Welcome back to another installment of Eorzea Reborn! While a large number of gamers this week are likely looking forward to playing through Fallout 4, myself included, I’m sure many other stalwarts of Eorzea and of Vana’diel are blazing through Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy XI’s latest updates.
It is bittersweet, then, that Final Fantasy XI’s updates are drawing to a close with this final update under the Rhapsodies of Vana’diel banner. At the same time, the advent of the As Goes Light, So Goes Darkness patch for FFXIV also brought with it a visitor from FFXI’s future.
Rhapsodies of Vana’diel
Being a WoW-era online gamer, I was never really able to afford a subscription to FFXI in its heyday, though, I have played enough of it in recent years to be enamored by the breadth and depth of things to do in the game.
Final Fantasy X’s Rhapsodies of Vana’diel version updates were meant to cap a 14-year run for the game’s storyline, expansions, and version updates.
While the game will keep chugging along, players shouldn’t expect new story content, though there is still some stuff planned. FFXI Producer Akihiko Matsui said in a message to the players,
As announced in March, we will continue minor version updates through and beyond April 2016. Each month we will bring you battlefields, Record of Eminence additions, balance adjustments, and bug fixes. Vana'diel's story does not end here, and in the near future we are planning a version update for December. We will have further updates in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned for more.
Gamer Escape mentioned, however, in an interview with Matsui that “The idea is to keep the servers open as long as possible, so your understanding would be greatly appreciated.”
From the discussions I’ve seen online, there’s a very meta-referential aspect to the story, as it revolves around the last remaining island in the Far East that, in the future, has not been consumed by something called The Emptiness.
Now, with the end of content updates for the game, it seems like players’ fears are for FFXI’s sunsetting, and The Emptiness seems like a good metaphor for it.
If you’ve still got your FFXI account, now seems like an awesome time to go back to the game, if only to level up your strongest class and check out the Rhapsodies storyline chapters.
FFXIV’s Patch 3.1
Final Fantasy XIV also introduced the long-awaited continuation to the main story quests, as well as new dungeons, gear and items, and new activities.
FFXIV Patch 3.1 covers quite a bit of ground in terms of stuff to cover, but I find myself gravitating towards the new activities and abilities more than continuing the story at the moment, so allow me to focus on those.
For starters, Airship Exploration has arrived, allowing up to 3 groups of 8 free company members or a pick-up group of up to 8 people to take to the Diadem in search of treasure and fame… well, mostly treasure.
Players need to have finished the “Heavensward” quest to play this new activity, and up to 72 players (9 groups of 8 players) can be on a single map. It’s meant to be a little luck-driven as the gear picked up from the Diadem have random statistics on them.
The immediate reception for Diadem gear appears to be somewhat mixed, unfortunately, as some folks consider Diadem gear with optimal statistics to be best in slot and will consider grinding the heck out of Airship exploration adventures just to get better gear.
The second new activity is Lord of Verminion (LoV). a minion-based real-time strategy game of sorts in The Gold Saucer. Word of mouth appears to be that, due to the influx of other activities, LoV isn’t too popular quite yet, though that may change once people start looking for more things to do.
One of my issues with both Airship Exploration and LoV, however, is that they suffer from something I noticed in a number of online games: the minigame or activity is played, enjoyed, then forgotten once the fanciness of the new game mechanic wears out and the rewards for participating are no longer commensurate to the effort it takes to play the game.
In FFXI, I felt that with the arrival of new shinies, so to speak, activities like the Moblin Maze Mongers got lost in the shuffle.
I’m really hoping FFXIV doesn’t suffer that same trap, though that may be a topic of discussion for another day.
Vana’diel’s Transdimensional time-traveler
Lastly, one of the more interesting events is another transdimensional time-limited adventure, much like Lightning or Shantotto’s journeys to Eorzea.
Titled “The Maiden’s Rhapsody,” Iroha of FFXI’s Rhapsodies of Vana’diel will be making a special appearance through the quest series, which will last from now till December 31.
She’s going to likely have the same problem as she did in FFXI, which is stopping The Emptiness of the Future from affecting Vana’diel, though how that will play out while she’s in a different dimension is beyond me. Perhaps she’s trying to stop Eorzea from experiencing The Emptiness as well.
Of course, they could make this so much easier if FFXIV and FFXI had dimension-hopping technology and we could chuck the FFXIV player base at FFXI’s problems, but well, that’s more a wish than anything else.
In any event, I’ll have a run through and impressions of some of the other features in the coming weeks. I just want to find someone who’ll share their in-game house with me for… testing purposes. Cheers!