There’s this nagging concern in the back of my head regarding Final Fantasy XIV‘s first expansion, Heavensward (HW), and how it handles the locking of content and how it affects new players or those behind the curve.
You see, to access the new zones (Ishgard and the land beyond) as well as the new jobs (Dark Knight, Machinist and Astrologian) you have to purchase HW. That’s expected and pretty normal for MMO expansions. However, to actually enter this zones (and thus reach the new jobs as well as the rest of the content) you need to complete the A Realm Reborn (ARR a.k.a. 2.0) scenario up to and including the story in 2.55. The problem is that new players or those that stopped midway during 2.0 will find that Heavensward is blocked behind a ton of content that needs to be done before they can enjoy the new stuff.
“But Saga, that stuff is pretty awesome! The 2.55 story is sublime and the amount and quality of content is well worth playing through it!”
And I’d agree! My first instinct would be to tell anyone in this position to just do that content, as it is very enjoyable and well done (DAT 2.55 STORY!). But then I get thinking: most regular players will jump straight into Ishgard to continue their adventure – who will be there to run Castrum Meridianum with new players? Praeteorium? Will there be enough people doing Leviathan/Ramuh/Shiva HM to help those that just joined the game? Don’t get me started with that blasted Malboro dungeon. And that Ascian fight in a recent patch that most people did once and never returned to again? Yeah, I am a bit concerned.
Sure, Square Enix can think of catch-up mechanisms – ways for new players to avoid specific problematic content, be it providing incentive for high level players to go back and do old content or, for example, placing a specific dungeon/trial in a special duty (a “Trial of the Day“, if you will) with high rewards. But so far nothing has been said. It’s safe to assume that a new or returning player is gonna have an interesting time trying to get caught up with the 2.55 story.
Players can help, though: create weekend “old content runs” in PF for anyone to join, cutscene-friendly CM/Prae groups, HM primal runs and the sort. Could help them recruit new players that feel lost in the game. Alas, not everyone is as amicable or charitable, and many will prefer to rather dedicate their time to leveling their classes to 60 or capping the new tomestones.
Or even a bit of cooperation! Here’s a wild (or dumb) idea: what if SE monitors DFs and checks players that, being level capped, queue for old dungeons with new players? They could perhaps do a random internal roulette and reward helpful players with a token for their efforts (I dunno – a stack of food, some neat mats, an item from the cash shop). They could even advertise it a “campaign” letting players know that for a specific weekend, when a new player needs to do a content roadblock they can place a special request in a special Party Finder and everyone gets extra rewards. I don’t know – something to make it enticing for new and old players alike.
Remember, if you are just jumping into the game (new PC player, Mac player) or returning player, be warned: before setting your eyes heavensward, you need to finish your business in Eorzea – dungeons, trials and quests. There’s a lot of ground to cover, most of it pretty good, but it takes time and the dragons of Ishgard are coming.