Housing options:  (Portrait/Picture frame system, new house servants)

The Triple Triad card tournament refinements  (FINALLY NO MORE CHEATING)

UI Updates

Cross-Server Party finder!

A slew of refinements, big fixes, new items, materials, mounts, minions, etc.

As you see, there’s a lot going on with this patch. One of the biggest core changes to the game involves the new cross-server party finder. This change allows players to seek out party members with players from other servers. This is certainly a welcome change. However, at the time of this writing, (and maybe its just a coincidence) it seems to have affected the overall server stability. I had experienced a number of crashes and connection issues since this patch was released. Something that I’ve never encountered before.

Along with everything this patch has brought to the game, I want to take a moment to mention something that it’s taken away. With the release of this patch, the content known as “Exploratory Missions” is no longer accessible. Exploratory Missions (aka: The Diadem) is essentially a large-scale battleground system. This content was extremely popular in the early days of 3.X,  but it soon fell out of favor with players and became a largely forgotten system. With Patch 3.5, SE has removed the content from the game as they work to refine it and make it more attractive to players. The current plan is for it to reintroduced in an upcoming “3.5 part 2” patch. As a fan of Exploratory Missions, I look forward to see what changes are made to this area. I hope that SE can make it relevant again.

All in all, patch 3.5 is a welcome update to the game. It serves as the last MAJOR patch in the 3.x line before the release of Final Fantasy XIV 4.0.

Filled with content, fixes, and refinements, I give this patch the following score:  A

 

FFXIV: Version 3.4 Update

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So, Final Fantasy XIV version 3.4 (aka: Soul Surrender) has finally arrived and I’ve had time to dive in and check it out in full. I apologize for not getting to this post sooner, but before checking out the new content, I was scrambling like mad to finish the limited-time Yo-Kai Watch crossover event. Sadly, I have to admit this event marks the first time I was unable to fully complete a “seasonal” quest line. The event consisted of participating in FATE events, from which you could collect cute Yo-Kai minions, and Yo-Kai Watch themed weapons. Collecting the minions was simple. But collecting all the weapons took quite a bit of dedication. Granted, SE allowed nearly three months to get this done, but I had a lot of real world stuff going on so I had to cram most of it into the last three days. While I did not finish the event 100% of the way, I was down to the very last weapon when the clock ran out (and only two tokens short of claiming it!) – I hope to see this event brought back at some point in the future, as SE did with some of their other limited time events. But, considering this one tied in to a third-party, I’m not counting on anything. Boo.

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But enough about Yo-Kai… Let’s talk 3.4. So, what’s new in this patch? Well, we’re getting very close now to the final wrap up of all Heavensward content. Later this week, Square Enix hosts the first of the three Fan Fests . It is during these events that fans are expecting a reveal for Final Fantasy XIV 4.0. So, the end of all 3.x content is coming quick! Here’s what’s been added in the latest patch:

New main scenario quests, new side quests.

New PVP content:  Custom matches and player duels

New Raid content:  Alexander phase 3

New Trials

New Dungeons

New Player Housing options:  Apartments, aquarium furniture/collectible game

Grand Company Content:   **FINALLY!!!*  New ranks and a new “Squadron” system

A new “Wondrous Tails” system – Essentially, this is a system that encourages and rewards players for doing older content.

A slew of refinements, new items, materials, mounts, minions, etc.

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So what do I think of the new patch? Well, as point releases go, it’s pretty solid. It balances both refinements and new content pretty well. We can see the pieces coming together for the ultimate conclusion to the 3.x storyline and I feel that breadcrumbs are also being laid for what’s coming next. I feel like SE has things down to a science at this point. The amount of new content was just right to both keep the story line moving along and to keep players busy for a while. With Final Fantasy XV on the horizon, I expect a bit of a lull in the next month or so. It seems like SE is also predicting this and planning accordingly. I feel like the next six months will provide plenty of time for new players to catch up so that they can enjoy whatever 4.0 will eventually have to offer.

The shining gem of this patch for me? The Wondrous Tails content. It’s always difficult to get veteran players to pay attention to older content. This can be frustrating for newer players that need assistance on progression. This new mechanic gives players what really amounts to a “sticker book”. By completing certain dungeons, trials, etc during the week – they earn a sticker. Once the book is full, rewards are available. I found this whole set up to be very well done.

As far as point releases go, I give this patch an:   A

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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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