Diadem’s back! The exploratory missions initially introduced in Patch 3.1 — and then temporarily nyxed in 3.5 — have made a return to the game, bringing with them new content and some familiar problems.
The new Diadem’s structure is more rigid than the previous one. As before, you’re placed in a huge map with various beasties. Scattered around are rough FATE-equivalents (so random overworld events) from which you can get ‘damaged lockboxes’.
These are essentially tokens, and you can exchange a number of them for undamaged lockboxes that will contain various things including i265 gear with semi-random stats. Here’s an example; the two stats listed are fixed, but random secondary stats are applied on top of that. If it’s crap or you don’t need it, you can exchange these pieces of gear for spoils, which can then be exchanged for other items. It’s a bit of a currency-fest — as mechanics in modern MMOs tend to be — but it’s a lot more intuitive if you sit down and do it.
If you’re lucky an emergency mission will spawn; at this point, it’s not 100% clear how to trigger them. Think of emergency missions like a super-FATE, like Gorgimera in Northern Thanalan, or Cancer near Costa del Sol. They are tough, and take multiple parties to complete, so make sure you’re all on the same page before pulling anything. These big monsters drop item level 280 weapons randomly. You might luck out and get something useful, or you might not get anything at all.
Various unlockables available include minions and various crafting mats / sets, and there are lots of opportunities for gatherers, too, so it’s not just for people looking to gear up.
I suspect players who did not enjoy the original Diadem will find much here to obsess over. It’s certainly different, though not so different that one might totally revise their opinion on the original, particularly those who hold FATEs in contempt.
However, if you did enjoy the Diadem as it was introduced, or you wanted the rewards but it just couldn’t hold your attention, this is a solid update and the gold-rush to get high level gear from it will keep queues moving at a clip for a little while. I wasn’t a big fan of the original, but I want to at least give it time before I write it off. I mean, there’s definitely going to be a patch to it at least once. Otherwise, what will they do about all this Japanese text they left over in the localization?
Now, I mentioned familiar problems earlier. Let’s talk about those.
You may find that doing it with random people is also a bit of a schlep; as before, and indeed as with most content, you’ll find it significantly more enjoyable with a premade party. A friend of mine described her first experience in neo-Diadem: “We went in and did a fate with a star-enemy [notorious monster], got swiped and everybody died. Then everyone left one by one, and two of the people that stayed went off to gather.” GG.
Furthermore, there’s a storm over the rewards on offer. Original Diadem also got significant flak for providing rewards that eclipsed rewards from Savage-mode raids. And it’s happened again:
Item level 280 is the highest attainable in the game, and the stats pictured above are insane. You don’t roll on them — they just drop into your inventory — so you can end up with something for any job. Most people won’t want to grind for them because of this, but others might feel compelled to. Certainly those speed-running raids or who’re still trying to do the later tiers of Alexander Savage will. Good luck to them, because there are several layers of RNG between you and getting what you want.
There’s plenty of sentiment from people who believe this isn’t a significant enough update and that the Diadem’s flaws are a problem that eclipses anything concerning the rewards. Again, I want to give it time before I judge anything like that — but what I will say is that I can’t really believe that Anima Weapons have been outclassed in a week.
The final stage of the Anima quest, of which the whole series takes probably hundreds of hours in total, boosted weapons to i275 and was released only last Tuesday. Now, nine days later, you can pick up i280 weapons for almost no effort. What’s even more unbelievable is that Diadem was supposed to release with 3.55 last week, i.e. at the same time as the final Anima Weapon update. I can’t imagine what the reaction that would be. (And I say this as someone that’s never really bothered with the Anima)
You could make the case that, if you’re not up to date on your relic weapon now, it would be significantly more rewarding to just fish for one of these i280 weapons over the coming weeks. It won’t take nearly as long, you’ll get rewards other than what you’re looking for, and while it won’t look as cool, that’s nothing a glamour couldn’t fix. There’s simply no reason to fight through the Anima slog unless… Well, I dunno. Maybe you’re desperate for the minion? The glamour? There’s no significant gameplay benefit at this point, though, and certainly nothing worth the time investment for any normal player.
I can only hope that the relic weapons and planned relic armor in Stormblood don’t suffer from this same problem. I’d be seriously pissed if I invested all that time into something that was made obsolete a week later.