Living the Fantasy: A Year and a Half of A Realm Reborn Part 2.4

Only after a three month wait, 2.4 would descend upon the adventurers of Eorzea, making the 2.3 patch the shortest lifespan of all the content we received. This patch would go to drastically change the rewards received from hunts, and introduce a huge amount of content that is still current to this recap. The headliner for Dreams of Ice was none other than the Primal Shiva, who plays a huge role in the continuing main scenario, along with introducing the Final Coil of Bahamut, the final encounter leading up to the Elder Primal himself. We would also get three new dungeons, the next exciting adventure from Hildibrand, the introduction of the long awaited Ninja class, and a whole lot more detailed in the official trailer:

As of 2.4 I was reeling from my short lived victory over Nael Daeus Darnus, the final boss of Second Coil, and was on my way to head up the first week of progression in the new raid. 2.4 was by far the return to form patch after the gigantic mishap of the 2.3 hunts rewarding soldiery, and the debacle of nobody wanting to do Ramuh. It was maybe one of the best patches we would ever see, but in my opinion that goes to 2.5, but for now lets cover what went down during this patch's lifespan.

2.4, Dreams of Ice

So upon the release of the patch, the greatest news came from the curiosity of the hunt community, after tracking an S-Rank down and killing it, it was revealed that the monsters would no longer give the second tier of currency for the new top of the line gear. With that being the case people would have no choice but to do dungeons, trials, and raids once again to get gear. Which isn't entirely a bad thing, in fact it was probably the best thing to happen to the rest of the game for months. Along with that also included the mystery of where the new dungeon, Snowcloak, was in the midst of the unlocking run around. It was later found out that Snowcloak would become the first dungeon since 2.0 to require you finish the 2.4 story in order to actually unlock your expert roulette. A fundamental change that would be picked up in 2.5. A ton of smart fixes and changes to the formula we knew for the last three patches or so pretty much showed Square was learning from past mistakes and fast. So here were the things you were probably doing during 2.4:

  • Things that make you Shiva for new gear
  • Stuck in one last Bind
  • These dungeons belong in a Museum
  • Uncle Ulty has come to visit, and he brought friends!
  • The day Limsa Lominsa exploded into 1000 Believe It jokes
  • Everyone is getting married and you're all invited!

The new dungeons brought life back into the Duty Roulettes, and Shiva would be the goal of everyone, whether it being the server first kill or everyone trying to get shiny new weapons and accessories. As of the patch dropping not a ton of people actually had Turn 9 down on Leviathan, so the first couple of weeks in the new raid hangout spot was shockingly a ghost town. By far though nearly every aspect of the content that was introduced was a step up from the last patch, barring the Syrcus Tower, since 2.5 would be the next time we would see a Crystal Tower update. I would even consider the 2.4 main scenario a step up from anything they'd put out since 2.0, as I honestly think this is where everyone started getting invested for the long haul once again.

Lady Iceheart and the War in Ishgard

The 2.4 story picks up back in Mor Dhona, Minfillia sends you off to Camp Dragonhead to meet up with the leaders there to discuss some trouble that has been brewing between the City State of Ishgard and the heretics that serve the Dragons. You would be told that the heretics causing the trouble is led by a dastardly character known as Lady Iceheart, and wishes for Ishgard to pay for its crimes on the Dravanians. After completing a chain of quests that guarantee that the heretics would no longer sack supplies coming in and from Ishgard, you are sent to Ul'dah to meet another important face in the months to come.

Captain Ilberd (Left)

When arriving in Ul'dah you're met by a man by the name of Ilberd, the newly appointed Captain of the Crystal Braves. Shortly after, Raubahn, the General of the Immortal Flames and protector of the Sultana arrives and it's revealed that Ilberd and Raubahn are old war buddies from the Ala Mhigan resistance. This small reunion of friends/rivals is cut short after Ilberd reveals there is a high ranking member of the Immortal Flames working for the Garlean Empire, and it's up to you to find out who. Along the way its also hinted at there being some shady business involving a young Crystal Braves member being tied to a shipment of supplies gone missing. Maybe the corruption spans past the Immortal Flames? Before going any deeper into the situation, you are called upon Alphinaud to help in the talks with Ishgard to see about rejoining the Eorzean Alliance.

Ser Aymeric

Waiting for you would be Ser Aymeric, one of the highest ranking members of Ishgard's military, and one of the only members of it wishing to speak to the outside world. Alphinaud proposes that Ishgard rejoins the Eorzean Alliance after being isolated from the world for so long to deal with the Dravanian threat. Aymeric would agree to see what he can do to sway Leadership into opening the gates to the lands north of Eorzea, only if the Scions would help in certain matters regarding the Great Wyrm Midgardsormr, and his grave. Alphinaud reluctantly accepts as the reasoning for Aymeric's use of the Scions is sound. After the negotiations conclude, its revealed that Iceheart and her followers have sacked another supply caravan, and its revealed that Iceheart's true goal is to awaken Saint Shiva, a heritic long ago that layed with the Dragons.

You are then sent to Snowcloak, the new dungeon introduced along with the two Hard Mode remixes, to chase after her and put a stop to her plans. After a long trek through an Ice Golem, a yeti, and Fenrir, you see Iceheart at the end of the dungeon, only to be too late. She teleports off using the Aetheryte the Fenrir was guarding and proceeds to break it afterwards. With no way to go forward with the search, you leave it to your fellow Scions to find a new path forward. Meanwhile the investigation to finding the traitor in the Immortal Flames picks up.

