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The Mog Log

The Mog Log: A primer for Final Fantasy XIV patch 2.5

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These preliminary patch notes are a blessing and a curse.
Ladies, gentlemen, and those who fall into neither category: The end approaches swiftly. Final Fantasy XIV's last pre-expansion patch is about to drop, and just like the bass, it won't be the same afterward. Tomorrow you've got a whole lot of new content to play through, enough to probably keep you well occupied for the next three months. The fact that the second portion of the patch will be dropping in about a month just makes it all the more occupying.

As we've done many times before, today's column is meant chiefly to take apart the patch elements we know of and get you up to speed so you can start playing without any issues once you can log in again. So let's start in on the first part of Before the Fall, complete with its new mystery trial and the promise of many revelations. Even if the big fireworks are coming in March.

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The Mog Log: Speculating on Final Fantasy XIV's Heavensward

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Here it comes.
We've got patch 2.5 around the corner, but Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion isn't all that far away either. And that, of course, brings with it no end of speculation about what players will find because so little is certain right now. What previews we've had have been vague by design, just enough to set our minds aflame with possibility without nailing down exactly what we'll find when we start venturing northward.

Lucky for me, I love speculating.

There are several ideas I've already seen regarding what we're getting in Heavensward, some of which are so far out of left field that I tend to think it's a pipe dream of the speculator and some of which seem to be logical predictions about the future of Final Fantasy XIV. So here's a bit of talk about those before we start hearing tons of expansion news and it's all proven transparently true or false. (Midway through the week, maybe.)

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's year in review

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Landing stuck.
A year ago, Final Fantasy XIV was in a weird place. The game had already done the impossible one time around, taking a title that had failed badly and re-launching to actual attention from the world at large. Barring a slight misstep with housing, it had done all right. But a year ago, it had to do the hard part: sticking the landing.

Sure, re-launching was rough. But at that point it had to bank on that goodwill and shape itself into a respectable game within the MMO space. And it managed that.

What still astonishes me about the game's year of history is that despite making mistakes and bad choices, the game has continued to earn praise from players and onlookers, more so as each month rolls on and it continues to not collapse. That alone seems surprising, especially after a year like 2014. So let's look back over the year, see what the game did right, and look forward to the new year as well.

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The Mog Log: What we know thus far about Final Fantasy XIV 2.5

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This is where it ends.
With all the cool stuff we heard about Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion, it's easy to forget that we also heard a bunch of stuff about the last patch of the current patch cycle. I think that's kind of intentional, not just because the expansion is a bit more eye-catching, but because things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. 2.5 is titled "Before the Fall," the Heavensward trailer does not predict sunny times for Ishgard, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out what happens next.

There's no actual release date for 2.5 just yet, although I imagine it's fairly soon, especially given the two-part structure and the proximity of the proposed expansion launch. So let's talk about what we know so far to look forward to before everything comes crashing down. (I'm betting around the end of January, although I'll admit to being a bit less anxious than I was with 2.4's release.)

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's big fanfest reveals

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This is, what, five whole months away?  I can't wait that long!
Christmas came early for the forward-looking Final Fantasy XIV player this year. I know some people are upset at the fact that there were more revelations in the Japanese fan festival than in the ones in Vegas or London, but the timing is different. (I'd also point out that the expansion was announced in Las Vegas.) We've gone from having only a dim view of what's coming to having a pretty clear picture of what awaits through the next few month.

One of the things that awaits is, of course, endless yelling about Machinist. Because boy.

So let's start unpacking the stuff we learned from Tokyo. I say "start" because there is no way to get everything in one column, certainly not with deadlines and other considerations to take center stage. It's going to be a few months, but there's a lot to chew on just about 2.5, even if we ignore all of the expansion stuff, which I have no intention of doing.

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's Eternal Bond

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WEDDINGS WE CAN JUST SAY WEDDINGS COME ON YOSHI-P
Weddings in MMOs always feel like content aimed directly at me. However many side benefits might exist, weddings are fundamentally roleplaying tools, ways for people to mark themselves as bound together in a virtual space that serves no purpose beyond character establishment. So even if I weren't planning on taking part in the marriage ceremony in Final Fantasy XIV, I'd be happy it existed for that reason alone.

