Something I've always liked about both Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy XI is that neither game has holidays that come across as wink-wink nudge-nudge versions of the real thing. Every year there's a slightly different spin on the event, and it's backed up with real lore and real celebrations that feel like natural outgrowths of the worlds that Square-Enix has built. When you find out the whole story at the end of this year's All Saints' Wake, it both fits in with recent story developments and nicely fills out the overall feel of the holiday.
Leaving that aside, though, I think a holiday event needs to be judged on two points: atmosphere and execution. You want to feel the holiday is being celebrated, and you want stuff to do.
Success on the atmosphere can't be debated. All three cities have received a great set of decorations even without the numerous performers scattered throughout the area, and the rewards (a pair of ghost costumes) are great fun. I'm now using my ghost outfit for particularly low-level gathering, by way of reference. The whole thing feels fun, and if you missed out on the first version back in 1.0 you can still pick up pumpkin heads for a reasonable amount of gil.
Beyond that, the quest that you kick off feels pretty fun. There's plenty of humor, and like most of the humor in the game, it doesn't break the fourth wall. (Quest titles, achievements, FATE names... those break the fourth wall. Nothing else.) Beyond that, you get a look at some parts of the game world you wouldn't otherwise see. What's to complain about?
Oh, wait, there's the fact that the quest line took me maybe half an hour to complete amidst breaks for chatting, and after that the whole thing was over.
Both the recent Moonfire Faire and this event have had the same problem of having a lot more decoration and story than actual content. Obviously we're talking about holiday events here rather than the next major patch, but I'm not generally a fan of events I can finish out on the first day, events that persist only so I've got more time if I didn't feel like doing so before.
I'm not saying that a two-week long event should ask me to do holiday stuff every day for two weeks. But I do think that asking for a little more than a momentary distraction is fair. At least the Moonfire Faire could conceivably offer something to people over a prolonged period of time; all that's left to do with All Saints' Wake is to stare at the decorations and run around in a ghost costume.
Speaking of those costumes, I have two costumes now with only slight differences that take up another slot of space and can't be stored in my Armoire, just like the new swimsuits. Please, people. My Armoury Chest is stuffed to the brim as it is. My amount of free space is perilously low. Please, don't give me more stuff that I can barely store as it is, especially not when the difference is the facial expression. Can the /visor command seriously not handle stuff like this? Could we not get a more substantial reward at the end?
For the future
Some of these issues probably just come down to the fact that we did just get a whole new version of the game less than two months ago, and the development team had only so much time to add new stuff to the game with the first patch containing a huge pile of stuff. So this was always going to be a little bit of a wash; there's only so much you can do.
Part of the problem, though, is a lack of ambition. The holiday events are structured so that no one winds up needing to go out of the way to try something, and the whole thing is accessible as long as you've hit level 15 on one job (something that is about as challenging as falling asleep on NyQuil). And while accessibility is nice, it's not the only thing that matters.
I've stated that I like Final Fantasy XIV's current endgame, and I do, but part of the fun of holiday events is that you have something to pull in a different direction for a little while. Spice up an old dungeon or two; give us something new to deal with. Haukke Manor could hold an optional boss with minimal effort; it fits with the holiday, and because of how level sync works, it could legitimately be done with almost any setup of players. Or even just a roaming set of FATEs, something to chase -- give us something to keep our interest beyond the first few moments of the holiday.
The team on the game is fully capable of making some engaging diversions. Let's, you know, actually have a few.
Feedback is welcome in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, it's time to talk markets, and the week after that I'm going to start really looking at what we're getting in the first major patch.
From Eorzea to Vana'diel, there is a constant: the moogles. And for analysis and opinions about the online portions of the Final Fantasy series, there is also a constant: The Mog Log. Longtime series fan Eliot Lefebvre serves up a new installment of the log every Saturday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.