FF14GilHub's Idea on Story Dungeons in FFXIV
That would be a lot of fun, and a neat way to add some unexpected elements to the existing dungeon designs.
What I'm proposing in the OP is more of a different way to design some dungeons--not to completely replace the current two new dungeons per patch, but to occasionally augment them with something more in-depth than we have currently. Dungeons like this would certainly take a lot more time and effort to develop, so they couldn't be an every-patch type of thing (maybe one released at the midpoint/later in the expansion cycle).
For an illustration of what I mean, I'll try to summarize how a group might progress through Estate of Unrest in EQ2, which is still my gold standard for how a dungeon like this could play out. There are a lot of story elements woven through this whole process, but if I tried adding them in as well, this post would be even more ridiculously long; for some background lore, you can see Unrest Lore.
The group zones into a large courtyard in front of a run-down manor house. They have to explore the courtyard and the manor grounds to find several items: a key to the house, some chess pieces, and--dropped from mobs--a few key items.
Once they've found the house key (the other items can be collected later), they can go into the first floor of the manor. Most of the doors are locked, but they can go into the bar, where they have to fight a mid-boss to unlock the manor's back door.
Once they've collected certain of the key items from outside, they can also go into the kitchen to do a ring event (waves of trash mobs that you have to kill quickly before too many spawn and overwhelm you) that unlocks a door on the second floor of the manor.
After all of the chess pieces are collected (two from the manor grounds, one from the kitchen, one from the bar), the group can go through the manor back door into the game room and fight a mid-boss for two lever screw key items.
These lever screws allow the group to unlock the main doors from the first floor into the manor foyer, but there's a catch: each screw has to be used with a lever on opposite sides of the first floor, and the levers have to be pulled at the same time (and, of course, they spawn enemies when pulled). So the group has to split up and coordinate pulling the levers, and either fight the mobs on the spot or pull them back together and rejoin the group to fight them all at once.
Once the levers have been pulled, they can go into the foyer, where they fight a mid-boss before heading to the second floor. Much like the first floor, most of the doors on the second floor are initially locked.
Another of the key items from outside allows the group to break down a door into a bedroom, where they have to rescue the ghost of the manor lady from groups of tormenting spirits. Once the spirits are killed, she tells the group about a nursery room.
In order to unlock the nursery room, they have to find the ghosts of her father (in another second floor room) and mother (outside in the manor grounds), talk to them, and return with key items they give whoever speaks to them. She will then open the nursery and disappear.
Inside the nursery, the group fights a mid-boss to receive an incomplete hymn. They can take this to the conservatory on the second floor and attempt to play it on the piano there, but it fails.
To complete the hymn and make it playable, they need to take it to the manor lady's father's ghost, who originally wrote it. At that point, they can then play it on the piano in the conservatory.
Playing the hymn starts a ring event, and once that's completed, it unlocks a door into the chapel, which has been taken over by a corrupted priest (mid-boss). Killing him gives a holy symbol key item.
With the holy symbol, the group can go back down to the library on the first floor and unlock a secret staircase behind a bookshelf. This leads down into the final part of the dungeon, the catacombs.
Once in the catacombs, it's a fairly straightforward route through a few mid-bosses and trash groups to the cavern with the final boss (though some of the trash groups are interesting, since they appear as doppelgangers of your party members and have custom skills and speech).
To kill the final boss, the group has to explore the cavern and find the pieces of his skeleton, while in the process hiding from (and, if necessary, fighting off) his ghost as it flies around. Once all of the skeleton pieces are found, the group can take them to the center of the cavern, assemble them, and fight the real form of the final boss.
I think I'm probably leaving out a few steps, since I don't actually remember what the kitchen ring event unlocks (maybe the dining room where the father's ghost is?), but that list should give a fairly good idea of what I meant in the OP by longer and more complex dungeons.
And replayability/helping new players would be very important things to keep in mind when designing dungeons like this. Part of it comes down to the rewards; EQ2 (at least at the time I played) didn't have anything like tomestones, so all items were directly dropped, and Unrest had a ton of bosses and unique item drops to chase. That alone pretty much guaranteed that people were always up for running it whenever it wasn't on lockout, at least when it was current content.
I think a model like that, with unique glamor items, minions, and such would work in the FFXIV context as well. In later expansions, EQ2 did similar things to FFXIV in that various quest lines (mythical weapons, heirloom items, etc.) would require you to revisit older dungeons.
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