It’s been a couple of days since my last nerding out about Final Fantasy XIV, so here’s some more of it. Eventually I will get back to my usual quality posts.
Mind you, my “usual quality” posts are mostly pictures of random terrible food and waxing enthusiastic about fanservice, so I can’t imagine anyone actually WANTING me to get back to those.
I’m still pushing my way towards the pre-expansion level cap, which is 50, and I’m doing it while alternating between two “jobs” (for any other MMO, these would be “classes”), so I’m definitely taking more time to reach the level cap than I would if I’d buckle down and focus on just one. It’s not AS bad as you’d think, though, because you get a 100% XP bonus when playing any job other than your highest-level one. I’m also alternating between Tank and Healer roles, which means that the delay between thinking “I would like a group to run through a dungeon with” and “I am zoning into the instance” is very short. If I don’t want downtime, I don’t need to suffer downtime.
Along the way, I have been fortunate enough to experience a VERY polite community, which is something of an outlier in any online game. It’s not a very talkative community – most people don’t want to stand still and chat when they’re clearing an instance – but players say Nice To Meet You at the start of every instance and Thank You or Good Game at the end.
I’ve also made a few mistakes along the way, and haven’t yet gotten raged at for doing so. Part of that may be the result of playing on an Oceanic server, but I’d like to think that it’s just something about the player base.
With a little luck, I should be 50 in both jobs in a week or so, and that’s usually the point where MMO content spreads out like so much pancake batter across a griddle.
And this is where I surpress the urge to make pancake-related jokes. It’s a good visual image, dang it, it doesn’t need to be ruined by puns.
I’m more than a little tempted to evangelize the game to friends, especially since it’s got a PS4 client and I could theoretically recommend it to friends without gaming PCs, but the difficulty of getting them on to my play server is the biggest thing preventing me from doing this. I may still pick up a few copies in December to slip into stockings, because nothing says “you are important to me” like “here, have a game that will consume your life.”
This weekend makes four weeks with Final Fantasy 14, and I think I’m starting to get into the solid middle of the main story, so I thought I’d put up a post on how things have been turning out.
Obviously, I’m getting to it after a couple of years of patches and quality-of-life fixes, so I’m not qualified to comment on how it might have been at one point, and certainly not qualified to comment on the state of the game in its 1.0 form, but what I’m playing right now is a very polished MMO with a wealth – perhaps even an overabundance – of stuff to DO at any given time.
I’m particularly in love with the class/job system, because I have a lot of bad memories related to MMOs where you selected a class at level 1 and stuck with it to level cap. Everquest, in particular, had a bad habit of straight-up breaking classes and leaving them broken for months at a time, so there were times when just getting into a group to get XP and progress would take hours on a waitlist or pity from guild mates.
FFXIV does not have this; you can level any class at any time and switching between them is just a matter of equipping a different weapon. This lets me level up a tank class for playing with people I trust and a healer class for grouping with strangers. It DOES mean that I’ve got a bit of an identity problem going on; I have both roles at roughly the same level so it’s hard to say which is my main job.
It is also VERY pretty. TERA was my previous gold standard for good-looking MMOs, and I still think that my Elin bunnyzerker had a combination of cute and dangerous that hasn’t been topped in any other MMO, but FFXIV is a huge step up visually. The weather effects along have spoiled me of the notion of going back to older games – most games are comfortable with “sunny”, “dark”, and occasionally “rainy”, but FFXIV has a huge spectrum of weather and lighting effects and isn’t shy about showing them off.
And, of course, it IS a numbered, main-line Final Fantasy, so it has a story that’s a little more sophisticated than “I don’t like wolves. Go kill eight of them and I will give you these shoes.”
…not that you’re never asked to kill eight wolves, with a promise of shoes on your success, but at least the wolves-to-shoes conversion quests are usually the ones that are labeled as optional. If you are cool with wolves and don’t NEED shoes, you probably don’t ever need to do them.
While the main story quest line is mostly done solo or with NPC helpers, it IS a “massively multiplayer” game, so you are occasionally sent into instanced dungeons to do stuff like kill dragons and get cheese.
So far – I’ve only seen the first half dozen of these – they’ve been very low-key affairs that take about twenty minutes to stomp through. It’s been very easy to get groups, because higher-level players can join even very low level dungeon groups and still get decent experience, so it’s not too unusual to be fighting through a level 16 dungeon with three temporarily-depowered 50-somethings. They can be a little annoying as a tank, because aggro in FFXIV is WAY more jumpy than I’m used to, but that’s where the whole playing-with-friends thing comes in handy.
The ones I’ve played through haven’t been much more than temporary speed bumps in keeping the story going. At level cap, when the story is presumably done and it’s time to get down to compulsively grinding for shinier and shiner gear, I understand that they can actually get rather difficult and stress-inducing. I definitely won’t be tanking THOSE with random people.
In addition to the main story quest, every class has a unique story quest to go through. These can be surprisingly challenging, and they’re mandatory to get certain class-defining abilities. I’ve never gotten stuck at any given step for TOO long, but I’ve certainly had to repeat certain parts until I figured out the trick to them.
So to sum all of this up, it’s been a good first month with a new game and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.
I’m not going to lie, I probably spent more time playing FFXIV this weekend than was really healthy. It’s a super pretty game and I’m just starting to get my head around some of the weirder systems.
That said, I did manage to take a few hours and, um, “play” through a pair of visual novels, for values of “play” that involve reading and listening to dialogue and hitting enter occasionally.
Planetarian ~ the reverie of a little planet ~ is one of those that is designed to get you, as they say, right in the feels. 30 years after a massive war starts, and 20 years after mankind has been reduced to a bare fraction of its former self, a scavenger hunting for food and supplies in an abandoned city stumbles into a department-store planetarium where a cheerful robot hostess is still hoping that, one day, customers will come back and see the stars.
It’s a straight-up kinetic novel with no branching choices. Really good, but I’d recommend experiencing it at a time of day when you can get up afterwards and go outside and see sunshine and make sure that the world is still there.
…and for a complete change of pace, we have the latest entry in the “Sakura (noun)” series. These games sell themselves pretty heavily on the cute girls and fanservice, and this one isn’t an exception. On the other hand, the story-to-fanservice ratio is actually pretty favorable; the protagonist is a guy who’s been shuttled around schools his entire life while his family waits for him to live up to his father’s legacy and he has to come to terms with that and figure out what he actually wants to do with his life.
At his latest school, he winds up joining the swim club, a club with such a terrible reputation that it’s down to two members.
Of course, both of them turn out to be seriously cute girls with swimsuit structural integrity issues, so it’s hard to feel TOO bad for the main character’s troubles.
They have their own problems, the main character has his own problems, they become friends and help each other work out their problems, it’s actually kind of charming. It could actually probably do all right as a VN even without all the pandering, but – let’s be honest – it wouldn’t sell nearly as well.
It’s a Steam game, so it’s technically an all-ages game.