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Columns: The News Doesn't Stop Just Because It's Christmas

By Michael O’Connell-Davidson on December 23, 2016

The News Doesn't Stop Just Because It's Christmas

Man, 2016. What a year, eh? Almost every prediction I made this time last year was wrong —  and that’s just Final Fantasy XIV.

I thought Palace of the Dead would be underwhelming. It emerged as one of this game’s most enjoyable side activities (and I STILL haven’t hit floor 200). Alexander, which was poorly-received in comparison to Coil, ended well; in fact, I’d go as far as to say the weaving of narrative and encounters was excellent. We killed Niddhogg — again — and Ozma killed everyone. But that last one is fine, because we’ll always be able to blame Alliance C.

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My only sadness is that neither Exponential Entropy nor Brute Justice Mode made it onto FFXV’s car stereo. But whatever - with patches to that game coming, my hopes are still alive. Forward and backward ...

Today’s column is a mishmash of things. The Japanese XIV community team released this year’s census on a Nicovideo stream a few days ago, more info about patch 3.5 has emerged, and we round off with some reflection and some thanks.

The 2016 census is here

The XIV community has been responsible for a lot of great stuff this year, ranging from Nest’s group videos to that incredible Dragoon cosplay. But if you want to see just how much great stuff we’ve done, this year’s census is now out in the wild, after it appeared on a Community Stream a couple of days ago. Don’t read japanese? There’s a translation on Reddit.

It’s worth looking at in full, but if staring at pie charts isn’t really your thing, here’s some stuff worth knowing.

  • Dark Knight is the most popular tank by a long shot. The other Heavensward jobs, Machinist and Astrologian, are the least popular in their role categories.
  • Scholar is the most popular healer, while summoner is the most popular DPS, presumably because they share a base class. The most popular non-SMN DPS job is BLM.
  • Savage clears are up significantly on last year. Nearly 20,000 players cleared A12S between September and November; by comparison, just 58 (!) cleared A4S between July and September 2015.
  • Only 13.1% of people who have made it past floor 100 in Palace of the Dead have made it to 200. Only a third make it to 180. Unsurprisingly, the Deep Dungeon’s mount - the Black Pegasus - is one of the rarest in the game.
  • As was the case last year, weavers are the most popular crafting job to specialise in.
  • Japan has the most female characters, the US and Americas the most male, and Europe has the most Mi’qote.

It’s not a surprise that savage clears are up; A9S is probably easier than Sophia, and SE have clearly learned a great deal from the hell that was Gordias savage. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: there’s never been a better time to start raiding. If you’re casual but looking for a New Years’ resolution, why not give Raid Finder next year?

Looking towards 2017 and Patch 3.5

3.5 is about a month away, and its release mark will the end of Heavensward’s major content patches. The only other patch before the next expansion, 3.55 (due in March), will be substantial, though almost certainly story focused. We’ve carried news about what’s coming in 3.5 before, but a few more details have emerged onthe Japanese site 4Gamer.net and the Lodestone ahead of this week’s JP fanfest.

The Lodestone’s main scenario preview shows a new character — a Mi’qote with a familiar hairstyle — who is presumably Ala Mhigan. The Scions, reunited with Papalymo and Yda and bolstered by Alisaie and Krile, set their sights on “distant horizons”. The Griffin is in the thumbnail along with some smoke, so expect him to properly out himself as a bad guy.

The 4Gamer piece carries more story previews, including a screenshot showing all of the major faction leaders holding a conference. This should provide us with a clue as to whether or not our activities in Stormblood will be officially backed by the Eorzean Alliance — and if so, what role the city states will play in liberating their desert neighbour. Perhaps they’ll be able to make up for not offering much help in Ishgard.

Also on the Lodestone is some info about new dungeons. No surprises insofar as Baelsar’s Wall is concerned; you’ll be fighting Garleans on the border between Gridania and Ala Mhigo. The description of Sohm Al is quite interesting, though. The demise of the Dravanian Horde has made the mountain prime real estate for other nasties, who’ve moved in to fill the vacuum. This leaves the door open to more non-dragon dungeons in Dravania, so maybe we’ll return here even after Stormblood comes out.

Information about the last Warring Triad primal is creeping out in the form of new screenshots, but there’s not really any hard info. Based on previous encounters, though, you can expect a two-phase boss fight with fun music and tokens for i265 weapons.

Oh, and pics of the new armor sets are out. If you want to look like Rolento, now you can!

Sian Blake and Yugiri

You’ll notice that one of the images in the 4Gamer article shows Yugiri, who has been mostly absent since Sian Blake, her English voice actor, died last year.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since Blake was killed (December 15 2015). It feels a lot more recent: she was a Londoner like me, and her murder was a regular item in the media up until her killer was convicted a couple of months ago. (She was best known in Britain for her role on popular soap EastEnders.)

Voice actors are underappreciated, so it was nice to see the community come together with suggestions on how best to memorialise the part Blake played in FFXIV. I think one of the best ways to do that is to take her work forward — for she had an important role in shaping the way Yugiri was seen by players — and so it’s good to see Yugiri appearing in previews like this. I look forward to seeing what they do with her, and I hope one day we get the visit Doma.

A year on, I hope that the people who enjoyed Blake’s work find a moment to consider those left behind by what happened last year. The holidays suck for a lot of people; I can’t imagine how hard it must be for her family and friends.

And finally...

On a lighter note, I’d just like to take this opportunity to say thank you to a couple of people. First to Yoshi and the team at Square Enix; it’s easy to be critical, and I often am. But FFXIV is an amazing game and they’ve done fantastic work on it. Half of the things I would have complained about this time last year have been fixed, and features are routinely added that I wouldn’t have even conceived of. I’m definitely not alone in appreciating everything they do, so long may it continue.

I’d also like to say thanks to the community that makes this game what it is, to my guild (Passion, on Cerberus) who’ve mostly tolerated my awful banter and done a great deal to make me a better player, as well as the team at MMORPG.com who’ve been amazingly supportive in the short time I’ve been here.

And I’d like to thank you guys as well. I really appreciate every click and comment. Have a wonderful Christmas, and I’ll be back shortly after the new year with all the news out of JP fanfest.

Michael O’Connell-Davidson / Michael O'Connell-Davidson is MMORPG.com's FFXIV columnist. Follow him on twitter @mikeocd.

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