Of course, since my actual real-life wedding was objectively the best day of my life and the best possible wedding, there's no way that the Eternal Bond setup could quite match that. But for roleplaying purposes, my character was engaged, so I was still looking forward to it. All that's left is to take part in the actual ceremony, but there's a lot of stuff to be looked at about how it's handled thus far and what's praiseworthy or just plain baffling in the setup stages.

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The Mog Log: A tourist in Final Fantasy XI

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The column you never expected to see!
I don't write much about Final Fantasy XI in this column, but those with some knowledge of its history know that wasn't always the case. There are long stretches of the column that have focused on Final Fantasy XI's trials and tribulations. It's just that as I've said many times over, there's not a whole lot of point to talking about FFXI on a regular basis now. While Final Fantasy XIV keeps getting bigger and better, FFXI is slowly and quietly declining.

But that doesn't mean you can't take a trip back.

A few weeks back, my wife and a dear friend floated the idea that the three of us could try heading back to Final Fantasy XI, exploring the game from the start, completely fresh all over again. It would be very different from how it had been before. And true to form, it certainly has been. The game is very different now from the one I remember, and it's interesting to look at why, even from the perspective of someone just about to hit 20 for the first time on a single class.

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The Mog Log: The two-way community street in Final Fantasy XIV

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It's not one-sided.  So few things are.
If there's one thing that hit me after the live letter this weekend, it's that the Final Fantasy XIV community is kind of a mess.

I've been working around this game since before it launched, and there have always been weird issues going on with the way the community has worked. Part of this is because the game's community has a weird sort of isolationist streak, as if the online installments of this particular series are the only online games in existence, but part of this is also a matter of dealing with a community team that reports to bosses who aren't speaking the same language as the US playerbase.

Community management is a two-way street, and this weekend's antics served to remind me of how many elements of this really need to be addressed. So let's talk about how both the players and the community team can improve our overall culture from both sides.

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The Mog Log: The end of Final Fantasy XIV's 2.0 cycle

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I'm betting end of May 2015, just to push it out as far as possible.
It's going to be a little while until we see the next major patch for Final Fantasy XIV. I'm not expecting to see patch 2.5 in the wild until February, to be honest. That's a little longer than the standard three months, but we've also got a holiday season through there and a not exactly clockwork schedule to begin with. It's enough time to get plenty of Poetics kit, make headway into Second Coil, and get thoroughly sick of the expert roulette dungeons. Perhaps the game shouldn't always just keep the three most recent dungeons on there...

But we still have interquel patches to consider, starting with the promised inclusion of Eternal Bonds in 2.45. While we've still got a little bit of time until the next Live Letter (which will no doubt reveal more about what's coming for the next few months), we've got enough information to speculate, prognosticate, and forecast, which is exactly what I want to do for this week. It's a thing I do.

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV and approaching the end of the story

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All things go, all things go.
All right, Final Fantasy XIV isn't really approaching the end of its story. If you think that Heavensward won't include its own set of story missions, well, suffice it to say you are almost certainly wrong. But the ending of the 2.0 storyline will be like closing a chapter in a book, and this patch is the first step along that path. The next patch will close the chapter and begin anew, bringing us down unfamiliar roads.

As a result, parts of this patch flirted with important story parts. Others flung themselves right ahead in ways that I hadn't expected. As always, this post will contain spoilers for 2.4's story, so if you haven't already seen all of it yet, be warned. It will not, however, contain spoilers for the Final Coil in any meaningful way. So if you've held off from the spoilers already swirling about that, fear not. Some of you are quite possibly working on that now.

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The Mog Log: Exploring Final Fantasy XIV's 2.4 dungeons

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I told you that story so I could tell you this one.
The first time I ran the new dungeons added to Final Fantasy XIV in patch 2.4, I was kind of surprised. They seemed a lot harder, and I hit more wipes on the way to the end than I had while learning the 2.3 dungeons. After a couple of additional runs, though, I don't think they're really all that bad, just replete with mechanics that are sort of designed to trip groups up and with more than a few nasty surprises.

