Final Fantasy XIV Patch 6.1 feels like more than a simple update

As great as Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker was at launch, one of the most exciting things with XIV’s latest expansion was the promise of something truly new in the months and years to come. All eyes were on Patch 6.1 for a taste of the new story players will be tackling from here on out, of course, but even more than that, there’s been a ton of changes that are sure to impact the critically-acclaimed MMO for the foreseeable future.

First things first – 6.1’s story is perhaps less of a “reset” than folks were expecting. While the bulk of the patch deals with a common adventure, we’re already well on our way to building up the next arc of the story. I won’t spoil anything for those of us that haven’t yet had the chance to digest the MSQ, but it’s almost a little shocking just how overtly the devteam is setting up the next expansion, even now. Either way, the new story was a nice reprieve before things are set to wind up yet again – and the new dungeon is already a quick favorite, especially as someone who has recently been going through Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Uhrgan.

Estinien during a portion of patch 6.1's MSQ.

One of the “lesser” changes for longtime players, but perhaps the most significant outside of the MSQ, is how A Realm Reborn is now almost completely playable solo. Many of the earlier dungeons have been reworked to work with an expanded version of what was originally the Trust system, and the equally loved and hated “Main Scenario Roulette” instances – including The Praetorium – have seen special care to make them feel fresh, new, and more in line with the rest of the game moving forward. While part of me is sad to see so much of A Realm Reborn’s character shaved down to fit the state of the game as it exists now, it’s undeniably for the best, and better sets expectations for players joining the game in the coming days.

While PvP has never been XIV’s strong suit, there has been a strong effort to rework PvP with the latest patch – not only has ranked PvP been replaced with an entirely new mode in Crystalline Conflict, but even outside of the new mode every Job has had their PvP action set completely reworked. Now every job can limit their actions to a single hotbar, and there has been a heavy rebalance towards burst windows and party synergy. Many jobs have received entirely new actions unique to PvP, and the pacing of it all feels crisp. It’s hard to put into words just how much this helps the feel of PvP as a whole, but even Frontline feels much better paced – let alone the absolutely breakneck pace of the new mode. To see the Wolves’ Den Pier alight with players playing and enjoying PvP shows that the team finally seems to be onto something here, and perhaps more than anything else speaks to their success with the most recent patch.

A look at the new PvP mode, Crystalline Conflict

I could spend hours talking about the new Adventurer Plate system, and how it’s been both a blessing and a curse for not just PvP, but the game as a whole. I think the best way to put it is that now that they’re here, it’s hard to imagine XIV without them – they’re a blast, and a fun and easy way to communicate the type of player you are, to anyone out there willing to take a peek.

On the other end of the equation the new 24-man Alliance Raid, Myths of the Realm, is off to an incredible start. Aglaia is filled with excellent boss encounters, interesting fight mechanics, wonderful set pieces, and sees the return of voice-acting for the Alliance Raids - which was sorely missed with Shadowbringer’s Nier-crossover Alliance Raid series. Even the story feels like it’s off to a better start, too, with more long-term implications for Eitherys as a whole sure to follow. Unfortunately, I’m not so hot on the new Extreme Trial added to the game with 6.1. The devteam hyped up the fight so much, that the end result feeling like half an encounter has left a good portion of the playerbase scratching our heads. It’s not that it’s a bad fight, per se, but it feels under-tuned – especially considering how bombastic the Extreme versions of story-concluding Trials have felt in the past.

Here's where my Ishgard house would be, if I had one!

Similarly, the new changes to the Housing system – and the addition of new Ishgard housing plots – haven’t gone over nearly as well as many of us had hoped. Putting aside all of the numerous technical glitches that the devteam are still working to fix, the new Free Company/Private Housing split is ridiculous, especially considering how many Free Company-only plots are still empty, while players looking to own their own home are struggling to get any house at all. While it makes perfect sense why the devteam has prioritized FCs first, the balance definitely feels off – only having 6 of the 24 available housing words for private housing is far too little, and the fact that the same stipulation now applies to every housing district in the game feels even worse.

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If someone moves from a Free Company-only ward to a Private only ward – since the distinction has only just now been added to both – they take up a slot for Private bidders, while leaving an empty spot that only Free Companies can bid on. While the stipulation exists that only Free Companies of a certain age, and of a certain size, can bid on these plots – I’ve already been seeing players gaming the system, and I fear that before the team manages to re-balance the number of wards for Private buyers, anyone that doesn’t want to game the system themselves will have an even worse time trying to get a house in the months and years ahead.

My grandpa has become too powerful, please stop praying for him.

All these quibbles aside – 6.1 has been a great patch, and there’s still more yet to come. Dragonsong’s Reprise, the first Ultimate Raid added to the game in over 2 years, is sure to be a blast – and the return of Hildibrand in 6.15, alongside the additions of a new Tataru-themed sidequest chain is sure to be a ton of fun as well. Then there’s patch 6.18, where players will finally be able to Datacenter travel, meaning I’ll finally have a chance to play with my friends stuck on Aether and Crystal, or vice-versa. Endwalker stuck the landing with an excellent expansion, and 6.1 has only kept that momentum going. I can’t wait to see how XIV will continue to grow.

 

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