Eureka Remains The Best Part of Final Fantasy XIV

To say that Final Fantasy XIV has a substantial amount of content would be an understatement. Whether it’s Extreme Trials, Alliance Raids, Hunts, Beast Tribes, crafting and gathering or housing, it feels like there’s endless array of activities to dig through. Unfortunately, if there’s one component that doesn’t quite get the appreciation it deserves, it’s Eureka. Obviously, there are those who are dedicated and will continue to grind through it, but Eureka can be an intimidating component and that’s exactly why I love it. Most of Final Fantasy XIV and its post-expansion release plans have been fairly safe. Sure, the story is great, but the roll out of content hasn’t changed too much from A Realm Reborn and Heavensward. Extreme Trials and Savage Raids are there for the hardcore audience, while Alliance Raids are prime attractions thanks to their nostalgia and reasonably adaptable mechanics. What each has in common is that the rewards are tied to a weekly reset, meaning you can only make so much progress at any given time. This can get exhausting at times as you’ll find yourself in the same rhythm each major update until the enviable next expansion. During Stormblood, Square Enix took an enormous chance on something new and even to this day player opinion remains divisive, but I believe it’s the best part of Final Fantasy XIV.

Eureka replaced the Zodiac and Anima weapon quests which had players go through numerous trials and tribulations in order to get immensely powerful weapons that are now nothing more than fashion pieces. The problem was that the quests were, and still are, incredibly repetitive, especially the Zodiac questline where players will no doubt burnout halfway through as they’re tasked with completing an exhausting number of dungeons and FATES, among other requirements. It’s a little easier now because you can unsync dungeons at level 80, but it will no doubt test your patience. Anima was an improvement, but still not the most ideal way of enjoyably obtaining your next ultimate weapon. It allowed those who are crafters and gatherers to join in to make portions of it easier, and it was simplified significantly. Now that most of the components are up for purchase through Poetic Tomestones, you can get through an entire job’s questline in a single day if you’ve done a little bit of prior preparation. What both have in common is that they reuse old and existing content in order to complete your weapons, something you wouldn’t call original. Eureka changes this process completely and instead creates a community within a community that hearkens back to Final Fantasy XI.

Over the last few months, I’ve found myself inside of Eureka more than any other area, and there’s one reason: the community. There’s a sense of camaraderie that you don’t see anywhere else in the game, where players are willing to trek hazardous territories to help you out. No one wants to delevel when they die, so it’s up to those with the ability to resurrect to come to your aid when death falls upon you — which will occur often. The introduction of four-player mounts, such as the Final Fantasy XV Regalia car and the Eden Skyslipper have helped build the community even more, with veterans shepherding lower level players between Notorious Monsters so they can level up and progress faster. Granted, that is now less of a component since Square Enix implemented the ability to use mounts at any time with Patch 5.1, but it still really developed the community as we see it today. There are also numerous linkshells and Discords that are dedicated to helping players when they’re in need, most of which have little to no toxic behavior. Obviously, the bigger they become, the great chance there is to encounter drama, which I have only experienced recently; for the most part though, everyone is there to have fun and build upon what would be considered the most sustainable part of Final Fantasy XIV.

Going into Anemos for the first time is daunting. Having leveled your character up to at least 70, you’re immediately brought back down to level 1 where every single enemy on the map wants to kill you, and will in a handful of blows (or at least they did before Patch 5.1). This makes Eureka reliant on teaming up with others, but unless you go in with a predetermined party, you might not know how to get help. It wasn’t until early this year before I decided to actually start digging into it, but there were so many questions I had. Why does it take forever to level? What are Notorious Monsters? Why is everyone shouting in the chat? What the heck are “CLOGS”? There was so much I didn’t know that I felt overwhelmed and intimidated by what was going on, especially considering there were upwards of 144 players in a single instance. It takes a little while to get into, but once you’re in, you’ll be hooked. It suffers similarly to how A Realm Reborn is considered far lesser to its expansions, as it takes some time before the content truly becomes exceptional. Fortunately, it doesn’t take fifty hours to get to the later parts of Eureka, and once you hit Pyros, you’ll be able to quickly get to the end game content. I had found myself overwhelmed at points, especially going in for the first time, but it shouldn’t discourage you from experiencing what it has to offer.

