The big thing on Twitter today is the recently unveiled images of the crafting equipment for patch 4.2. Why? Because the weapons are reskins of the Zodiac weapons. To begin, let’s talk a bit about the Zodiac weapons themselves.
To start off in Binding Coil, you probably had at least your i80 relic weapon. The requirements for starting to raid were literally the same as creating it–making this an effective jump start in clearing this content. The raid drop from Turn 5 was i90. So you could clear Twintania, which at one point was literally impossible, and hope for a drop… or farm three weeks of tomes to upgrade your relic to an equivalent strength.
Yeah, tome cap was 300 back then–it was awful! But literally anyone could waltz up and grab a weapon that was relatively equal to, if not stronger than, the raid weapon. Can you imagine how the raiders must’ve felt? Well, the developers did–and eventually boosted the raid weapons to i95. From there they made a promise, “We’ll always try to keep them about even, but the raid weapon being stronger for a longer period of time.”
This pattern held on pretty strongly for a long while. i90, i95. i110, i115. i120, i125. i130, i135. At each step the relic would be just shy behind until close to the next tier, upon which it would evolve to rival the raid drop. This pattern worked fine enough and you rarely heard complaints from raiders that the “commonfolk” didn’t have to work for it. This pattern changed drastically with the Gordias raid in Heavensward, though. The raid drop was i210… but so was the relic. And for that matter, so was the token weapon!
No matter how hard you worked on clearing a raid, or working on your relic, suddenly anyone who capped tomes each week could get a weapon of the exact same strength. Relics were grouped along for the ride as “welfare gear”, and pretty much from that point forward looked down upon even more heavily than ever.
The Real Relics Are The Friends We Made Along The Way
I understand the notion of wanting proper recognition for your efforts. We worked hard on relic weapons! It was awful enough hearing they wouldn’t continue into Stormblood like they did in Heavensward. Why did we push so hard for no jump over others? Most of us accepted that at least we had unique glamours for our time and energy. And now 4.2 comes in and gives reskins with varying differences of the weapons we busted our bums for? What about the raiders who worked hard each tier to earn their weapons–only to be rivaled by someone who could solo queue for easy content?
There’s always a problem in MMORPGs designed as FFXIV is with aiming solely for the reward. Eventually, there is a Game Over. Inevitably there is a new set of equipment to farm, a new raid to clear. Many of us came from FFXI where once you had the legendary stuff, it remained at least mostly good! So to completely set things aside sucks, for sure! I try to think of it like… Luffy going after One Piece, in a sense. His goal is One Piece, but his intention is to adventure and find friends. His objective is to become Pirate King, but not to conquer but to have freedom. The reward isn’t necessarily going to be found in what we’re trying to achieve, but instead found along the process of achieving it.
For me, working on my relic was at times an astoundingly humbling experience. I knew myself as “the best Dragoon in my FC!” with few who could compete with me that I knew. Well, when you’re queued up with many other strangers looking to do the same thing for raid progression… you’ll find many people of rivaling skill. Some even better than you, no matter how tough you think you are. It got me to really think about my performance and what I accept about myself, and that fire drove me to become a better player. I’m still an awful trash fire, but I’m never settling for being unable to improve.
So now we have 4.2 dropping and we know the crafted weapons share the glamour skins of our old zodiac weapons. The one remaining thing we had to show for our work is gone. People who played 1.0 still have their Goobbue mounts and tattoos and legacy chocobos! (I have all of those…) And some who cleared the final raid even have unique earrings! So what then? What becomes of people who do things for unique reward now? Do we just suffer and let it be crafted later? Or put on the Mog Station for $15 per single character?
Sorry–I ate a bit too much salt there. Nah, we can appreciate the subtle differences in these weapons and use them to bolster Sigmascape like they’re intended. Sure you can get a Goobbue mount from the Slyphs, but my 1.0 Goobbue has a fancy rug on its head. Sure, these weapons look similar–but we’ll always have our glow or our unique gem colors and such. We’ll always have the memories of how hard we worked to get them, and what we experienced along the way.
And honestly? I’m damned excited about seeing what the Samurai and Red Mage zodiac weapons would’ve looked like! We never got that opportunity, after all.