FFXIV Patch 6.3 Is Looking Good!

On Friday morning here in the US, the live letter for the upcoming patch 6.3 to Final Fantasy XIV was held.

Odd-numbered patches are generally, for raiders, the “catch-up” patches of FFXIV. The new Alliance raid offers left-side gear at the same level as the tomestone gear and gives easy means to buy upgrade items for armor and accessories to bring current tomestone gear up to Savage item level, while a new dungeon will offer higher base item level goodies for non-raiders, and crafted gear upgrades will let you take current crafted gear up 10 item levels to increase your power even more. In the past, x.3 patches were also grand on the story scale, as they offered the finale of the current expansion storyline and the earliest setup for the next expansion to come.

Well, on the gear front, we’re getting about the same, while on the story front, we are in the depths of the Endwalker story experiment – with 6.1 through 6.5 offering us their own, unique story, loosely built on what we just did in the 6.0 MSQ but different and standalone. Thus, the early live letter is largely what we expected – loose gameplay notes to setup the things we’ll be doing when the patch launches in early January (date TBA, but my guess is 1/10/2023).

My highlights? Firstly, I like how closely they are playing everything to the chest. Euphrosyne is the next Alliance Raid in the Myths of the Realm series, and we saw a single still of a tree in a field as our teaser. Even the Aglaia announcement showed more, but I like the hinting and teasing of new content. In the original Greek, Euphrosyne is a goddess of good cheer, joy, and mirth – so that may align expectations on which of the Twelve we can expect to see, somewhat.

I liked the new dungeon look, and it set my imagination ablaze. There’s not much to go on, but the small bit of architecture we can see has a distinct Ancients/Amaurot/Elpis vibe to it, which is…interesting. Since the dungeon will be MSQ, however, my guess is that it will have more to do with the Thirteenth – perhaps a visit to the moon of that reflection?

The trial being played close to the chest is not exactly a surprise, as even with the nature of the trial series as the Four Archfiends of FFIV, there is a lot of effort being put into surprising players. Based on the MSQ of 6.2, it seems likely to be a tag-team trial against both Cagnazzo and Rubicante, although at the same time, that would leave an interesting wrinkle in plans – if we defeat both, then we have Golbez in 6.4 probably, and then…question mark. Confronting Azdaja as the Shadow Dragon would be the most poignant ending we could get using the existing FFIV framing, and it would likely be the best establishing trial to set the story in motion towards Meracydia for 7.0, but at the same time, I still have suspicions about where Zero lands in all of this given, well, the name of the true villain of FFIV. The story has put a lot of distance between XIV Zero and Zeromus, but it is still early days!

A new Ultimate raid is cool, and likely to be our first Stormblood throwback, which should be cool. If it sticks to the raid series, however, we’re in an interesting boat, as Omega was pretty much all FF nostalgia bait as a raid series until the final 3 fights. It would be neat to have an Exdeath/Kefka/Omega ultra showdown, but there’s a lot of room for them to wiggle around, as The Epic of Alexander played a little loose with which bosses it pulled in to the Ultimate in order to hit all the fan-favorite (and less favored!) bosses from the normal and Savage originals. If they invert the order they’ve typically used, the Ultimate could be even better – the story beats of Stormblood have strong central villains in Yotsuyu and Zenos, Zenos has both a dungeon and trial (as Shinryu) to draw from, and involving both Zenos and Asahi after their recent reprises through the Endwalker MSQ would be a good narrative tie-in, perhaps one that could be drawn upon in the Ultimate as well. If they did not decide to do Omega, I could see a Four Lords tie-in from the trial series of Stormblood being exceptionally fun!

