A few months ago, I wrote about The Forbidden Land of Eureka, a new endgame area in Final Fantasy XIV. The colourfully named zone hosts an untamed wilderness, full of enemies far stronger than anything you might find on mainland Eorzea that’s modelled after an older generation of MMORPGS — there’s ridiculously strong mobs, rare spawns, and even EXP loss on death, though it offers a side-story featuring Krile and high-level gear for those who’re able to overcome its challenges.
I really wanted to like it, but after experimenting on the island for a few hours, I decided it wasn’t for me. Getting started in Eureka isn’t easy, and, on launch, I think a lot of people watched the first few cutscenes, staggered out of the camp you start in, and fought a couple of level one enemies while wondering: ‘Is this everything?’
I’ll be honest and say that this is pretty much where I was at for a couple of months, and it left me with a relatively bad impression that I thought I’d never shift. But one of the things introduced in patch 4.3 has managed to pull me back in. That’s the addition of the Challenge Log to Eureka. What this does is afford players huge EXP bonuses for completing objectives in the zone.
This solves two of Eureka’s problems. One is that initial feeling that the grind is way too hard. If someone tells you that it’s about killing mobs until you hit level 20, and killing level one enemies for half an hour to hit level 2 doesn’t fill you with enthusiasm, it’s easy to see why you might decide that Eureka isn’t for you. Now, the grind is much easier, and the progress much more tangible. You kill 60 enemies, you get most of a level (if not the entire thing, depending on your starting point). That’s a lot easier to process and to motivate yourself to do.
The second issue it solves is that it gives people direction. Previously, you were left to your own devices. Some people loved this. Others, not so much. There are many resources for those who want to get stuck into Eureka — detailed maps showing where mobs spawn, various guides, and so on — but it’s hard to know what to do with them when you’re essentially plonked in the middle of nowhere and told to get on with things. Now, you can look at one of those maps, see that you need to kill X number of ice enemies near your level, and actually set out and do that.
It’s amazing how much of a difference the challenge log has made. My elemental level (that is, the player level when on Eureka) has gone from level 3 to level 13 over the course of a few hours spread over a couple of weeks, and I’m actually motivated to keep messing around in there. It’s also given me a way to progress solo, something immensely important when I work nights and normally can’t log on until 3AM — long after most players have logged off and got some shut eye.
It’s also given me the opportunity to actually get a proper impression of Eureka, and, now it’s more accessible, I think that there’s a lot to like. It really is one of the most beautiful zones the team have ever designed, that manages to remain cohesive despite wildly varying weather and biomes. It’s done a good job of making people group up outside of the duty finder, forcing people to talk to each other and work together outside of structured content like raids and dungeons.
And I think there’s a lot of neat ideas: The magia board has finally made use of elemental resistances, having to keep track of the weather and time of day if you’re hunting specific mobs actually leaves you feeling like you’re on an expedition, and it finally feels like there’s some real, meaningful open world content (even if Eureka is technically instanced, it doesn’t really play like it).
Of course, it’s still not perfect. Getting relic armor is too heavily reliant on FATE farming to be truly appealing or , though reaching a point where you can easily FATE farm is now much less of a hassle. The fact that you can’t sync to the same level as other people in your group in order to facilitate playing with people you’re actually friends with is a massive missed opportunity, and it’s something that needs to change — I can’t effectively play with people I know unless they’re very close to me in terms of their elemental level, which almost nobody is.
Red Mage and Summoner are by far the best jobs to play in there, and even with the challenge log, some of the players I know who have kids or other serious life commitments still have trouble getting stuck in, as a foray into the wilds takes some time and isn’t something you can easily stop at a moment’s notice.
But the game mode has taken a huge stride forward with just one simple addition. I know for a fact that it’s brought in a lot more players who previously avoided Eureka, and it’s left me in a position where I’m excited to see what the Pagos expedition, the next addition to the zone, brings in patch 4.36.