Heavensward has been out a bit more than a month now if you count the launch of early access as the “real” launch of the expansion. But we’ve only just had Esoterics added into the game, and we’re finally at the point when the weekly resets are in full force. That month of grace time is over, and we’re into the period when the game needs to keep people occupied for the next two or three months until the next patch, and so on.

At this point, we don’t know when the next Final Fantasy XIV patch will actually be coming out (my money is October, enough time to fill out an Esoterics set for one job). We do know what we’ve got to play until that happens. So let’s talk a bit about the state of the expansion right now and what players have to do, as well as how it stacks up against the offerings at the equivalent point in 2.0’s launch history.

Meet your new friend, Tomas.To start with, at least one aspect of the expansion is already doing better than 2.0 was doing at launch: Instead of chain-running Amdapor Keep until you want to throw yourself down a well, you can chain-run Neverreap and Fractal Continuum via roulettes! Very different, except for all the ways that it’s exactly the same.

I jest, and there is actually a notable difference at this point in endgame PvE content, because this time around we have our roulettes and we have our daily hunts. That’s different from just constantly running one dungeon in hopes of hitting your weekly caps, even though it’s not as robust a field of options as we frequently have been given. But you can, in fact, do a fair number of things on your level-capped main job before you start leveling another job and/or start leveling crafting or gathering just so you’ve got something to do.

On the down side, leveling another job after your first one is a different discussion altogether. The experience curve for 50-60 is very much tuned around the main scenario and winds up feeling tediously slow on any subsequent leveling, encouraging everyone with an existing level 60 character to just hop on board the smash-your-face-against-FATE crowds moving through the various zones. I suspect that the experience for the dynamic events was originally tuned lower to kind of force these players to play the game rather than just grinding to 60 the first time around. Yet here we are again, and the rewards from temple leves and dungeons are struggling to keep up with the mindless speed of just grinding FATES for hours on end.

It doesn’t help that the Challenge Log, which was part of the system designed to reward players for doing different things rather than the same thing ad infinitum, is still very much tuned for lower levels and experience rewards. There’s a bit of work to be done in that department, in other words.

Crafting and gathering are in a much better place simply because they’ve never relied heavily upon quests for experience. The addition of scrips, scrip gear, and collectible items have all expanded their gameplay significantly, and subsequent leveling pushes are good motivation for players to check out the market boards once again and seek out high-quality equipment. I haven’t had as much time to unpack this particular endgame, but it definitely seems to have an emphasis on overmelding only to be best of the best, while scrips keep you capable if not hyper-competitive.

The new jobs have mostly found their homes thus far, although Machinist is lagging behind pretty badly. Dark Knight and Astrologian have accepted roles in the game, and they’re neither intensely common nor vanishingly rare at the level cap. I don’t personally see a lot of Astrologians, it seems, but I also have a number of friends who play Scholar, so I’m getting a skewed viewpoint.

In short, the past month has been pretty great. There’s a lot of new content, stuff that’s still being explored, plenty of opportunities for players to explore new things and find out new ways of playing. The question, though, is what happens over the next three months, because while I don’t think everyone has finished the trek of bringing one class through the main scenario, the game is starting to tilt in that direction.

We’ve also got lizards, so that rocks.We’re due for a pair of annual events in the near future; the game’s anniversary event is about a month away, with the Moonfire Faire being the sort of thing that could thematically start and run any time now. That’s enough to give people something to do for a little while, although it doesn’t fill out the need for more robust content. There’s stuff to do, but we’re at the point of settling into a comfortable routine for a while until the next major patch hits, quietly earning up tomestones and exploring other diversions.

In other words, it’s not all that different from the time after 2.0 launched. The details are different, sure – there’s more for crafters and gatherers to do, even if it’s just a slight redress of what was being done back then – but the biggest thing that’s here now and emphatically was not present at launch is the dual-mode nature of Alexander. And that, I think, makes a difference: People will be able to explore that dungeon for story purposes without feeling shoehorned into the harder mode, which doesn’t offer the same lockouts or much faster loot gain compared to 2.0’s Coil runs.

What would be nice, as we settle into this comfortable routine, is a bit more talk on what we can expect in the future. I know that we are supposed to be getting another round of the Moonfire Faire, and that’s great, and I would imagine the end of August will see another anniversary event of some kind. But that’s all speculation at this point because we have not been told about it. Heck, we still don’t know what the Crystal Tower equivalent will be in the 3.0 series, and even if we aren’t given firm details, at least having a name would give players room to speculate and consider.

Part of that is probably due to the fact that the developers like to hold off on saying much until things are finalized, and I’m not criticizing that decision. (Much.) But while the luster hasn’t worn off of the new expansion, the novelty has, as it was always bound to do around now. Rather than leaving us to just settle into a routine and guess wildly at what might be next, it would be really nice to actually know what’s coming around the bend while we calmly make our way through the routine of the next few months.

Feedback, discussion, and shouts of disagreement are welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com, as is the case every week. Next time around, I actually want to speculate, possibly with some spoilers. It looks like it’s going to be fun.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.

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