By MeesterO 2 Comments
Only after a three month wait, 2.4 would descend upon the adventurers of Eorzea, making the 2.3 patch the shortest lifespan of all the content we received. This patch would go to drastically change the rewards received from hunts, and introduce a huge amount of content that is still current to this recap. The headliner for Dreams of Ice was none other than the Primal Shiva, who plays a huge role in the continuing main scenario, along with introducing the Final Coil of Bahamut, the final encounter leading up to the Elder Primal himself. We would also get three new dungeons, the next exciting adventure from Hildibrand, the introduction of the long awaited Ninja class, and a whole lot more detailed in the official trailer:
As of 2.4 I was reeling from my short lived victory over Nael Daeus Darnus, the final boss of Second Coil, and was on my way to head up the first week of progression in the new raid. 2.4 was by far the return to form patch after the gigantic mishap of the 2.3 hunts rewarding soldiery, and the debacle of nobody wanting to do Ramuh. It was maybe one of the best patches we would ever see, but in my opinion that goes to 2.5, but for now lets cover what went down during this patch's lifespan.
2.4, Dreams of Ice
So upon the release of the patch, the greatest news came from the curiosity of the hunt community, after tracking an S-Rank down and killing it, it was revealed that the monsters would no longer give the second tier of currency for the new top of the line gear. With that being the case people would have no choice but to do dungeons, trials, and raids once again to get gear. Which isn't entirely a bad thing, in fact it was probably the best thing to happen to the rest of the game for months. Along with that also included the mystery of where the new dungeon, Snowcloak, was in the midst of the unlocking run around. It was later found out that Snowcloak would become the first dungeon since 2.0 to require you finish the 2.4 story in order to actually unlock your expert roulette. A fundamental change that would be picked up in 2.5. A ton of smart fixes and changes to the formula we knew for the last three patches or so pretty much showed Square was learning from past mistakes and fast. So here were the things you were probably doing during 2.4:
- Things that make you Shiva for new gear
- Stuck in one last Bind
- These dungeons belong in a Museum
- Uncle Ulty has come to visit, and he brought friends!
- The day Limsa Lominsa exploded into 1000 Believe It jokes
- Everyone is getting married and you're all invited!
The new dungeons brought life back into the Duty Roulettes, and Shiva would be the goal of everyone, whether it being the server first kill or everyone trying to get shiny new weapons and accessories. As of the patch dropping not a ton of people actually had Turn 9 down on Leviathan, so the first couple of weeks in the new raid hangout spot was shockingly a ghost town. By far though nearly every aspect of the content that was introduced was a step up from the last patch, barring the Syrcus Tower, since 2.5 would be the next time we would see a Crystal Tower update. I would even consider the 2.4 main scenario a step up from anything they'd put out since 2.0, as I honestly think this is where everyone started getting invested for the long haul once again.
Lady Iceheart and the War in Ishgard
The 2.4 story picks up back in Mor Dhona, Minfillia sends you off to Camp Dragonhead to meet up with the leaders there to discuss some trouble that has been brewing between the City State of Ishgard and the heretics that serve the Dragons. You would be told that the heretics causing the trouble is led by a dastardly character known as Lady Iceheart, and wishes for Ishgard to pay for its crimes on the Dravanians. After completing a chain of quests that guarantee that the heretics would no longer sack supplies coming in and from Ishgard, you are sent to Ul'dah to meet another important face in the months to come.
When arriving in Ul'dah you're met by a man by the name of Ilberd, the newly appointed Captain of the Crystal Braves. Shortly after, Raubahn, the General of the Immortal Flames and protector of the Sultana arrives and it's revealed that Ilberd and Raubahn are old war buddies from the Ala Mhigan resistance. This small reunion of friends/rivals is cut short after Ilberd reveals there is a high ranking member of the Immortal Flames working for the Garlean Empire, and it's up to you to find out who. Along the way its also hinted at there being some shady business involving a young Crystal Braves member being tied to a shipment of supplies gone missing. Maybe the corruption spans past the Immortal Flames? Before going any deeper into the situation, you are called upon Alphinaud to help in the talks with Ishgard to see about rejoining the Eorzean Alliance.
