I’ve been taking Patch 4.1 pretty slowly, in keeping with my trend so far in Stormblood, but I have at least touched on all of the main bits of the Patch that I’m ever likely to. Since I’m still waiting to pick up some new gear to play around with for glamours (I haven’t had any luck with Skalla or Rabanastre drops yet), I figured now is as good a time as any to take a look at how the Patch is shaking out. I’ll be avoiding any overt spoilers, though I am going to talk about my overall impressions of some of the story elements, as fair warning!
The Main Scenario
Having completed this chapter of the Main Scenario, I find myself once again mostly uninterested in everything that’s going on. Every so often, we’re treated to some segment of the story in which for some reason, the Warrior of Light is present for tons of minor political discussions and events or embroiled in local politics in some other way (the Coerthas section of 30-45 or so in A Realm Reborn is a great example, as is the long segments of the 2.x story involving the plight of the Ala Mhigan refugees in Ul’dah). Patch 4.1’s chapter is similar.
While these segments often provide useful context, they often tend to drag on a bit, keeping anything that really moves the plot forward from happening. Thankfully, that isn’t the whole of Patch 4.1’s Main Scenario, but by the end of it it still largely feels like very little has happened. I can’t help but feel like the end of the 4.0 MSQ should have really been part of 4.1, both to give more time for Zenos to develop (and actually get interesting, something that only really happened right before we killed him) and so that we could feel like things were still moving forward.
4.1 even repeats a plot element from the last leg of the Ala Mhigan story that really shouldn’t have been there in the first place—in fact, it fits much better here in terms of pacing, which just makes the last part of 4.0’s story look even worse, in my view. All of that being said, there were some good moments related to some characters, with the final scene in the Royal Menagerie touching on some things that had kept me interested all through the long stretches of Ul’dah political narratives back in A Realm Reborn.
The Drowned City of Skalla
We only got one new dungeon this patch, in keeping with the new overall content structure for Stormblood. I’m not yet sure how I feel about that entirely, but I think Drowned City does show one initial problem that will probably plague us in even-numbered patches from here on out: with only one new dungeon, if that dungeon really doesn’t strike your fancy, it casts a bit of a negative light on the dungeons for several months.
Often, I only like one of every pair of dungeons we get as it is. Some of them are fun or interesting, and others aren’t. That’s to be expected, of course, since everyone’s tastes are going to be pretty different when it comes to these things. The unfortunate thing here is that I found Drowned City of Skalla to be simply underwhelming. It has some nice atmosphere and the environment is nice (especially the first section), but neither the trash pulls or the bosses were particularly interesting, all featuring fairly standard mechanics (even the “new” mechanic, on the second boss, is really just a new coat of paint on older mechanics from Copperbell Mines Hard Mode).
All of the enemies seem to be massive hit point sponges as well, which makes the dungeon really seem to drag on, though that’s probably something that will change as more gear becomes available in the new patch. Skalla’s main redeeming feature, though, is the new gear. I’ve not beena ble to collect any of the new body pieces yet, but they’re dyeable (which is huge, and a trend I hope continues for dungeon gear moving forward), and many of them look like they’ll be pretty useful for glamours. As I manage to collect pieces, I’ll be sure to share whatever I can come up with for them on the site (but you knew that already, didn’t you?).
The Royal City of Rabanastre
While as of writing I’ve only been able to run Royal City once, I have to say it’s definitely the highlight of Patch 4.1 for me. Of course, I largely expected that: Final Fantasy Tactics is by far my favorite Final Fantasy title, and of course, Ivalice is one of my favorite settings in the series as a result. I had been pretty sure we’d be experience Ivalice via way of storybook grimoires (as in the FFT Advance games), but curiously enough, Ivalice seems to be woven directly into Eorzea’s history.
That’s allowed the team to make a ton of references to FFT itself, and I spent more or less the entire time it took to run through the initial story and the raid itself practically squealing. The story seems to tie in directly with the original story of FFT, which was a huge and welcome surprise to me (since I wasn’t as much of a fan of the Advance games). There are plenty of little nods in dialogue, and we’ve gotten several pieces of FFT‘s soundtrack (to which I’m listening as I write!) in the game (and some as Orchestrion rolls, one of which will probably always be on loop in my apartment).
The raid itself seemed well tuned, with varying mechanics on the bosses. While some of them were a bit tricky on a first run through (with some counter-intuitive responses to mechanics necessary), I overall found them pretty fun. The raid seems to be tuned to be slightly more forgiving than Weeping City and Dun Scaith were, but not so much that the fights feel inconsequential (as was the case with Void Ark in Heavensward). I’ve been looking forward to running Royal City again ever since. Hopefully that enthusiasm sticks around! From what I’ve seen of the gear, it looks to be pretty nice appearance wise (though my hope for gear styled after the sprites in FFT has at least so far not borne fruit).
I’m not going to touch on the housing issues in any real detail here. While I’m definitely somewhat on the sour side of things, at this point I don’t think any real solutions are going to be forthcoming. The problems with housing in FFXIV are part of the foundation of the housing system, and the massive overhaul the system need isn’t likely to happen anytime soon (if ever at all). We do have more wards to look forward to in Patch 4.2 it seems, but even doubling the number of wards overall isn’t likely to really fix the problems of scarcity the system has. I suppose we’ll see, though.
As far as other things go, I’ve not touched the new Squadron content yet (and since I do very little solo play these days, I’m not likely to for a good long while). I did start the Custom Deliveries for M’naago mostly for some free experience points, and I’m a bit disappointed to see that we’re helping orphans again (only in that we already did that—I would have liked to see a new type of story). The new crafting gear looks great, though, and so I need to get some leveling done to more easily craft it myself.
All in all, Patch 4.1 feels…okay. The largest portions of it haven’t really struck my fancy, but Royal City is great enough that I’m at least enjoying myself. I just hope that what content is here is enough to keep me interested until Patch 4.2, when we will hopefully be getting a lot more of note than we did for this patch.