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Patch 4.2 - The Best of the Rest

Final Fantasy XIV Columns - By Michael O’Connell-Davidson on February 19, 2018

Patch 4.2 - The Best of the Rest

The Main Scenario sees us return to newly liberated Doma — along with Gosetsu and the former imperial viceroy, Yotsuyu, the latter of which has lost her memory. They’re joined shortly afterwards by Asahi, a baby-faced emissary from the Garlean empire. He’s Yotsuyu’s brother, and, like her, was a quisling while the territory was under occupation.

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Asahi claims to represent a softer faction within the empire, and offers to broker a peace with Doma, proposing a prisoner exchange: Garlemald will return all the Domans it captured so long as Doma offers to do the same with any Garleans... including the amnesiac Yotsuyu.

It’s an interesting setup, and, for once, the Warrior of Light mostly takes a back seat. Asahi is an interesting addition to the cast, and his monologue at the culmination of the final quest is definitely the high point. The writing is strong, succeeding in the seemingly insurmountable task of making Yotsuyu relatively sympathetic, and it’s hard not to come away from the quests liking Hien and the Domans a great deal.

Still, I’d struggled to put my finger on why I’d been quite relaxed about tacking the story quests that came after Stormblood’s conclusion, but I think, as of this patch, I’ve figured it out. Once you hit 60 and killed Thordan at the end of Heavensward, it still felt like there was a lot on the horizon; Nidhogg was still alive, the Dragonsong War was still ongoing. Stormblood doesn’t have that same sense of urgency, and so, while the writing is still good and the scenarios remain entertaining, it’s hard to see what this is all in service of.

But maybe we’ll know soon; though 4.2 leaves players with more questions than answers, we knew before it was released that the story it was to tell was going to be told in parts. The final cutscene that’s shown once all else is said and done hints that there’s some real mayhem ahead.

Glamour up

Outside of the story — and, indeed, combat entirely — the much-hyped Glamour dresser is a big step forward. The new glamour system allows you do convert and store gear pieces as permanent transmog items. You can create presets with these called plates that you can apply on-the-fly, so long as you’re in a city such as Rhalgr’s Reach or Limsa Lominsa.

If you’re the kind of person who finds themself glamouring the same item on different pieces of gear as they upgrade, particularly when gear comes at a slow pace at the start of a patch, it’s indispensable. It’s been super useful after getting raid gear — you can just hit ‘apply plate’ once you’ve bought or upgraded it, and you’re back to not looking mismatched. Once you’ve actually made a plate, you don’t need any reagents, either.

Glamours have really come a long, long way since when I first started playing the game. No more grade 1-5 prisms, and no more ‘Armorsmithing’ or other profession-based prisms... In fact, we’re getting close to a reality in which you can mostly operate without prisms entirely — but there’s still a lot more that could be done.

For example, it’s not really obvious to me why you can only mess around with the Glamour dresser and plates in inn rooms, which are a pain to get to; bafflingly, you can’t even buy a dresser to put in your house right now, so while the work they’ve done is great, it feels like many people won’t even really experience it until the feature is easier to access. Indeed, for a good proportion of the playerbase, it’s probably easier to just keep buying prisms and pretend the Glamour dresser was never added. Still, in a couple of patches, it could be a fully-fledged wardrobe system, which is what people have been requesting for years — it’s just not there yet.

Solid foundations

Housing, meanwhile, has clearly become more accessible to many more people, thanks to the addition of new wards. My server (Cerberus) isn’t small, but, at least last night, there were plenty of estates still available in Shirogane. In the ‘older’ housing areas, some wards are pretty much empty:

This is, of course, largely down to the fact that post 4.2 housing purchases were relegated to relocations (moving one home to another) and Free Companies only. But it was Free Companies who were the most vocal about being edged-out when Shirogane was released, and now, at least, it seems every single FC on all but the most packed servers has been able to enjoy a fair shot at buying some land in whatever area they like the most.

The real test comes today, when personal purchases are enabled once more and those without houses can snap up what’s left. It’ll take a few days for it to become clear if the supply of housing is enough to outstrip demand, though I suspect, at least in the short term, it will be. But one change doesn’t sit well with me in the long term, and it’s that estates now don’t become immediately available when the owner relinquishes land.

I understand this is to discourage private sales, but… Why? Saving up and buying land directly from players was one of the few ways you could derive certainty from the housing system and convince others to give plots up. Not only is there no scope to trade up or down in terms of estates anymore, if you can’t sell property you don’t want or aren’t using, there’s no reason not to hang onto it indefinitely.

There are some other, smaller things that have been added that deserve at least an honourable mention. What I’ve seen of the new feast map is really nice, and the Duty Recorder is potentially a game-changer for content creators once you can use it in more than Byakko. Overall, the PvE side of 4.2, as covered before, is very impressive, but as I said when the patch came out, it still feels like there’s a Eureka-shaped hole in the game. What we need is some good out-of-instance PvE content — so let’s hope when Eureka debuts within the next couple of weeks we’ll have just that.

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