Waiting for you would be Ser Aymeric, one of the highest ranking members of Ishgard's military, and one of the only members of it wishing to speak to the outside world. Alphinaud proposes that Ishgard rejoins the Eorzean Alliance after being isolated from the world for so long to deal with the Dravanian threat. Aymeric would agree to see what he can do to sway Leadership into opening the gates to the lands north of Eorzea, only if the Scions would help in certain matters regarding the Great Wyrm Midgardsormr, and his grave. Alphinaud reluctantly accepts as the reasoning for Aymeric's use of the Scions is sound. After the negotiations conclude, its revealed that Iceheart and her followers have sacked another supply caravan, and its revealed that Iceheart's true goal is to awaken Saint Shiva, a heritic long ago that layed with the Dragons.
You are then sent to Snowcloak, the new dungeon introduced along with the two Hard Mode remixes, to chase after her and put a stop to her plans. After a long trek through an Ice Golem, a yeti, and Fenrir, you see Iceheart at the end of the dungeon, only to be too late. She teleports off using the Aetheryte the Fenrir was guarding and proceeds to break it afterwards. With no way to go forward with the search, you leave it to your fellow Scions to find a new path forward. Meanwhile the investigation to finding the traitor in the Immortal Flames picks up.
As you return to Ilberd and Raubahn, it is apparent after a few fetch quests that Eline Roaille, Raubahn's second in command has been working for the Garleans this whole time. When discovered Roaille goes into hiding, but not for long, as Yugiri makes her return along with bringing over her branch of Ninjas track her down in East Shroud. She is arrested for her crimes after admitting to them on the spot, and sent back to Mor Dhona to find out whats up with accessing the Aetheryte in Snowcloak. It is upon the arrival you are introduced to the long missing Scion Moenbryda, who has been off researching the Aether and a means to destroy an Ascian, a being that is pretty much immortal. Using the research she has brought, you return to Snowcloak able to repair the Aetheryte, and confront Iceheart in her domain.
Using the crystals she ransacked from the supply caravans, she uses them to not summon Saint Shiva into the world, but to seemingly become Shiva herself. Which threw a new wrench into what a bunch of crystals and a pissed off person can actually DO with them in the XIV universe. After surviving the encounter (if you could call it surviving), you're congratulated on a job well done, as the relations between Ishgard and Eorzea seemingly get a bit better. While back on the Homefront, the matters in Ul'dah only get worse. The Sultana is beginning to crack under the pressure as more and more members of the Syndicate begin to show their hands.
The story this time around was able to balance out things better, while giving each side of the story its own time to develop. You were leaving story beats as they were for the time being for good reason most of the time. It definitely wasn't the mess 2.3 was, and the Primal meant to headline this patch was actually able to shine. Not only in the story aspect, but also in content and rewards. It also gave faces to factions that had no identity up until this point with Aymeric and Ilberd, both of whom would go onto 2.5 to become major players in their own ways.
The Lady who Lay with Dragons
Shiva had no trouble intergrating herself into the everyday activities of everyone. Shiva, unlike the primal she followed up, actually offered upgrades in terms of gear. So with people still struggling on Turn 9, just like Leviathan before her, she was able to fill in a gap for those people looking to up their chances. The EX version dropped new ilvl 120 bracers for each class, along with a 110 weapon, that was on par with the raid weapon from ST and Turn 7. Later on they would introduce a new item into the fight known as Diamond Dust, which acted like a Mirror of the Whorl, but in a less moronic way. Instead of it being a 5 percent chance drop, you got a Diamond Dust upon completion of the EX encounter. You needed a total of five in order to upgrade the weapon into a ilvl 115 weapon, something on par with the weapons from Turn 9. It turned what used to be a long and tiresome grind against RNG to a small and sensible time investment.