The new deep dungeon is an interesting one. On the one hand, I’ve never really super enjoyed either version of deep dungeon in FFXIV. I did a fair bit of Palace of the Dead back in the Heavensward era, but I did the bare minimum for the quest and then kinda gave up on it. I did even less of Heaven-on-High. While the gameplay is interesting to me to a point (soloable content, random layouts, bespoke progression mechanics), it just never captivates me in the way I’d like, and so I end up just not doing it. The dungeon being Eureka Orthos, a real look at Allagan works and not the renamed Isle of Val for Stormblood, could be quite cool, especially as the Allagans remain a major point of curiosity in the FFXIV mythos with the revelations about Amon during Endwalker. Honestly, this is a model I’d like to see – the story of existing deep dungeons is cool, but also kind of minimal, and Endwalker has had side content with substantial lore implications already (the Omicron tribal quests revealing a lot about the nature of Dynamis), so I think some deep-dive Allagan lore coming out of the new deep dungeon is ideal!

New custom deliveries? On the First? To a leafman? I’m in. It’s not A+ amazing content like, ever, but custom deliveries are solid scrip sources and I like having the little slices of story we get via them. A ramp of content happening on the First is…especially interesting given the general thrust of our MSQ for 6.1 forward, but until we end up crossing paths with Runar again, I’m waiting for the slow burn!

Loporrits being the final tribal quest for the expansion is fully expected, and while there was reason to speculate with the last tribe given the involvement of a Loporrit in the Omicron quests, I felt this direction was fairly obvious. In the Omicron quests, Jammingway is there as contrast and flavor, to bring out the essence of the Omicrons, but we still have a lot of interesting questions to answer about how the Loporrits are doing since their main objective is accomplished and we’ve had hints and teases about them building amusement parks (the Excitatron!) and the like. As long as the completion mount reward isn’t a fucking carrot, I’ll be delighted.

Getting a new treasure dungeon that uses exclusive maps and is in Elpis is fascinating, because it definitely skews a bit uniquely compared to prior handling of treasure dungeons. Treasure dungeons generally are lore-light but do have world building detail thrown in for some fun, and I think that in terms of continuity and suspension of disbelief, it fits well that Elpis would have unique treasure maps and a unique dungeon, as opposed to somehow having maps of creatures thousands of years in the future that show the way to a dungeon on a moon that didn’t even exist at the time. I think it would be cool to see more unique treasure dungeons as the expansion moves forward too, instead of just updating the existing basic Excitatron with new version numbers and different rooms. Elpis would be high on my list, but I would love to see what a Dynamis-conjured treasure dungeon in Ultima Thule might be like, as an example. Given the Omicron quests, it feels like such a thing could be done!

On the core content side, the rest is light but about what we expected – new Manderville quests, the next Manderville Weapon step, a new set of crafting and gathering gear to make along with glowy tools to quest for, and continued updates to Duty Support to bring more dungeons into the mix, allowing players to progress the MSQ solo further. With 6.3, the MSQ of the entire free trial can be done via Duty Support, which will likely see a big push towards that. In fact, I suspect that when 6.5 launches and brings the last of the Stormblood MSQ dungeons to Duty Support, we’ll see an additional expansion of the free trial to Stormblood. Mark it down!

On the quality of life front, there’s a lot of good here. There’s island sanctuary stuff, which is great except I haven’t even done my own yet at all, there’s tweaks to PvP including a cool looking new Kugane map, there’s a ton more housing wards opening per server to bring more players in to the housing market, and there are a ton of UI adjustments. My favorites are that Square Enix is actually pulling in more stuff from the plugin community, with the big additions on that front being incoming damage-type indicators on the flyover text and buff timers for party members in the party list, which will make playing a shield healer easier and playing healer generally easier (you can see when mitigation cooldowns on the tank will wear off, especially invulnerabilities so you know to get back to healing them). A lot of the glamour changes are solid ways to expand the system without adding much, and the expansion of adventurer portraits to dungeons, trials, and raids is cool.

Lastly, my major thing is the Paladin rework.

