When patch 4.25 of Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood dropped last month I was eager to finally get in and try the long awaited Forbidden Land, Eureka Anemos, and work towards getting my new relic gear, which is often considered the best gear in the game once fully upgraded. However, from the moment I got in, I was able to see just how divided the community felt on the content. On one side, there were those who adored it and saw it as a breath of fresh air, yet on the other side were those who felt it was stale and boring content. Curious about this, I took to interviewing a few players to get their opinions on Eureka. My main goal here was to find out how players felt overall, while also considering how it will affect those still relatively fresh to it versus those that have a bit more experience inside.
Eureka Anemos is an area that can accommodate up to 144 players per instance, and has its own independent leveling system, called Elemental Levels, which works a bit differently than in the rest of FFXIV. When asked about their general thoughts, Senozza Choo from the Lich server, elemental level 14 (the max being 20), tells me, “It reminded me of how Asian MMOs played like 10 years ago - where all you do is press tab and then attack for hours.” This is a sentiment I can personally relate to, and is in contrast with the questing and dungeon leveling system that other content uses.
The area encourages grinding mobs for long periods of time, as you get drops that you can later on exchange for weapons and armor, with the drop rate increasing as the chain grows. “I think Eureka at the beginning is confusing and feels unrewarding,” Senozza continues; “I think it is confusing since you suddenly don't get quest markers anymore and monsters just a few levels above you deal twice your max hp as damage. If you join FATE trains, which is what apparently everyone does, you can stay at a place for up to 30 minutes and then only get some exp and no items.” FATE trains, sometimes also called NM trains are methods where hordes of players will go to spawn certain boss monsters, as they give better rewards for what is ultimately less work on the individual player’s part, often completely ignoring the chaining aspect of Eureka.
However, be it through the traditional grinding method or the FATE trains, you need a fair amount of people. The grinding parties you need far less, with a maximum of eight, but they’re also harder to organize, and with so many players already higher level, as well as most players getting used to the FATE train system, I worry that it will be rather difficult for new players to catch up.
When I ask Faith Hikari from Moogle about this, who is elemental level 10, she tells me, “Oh yes. I think it will be very difficult for folk to catch up, once people stop playing. Something I am even slightly fearing for my own sake.” When asked about a possible solution to this issue, she mentions, “I have heard a portion of the community mention some form of level sync... Not just from fates, but perhaps some kind of level sync just for the sake of being in a high leveled party. The concept makes sense to me, and I don't think it would be too much of an issue if their exp was of similar gain, regardless of their level so to speak… Perhaps the party could gain an average amount of exp based on the variety of their level discrepancies”
I imagine the level sync feature that Faith mentions came from the part of the community who migrated from FFXI, as a similar feature exists there. In XI, players could sync down to the lowest level person in the party so that they would still be able to get a fair amount of experience for grinding mobs with each other, while also not being overpowered and thus allowing for players to have an easier time playing together, rather than spending all that time simply finding a group.
In response to people coming into Eureka later than others, Calian Solorus from Siren, who is elemental level 18, tells me, “I'd say for the time being those that are coming into it now have a good chance of catching up to everyone else. I've seen a lot of higher levels helping those in the lower tiers. Though with that I'd also say if you don't do it within, let’s say the next month, eventually people are going to move on like they had with Diadem. Not sure how they would adjust it at that point to be honest with you.”
Being at the end of Eureka, (with the final quest being available at elemental level 17), I asked Calian for some of his thoughts and hopes for what the next installment of Eureka will usher in, “My expectations would be different monsters and more story of course. As for changing things, I'd say not to rinse and repeat things from the old relics but that's about it. I like the grind but I know a lot of people don't. Though most people asked for harder content.”
So now how does a veteran FFXI players feel about this content? After hearing so much talk about how Eureka is essentially a love song to FFXI players, I had to ask Zygous Rek from Gilgamesh, elemental level 18, on whether or not Eureka gave him that nostalgia, “Absolutely,” he tells me, “many of the fate bosses are perfect homages to the HNMs of FFXI. I really like that the devs matched the old monster models perfectly instead of just taking the name of a monster from FFXI and putting it on a FFXIV monster model.” As for what he hopes to see in the next installment, he informs me “...I’ve always been interested by FFXIV’s story so I want to get to the bottom of this mystery. I really hope they do a few more FFXI throwbacks, I’d love to see more classic bosses and more pieces of glamour gear based on FFXI Armours; I’d love a Byrnie or Haubergeon for glamour. As for changes, I’d like there to be something else other than FATE bosses, maybe they will add specialized dungeons similar to the lost canals that allow for more focus on 8 players battling together instead of 100 people all fighting one boss.”
Pictured above is the Scorpion Harness - A glamour item carried over from FFXI
I personally love the idea of dungeons that are specific to Eureka Anemos. For a moment though, I was a bit confused how they could pull this off since Eureka in itself is an instance, however after thinking back to FFXI, Zygous reminds me that, “...but almost all content was open world in FFXI, so you could just walk into the big demon castle and you’d see other players there doing their thing.” which I think would make Eureka feel more alive, vibrant, and overall more exciting.
One thing I’ve noticed about Eureka is how it tends to strike up nostalgia in players. It would be hard to deny that the developers didn’t intend for that, with the many throwbacks to Final Fantasy XI, however even for those who played other grindy MMOs in the past, such as how Senozza mentioned, it can invoke a nostalgic and reminiscent feeling. There are also concerns on whether or not players will be able to catch up later on, and with a new installment on the way, I personally look forward to how they plan to address this issue. Hopefully we’ll have some light shed on these concerns during the Letter from the Producer LIVE which is scheduled for April 14. Hope you all have fun adventures in The Forbidden Land, Eureka Anemos!