As you return to Ilberd and Raubahn, it is apparent after a few fetch quests that Eline Roaille, Raubahn's second in command has been working for the Garleans this whole time. When discovered Roaille goes into hiding, but not for long, as Yugiri makes her return along with bringing over her branch of Ninjas track her down in East Shroud. She is arrested for her crimes after admitting to them on the spot, and sent back to Mor Dhona to find out whats up with accessing the Aetheryte in Snowcloak. It is upon the arrival you are introduced to the long missing Scion Moenbryda, who has been off researching the Aether and a means to destroy an Ascian, a being that is pretty much immortal. Using the research she has brought, you return to Snowcloak able to repair the Aetheryte, and confront Iceheart in her domain.

Using the crystals she ransacked from the supply caravans, she uses them to not summon Saint Shiva into the world, but to seemingly become Shiva herself. Which threw a new wrench into what a bunch of crystals and a pissed off person can actually DO with them in the XIV universe. After surviving the encounter (if you could call it surviving), you're congratulated on a job well done, as the relations between Ishgard and Eorzea seemingly get a bit better. While back on the Homefront, the matters in Ul'dah only get worse. The Sultana is beginning to crack under the pressure as more and more members of the Syndicate begin to show their hands.

The story this time around was able to balance out things better, while giving each side of the story its own time to develop. You were leaving story beats as they were for the time being for good reason most of the time. It definitely wasn't the mess 2.3 was, and the Primal meant to headline this patch was actually able to shine. Not only in the story aspect, but also in content and rewards. It also gave faces to factions that had no identity up until this point with Aymeric and Ilberd, both of whom would go onto 2.5 to become major players in their own ways.

The Lady who Lay with Dragons

Shiva had no trouble intergrating herself into the everyday activities of everyone. Shiva, unlike the primal she followed up, actually offered upgrades in terms of gear. So with people still struggling on Turn 9, just like Leviathan before her, she was able to fill in a gap for those people looking to up their chances. The EX version dropped new ilvl 120 bracers for each class, along with a 110 weapon, that was on par with the raid weapon from ST and Turn 7. Later on they would introduce a new item into the fight known as Diamond Dust, which acted like a Mirror of the Whorl, but in a less moronic way. Instead of it being a 5 percent chance drop, you got a Diamond Dust upon completion of the EX encounter. You needed a total of five in order to upgrade the weapon into a ilvl 115 weapon, something on par with the weapons from Turn 9. It turned what used to be a long and tiresome grind against RNG to a small and sensible time investment.

Shiva is probably one of the only Primals that has their HM and EX encounters nearly identical with only a few key differences between them. Both first phases include her using the weapon swap ability she possesses, along with the abilities associated with said weapons, and the DPS check involving the four Ice Golems. The second phase changes include a tank swap mechanic regarding to a debuff she puts on both tanks depending on what weapon she has equipped, a new Bow weapon with an instant kill cone AoE if you aren't behind her, and the fact the ice blocks people get stuck in if they happen to stray to the edge of the arena becoming fatal, rather than a thing they can break out of in 15 seconds or less. Personally there's no debating it, Shiva is probably one of the easiest Primals fights in the game. Yet I think its great design that the HM mode actually serves its purpose in teaching you how the EX mode works to the best of its abilities. While Shiva might not be my favorite primal, she definitely serves as some of my favorite moments from the patch itself. In the Shiva fight it is more than possible to kill her even after each person in the party has been killed atleast once, and resurrected. It is also one of the fights in the game where a Bard can actually use their limit break and not get yelled at.

Stuck in One Last Bind

Upon the arrival of 2.4 I was actually ready to enter Final Coil from the get-go, it was a very exhilarating experience to say the least. At long last the raider inside of me was sated. Not since Ulduar would I step foot into a raid day one and try to figure out how all the kinks work. My group would slowly, but surely make its way through to the end of the Coil and beat Bahamut. Yet this time around, the difficulty wouldn't be in the random chance mechanics, the fights themselves would be come more and more demanding with each increasing turn all the way to the end.

Turn 10 would set the stage for what was in store for people. You do the mechanics correctly, or you're going to get punished. For every mechanic you failed that wasn't an accidental death to the floor AoEs, the boss would put a stacking buff on himself. Later on in the last phase, he would proceed to put out an AoE that put a stacking debuff on YOU that made you weaker to incoming lightning attacks. Along with that, you only had 11 minutes to kill him, or else the arena would close in on you, and you would die a slow and painful death, watching your health tick away 1100 hp at a time. Essentially, if your group was not putting out atleast 2000 DPS throughout the entire encounter, you were not going to clear it that night. This was the boss that pretty much made my entire group start using Potent Poison Pots and X-Stat pots to help us push towards that first kill, until the day arose where we would outgear the encounter.

Turn 11, what I consider as by far the most mechanically challenging turn, not because its well designed, but because of its poorly handled servers. Turn 11 was a step up from 10 in some cases, there was a steeper learning curve for the mechanics on display. The middle phase where the three adds come out is probably the hardest part of the whole encounter, where the Melee DPS have to beat up their add in sync with the Magic DPS and theirs. All the while dodging AoE's left and right and making sure you're not the one who didn't move away from the group in time so that you don't cause a wipe. All three of these adds have to be kept away from eachother at all times, or they will eat eachother and in turn be unkillable and wipe the group. Once they're eventually dealt with, the hardest hitting AoE in the game (until T13) happens, and you need every shred of mitigation on the boss and yourselves before it goes out or the whole party could die.

