Let's just be totally clear -- if you want your wallpaper, it is going to be a kind of tedious process. Not miserably so, but there's a lot of repetition involved to unlock all five colors of swimsuit, and it's the sort of thing you can get bored of easily. So don't start down the road unless you're fairly certain you want to see it through to the end. With that in mind, let's talk about grabbing swimwear.
When you first activate the quest, you're given the lunar suit, but that's just the most basic option. You're also given a quest in your log to go speak to various faire NPCs. It's advisable to not go back and talk to the issuing party until you've done all of the steps involved with the ash retrieval, as it can be a pain to find the right spot for bombards without some aid. What the quest doesn't mention is that the yellow circles don't represent the destination; they represent the location where a bombard will spawn.
Bombards are friendly NPCs who are marked as Aggressive for reasons unknown. They're targetable by curative spells, and more importantly, they can be targeted by emotes. Using one of the seven emotes that the bombard responds to will cause it to move in a predetermined path from its spawn point to one of the outposts in the region (toward the Silver Bazaar or Golden Bazaar in Ul'dah, for example). Each emote causes it to move a little bit farther, and a successful emote causes a small flare around your character.
You'll also be tailed by an event NPC who provides searingly annoying running commentary in the vein of John Madden, explaining to you that your actions made the bombard move, which would be immediately obvious to anyone with a functioning brain stem. This might not sound so bad, but when you're collecting a full set of 21 pieces of ash, the commentary gets very old very quickly, especially as each run takes around 10 minutes to complete.
As you're emoting at the bombard, a group of enemies will spawn periodically. For Coerthas, this is a trio of rank 35 Fire Elementals; everywhere else, it's a trio of rank 15 Chigoes. Even by rank standards, these enemies are pretty weak, but they won't attack the players; they'll attack the bombard. Killing them quickly is the order of the day -- to a mid-30s Gladiator, the Chigoes were one-hit wonders and the Fire Elementals weren't much harder. You don't get any drops or experience for killing them, however.
Once you get the bombard all the way to the furnace at a given location, it takes a couple of seconds for the thing to explode. The NPC who's been providing charmingly unhelpful commentary along the way can then be talked to for a piece of ash. Worth noting is that this period of time lasts for a bit longer than needed and does not in fact require your having interacted with the bombard or the enemies in any fashion. So you could, in theory, just stand by the furnace, wait for other players to complete the event, and then get the reward with no effort. A better option would involve not being an enormous tool.
In total, there are eight different bombard locations, two in each of the major regions of the game (La Noscea, the Black Shroud, Thanalan, and Coerthas). Each region's bombards reward a different color of ash, and that ash can be turned in with the quest NPCs for rewards. There are a total of seven rewards, three of which are simply fireworks named after the nation; they can be set off but provide no real benefit. If you want to really get the meat of the event, you want the big fireworks. The red, blue, and green ones each cost three ash of the respective color, while the golden one costs three ash of each color. (Worth noting is that this is the only use for the black ash.)
That means six return trips for each nation and three for Coerthas, which brings you out to a total of about three and a half hours of time without counting travel -- a bit substantial, but certainly doable, and if you're in your mid-30s or have a friend to help you, you won't face any serious danger. And the reward is pretty charmingly unique, along with undergarments that are strictly better than the default options due to small elemental boosts.
And if you've got more patience even than that, you can pick up some extra ash and sell it -- it's fully available for sale, with black ash coming in at around 20,000-30,000 on Besaid and the colored ashes available for less. It's probably prohibitive to buy all of them, but if you have 90,000 gil to avoid a trip to Coerthas, it's worth considering.
Overall, the part I like most about the event is that it really uses the whole Lodestone/game connectivity for something relevant. Up until now, there's been a connection, but it hasn't ever really been used for anything. The wallpaper generation isn't a massive trick, but it's a neat way to let players actually get a reward out of the game, and it broadens the spectrum of possible rewards beyond just a set of cosmetic equipment. That's laudable in my book, and it kept me engaged even when I didn't really plan to be marching around in my swim trunks.
As always, comments are welcome in the field below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I'm going to talk about the crafting changes and any other 1.19 news we get in the intervening week.
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.