Final Fantasy XIV - In A Content Drought, Players Are The Oasis
This is it. I think I’ll survive my first Final Fantasy XIV content drought. And not just survive, but thrive.
Somewhere in the time since the last patch, near the end of April, I finished Shadowbringers and the MSQ that came with 5.2. And on one hand, the waiting began. But I learned I wouldn’t want to wait with any other community than FFXIV.
Back on April 8th, FFXIV dropped its most recent content with patch 5.25. We’ve had a few rehashed “events” rotate through since then, but nothing drastic. It’s safe to assume that many of us hoped the impending patch 5.3 would be a silver lining during the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, it was originally planned for June or July, when many countries would start pulling off pandemic restrictions.
Oh boy, were we wrong. But that’s okay, because the clouds are moving and the silver lining is in sight. August 11! Given how most of July vanished without a trace, that’s practically tomorrow!
Looking back, we can’t ignore how incredibly much the world changed just over three months. I don’t believe in a true “escape” from reality, especially not in a game as overtly political as FFXIV. (And we all gotta pay our subscriptions, right?)
Yet I believe in moving along with every part of life regardless, whether it’s our survival or the respite. And in times like these, an MMORPG like FFXIV gives the respite in more ways than one can imagine.
Of course, the development team does an incredible job of giving players things to do, ways to keep on moving forward. It’s still great to see every static raid group brag about their Epic of Alexander or Eden Savage clears. I love witnessing the dedication it takes for players to level up all their gathering and crafting classes, or just all of them, period. And I discovered that Treasure Hunts are just plain freaking fun.
But amazingly, it works the other way around. I’m in awe at how the world’s players get creative to make the experience memorable beyond the proper endgame.
That creativity really shined in special ways during the pandemic. It’d be a shame not to talk firstly about the heartbreaking moments of unity in funeral marches for Warriors of Light lost to COVID-19. These sorts of things happen in plenty of MMORPGs, but seeing the real-world grief of the pandemic reflected in FFXIV reminded me that, again, life must move on.
I also stumbled upon one “candlelight” vigil for Black Lives Matter. Organizers helped hand to hand out “candles” in the form of Sun and Moon minions, and the number of players in attendance ebbed and flowed over about two hours. It was an act of peaceful solidarity, and an empowering calm in the storm of the stress of the MMORPG grind.
On the flip side of real-life events, there were graduation ceremonies. Yes, actual graduations! Players across many data centers hosted these for real-life students who couldn’t attend their proper ceremonies. Just like actual graduation ceremonies, absolutely nobody listened to the request to not applaud for every single student. And, of course, so many people showed up that we couldn’t see all the students unless you were watching a separate stream. So it goes.
Then there are the roleplayers. As much as people make fun of them, they’re a creative bunch. I took some time to dabble in this decade-old habit of mine, and it was a ride. Most notably, I rolled a one in my first-ever fighting roll in an in-character battle tournament! Meanwhile, I definitely have several storylines that I left hanging (oops), but I was glad to have met so many talented creative writers. The imaginations and ambitions of players who love the world of FFXIV are really something.
Over time, I also found myself drifting across friend groups and Free Companies. At the start of the pandemic, I moved from a dead one into one that featured weekly events. I discovered FATE and mount farming among some wonderfully friendly players. If you’re looking to grind out the endgame, I really recommend finding an active Free Company. Eventually, though, I discovered more real-life friends played than I’d expected and moved into a FC with some of them instead.
That’s barely even everything I’ve seen and done in FFXIV during this content “drought.” There are memes, speculation, training to optimize one’s job, training for alt jobs, grinding out Relic Weapons, and even bard shows that must go on.
Out of game, weary players are echoing director Naoki Yoshida’s advice — if you’re burning out, just unsubscribe for a while. And honestly? I really do get it and even agree. Unfortunately, there is a life beyond MMORPGs, and not everyone has the energy to seek out constant activities in-game.
But despite this “drought,” I never really found myself parched. Maybe I was just lucky, or maybe I’m just optimistic or more proactive than even I anticipated I’d be. I’ll just stay steady in my conclusion that FFXIV players give themselves and each other reasons to return. Given the general state of things, that’s more than I can ask for in a game and its community.
Featured image and screenshots via Victoria Rose