ON TOP of that, the phase also introduces a mechanic that probably shouldn't even be in the game because of the server's limitations. You become tethered to one of your party members, and must move with said party member, or you get a stacking vulnerability debuff, and take massive damage with it. There is another two people you have to avoid with a different color tether, that cause the same reaction when you're too close. This isn't a hard thing to do on paper, but because of the really slow reaction times you get with the server lag, you have to be perfectly in sync and agreement on where you're going beforehand with your partner, or things can go horribly wrong.

Turn 12 was the grand finale of the story between Louisoix and his grandchildren. When arriving in for the first time, Louisoix is there to greet your party with less than thrilling words to exchange. It is revealed that this is in fact the actual Louisoix, not some blind follower of Bahamut pretending to be him to throw you for a loop. During his encounter with Bahamut during the Calamity, Bahamut was able to turn the Greatest Hero of Eorzea into his thrall... and also a Primal. Louisoix had become the Primal Phoenix, and it was up to you and your party to free him from Bahamut's grasp.

This fight took the longest to clear for my group, as you can see in the dates posted between Turns 11 and 12. Phoenix itself is not a hard hitting boss sans for some tank killer moves that are predictable, but in essence he is just one giant DPS and Heal check. Most of the phases you're mostly trying to do as much damage to him while in turn trying to kill the adds he spawns, Bennus as fast as possible, when that isn't being done, the Bennus will buff Phoenix and make the fight eventually unhealable. So the faster you're burning through Phoenix, the less healing is required for you to beat him.

Unfortunately my PS4 was unable to capture the kill from my perspective, but our group's Black Mage was able to capture it VoiP and all. If I were to make a video of Turn 13 eventually, I probably wouldn't commentate over it, since there's just too much going on to explain everything. The only thing I can say about it is that this fight is why I think Square should put a warning on all the healer classes in the character creator. It should should say "WARNING: Healing is the HARDEST JOB in the game". While your tank has to know what cooldowns to use, and your DPS has to be doing its best to push phases and kill adds accordingly, in the end if your healers are not up to the task of properly topping people off and mitigating all the damage they possibly can from the party, then you're not going to get anywhere. The video should speak for itself. (Yes, I'm the loudest person at the end).

While most of the hardcore raiders in the game will tell you, and the evidence will back them up that Final Coil was not the hardest set of bosses in the game, it was still a very steep climb for those who were not ready for the task. Plenty of people are still gated by Turn 9, and alot of people are still looking to learn how to do these fights. I like to look at Final Coils as a hard to learn, easy to master sort of deal. Once you finally get that monkey off your back on one of the bosses, the fight becomes insanely easier to complete on a weekly basis. Being able to beat Bahamut is by far the perfect sendoff I can have with Heavensward on its way. I don't have to worry about beating the game, and can look forward to the Alexander escapades.

Yeti, Mummies, and... Kraken? Again?!

So the three dungeons we got this time were everyone's "favorite" lowbie dungeons Sunken Temple of Qarn HM, and Sastasha HM, along with the previously mentioned Snowcloak. These dungeons came out after the very well done 2.3 dungeons, and for the most part were on par with them. Snowcloak happened to be my favorite of the three, so we'll go over that proper.

Snowcloak was of course the dungeon tied in with the main scenario as stated before. It was three boss dungeon that included some very interesting mechanics for both the first and second bosses, along with introducing Fenrir into the XIV lore. Snowcloak was the perfect balance between speedrun and fun, the mobs died really fast to the right combination of DPS and the bosses were fun to actually fight. The first boss being one of the giant Ice Golems had a mechanic where he would do a freezing AoE, the damage was unavoidable but in order to deal with it properly you had to move before it was casted. If you didn't move you'd get a stacking debuff that if you got three of them, you'd freeze in place for about 15 seconds. Blue Bombs would also spawn periodically, and if not killed fast enough caused the same effect as the AoE.

The second boss, the Giant Yeti, was pretty much a tank, you could spend a good 10 minutes just beating on him and he still wouldn't die. The way you're actually supposed to do damage to him is you use his own moves against him. He would occasionally do a cone AoE that would freeze anything in his wake, which also included the randomly spawning Spriggans, you had to freeze the Spriggans using the boss's AoE, which would turn them into snowballs. You then had to hit the snowballs into the Yeti, causing him great amounts of pain. The more times you used the AoE on a snowballed Spriggan, the bigger it would get, and the more damage it would do. Thus making the fight pretty enjoyable once you got the hang of things, and also satisfying seeing such a large health bar just get chunked so easily.

Fenrir, serving as the last boss of the dungeon, also had some environmental mechanics. Every so often he would knock down icicles from the ceiling to serve as cover, but only half of the time. The first and every other set would be fakeouts that would eventually turn into objects you have to dodge. The second and every one after that, Fenrir would put out an AoE that if you didn't hide beind a pillar for, you'd get frozen, and become a chew toy for the gigantic wolf. All the while dodging the icicles serving as cover. While not a hard mechanic to deal with, can be rather tricky with its timing, occasionally serving as someones demise.