Why Pyros stands out above the first two areas is the introduction of Logograms and Logo Actions. Players were thrown in the deep end with little aid in Anemos and Pagos, but finally Square Enix extended their hand. What Pyros does is implements a system which allows players to enhance their abilities or strengthen their defenses based on the various combinations of appraised items called Logograms. The word intimidating will continue to pop up to represent Eureka, and that’s once again the perfect describer for Logograms. They’re a great change that allow portions of Pyros and Hydatos to be more manageable when playing solo, but actually understanding what each does and finding how to construct the perfect combination of actions is another story. It’s no longer as simple as going out in the vast open area and attacking a single monster until it’s dead; well, you can do that, but there’s less chance of death when making use of this new mechanic. It takes some time to comprehend it, but once you understand how to properly utilize each logo for each situation, you’ll feel unstoppable. Considering this is where the more difficult activities starts peeking out from under their rocks, it’s an added layer on the already complex system that is Eureka.

At its core, Eureka is a giant RNG simulator. While regular dungeons and raids have a random drop factor, most of the items in Eureka are tied to opening boxes and fighting off Notorious Monsters. The former may sound like a potential lootbox mechanic, but rest assured this is dedicated to the grind — not to mention it would go horribly considering 90% of the time the items will be materia or materials you’ll end up throwing away anyways. In the later parts of Eureka, there will be certain drops, such as logograms, that will come from specific enemies, but the vast majority is dished out through these mechanics. Elemental Wars are an added coating to this RNG element, as it’s tied to events similar to Notorious Monsters where you’re required to save poor bunnies from being harassed by monsters. As a reward, the bunnies help you find treasure in the world that sometimes reward you heftily, such as mounts and rare logograms. One of the most disappointing aspects to a raid is not getting the gear or unique item you were hoping for when someone else rolls for it. Eureka’s system is a little fairer to everyone as sometimes you won’t get exactly what you want, but at least it doesn’t take long to grind, and you will still get crystals for weapon and armor upgrades, experience points and gil in the process. Granted, some of the Notorious Monster drops can be an absolute pain to obtain, but they do add to Eureka’s economy.

Since Square Enix implemented the ability to hop between servers, making gil hasn’t been the same. There are still in demand items that net sellers incredible profits, but being able to window shop between the eight servers (in North America) helps consumers find cheaper options, making crafting and gathering a little less profitable than they once were. Fortunately, Eureka is one portion of the marketboard that seems unfazed by this change, as it’s an absolute gold mine if you know what you’re doing, with even some of the more common items sell for a high price. Take for example Notorious Monster drops; while there are a handful that go for a couple hundred thousand gil each, there are others that are incredibly rare, selling into the tens of millions. The most I’ve earned on a single item was a pair of earrings that went for 26 million gil. That’s a good chunk of change for something that may as well be Eureka exclusive, and even then, only specific jobs truly benefit from it. There’s a reasonable balance of items for both those inside of Eureka and out, such as mounts and minions that you can showboat in all facets of the game, while there’s elemental-focused equipment that becomes useful in the 56-player dungeon. This is a new source of making money in Final Fantasy XIV that breaks away from the traditional mold, at least to a certain degree as Trials and Dungeons have their rare drops, too, but this incentives players to actually dig deeper and try content they may have overlooked.