Shiva is probably one of the only Primals that has their HM and EX encounters nearly identical with only a few key differences between them. Both first phases include her using the weapon swap ability she possesses, along with the abilities associated with said weapons, and the DPS check involving the four Ice Golems. The second phase changes include a tank swap mechanic regarding to a debuff she puts on both tanks depending on what weapon she has equipped, a new Bow weapon with an instant kill cone AoE if you aren't behind her, and the fact the ice blocks people get stuck in if they happen to stray to the edge of the arena becoming fatal, rather than a thing they can break out of in 15 seconds or less. Personally there's no debating it, Shiva is probably one of the easiest Primals fights in the game. Yet I think its great design that the HM mode actually serves its purpose in teaching you how the EX mode works to the best of its abilities. While Shiva might not be my favorite primal, she definitely serves as some of my favorite moments from the patch itself. In the Shiva fight it is more than possible to kill her even after each person in the party has been killed atleast once, and resurrected. It is also one of the fights in the game where a Bard can actually use their limit break and not get yelled at.
Stuck in One Last Bind
Upon the arrival of 2.4 I was actually ready to enter Final Coil from the get-go, it was a very exhilarating experience to say the least. At long last the raider inside of me was sated. Not since Ulduar would I step foot into a raid day one and try to figure out how all the kinks work. My group would slowly, but surely make its way through to the end of the Coil and beat Bahamut. Yet this time around, the difficulty wouldn't be in the random chance mechanics, the fights themselves would be come more and more demanding with each increasing turn all the way to the end.
Turn 10 would set the stage for what was in store for people. You do the mechanics correctly, or you're going to get punished. For every mechanic you failed that wasn't an accidental death to the floor AoEs, the boss would put a stacking buff on himself. Later on in the last phase, he would proceed to put out an AoE that put a stacking debuff on YOU that made you weaker to incoming lightning attacks. Along with that, you only had 11 minutes to kill him, or else the arena would close in on you, and you would die a slow and painful death, watching your health tick away 1100 hp at a time. Essentially, if your group was not putting out atleast 2000 DPS throughout the entire encounter, you were not going to clear it that night. This was the boss that pretty much made my entire group start using Potent Poison Pots and X-Stat pots to help us push towards that first kill, until the day arose where we would outgear the encounter.
Turn 11, what I consider as by far the most mechanically challenging turn, not because its well designed, but because of its poorly handled servers. Turn 11 was a step up from 10 in some cases, there was a steeper learning curve for the mechanics on display. The middle phase where the three adds come out is probably the hardest part of the whole encounter, where the Melee DPS have to beat up their add in sync with the Magic DPS and theirs. All the while dodging AoE's left and right and making sure you're not the one who didn't move away from the group in time so that you don't cause a wipe. All three of these adds have to be kept away from eachother at all times, or they will eat eachother and in turn be unkillable and wipe the group. Once they're eventually dealt with, the hardest hitting AoE in the game (until T13) happens, and you need every shred of mitigation on the boss and yourselves before it goes out or the whole party could die.
ON TOP of that, the phase also introduces a mechanic that probably shouldn't even be in the game because of the server's limitations. You become tethered to one of your party members, and must move with said party member, or you get a stacking vulnerability debuff, and take massive damage with it. There is another two people you have to avoid with a different color tether, that cause the same reaction when you're too close. This isn't a hard thing to do on paper, but because of the really slow reaction times you get with the server lag, you have to be perfectly in sync and agreement on where you're going beforehand with your partner, or things can go horribly wrong.
Turn 12 was the grand finale of the story between Louisoix and his grandchildren. When arriving in for the first time, Louisoix is there to greet your party with less than thrilling words to exchange. It is revealed that this is in fact the actual Louisoix, not some blind follower of Bahamut pretending to be him to throw you for a loop. During his encounter with Bahamut during the Calamity, Bahamut was able to turn the Greatest Hero of Eorzea into his thrall... and also a Primal. Louisoix had become the Primal Phoenix, and it was up to you and your party to free him from Bahamut's grasp.
