Now that I've gotten the congratulations out of the way, let's talk about Final Fantasy XIV and the many ways that the designers have screwed up so far. Sort of. I mean, over the past year I've been more than willing to fire with both barrels when a screwup was made, which has happened... about once every major patch. But here's the thing: I'm glad to see that happening, on some level. It gives me hope for the future.
Let's be honest here: A lot of the stuff that's happened over this year has been some variety of goof. Housing prices. Atma. Further Zodiac pricing. Hunts at inception. Ramuh Extreme. Ultima HM. Extreme progression in general. Oils/Sands of Time. Syrcus Tower loot. Crafting gear. You get the idea. For that matter, adding Ninja to the mix without another tank or healer may well turn out to be a similarly ridiculous mistake. Yet here I am, still happy with the game as a whole.
Why? Because this is the perfect time to be making this grade of mistake. The stakes are as low as they're going to get.
There's still another pair of patches due for the game, but we're definitely on the back end of what the 2.0 series will be adding to the game as a whole. The developers need to have good metrics on what kind of content people want to do, what happens when a system is released into the wild, what prices are appropriate for different systems, how much content is the right amount, how hard should it be, how much loot should it offer -- all of that.
You learn the answers by looking at the game, making the best possible guess, and setting it live. And you learn a lot more when you screw it up because players are more likely to be loud and angry when something isn't working than when it is.
More to the point, this is the point when a lot of players are still riding an initial high for the game. Yes, it's been about a year, but new players still have a bunch of further content to do and old hands always have some new project to work toward. Fatigue has not yet set in. How could it? We haven't had time to get fatigue.
I've said in the past that we wouldn't have 2.0 if 1.0 hadn't launched in the state it was in. As long as the same people were in charge of 1.0, it was always going to be more or less the same game. Having it launch, driving off most of its players thanks to its clumsy execution, and requiring a turn back in the shop was undoubtedly the best thing that could possibly happen for the game as a whole. Similarly, I'm hoping that making missteps now is what will enable the game to avoid those same mistakes in the future.
That's why most of these mistakes are acceptable. Sure, they're bad, but they're the sort of bad that gets moved past in time. Yes, Syrcus Tower's loot is a terrible problem and it shouldn't be the way it is... but hopefully it will be baked into the large stack of reasons that the whole upgrade system in this tier of equipment was a poor choice. Hunts were a huge problem, but the next time the team wants to roll out something open-world, these lessons can be taken to heart. They're big mistakes, not little ones that slip under the radar until they've accumulated through years of expansions and updates.
We know the expansion is mostly done. I'm all right with the idea that a lot of the patches have been partly about testing the waters for what's going to be in that expansion. We'll probably see a level bump (10 more levels seems likely, but it could just as easily be more or less) and be able to start in on new forms of progression post-50. And this time, the endgame will have the benefit of experience from the current one.
And let's face it, for all the missteps, none of it is going to matter forever. The core of the game is solid. The schedule is solid. I have high hopes for personal housing once it rolls out probably around the middle of the month, but there's space for mistakes to be fixed. The game can weather its goofs right now; it's got the momentum.
So here's to the first year. Here's to a game that even I wasn't sure would make it through the relaunch doing so with style and grace, surprising a lot of people who thought it was going to just be the same mistakes on a new day. You've got some issues, you've made some dumb choices, and I'm still not happy with trying to pick up Snurble Tufts just to do a little bit of cloth-based crafting, but at the end of the day, you're a fun game and you've got a lot going for you.
Seriously, though, if you screw up personal housing after a year of waiting, I am going to be super angry.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, as you like. Next time around, I'm going to be talking a little bit more about recent events from both story and mechanical points, taking a peek at what lies ahead as we wind down this patch cycle.
But wait, there's more! Yes, Chocobo Dash is still going, with Episode 19 covering patch 2.35's improvements and Episode 20 serving as our happy trip down memory lane. I still think IxaLee's Press-On Nails is comedy gold. Meanwhile, I wrapped up the first generation of games in the franchise before moving on to the start of Final Fantasy IV.
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 other Monday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.