Patch 6.1 has just been released for Final Fantasy 14. It's the first major update for the game since the Endwalker expansion launched in December and has added a new 24-man raid, a new dungeon and its story is set to begin an entirely new story arc.
While there are lots of new things to delve into, Square Enix has also spent some time polishing up the beginning of the game, making it more enjoyable and also far more approachable. Players can now go through a vast majority of the base game's dungeons completely solo. It means that instead of having to get matched up with other real players, the game will plonk you in with a team of generic NPCs who will cover whichever roles need filling.
The system has been in place for dungeons in both Shadowbringers and Endwalker, but it's the first time it's been implemented in the early game. It covers all instances that were originally released in 2.0, and director Naoki Yoshida has said that Square Enix intends to add the remaining A Realm Reborn instances in the future along with Heavensward.
With the arrival of the Duty Support system, Patch 2.0 dungeons and trials have been adjusted to ensure the best possible gameplay─alone or with friends!Cape Westwind (confirmed current hardest trial) will for example become a solo fight! 🛡️ https://t.co/BlkvLDNLhX pic.twitter.com/HlBGHkrgaNApril 9, 2022
MMO anxiety is a very real thing. Final Fantasy 14 was my first MMO, and I distinctly recall quitting when I reached Castrum Meridianum back in 2014 because the prospect of running a dungeon with seven other people terrified me. While I'm far more confident in the game now, being able to tackle certain dungeons solo would have been a small blessing. While the game is a sociable MMO at its core, it also stands on its own as an excellent RPG and giving players the option to complete large portions of its game solo feels like a testament to that.
Some of the early dungeons have also been given a makeover. Branching paths and some objectives have been removed to streamline the runs, plus lighting and visual overhauls to bring them up to the standards of later dungeons. The Thousand Maws of Toto-Rak in particular looks fantastic and should make the early game experience far more enjoyable to plough through.