This fight took the longest to clear for my group, as you can see in the dates posted between Turns 11 and 12. Phoenix itself is not a hard hitting boss sans for some tank killer moves that are predictable, but in essence he is just one giant DPS and Heal check. Most of the phases you're mostly trying to do as much damage to him while in turn trying to kill the adds he spawns, Bennus as fast as possible, when that isn't being done, the Bennus will buff Phoenix and make the fight eventually unhealable. So the faster you're burning through Phoenix, the less healing is required for you to beat him.
Unfortunately my PS4 was unable to capture the kill from my perspective, but our group's Black Mage was able to capture it VoiP and all. If I were to make a video of Turn 13 eventually, I probably wouldn't commentate over it, since there's just too much going on to explain everything. The only thing I can say about it is that this fight is why I think Square should put a warning on all the healer classes in the character creator. It should should say "WARNING: Healing is the HARDEST JOB in the game". While your tank has to know what cooldowns to use, and your DPS has to be doing its best to push phases and kill adds accordingly, in the end if your healers are not up to the task of properly topping people off and mitigating all the damage they possibly can from the party, then you're not going to get anywhere. The video should speak for itself. (Yes, I'm the loudest person at the end).
While most of the hardcore raiders in the game will tell you, and the evidence will back them up that Final Coil was not the hardest set of bosses in the game, it was still a very steep climb for those who were not ready for the task. Plenty of people are still gated by Turn 9, and alot of people are still looking to learn how to do these fights. I like to look at Final Coils as a hard to learn, easy to master sort of deal. Once you finally get that monkey off your back on one of the bosses, the fight becomes insanely easier to complete on a weekly basis. Being able to beat Bahamut is by far the perfect sendoff I can have with Heavensward on its way. I don't have to worry about beating the game, and can look forward to the Alexander escapades.
Yeti, Mummies, and... Kraken? Again?!
So the three dungeons we got this time were everyone's "favorite" lowbie dungeons Sunken Temple of Qarn HM, and Sastasha HM, along with the previously mentioned Snowcloak. These dungeons came out after the very well done 2.3 dungeons, and for the most part were on par with them. Snowcloak happened to be my favorite of the three, so we'll go over that proper.
Snowcloak was of course the dungeon tied in with the main scenario as stated before. It was three boss dungeon that included some very interesting mechanics for both the first and second bosses, along with introducing Fenrir into the XIV lore. Snowcloak was the perfect balance between speedrun and fun, the mobs died really fast to the right combination of DPS and the bosses were fun to actually fight. The first boss being one of the giant Ice Golems had a mechanic where he would do a freezing AoE, the damage was unavoidable but in order to deal with it properly you had to move before it was casted. If you didn't move you'd get a stacking debuff that if you got three of them, you'd freeze in place for about 15 seconds. Blue Bombs would also spawn periodically, and if not killed fast enough caused the same effect as the AoE.
The second boss, the Giant Yeti, was pretty much a tank, you could spend a good 10 minutes just beating on him and he still wouldn't die. The way you're actually supposed to do damage to him is you use his own moves against him. He would occasionally do a cone AoE that would freeze anything in his wake, which also included the randomly spawning Spriggans, you had to freeze the Spriggans using the boss's AoE, which would turn them into snowballs. You then had to hit the snowballs into the Yeti, causing him great amounts of pain. The more times you used the AoE on a snowballed Spriggan, the bigger it would get, and the more damage it would do. Thus making the fight pretty enjoyable once you got the hang of things, and also satisfying seeing such a large health bar just get chunked so easily.
Fenrir, serving as the last boss of the dungeon, also had some environmental mechanics. Every so often he would knock down icicles from the ceiling to serve as cover, but only half of the time. The first and every other set would be fakeouts that would eventually turn into objects you have to dodge. The second and every one after that, Fenrir would put out an AoE that if you didn't hide beind a pillar for, you'd get frozen, and become a chew toy for the gigantic wolf. All the while dodging the icicles serving as cover. While not a hard mechanic to deal with, can be rather tricky with its timing, occasionally serving as someones demise.
