The third post-expansion patch — the middle patch, if you will — is typically a big deal in Final Fantasy XIV. This patch wraps up the main story from the expansion, leaving the last two patches to start laying the groundwork for the next expansion. This usually means that players experience a secondary climax that can feel just as dramatic as the end of the expansion proper. But Endwalker is not a typical expansion. The initial release wrapped up the existing story, and patch 6.1 started a new arc. So what does that mean for patch 6.3, Gods Revel, Lands Tremble?
Well, it means that things don’t get quite as exciting as you might expect. Of course, there’s some drama leading up to 6.3’s new story trial, but the overall plot doesn’t move much in Gods Revel, Lands Tremble. Instead, the focus is more on character development for the ex-Scions’ newest ally, Zero. And that in and of itself is a good thing because Zero is a particularly interesting character, given her origins. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little bit disappointed that not much progress is made in this patch, narratively. In fact, you end up in a worse position by the end of the main story, which makes me wonder how the developers will resolve everything in two patches while also getting ready for the next expansion. I have no doubt they’ll do so in spectacular fashion, because they always manage to allay my concerns about the direction of the main story. But until then, I remain uncertain as to how they’ll pull it off.
Lapis Manalis, the new dungeon in Gods Revel, Lands Tremble, is located in Garlemald. This makes it a snow dungeon, and like most snow dungeons in FFXIV, it is sadly a little boring. The bosses aren’t terribly interesting, and only one is a little challenging. Like patch 6.2, the last boss will be familiar to Final Fantasy IV fans, as will the opponent featured in the new trial, Mount Ordeals. If you’ve been keeping track of the fiends who have appeared, you may wonder what the two remaining trials will be. One is obvious, but the other is anyone’s guess at the moment, which is also where some of my uncertainty stems from. At least the extreme version of this fiery fracas is not nearly as chaotic or frustrating as Storm’s Crown from patch 6.2.
As an odd-numbered patch, Gods Revel, Lands Tremble introduces the next leg of the alliance raid series. Indeed, the patch’s title is partially a reference to the Myths of the Realm storyline, which sees you throwing down with more of the Twelve to try and learn the truth about Eorzea’s fabled deities. Just like before, the Twelve themselves are not very forthcoming, so you don’t uncover much, but there are some interesting implications that could tie them more closely to other revelations from the expansion. The raid itself, Euphrosyne, is a visual spectacle much like Aglaia before it, but while the fights are fun, everything feels noticeably easier than the previous excursion. I appreciated the challenge of the first raid, as it made running the content over and over again for gear drops more engaging. By contrast, Euphrosyne is a bit more sedate, and I’m not quite as excited to go in every week for a new drop. Here’s hoping the third and final leg does not hold back, in both the story and combat departments.
Every patch since Endwalker proper has steadily expanded the list of Duty Support content, and Gods Revel, Lands Tremble is no different. This time around, the remaining main story dungeons from Heavensward (six in total) have been added, which is great for players checking out the free trial of the acclaimed MMO who might be nervous running content through Duty Finder. Every dungeon has been tweaked at least a little; the changes for some bosses are fairly minor, but others have seen a complete rework. For instance, the final bosses of The Aetherochemical Research Facility and Sohr Khai are essentially entirely new. Not only do the updates address some of the annoyances of these older dungeons, but they also freshen up the experience, which should make getting them in a roulette at least slightly more interesting.
Gods Revel, Lands Tremble brings a host of updates to other content as well. A new custom delivery client on the First makes for quite the interesting patron, the Leap of Faith GATE at the Gold Saucer takes a trip to the beautiful Sylphlands, and treasure hunters and PvP-lovers have new locations to check out. Island Sanctuary also gets some new content and a few quality-of-life changes that will see you return to your island paradise if you’re like me and stopped visiting after maxing everything out. It’s not a whole lot — just two new ranks, a few more things to gather or craft, and some new animals to catch — but it will help tide players over until patch 6.4 brings a more substantial update.
Of course, it’s not just the content that’s updated in Gods Revel, Lands Tremble. There are a number of UI and quality-of-life changes, some of which are very welcome. For example, flying text now displays an icon to indicate damage type, and you can finally, finally disable the automatic camera pivot that made trying to appreciate your favorite mount or getting that perfect in-motion screenshot a terrible pain. Others are cool but also somewhat annoying, like the display of instant portraits in instances. You can choose whether or not to display them, so the option itself isn’t really the issue. It’s more that instant portraits are tied to gear sets, and changing anything about a gear set requires you to manually update the portrait too, or else you get a generic-looking mugshot. There’s an obvious solution to this — automatically update instant portraits when you update a gear set — so I hope it will be adjusted in the future.
Last but not least, every new patch means new music from master composer Masayoshi Soken. The previous two patches included some great new tunes, but Gods Revel, Lands Tremble is a slight letdown, in my opinion. The three new alliance raid themes are the best of the bunch, with a prominent fiddle adding some fun and whimsy, but they’re not as good or addictive as patch 6.1’s alliance raid accompaniment. The new dungeon theme is nothing to write home about, and the only other major new piece of music is yet another rendition of “Battle with the Four Fiends” from Final Fantasy IV. I like this version better than the one introduced in patch 6.2, but it’s not really my favorite FFIV battle theme, so nostalgia can only take it so far.
Gods Revel, Lands Tremble is ultimately a somewhat awkward middle patch. There’s nothing outright bad about it, and it adds a fair amount of new things to do, but it’s also not terribly exciting either. It’s sort of the Final Fantasy XIV equivalent of spinning your wheels, which is understandable given the story direction of the post-Endwalker patches, but it still feels a little disappointing. Hopefully, the next two patches will kick things up a notch, and with the conclusions of the 8- and 24-man raid series, it’s hard to believe they won’t. But I suppose only time will tell.