Unfortunately the other two dungeons wouldn't be as interesting on the gameplay side. What made Qarn interesting was that it pretty much served as a commentary for what everyone thought about the regular version. Back when you were leveling and maybe running Qarn for a level or two, you'd be subjected to all of its puzzles. While fun the first couple of times, became a very huge annoyance to repeat visitors after a while. Making sure the stone heads died on the platforms, remembering the combination at the end of the dungeon to open up the secret treasure room. Almost all of it was teased in the Hard Mode, but luckily for everyone who was sick of the puzzles, had a good laugh when the gigantic "puzzle" at the end just turned out to be put x thing here and hit a switch.

Sastasha needs to be mentioned on the sole fact that The Kraken wasn't sated with being a gigantic annoying boss at the end of Hullbreaker. He returned for his grand finale at the end of Sastasha Hard Mode, along with the Pirate leader from the original dungeon Captain Madison. In true form both showed up doing what they know best. For Captain Madison, its running away only to be killed by the last boss of the dungeon, for Kraken, its making what should have been a 25 minute dungeon into a 40 minute dungeon. The Kraken actually has to be DPS'd down this time, all the while you have to make sure you kill off his arms so that he doesn't one shot the whole party with a whirlwind. He's built like two tanks taped together and in the end isn't even the fun silliness that the Hullbreaker fight was. There's probably a better way to incorporate such a memorable creature, but so far Square hasn't found it.

Eight Legged Freak

Hot off the case of 2.3, Hildibrand would make his return in 2.4 with the Phantom Thief now targeting the prize of a great fighting tournament in Ul'dah. What only would make the case more perplexing is the introduction of the infamous FF6 character, Ultros. Ultros, mostly because of his appearance, becomes the new target of Hildibrand's interest, as you go along with him to investigate the octopus to make sure he's not up to anything dastardly. Upon further inspection, it seemed like he wasn't, he was just trying to score with the ladies. As the case progressed though, Ultros was actually up to something, and before Hildibrand could find out what, he tries to stop him with many failed attempts to dispose of the inspector. This would eventually end up in a brawl between You and him, along with seven other adventurers. Yet because Ultros knows when something isn't fair from the get-go, brings along some backup.

The Dragon's Neck pitted you against Ultros and Typhon in a 2 on 8 battle, where you had to fight both of them at the same time, along with being able to deal with the constant tricks up Ultros' eight sleeves. This is one of the first fights in the game to have a fail condition that didn't include everyone just dying. The arena you fought on was surrounded by an out of bounds pit, and if you got knocked out of bounds, you were stunned for five seconds and couldn't do any skills while out of bounds. This actually leads to some incredibly broken strategies around to alot of the mechanics. The clean way to do this instead of that is simple and was totally easily found out by everyone the first time they ever did it (No, nobody ever guessed what you had to do the first time through). So at about 15 seconds into the fight Ultros will turn all of the DPS into Imps. When that happens, all of the imps need to be in front of Ultros, because occasionally Ultros will do an AoE cone that is essentially just him blowing bubbles. When the Imps get hit by the bubbles, they get a stacking buff, when they get hit by three of these, they have to run over to Typhon, who is in the middle of the stage at this point, and punch him to stop him from blowing everyone out of the arena. Ultros will do this one more time before the next phase starts, but this time Typhon will start blowing out both of his ends and start rotating around the whole arena, the imps, and the person tanking Ultros have to be able to move around while not getting blown off in the process.

Your very own annoying octopus!

The Last phase of the fight is essentially a clusterfuck of things going on. Ultros is constantly dropping weights and slapping you silly with his tentacles trying to knock you off. Typhon is huffing and puffing you all over the place. It turns into a goddamn mess and fast, and doesn't stop till both of them hit zero. The Dragon's Neck is a worthy followup to the Battle on the Big Bridge, and is probably the most fun Hildibrand encounter from a gameplay standpoint. Also, when you complete the fight, you have a chance to get a totally cool Wind-Up Ultros! We would also see a return of Gilgamesh, but not for anything too huge. His final moment of A Realm Reborn would be featured in the next chapter of 2.5.

Ninja Ninja Wrap

So with the arrival of 2.4 also meant the arrival of everyones actual main class, the Rogue/Ninja. It was almost a spectacle to behold the moment the doors of the Rogue guild opened, almost the entirety of every server could have been pinpointed in Limsa waiting in line as if there was some sort of new Star Wars movie coming out. When you exited the city, there were so many people in their underwear crowding the newbie zone trying to kill things for their hunt log to level up as fast as possible. It wasn't something you see everyday, if anyone were to start playing the game in that particular time, it was almost indistinguishable from what the area must have looked like when the game first launched. Even if you weren't going to raid or play your ninja, it seemed like almost everyone at that given time was trying to level one up.

They also received a fancier class quest storyline compared to the existing classes. Rogues and Ninjas got to use their sneak ability to go on stealth missions, and the story for the Rogue (atleast of what I played up to) seemed to be more engaging than the other classes. While kind of a bummer to think about is also a silver lining that their honed storytelling craft will more than likely show in the next three class quest chains, along with the existing classes from 50 to 60 (if they do indeed get any new class quests).

