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Embody Immerse Gamepack FFXIV Impressions

Victoria Rose Updated: Posted:
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With the launch of Endwalker in late 2021 also came a slew of exciting other additions to Final Fantasy XIV. One of the most hyped-up ones of the team was the release of this game’s edition of the Immerse Gamepack, a sound-enhancing software that promised accessible surround-sound output. It was pushed hard by Masayoshi Soken, who’s both the lead composer and also sound director of the game. 

The concept is cool on paper: pay the software fee for a lifetime license, take a “selfie” of your ear, and the software will work on just about any output device the player owns. Unfortunately, to pile onto Endwalker’s infamous launch issues, the software had a bit of a rocky start due to glitches and frustratingly sharp sounds. But lately, before the latest patch, The Dark Throne, the team announced that the 2.0 version of the sound pack would drop alongside the patch itself with loads of new updates. 

What’s the state of the software - was it that bad, and is 2.0 any better? Fortunately for everyone, I was able to give both a go. (As a disclaimer, and as I’ll explain briefly, I’ve received a lifetime license for free thanks to the teams behind the software.)

Setting Up Before the Update 

The publicity team for Immerse Gamepack FFXIV reached out to me shortly after the second 6.4 Live Letter, which announced the 2.0 version, and offered for me to give it a try via a lifetime license. Naturally, being in the game for a multitude of reasons between raiding, roleplaying, and crafting, I felt it’d be a good opportunity to give it a go. 

To be honest, my setup is a little odd, but I felt it could add to the experiential nature of this offer. I have my “primary audio device” set as my microphone, which has a 3.5mm headphone jack that I attach to a SteelSeries headset. It does provide a decent enough 3D sound experience, generally speaking, that I was comfortable giving the “any device” claim a try. 

Setting up Immerse Gamepack before the 2.0 update was mostly straightforward. Of course, I had to make an account, then install the Immerse Gamepack’s software on my computer. 

Afterwards, it required me to take an image perfectly facing my ear. But let’s be real, does anyone know how to actually do that perfectly well? I made a few attempts, and they ended up off-center or not at a perfect perpendicular angle or whatnot. I eventually made a decent enough shot happen with some hassle. 

Once that was settled, it was just a matter of turning it on in-game. Easy enough! Sorta. 

The Experience Before the Update 

I wouldn’t say I have hearing ticks on a severe level, but I’d argue I’m a bit more in tune with audial nuances. That’s to say, I’m a slight nerd about sound. Like, I love the fact that Dota 2 has created a unique sound for almost every single ability in the game to the point where you can listen to it with no visuals and know precisely what’s happening. It might be the neurodivergences; I hated loud sounds as a kid but evolved to the point where I stood directly under techno club speakers for fun this weekend. (Disclaimer: This was no less than a mild mistake. Please use sufficient earplugs if you do this.) 

It’s fair, then, to say I kept my ears open as I turned on the settings as instructed. And my first impression? 

“Ow, the footsteps.” 

Yeah, you know those “8D” audio videos where someone overmixes a song so that it sounds exaggeratedly everywhere? It wasn’t like that in the spatial sense, sadly, and yet the mixing of the audio sounded like it. Does that make sense? Little nuances in the sound effects were just a little too much, while some were drowned out to favor the others. 

After a bit of running around and grinding, I turned it off, mildly disappointed. And yet, I was optimistic, because this wasn’t going to last long – we’d just have to see how the 2.0 update treats it, right? 

Restarting After the Update 

Once Patch 6.4 rolled out, and with it the 2.0 update for Immerse Gamepack, I decided to give it another shot. I’d heard they made the setup process a little more intensive yet easy, so I wiped my profile and gave it a shot. (Thankfully, it let me update the client from within, which I doubt any newcomers would need to do anyway.) 

The new setup process is actually pretty cool. You still hold the phone up to yourself “selfie-style,” but you rotate your camera around your face side-to-side so that it captures both ears, and the site even guides you through it a bit. 

I found it way easier to trust this process, rather than praying my single bad selfie would do the trick. I didn’t realize until this attempt that the anxiety of not knowing whether I did it right hung over me a bit as I played around in FFXIV in the prior version. The new version’s capture program also feels like it matches the “new tech” impression Immerse Gamepack is trying to impress upon FFXIV fans, which I think adds to the comfort I felt this time. 

The Immerse Soundpack FFXIV 2.0 Experience  

I’ll admit that I was hesitant to turn this back on, but I’ll also admit that I’m glad I did. I ignored one recommendation, placing the audio between 85-90 percent from the character at any time, with solid results. 

The FFXIV devs said the sound team reworked the sound library around this experience, and it’s evident off the bat. Footsteps, which were my number one irritant, weren’t as loud and rough, which was an immediate improvement for me. I noticed there was also more sensible clarity in a lot of environmental noises, too, which was nice. Some muddiness came through, but in a way that felt more like distance than disruption, a change from a previous complaint I saw when poking around about Immerse Soundpack. 

And it’s not some kind of YouTube overmixing overkill this time, either. It can be actually a backfiring annoyance when “spatial” audio noises are done a little too exaggeratedly. Thankfully, in this new version, that’s not the case.  

Immersive Audio

I’ll also point out that I said “a lot of” noises were clearer. I was curious about how this would work for my Weapon’s Refrain (Ultimate) clear, as I’d actually realized that at one point, an “overload” of audio on one side or the other would indicate a certain cue (the knockback direction for Titan Gaols, for the record). This was definitely one area where having my spatial audio off would have helped, as I feel like the “cleaned up” audio ruined that subtle effect. But this is definitely an odd exception based on a quirk I’d discovered on my own; it could do with the distance-from-character sound placement. 

In the end, I didn’t hate Immerse Gamepack, really. But I loathe to say that it didn’t knock my socks off. Sure, the experience was much cleaner, but I already thought that the game’s spatial audio was decent as it was, and this really just sharpens it. Maybe my headphones aren’t good enough to embrace this program's full power? 

I’m sure some actual audio nerds would be able to tell me better. 

An Extended Trial  

If you think you’ll get more out of this than I will, I’ve got great news: This whole ordeal was part of a promotion for the 2.0 revamp of Immerse Gamepack, which now offers a free 30-day trial (as if the FFXIV trial isn’t enough on its own). If you’re curious, there’s no harm in giving it a try, unless your selfie camera on your phone is borked somehow. 

And if you see this before June 30, there’s a promotion for 30% off a lifetime license for this program. It’s only a one-time $19.99 purchase already, making this $13.99 during the sale, and either way, there are more unusual things you can invest in FFXIV for more money. 

No doubt that this has improved since my first attempt less than a month ago, and certainly since its troubled launch sometime over a year ago—have you tried it, either way? 


riningear

Victoria Rose

Victoria is a FFXIV player who's been writing about games for over seven years, including formerly regularly for Polygon and Fanbyte, and also spent some time in The Secret World, mostly roleplaying. You can find her head-deep in roleplay campaigns on Balmung, or on the ground after hyperfocusing on her Black Mage rotation. Come visit her estate: Diabolos (Crystal DC), Goblet, Ward 4, Plot 28.