The version update for August has been implemented and the players are already feeling the substantial effect. From new items to new events, the update was another hefty one. I was pleased to find that there were many alterations that, while subtle-sounding perhaps, could and probably will deeply affect how we play.
The first change I was inundated with was that 2-handed weapons are now more potent. Apparently our Strength and Dexterity stats now translate to more Attack and Accuracy. Previously, 2STR = 1Attack and 2DEX = 1Accuracy. This formula remains the same for 1-handed weapons, but 2-handers now enjoy 1STR = 1Attack and 1DEX = 1Accuracy. This is an obvious poke at the prevalence of melee jobs subbing Ninja in order to Dual Wield.
Also directly affecting me right away is the apparent enhancement of the Accuracy Bonus trait Dragoons get. I am unsure as of yet how many "sequels" we have gained, but at minimum it would be Accuracy Bonus II, which would add another +10 Acc innately. Adding this trait to the already boosted Att and Acc ratings we're now looking at, and my Dragoon becomes even more dangerous and fun to play.
Square Enix also modified some Weapon Skills. Some more notable ones include Skewer and Penta Thrust for Polearm (i.e. DRG). The TP modifiers have different effects toward the performance now. Between the 2-handed boost and the WS change, I got new personal best damage totals from both the aforementioned attacks.
Also new this month is the inclusion of an entirely new class of items: Grips. These are equipped in the offhand slot for 2-handed weapon users in order to receive beneficial statistics or enhancements. The more interesting ones being things like +3% Critical hit rate, +2% Double Attack rate, and the one I will probably purchase using Imperial Standing Credits, the Axe Strap with +20HP and +3STR. Some grips have stat boosts for mages like +MP and enmity down. Most grips are available at level 65, with some lesser ones available at level 30.
Other notable updates I'm aware of so far include the Aht Urghan storyline completion (which I'm far from) and the new Chocobo Circuit. The Circuit may be pretty interesting, as both a new pastime and a way to make extra gil and even make new friends (or enemies?) by placing bets.
Lastly, I'll comment on the fact that Beastmaster has been altered in a big way. BSTs used to have an Exp penalty when fighting alongside a Charmed monster. This penalty has been removed. The convenient part of this is that I had just decided to finally level Beastmaster before my break. I've been wanting to get around to it for years now, but never managed to properly motivate myself. Now I'll almost have to.
I'm still not yet playing on a regular basis again, but these updates are certainly significant. Time will tell how much it affects the game and my personal playtime within it. With an expansion pack (called Wings of the Goddess) on the horizon, we have plenty to do in anticipation.