Ninjas would intergrate to society real fast, for raiding their utility added new exciting dynamics to the fights. They had Trick Attack which gave everyone a DPS boost for the 10 seconds its up, and their Goad ability put alot of relief on Bards having to use their TP regen song. Not only that but they also could apply the same slashing debuff on targets Warriors could, so if your group didn't have a Warrior tank, then it wasn't an issue anymore. Ninja's Ninjutsu is able to do massive damage if a bard's magic resist down song is playing. In short, Ninjas fit in pretty well, in fact they fit in so well that they unfortunately made Dragoons unpopular for a short span of time. When it was found out that Ninjas were a much better melee DPS class than Dragoons at the time, Square figured enough was enough, and fixed the Dragoon class for good.

In a very insane addition to the game, Square made it possible for you to marry significant others. They launched a service called The Eternal Bonds ceremony, with its own website and everything. The website is there to tell you the details of what you can expect out of the weddings, how much the premium versions cost, and other tidbits. From in the game you could give your partner a band and go on a long questline across the entirety of Eorzea together. Once that process is done you can then go to the chapel, schedule when your wedding will take place, and how you want it to play out. The higher the package you get, the more customization options you get. It was a very werid addition, but a very fantastic one. So fantastic that I myself actually got married very recently, and I got a sweet two person chocobo to boot! Credit goes to one of my Free Company mates for taking the time to record and make the video:

2.4 Done!

That's going to do it for patch 2.4, all in all a solid patch with a minor hiccup here and there. Honorable Mention for this patch actually goes to the Nexus Light grind in the Relic quest. This probably shouldn't count considering it came in a post 2.3 patch, but its a step that almost everyone did in 2.4 and beyond because it came out so late, and the fact that it took 500 Garuda Hard Mode attempts to actually finish the damn step in the questline. Hell some people went insane and thought running Cape Westwind 2000 times would be any better. It was probably the secret worst part of the relic that nobody wants to admit, because everyone always wants to hate on Atma.

As solid as this patch was, I might be lacking on some of the sections because the truth of it is this patch really didn't add to much. We got alot of content, but most of it was hidden inside of Final Coils and Shiva. What I did like about it though was people were playing the game again. Hunts were finally serving their purpose as a helpful part of the game for the people that needed them, no longer crammed with everyone trying to get the same gear and being assholes to eachother for it. This is why I credit this patch more than any other, despite maybe a couple of mediocre dungeons. Next recap is going to be probably the hardest to do, considering 2.5 was split into three major patches this time around, but for that reason alone is why I love it so much. I hope you enjoy this edition, and I'll see you all next time.

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Living the Fantasy: A Year and a Half of A Realm Reborn part 2.3

July 7 would be the day 2.3 releases to the masses of Eorzea. A whopping five months from the release of 2.2. It wasn't by much but this was the longest content drought we had, and honestly it felt like nearly a year had passed since then. Everyone was done with killing Leviathan for weapons, all of the hardcore groups were making their usual rounds through Second Coils preparing for the inevitable encounter with Final Coil, and at this point you were either on board with finishing your relic or not. We were ready to become Defenders of Eorzea. To catch us up with what came out, here's the original trailer for 2.3:

2.3, The Defenders of Eorzea

2.3 was to be the patch that reintroduced PvP to the playerbase in a more meaningful way by creating a story reason for it to exist. The story was a continuation from 2.2, where the three factions begin to battle over the Carteneau Flats in order to procure ancient Allagan technology from falling into the hands of people looking to use it for evil. While that plot was going on there was also something about Ramuh, but that took a backseat mostly for Square to set up the future storylines in 2.4 and beyond. The new dungeons this time around would be The Tam Tara Deepcroft Hard, Stone Vigil Hard, and the all new Hullbreaker Isle, a treasure island-esque dungeon starring everyone's favorite underwater creature, The Kraken. The continuing Crystal Tower storyline would also continue on from 2.1 with the Syrcus Tower opening up, Allagan Emperor Xande would become a threat and you were tasked to party up with 23 other random people to stop him. Finally, last but not least, the very feature that would shake the core of this game... The Hunt. So here were the new day to day activities for everyone during 2.3

  • I have to go to all THREE City States and talk to HOW many NPCs?
  • Does anyone want to Dungeons? Wait Hunts give HOW much Soldiery?
  • Now that the Story is done let's go try out Ramuh! Wait an S Rank is up?
  • Party at Xande's Tower!
  • My chocobo isn't going to explode if I feed it 50 apples right?
  • Carteneau Flats, a retrospective from someone that never did it (but not really)
  • Lets all sit around in a Linkshell and hope someone is actually looking for Hunt Targets
  • Exploding Materia is my specialty

I'm going to be very upfront, and apologize ahead of time if there's a bit of negativity in this edition. In my opinion 2.3 was one of the worst patches to be released to date. That doesn't mean I didn't like any of it, 2.3 contains my favorite Primal out of Vanilla, and I rather enjoyed Crystal Tower as well... Yet the way some of the new catchup features for the player on the rise, as well as the quality of life changes were implemented... kind of ruined the game as a whole for a while. While I overall love quality of life tweaks and what they offer, the way you would go about doing activities to get them could have been implemented better. As of 2.5 they have done this exact thing, but I'd like to take the time to look back and see how Square learned from their mistakes on this patch and came out of a dark period stronger than ever.

