Eorzean Evening Post: Gold Saucer First Impressions .

TIME :2022-07-03

I’ve written quite a bit about the Gold Saucer here before, it feels like, but can you blame me? I’m as big of a fan of Final Fantasy VII as the rest of you lot and FFXIV-players have been hyped for the idea of the great casino being added into the game for the last year or so.

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And now it’s finally here! With patch 2.51 released yesterday, the Gold Saucer opened its doors for the first time, letting the hordes in. Yes, the hordes – on several servers, the load simply became too much for the zone to handle. The place is insanely busy right now, at all hours of the day – everyone is flocking there. Final Fantasy XIV has never been more glamorous than this. Watching general chat, I’m actually surprised that there are people out there who are actually running dungeons at this point. Except the people running them to try to collect the new cards of Triple Triad, of course…

I’ve now spent a couple of hours at the place and feel ready to give you some of my first impressions of the zone.

 

The Venue

Gold Saucer is huge. It consists of four big rooms, with an Aetheryte Plaza in the middle and an extra basement for the Chocobo racing administration. It’s incredibly detailed and I’m actually surprised they crammed something like this into a content patch and not as part of an expansion. The devs have put so much love and creativity into the place.

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Dealing with areas this big can be tricky. Right now it might be crowded, but if the devs don’t keep adding reasons for us to go back and waste time here, it could just as easily start to feel empty and abandoned. Remember the vast, sprawling capitals of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes? Probably not, since people didn’t go there. They were magnificent to look at, but you also felt terribly lonely there.

That is, of course, me being cynical. Right now, Gold Saucer is hopping. There are people everywhere. So far I’ve only taken part in one random event – a dance event in the main hall – where you more or less couldn’t see the floor because of all the players (yes, a certain amount of hyperbole there, but still). It was packed when I logged out last night and it was packed when I logged in this morning.

 

Chocobo Racing

Of the activities available to you at the Gold Saucer, Chocobo racing is the one I’ve spent the most time with so far. I have very conflicted feelings about it right now. At first I didn’t like it, but then I caught myself thinking “just one more race, just one more race, then I’m going to go do something else…”. Even as I’m writing this, I’m starting to get the urge to just tab back to the game to do another before I keep on writing this column. I won’t, I promise.

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Basically, Chocobo racing is Final Fantasy XIV’s variation of Mario Kart. You race against other players, step on various pressure plates to get different effects and pick up chests that give you some form of boost you can apply to yourself or a debuff item you can use on other players. You’re constantly moving forward, but you need learn how to manage your Chocobo’s stamina, when to accelerate and when not to. Be prepared to lose quite a lot in the beginning, since your Chocobo’s rank will be so low compared to the others. It won’t take that long before you become competitive, luckily.

The main issue I have with the racing is the steering. The controls feel terribly sluggish and turning left or right in order to pick up a chest can be really annoying. There seem to be different invisible “lanes” you move between and it can sometimes be hard to judge exactly why you missed a particular chest – a chest which might have contained an item you sorely needed to win. The more I play, the more I get used to the system, but I’ve cursed out loud a couple of times already.

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There’s a lot more to the Chocobo racing than just the racing itself, like breeding new Chocobos and picking out permanent race abilities for them. You can dedicate an insane amount of time to this part of the patch alone – I’m sure that some will be busy with this while the rest of us go and try to save Ishgard from the dragons in Heavensward.

 

Triple triad

Speaking of time killers, Gold Saucer also introduced Triple Triad. I’ve basically spent no time with it so far, except the introduction matches and a few games against NPCs in the Gold Saucer itself. But I’ve seen the way people in general chat, my Free Company and Linkshells have gone crazy about it. This truly is Final Fantasy XIV’s “gotta collect them all”-moment, with people throwing themselves at the Duty Finder to kill bosses for their cards.

I’m almost worried about getting into it too much – I hardly have time to play the game as is and if I’m going to focus on collecting all the cards I’d want, I would never get anything else done. With the Cloud Strife-card alone costing one million of the Gold Saucer currency, I’d have my work cut out for me.

 

The Prices

For the currency you get for the various activities at Gold Saucer, there’s a lot of prices you can spend it on. Cards, Chocobo abilities, vanity pets, costume items… If you want to get it all, get ready to spend an enormous amount of time (or gil) here. Luckily, the activities are very different from each other, that you will probably be able to find at least one you enjoy. I just need to decide what price to aim for first. The vanity pets or go crazy and grind for that Fenrir mount?

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Overall, I’m very impressed with what Square have unleashed on their players with patch 2.51. The Gold Saucer offers a ton of stuff to do, unrelated to the rest of the game – it’s a place where we can go kill time, and have fun doing it, that’s not about grinding Poetics or Allied Seals. It’s a place to go and have fun and hopefully walk away with some cool prices at the same time.