FFXIV: Thoughts on Island Sanctuary

Posted on October 27, 2022 by Aywren

I know it’s been quite a while since Island Sanctuary dropped with FFXIV patch 6.2. As a feature that I was very much looking forward to (you can ask my FFXIV friends – I was fixated on information about the Sanctuary before it dropped), I’ve also been rather quiet about discussing my thoughts on it.

As of today, I’ve “completed” Island Sanctuary on two characters. This entails getting the island to rank 10, buying that rank 10 mount, getting the free outfit and basically putting the island into a automated state where all I have to do is stop by and check it every few days to play the marked and get my rewards.

Obviously, if I’ve done the content twice over – even written a few tales about it on my RP site – I enjoyed what I experienced there. I still have a few rare “shiny” creatures to capture, though I’ve not been in a rush to complete that collection yet.

But what did I actually think about it? Why do I have trouble putting these thoughts into words?

I guess, if I were to say one thing about Island Sanctuary, it’s that I’m happy FFXIV took the effort to step out of the normal content rut to try something brand new. Especially since this something was aimed at casual players – you all know that I’m all about my casual play.

Overall Thoughts & Rambles

Overall, the island is a lovely and self-contained zone. I think it’s just the right size for the type of content that they were aiming to design. Still, I won’t complain when the expansion to the island comes (we’ve been told this will be a thing on down the line).

I felt like the tasks were fairly paced out, the time that we needed to wait between structures built was fair, and that even without grinding, the island could be completed without too much fuss. It really is content to do when you’re not doing other things.

I was a tad disappointed, however, that the entire Sanctuary is locked behind finishing Endwalker. I understand why, from a story perspective. I just think it’s a shame that such a relaxing piece of casual content can’t be enjoyed by everyone (and it’s not like the rewards are game-breaking to give to lower level players).

Maybe the idea was to incentivize finishing the major story ark. A reward for those who stuck it out. But if finishing the story isn’t already enough to motivate someone, I doubt the Sanctuary is going to be much of a carrot on a stick.

As much as I enjoyed building up my island over time, I agree with the players who gave feedback that there just wasn’t enough customization. Sure, you can choose where to put your buildings. You can change the look and feel of buildings (revert them back to more rustic-looking forms) if you please. You can change the ground around the buildings.

But at the end of the day, we all built the same things with the same overall plot layout. There was a lot of hand-holding to the Sanctuary, and not a lot of in-depth choice. Even though I can invite friends to my island, I haven’t done so. I don’t see the point – my island is going to be almost the same as theirs – just they might have chosen to put a workshop in a different spot.

I understand that having more customization would have been much more costly for the type of content they wanted to present. But I hope they’ll take that feedback and consider it in the future.

The one “additional” landmark that you can build after hitting rank 10  – the Water Otter Fountain – is locked behind very high crafting/gathering requirements. To get the permit, you not only have to be/know a max-level omnicrafter, but that crafter also has to jump through the hoops of advanced crafting methods (which is something I’ve still not grasped or dove into despite having two characters maxed on all crafts).

Basically, if you can’t make the materials for the permit yourself, you’re shelling out a lot of gil to do so. And it’s a really pretty piece – one of the few landmarks that could make your island different because it’s so costly to put this one piece down. Some folks see this as a slap in the face since S/E stated that you’d not need a crafter/gatherer to do content in Island Sanctuary – and now one of the landmarks is locked behind very high end crafting/gathering.

I’m also still feeling this was a severe missed opportunity to help alleviate the housing issue. Sure, the island isn’t housing, and the dev team seems bent on upholding that it’s not meant to replace housing. But given the right elements, it could supplement housing in some way – at least give those who don’t have a house a place that feels like their own spot in Eorzea.

Again, this goes back to a lack of customization.

What somewhat ruffles my feathers about the whole thing is that it’s obvious the Sanctuary shares instance resources with housing. Back when the Sanctuary was new, it was flooded with people trying to get in, and all the instances were full. You’d have to click repeatedly, hoping someone would be tossed out so you could get in.

While that was happening with the Sanctuary, it was happening with personal housing at the same time. You couldn’t enter your house because the Sanctuary shared the resources used to spin up instances for housing. So if they’re this linked then… why can’t the Sanctuary be more like housing?

Final Thoughts

I know all of this seems to be critical, when I really am happy that we got the Island Sanctuary to start with. Please don’t get me wrong – I do love the concept. I just feel like it could have been much more.

This could be the case of the team doing what they tend to do, which is releasing features that build up over time. It’s well-known that FFXIV will release something in a smaller form, then in future patches, make that feature better and better until it finally is fleshed out the way they imagined it to be.

I’m just hoping that Island Sanctuary will be one of those things. As it stands now, it’s a fun little diversion and a nice place to relax. I like playing the market and buying cosmetics with the currency I earn. I enjoyed building up my island, exploring it, capturing creatures and setting up my crops.

But now that everything is on an automated state for me (they really need to instate a better way to retrieve your leavings and crops from the mammet than to click each one, one at a time), it’s just one more thing I need to remember to do each day on the characters who have unlocked it.

Is this just the start to something bigger? I hope so! It has so much promise and such a good foundation. I’m hopeful to see where Island Sanctuary might go in the end.