The creation of the Crystal Braves

So the story of 2.3, like I said, was a grab bag of a mess. The story started out with the grandson of the greatest hero in all of Eorzean History and member of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, Alphinaud, wanted to take his place as this great figure. His goal was to create an organization known as the Crystal Braves, and most of the story for this patch revolves around this key plot point. Meanwhile the three City States that govern Eorzea were bickering over the Carteneau Flats and making sure that whatever lied dormant left behind by the Allagan Empire, didn't end up in the hands of Teledji Adeledji, a member of the shadowy organization that claims to actually be in control of Ul'dah known as the Syndicate. While all of this was going on, the friendly beast tribe known as the Sylphs, and the more unfriendly members of their society, get their hands on a bunch of Crystals to... well... summon Ramuh, but not for the purpose of destroying Eorzea. They summon him out of fear to protect their forest from outside invaders.

So in a content nutshell, they were able to keep up their trend of introducing a new Primal with every patch whilst setting up the story for 2.4, and introducing Frontlines which was the HUGE and much needed update to PvP for the people who cared about PvP up until that point. With so many things going on at the same time, and certain plot points just stopping for a couple of quests and picking back up after some weird intermission with Ramuh, it honestly was probably the weakest part of the story to date. Alot of the quests had you running around doing nothing to help form this new organization to help protect Eorzea, all the while most of the action was locked up when the summoning of Ramuh begins. The worst part of the story being after the Ramuh fight, you had to go run around Limsa, Gridania, and Ul'dah, talking to a ton of NPCs, and then for some reason fighting Horay Boulder, a secondary character within the Scion's roster.

I guess you and I are enemies for now?

Yes, the story was a mess, and yes it could have been a whole lot better if they could have made it so that Ramuh was its own storyline. Leaving the Crystal Braves stuff off to do its own thing, but with the patches to come it would make sense as to why it was such a mess in the first place. The Main Story is a way to introduce the headliner content for every patch, so separating all three of the plots to their own questline would have been a bigger hassle. We already do enough running around as it is unlocking all the new dungeons and other content that it would have been too much. Luckily in 2.4 the main story would be able to find a balance between its Crystal Braves escapades along with continuing to thwart the advances of evil, whether it be on the homefront, against the imperials, or dragons. For the moment though we were just a bit dumbstruck at the fact that some parts of the main quest were needlessly long, or maybe didn't need to be explained at all.

Kraken, Severed Demon Heads and Dragons Oh My!

So in 2.3 we were once again introduced to the new roster of Expert Dungeons. This time around we got remixes of Tam-Tara Deepcroft and everyone's "favorite" story dungeon Stone Vigil, along with the brand new Hullbreaker Isle. Tam-Tara was the most interesting because of the fact it was probably the first dungeon to actually have a story based off of a really old 2.0 subplot. Back when you were still learning how to use the Duty Finder, the parallel group you were introduced to when you finished the Tam-Tara Deepcroft from the cutscene was that of a group that ended up wiping. The two damage class characters of the group were busy giving the healer a hard time for failing to do her job correctly, all the while telling her to "stop carrying around your boyfriends head". This meaning that the leader of the group, the tank character had passed away inside the dungeon via decapitation, and it was at the fault of his fiancee the healer. The story of Tam-Tara Hard mode revolved around the fiancee taking his head back into the occult infested dungeon to bring him back from the dead, with one of her former party members from so long ago tasking you to stop her from doing it.

When you first enter the dungeon and clear the first group of adds there is a letter on the ground left by the grieving woman, who chronicled her trip down into the depths of the place and left it for you to read along the way. The notes were actually pretty unsettling and added to the overall atmosphere of the dungeon. The first boss was one of her old party members, either zombified or possessed by a creature of the void, and the final boss actually being the demon possessed zombie head of the man himself. When defeated you are greeted to a very sad victory screen where the woman backs off the edge of the platform to fall to her demise. What followed after you completed the dungeon quest was... kind of amazing, all of the cutscenes for this dungeon upon entry to completion can are here in this video:

Meanwhile somewhere on a forgotten island, an ancient pirate treasure laid dormant. A Merchant in Limsa tasks you to brave this island and its beasties in order to obtain this treasure. Hullbreaker Isle was a very interesting dungeon simply by how it was designed. There were actual bear traps scattered in the island that either you or monsters could be pulled into, and there were specifically made mechanics that interrupted anyone trying to chain pull the entire dungeon Brayflox style. It would seem like with every new set of dungeons we would get atleast one that would be the response to either to popularity or criticisms of the last set. Hullbreaker was a clear response to Brayflox speedruns which could be instantly seen by the first requirement being you had to kill four of a certain enemy to get to the boss. If you attempted to skip enemies, the first boss would sit at the entrance to the encounter and knock you away, thus blocking access to him until the requirement was met. The Final boss would be the inevitable encounter with the Kraken himself, with everyone's first encounter being the most hectic thing imaginable.

As the fight would progress on and his actual tentacles appearing, he would start throwing everyone and causing more tornados to appear frequently. Of course with how gear ended up turning out and the fight being able to be completed faster and faster these things never became unmanageable. The Kraken became more of a minor annoyance you had to put up with at the end of the dungeon than an actual opponent. Still, the first time your group fights him blind was a very enjoyable experience, its unfortunate that the charm of the fight wears off after about the fourth time you do it. However even though Hullbreaker slowly became an annoyance, nobody ever truly hated it... The same could not be said for Stone Vigil.

