We’ve had the first chapter of Eureka in FFXIV for a little over a month now, and for most of that month, it’s been the main thing I’ve done in game. I’ve finished up complete sets of Anemos gear and weapons for Monk, Ninja, and Red Mage, with future Protean Crystals probably going toward glamour selections for the rest of the jobs (while part of me would love to complete full sets for everything, even I don’t have that much time!). Naturally, it’s also been about a month since I wrote about my first impressions of Eureka, and with enough time between then and now, I thought I’d take another look at the content, prompted by the announcement of the wintery Eureka: Pagos for Patch 4.35.
My initial impressions of Eureka: Anemos were overwhelmingly positive, and with a little time and distance, I can safely say that hasn’t changed. I’m still having fun in Eureka every time I go in, relying on Notorious Monsters to cap weekly Mendacity and make steady progress toward more glamour toys. Even now, each time I step out of Port Surgate and the field music kicks in, I feel a sense of familiar wonder that I last really felt in any significant way 5 or 6 years ago in Final Fantasy XI‘s Abyssea zones. That’s a feeling that it’s really hard for me to get tired of, and it’ll likely sustain my interest in Eureka for a very long time to come.
Of course, the actual “experience” of Eureka: Anemos wrapped up for me several weeks ago now. Since hitting Elemental Level 20, my focus in the content has changed a lot. The sense of danger is largely gone, since most enemies in the zone are no longer aggressive, and I can safely traverse the expansive zone on my trusty chocobo. But that in and of itself is an enjoyable feeling: being able to wander and explore in Eureka with a relative amount of safety feels like a hard-earned reward in a way that earning flight in the field zones of Heavensward and Stormblood (or in Heavensward‘s Diadem expeditions) never has. Crucially, even on a mount in Eureka, I still have to actually traverse the island, rather than pretending it doesn’t exist by flying over and ignoring everything outside of whatever Notorious Monster I’m trying to rush to.
With that newfound freedom, I can roam around tossing out Raises to other adventurers in dire straits and marvel in the zone’s beauty at my own pace. Of course, a lot of the time I spend in the zone passes in the company of the “NM train,” since that’s the main way to gather Mendacity and crystals inside, which does have the affect of making much of the zone feel a bit unused. I think that’s unfortunate, and while my overall impression of Eureka: Anemos is still quite positive, there are a few things I would love to see in the upcoming Eureka: Pagos (which I’m guessing we’ll see in late June, since Patch 4.3 is scheduled for late May right now).
Mainly, I’d like to see added more meaningful things to do in the Eureka zones that aren’t centered around the Notorious Monsters. Even with adjustments to Elemental Experience gains for smaller parties, following the NM train is just so efficient (and also, importantly, safe) that there’s not much reason to really devote time to XP chaining. That’s not an entirely bad thing on its face: XP chaining is a very old style of play that probably wouldn’t sit well with much of FFXIV‘s player base, whereas the NM chaining is rather reminiscent of FFXIV‘s earliest days of FATE farming for leveling (something that doubles down on more recent nostalgia in its own way much like so much of Eureka: Anemos is a trip down FFXI Memory Lane).
However, as I mentioned, a massive amount of Eureka: Anemos sits largely unused, and I think things can be done that both put more of the content itself to good use and also provide more to do that doesn’t solely revolve around the NM train. For some idea of what I mean, there are 20 Notorious Monsters in Eureka and 20 corresponding monster types that spawn them. But, there are something like 100 (or more—I didn’t count exactly) groups of monsters in the zone, most of which have no bearing on the experience outside of being obstacles to avoid while heading to a Notorious Monster’s spawn area. Despite all of my time in Eureka, while running around to get screenshots for this post, I found a group of enemies I’d literally never even seen before (the Nightmare Pegasuses in the northeast section of the island).
I’d really like to see the addition of repeatable quests that interact with these unused enemies in some way. The most basic thing would be to have objectives to kill some number of an Elemental-Level-appropriate enemy, perhaps with gradients for difficulty (so one can tailor targets for group size to a degree), with the rewards being some amount of Elemental XP and item upgrade Crystals. Other quests might involve gathering some sort of item in a level-appropriate area for the same sort of reward, allowing for non-combat ways to advance as well. Something like these quests would do a few things: it would give otherwise unused enemies a purpose; provide another way to advance without necessarily having to follow the NM train; and offer a way for smaller groups (or even solo players) to target enemies with whatever level of danger they’re comfortable with and still meaningfully progress. I actually don’t think these objectives should really be Daily or even Weekly anymore (which is something I mentioned as one thought in my first impressions post)—instead, in keeping with Eureka’s overall lack of “caps” and other time-limited objectives, I think the quests should simply be repeatable, much like FFXI‘s Grounds of Valor system.
Along with some sort of repeatable objectives (or other reason to deal with monsters outside of ones that spawn Notorious Monsters), I think something really needs to be done at the way Notorious Monsters scale. At present, with the NM train being the Thing to Do, in Anemos instances that are at the zone cap of 144 players, Notorious Monsters often die in a minute or two, meaning that anyone who wants to also XP chain or even just turn in Crystals or Lockboxes will frequently miss NMs entirely since there’s simply not enough time to get there before the boss melts. This issue has largely gotten worse over time, as more and more players are at high Elemental Levels, resulting in a higher power level of the average NM train. This is, of course, a pretty familiar problem: it’s plagued both FATEs and Hunts for as long as they’ve been around, with various scaling measures having been employed by the developers in the time since to mitigate the issue somewhat.
As far as I’m aware, Notorious Monsters in Eureka do already have hit point totals that scale based on the number of players in the area, but the scaling doesn’t seem to be quite aggressive enough for fully packed instances. I’d like to see either more aggressive hit point scaling or an adjustment to the Elemental Level caps for each NM. Right now, each NM requires a level sync that’s three levels above the boss’s level, and I think lowering the relative level sync to a level or two above the boss would do a lot to curb the speed at which NMs can be taken down. The latter solution would come with its own potential problems, in that monsters around NMs are five levels above the NM itself, but given that things still worked even when no one was above the various NMs, I think it would probably work out all right.
The last thing I’d personally like to see is more ways to spend Pazuzu Feathers (or whatever equivalent item we have in Eureka: Pagos). Most of the time when staying for an entire Eureka lockout, I see Pazuzu at least once, and as a result I’ve got far more Pazuzu Feathers than I’m ever likely to use on Anemos weapons. Even something simple like being able to convert them into Anemos Crystals would be welcome, though I’d much prefer unique rewards added instead, of course! It’s possible we’ll see Pagos weapons requiring some number of Feathers in addition to some new item from Pagos itself (not unlike the way item upgrades from Alliance Raids always require tokens from all current expansion Alliance Raids), which would also alleviate this somewhat.
All in all, though, the core experience of Eureka has held up remarkably well for me. Were it not for the release of the latest Hearthstone expansion last week, I’d probably be close to having another set of armor done simply because I enjoy being there so much. On Aether at least, Anemos has remained popular, with most instances I get into being close to full unless they’re brand new, and in that regard it’s likely that the development team largely considers the content a success, which—along with a new zone being confirmed for the Patch 4.3 cycle—bodes well for regular future installments and my continued enjoyment of FFXIV.