I’ve been meaning to say a few things about Final Fantasy XIV for a while now. Since my last post, patch 5.2 has come out, and patch 5.3… hasn’t come out.

By the normal schedule, 5.3 should have been out in early July, but with 2020 being… the mess that it is, SquareEnix had to delay things, and it’ll finally be out about a day after this post.

While frustrating for a lot of people, this has actually been very good news for me, as it means I’ve had a lot of extra time to get caught up on more side-projects in game. First off, I’d kind of given up on crafting after getting crushed by difficulty of high-quality crafting in the Heavensward level range. A bit ago, SE really went in and re-did crafting, and took a lot of randomness out of it. There’s still the good-excellent-poor conditions to deal with, but the bulk of the abilities lost their 90-70% success rates, so you’re not gambling on something working at all.

At any rate, I’ve now gotten my four primary crafting classes up to max, and have gone through the associated stories. In addition, both mining and botany (which was a secondary for me) are maxed out. I’ve got more I’m working on, and I’m a bit behind on getting the Skysteel Tools (the relic ‘weapons’ for crafting and gathering), but this is the best shape that’s been for ages.

In addition to that, Thayrin and I have gone through the two available beast tribes for Shadowbringers. These are the FF XIV version of dailies, where you grind reputation… and get to learn more about the non-(demi)humans in the world. We did the latest first, the Qitari, who are a small, peaceful race returning to Rak’Tika now that the lightwarden is gone, and they explore some of what the Ronkan Empire was like. The other are the pixies, notably those who deal with the dreams of children, and you get go to the dream realm, which starts out plain, but ends up as a fairly heavily decorated mini-zone:

(The slides actually work. Sadly the roller-coaster/tram—the red platform running across that shot—does not.)

I have also had time to get more regular classes up to speed, starting with Red Mage, which is threatening to become my main class now. Bard has always been an awkward fit for me, as it’s more support, and less damage than I had originally assumed. However, the high-level tweaks to it for Shadowbringers were really appreciated, and I really felt in-tune with the class. At the same time, I’ve been spending a lot of time as Red Mage, which I’ve finally gotten leveled up, and I really like how it works as well. For the moment, Bard is still officially my main class….

I also finally got Monk up to max. Way back when, 15 levels of Pugilist (the class that turns into Monk) was required to get the Bard job. I did that, found it somewhat interesting at the time, but getting back to it has been continuously put off by other things. Overall, it was a frustrating class for me. I’m always more of a ranged person, but what really got me is how position-reliant it is, and how for best results, you’re constantly changing positions. That was just too much for too little payoff for me, and I really have to wonder how much of a hit they take on bosses without a facing, or you’re always facing the front of. The higher-level abilities started making the class a bit more interesting for me, but it’s still my least-desired job right now.

Currently, I’m working up Machinist, which is kind of the non-support version of Bard, so I’ve been wanting to look at it for a while now. I’ve got a ways to go on it, but the basic cycle is fine enough, and the specials are good. I’m still getting used to a couple of them, and trying to integrate it together in my mind, but it’s being a good job, and the story has been good. Considering that the 50s doldrums really are a thing in this game, my mid-50s ability set is really promising.

Further back than all of this was actually going through the story for the last two patches. In addition to the main story, the regular raids also tie in pretty solidly to what is going on (…actually, other than Alexander, this has generally been true), and was was going to be dealt with was hinted at in the end of the main story.

<< So yes, we’re getting into spoiler territory here, though I try to keep it kind of light. Be warned! (I mean it!) >>

At the end of Shadowbringers, the possibility of an Eighth Umbral Calamity is eliminated (at least until the Ascians can unbalance a different world), and Norvrandt is safe. But there’s an entire big world out there. A world that was wiped out a hundred years ago, by the flood of light, and is still empty of all life.

Eden seems like it might be the light warden for the rest of the world. So far, there’s been two “wings” out of three, and the plot’s had two separate threads. The dominant one so far has dealt with starting up aether flow in the Empty again, possibly allowing the world to heal itself over time. This has led to a series of battles against primals… not quite like what we’re used to, with more immediate than expected results, but also far more localized.

The other thread is more related to Eden itself, and… someone out there already knows a fair amount about what it is, while we are (figuratively) in the dark. So far, just what’s up is mysterious, but since we’ve actually gone through all the main elements (to get their aether flowing again), the last wing (due in patch 5.4…) will presumably focus on that, and getting this as a less localized phenomenon.

The main story has of course had several ongoing threads, most of which so far are dealing with wrapping up events from Shadowbringers. The most immediate need is to find a way to get the other Scion’s souls back to the Source, and rejoined with their bodies. This would be challenging at best, but of course there’s being complications, and lots of high-level discussion of what exactly constitutes the soul, how to package the aether up for transport across worlds, and… I highly suggest that if you want to go world-hopping, bring your body with you. It’s just easier that way.

Eulmore continues to put itself on a more solid footing. Chai-Nuzz has become the mayor, and Kai-Shirr becomes the new special deliveries person, who I’ve gotten very familiar with while leveling my crafting and gathering.

And of course, back on the Source, the war with Garlemald is in an uneasy stalemate again. And its obvious that that won’t last much longer, and the war that was to consume the world is going to lurch into action for the next expansion (just without Black Rose—poison gas—being nearly as potent, and possibly not used). There’s been some action inside the Empire itself, including a solo duty where you play as Estinien (these NPC duties continue to be an interesting idea, even if it took me a couple tries to get through it).

The unexpected bit is… Ardbert, the old Warrior of Light showing up again. Since he’s been dead for ages, and his soul has finally passed on, something else is afoot. Just what is a lot of the focus of the second patch, but of course, it’s nothing good.

Worse yet, Zenos van Galvus is also back. And it really is him.

Look, we did it by the book: We killed him, we had the body, and made sure of it. There was a nice gaping hole in his neck. And he’s still back. I really don’t need more returning villains, the Ascians are bad enough.

Of course, 5.2 also came out nearly on top of part one of the remake of Final Fantasy VII, so of course there’s a reference in the main plot:

And from everything given as background, yes, we’ll be going through several of the other Weapons as things heat up with the Garlean Empire again.

Finally, Smudge and I are still streaming on Saturdays and Sundays (@ 9:30 PM Pacific), and we’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of the stream. Saturday is challenge mode in Heaven on High (we’re getting very consistent about getting into the floor 70 region, but are still having trouble getting to 80), and Sundays are where we go through the early story on our Viera alts. It really is nice to see the early story again (it has been several years for me), though it just doesn’t measure up with where their writing is now.

Hare Band story playthrough archive.
Our streams on Twitch.