Fun comes first! If it isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong—these are words taken from one of Naoki Yoshida’s slides during his presentation back in GDC 2014, indicating what they have learned throughout the development process of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. I’ve reflected a lot on this before writing this piece, especially given the community’s vocal distaste upon the arrival of what seems to be the successor to both the Diadem and Anima weapons—the Forbidden land, Eureka. Was it really that bad?
As a longtime player, I’ve gradually asked myself if something was bad or if I’m simply too jaded after having endured its myriad of recycled content to appreciate it. Final Fantasy XIV has been my go-to MMO for many years now, and though it still keeps me invested with its steady stream of content and storylines there’s no denying that any game, no matter how good, can only do so much to surprise its longtime players. I imagine this to be the case for many users out there who feel that the game is getting stale, despite it still being a beautiful and amazing game for newcomers. We only get more critical about things the more time we spend on a game, after all, getting more and more perceptive with regards to its flaws and shortcomings.
I’ve entered Eureka and have had my fair share of its, uhh, splendor, which is what prompted me to convey my opinion on the matter. With that said, these are my thoughts on patch 4.25’s weapon grind.
Eureka is Boring(?)
I’m still not certain as to why the devs are still pushing this idea of a remote place full of monsters, not to mention a leveling system that’s completely separate from the rest of the game. To be frank, both incarnations of the Diadem was very boring for me and I was already questioning my choice to queue after a few hours of that Eureka exp crawl. It felt like a very dated MMO built using FFXIV’s graphics engine, with Eureka resembling that of Final Fantasy XI’s. You go out with your party, slay as many monsters as you can, upgrade your Elemental stats/level, and wait for the Notorious Monster (a.k.a. pit bosses) to spawn. To make matters worse, players lose exp or level down upon dying after reaching level 6. We all knew it was going to be a grind, but who would have thought we’d be grinding old school, right? While it does have its merits, seeing as this is a way to bridge both games together, it felt more grindy and brainless.
Much to my dismay, it’s a shame that the first step of the new Relic is tied to this. The glow on the upgraded Artifact gear seemed too beautiful to pass up—not to mention the fact that this may very well be best-in-slot for Ultimate Coil of Bahamut, unless you want crappy stats with your Diamonds.
I’ve been thinking—Is Eureka really uninspired content or are we just jaded after years of grinding Relics? Most players grinded for their living weapons since the first Relic was introduced in ARR (Remember Atma farming?). Three-hundred Garuda runs and the surplus of light farming have been all but one of the many gameplay tortures we’ve had to endure just to bring our weapons to the next level, so what makes this any different?
Stormblood has brought us a series of improvements that really made us look forward to what they were going to revamp next. We got toggled switches in raids, creative fights, and a better UI to suit our job of choice. I’m guessing that everyone looked forward to how they would address the next weapon grind, only to find that it didn’t change much—or did it?
It Was An Improvement!
Now before you send killer bees to sting the life out of my eyes, please grant me the opportunity to explain myself as to what I think Eureka did right over the past Relic grinds.
Firstly, Eureka is a brand new world. I know it’s not the most innovative feature brought out by FFXIV’s dev team, but it certainly isn’t what I would call uninspired. To be honest, it’s a lot more creative than simply just making us queue for already existing dungeons that we were all happy to be rid of upon having new dungeons in Duty Roulette: Expert. What we have here is a world that not only makes the grind simpler but much more effective for group play as well. While not the most enticing approach to make players build their weapons, I’d say it’s still worth a shot. It might actually be more bearable than the number of times you’ve had to queue for the Fractal Continuum.
The next improvement would be the ability to switch classes on the fly. Anima grinds had the tendency to make you sick of your main class, which likely made you consider if you even wanted to grind with that class to begin with. I consider Relic farming to be the most effective way to get sick of your main, which was actually the reason why I switched to Black Mage. I mean, it’s true that doing these tasks with your mains only makes you more proficient in handling it, but damn is it boring! It’s not like a few more overgeared runs of First of the Father: Savage will make you a better player, right?
Finally, we have the ability to queue solo. Being able to just jump inside Eureka without a fixed party is a welcome thing for me. Building Relics without the much-loved tank and healer queues were such a pain back then as DPS, which prompted me to just go for Nirvana and Sindri. The Twelve know how painful it was to add more wait time to an already hefty Fractal Continuum grind, and Eureka addresses that by allowing players to queue in solo and just look for a party once on board, just like those Hunt chains.
I think there is no need to emphasize how boring Eureka grinding is, given the many threads you’re bound to come across all over the internet at this point. Playing devil’s advocate to my earlier points regarding Eureka being an improvement, it tends to get in the way by preventing people from earning exp when paired with high-level players. Yes, I do understand that it works the same way in Eorzea and across various content but we never had that problem back when doing our Anima or Relic weapons. Regardless of how far ahead your weapon’s ‘light’ was, you’re still able to get something when paired with users with little to no light. In other words, you’re not deadending yourself by just helping people unless you’re literally done with it. This for me felt a little contrary to what could have been a catalyst for a better farming experience with friends and FC mates. Remember, Eureka isn’t the main game but a ploy for Anemos weapon farming, so I don’t see why the segregation was necessary. Could this also mean that starting your weapon late would screw you over? Might as well wait for them to nerf the requirements, if ever.
Another thing I found iffy about Eureka was how it does so little to contribute whatsoever to the main game. What I mean by this is how Relic and Anima prompted experienced players to do older less-played dungeons, thus keeping it played enough for newer players to have people to queue with. Garuda felt very much alive during ARR due to this, contributing to the overall census of players keeping content alive. I mean the chunk of people doing DR: Main Scenario Quest have lessened drastically after the implementation of unskippable cutscenes, so surely it would have been a better idea to implement something that uses its story dungeons like ‘Ala-Mhigo’ than simply separating those in the end game from new players further.
I’m not by any means trying to cover up for Eureka’s shortcomings. I still think it’s quite boring, possibly even more than the dreaded Diadem or other Relic farms. This new system is a far cry from the improved experience we’ve come to expect from a Stormblood installment, and the players’ reactions prove it. What also sucks is the fact that grinding there is mandatory for our future BiS weapon.
Again, “Fun comes first! If it isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong.” You just have to wonder—did they do it wrong, or are we just not enjoying it right? Eureka is a grind, but it was no different from the other weapon farms that came before it. It’s not like doing old content while overgeared was any less brainless than what we have today. We don’t prize our Relics and Anima for the enjoyment we felt while making them, but the sheer hard work and lengthy grind we’ve had to endure just to see it in its final form. If you want that glow and the BiS goodness it brings on its later stages (or just for glamour), better get started.
Look on the bright side. At least we have more Hildibrand!Related: Column, End Game, Eorzean Evening Post, Final Fantasy XIV, MMORPG, Patch, Square Enix