Although Patch 1.20 continues the tradition so far of bringing big changes to current gameplay plus additions, it is probably the easiest so far to digest. It might be due to me being a perma-noobie and most of the changes being things that I can actually experience or doesn't make me conjecture about how it will turn down the road. In any case, this might be a shorter one than usual.
The usual caveat that my character is still pretty low level so I am limiting my commentary to changes I can actually experience by myself.
The first change I was looking forward the most was definitely the XP bonus depending on the quality of a crafted item. Until this patch the quality of the item only mattered for the rewards you would get from a local levequest or to get a HQ version of the item. With this change you also get a bonus XP based on the quality too.
Usually the bonus are about 28% for items of quality 75 or so. Even small quality numbers like 13 get some XP bonus but much smaller, obviously. On the few local levequests I did the bonus didn't seem to make that huge of a difference but I admit the levequests were for items that just don't give me that much XP anymore. Levequests closer to my crafting levels are harder to find so I haven't been able to do much testing on those. Since the bonus are percent based I think it will help more for higher levels.
In any case, any extra XP helps for leveling. It is not that the crafting in Final Fantasy XIV is bad, quite the contrary. It is one of the best in my opinion. It is just that the way the game is now it feels like it is much easier to level your adventuring classes than your crafting classes. The Battlecraft Leves are just better separate since new ones are offered every 10 levels against every 20 with crafting. Plus there is the deity blessing bonus (if you have any to spare) for battle and chain XP bonus for killing consecutive enemies within a timer. Not to mention you can get into a party to fight together for a grinding session where you just mow down enemies.
I will grant that feeling might be caused for a flawed strategy on my part in how to level the crafting classes. Still I can't shake the feeling that right now it is a lot more straight-forward to level your combat classes than the crafting or harvesting ones.
Anyway, a change that I was unsure about but was pleasantly surprised was with the class actions revamp. I did like the previous system where you could mix-and-match different classes skills but I can understand Yoshi-P's position in wanting each class to feel more unique. The new system seems a good compromise between the flexibility of the old system and Yoshi-P's wishes. Now the actions of your current class are automatically set on your action bar. You can't remove them, only change their position. At certain levels you can also add a bonus action from another class. How many actions from other classes depend on the level. There is handy chart on the patch notes. Just scroll down to find them.
You can set actions from pretty much any of your other combat classes, regardless of level. If it is of a higher level class then it will be scaled down to match your current class level. The only caveat is although you can set the action doesn't necessarily mean you can use it. Some actions are restricted only to Disciples of War, others only to Disciples of Magic and others require a specific weapon to use.
Another change was for Class Traits. Now you earn them automatically at certain levels (check the chart from the patch notes) and they are exclusive to its class. You can get refunds for guild tokens spent to buy them if you did so bought them before the patch. No decision has been made yet on what they will do with the tokens though.
They also abolished the shield "class" (the technical term is skill but I think class is less confusing here. :p) and made all its actions to be part of the of gladiator class.
I like these changes. They made the class system a lot more straight-forward (which is always a good thing) and ensured that each class feels more unique. With the bonus actions you can still add another action from other class you think would best compliment your current class or situation. So, like I said, it is a good compromise between the two different design goals. As for the shield class being merged with the gladiator class, it never made much sense for it to be a separate entity to begin with. Having those actions in the gladiator class makes more sense as it seems to be ye-olde tankish class.
Speaking of flexibility, attribute points have been reintroduced. You only get them from combat classes though. You get 5 points when you get a class to level 10 with one more point for every level after that. Attributes points earned and allocated are restricted to the class that earned them. There is also a cap on how many points you can spend on each attribute based on your class level (again, handy chart at the patch notes). Different classes also get different auto-attack damage bonus from two attributes.
With this system different races can compensate for not having good starting points for certain classes. While other races can just spend the extra points in other attributes that would be useful for their class. Since my character is a generic human with generic attributes my choices end up being to whatever seems a good idea. :p
Keep in mind that right now there is no way to reset attribute points once they are spent.
Achievements were also added to the game. They range from the usual do-something-you-would-do-anyway like killing X mobs to optional stuff like kill mob X. Achieving a series of them either earn you a title or an unique item. Even with a system like this Final Fantasy XIV does its own thing though. At the start the achievements are locked. To unlock them you have to go visit the specific NPC for its type of achievement. Same thing for the items you can earn from it. Any stuff you would earn towards any achievement is tracked normally though, even if it is locked. So you don't have to worry about reaching them as fast as possible.
What I find odd about this is why you have to visit the NPCs to unlock them. I can understand it to get the items as it makes sense, for immersion, that you go visit a person, tell him tales of your adventures and they get so impressed they decided to give you a reward. But just to unlock them seems silly as it is purely a game system to keep track of stuff you do. To make that decision seems even more strange is that all the NPCs aren't in any of the 3 major cities. Rather they are in different outposts, some that are pretty far out of the way too. In two cases there were even mobs in the middle of a narrow path with no alternative way I could find to get there. I was lucky to be able to pass through them without issue but I don't think a level 1 character would be as lucky.
Complaints aside, it was an interesting journey to go visit the NPCs to unlock the achievements. I found some places I don't know if I would have seem otherwise.
The last item of note is something that was introduced with Patch 1.20b. It is the gobbue mount. There is a picture of it in the patch notes. Sadly it requires a level 30 to do the quest to obtain it and I am too far away from that yet. It will also only be obtainable before patch 2.0 which if I recall correctly should be coming around the end of the year.
I saw some people with one in-game and it seems to be just as fast as the chocobos. Also cooler (in my opinion) than what you would think from the screenshot. The speed though makes more like it is bouncing around than walking which only makes it even more cool. 🙂
There has been a lot more to this patch of course. But as I mentioned I just either don't have the level to comment on it yet or I just don't have anything interesting to say about it.
There is just one last thing I would like to point attention to before finishing this post. On the latest "Letter from the Producer" there is a list of tasks for patch 1.21. One of those is "Player residence quests". I am pleasantly surprised by this because by the lack of information on housing it looked like it would come only much later. I am still a bit cautious about it though because there is a good chance that housing on Final Fantasy XIV will be more of a game-y thing with serving mostly for bonuses and social gathering. Instead of being something that works as a creative outlet like the house decoration in Everquest 2. Still I am curious to see how it will turn out and the sooner the better. 🙂