FFXIV Variant and Criterion Dungeon Gameplay Preview (Patch 6.2 Live Letter)

We get a look at FFXIV’s new Variant and Crtierion dungeons in action.

Final Fantasy XIV is always diversifying content to give players at all level new things to do in-game. In the last Live Letter from the Producer, FFXIV creative director Naoki Yoshida detailed the new Variant and Criterion dungeons, which seek to give casual and hardcore players new types of dungeons to tackle.

The new content is coming in Patch 6.25, meaning there’s a slight gap after Patch 6.2 before we get to dive in. During today’s Live Letter, Yoshida gave us a further look at both types of dungeons.

What Is The Special Dungeon Finder?

Instead of queueing up for Variant and Criterion dungeons through the normal Duty Finder, Patch 6.25 will add the all-new Special Dungeon Finder. Yoshida showed off the user interface for the new addition. It looks somewhat similar to the standard Duty Finder, but with a bit more focus.

The Special Dungeon Finder shows player details, Tombstone rewards, and the character who will accompany us on the journey into the first Variant Dungeon, The Sil’dihn Subterrane. It looks like Nanamo Ul Namo will briefly put down her crown to do some more adventuring. This likely puts the dungeon somewhere under the deserts of Thanalan.

FFXIV Patch 6.2 Variant Dungeon Hero

Variant Dungeons and Variant Actions

As detailed in the last Live Letter, Variant Dungeons are meant to be repeatable dungeon content with a story-centric purpose. These dungeons scale one to four players, meaning you can run them solo if you want. Unlike standard dungeons, there are no role restrictions in place and you can switch Jobs at any time.

To help out solo players and abnormal parties, players have access to Variant Actions. These are similar to Bozja’s Lost Actions, giving players of certain Jobs access to new abilities. Variant Actions allow a Black Mage to tank for a bit, or a Monk to heal. The available Variant Actions shown were:

  • Variant Cure – A heal for Tank and DPS players
  • Variant Ultimatum – A Provoke taunt for any role.
  • Variant Raise – A raise spell for Tank and DPS players.
  • Variant Spirit Dart – A damage spell for Tanks and Healers.
  • Variant Rampart – A buff that reduces incoming damage for Healers and DPS.

FFXIV Patch 6.2 Variant Actions

Players have access to two Variant Actions at any one time, but they can be switched out at any time. The only restriction is you cannot change them while a recast timer is counting down.

Heading into The Sil’dihn Subterrane, we’re treated to a cutscene of an ancient ruin. Nanamo opens the first massive door and together with the Warrior of Light, she strides into the unknown. In the gameplay demo, the next thing the duo runs into is a set of three doors, each one marking a path forward. As a solo player, you can choose any door, while in a Light Party, the door that has the most party members standing in front of it will be chosen.

Variant Dungeons are meant to be done multiple times, with each combination of paths leading to different story outcomes. The Special Dungeon Finder actually keeps track of all the story paths that you’ve experienced in the dungeon, with The Sil’dihn Subterrane having a total of 12 stories.

Treasure Chests are personalized, so players don’t have to worry about losing out on any loot. Bosses will appear in Variant dungeons, but you’ll only get two bosses for every run. The bosses are tuned for variety; some of these bosses will be different in each path, but you’ll also occasionally run into the same boss model with different mechanics. The boss shown in the gameplay demo was some version of Geryon, an additional boss from the 3D remake of Final Fantasy IV.

As a reward for clearing Variant Dungeons, you’ll be able to apparently get a unique mount. The mount is a huge mouse with a glowing tail called Silky (シルキー). Yoshida joked that there is an in-game explanation for the mount being able to fly.

FFXIV Patch 6.2 Special Dungeon Finder Matchmaking

Criterion Dungeons

After you’ve cleared the Variant Dungeon, you’ll be able to return and try to tackle the Criterion iteration. Criterion and Criterion (Savage) are content meant for players that are looking for hard, small group content. Criterion dungeons are high-difficulty versions of the normal Variant dungeons. Parties are limited to the standard composition — one Tank, one Healer, and two DPS.

The Criterion version is Another Sil’dihn Subterrane. The dungeon is harder and normal Raise spells don’t work. Instead, players will get a limited Variant Raise that will only work a few times. The normal iteration of Criterion dungeons supports matchmaking, while the Savage version does not. The Savage also adds new twists, like defeated enemies reviving after a party wipe and enemies becoming stronger after a specific time limit is reached.

Yoshida said that Criterion dungeons are going to be pretty hard. In Savage, enemies even look at their attack indicators, forcing players to stay on their toes. The team has tuned Savage for players that want to prepare for the next Savage tier. The only Criterion boss shown was Silky, the unique mount players can get from the Variant dungeon.


We have more coverage of today’s Live Letter right here on The Linkshell. We have a look at the Island Sanctuary gameplay, a preview of the new gear for Patch 6.2, and details on new graphical features coming in the patch.