Patch 6.3 might be Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker's first real stumbling block

I suppose this was inevitable when it was confirmed that Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker’s story would properly conclude with the expansion’s launch content, rather than in patch 6.3; yet, the MMO’s most recent patch may just be the expansion’s first notable stumble. This is not to say it’s a bad release, but compared to the updates that came before, 6.3 - and 6.31 - it sticks out like a bit of a sore thumb.

While I claimed that both patches 6.1 and 6.2 have been some of the strongest patches released for the now 10-year-old MMORPG, despite all of the content added with the latest update, the same simply can’t be said for it. Yes, players get access to new story content, including a new dungeon and a new trial - along with an Extreme variant of the same trial. Players also got access to the second fight in the Myths of the Realm Alliance Raid series. There’s even a new Treasure Dungeon too! All of this is great, but it’s also the bare minimum expectation for an x.3 Final Fantasy XIV patch. What matters much more is what the patch also brought alongside it; bugs, instability, including issues to a specific job’s usability that was not patched in time for 6.31’s The Omega Protocol (Ultimate) release.

Immediately following the release of 6.3, players noticed some odd quirks popping up in the game; some of them, like Warrior’s being able to heal millions of HP with Shake it Off under certain circumstances, were funny, but ultimately didn’t impact usability. However, before long the North American Primal Datacenter crashed, and overall stability elsewhere wasn’t much better; during a reclear party I was in with a number of friends, half the raid had severe connection issues during the very first pull of the instance, at around the same time that Primal had buckled under its weight.

Ninja, a very popular Melee DPS class had a bug that impacted the usability of its Mudra skill; an essential part of its rotation. While you can currently work around it, it’s immediately noticeable for anyone who has put even an insignificant amount of time into the class, and directly interferes with the muscle memory that dedicated players might have ingrained themselves with for the job. While other class-based bugs were fixed with 6.31, the Mudra delay that 6.3 mistakenly added to the game was not, which means that anyone seriously attempting the same patch’s new Ultimate Raid - the pinnacle of raiding difficulty, and which for a portion of the playerbase is the main reason that they would remain subbed for this patch cycle - they will be doing so with a handicap.

Not to mention, at the same time players have become increasingly aware of the limitations of the game's buff limit. During the World First race for The Omega Protocol, numerous groups switched off Jobs with heavy raid buff presence to those that comparatively offer very little, as players were discovering that alongside the mandatory debuffs used for mechanics during later phases, you could very quickly hit the buff cap - negating the usefulness of many of the game's jobs in the first place.

Other bugs have permeated throughout the game since the patch, as well. Some issues have already been fixed; others have not. Even aspects of the patch that aren’t definitively bugs feel like they might have arrived in the game a little half-baked. Adventurer Plates, a feature that I gave great praise to in my article on patch 6.1, have officially come out of Beta - and along with it, the previously PvP-exclusive implementation of Instant Portraits have been added to other instanced duties in the game. While on paper that’s a great change, the problem is that it has shone a light on how the current implementation is bafflingly cumbersome to deal with.

Instant Portraits are tied to whichever Job you currently have equipped, which means that instead of just showcasing whatever portrait is available in your Adventurer Plate, anyone that plays multiple jobs will have to spend the time to create portraits for every one of them if they don’t want to be stuck with the blank-eyed stare that the default portrait constitutes. Worse still, changing any gear attached to your character - even if the same glamour is applied to the gear in question, and as such your outward appearance has not changed, will break the Instant Portrait, forcing you to go back into the settings to fix it manually.

Aspects of Patch 6.3 are as fantastic as the updates that Endwalker received before, and it shouldn’t be ignored that features like the PvP revamp, Island Sanctuary, and even the above-mentioned Adventurer Plates continue to receive substantial tweaks and additions. Similarly, much like with patch 6.25, there is still plenty of content that the 6.3x series has left to show us. The new Deep Dungeon, the final Tribal Quest series, updates to the Manderville Relic Weapons (and, of course, the beloved Hildibrand sidequest line), and of course the recently released The Omega Protocol Ultimate Raid; which I’m personally excited for the most, and hope to get a clear for before the next major patch in 6.4.

Which is to say; Endwalker’s post-launch support continues to be the best that Final Fantasy XIV has ever had, to the point that what would’ve perhaps been an especially noteworthy patch in Shadowbringers is perhaps a little too easy to deride as a weak patch this time around. In the long run, it doesn’t really matter; assuming these bugs can be fixed, and 6.4 can release without as much of a hitch, whatever issue players have had with 6.3 will be easy to forget. Considering how well Endwalker has been going since launch, I feel pretty confident in exactly that happening.