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Naoki Yoshida at PAX East & Why Diadem's a Disappointment

Final Fantasy XIV Columns - By Michael O’Connell-Davidson on March 17, 2017

Naoki Yoshida at PAX East & Why Diadem's a Disappointment

It’s another big week in FFXIV news! You’d think things that would quiet down a little, given that there was a patch LAST WEEK. But the game’s director, Naoki Yoshida, held a PAX panel and fielded some media interviews that shed a lot of light onto the future of the game. It’s worth getting clued.

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Let’s start with some hard details: a Free Company alliance system, which would allow people to see member lists and share a chat with allied companies (a bit like alliances in games like EVE), is likely to debut by the end of the year after being originally planned for 2.2. A glamour (or transmog) wardrobe is possible, and may happen once the current backlog of UI changes are made. This has been in demand since the stone age, and it’d be very, VERY popular.

Astrologian is likely to be hit with the nerf bat in Stormblood, if not before. When queried about how White Mage had been made all-but-obsolete by AST’s newfound power, Yoshi acknowledged that the two classes provided equivalent healing, before adding: “For now”. Expect AST to focus more on support and less on healing as time goes on, and for WHM to return to being the undisputed king of straight-up healing soon.

Deep Dungeons (a la Palace of the Dead) are set to make a return in Stormblood, though not on release. There’s no word on what will happen to Palace once the expansion hits — maybe it’ll be kept the same and still cap at 60, and just muddle on with the addition of Red Mage and Samurai. Dun Scaith and Creator Savage will soon have their item drop restrictions lifted, too. 

There were a lot of good points raised about the current state of the game that don’t really hint at anything in the future, but absolutely had to be said. One audience member raised the absolutely dire state of SE support, where accounts can disappear without warning and waylaid chargebacks can put you in unending bureaucratic hell. It remains to be seen whether or not confronting people further up the chain with these issues will lead to anything, but Yoshi seemed genuinely dumbstruck that someone could lose access to their account, and more awareness can only help.

Job balance changes and associated class-specific UI overhauls will become known well in advance of Stormblood so people can prepare, and patch 4.1 should drop a lot sooner after 4.0 than 3.1 did after 3.0. But perhaps the most momentous piece of information that came from PAX was that Yoshida would consider a Cruise Chaser mount. Please let this happen — I need it for the purpose of going forward and back.

The Dire-dem

I said in my last column that I’d offer a take on Diadem once the dust had settled on the content. I had pretty high hopes about the revamp  — and I’m no stranger to the immediate outpouring of salt following content that isn’t quite how people envisaged it. I love this game, but I’m guilty of being too hasty when it comes to judging new releases.

If you’re just tuning in, I talked about the revamped Diadem that debuted last week and said it seemed OK; what was there appeared to be a massive improvement on the original, at least, and the most glaring problem is a weapon that seems out of reach for most people.

But my opinion has soured pretty quickly after spending a few days dipping in and out of it with FC friends and public groups. For starters, the ‘structure’ added to the content really is just FATEs with some window dressing. The overarching mission structure is fine, but the grind required to progress is not all that different to what people do in Northern Thanalan to level up alts. The only difference is that there’s a little more direction, but even that is based around FATEs. (This comic is an excellent summary of how the content tends to play out.)

There’s not enough variety in the missions, either; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve zoned in and seen — oh joy! — Operation Egg Hunt yet again. Some of the ideas on display (such as escorting a party member carrying something that leaves them unable to fight) are pretty good and could be really interesting if iterated upon. But there’s not enough of those cool ideas, and they’re not implemented in such a way that makes them into something fun or challenging.

The Emergency Missions that distracted everybody with the (rare) prospect of an item level 280 weapon dropping as a reward are much less of a factor than it was initially imagined they’d be, because the missions themselves are uncommon and the triggering mechanism is unclear.

“Emergency Missions trigger based on the weather,” someone said in one run. “And the special weather is next!” So me, my party, and around 40 other people waited on the platform where the event starts... And waited, and waited, until the instance was about to end and we realized that person didn’t know what they were talking about and left 15 minutes ago. Not quite what anybody had in mind when we were told the Diadem would have more structure. If anything, the anarchy has been amped up.

All in all, it’s not stellar stuff. It’ll entertain some people, no doubt, but it’s a bit like Palace of the Dead as it was first introduced, complete with the same esoteric loot bag reward system.  It’s not clear who it’s for or why you’d do it, because rewards have random stats and are incredibly inconsistent. There isn’t the bonus Palace had of granting you EXP for alt jobs or anything, nor is there the prospect of another 150 floors to make it really challenging and deliver on that initial promise. With Stormblood only around 90 days away, this will probably be the last we see of the Diadem in any meaningful sense.

It’s a shame. This update won’t do anything to rehabilitate its image in the mind of players. Part of me wonders if it would have been better off for the Diadem to be forgotten about entirely.

Thanks, as ever, to Gamerescape and the XIV Reddit mods for some of the interview information used above.

Michael O’Connell-Davidson / Michael O'Connell-Davidson is MMORPG.com's FFXIV columnist. Follow him on twitter @mikeocd.