Unfortunately the other two dungeons wouldn't be as interesting on the gameplay side. What made Qarn interesting was that it pretty much served as a commentary for what everyone thought about the regular version. Back when you were leveling and maybe running Qarn for a level or two, you'd be subjected to all of its puzzles. While fun the first couple of times, became a very huge annoyance to repeat visitors after a while. Making sure the stone heads died on the platforms, remembering the combination at the end of the dungeon to open up the secret treasure room. Almost all of it was teased in the Hard Mode, but luckily for everyone who was sick of the puzzles, had a good laugh when the gigantic "puzzle" at the end just turned out to be put x thing here and hit a switch.
Sastasha needs to be mentioned on the sole fact that The Kraken wasn't sated with being a gigantic annoying boss at the end of Hullbreaker. He returned for his grand finale at the end of Sastasha Hard Mode, along with the Pirate leader from the original dungeon Captain Madison. In true form both showed up doing what they know best. For Captain Madison, its running away only to be killed by the last boss of the dungeon, for Kraken, its making what should have been a 25 minute dungeon into a 40 minute dungeon. The Kraken actually has to be DPS'd down this time, all the while you have to make sure you kill off his arms so that he doesn't one shot the whole party with a whirlwind. He's built like two tanks taped together and in the end isn't even the fun silliness that the Hullbreaker fight was. There's probably a better way to incorporate such a memorable creature, but so far Square hasn't found it.
Eight Legged Freak
Hot off the case of 2.3, Hildibrand would make his return in 2.4 with the Phantom Thief now targeting the prize of a great fighting tournament in Ul'dah. What only would make the case more perplexing is the introduction of the infamous FF6 character, Ultros. Ultros, mostly because of his appearance, becomes the new target of Hildibrand's interest, as you go along with him to investigate the octopus to make sure he's not up to anything dastardly. Upon further inspection, it seemed like he wasn't, he was just trying to score with the ladies. As the case progressed though, Ultros was actually up to something, and before Hildibrand could find out what, he tries to stop him with many failed attempts to dispose of the inspector. This would eventually end up in a brawl between You and him, along with seven other adventurers. Yet because Ultros knows when something isn't fair from the get-go, brings along some backup.
The Dragon's Neck pitted you against Ultros and Typhon in a 2 on 8 battle, where you had to fight both of them at the same time, along with being able to deal with the constant tricks up Ultros' eight sleeves. This is one of the first fights in the game to have a fail condition that didn't include everyone just dying. The arena you fought on was surrounded by an out of bounds pit, and if you got knocked out of bounds, you were stunned for five seconds and couldn't do any skills while out of bounds. This actually leads to some incredibly broken strategies around to alot of the mechanics. The clean way to do this instead of that is simple and was totally easily found out by everyone the first time they ever did it (No, nobody ever guessed what you had to do the first time through). So at about 15 seconds into the fight Ultros will turn all of the DPS into Imps. When that happens, all of the imps need to be in front of Ultros, because occasionally Ultros will do an AoE cone that is essentially just him blowing bubbles. When the Imps get hit by the bubbles, they get a stacking buff, when they get hit by three of these, they have to run over to Typhon, who is in the middle of the stage at this point, and punch him to stop him from blowing everyone out of the arena. Ultros will do this one more time before the next phase starts, but this time Typhon will start blowing out both of his ends and start rotating around the whole arena, the imps, and the person tanking Ultros have to be able to move around while not getting blown off in the process.
The Last phase of the fight is essentially a clusterfuck of things going on. Ultros is constantly dropping weights and slapping you silly with his tentacles trying to knock you off. Typhon is huffing and puffing you all over the place. It turns into a goddamn mess and fast, and doesn't stop till both of them hit zero. The Dragon's Neck is a worthy followup to the Battle on the Big Bridge, and is probably the most fun Hildibrand encounter from a gameplay standpoint. Also, when you complete the fight, you have a chance to get a totally cool Wind-Up Ultros! We would also see a return of Gilgamesh, but not for anything too huge. His final moment of A Realm Reborn would be featured in the next chapter of 2.5.
