Like many others, I’m sure, I spent most of my time in FFXIV yesterday running the first branch of the Deep Dungeon, the Palace of the Dead. I got through two full clears of levels 1 through 50, and I finally logged off with another partial clear. So far, I’m having a lot of fun. Like the addition of the Aquapolis before it, I think the Deep Dungeon has filled a gap in the game’s content that we’ve sorely needed for a long time that can be of use to both casual and more dedicated players.
For one thing, the Deep Dungeon does something that I love: it makes people congregate somewhere other than the housing wards and the main cities. I’m sure the initial crowd will die down with time—this is new content, after all, and people are understandably excited for it—but I’m always glad to actually see people in other places. I loved how Wineport, Fallgourt Float, and Ceruleum Processing Plant would get crowded on common raid nights, and I even liked seeing other groups gather for Chimera and Hydra long, long ago before they were added to the Duty Finder. Now that we have the Raid Finder, we sadly probably won’t see much of this sort of thing anymore, but I’m glad it still exists in at least some form for a little while.
Beyond silly things like that, the Palace of the Dead solves a really big problem that FFXIV’s had for a long time: there really hasn’t been a good way to get weapons for alt jobs for players who don’t farm Extreme Trials. While we’ve had tomestone weapons for ages, those are almost always locked behind 8 man content. The current model is more accessible to non-raiders, but requires seven weeks of diligently running Burden of the Son, in addition to almost three full weeks of Lore tomestones. That’s a pretty big investment for alt jobs, and I don’t personally know anyone who’s gotten more than one Lore weapon this way because of it, and I know several players who never even got one because they just don’t like to do 8-mans, and so they’ve stuck with i200 or i210 weapons for around six months now.
Those players who tackle Extreme Trials regularly have always been able to farm those for alt weapons, but not everyone enjoys repeatedly spamming the same fight (and the level of success one can have with farm parties is going to vary widely by server, too). And players who stick mostly to dungeons and the like have also generally been locked out of weapon upgrades if they don’t want to dedicate the large amounts of time necessary to keep an Anima weapon upgrade.
The Deep Dungeon seems to provide a solid “time investment” option for a solid weapon that may not be the best, but will serve quite well for dungeons and the like. There’s no reason low man content can’t also provide weapons for players who prefer that environment, and the item level is positioned just right that folks more serious about their progression may still want to pick up their Lore weapons, since they can be upgraded to i240 (though I really also think the lock on Midan Gears should be removed at this point—the three weeks of Lore required is already a suitable enough gate).
The Deep Dungeon also addresses what I’ve long considered a major problem with FFXIV’s class design. Since all of the classes are designed to gradually teach newer MMO players how things work, their abilities and complexity often don’t really come into their own until higher levels—usually not before level 40, and often not until at least level 50. This can really make it hard for someone to get a feel for a class without investing a lot of time leveling it, just to get to the “good parts.”
With the Deep Dungeon’s independent leveling system, even new players can get some experience with classes at higher levels before they really “take the plunge.” I think this will help a lot for players struggling to know where to invest their time either for their first class to 60 or their next one. It should also be a great way to re-familiarize one’s self with a job that’s not been played in awhile—I’m planning to run a save file with Machinist to give it another go.
Moving forward as more floors are added, I also suspect this will scratch an itch for smaller friend groups and FCs, who perhaps can’t quite gather the numbers for full 8-man statics to have some challenging content to tackle together in “static” groups. Floors 41-50 definitely required more care than I was expecting, so I imagine everything after 50 will only continue to ramp up the difficulty.
All in all, I think the new content’s great, and it seems like it’s going to have a fairly long shelf life, too, since multiple run throughs are going to be necessary to collect the final, i235 weapon (not to mention a repeatable means of grabbing Grade V materia).