Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion, it's easy to forget that we also heard a bunch of stuff about the last patch of the current patch cycle. I think that's kind of intentional, not just because the expansion is a bit more eye-catching, but because things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. 2.5 is titled "Before the Fall," the Heavensward trailer does not predict sunny times for Ishgard, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out what happens next.
There's no actual release date for 2.5 just yet, although I imagine it's fairly soon, especially given the two-part structure and the proximity of the proposed expansion launch. So let's talk about what we know so far to look forward to before everything comes crashing down. (I'm betting around the end of January, although I'll admit to being a bit less anxious than I was with 2.4's release.)
The World of Darkness
Let me just say right off that decoupling the upgrade items from the weekly armor drop was a smart idea; instead of making the armor more or less undesirable, it keeps people focused on armor pieces as well as upgrade items. One wonders if it's going to be a token exchange system along the lines of Hunts to balance everything out.
I do wonder about the statement of items to craft weapons. Syrcus Tower gave us not-unreasonable expectations of being able to pick up the tomestones for enhanced weapons from this series; will we be getting Encrypted Allagan Tomestones, different crafting materials, or both? Considering the weight of the patch "both" seems like the most likely option, but there's no way to be certain without a bit more clarity. One could easily take the Ironworks weapon tokens as either crafting materials or upgrade tokens depending on personal preference. I don't think four-star crafters exactly need the added exclusives, but no one really asked me.
Sadly, we didn't hear much about bosses. The past two sections contained four bosses in a fairly linear layout, but the World of Darkness traditionally consisted of four bosses in an open format buffering the final boss. Not to mention that I would like a rematch against Nero Tol Scaeva. They've got enemies to spare here, and I for one am looking forward to seeing how it's all laid out.
The Keeper of the Lake and the old endgame made new
I have to give Final Fantasy XIV some credit for making me nostalgic for a portion of the endgame, one which I by and large do not miss. Chain-running Amdapor Keep as the sole source of Mythology tomes was a weaker form of the endgame that presently exists, but the developers took it and revived it elegantly for this last batch of dungeons.
There's also a certain poetic circularity to going back to stuff that used to be a source of level 90 equipment when it will likely require level 90 equipment.
One of the interesting side-effects of the game up to this point will be how the dungeons will handle armor drops. Each new set has escalated the gear requirements to enter and dropped more powerful equipment: 2.1 dropped 60 and asked for 50 (all right, 48), 2.2 mandated 60 while dropping 70, 2.3 required 70 and dropped 80, 2.4's set required 80 and drops 90 (tokens, but still). The escalation means that for the first time, a dungeon's drops will be on-level with the lowest armor you can purchase with tomestones. Are we going to see a whole new set of 100 armor drops, or are we going to see some other loot solution?
I wouldn't be surprised if these last dungeons turn matters on their ear by dropping tokens or other unexpected rewards, perhaps even awarding players with upgrade items like Crystal Tower does. That seems ripe for abuse, but it's an interesting possibility just the same. Or we'll get some very Garlean-themed armor, which I wouldn't be upset with in the least; it's part of why I'm looking forward to Keeper of the Lake.
It looks like the Gold Saucer is going to be full of minigames and cosmetic gear, which I am totally all right with. The idea that it might include Setzer's outfit alone gets me excited. It's also a nice bit of bridging non-endgame content; as long as the rewards remain cosmetic, there's no need to upgrade the existing stuff to meet a new level cap, just add new outfits and keep moving. Triple Triad doesn't care what level you are.
While I understand why the developers opted to make your racing chocobo a different thing altogether from your battle companion, it does make me a little sad just the same. Yes, that would probably make breeding even more complicated than it will already be, the colors would already be a mess, so on and so on. But I wanted that. Not so much of a loss, but still a bit sad.
More than Triple Triad and racing, though, I'm looking forward to these other minigames. Final Fantasy VII's saucer had an excuse for most of them; Final Fantasy XIV doesn't have the built-in aspects of its predecessor. I'm hoping we'll get more than just Parley and the sliding puzzle that are already in place, but I suspect those were the testbed for further minigames in the engine.
The Battle of Ishgard
Yes, this is coming along with the conclusion of the scenario, but we don't know yet what it's going to look like. It's not a dungeon or a trial, I imagine; perhaps a close cousin to Lord of the Rings Online's epic battles, only without the part where everyone hates it? Hard to be sure. It's also a battle we're more than likely going to lose, considering what we've seen thus far.
The patch is "Before the Fall," not "Before the Almost Fall But Everything Turns Out Fine."
The other possibility, of course, is that this isn't actually content at all. The name isn't a reference to content but to a trailer, one that's been long in the making just like the End of an Era trailer. In which case it seems like the reasonable capper to the story missions... and won't that be a sight to see.
At any rate, there's more to talk about but not much space to do so this week, and I want to start talking about the year we've moved past. Feedback is welcome down below or by mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; next week, as I mentioned, it's the year in review for Eorzea.
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.
The Mog Log: What we know thus far about Final Fantasy XIV 2.5
Eliot Lefebvre|December 29, 2014 12:00 PM
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The Mog Log: What we know thus far about Final Fantasy XIV 2.5