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Another month, another Final Fantasy XIV patch: 3.45 brings gifts including a new season of ranked PvP and the next part of the relic weapon quest chain. But the most significant addition is the update to Palace of the Dead, the “deep dungeon” that debuted a couple of patches ago. Previously limited to 50 floors, it now goes on for a whopping 200. But where exactly are we headed? “Hellsward,” the unlock screen declares, playing with the title of the last expansion.

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Going Underground - This Month's Palace of the Dead Update is a Gem

 

Another month, another Final Fantasy XIV patch: 3.45 brings gifts including a new season of ranked PvP and the next part of the relic weapon quest chain. But the most significant addition is the update to Palace of the Dead, the “deep dungeon” that debuted a couple of patches ago. Previously limited to 50 floors, it now goes on for a whopping 200. But where exactly are we headed? “Hellsward,” the unlock screen declares, playing with the title of the last expansion.

 

No pressure, then. For those who’ve ignored PotD since its introduction, it’s a procedurally generated dungeon. It’s less complex than something like Diablo -- rooms are boxy and consistent in shape and size -- but it takes the best of FFXIV and wraps it up into a package that’s never quite the same. Buffs and debuffs are random, traps and enemy placements are constantly varied, and the loot ranges from light novelties to some seriously valuable stuff.

 

One of XIV’s great achievements has been how well it handles alt classes. PotD adds another layer to that, boasting a separate levelling system that lets you rush from 1-60 in an hour or two, providing you have the job you want to play unlocked.

 

This is great for a couple of reasons. For one, it allows you to ‘test drive’ a class, and get a feel for all of its skills and nuances before committing to the long climb to the level cap.  But it also levels the playing field, mixing up endgame players with people who may not have any jobs at max. Both groups can learn a lot from each other, and both get fixed rewards appropriate for their level (gear tokens or EXP) for completing groups of floors.

 

 

Now that the challenge presented by PotD has been ramped up, it’s a way for anybody — regardless of skill or prior time commitment — to test themselves in an endgame environment. Videos are popping up on Reddit of people hitting the hundredth floor solo, which is impressive by itself, but more impressive is the fact that anybody can do that provided they own the full game.

 

In a game with a mandatory story that’s a 100+ hour slog, broadening the scope of what new players can do isn’t something to take lightly. I know plenty of people who’ve just found it too much of a task to trudge through the main scenario in order to see the best this game has to offer — its complex rotations, its vibrant community, and its determination to make sure you never waste your time. Here, you can, and thanks to the fact that the deep dungeon offers endgame gear and the aforementioned knick-knacks, even savage-level players babysitting lower-levelled friends stand to gain a great deal.

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