Eorzean Evening Post: Stay Dapper

Can you hear that weird sound in the background? That’s thousands of Final Fantasy XIV-players hyping themselves up for the release of the first of the three 2.5 patches that make up Before the Fall. We’re getting the first one today, with the other two coming in February and March. This is going to be good and the hype feels warranted – then again, I’m biased. After all, I’m writing a weekly column on this game. I won’t deny loving it.

I’m just heartbroken over the fact that I probably won’t be able to play tonight. World of Darkness won’t clear itself! Judging from the trailer released last week, the storyline looks to be full of surprising moments. It seems like it’s time to go head to head with the Ascians. Sadly we’ll have to wait until February for the Manderville Gold Saucer, complete with the Triple Triad card game and Chocobo racing.

Extracurricular activities like that are important for MMOs, since they add replayability and a reason to log in besides grinding for gear or running quests. While TT should be fun, I’m a bit more worried about the Chocobo racing – if they haven’t changed the underlying mechanics around a lot, the basic MMO framework won’t make for a pleasant experience in a competative environment like that. It’s like jumping puzzles in other games, where standard MMO controls do not lend themselves well to platforming. Hopefully we won’t see the same thing happen here.

Either way, there’s no denying the love and creativity that Square Enix are pouring into this game. Heavensward can’t come soon enough.

As a sidenote, I missed out on the Heavensturn sheep – my schedule screwed that up. Thinking about it makes me sad. I’m sad now.

 

A TRUE GENTLEMAN

Hildibrand_ARRSpeaking of sidenotes, in 2.5 we’ll see the finale to the Hildibrand questline. I have no doubt that we’ll see more of our dashing detective in Heavensward, he’s way too popular to be put to pasture permanently. His quests have also lead to two really good trials, with a third one on its way, and while they tend to be quite mechanically simple, they have made up a good distraction from the seriousness that is the main storyline.

Which is why I was a bit surprised that someone would actually create a change.org petition for Square Enix to stop developing Hildibrand quests. Of course, the petition itself is quite hilarious – it has no real information about why the creator wants Hildy stopped and as it stands it has seven supporters. But I can imagine why someone would want him to disappear forever. He steals away precious resources from the rest of the game. From the regular dungeons and the gear grind. Why spend so much time creating comic relief when we have serious business to take care of?

Considering how popular the character is, there’s no way he’ll be removed. It’s not going to happen. Still, should he be? Does Final Fantasy XIV, as a whole, suffer because the devs are messing around with his particular brand of silliness?

Of course not.

 

THE DAPPER DETECTIVE

I’d personally claim that Hildibrand is integral to Final Fantasy XIV. Without him, I’d personally go mad. When a new content patch is relased, and the often quite tragic and serious main story is over and done with, Hildibrand’s madness is a good way to relax and to recharge the batteries. To see a different side of the game.

The Moogle delivery quests serve a similar purpose. They are usually even more mechanically simple than Hildy’s quests and do not unlock any dungeons or trials. They are short, often heart warming stories, busy with worldbuilding instead of offering up tangible rewards. But to me, they don’t offer that same break as Hildibrand, simply because of their general tone. Even the quest dealing with the Delivery Moogle himself was actually quite a sad tale.

Hildibrand_as_Hildibella

Hildy, on the other hand, is unashamed comedy. We can argue if it’s good or bad comedy – it’s absurdist, sometimes approaching a Benny Hill-level of sophistication (if you’re too young to get that reference, do a search on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean). It’s hardly high culture. The rest of the game is busy telling this epic tale of politics, war and the fate of the world. Hildibrand is… Well, about a self-aggrandizing, stupid and ultimately quite failed detective. Without us, and his oddball followers and family, he’d probably be dead by now.

 

THE VALUE OF COMEDY

In other words, Hildibrand offers something different from the regular game. Seriously, if all we did was listen to Minfilla and Alphinaud (those two would not be fun at parties, that’s for sure), hunt down primals and run dark and moody dungeons all the time, the overall atmosphere of Final Fantasy XIV would be a lot less charming than it is right now.

Sure, there are some fun moments in the main story too, but nothing compared to Hildy. If we look back and think about the moments when we’ve been carrying the corpses of our allies from the Shifting Sands to a waiting carriage, perhaps the idea of watching Hildy take pity on Ultros doesn’t seem so pointless after all.

No, the detective quests do not offer up any particular rewards. Finishing them won’t help you in the Coils. That’s not the point of them. The point is in the comedy itself. It enriches the world of Eorzea beyond the regular MMO-activities we’re supposed to take part in. They are 100% driven by charm, by an apparent love for the characters. Look at the videos of Yoshi P doing the Manderville dance with players at Fanfest, or making the gentleman pose on stage (which is finally being introduced as an emote ingame in 2.5).

I’m looking forward to a lot of things in 2.5, and Hildibrand is no exception. Removing him would be a huge mistake. Even adding proper rewards, making his important to run somehow, would be a mistake. That’s not his job. His job, like the Moogle Delivery quests, is to make Eorzea a richer place for us all. A place where we not only worry about getting eaten by giant dragons, but also a place where we can laugh our heads off. It’d be a lot less nice place to live without him.

With that said, I see that the servers are up. Why are you reading this and not playing? I’ll join you tomorrow. And next week, for a new column.

(Thanks to Dan for pointing me in the direction of the petition and the overall idea that spawned this little rant)

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