With so much talk about the (at the time) incoming changes to FFXIV some people started talking about a miracle patch in FFXIV which would make the game a new and more enjoyable experience. Even at the time I was more of the opinion of a holy trinity of patches, instead of a major change to the game this would happen over a certain amount of time which was to include patch 1.18, 1.19 and 1.20. For those of you that want more detailed information about the various changes you can see a post I made on ZAM community forum.
I've been delaying this post first because I wanted to wait for patch 1.18 and then because I wanted to actually get used to it so I could form an educated opinion on the impact that this (along with 1.18a and 1.18b) has had on the game. Then I though maybe to wait for 1.19 and eventually make a review of 1.18 to 1.20 changes but news has since been release that 1.19 will only come out at the end of next month and as such the latter will be unpractical.
Before going into any details I would just like to make it clear (in case you didn't notice on previous posts) that I am mainly a Disciple of the Hand (crafter) with a limited experience in fighting which I only really use to be part of Linkshell events and to help out other people.
Even so the main change to the game post the patch 1.18 family is to fighting and the way you now get to skill up and increase in rank (soon to be level). Although still a viable option, due to the decrease in Skill Points gained from fighting Guildleves, people in general no longer restrict themselves to repeat the same old leves reset after reset having abandoned them at the last possible moment to optimize Skill Points gain. At any one time you can now see people shouting in Ul'Dah for SP parties which will either be focused on the rank 25 new dungeon (to be discussed later) or most likely in the various Beastmen settlements now spread all over Eorzea.
In my opinion these new settlements have brought 3 positive points to the game along with promoting group content:
- They have populated an otherwise empty map, giving something to look at or run away from for those adventurers who run to camps delivering/engaging in leves.
- Increase the interaction with the members of races which from lore appear to be so dominant but till now you would barely see them unless on main storyline quests.
- Enable adventurers to train (read skill up) their skills on appropriate enemies earning them the ability to move on and learn new more powerful moves at an appropriate pace.
If you don't have the time or inclination for party fighting you can still avail of the old Guild Leves and although in comparison with the old SP gains they seem a disappointment, if you take into consideration their new target audience being solo players their SP gain is still at the same leves as Disciples of the Land and Hand leves for the same ranks at about 4 to 7k SP.
Along with the Beastmen camps we also got two instanced dungeons linked to the long awaited Grand Company content which should complement the camps on possible leveling spots and another way to obtain specific gear. Although the company content feels a bit lacking at the moment (due to be fleshed out in 1.19, will dedicate more time to them then) the dungeons themselves seem to have been accepted by the player base as a success. You have challenging encounters with bosses, non-fighting conditions to look out for so you can move ahead and new equipment to obtain, specially for rank 50 casters which had previously been left out from Notorious Monster drops.
Probably the main point in patch 1.18 and once that will impact on most was the changes to combat of which the greatest impact was the removal of the Stamina Bar and introduction of timers on the various abilities along with the implementation of an automated attack. Personally I don't see in practice much of a change between the two systems but as mentioned before this can be attributed to my focus being mostly on crafting, the main difference I have noticed on this new system is the impact on Regimen.
On the old system you would maybe need to wait about 3 seconds to have enough stamina to perform a move and waiting for your party members to add their own would usually not take too long so it would actually enable you to fill up a previously depleted Stamina gauge. In my point of view this would produce fights in which we would have a "fury" of abilities being used followed by an absence of damage while the group was stacking battle regimen then back to the first step.
The new system with the shortest "recast" timers of 30 seconds doesn't quite lend itself to initiating or taking part of battle regimen at a moment's notice, mane were the times that I have someone in my party start a regimen just to notice that I have to wait over 10, 15 seconds to even have an ability ready never mind the specific one for the target debuff.
Still regarding combat the old adage If you do something, do it right! comes to mind in regards to the "Enmity Meter". I would actually be against it's implementation because in my opinion threat management is something which should be learned intuitively but since Square Enix decided to implement one then they should have done it properly. As it is I find this to have two major drawbacks, by only showing if you are targeting an opposing monster, if you are a healer and as such only really target your party members you won't really have the time to keep checking your enmity level. also, since each player can only see their relative level in comparison to the player at the top of the list the Tank has no idea of how close other party members are of "Stealing" threat.
Both these issues could easily be resolved by making a graphical enmity meter displaying to all party members each and every member's placement in the mob's enmity list and relative placement between them, something which has been done years ago in user UI mods for other games (which leads me to believe a company like SE should find much easier to make).
Another hot topic change to the game was the change in MP costs for healing spells and the Area of Effect version of some of these spells. Not having touched any caster class in FFXIV I do not really have a personal opinion on how they impact the ability of these classes to play but the community has been divided between those that say the old way things were just to easy and those that say you can no longer solo hard mobs on Disciples of War due to lack of MP. I feel that casting AoE heals at the same MP cost as the original spell just didn't feel right.
The inclusion of new/changed spells in the Conjurer list made even the most hard defender of the Thaumaturge healer community accept that SE really sees the Conjurer as healer and not THM. Personally I would have put these spells in the (upcoming) White Mage list and not Conjurer but depending on how long it will take to actually introduce the jobs in FFXIV I can see why this was added to CON spells.
One of the changes in 1.18 that should have been more of an impact to me was the change into the materials required for repair. We no longer need mats which are used/crafted by the specific Disciple of the Hand and instead we have Dark Matter which can be used by any DoH for any repair within the appropriate leve range. The reason why this hasn't impacted me as much as it probably should is that due the player base I no longer take the time to help people repair items outside my Linkshell.
[rant] One of the things that most demotivated me from engaging in repairs is the offers put up on people's Bazaars. There was a time when I got some of my DoHs to a certain rank that I decided to check the local Mender's Ward once when I logged in and once before I logged out but I eventually got demotivated due to the large amount of people just putting up repairs of high rank items for hundreds of gil. About a month or so later I decided that doing so was a waste of my time and no longer offered repairs.
With the new system I initial reaction was that this would only make the crafter classes simpler and help increasing the gap between fighting classes and the other "classes", while more content was being introduced for DoW and DoM, crafting was being simplified. Afterwards I came to realise that this new Dark Matter might actually not be too bad, with it clearly available for sale in every town, people who might not have been aware of the costs involved in the old repair materials would now be able to clearly see the actual cost of the new Dark Matter and make repair offers accordingly.
It's now been just over a month since the patch is up and this still hasn't happen, from people offering 3000 Gil for a repair requiring mats that cost 2800 to people even offering 1000 for repairs which require mats well over four times as expensive seems people just don't (want to) learn. People may say that purchasing these at the NPC is not the only way to obtain them which is correct but anyone that has tried will know that you will only obtain them as Disciple of the Land, not Hand and even so you might get a couple of them an hour, they are not that common to make the cost of using them any lower than their cost at the NPC. Eventually I just went back to my old self not caring about repairing other people's gear. [/rant]
Although these are no the only changes to the game includes on the latest patches these are the ones I feel most impact the game, if you are interested in more detailed information the link above has the full official patch notes linked on it, enjoy!!