Final Fantasy XIV Patch 6.25 launched on October 18, 2022, bringing lots of new quests and enhancements to Square Enix’s MMORPG. The biggest addition for Patch 6.25 is the arrival of Variant and Criterion dungeons. First introduced in Live Letter 71, these are two entirely new kinds of content for four-player parties. Whether you’ve already exhausted the endgame or you’re still climbing the ladder to level 90, these dungeons are a test of skill you’ll want to be prepared for.
What are Variant Dungeons in Final Fantasy XIV?
Variant Dungeons offer a few mechanics that make them wildly different from FFXIV’s existing dungeons. They’re the first dungeons in the game that scale in difficulty based on how many players are in your group, meaning solo dungeoneers and full parties of four can both reasonably take them on.
These Dungeons also have no role restrictions, so if you want to gather four White Mages and just Glare everything to death, you’re free to give it a shot. You can even change jobs while in the dungeon — another first for FFXIV — and adjust your tactics on the fly.
To make offbeat party compositions more viable, you’ll have access to Variant Actions when you’re in the new dungeon. Similar to Bozja’s Lost Actions, Variant Actions let you take abilities your job wouldn’t normally be able to learn to round out your skill set. Tanks and healers get damaging moves, healers and DPS get damage mitigation, and DPS and tanks get healing spells.
Variant Dungeons are also the first in FFXIV to offer branching paths. Depending on the choices players make within the dungeon, they’ll open different routes to the end. If you want to get the full story of a Variant Dungeon, you’ll need to make multiple runs and see all its different routes to piece it together.
The first Variant Dungeon, added in Patch 6.25, is called Sil’dihn Subterrane. The dungeon is located beneath the city of Ul’dah, and you’ll be joined by Sultana Nanamo on your journey there.
What are Criterion Dungeons in Final Fantasy XIV?
If you want even more of a challenge, you’ll want to check out Criterion Dungeons. The first, Another Sil’dihn Subterrane, is also part of Patch 6.25. These new dungeons are far more traditional, requiring players to use a balanced party and progress along a set route. You’ll need one tank, one healer, and two DPS to enter Criterion Dungeons, just like any normal dungeon.
Unlike a normal dungeon, however, Criterion Dungeons are extremely unforgiving. All normal methods of reviving a downed player are disabled in Criterion Dungeons. Instead, you have a limited pool of revives that any player can use to resurrect an ally. Once you’ve burned through all of your revives, you need to start again from the beginning. In standard difficulty Criterion Dungeons, enemies won’t respawn if your party wipes, so as long as you don’t run out of time or revives, you can pick up where you left off.
There’s also a Savage version of Criterion Dungeons that ramps up the difficulty further. In Savage Criterion Dungeons, there’s no way to revive at all. Fall in battle and you’re finished. If the entire party dies, all enemies in the dungeon will reset, so you’ll have to attempt the whole thing over again. If that’s not enough, enemies will get stronger if you spend too long in the dungeon, so you’ll need to balance good tactics with a brisk pace to make it out alive. FFXIV’s developers say Savage Criterion dungeons are currently the hardest content in the game for four-player parties.
Unlock requirements and rewards
To unlock Variant and Criterion Dungeons, you just need to complete the new quest A Key to the Past in Old Sharlayan, after finishing the Endwalker main scenario quests. Along this questline, you unlock the new V&C Duty Finder, which allows you to queue for Variant and Criterion Dungeons.
To enter the first Variant Dungeon, you need an item level of at least 575, and to enter Criterion you need to be at item level 610. That puts them at roughly the same level as Endwalker’s Asphodelos and Abyssos Savage raids.
Completing Variant and Criterion Dungeons gives you a new type of currency, which you can trade to vendors at the entrance for gear, mounts, and other unique rewards.