Final Fantasy XIV is an MMO that provides many different kinds of content for many different kinds of players. If you want to solo, it has something for you. If you like group content or raids, it has that, too. If you’re into crafting or gathering, you’ll find lots to do there, too.
As the game continues to grow, the one thing that has always amazed me is how FFXIV does what some players would call “fluff.” You know, the stuff that’s nice to have, but not really essential. It’s the fun little things, often embraced by a sub-set of players, or maybe even a majority, if it becomes popular.
FFXIV does fluff content well. Even things that could be simple always have a lot of thought and development behind it. It’s as if some developer says, “Wouldn’t it be neat to have this?” and then ten more jump in and expand it.
A good example of this are the aquariums that we got a few months back. What I expected was an interesting housing item where I might be able to put some of the fish I caught on display.
What I got were three housing items of differing sizes, which allow you to choose between saltwater and freshwater fish. You can also change the tank décor with different scenes to further customize it. Also, fish have sizes, so you must take into consideration the size of the tank to determine the types and number of fish you can place.
Wow! A lot more to that than I expected! We’ve been told more fish are coming in the future and that we may see additional changes to aquariums along the line, too!
So let’s take a look at some of these “fluff” systems in FFXIV, and how they go the extra mile.
So, this is Final Fantasy. A chocobo mount is pretty much expected. Only, the developers weren’t content to leave it at that. Your chocobo mount also doubles as a companion.
After you undertake a quest at level 30, you can summon your chocobo to fight along with you. Currently, this makes them a party member in your group, but in upcoming patch 3.5, they’ll become a pet instead.
Your chocobo earns experience and levels up in rank. As they do, you can choose to train them in Tank, Healer or DPS skills. To speed this up, you can place your chocobo in a stable at your personal or FC house and train them there.
If that wasn’t enough, chocobos can be customized. They get barding, which is essentially a set of cosmetics just for chocobos. The game offers lots of different barding styles, including holiday barding and rewards from primal battles. You can also feed your chocobo special fruits to change the color of their feathers, and rename them at any time. So you can always summon a chocobo that matches your own glamour or meets your tastes.
The basic role of retainers, which is to act as a bank and an auction house, is not fluff. But again, the developers saw a neat feature and looked into ways to expand on this system.
A retainer is a hired servant that you can customize when you first create them. You can change their look later on if you have a retainer fantasia potion, which you get through ventures.
The venture system is really where retainers started to branch out as the best sort of fluff. You can assign retainers a class, which they level as you send them out on ventures. They can never level higher in that class than you have yourself, however.
You can pass your old gear to your retainers, and as their gear gets better, they can access higher level ventures and have the chance to return with better stuff.
Ventures depend on the retainer’s job. For example, a miner can go on mining ventures and bring back ore for your crafting. Or you can just send them out on the random venture, which can bring back anything from gear to crafting materials to housing items. Sometimes, you can get rare and valuable items this way!
The Gold Saucer
An article about fluff in FFXIV would not be complete if I didn’t discuss the Gold Saucer. The whole concept of the Saucer is built on mini-games, which are often a throw-back to other older Final Fantasy games. There’s nothing you absolutely need to do in the Saucer, but if you’re the type who enjoys mini-games, you won’t want to miss this.
First, there’s Cactpots and a whole new currency called MGP. There are two types of Cactpots – one that’s a weekly lotto, and one that’s a daily scratch card. Whether you win is all pure luck, but there’s something that keeps me coming back to try.
MGP is earned from the various mini-games, GATEs and Cactpots. You can use the MGP to buy a number of fluff and cosmetic items from the vendor in the Saucer. The big prize is the Fenrir mount, which is still pretty rare to see on my server.
So we come to chocobo racing. It’s what you’d expect – you get a chocobo and you race it to earn MGP. But there’s more.
You can feed that chocobo to increase its skills and make it perform better. You can then breed your chocobo to pass on their skills and hope to produce an even better racer in the next generation. There’s a rudimentary genetics system for skills and chocobo color, but it’s all a pretty slick and interesting mini-game to indulge in.
Then there’s Triple Triad, a card game that has stolen many hours of my life. You build a deck of cards, then challenge NPC and other players across Eorzea to win MPG and other rare cards to add to your deck. There’s a lot of different rulesets to play by, which all change depending on who you’re challenging. That’s a very, very basic overview of the game, which can get much more complex but is very fun to try.
The Lord of Verminion is yet another mini-game, and one that I’m ashamed to say I haven’t tried yet! As much as I love collecting minions in FFXIV, I really need to sit down and learn about LoV. What I do know is that it’s a strategy game played with the minions you’ve collected, either against the computer AI or against another player. Minions each get their own stats and skills, so it’s up to the player to put together the best team for the situation.
Housing and Gardening
The whole housing situation in FFXIV has been one of stumbling and learning for the developers. Many players, including myself, felt that the system wasn’t well conceived when they first expanded housing from just the Free Companies to the individual players.
Over time, they’ve done a lot to try to fix this system. While it’s still fairly expensive, and aimed at the end-game player with enough gil to unlock it, we now have a lot more options for housing than we did before. Depending on your server size, you may not be able to find a personal estate very easily. You can choose to instead purchase a room in your Free Company house, or purchase one of the newer rooms in the apartments.
At this point, I’d vouch that apartments may be your best bet. They may be a little more expensive than a Free Company room, but you are secure in knowing that you will never lose that room due to inactivity or issues in your Free Company.
Of course, you can decorate your house or room any way you please. Housing does limit the number of items you can place, but you can move and rotate these items in creative ways to make it your own.
If you own a house, you can also place an outdoors garden. If you own a room, you can grow plants in the gardening pots indoors as well.
Gardening is a whole complex system of its own, including cross-pollination to create new types of rarer seeds. It used to be harder to garden since the soil you needed was a lot harder to gather. But now, you can purchase basic soil from vendors, which makes the whole process a lot cheaper to dabble in.
There’s a number of other fluff systems in FFXIV – glamours, squads, camera systems – but the above are the biggest ones that come to mind. While none of these systems need to exist or are required to progress, I feel Eorzea is more deep and entertaining because they are here.
So, next time you feel the need to try something new in FFXIV, spend some time learning about something you might not have tried. Garden a bit. Race your chocobo. Find a new card to collect. And me? I’ll be checking out Lord of Verminion.Related: Column, Eorzean Evening Post, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, MMORPG, Square Enix