Without details, there’s obviously not a lot to go on for now, but let’s discuss it briefly anyways. Paladin is a job I want to love – it has a ton of optimizations you can make, a variety of openers that can be tailored to an encounter, and it has a reasonably low skill floor with a high skill ceiling – hitting the full opener and rotation in perfect harmony with no clips or buff issues is an accomplishment. However, the problem Paladin has in the current game is simple – given all of that optimization, your reward for doing it right should be much better than it is. A Paladin played absolutely perfectly is rewarded with…the third best tank DPS, on average. Dark Knight and Gunbreaker both offer higher overall sustained DPS and have very frontloaded burst that syncs up with raid buffs exceptionally well (Dark Knight still, to my knowledge, has the highest DPS opener in the game, over even all DPS jobs), and while Warrior is generally bottom bitch for now, they’re piss-easy to play, involving almost no oGCD weaving and just having a simple game of buff management and resource spending, which gives them a clear niche as the “cozy tank” that everyone plays to learn or get better at the role.

Ultimately, Paladin suffers right now because it is intended to be a sustained DPS job in a metagame that has been rebuilt for Endwalker around burst at 60 and 120 second intervals, and while Paladin gains some benefit from raid buffs obviously, they don’t have their own burst window that lines up with buffs to cram in high potency attacks. What you’re left with is a job that has its own damage profile independent of the raid, but it also creates issues with the way fights are paced around the two minute windows of the party. For most jobs, you can hold your burst and buffs to resolve certain mechanics (P5S rush and devour, P6S Cachexia, P7S inviolate purgation, etc) but a Paladin has a cycle they have to maintain with their own buffs for themselves, and it hurts a lot more to say, choose to not use Fight or Flight around a mechanic, which means that your physical damage abilities all hit like wet noodles until you can get FoF cycled back in. This hurts more if you don’t carefully pre-plan every move around the fight timeline, because if you get caught off-guard by an upcoming mechanic and make a hard choice in the moment, you can hose the whole fight for yourself and get stuck off-cycle.

The thing about a rework is that it bears a couple of potential downsides. While the above are all issues with the job right now, just simply jamming it into the two-minute buffs meta kind of defeats the purpose. At that point, the tanks are all basically very similar jobs and picking one is a matter of tuned potencies, player comfort, and what minimal flavor is maintained via job-specific armor and weapon looks or the aesthetic of abilities. A lot of players genuinely like Paladin as it is in terms of gameplay, and simply want it to be a competitive job that does well in the hardest content like week 1 Savage and Ultimate progression, as the job has been flat on its face for two full tiers now in favor of Gunbreaker and Dark Knight meta tanking, with the occasional Warrior who has ironed their brain smooth for maximum flow with the job. A larger topic I want to discuss in the future is how MMOs often do a disservice to classes/jobs/specs like Endwalker Paladin, where the gameplay complexity is the point but is also left utterly unrewarded with sub-par performance at best.

The other potential issue is that fitting Paladin to the two-minute meta, even assuming the rotation works nearly the same, feels kind of bad too. A lot of players are coming to the conclusion that the two-minute buff meta takes away some of the interesting compositional quirks and unique gameplay flows you got prior to this level of homogenization. I’ve only played the Endwalker meta at the high-end, as it is the first expansion I’ve done Savage in at all, and I think there is something to this case. On the one hand, sure, buff window alignment is a lot easier and learning the baseline flow of a new job is straightforward to a point – where do they jam all their shit in to maximize buffed potency, and how do they build past the opener for each subsequent even-minute burst? At the same time, though, while I think there is a good amount of flavor and unique gameplay in each job in FFXIV, homogenized buffs does make the overall flow of a raid fight feel the same – if you’re on the two-minute meta, you’re huffing that loopium waiting for your next burst window to do the fun stuff and trying to fit that window around mechanical execution. Jobs that aren’t as rigidly locked to the two-minute meta feel interesting as a result, because even with the optimization potential that being in a buff window offers, there’s something to be said for skill expression outside of “everyone hits their buff buttons here and goes HAM.”

