Flying Finally Coming to Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn, and Other Changes

I usually don't bring up updates for Final Fantasy XIV (which I'll just call FF14 form here on out). The patches for this game are insane in their scope, and typically add dozens, if not hundreds, of extra hours of playtime on top of the already massive game. They usually include gameplay changes, changes to classes, sometimes new classes, new dungeons, new raids (with new raid storylines), side stories, new crafting recipes (which is a massive system on it's own), new furniture and housing options, new game modes, updates to existing game modes, and so on. Just taking one look at the Patch Notes for 5.2 is more than enough to give you an idea of what these updates can contain -- and even then 5.2's patch can be considered small compared to some of the updates we've received in the past. That being said news for 5.3 was released the other day during a live stream, and I wanted to bring it up. Why? Because it finally does two major things for the game that have been a long time coming, and great for new players and returning players alike.

1. A Realm Reborn's Story will be Trimmed Down -

We knew about this already, but it doesn't change the fact that this is huge news. Usually the removal of content is seen as a bad thing, but really in this case it's something that needed to be done. Why? Well it mainly has to do with the state the game was in back during it's launch. You see the original FF14 was a horrible game -- to put it bluntly. It was a game where "graphics came first" and "features can be patched in later." Basically a lot of focus was put into how the game looked, and because of that it was pretty much a game only a handful of people could play to begin with. This was a game where a flower pot had more polygons than most character models, and it was released during the days of Windows Vista. Not only that, you had to HAVE Vista to even play it, and a high end graphics card if you wanted to be able to run it. Yeah, that already isolated a lot of the fan base, with the supposed PS3 version of the game being nowhere in sight.

Putting aside the graphics though, the game did have a solid story and some really nice animated and expressive cutscenes (even more so than what we see today). That was the game's saving grace, with pretty much everything else being a complete let down. The game was plagued with non stop issues, clunky menu interfaces, limits set on how many quests you can do each day and how far you can actually progress, and it was non stop hallways. Eventually the game crash and burned, with the server shut down happening as a scene of the world exploding played out. Eventually this would lead the way to the reboot of the world, and that's where A Realm Reborn comes in.

ARR was a complete reboot of the game, yet also a continuation of the original story. The game had to be rebuilt from the ground up in a short span of time with limited funds, and honestly it did show. ARR's story was filled with pointless filler and random generic MMORPG quests, and it slowly eased you into the game's world. Sadly this meant it took a lot longer for you to actually get to the main story, and to the moments that made people want to continue playing. That being said, these boring moments will now be taken out so that new players can get to the actual good content much faster. It's a story that evolves into something truly great, and now hopefully this change will prevent more people from being put off too soon.

2. Flying Comes to ARR -

The other major change coming to the original 2.0 base game is flying! Yep this is a feature that was originally introduced in the Heavensward expansion, but as HW was a full sequel built for flying this was something that was not added to ARR. ARR areas were smaller and not optimized for such a thing, with only visible areas actually being modeled. In other words the world was boxed in by mountain ranges, walls, dense trees, and other objects that blocked your view, and behind those objects was simply nothing. Well that too will be changing with this upcoming patch, so flying can now finally be realized. While these originally unseen areas were actually added in a previous patch, it's the next update that will finally let us fly. That being said you do have to beat ARR's story to gain access to flying, but thankfully we will not have to look for air currents as is the case in Heavensward, Stormblood, and Shadowbringers.

3. Crystal Tower is now Required -

The final major change is to that of the Crystal Tower. Originally the CT could be seen in the final areas of ARR, and was then accessed once you finished the main storyline. It was the game's first large raid, and it's story was released in parts in the years that followed the game's launch. It introduced us to some new characters, developed further into some of the existing characters, and ultimately taught us more about this world's past and the civilization that once inhabited it. It was an interesting story with a memorable ending, but it could be completely skipped. In fact many people did skip it, especially during the days of not having a raid duty. Back then it often took many hours to even find enough players to get into a single part, and because of that it simply wasn't worth it. With the raid daily duty however this is no longer the case, with the Crystal Tower often being selected as your daily raid. Even so many people still never finished the raid, and that now causes problems. Sort of.

While missing out on the back story does make things a little bit more confusing in the future expansions (as they deal with the ancient civilization as well), there was nothing game breaking coming from missing the story. Key points were still explained, and that was enough to follow what was going on. With Shadowbringers however, things are a bit different. In this expansion the Crystal Tower is a central part of the overall story, and dialogue varies depending on if you've played through the raid or not. If you don't go through the raid multiple dialogue options are missing throughout the entire story, and some other scenes are revamped with messages implying that you should go back. Well now this will no longer be the case. As the CT becomes more key to the story the developers decided to just make it required. That being said, now you will be unable to advance to Heavensward if you haven't finished the raid, and those who are already in Shadowbringers will be required to go back before continuing with the new patch story. Honestly this is something that should've been done before ShB released, but I guess it's better late than never.

And that about covers it! I mean the other new features includes the continuation of the Nier Automata Raid, as well as other new story content, but that's all Shadowbringers related. With this post I wanted to focus only on ARR, as it's what everyone must go through before reaching the sequels anyway. So yeah, if you're thinking about trying out FF14 for the first time, now is going to be the perfect time to jump in. Or at least once this patch comes out in a couple of months.
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