Unfortunately, the fact that it's landing tomorrow as of the time you're reading this means I have not yet actually played this patch. But I can still put a guide of some preliminaries together so that you can at least know what you're doing even if you haven't necessarily examined the patch notes with a fine-toothed comb just yet. So let's dive into it. When the patch goes live tomorrow, pick your destination, and go to it.
It's dungeon time (oh yeah)
First things first: Rather than seeing the expansion of the Expert roulette, we'll find that the three dungeons currently in Expert rotation are getting dropped down to High-Level rotation. Hullbreaker, Stone Vigil, and Tam-Tara will be filling in the Expert rotation now. This coincides with a drop in Soldiery and a rise in Mythology in the former Expert dungeons, along with a new first-time reward of mythology if you're with someone who hasn't done the dungeon before. Good news all around.
Unlocking the new dungeons will require a trip to Ul'dah, then a trip to Mor Dhona to pick up all three quests, with the dungeons themselves located in the Shroud, Coerthas, and La Noscea. Experts also require 70 or above, so don't expect them to be a whole lot harder than the current setup. Most people who have been active over the past several months will already be one, but fresh 50s will be out of luck.
Syrcus Tower ascent
All you'll need to do to open Syrcus Tower is head on over to Mor Dhona, pick up a quest from Rammbroes over at St. Coinach's Find, and presumably do a fetch bit or two. There are no fangs to be unlocked here; as long as you've cleared the Labyrinth of the Ancients, you're good to go. Again, though, this dungeon requires level 70 to enter, so fresh characters will need to kit up a bit before going into the meat grinder.
Of note, the part composition for this installment is one tank, five DPS, and two healers, rather than the usual 2/4/2 setup. On the one hand, this is probably a good thing; the first part of CT had far too many fights wherein adds were just being vomited out so all six tanks had something interesting to do, and I will not miss the days of tanks throwing fits at Bone Dragon or Thanatos. You might have slightly longer queues as a tank, however. Equally worth noting is the fact that Syrcus Tower apparently won't require the sort of splitting up that Labyrinth occasionally did, according to Yoshi-P's statements about the dungeon.
Oh, and there's a last chest that can spawn from the final boss without a weekly lockout requirement. So that should be keen. Or horrible, depending on content and the spawn rate.
The fight against Ramuh, as always, is unlocked in the main storyline. Once you've finished the main storyline for this patch, you can unlock Ramuh's EX fight. You'll need to clear King Moggle Mog and Leviathan EX first, but thankfully, you no longer need to clear the first three sets of EX primals in order to challenge those two, which should be welcome news to everyone who is happy to never see Titan Extreme again. Whether or not the King and the Leviabeetus are preferable is another discussion.
Please note that you won't be able to do Trial roulettes again until you clear Ramuh. No word on whether the beardy bastard's Hard mode drops anything, but based on the unpleasant precedent established with Leviabeetus, I wouldn't count on it.
On the front lines
Getting into Frontline is pretty straightforward: Head to your Grand Company and pick up the quest. You must have already completed the quest to unlock the Wolves' Den, but that's not exactly difficult.
According to the implications of the patch notes, it appears that Frontline will not exclusively be a 72-person battle, with matches possible between three 8-person parties all the way up to three 24-person alliances. So less-active periods will still result in reasonable queue times, hopefully. It also lacks the same role restrictions at a glance, and it will sync your equipment to a reasonable level, thus ensuring that no one has too much of an advantage or disadvantage based upon gear. This is a welcome change. I know what I'll be doing a great deal of.
Oh, now this I'm excited about. I'm excited about the new armor appearances. I'm excited about the new structure. I'm excited about a way to pick up sands and oils at player discretion. I'm very, very into the idea of the Hunt.
Ahem. Primer. Yes. As long as you're picking up your Frontline quest, pick up the Hunt quest as well. No, you don't have to get the quest to pursue elite marks, but you get more benefits for doing so, and there are normal marks on top of that. My biggest concern is that the elite marks will turn into some variety of the mess that Notorious Monsters frequently became in Final Fantasy XI, but I'm hopeful that both the reality of the game and the needs of players to fight these things once a week will be foremost in the design. We'll have to see.
Getting your chocobo trained up is pretty straightforward, but it's a good cause to get involved with gardening if you've been largely uninvolved with the minigame up until now. I certainly have. A lot of stuff can be grown for your bird, including greens if you want to just summon the beast with the old standby and don't feel like buying the greens directly.
It's worth noting is that you still can only hit 20 with that animal, so if you want all three bardings, you'll need to respec it at least once.
Don't call it a comeback! We've been here for weeks. Episode 11 hits live letter fun and speculation, while Episode 12 is all about community topics and some points of apprehension over 2.3. Tying nicely into Crystal Tower, I've been plowing through Final Fantasy III in The Final Fantasy Project, although the past two installments have been less about the tower and more about fighting a guy with a snake loincloth and a skeleton pirate in tree jail.
From Eorzea to Vana'diel, there is a constant: the moogles. And for analysis and opinions about the online portions of the Final Fantasy series, there is also a constant: The Mog Log. Longtime series fan Eliot Lefebvre serves up a new installment of the log every other Monday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.