If there ever was a game with a troubled past eventually finding a way to rise from failure and become one of the most praised examples of its genre, it's Final Fantasy XIV.
The MMO millions play and love today boasts one of the most troubled development cycles in gaming, and was even shut down after launch. Ten years later, FFXIV is a colossal game with hundreds of hours of content, and in an attempt to attract new players, Square Enix has streamlined the older storylines to make it more accessible.
What is A Realm Reborn?
When the game was relaunched, it was given the subtitle "A Realm Reborn". After several story expansions added over the years, the original ARR content became a hurdle for new players wanting to get into the more recent stories. ARR was notoriously drawn out, with relatively little truly important content stretched out across almost 200 mandatory quests, most of which were grind-laden padding.
With Patch 5.3, Square Enix gave the entire A Realm Reborn storyline a massive workover, cutting excess fat where it could and condensing the storyline without losing the great moments that made it so memorable. Finally, FFXIV isn't a daunting game to get into for new players, but what exactly changed?
A Realm Re-reborn?
The Main Scenario in the early patches of the XIV relaunch, covering content between version 2.0 and 2.5 were filled with filler content and needlessly long or difficult quests that slammed the breaks on plot progression.
Square Enix sought to shorten the journey to the more popular Heavensward story by cutting out 13% of the ARR Main Story Quests and revamping many of the other MSQs by making them shorter and/or easier to complete. This means objective numbers have been reduced - think killing fewer mobs, gathering fewer resources - and unnecessary objectives have been removed. The design concept driving the revamp was to keep the relevant story content while getting rid of gameplay-only portions that didn't add to the experience, merely stretch it out.
Originally, ARR took about 30-35 hours to complete, since it was designed and developed as a complete Final Fantasy game onto itself that also happens to be an MMO. However, being an MMO, expansions were inevitable, and it makes sense that players don't want to grind through 30 hours of old, arguably not too great content before reaching the better rated newer stuff.
ARR Main Story Quest Changes
While the main objective here was streamlining, Square Enix did flip the switch on two previously optional quests, turning them into MSQs that you have to complete to progress in the story. These don't add too much to the runtime and are quests you really should complete either way. A lot of people were presumably skipping them despite their importance, hence the new changes making them mandatory.
The first one is the level 20 quest "My Little Chocobo", the mount-introduction quest that teaches you about the mounting mechanic and gives you a Chocobo mount as a reward, which will make travel much faster - and cuter!
The other optional quest turned into an MSQ is "The Light Of Hope" which caps off the Crystal Tower quest chain and has major plot implications for the overarching FFXIV storyline, and is specifically referenced in the story of the Shadowbringers expansion. If you care about the story at all - and if you don't, frankly what are you doing here? - then this wasn't a quest to miss. Luckily, you no longer can.
What if I’m on a removed quest?
Maybe you were in the process of completing one of the removed or revised quests when you logged out before the patch - what now?
The developers counted on this eventuality, so there is a simple and helpful system that solves the issue. If you were in the process of doing a removed quest, your log will instead give you directions to the first subsequent quest that is still in the game. If you were in the process of doing a revised quest, your objective will be to re-accept the quest from the quest giver - directions are provided here too, since some revised quests are accepted from other places than before.