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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's post-fanfest shakedown

Eliot Lefebvre
10.20.14
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So Final Fantasy XIV players like yours truly have a mouthful of fanfest information to chew on. How did it all shake down, in the final assessment?

Well, I'm not going to lie: My aim was mixed at best. A minority of demo stations covering content I hadn't anticipated, patch 2.4 a week after my prediction, and mentions of 2.5 in brief. But we did get gear details and an expansion announcement. I'd call it a mix and a wash, at the end of the day. You tried, gold star, etc.

But enough about what I did and didn't get right; there's plenty more to talk about from the various panels, the Live Letter, and other revelations. So let's start in on it, kicking off with the elephant in the room that I've already been hearing about for the entirety of the past day for obvious reasons. Yes, it's a cash shop.



The cash shop

On the 28th, FFXIV is getting a cash shop. And the time to be angry about this was back when the idea was first proposed.

Seriously. We've had buyable minions as bonuses for items for a while now. We've had buyable upgrades in the form of the Collector's Edition buy-up. We have items with an in-game benefit in the refer-a-friend service. We've had items being sold for real world money ever since Fantasia was made purchasable for characters at will, and the fanfest was immediately preceded by the announcement that Fantasia purchases would be changing. This is not surprising, the time to get upset about this was months ago, and now we're here. Welcome to here.

Nor, really, is it exactly unusual. It's an obvious stream of revenue. You can say that there's nothing preventing the developers from tossing new items onto the cash shop now, but that has always been true. There's never been anything stopping them. It is entirely based on the developers and what they think will sell without enraging the players beyond belief.

Am I worried? Not particularly because the team has showed that on a whole it knows what it's doing. The best possible implementation is selling some minions, some mounts that don't make sense from a lore perspective as drops (like Sleipnir), and some stuff from previous events that is otherwise unattainable. Quite frankly, I prefer "sell the Lightning outfit in the cash shop" to "rerun the FATE quest grind over again until eternity if you missed it once." As for new hairstyles and face paints and so forth, there's an event starting tomorrow that offers new facepaint options; I would expect a longer turnaround than that.

Do I think this was the best decision? I earmarked it as a certainty from the moment that 2.0 launched, so I never really considered the alternative. It was a question of when, not a question of whether, so I don't feel anything about it right now but neutral and unsurprised.

Plus, you know, I can't remember a single Letter from the Producer that hasn't involved at least one piece of disappointing news. If this is as bad as it gets, I'm fine.



Yes, I remember when no online game had a cash shop.  I also remember when Reagan was president, when computers couldn't run MMOs, and when the New Kids on the Block were a big deal.  What's your point?
Yes, kitty.Ninja time!

So Ninja will be mainlining Dexterity, not Strength, but it will be sharing Monk gear. All of the reliable reports indicate that this means Monk gear will have Dexterity added. Functionally, the rationale is that the current class breakdown has two jobs prioritizing a given stat except for Dexterity accessories, which always go to Bards. This adds some diversity, which is a welcome shift.

The side classes lend some support to some personal theories I had, as well. Ninja gets an inherent execution-style move because it doesn't get one otherwise, as it can't use Mercy Stroke; you'll probably want Internal Release, Blood for Blood, and Invigorate on your bar along with a couple of extras. I'm looking forward to seeing the class in play, and I'm glad that most of my pre-Ninja purchases are in fact going to help out.

Heavensward

For some reason, people are having a huge amount of trouble parsing that name. I have no idea why. It seems pretty obvious from the spelling.

We know that we're getting new jobs, one of which is all but certain to be Dark Knight. I suspect that we'll have either Dark Knight as a new tank (which would make some amount of sense) or Dark Knight as physical DPS and a new spear-based job for tanking, along the lines of Holy Dragoon. I fully expect more new jobs than new classes; my guess is two new classes and four or five new jobs, based on little more than wild speculation.

I will say that I'd been predicting Ishgard for a while and correctly pegged the hints about Othard as mild red herrings. I do wonder what will become of the other city-states once Ishgard is accessible. Currently, content and players are spread between all three cities with fair regularity, with Revenant's Toll serving as a functional mini-hub. Barring new regions of the existing landmasses, however, there will be less reason to venture to Ul'dah instead of parking in Ishgard. If you have an airship in development, perhaps...

As has been pointed out elsewhere, the projected release for this also falls perfectly into the three-month update cadence that the game has already established. So I expect we'll be rolling straight from 2.5 into Ishgard, and we'll have quite a bit of teasing going on before that launch. Please look forward to it, etc.


Upstaged at my own big kick-off.  This is a new low.
Odin fight

Of all the unexpected content, this takes the cake, and it makes me wonder where we'll see it used. Odin does, in fact, have plenty of mechanics going on. It's just impossible to see any of them in normal play because as soon as he shows up, he's mobbed by millions of players and disintegrates into a cloud of particle effects. Trimming him down to a Trial makes him much more possible to really read.

My prediction for the last fight of the 2.x patch cycle has always been Bahamut. It's an obvious setup that has been played out for a while, right down to the Binding Coil really focusing on backstory and explanation rather than the big B himself. But I wonder if Odin might have a bigger role to play than previously suspected, especially when I consider that as an Elder Primal, he wasn't worshipped again until recently, yet we've seen little sign of worship. Or perhaps the Dark Divinity will be troubling players in a different form with the expansion.

There is, of course, plenty more to talk about from the festival, but I only have so many words in a single column. Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massively.com. If you'll excuse me, I have some spooky chocobo barding to get.

And elsewhere...

Yes, it's only been a week, and thus we only have a single pre-fanfest episode of Chocobo Dash for you. Oh, and an odd moment from Final Fantasy IV that feels like an excerpt from another game. Because I care.

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.

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