While I’ve talked your ear off regarding Eureka, I think it’s time to shift to Baldesion Arsenal. I have a certain love-hate relationship with this gigantic, 56-player dungeon as it’s both encouraging to see Square Enix put out more creative, challenging dungeons, but at the same time it can be frustrating, especially considering the amount of time it takes to get a run off the ground. If we consider Eureka intimidating, Baldesion Arsenal would be categorized as frightening. After four areas, we’ve gotten into the rhythm of taking on a single enemy at a time, but in this dungeon, it’s essentially a one-hit kill for anyone that isn’t a tank, and once you’re dead, you have to exit the dungeon and de-level. Granted, there are ways to get around this, such as having a logo action that has a 70% chance to resurrect you upon death, and healers have the ability to combine that with “Sacrifice” which forfeits their own health pool to bring another back, but this is an area you have to be acutely aware of your surroundings at all time. Pull more than one mob, don’t sleep a certain enemy while it’s casting, healers not being immediately in range of their tanks for more than a few seconds, there are numerous ways to end up as a bloodstain on the ground. Square Enix has smartly implemented ways to progress faster in Baldesion Arsenal by having predetermined chests drop Eurekan Fragments, items that allow you to upgrade your weapon and armor to dish out more damage and protect yourself from the onslaught.

This isn’t something for everyone, but it gravitated towards me due to its focus on teamwork and reliance on others. Bosses have very specific mechanics that, if a player doesn’t know exactly what they’re doing, they can wipe an entire party. This only becomes more illustrated the further into the dungeon, as the third of four bosses is time sensitive above all else, and has the ability to lower your damage output significantly, while the final encounter separates everyone onto three separate platforms, meaning if a few tanks go down, it’s game over. The amount of mechanics implemented even on the smallest “trash” mobs makes this dungeon exceedingly satisfying and strategic. There are enemies that can erase your logo action buffs, sprites that can kick you from the dungeon unless stunned, dolls that can wipe an entire party if angled improperly by a tank, and so forth. There are even invisible traps spread across almost every room that need to be found by an assigned individual. Baldesion Arsenal is the kick in the teeth we needed that really spice things up. While it’s something that takes weeks, if not months to complete, it’s a dungeon that I hope to see more of, and not just one every two years. Despite it taking so long to master, Baldesion Arsenal is surprisingly short; it’s thanks to the dangerous mechanics that parties need to be on guard at every turn, not to mention preparations and potential explanations extend a single run’s playtime upwards of two hours. Here’s hoping Square Enix puts more focus on these merciless dungeons moving forward.

What Needs to be Changed

While Eureka has so much going for it, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Really, there are only a handful of issues that should be addressed in future updates to better ensure players are actually able complete most of the content, and Square Enix has already started with patch 5.1. This is a portion of the game that is heavily tied to community, meaning others need to be there helping out, but when you look at the first month after Shadowbringers, Eureka was a ghost town. Granted, there has been a surge of new players and veterans returning, but it still hasn’t been the same since. Here are a few alterations that would make the experience a little more enjoyable now that we’re nearly a year out since the end of the Eureka story, and hopefully fan the flame of Eureka. This will primarily be only for the current Eureka, and not what a 2.0 version should include, although there are a few here that definitely wouldn’t hurt. One thing I think we can all agree on, though, is don’t touch Baldesion Arsenal too much.

Instance System

By far the biggest problem with Eureka is the instance system. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason why certain instances close and new ones open up, especially when they don’t nearly reach the 144-player limit. We’ve had times entering a brand new instance, only for it to close less than ten minutes later. Even though an instance scales based on the number of players in it, good luck fighting some of the more difficult monsters with so few people and no backup on the way. Similar to how each expansion has handled it in the past, Eureka should have a similar system where you have the ability to view and choose between the different open instances, not just be put in one at random. Granted, with fewer people in Eureka right at the moment, players can take advantage of the instance system as, if no one is in one for a couple of minutes, it will reset, meaning you can run certain Notorious Monsters over and over again, but for it to go forward, this will need to change drastically.

Hydatos Restructure

Currently, Hydatos is a slog. Adjustments have been made to better accommodate players in past Eureka areas, but being that Hydatos is the latest at nine months old, it’s time to make some much needed improvements. The number of crystals dropped from Notorious Monsters is laughably low, with all but three fetching in the single digits. When you consider a single Elemental gear set costs 190 crystals and a weapon 350 (plus 5 scales from Provenance Watcher), it’s going to take you more time than you’ll want to put in, especially with the current playerbase. Being that these are more or less glamour pieces now that better equipment is available thanks to Shadowbringers, the restrictions for how many crystals should be loosened a bit, or the number of crystals dropped increased. It’s only when you get to the +2 sets that things begin to matter within Eureka, but these require running Baldesion Arsenal over and over again. At this point, I don’t believe anything needs to be changed here as those who want to better themselves in Eureka should be running the challenging dungeon over and over again, especially considering the upgrade requirements are relatively reasonable. It’s a matter of more players getting to the end game of Eureka without burning out so close to the finish line.