Stone Vigil was by far one of the least popular dungeons you did in the original 2.0 story. It was a very hard hitting dungeon that went on longer than it should, with runs going for a total of 40 to 50 minutes per entry. Stone Vigil Hard managed to cut the runtime in half along with the damage... but this doesn't change that its one of the most boring dungeons to ever come out. The reason why you're sent back to this place is to clear out the remaining Dragon threat inside, and thats pretty much it. The lowest point of the dungeon comes when you fight the second boss, which is a giant armored turtle that you fire cannons at the entire encounter. While that sound exciting, the only thing happening in the encounter is that you sit at a cannon and press either the 1 key, or whatever you have that bound to on your controller while sometimes hitting the other key to stun him.

Even though two out of three of these dungeons were widely accepted as fun dungeons, 2.3 was probably the lowest point of dungeon activity in the game. Eventually they would end up tying the Expert Roulette to a daily quest you could do towards upgrading your relic, but even then the dungeon queues still ran long at any given point of the day. The reason behind this? Hunts, but we'll get behind that later in the blog. For now we move onto one of my favorite parts of the patch.

The Primal Everyone Forgot

After what was considered the best Primal fight by most of the community, Ramuh had a tough act to follow. The Main Story unfortunately didn't do him many favors to get people interested in doing the fight due to his squished in appearance. It really felt like everything in this patch made it look like Ramuh was on the backburner of everyone's to-do list. Yet I feel though that everyone who ended up being in the trenches on day one were the first witnesses to what I think is the best Primal encounter in the game today.

Ramuh Hard Mode was one of the unfortunate hard modes in the game to contain the least amount of information to players wanting to learn how to do his extreme mode. Most of the mechanics were in the Hard Mode fight but didn't really complement each other. It wasn't until you got to the extreme mode when everything was starting to mesh in together. The arena was also somewhat smaller compared to Hard Mode, as the outside edges were now filled with water, something that shouldn't be stood in if you're fighting the primal who controls the power of lightning itself. It was one of the first primal encounters to utilize the tank swap mechanic normally reserved for endgame content such as Coils, and also one of the most versatile fights ever to exist. There were a multitude of ways you could go about it before they ended up patching one of the more popular methods out due to a bug with the Summoner pets.

For exactly one day when it was discovered one of the most popular ways of doing this fight was to use the Titan-egi pet Summoners got to tank the boss. Somewhere when retooling the summoner pets, Square somehow made it so that all the pets under the Summoner's disposal took extremely little damage to AoE attacks, most notably Ramuh's AoE attacks. Ramuh was one of the only bosses in the game that didn't use a single physical attack in his rotation, it was either magical or AoE damage. To avoid the tank swap mechanic all together, you could have the Titan-egi pet tank the boss, but only if the DPS gave him the time to get emnity on him, but once they did it was nigh impossible to pull off of it. It also didn't matter how geared the Summoner was, Titan-egi was a pretty formidable tank even at the lowest of capable ilvls. Gear only added to his overall health, which helped tremendously anyway. After that method went away, another abnormal party formation utilizing a third healer was also used instead of an offtank. This way you could use overhealing to power through having to deal with the mechanic, but at the cost of making the fight a little more difficult. Which is the amazing thing, every unorthodox method used to fight Ramuh actually didn't make the fight any easier, it actually made it more challenging and interesting. Though my favorite way of doing the fight is still the proper way.

To start off the encounter your offtank actually pulls from the side, as Ramuh will open up with a huge AoE that will damage the party if aggro'd from where the group is standing. He will then put lightning circles around a select few people along with some across the arena, if you are targeted with a circle you need make sure you're not overlapping with other circles, otherwise you might get hit with two AoEs instead of just the one, this damage is unavoidable. Once the AoEs go out, some of them will leave behind orbs, the tanks need to rotate every two sets of these orbs in order to get a buff that decreases the amount of lightning damage you take. This buff will make it so that Ramuh's tank killer move will not one shot your tank, if your current tank does not have this buff, he will die, no exceptions. On the second set of AoEs and every other one after that, Ramuh will charm two people, the people who have the lightning AoE must run over to them to shock them out of being charmed. If they fail to do so they will start walking slowly towards Ramuh, and when the circle AoE he does every once in a while comes out, the charmed people will die. The only way you can avoid this is if you manage to push a phase change to make another set of the lightning AoEs come out, he will hold off on doing the giant circle AoE under him as his attack rotation has been reset.

The Second Phase is probably one of the most stressful DPS checks in the game, as you have to keep doing the same mechanics you were doing from phase one, making sure that you kill all of his Mini Ramuhs that litter the entire outer circle. This also means they're floating above the water ring that surrounds you. Everytime he does a lightning move in the water, the water will conduct the electricity, and become an unsafe zone. Your Melee have to be very careful when killing these adds lest they risk the chance of dying by standing in the water for too long. There are a total of six Mini Ramuhs you have to kill before the time runs out, if it does his gigantic room exploding AoE, Judgement Bolt, will wipe the party. Phase three continues where phase one left off, but with an added bonus, he will start to tether two people together with a lightning chain. The only way to get this chain off is to also collect the same orbs the tanks are collecting. So now orbs become even more of a hassle to take care of as you need always make sure you have three orbs ready for one or the other to collect. If you do any actions while tethered with someone you will do damage to yourself, if the chain stays on for too long, it will start dealing more and more damage to you regardless until either you or the tethered person remove it. The fight pretty much stays this way all the way to 0%.

