FFXIV: Journey Through the New ARR MSQ for a Hat
Posted on July 14, 2022 by Aywren
This was written to discuss the changes of ARR content with players who were familiar with the old version of the content. This may have mild spoilers.
This weekend, a FC I’m a part of is hosting a Lalafell art party. I have an alt Lalafell Amon character in that FC, and I want to take part in the party. But the problem was, he was still sitting in the lower level 30s and just before Toto-Rak in MSQ... and I wanted him to have Amon’s Hat for the event. To do that, I needed to not just level him to 50, but beat all of the ARR MSQ storyline to unlock Syrcus Tower and run for the glamour.
At the time, I had two weeks to get the deed done, so that’s what I did. I was curious to see what kind of changes were made to the older dungeons and what it was like to run the Duty Support system through these dungeons on level.
I focused down MSQ only (with one or two FATEs when I got distracted), and found that there’s still a point at level 48-49 that you hit an EXP wall if all you do is only MSQ. I was a sliver away from leveling when I needed to unlock Cape Westwind (a level 49 instance). I did a FATE for level 49, got the duty done (more on that later), and then hit another wall at where I couldn’t enter the Castrum until 50.
This was something we dealt with back in the early days that I’d hoped had been addressed. So often, we tell our new players to ignore all side quests and do only MSQ. And while this is mostly correct, by doing this and only this, they will likely hit that same wall I did.
Hopefully new folks are stopping to do some FATES and roulettes along the way.
My biggest curiosity was the changes to the dungeons. At this point, I’ve run all low level dungeons except Sastasha on-level with the new Duty Support system.
The NPCs work really well. Much better than my old squads did, in fact. They never got to a point where something they did could have led to a wipe. I was impressed! I think this is an excellent system for new players to learn from.
Individual dungeons didn’t just have a few visual touch-ups, however. As a long-time player, I was keeping my eye out for things that taught new players mechanics and markers early on. I was not disappointed in this, either.
Here’s some of the changes I can remember.
- Far prettier environment
- Only one direct path from the beginning to end
- No more gathering photo cells
- Bosses were mostly the same with a few minor tweaks
- No more annoying puddles on the ground that slow you down
- No more exploding pods
Much better experience over all – it felt much more like an underground exploration! I even stopped to read the notes on the walls which I’ve never done despite running the place so many times on Squads.
- Not too many changes to the sub-bosses or the dungeon flow
- They did make an aether current to touch to return to the beginning of the dungeon instead of relying on players to use Return (that was always funky)
- The final boss got a major mechanic overhaul. No more lamps to put out. Instead, she summons adds that teach the player the look-away mechanic from the eyeball marker. I also saw a tankbuster marker during that fight which I thought was interesting!
- Just a quick note about Titan – when he jumps up and comes crashing down in the center of the arena, there’s now a radiating damage marker to indicate that you take more damage in the center. Another nice change to teach mechanics to new players.
- They significantly cut the number of monsters in the swamp area after the second boss. No more do you need to hug the left wall for the most efficient run.
- The final boss fight got an overhaul. No more spitting poison puddles that heal the dragon. Instead, multiple poison pools pop up over the area that players have to avoid. This teaches newer players how to avoid multiple danger areas at one time.
The Stone Vigil
- They significantly cut the number of patrolling enemies throughout this dungeon, for which I am thankful.
- The second boss has been reworked. No longer do you use canons to shoot at an appearing dragon. Instead, the mechanics are about avoiding the tornadoes the boss spawns.
- The final boss is mostly the same except the ice puddles he places disappear after a couple seconds instead of staying on the ground.
This is now a solo instance, and I have to tell you, I was surprised at the level difficulty. It’s as if S/E embraced all the memes about it and seriously super-charged this fight. Just when you thought it was done, it kept going and going. It certainly feels a lot like the kind of solo fights you get in Shadowbrings and Endwalker.
I’m embarrassed to say that I died my first attempt at the new Cape Westwind – I mis-read an AOE during the third phase and it was an ista-kill. I was rather shocked. Because it’s such a long fight, I swallowed my pride and went in on Very Easy just to get it over with. I’d seen most of the experience on normal anyhow.
And no, I’m not trolling. This is for real.
Castrum and Praetorium
There were so many small changes for Castrum and Prae that I can’t remember to list them all. No more turning off spotlights, no more elevators that could leave party members behind (if you actually did it with other real people). I thought it was interesting that the NPCs didn’t get to ride in magiteks like the player does.
All major boss fights got a revamp including Livia, Nero and Gaius. Nero is still the easiest, IMHO, but Livia and Gaius have a bit of challenge for a new player.
Ultima Weapon and Lahabrea
The Ultima Weapon is no joke, either. Not to mention it’s LOOOOONG. They really made sure that you understood the concept that the Ultima Weapon was using primals to attack and that you were ripping those primal powers out one at a time. This is good for story one time through, but not something I’d want to run all the time.
And then there’s Lahabrea.
Similar to Cape Westwind, Lahabrea was a joke of a fight in the old content. So the devs made sure he absolutely wasn’t in this one. It’s another LOOONG solo fight on par with what we get in Shadowbringers and Endwalker. Not only that, but they made it abundantly clear that all that was keeping you alive in that fight was the Blessing of Light.
Thankfully, I’m guessing the solo fights all allow you to try on a Very Easy setting if you should fail them. Because I am worried they might be a bit overtuned for a brand new player who doesn’t have all the reflexes or doesn’t yet know how to read all the markers. Heck, I’ve been playing as long as I have and still died on Cape Westwind my first time (I knew how to avoid it the second time through, though).
On To the Hat
Anyhow, once you beat ARR MSQ, you can unlock the Crystal Tower raids straight up, just like you could before. That’s just what I did.
Jumping straight in, I had one of the worst runs of Lab that I think I’ve ever had. We wiped about 5-6 times through the run, 4 of them on the bomb boss. We might have had a troll making that happen, though, but that was quite the experience.
The real incredible moment came when I went to begin my Hat farm of Syrcus Tower. I was mostly just after the hat, though I would have taken other pieces if I could. Back in the day, it took 15 runs to get the hat for my original Amon character – and 23 to complete the set. But thanks to revisions in the loot drops in ST – no belts and finally more than one drop per boss – this has become a lot easier.
In fact, my hat dropped from the very first fight on the very first run. And while I was rolling against another player, I managed to snag it. And just like that, my glamour farm was over.
I’ve used all my RNG luck up for the rest of the year. But that’s fine. The final goal for this alt was to be a Lalafell Amon with Amon’s Hat. And now that is done.