Patch 5.2 First Impressions

We’re a little ways into the latest major patch for Shadowbringers, and I’ve finally had time to dip my toes into most of the new central content (outside of Ocean Fishing, which I should probably try sometime soon). Like most even-numbered patches, 5.2 brings all of the familiar things: a new raid tier (Eden’s Verse), a new trial (Cinder Drift/Ruby Weapon), a new dungeon (Anamnesis Anyder), and the new Beast Tribe Quests (for the Qitari), along with the next chapter in the continuing Main Scenario. At a first impression, the patch seems to be continuing the trend of high quality updates we’ve seen in Shadowbringers so far.

In terms of battle content, we’ve got some top notch stuff here. Anamnesis Anyder gives the familiar dungeon formula a slight twist, altering the overall flow of the initial stretch and the cadence of trash pulls that follow. The bosses may not be especially novel, but we also get a fun little mechanical callback to the game’s very first dungeon alongside a wonderful jazzy mashup of Sastasha’s music with that of Akademia Anyder from earlier in Shadowbringers. The result makes for a fun romp, with the only sticking point being the rewards: while I don’t mind re-colors, most of the Anamesis gear sets, which are palette swaps of the Shire gear from Heavensward, don’t dye quite as nicely as the originals (though it is lovely that they’re dyeable, at any rate).

Eden’s Verse, on the other hand, offers up some of the best looking raid gear we’ve seen in quite some time, rivaling in my mind fan favorite sets like those from Alexander Midas. Each of the fights is mechanically interesting and just dense enough (on normal, at least) to make repeat playthroughs enjoyable, too, along with the top notch visuals and spectacle we’ve come to expect from FFXIV‘s raids. In terms of the story, we’re left with more questions than answers (a refrain, it seems, in this expansion’s post-launch story content!), but the introduction of Gaia adds a fascinating new dynamic, most especially for the development of Ryne as a character. Where the raid goes from here is anyone’s guess, but I find myself looking forward to the next tier in 5.4 more than I usually do, so I’ll count that as a good sign!

In terms of story, the new Sorrow of Werlyt quest series (which features the Ruby Weapon trial) starts abruptly and ends in much the same way. Branching off from a loose tie-in with the Main Scenario, this chapter of the quest line seems to have been kept short given the length of the Main Scenario. There’s not yet much here, aside from introducing a few key players and planting seeds for the story to come, but every quest series does need to begin somewhere. The trial itself is awesome, though, with amazing visuals and an overall structure that avoids the normal trial formula. As a longtime fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion, I greatly enjoyed many of the little nods to a show that was so formative for me, too.

But the real meat of Patch 5.2’s story content comes from the Main Scenario, as usual, and there is a lot of Main Scenario this time around. Substantially longer than normal, this chapter’s length no doubt played into the overall brevity of the Ruby Weapon story. By the end of things, we have ever more questions, and what will most likely be the final confrontation with the Ascians to look forward to in Patch 5.3. If the Main Scenario suffers at all, it’s from being the penultimate chapter of the Shadowbringers story (with 5.4 and 5.5 most likely setting up whatever the next expansion is). Much of this chapter is setup for the next one, though there are a few major lore revelations for good measure to keep things interesting, and I remain just as excited for more Main Scenario as I was going into the patch.

Even this patch’s Beast Tribe Quests seem poised to offer some lore tidbits of their own. Building off of some fan favorite quests from 5.0’s launch, the Qitari quests offer more of that Great Serpent of Ronka content we’ve all been waiting for, but all of this is baked in with an exploration of the Ronkan Empire’s history that puts the player in charge of interpreting the excavation’s finds. Though it’s not clear yet what these interpretations will result in, I’ve no doubt they’ll make for some interesting community discussion once we’ve all had enough time to maximize our Qitari reputations! As with the Pixie quests from Patch 5.1, the Qitari quests offer generous XP rewards, too, making them a great casual way to level one’s gathering classes in the process of uncovering further story, which is always a welcome thing!

Of course, it’d be remiss of me not to mention the patch’s wealth of new glamour options on a glamour blog. First and foremost in the minds of many are the new crafted gear sets, designed in the style of the Ranged DPS design contest winner. While I was initially a bit sour on these (due to the heavy gendering), I’ve come around on them, and it’s likely they’ll be featuring in multiple glamour spotlights over the next few weeks, in addition to my first of the new patch. Both raid and Tomestone gear offer some interesting new pieces as well, and we also finally saw all of the Eternal Bonding gear made available for both genders (with hopefully more unlocks of this sort to come).

All in all, I’ve had a great time with Patch 5.2 so far, and I’m overjoyed that the overall quality of updates has remained high, since the initial 5.0 launch was a very tough act to follow. While we’ve not yet hit that same emotional resonance found at the end of Shadowbringers, all of the pieces from 5.1 and 5.2’s story seem poised to deliver an amazing Patch 5.3 in terms of story alone. Battle content and other side things have also been consistently good, which also has me greatly looking forward to further Ishgardian Restoration updates during Patch 5.2 and the long-awaited relic quest in the form of the Blades of Gunnhildr storyline. It feels like a great time to play FFXIV, and I am definitely having trouble waiting for more!

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