We’re getting closer and closer (hopefully) to the release of the first area in the Forbidden Land of Eureka. We know it’s slated for Patch 4.25, and though we don’t have an exact date for that, there’s a lot of precedent for .x5 Patches launching about five weeks after the major Patch itself. Since 4.2 itself launched on January 30th, my guess is that we’ll see 4.25 on March 6th or possibly March 13th. For me personally, there is a lot riding on this Patch, as I’ve been missing the main component of my endgame for the whole of Stormblood (which has been for about eight months so far). Since we got the first stages of the Anima questline for Heavensward in 3.15, we’ve had a delay of an entire major Patch this time, and an entire raid tier without what was once the “third path” for the game’s endgame.
But there is at least some chance the wait will be worth it. In both A Realm Reborn and Heavensward, the legendary weapon quest lines (Zodiac and Anima, respectively) took the form of long, grindy quests that were mostly about spending various currencies and revisiting older content (as a means to keep things like old FATEs and dungeons relevant). That model is (seemingly) going away for Stormblood, and instead we’re getting new content—Eureka, which seems to be building off the foundations of Diadem from Heavensward—fully devoted to this endgame path. Along with this dedicated content, we’re also going to see Artifact gear upgraded alongside these new weapons.
We haven’t actually gotten a great deal of information about the Forbidden Land yet, though. The development team has kept previews scarce for the most part, though in the most recent Letter from the Producer, we finally got a general overview of the content. You can check out the overview on the forums, but these are the main points:
- Like Diadem, Eureka will be a sort of instanced world map zone, with multiple players and parties being able to queue into the same instance.
- The first zone will be called Eureka: Anemos, and there will be further zones in the Eureka series (presumably coinciding with more powerful gear and such).
- A new Elemental Experience system (with Elemental Levels, accordingly) will provide for a separate advancement path within Eureka itself.
- There will be some penalties to Elemental Experience upon death for players if they are not raised, similar to experience point penalties from many older-generation MMOs.
- Also like some older MMOs, monsters seemingly won’t give up chasing players once they’ve gone aggressive, which will probably make the zone feel more dangerous than the rest of FFXIV‘s open world.
- A “Magia Board” will let us adjust our elemental strengths and weaknesses, allowing us to adjust our capabilities to fight the various types of elementals in the zone.
- Notorious Monsters (boss FATEs) will play a part in the zone like they did in Diadem, and they’ll drop rare items—though it’s not specified what sorts of items these will be.
- Rewards are going to include Eureka “weapons and gear,” which can be upgraded by giving “protean crystals” to Gerolt—which pretty strongly suggests these will be the Artifact weapon and armor.
- There are other gear rewards as well, though whether these are glamour focused or actually usable equipment isn’t clear.
In a lot of ways, what we know of Eureka reminds me a lot of the various Abyssea zones from Final Fantasy XI. Like Eureka will eventually be, Abyssea was broken up a few tiers, and each successive tier of Abyssea zones rewarded more powerful gear and further opportunities to upgrade the powerful Empyrean weapons and a new set of Artifact Armor as well. Unlike most other zones in FFXI, the time the player could spend in Abyssea zones had a limit, much like standard instances in FFXIV (though you could extend your time inside in various ways). Abyssea also allowed customizing your character’s abilities to be better prepared for various boss fights and enemies through special Atma, which is a bit like adjusting our elemental affinities to target specific types of elementals.
Of course, experience point loss and more persistent monsters is something we also saw in FFXI, which means Eureka has a pretty high chance of ending up with a very old school vibe here, which is something I’m very excited for. In a lot of ways I feel like a gamer out of time, as my preferences for MMOs in particular tend to align most readily with an older style of game that was really more about being a persistent world than having a bunch of guided-experience “theme park” attractions for players to partake in. Diadem already had some of this feel to it, with the objectives (most especially in its original version in Patch 3.1 of Heavensward) being much more free-form than those found in dungeons and raids in FFXIV. I’m on the record as having liked Diadem (and even as having preferred the original version to the newer streamlined one), and at least from what little information we have, I’m probably going to like Eureka more.
So what am I hoping for? The main thing I want is for Eureka to be a sort of modernized Abyssea, in much the same way that Heavensward‘s Palace of the Dead was a lot like a modernized version of FFXI‘s Salvage content. With the Magia Board not unlike a simplified blend of the strategy and customization provided by Abyssea’s Atma system and a focus on Artifact armor and weapons, I think that’s fairly likely to happen.
I’m also really hoping that the “rare items” dropped by Eureka’s Notorious Monsters are going to be more than just minions: I want to see them drop gear this time, like the Notorious Monsters of old in both FFXIV version 1.0 and FFXI. Even if that gear is level 1 glamour stuff, that’ll do a lot, I think, to making the various NMs feel unique. I’m hoping that the Scorpion Harness and Strider Boots remodels (from FFXI) they showed off during the stream will come from Notorious Monsters, and that these also are but a couple of many nostalgia nods to gear from FFXI.
Hopefully, the Artifact gear, both armor and weapons, will be relevant in terms of power level—this hasn’t ever been much of an issue with past legendary weapon quests, but we don’t have much to go on regarding the armor. Historically, the team has rarely allowed “casual” gear to be especially relevant (which lead to a lot of changes to Diadem over the course of Heavensward), but given that they’re pairing the Eureka armor rewards with the Artifact weapons this time, it’s not unreasonable to think that, at least by the expansion’s end, we’ll have Artifact Armor on par with fully upgraded Tomestone and raid gear. Before that point, my guess is that the gear will probably be comparable to the first stage of Tomestone gear (so, for the current raid cycle, I’m expecting item level 360 Artifact Armor).
All in all, while I’m a little skeptical that Eureka will do what I want, I think it has a lot of potential to really flesh out the game for the remainder of Stormblood. The fact that the content had to be delayed for so long does give me pause, but with some hope, the delay has allowed the team to make sure they don’t repeat the issues with Diadem again. It’s going to be pretty important moving forward that the team keeps Eureka regularly updated, though, and I hope it doesn’t go the way of Palace of the Dead in Heavensward, which eventually stopped receiving updates for the last raid tier. Let’s hope that the loss of our second dungeon in odd-numbered patches will mean that we can receive regular updates to Eureka to keep it relevant for the rest of Stormblood!