Once everyone was able to log in to play the already-delayed Endwalker, it was hard to not wonder how Final Fantasy 14 would pan out in the months that followed.
The start of 2022 saw players finally able to log into the game after some queue glitches that caused frequent frustrations for those hoping to take their Warriors of Light through the end of the “Hydaelyn and Zodiark” arc ten years in the making. In December 2021, players were given male Viera, two new classes, and new crafting content, which meant that nearly everything else promised in the 6.X series was yet to come in the new year, including the first standard raids in early January.
Now, already, the year has come and is wrapping up, and we’ve gotten much of what we were promised by the developers. With the new 6.3 patch and plenty more coming less than two weeks away, we now have a chance to look back at what FFXIV gave its players, for better or worse, after that initial Endwalker release.
In a year of consistently decent hits by the FFXIV team, it’s hard to pick a few highlights, which can be seen as good for the community and bad for me, the writer of this article, who would rather not write 5000 words in one piece before the end of 2022.
The highlight for many players would likely be the release of Island Sanctuary. Despite it being Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon-like content, everyone speedran it like it was an endgame raid. Still, I’m sure quite a few people are actually taking their time with it as intended, especially given it takes the relaxing element of non-combat leveling systems and isolates it. No marketboard pressure, a few anti-speedrun measures to ensure you take a break, and letting your minions run free? It’s everything we could have wanted.
For those of us doing more of the standard content, we were absolutely fed this year with great stuff. Not at the least, everyone is thirsting over the gods. Without exaggeration, I’ve never seen the entire FFXIV fanbase get as rabid as it has over the now-nine reveals of the Twelve for the “Myths of the Realm” alliance raids. And to be fair, have you seen Byregot’s trunk-sized stilts? That man could craft with his thighs alone.
Crafters have also been given plenty of work, as Mrs. Leveilleur began to not-so-humbly request her services. I don’t know whether it was a genius idea or utter mistake to make her full Trust level the ability to dress her up. It sure was one of the ideas ever executed by the team. We can’t say it wasn’t a successful draw, though, if my Twitter feed was anything to go by.
And that’s a little less of the serious stuff, because we did get some delicious Voidsent lore through the core story, as well as an NPC, Zero, that has made the fans shift a little bit less of their focus from Zenos. The lore fans are winning, and the Voidsent roleplayers are winning; if you listen closely, you can hear the fans that are wondering where the Thirteenth shard of the Warrior of Light buzzing in their seats in anticipation, too. Not to mention, we got some sick dungeon glams out of The Fell Court of Troia.
We also had the revamp of the end-of-base-game updates, which I went over a little more in detail a while back. In summary, they provide a more thorough and less confusing finale for new players and those stuck in the MSQ roulette alike. It’s a far more dramatic ending, as players deserve for making it through such a long-winded campaign, and it made many less hesitant to recommend the full game and four expansions to newcomers.
Oh, and login queue issues were fixed! That was great news. It was interesting and insightful to hear that there were 1.0 holdouts in that regard, and it’s not perfect still, but it gave us insight as to how A Realm Reborn was pulled together from the ashes of the original 1.0 edition.
Unfortunately, in the rare case that there were bad things, they almost always escalated directly to “awful.”
The launch of the housing lottery was the earlier bookend of such terrible things. Upon the completion of the first cycle of the lottery, most players were finding that there were no winners–or more precisely, more than half the winners were lottery number “0.” (Numbers started at 1.) In other words, almost nobody won their estates to start.
Eventually, the team found a way to comb through all the results and give the proper winners their estates. Meanwhile, players collected their deposits, assuming they’d lost given housing lotteries had hundreds of entrants per in many servers. Upon completion of the fix, devs merely asked for the money back in exchange for some straight-up “whoopsies” commemoration posters What should have been the introduction of a fair system for players, as opposed to an annoying drudge of a race, became a mess of confusion and frustration for those that joined, but at least some people have their posters now, and the system is up and running as it should be.