It also helped that I was running with Ninja after the first runs, so that felt more natural.

As it's been less than a week since the dungeons were added, it seems like a fine time to give you lovely folks a guide to what's going on in here and what needs to be done. So let's chatter about the new dungeons you'll be running in Expert roulettes for that beautiful poetics armor.

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The Mog Log Extra: Hands-on with Final Fantasy XIV's new Ninja

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Don't be a ninny!
This week's patch 2.4 for Final Fantasy XIV added in a new class and job: the Rogue and Ninja. It's the first addition to the game since 2.0's Arcanist, Summoner, and Scholar, and as was true with those classes those, this week you could not take two steps outside of Limsa Lominsa without seeing a flurry of Rogues everywhere, thus rather obviating the "stealthy" part of the whole stealthy assassin gimmick they have going.

Of course, only a few Rogues reach maturity from their Limsan spawning grounds.

But maybe you're in it for the long haul. You want this to be your new main, you want to understand how to play this class in the endgame, and you want to be one of the best darn dagger-wielding maniacs the game has ever seen. I cannot tell you how to be one of the best, but I can at least give you the benefits of my insights from having relentlessly pushed at the class and learned what makes it tick.

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The Mog Log: Dark Knight is a tank in Final Fantasy XIV

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Yes, even if you cry, that headline is still true.
I can't really stop talking about Final Fantasy XIV when it's been weeks of news feasts for the game, can I? Hot on the heels of the last fanfest, the one-day London fanfest happened, and the development team compensated for the shortened overall time by filling the keynote with revelations. The Vanu Vanu are a thing which I currently want to cuddle, we will get personal airships, and we're getting Dark Knight -- a job that starts at level 1 with no base class, breaking all the established rules of the game.

Oh, and it's a tank.

There were basically two sets of reactions to this news. The first group was busy releasing its collective gasp of joy that it had been holding on to since Dark Knight was practically revealed in Las Vegas. The second group was screaming to the heavens about the fact that this job was going to be a tank instead of a DPS. So it merits some discussion, as do the other things we know about it because boy, Tank #3 is going to be a weird one.

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's post-fanfest shakedown

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Honestly, if the existence of the cash shop is the only rude surprise awaiting us, I'll be happy.
So Final Fantasy XIV players like yours truly have a mouthful of fanfest information to chew on. How did it all shake down, in the final assessment?

Well, I'm not going to lie: My aim was mixed at best. A minority of demo stations covering content I hadn't anticipated, patch 2.4 a week after my prediction, and mentions of 2.5 in brief. But we did get gear details and an expansion announcement. I'd call it a mix and a wash, at the end of the day. You tried, gold star, etc.

But enough about what I did and didn't get right; there's plenty more to talk about from the various panels, the Live Letter, and other revelations. So let's start in on it, kicking off with the elephant in the room that I've already been hearing about for the entirety of the past day for obvious reasons. Yes, it's a cash shop.

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The Mog Log: Predictions for Final Fantasy XIV's fanfest

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Someone said to me at one point that they were sorry I had to go on an anniversary trip with my wife instead of going to fanfest.  I can't begin to explain the degree of wrong involved in that statement.
There's less than a week to go now. Final Fantasy XIV players nationwide will congregate in Las Vegas for the fanfest starting on October 17th, and I... will be nowhere near there. I'll be on a trip with my wife celebrating a year since our wedding. But it's not as if I could talk about the revelations from the festival now anyway, since it's not for another several days. I'm going into this just as blind as you are.

But we can still speculate, can't we? Of course we can. In fact, there's some stuff that's almost a certainty going into the fanfest and some stuff that remains a bit more speculative. So I'm going to make some guesses about what we'll see at the festival and shortly thereafter, and next week we can all either laugh at my guesses or not. I won't be watching all of it in purely real-time, but I'm pretty sure we'll see the following.

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