Final Fantasy XIV launched its newest major patch this past week. I only got into it over the last couple of days, because Fallout, but I spent most of the evening futzing about, checking out the new stuff. A patch for FFXIV tends to be surprisingly big, in very subtle ways. For example, here’s what was added in the latest patch:
- A new casual raid
- Two new dungeons
- About two hours of new Main Story Quest content
- A (hugely detailed) pet battle minigame
- A new set of rep grind daily quests
- A new extreme-mode raid boss
- A new guild questing airship zone
- A bunch of new crafting items
- Frankly, more crafting stuff than I can even begin to process
- Several new guild projects
- Several new micro-games in the Gold Saucer
- New Triple Triad cards and opponents
- Several new character customization options
- New flying mounts
- New minipets
- New sightseeing locations (I honestly have no idea what this part of the game is)
- New emotes
- A medium amount of class balancing
- A huge amount of refreshment of older content
- A new screenshot camera system, complete with synchronized poses (!)
It’s a truly huge list. Individually, any of these things are a fairly small bit of content (except possibly the airship zone?), but as a whole it’s quite a lot of stuff to do. It’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed with the game– even taking a little short of two months off after catching up in Heavensward, I’m still interested in hopping back in and trying out the new stuff.
One thing that’s struck me, though, is that the way I’m approaching the game is significantly different from my last break. When I came back from my last break, there was a ludicrous amount of catching up to do, to the point where it was several major patches before I’d caught up. In a couple of days, I’ve made a pretty good dent in the “major” additions this patch, those being the story quests and one of the new raids. Another night and I’ll probably have the rest of the dungeons, too. Even after that, there will be a ton of stuff to do, and best of all, I won’t feel like I HAVE to do it to “keep up”.
I tend to check out of a game when I start feeling obligated to play it, which is where I was at before I took my break. I’d hungrily devoured the Heavensward content and had played almost all of the existing new content; what was left was to grind daily dungeons to slowly get a new set of fancy gear, for the hardest of content available. FFXIV has a notoriously punishing leading edge of content, and I’m just not that hardcore anymore. Rather than hopping in once a week, or less, I opted to take a break entirely and come back refreshed. I honestly expected that I would jump in, see the new content, and check out again, and perhaps I still will.
However, I came back to find the guild still humming along fine and happy without me, which was great to see, and I’ve caught up on the content I feel like I “have” to do, for the most part. As a result, I’m finding myself curious about the other fun things out there, and I feel like they’re going to be more fun than obligation. It’s a good feeling, and I’m more enthused about logging in than I expected I’d be. The game feels like home: familiar, and not shiny or new or necessarily flashy and exciting, but comfortable and welcoming. It’s okay that I was gone for a bit; my room’s still made up the way I left it and I can hop back in, no problem.
I’ve consciously tried to keep a moderate pace in FFXIV, playing when I want to and no more, and it’s kept me interested in the game rather than burning myself out. Our raid is still on hiatus– I’m not actually sure there’s much raid for us to even *do*, maybe the new extreme boss or scheduled guild airship zone nights, but I’m okay with that. There’s enough to do and play without the need to try to keep up with “progression content” right now.