At the end of the year, less directly tied to FFXIV itself, but instead the team behind it, was an answer from Yoshida to an interview about character diversity in the upcoming Final Fantasy XVI. When asked about the lack of racial diversity, he pointed to something along the lines of historical accuracy in medieval-era media and the research being done. Thanks to plenty of modern historians who dug deeper, it’s now well-documented that brown and Black people played a role in medieval life as not only citizens, but also artisans and even knights of real life and folklore, so it’s sort of a stretch.
It’d be a little less frustrating for FFXIV fans if the MMORPG didn’t have weird back-and-forths about skin tone and Japanese nationalism, but the good-faith research into the nations and histories that inspired Gyr Abania and Thavnair in FFXIV at least backs up the research excuse for the mainline title. Sometimes one wishes they’d research a little bit more colorfully, you know?
In not-that-bad-but-still-mentionable news, right in the middle of the year were the Square Enix hacking attempts and the overhaul of the gifting system, which no longer uses gift codes but instead, a friend-to-friend send system. The system change means lesser, more convoluted gifting and giveaways, but it was supposedly in response to the uptick of scams and reselling frustrations, as well as the hack, as many assumed that Square was on thin ice with credit card services.
We can’t get through a year-in-review piece without recalling a few moments that made us all blink at the screen a bit.
Officially, we learned that the Sil’dih mouse that’s a boss, mount, and minion is… not a mouse. It’s the dust thing on its tail. How incredibly cursed.
In further cursed official knowledge, we learned that the two-week extra testing period actually powered up the developers too hard. That’s not a joke. They realized that they spent so long learning and testing the fifth through eighth Savage-tier raids in Pandaemonium that they accidentally made the last two bosses too difficult to compensate. No, I’m not kidding:
Under normal circumstances, the DPS of this team serves as a base for determining a boss HP value that results in clears as close to the time limit as possible. However, as extra time was dedicated to testing this battle, the team's overall performance proved to be higher than usual. As a result, the base values used for adjustments were too high, with final values roughly 1% higher than intended.
They brought down the HP as a result, but let it be known, games industry: Remove Crunch. Power Up Your Devs. Looking at you, Callisto Protocol.
On a more unofficial note, how can we ever forget the 18+ RP party billboard? I can’t let any of you forget that. A lot of people have been getting really bold after the pandemic. We need to keep this billboard as a reminder to humble ourselves, lest our wings melt and we drown in the waters beyond the edge of Limsa Lominsa while scantily-clad catgirls point and laugh. Please don’t be this person next year nor, preferably, ever.
Finally, they used our quote from our Endwalker review (my review, technically) in this promotional material for the 50% off sale:
(North America) Looking for the perfect holiday gift? Or want to treat yourself? ??#FFXIV Endwalker and Complete Edition are 50% off on Square Enix Store, PlayStation Store, and Mog Station until Jan. 18, 2023! ??? https://t.co/5CeXqNyV0I pic.twitter.com/N08XyUC06a— FINAL FANTASY XIV (@FF_XIV_EN) December 21, 2022
It’s hard to anticipate that 2023 won’t be at least a decent year for Final Fantasy 14, if 2022’s work is anything to go by.
Truth is, even if one doesn’t like the content out of personal taste, it’s been outstandingly consistent in quality. It seems the FFXIV team has really finally found a release routine that works creatively and technically, which may be bolstered in part by the extra two weeks for testing.
But just as much as that, with the uptick of a diverse playerbase and the successes and frustrations of Shadowbringers, the team seems to have a better idea of balancing approachability for all types of players and the bottom line of the game and company. Not at the least, it seems the team has been given a little more wiggle room to do what they want instead of shrinking back creatively and staying safe for player growth.
Despite its own drawbacks, in the new year, here’s hoping that the Final Fantasy XIV keeps earning its spot as one of the standout live service games in a competitive, often-troubling and troubled industry.
What are you looking forward to in 2023?