In my latest round of adventuring in Eorzea, I have spent most of my time in Final Fantasy XIV’s Bozjan Southern Front (or Bozjan for short). Bozjan is home to the Blades of Gunnhildr questline where players battle to make and upgrade their Resistance weapon. Resistance weapons are this expansion’s answer to the relic weapons of prior expansions: powerful artifacts upgraded through much effort with unique looks and lots of sparkle.
Bozjan is essentially a 72-person instance. While there, you progress up the ranks by earning mettle and unlock new areas to adventure. There are exclusive rewards you can purchase via Bozjan Clusters which drop from enemies in the area. You can also participate in FATES (FFXIV’s answer to Public Quests) with other players or queue for special boss fights called Critical Engagements (CE). CEs come in two flavors – 24 and 48-person – and almost always put up a challenge with their intense movement. There are other things too, like one-on-one duels, or completing Castrum Lacus Litore which requires up to 48 people to coordinate an assault on an imperial base.
The Bozjan Southern Front has been a blast. There were some issues with getting people doing Castrum, but that issue was addressed in a recent patch. However, the remainder of the zone has been and continues to entertain me. Owing to its scaling design, I was able to finish leveling three jobs (you can start at level 71) to the game’s current cap at 80 in my pursuit of Rank 15, Bozjan’s current max rank.
There is an entire subsystem called Lost Actions where you unlock and use charge-based actions. I have spent some time with it and I know there is much more I could do. That said, the items used to unlock these actions can be sold on the Market and I am very, very broke. I ship all that I acquire out of Bozjan to turn a quick gil.
The thing about Bozjan that works best to me is how it feels like a MMO. With the instanced nature of the zone, despite being open and large, it rarely feels empty. People actively chat and ask for groups. FATES and Critical Engagements almost always have plenty of people doing them. It feels alive in a way that other parts of the game don’t always share. And, yes, that feeling will be fleeting as the content cycles through its peak relevance, but for now, it feels fresh and fun.
More than that, I love that you can actually see players play in Bozjan. When not participating in a Critical Engagement, you can still watch it from the outside of the ring that keeps only those eligible to fight out. In modern MMOs, too often is everything instanced. It makes for a convenient way of experiencing content as a player, but it largely destroys the experience of seeing content as an onlooker. In EverQuest, I used to sit in a tree outside the Crushbone Castle Throne Room long before I could group with players camping there just to watch and chat. In comparison, modern MMOs are always go-go-go and they rarely leave room to just socialize.
Even more exciting, Bozjan features unique content called duels. With these, players successful at not getting hit in a Critical Engagement can be randomly selected to participate in a special one-on-one fight with a unique enemy. Whilst in a duel, like in CEs, other players can watch, but it is only one person dueling at a time. Most players, including myself, gather around the perimeter when possible to watch and cheer on the participant in chat. I have not dueled myself, but I always enjoy the camaraderie that comes with it.
Some may complain about the grind associated with Bozjan and the Resistance weapon questline, but I think it is the best yet relic weapon implementation. Each step requires a special item to act as currency. Those items can be earned in a number of ways including by random chance from FATES while in Bozjan or a guaranteed chance elsewhere. The guaranteed chance requires players to cycle through older content which has kept older zones often stocked with people grinding for their weapons. It is something FFXIV does best: it keeps older content from ever going away for those experiencing it for the first time. It is a remarkable feat given that every other MMO suffers from similar issues.
My time in the Southern Front as-is is becoming more limited. I capped my White Mage, Black Mage, and Samurai there, but I have nothing else close enough to 71 to grind out. I have reached the max rank and purchased all of the gear you can earn with Bozjan coins. I still need to farm for Bozjan Clusters to get a mount I’d like to have, but I am feeling less and less pressure to do it. I am considering boosting Astrologian to 70 to grind out since I hate leveling healers solo, but that might wait for another tour in Eorzea.
For now, I am content with all I have accomplished and glad to have done so. The Bozjan Southern Front is, strictly-speaking, optional content. Its sole purpose is to keep people playing whilst the expansion winds down and the path to a new expansion winds up. At that, it succeeds in expert fashion. While I skipped similar content before, this is exactly what I want to see in my MMOs on a broader, more permanent basis. Getting it here, even for a limited time, is most rewarding.