In which, I explore the PVP options in Final Fantasy 14.

In the past, I’ve mentioned that I play a lot of different MMOs but rarely dive into the PvP side of things.  PvP is one of those things that rewards skill and commitment and… well, I generally don’t have a ton of skill or enthusiasm for it, so my typical role in any PvP scenario is to try not to feed too many kills to the opposing side.

The biggest exception to this rule was Rift, which had a wonderfully-flexible skill system that let me create a character that looked like a fragile DPS class but that was actually really tanky and had self-healing abilities that nobody expected.  My role in Rift PvP was to seem like an easy kill and lure two or three members of the opposition into chasing after me, then keep them busy while the rest of my team took advantage of their sudden numerical advantage.

It worked pretty well.

I also did a fair bit of PvP in WoW, and whenever I get the urge to jump back on THAT particular treadmill I spend five or ten minutes in the PvP section of the game’s official forums and confirm for myself that, yes, Blizzard still hasn’t done a damn thing about the faction imbalance.

But let’s get on to what I really wanted to talk about, which was the PvP side of Final Fantasy 14, what drew me into it, and whether it’s a good time.

You know, I can save you all a lot of reading and just answer those questions with a) good-looking cosmetic armor and b) no, it’s pretty awful.  But, should you keep reading, I have words and pictures.

Let’s start with the cosmetic armor, since one of the highlights of the recent FFXIV patch was the addition of some very mechanical-looking armor sets.

This is the tanking set, and I obviously fell in love with the look to the point where I spent most of a weekend day slamming my face into the PvP brick wall in order to earn enough of the currency I needed to buy it all – even the hat, and I generally don’t bother with hats.  The red light on the visor can be toggled on or off which is a neat little detail.

Here’s a slightly more close-up view.  I can’t quite decide what it reminds me of.  It’s got a bit of Crysis to it, maybe?  Or Mass Effect?

The axe isn’t from the PVP set.  It kinda goes with the theme though.

And a back side shot.  Not a backside shot.  I would say that this isn’t that sort of blog, but it kind of is.

Basically, it’s got all sorts of exciting glowy bits and sharp angles and just does not AT ALL fit in with the high fantasy theme that most of the game embraces.  Then again, you can ride around on giant plush cats or flying beds, so it’s not like Square minds a bit of immersion breaking.

Getting the full set took playing 18 PvP matches, which obviously isn’t a ton to build an opinion from, but I’ve got one anyway.

FFXIV PvP has three modes.  “The Feast”, which is an affair that drops your four-man team into a small arena with another four-man team and asks you to kill the heck out of each other, “Frontlines”, which drops three 24-man teams into a much larger arena and asks you to kill the heck out of each other and also periodically do some objectives that I never really got the knack of, and “Rival Wings” which drops two 24-man teams into a MOBA, where you have a bunch of NPCs running around in addition to all of the other players that you need to kill the heck out of.  Rival Wings was particularly difficult to understand going in blind, so I only played one match of it.

For a quick hit of PvP, “The Feast” is probably the best mode, and it’s where I spent the majority of my PvP matches.

Not that I was very good at it.

FFXIV has the typical “what do we do with tanks in a PvP situation, anyway?” problem that plagues almost every MMO.  In the PvE side of the game, tanks exist to keep the attention of NPCs away from the squishy healers and glass cannons, but players are slightly more intelligent than NPCs and can simply ignore the tanks.

Everquest II and Scarlet Blade are pretty much the only MMOs that actually did anything intelligent with tanks in PvP, and the combined player base of those at their peak was probably enough to fill a medium-sized 24-hour pancake house.  But I digress.

Anyway, FFXIV’s solution appears to be to make every class just ridiculously difficult to kill. I’m not sure that healers CAN be taken down without at least three people devoting their entire attention to the task, and even your typical dress-wearing black mage can soak up hit after hit.  It doesn’t make for a very interesting time, if I’m honest, and it’s particularly dull as a melee class since FFXIV melee has a terribly short range and people can easily dodge and dance their way out of reach.

This is where “Frontlines” actually shines, by the way.  When you have 24-man teams, it’s not that hard to actually reduce the other side’s numbers pretty quickly if you catch them spreading out a bit.

I’m sure that there are some people who REALLY get into the kick-ball, stick-ball, kill-the-guy-with-the-ball side of FFXIV, but  I’m not one of them. It was a grind that never got to be ungrindy, and the best thing I can say for it is that it didn’t take TOO long to get the stuff I wanted from it.

Except, I kind of want the healer armor set.  And maybe the bard set.  So, it’s looking like I will get back to this next weekend. I’ll update this if it manages to hook me.

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