Patch 3.5 is here! With The Far Edge of Fate, we have a new raid, a new extreme primal and two dungeons to chew on. That — along with a host of quality of life changes and additions across the board — have really built upon the content available. This is only part one, with the second part due in March, but what’s here is hugely substantial.
If you haven’t had a chance to play or just read another perspective, I tackled some of the new content. Here’s a quick review of FFXIV’s first patch of 2017. Be warned: many, many spoilers ahead.
Papalymo don’t preach
Jeez, the main scenario is an emotional rollercoaster. You know when you meet an old friend you haven’t seen in ages and it turns out they’re not in town long enough for you to catch up properly? Yeah. It’s a bit like that.
Papalymo, who returned in 3.4, is already gone. Ilberd returned, too — of course he’s the Griffin — but instead of saying “Hey, tell Raubahn I’m sorry for cutting his arm off,” or, “sorry for framing you for murder and forcing you to flee to dragon-Vatican,” he taunts the warrior of light, gives birth to a meme, and summons what will probably be the first primal of Stormblood. Cheers, dude. Real nice to see you too.
The MSQ is short this time around (just five quests), and easily tackled in an evening, but it’s a fun whistle-stop tour with many familiar faces. Aymeric tries to wine and dine you again, which is fine by me, and Emmanellain seems to have secured gainful employment as the new commander of Camp Dragonhead. Doman refugee leader Yugiri returns, too, with a new voice actor who fits the role really well.
There’s a lot of cool nods, including dialogue that lends weight to the idea that Stormblood will introduce the Samurai class; a Doman warrior talks about the Samurai battling the Garleans back home. You could see Yugiri bringing katana-wielding reinforcements now she’s a major player again.
The trailer made the cliffhanger ending pretty hard to guess, and the patch itself has done a good job of setting up everyone who will have a role in the next expansion. We’ll see the true conclusion of Heavensward in the Far Edge of Fate part two, which comes in March, but what’s here now is well worth seeing if you care even a little about what’s going on in Eorzea.
I have just two criticisms: I wish there was more story content for this patch, and I hope this is the last we see of Nidhogg’s bloody eyes. I’ve had enough dragons for one lifetime.
Koji foxed by spoilers
Have sympathy for those who had 3.5’s ending spoiled. But also have some sympathy for Michael-Christopher Koji Fox, who heads up localization for FFXIV. In a spectacular own goal, he appears to have headed up the decision to give those who complete the Far Edge of Fate part one the title ‘Papalymo’s final witness’, which is mere inches away from being our equivalent of ‘Aeris dies’. In some ways it’s worse, because this is an online game. You can’t just blackout all news until you’ve seen the ending: that title was the first thing I saw when I logged in yesterday.
An apology was posted on the official forums on Koji’s behalf for his “inexcusable error in judgment”. He promises that such missteps won’t happen again, and says a hotfix is coming. It will probably end up being some variant on Master Pupil, as is the case in other territories (France, Germany, etc).
It’s a big mistake, but I hope he’s not beating himself up too much. Papalymo’s Final Witness is a bit too clever really; you get the title The Final Witness for finishing The Binding Coil of Bahamut, the 2.0 raid series, and finding out what happened to Louisoix, who cast the same spell that appears to have taken Papalymo’s life. The entire 3.5 MSQ is designed to evoke parallels between Louisoix and Papalymo, even borrowing a musical phrase from Bahamut’s theme, Answers. A reprise to the title you earn in Coil, given that the raid was essentially Louisoix’s epitaph, makes a certain sort of sense — it’s just a shame that the one they chose ruined this patch’s big twist.
Fun and games in Dun Scaith
Patch 3.5 rounds off the Shadows of Mhach series with Dun Scaith, the third and final Heavensward alliance raid. Here’s a hot take: it’s way easier than Weeping City. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that after a couple of weeks of people running it, it’ll be about as easy as Crystal Tower is now.
Perhaps the developers took a dim view of how Ozma caused entire groups to break down towards the end of a long 24 man raid and reassessed the difficulty of these encounters; even Void Ark’s Cu Chulainn seems harder than anything here. None of the mechanics feel particularly important. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing; it’s pulpy, pretty, and bosses are a little easier to surmount with random groups. Boss HP seems a fair bit lower compared to the encounters in Weeping City, which is nice as some of them really started to drag on after a while.
The Mhach storyline ends here. It’s far less dramatic than the MSQ, and that’s OK. The Mhach series has always been a mess of silly faces and exuberant demons, and if this ended in a downer I think it’d make the story content in this patch a bit too dour. I don’t think I could deal with losing Cait Sith, the feline friend I never knew I needed.
It’s time for another extreme primal! Introducing Zurvan, the demon of the Warring Triad. The fight is pretty easy; while people suggested would be harder than A12S, it’s probably on par with A9S or A10S. Which makes sense, really: if this fight was harder than A12S, why not do that instead? It drops better gear.
I think this rumor came from a comment Yoshida made that Zurvan extreme would offer a challenge to people that had cleared savage raids. Turns out the opposite is true: if you outgear the fight, you can skip numerous phases and reduce the entire thing to a triviality. It’s on par with Sophia extreme, if not even easier. It becomes quite a bit more difficult if your DPS is sluggish, but that’s true of all fights, and even the weakest groups should be able to muddle through with good communication.
I’m sure this will disappoint the hardcore playerbase, and I don’t blame them, as there won’t be anything harder than A12S until Stormblood at this point. As a midcore player, though, I’m pretty satisfied. It’s not terribly hard to pug and well worth it for those that won’t be able to get a weapon from Alex Savage. This represents your best non-relic upgrade until you can get Gobdip from Dun Scaith / hunts in March, and it’s much less of a grind by comparison.
Normal mode is pretty forgettable. The story’s good, though — I felt bad for a Garlean! — so even if you have no interest in doing Zurvan extreme, you should still see it through to the end.
Stormblood pre-order news
There was a livestream earlier today concerning Stormblood preorder bonuses and what you’ll get for buying the special edition of the expansion. It’s worth checking out an archive (slides have English translations) to see everything in motion.
If you don’t have time, though, here’s the important stuff: you can preorder on January 24 unless you’re on steam which means you’ll have to wait until May. You’ll get a pair of Ala Mhigan earrings and a wind-up Red Mage minion as a bonus.
A complete edition of the game, with both expansions and A Realm Reborn, will go on sale after stormblood comes out. The collector's edition looks pretty amazing — although at $200, it had better be.
That’s all from me this week. What’s your favorite part of 3.5? Did you see the twist at the end coming? Will you be preordering Stormblood? Let us know in the comments!