Patch 4.11 has been around for about a month now and 4.15 is just around the corner for Final Fantasy XIV. It is time we take a look at the state of the realm so far. The director and producer of Naoki Yoshida (Yoshi-P) has stated that odd-numbered patches will introduce one new instanced dungeon, both to curtail and maintain a lower number of dungeons, as well as to focus their resources on other things. In addition to the dungeon, the game has updated some interface options, introduced to us the extreme version of the 8-man boss battle against Shinryu, and opened up housing in the Shirogane area. However, perhaps most exciting, this patch has brought the 24-man raid known as The Royal City of Rabanastre.
Players have been calling the initial patch, 4.1, the “Ivalice patch”, referenced by Rabanastre’s appearance in the Final Fantasy XIV world. Rabanastre, being a city from Ivalice in Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics. The raid itself is a collaboration between a few different creators. The story was written by a guest creator, Yasumi Matsuno, who directed and wrote for Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII. The boss designs come from Keita Amemiya, creator of the Garo series in Japan. This is not the first time that Yoshi-P has brought the Garo series into Eorzea, starting first by bringing armor-designs from the series into the game to be won through PvP matches.
The raid introduces some fairly new, and difficult mechanics that even veteran players of FFXIV have struggled with. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that if you plan on taking on the raid, you will need more than the usual situational awareness in every single fight, even against the trash pulls in between the boss fights.
Additionally, following the Final Fantasy XIV tradition, the “extreme” version of the Shinryu fight from patch 4.0 has also been introduced. Promising to be much different and a new challenge, the new boss raid, known to players as “Shinryu EX”, has been a welcome challenge. Players are still challenging the dragon primal to an unforgettably difficult, yet fun, battle. And of course, getting those sweet Shinryu EX weapons.
Of course, no fight has compared to the Unending Coils of Bahamut raid which dropped with patch 4.11. Two weeks ago, there was still no group who could complete the intense raid, which has been out now for about a month. As of November 4th, an unnamed group from Japan took first place in the raid too and finally completed it. After which, team “Blacklist” and team “/bahamutsize Ultimate” (a reference to the newly implemented command in which players can now reduce or increase the size of a Summoner’s Bahamut) take second and third place, respectively. More teams are still rolling out their wins, and we are now up to 10 out of about 100 teams who are still making their rounds.
Players who complete the Unending Coils of Bahamut will be able to grab a special golden weapon. Much like the golden weapons in Overwatch, these were created to create a sense of achievement in players who have put some serious blood, sweat, and tears into finally completing the raid. Of course, if you’re a real hardcore player, you’d probably want to get the weapon on every job, if you could. But that’s another story.
As it stands, the amount of content is low compared to previous patch cycles, and with good reason. Developers have toned down the number of new dungeons implemented into the game per patch in order to focus on many other aspects, such as UI changes and other slice-of-life details. Similarly, Yoshi-P has said that he does not want to see the number of dungeons increase too quickly since the game is currently holding 58 dungeons, with more to come when 4.2 drops. To put that number into perspective, the game is only four years old. That’s a lot of dungeons.
Still, even Yoshi-P knows you can only repeat the same content so many times before you get tired of it and has promised that the rollout of new dungeons will continue. Just, slower.
Patch 4.15 is said to bring some small changes and some new PvP content, as well as a little bit of fun content in the form of “bard actions” for roleplayers and others who are creatively-inclined. Bard actions will allow players to play music in-game using a set of keys on in-game instruments. A good way for some to pass the time.
The PvP content that is to make it’s way to the realm in 4.15, changes up the PvP players have been used to and makes things a little more like a MOBA. Known as “Rival Wings”, the new content will put players on teams of Red versus Blue, and have them fight alongside little minion-like machines in order to destroy towers, and ultimately, the “core” of the other team. If you imagined League of Legends or Paragon, that does seem to be where FFXIV is going with this new PvP content.
So far, I’d give the patch series as a whole an 8 out of 10 stars, and this particular patch (4.1-4.11) the same score. I am happy to see these changes coming into the game in such a pace to keep players happy, but also to keep the team focused, especially for the minor patches that come after major patches like 4.1. Players are so accustomed to having little content come out in minor patches, yet, it seems that the developers have really been trying to give us something new and shiny to keep our attention until the next major patch. So, good on them.
Overall, it certainly seems that the game is heading in a very new, and interesting direction, and is not afraid to experiment with new content and features to stand out among the other pay-to-play MMORPGs on the market.