Drop Rates on Notorious Monsters

Even writing this, I acknowledge this could be a questionable alteration. As stated before, Eureka is a gold mine, and increasing the drop rate on certain items such as the Cassie Earrings and Ceto Claw could hurt the marketplace, as both examples currently go for tens of millions of gil. With that said, I’ve seen countless runs where nobody received a single item for their efforts, and that was before Square Enix drastically reduced the requirements for prepping a monster, where it took upwards of two hours instead of ten minutes. If anything, increasing the drop rate for specific items will only help players move forward faster in Eureka and get to their end goal of Baldesion Arsenal. I’m not talking about the mounts or the minions as they’re cosmetics that deserve to be show piece items, but instead the equipment and magic board material that give you a buff in combat. Additionally, specific Logograms should be able to drop from more monsters, as the current state is leaving healers who actively participate in Baldesion Arsenal with a light wallet.

Eureka is a section of Final Fantasy XIV that has immense possibility and makes you rethink how you approach a situation, but due it’s intimidating aura, there’s numerous players who fall off very early. Considering the chances of a Eureka 2.0 are very likely within the next half of a year, Square Enix needs to make the first area far more inviting with future content being better paced. It can have a dramatic difficulty curve, but at the beginning it needs a good hook to keep players coming back for more, something Anemos and Pagos failed to accomplish. If it ends up feeling like an endless grind or has little direction, it’s going to, and has already, turn players away. Now, Eureka’s current playerbase is not what it once was, requiring those going into an area to schedule something prior to effectively make any progress. Heck, right after Shadowbringers came out I had to set up Party Finder groups each week in order to help players with challenge logs. Nearly four months since the expansion, you will rarely see Notorious Monster trains or box parties when randomly entering an area. To combat this for the future of Eureka and its successor, it would be beneficial to have unique events tied the areas. As much as I would love to see something like holiday events become exclusive to late-game content such as this, it’s more of a fleeting dream as Square Enix has never limited them behind expansion passes. It’s more reasonable to hope for increased drops rates, additional experience points or enhanced elemental effects during certain days. There’s never going to be a perfect solution as players will natural move onto the newest and coolest thing, but there needs to be a way to extend the longevity of Eureka’s content moving forward.

I will continue to emphasize that Eureka is not for everyone, going down to level 1 and grinding your way back up can be a bit much. With that said, it’s far more accessible than ever before since the introduction of the Echo in update 5.1, making it almost laughably easy. It no longer resembles the challenging Final Fantasy XI formula where everything wanted to kill you and could in a matter of hits, not to mention the fear of deleveling only lightly looms in the background now. Even so, I believe it to be the best Final Fantasy XIV has to offer, at least looking past the prodigious story of Shadowbringers. Like A Realm Reborn, once you get over the first hump you will bear witness to a slew of highly-gratifying content that challenges your wits and tests your resolve. Because of this, over the past couple of months I found myself in the 144-player instances far more than in Eorzea and Norvrandt as the community feels more inviting, with a level of camaraderie you rarely see in the rest of the game. Somehow Square Enix built another community on top of Final Fantasy XIV, not to mention altering its combat system to be even more strategically engaging. Take into account the unforgiving Baldesion Arsenal dungeon and you have yourself a section of the MMORPG that brings me to tears to see so many players missing out on. That’s not to say it’s perfect as there are numerous alterations and changes that would help significantly, but if you’re looking for a new and exciting change to the norm, Eureka has your number. While its playerbase isn’t exactly what it once was, here’s hoping Eureka’s outlook is more positive moving forward.