The point is that 2.1 is pretty dang huge, even if it includes one feature that's a massive blemish. So let's take a look at what the patch has to offer, how the various new features hold up, and where the patch falls down -- other than with housing, which is already a great big "fall down" that will be addressed all by itself.
Main scenario: +1 for 1.0 reference
I haven't gotten through all of the new main scenario quests just yet, but by and large they seem to largely be a dense network of references for players who made it through the 1.0 version. NPCs who haven't been mentioned since launch are coming out of the woodwork now, and you get to untangle a dense sea of old interrelationships.
The biggest weakness of these quests is that they are, tragically, just a little bit boring otherwise. It's nice to see more hooks being woven back and forth in the lore, and the plot developments are intriguing, but the content of the quests to this point that have led me back to Mor Dhona has amounted to talking to a few people and easily killing a few things at 50. If not for the inherent weirdness it would cause, I almost wish these quests had been pegged at a lower level as a way of filling out non-leve content for subsequent leveling classes.
Still, the rewards are appreciable, so I can't complain too much. There's also a real sense of forward motion, exploring the consequences of what's already happened rather than just moving full steam ahead. I'm curious whether we'll see more expansion from these lines in the future.
Pharos Sirius: Crystal zombies and a crazy mess
Let's start with something I think a lot of people are still looking for. On the first boss, have DPS drop the adds quickly and avoid the straight-line AoE along with the two large damage fields dropped on the ground. If someone gets three stacks of crystals, have him run from the group before he explodes. Giga Slash doesn't seem to hurt much. Second boss, designate one DPS to kill a glowing egg before it hatches, but only one, and then kill the adds as they spawn. Run away when the boss takes to the air and becomes untargetable, much like Isgebind in Stone Vigil. Third boss can either just be tanked with DPS killing the adds; if you have enough DPS, you can just burn him away.
Siren, if you hadn't noticed, is complicated as heck. She hits people with a debuff that will charm the victim if said victim isn't at full health when it comes off, so heal quickly. She drops adds that need to be killed quickly, sergeants first. Her big Lunatic Voice needs to be interrupted as much as possible. She also does an Ifrit-style charge and spawns a bunch of adds when she gets into low health, so be aware of all of that.
I'm not sure if Pharos Sirius is actually harder than Wanderer's Palace or Original AK (the current incarnation hasn't yet come up in my roulette, but I am told that it is cake, and I believe it). It's quite possible that we're just not accustomed to its gimmicks yet. But it is certainly fun regardless, offering some fights that really challenge what you're expecting to face and some interesting environmental hazards. My one lament is that as a tank, I really hate so many fights where I'm not supposed to pull adds. It makes me feel as if I'm not doing my job. As it stands, the instance is more of a DPS and healing check than a tanking one.
Duty roulette: Commendable
There's not a whole lot I can say about duty roulette other than the simple fact that I really like it. The extra rewards are nice. The huge boost in experience is nice. The player commendations are great, and they inspire me to be as chatty as I like to be in groups. It's good fun all around, and even when the group features someone who's failing left and right, I haven't had the urge to just march away in disgust.
I may just really want that gilded magitek armor.
Daily quests: Really? Five a day?
So your first reputation tier with each beastman faction requires 150 reputation. All right, fair enough, but each quest at neutral only gives five reputation. So you're looking at a minimum of 10 days just to hit the first tier, which is reasonable, but it still seems as if the whole thing is being drawn out a bit.
Yes, you may be noticing a theme there.
Beyond that, the dailies thankfully don't simply involve killing X of Y and calling it a day uniformly. They're not breaking bold new group, but they're interesting enough that going back on a daily basis is not intolerable. Unsurprisingly, I find the amalj'aa content infinitely more interesting, since we've had friendly sylphs around since forever.
The one thing I really don't like here is tying at least one daily quest to the spawning and completion of a FATE. It's not unique here, but it's a mechanic I really dislike, like waiting for a quest target to respawn but with much less reliability. I understand the goal, but I'd rather see these be triggered FATEs rather than asking players to hurry up and wait somewhere.
Treasure maps: Either luck-based or sort of pointless
I'm going to put this up front: My first attempt at a level 50 treasure map got me 1500 gil and 10 philosophy after a quick battle against some coeurls. I see these going for a lot of gil on the market boards, which means that it's a luck-based reward, that most of the game's players don't know what the rewards are yet, or that there are people who will pay big money for clearing out those achievements.
In all fairness, the system as presented is pretty neat. It's fun to pick up a map, decipher it, and then head off for a special little mini-battle. And it is also nice to have a source of stuff like tomestones that doesn't require a full dungeon run. I'm just noting that as an odd disconnect. It's a fun minigame, but it's not a terribly meaty addition for gatherers.
Leve boosts: Appreciable
Not much to say here except for the fact that a pile of leves now gets me nearly a full level at St. Coinach's Find, making the whole process feel endlessly more rewarding. I've not yet seen how things shake down for crafting and gathering, although I know that the HQ bonus for crafting has been reduced and the base turn-in amounts have been improved. I'm still going to call that a break even.
Housing: Still beyond a mess
No houses are sold on my server at the time of this writing, and if the unofficial roleplaying server features a grand total of nobody willing to plop down money for a house at the prices as set, something is seriously wrong. There also remains no point in crafting furniture, but one sort of follows the other here.
I've seen Yoshida's statements on the matter, and I will definitely agree that I am making more money from non-market activities than I was before. But all that does is lead to inflation, which is counteracted by an enormous money sink for a game that didn't need one. It's a counterbalance to a force that didn't exist.
You can't convince me that there were no other ways to handle the theoretical problem of the richest people buying up all of the land right out of the gate -- ways like "you can purchase only one house," for instance. Even if you set the Legacy prices at the price of the lowest existing server, I'm going to guess that no one really wants to just start dropping money for every plot just to avoid letting other people have anything, especially when, as mentioned, there's no benefit outside of having another place to gather rest state.
Nor, as many people have pointed out, does any of this give parity in purchasing. The extra income brings groups closer to buying a house faster on lower-priced servers compared to higher-priced servers; a vague promise that pricing will eventually come down is just that, and it doesn't help stimulate the economy now. Crafters are occasionally making furniture, but no one is buying it, and the economy is no more active than before. If anything, it's seeing a downturn out of fear.
We've also been told that personal housing will be less expensive, which raises an even bigger question: Why? What's so supremely different about it?
There's more to cover on 2.1, of course, but there's a lot in the patch and only so much space to discuss all of it. For now, I'll leave off by saying that I can be reached, like always, at email@example.com or in the comments. Next week, it's year-in-review time.
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.