Ninja Ninja Wrap
So with the arrival of 2.4 also meant the arrival of everyones actual main class, the Rogue/Ninja. It was almost a spectacle to behold the moment the doors of the Rogue guild opened, almost the entirety of every server could have been pinpointed in Limsa waiting in line as if there was some sort of new Star Wars movie coming out. When you exited the city, there were so many people in their underwear crowding the newbie zone trying to kill things for their hunt log to level up as fast as possible. It wasn't something you see everyday, if anyone were to start playing the game in that particular time, it was almost indistinguishable from what the area must have looked like when the game first launched. Even if you weren't going to raid or play your ninja, it seemed like almost everyone at that given time was trying to level one up.
They also received a fancier class quest storyline compared to the existing classes. Rogues and Ninjas got to use their sneak ability to go on stealth missions, and the story for the Rogue (atleast of what I played up to) seemed to be more engaging than the other classes. While kind of a bummer to think about is also a silver lining that their honed storytelling craft will more than likely show in the next three class quest chains, along with the existing classes from 50 to 60 (if they do indeed get any new class quests).
Ninjas would intergrate to society real fast, for raiding their utility added new exciting dynamics to the fights. They had Trick Attack which gave everyone a DPS boost for the 10 seconds its up, and their Goad ability put alot of relief on Bards having to use their TP regen song. Not only that but they also could apply the same slashing debuff on targets Warriors could, so if your group didn't have a Warrior tank, then it wasn't an issue anymore. Ninja's Ninjutsu is able to do massive damage if a bard's magic resist down song is playing. In short, Ninjas fit in pretty well, in fact they fit in so well that they unfortunately made Dragoons unpopular for a short span of time. When it was found out that Ninjas were a much better melee DPS class than Dragoons at the time, Square figured enough was enough, and fixed the Dragoon class for good.
In a very insane addition to the game, Square made it possible for you to marry significant others. They launched a service called The Eternal Bonds ceremony, with its own website and everything. The website is there to tell you the details of what you can expect out of the weddings, how much the premium versions cost, and other tidbits. From in the game you could give your partner a band and go on a long questline across the entirety of Eorzea together. Once that process is done you can then go to the chapel, schedule when your wedding will take place, and how you want it to play out. The higher the package you get, the more customization options you get. It was a very werid addition, but a very fantastic one. So fantastic that I myself actually got married very recently, and I got a sweet two person chocobo to boot! Credit goes to one of my Free Company mates for taking the time to record and make the video:
That's going to do it for patch 2.4, all in all a solid patch with a minor hiccup here and there. Honorable Mention for this patch actually goes to the Nexus Light grind in the Relic quest. This probably shouldn't count considering it came in a post 2.3 patch, but its a step that almost everyone did in 2.4 and beyond because it came out so late, and the fact that it took 500 Garuda Hard Mode attempts to actually finish the damn step in the questline. Hell some people went insane and thought running Cape Westwind 2000 times would be any better. It was probably the secret worst part of the relic that nobody wants to admit, because everyone always wants to hate on Atma.
As solid as this patch was, I might be lacking on some of the sections because the truth of it is this patch really didn't add to much. We got alot of content, but most of it was hidden inside of Final Coils and Shiva. What I did like about it though was people were playing the game again. Hunts were finally serving their purpose as a helpful part of the game for the people that needed them, no longer crammed with everyone trying to get the same gear and being assholes to eachother for it. This is why I credit this patch more than any other, despite maybe a couple of mediocre dungeons. Next recap is going to be probably the hardest to do, considering 2.5 was split into three major patches this time around, but for that reason alone is why I love it so much. I hope you enjoy this edition, and I'll see you all next time.