So I look at a rework of Paladin with some concern. On the one hand, my tanks of choice are literally everything but Paladin, so I can say that a rework might bear some chance of pulling me into the job. Aesthetically, I like it a lot, but it just feels so bad to learn and optimize for such a paltry reward and if that improved, I’d definitely be game to give it more of a chance. I do have it leveled to 90 twice, after all. On the other hand, there are a lot of Paladin players who just want a better, more consistent damage profile that sees them rewarded for effort put into optimization, and that is a fair concern. A major rework could undermine much of what people enjoy about the job in exchange for performance, which kind of defeats the purpose. The most recent reworks we have to go on, Summoner and Monk in 6.0, were both substantial changes that altered a fair bit of what was enjoyable about the jobs to existing players, some of whom were still onboard for the changed jobs while others drifted away – especially since Summoner went from an optimizable, interesting job to a rotation that is, literally, just jamming the same two or three buttons for most of a one-minute cycle before hitting the big summon and jamming two-three different buttons with very similar purpose. Fearing that they’ll smoothbrain the fun right out of Paladin is not, in fact, a misplaced fear, but quite valid given that.

But overall, the patch cycle looks quite promising, and with a likely late December live letter still to come, we’ll hopefully get some Christmas presents like a trailer or some gameplay footage!

4 thoughts on “FFXIV Patch 6.3 Is Looking Good!

  1. Where’s Omicron tribal quests? I checked in Ultima Thule yesterday, and there’s just one quest left available in abandoned city in the middle of the map, but it’s for DoH/DoL which I haven’t leveled – is that it? Kageyama Satsuki, my favorite WoW/FFXIV-related artist, posted his cartoon on Twitter about how Omicron tribal story is the next emotional breakdown after Endwalker MSQ, so I’m intrigued 🙂

    If we presume that endboss of each alliance raid would be a patron of the three starting cities, Euphrosyne will have Nophica (Gridania), and 6.5. – Llymlaen (Limsa) 🙂 Considering how Aglaia was all about fire, I’d predict Menphina, Oschon and Althyk (earth and nature) to 6.3. raid wing, and Halone, Thaliak and Nymeia (all ice and water-themed) into 6.5.

    Paladin is not a satisfying tank considering its DPS to me – it’s one of those jobs where combos overlap in time scale, and I still can’t figure out my priorities. Obviously, those one-button magic and physical “combos” are a must to execute, but the main starting combo has two finishers (a DoT and non-DoT), and I always have to pick – you never have time to alternate them as I probably should. And yes, everything but magic combo feels very underwhelming. As a tank though, it’s an easy play for me, I’m totally comfortable in dungeons and raids.

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    1. Lol, I just thought about one more thing: I assigned paladin to my lalafell, and it’s especially important not to feel weak in that case! I’m extremely enjoying the contrast of a small folk doing insane and convincing damage – and what I get full scale in that matter from warrior, I miss in paladin here. Noodle arms, really.

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    2. You’re in the right spot and with the right hunch – you need a DoL job (any of the 3 will do) leveled to at least 80 to start them. Provided you have that and have done the quests from Stigma Dreamscape, the quest to start them will be open at the Nekropolis in UT.

      I agree with the hunch on the Twelve, and it would be a great tie-in to the ARR lore that’s being dug at with the Myths of the Realm series! The only thing I would like to see is an Ishgard throwback via Halone, but I suspect they could sneak it in anyways and fans would dig it.

      The paladin timescale is one I agree with a lot. The idea of the combo system they have is great in theory, but the timing requires a lot of precise alignment of stuff – you often have to time Fight or Flight to line up on a half-GCD cadence so you don’t end up burning the last physical GCD without the buff, and then lining up the magic phase often means hitting Requiescat mid-physical combo and holding the buff until you finish the physical combo. Then there’s all the optimization around Circle of Scorn and Expiacion, where you want them on CD all the time even if it means using them outside of FoF, and ahhhhh there’s just too much optimization to do for the job to land at a steady third place of 4. It’s easy enough to play for dungeons and normal content, but anything harder makes PLD feel a lot worse, sadly.

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  2. Don’t sleep on the Island Sanctuary if you want an easy source of IX and X crafting and gathering materia. Following Overseas Casuals (on Discord) makes the workshop scheduling super easy.

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