Ramuh was the most challenging Primal outside of Titan to exist in the game. Yet he didn't need any of the bullshit knock you off a platform mechanics to be hard. He required people to coordinate and do their jobs correctly. For a long period of time people would only want to attempt this fight with a pick up group if a voip was available for callouts and communications. Nowadays more people know what they're doing when going into the fight and its a much more lenient environment then it was when it was new. The real shame is that alot of people in 2.3... didn't want to do Ramuh, it wasn't because of the challenge scaring people off, but the rewards you were given. Ramuh only gave out i100 rings and i100 weapons, and only rarely did he drop the weapons. By the time he came out you could get the raid weapon from Turn 7 just by doing Syrcus Tower, and you could get an upgraded ring normally only from raiding by doing hunts. Ramuh was only done by FCs that wanted to do something in their offtime for fun. He wasn't met with the same love Leviathan got, the love that he rightfully deserved, only because he didn't offer anything that The Hunt couldn't already give players for way less effort expended. He was finally popular around the time 2.4 was rolling out when it became evident he would be locking people out of doing Shiva EX. They eventually also buffed his rings from i100 to i110, but it was a gesture too late. Ramuh unfortunately became a minor footnote, and served as an important lesson on how to release headline content for future patches to come.

Syrcus Tower

Syrcus Tower was the followup to the Labyrinth of the Ancients, and also the continuation of The Crystal Tower storyline. After successfully delving into what was considered the basement of the tower, you are introduced to two characters Doga and Unei, claiming to be the descendants of the Emperor of the Allagan Empire. You are also reunited with one of the bosses from the 2.0 story scenario Nero Tol Scaeva, Cid Garlond's rival in the creation of Magitek devices. Together with Nero, Doga, and Unei, you ascend the Tower to deal with Emperor Xande and his three gate keepers.

Like the Labyrinth, Syrcus Tower was a 24 man raid that offered the next best thing when compared to the gear you got from Tomestones of Soldiery when those items were not upgraded with the tokens you got from Second Coil. It also was a four boss raid that boasted a number of mechanics for every boss. Yet like Labyrinth, most of the mechanics for Syrcus Tower were easy to accomplish... except when they weren't. The second boss on the first couple of weeks managed to wipe a group or two only because alot of tanks tend to not pay attention to what they're supposed to be doing, don't pick up an add and put in in the right spot, and then watch as he explodes the whole arena with no escaping it. The other bosses were such a clusterfuck of encounters with alot of the mechanics out of your control. Scylla was the most chaotic simply because she would randomly freeze people, and the only way to bust them out of being frozen was to either wait for the freeze debuff to end or to run a fireball to them to melt the ice. On more than one occasion she will randomly freeze all of the healers in each group and cause a wipe or two herself.

Syrcus Tower would also introduce the upgrade items you normally got through raiding Coil into the drops you could get at the end after beating Xande. You could upgrade your i100 soldiery gear into the full i110 gear it was meant to be. This caused alot of turmoil on the development side. The director of the game Naoki Yoshida, expressed his displeasure that people were choosing the upgrade items over the i100 gear specifically made for the raid as their one item per week. Unfortunately this had become quite a trend in the game, alot of the features intended to be used one way, as naive as it might seem, would end up be manipulated and corrupted by the playerbase. Yet in this situation who could blame the playerbase? They were only doing what sensible people would do, get the highest level piece you could on a weekly basis. After this was implemented into Syrcus Tower the planning of how World of Darkness, the finale of the Crystal Tower saga in 2.5, would reintroduce this idea, but in a much more sensible, and healthy way.

Syrcus Tower also had one of my most favorite moments in the game via a cutscene after you completed the Tower for the first time. It is revealed that Xande had made a pact with some Voidsent to make his empire last forever (or something along the lines of that). When the portal to the World of Darkness opens and attempts to suck in Doga and Unei, Nero attempts to play the hero and try to save them, which eventually leads him to... throwing his sword, that is also a GUN... To defeat an oncoming enemy before being sucked up by the void himself. Unfortunately I'm unable to find any recording or gif of the moment. I may be playing it up a bit, and people tell me it could have been a one shot rifle sort of deal, but the idea of it still being a gun and throwing it at an enemy instead of shooting it just cracks me up.

The Hunt...

So The Hunt was supposed to be based off this system back in FF XI called Notorious Monsters, where you would find these really rare strong mobs in the world and kill them for rewards I am told. The Hunts in XIV worked the same way, you went around the world looking for rare monsters that can't be solo'd and requires a group to bring down, and when killed you got a currency known as Allied Seals. Allied Seals could then be exchanged for vanity armors, minions, and of course everyone's favorite item, the Blood-Splattered Mark Logs, which could then be traded in for the upgrade items for the i100 soldiery gear. This was the ultimate catchup method for everyone wanting to get into Coil that already hadn't been in, and the ultimate way for everyone to overgear for the final encounter with Nael Deus Darnus, the final boss of Second Coil. The events that proceeded this really cool idea turned into one of the worst moments in the community's history. Before we get into that lets start at the very beginning for The Hunt through my eyes on the Leviathan Server.

So the moment Hunts were introduced to the game we were given three ways to go about getting seals, the daily hunt marks were contracts to go kill small mobs and the occasional boss FATE for a measly 7 seals per day, so nobody ever bothered with those. The weekly hunt marks were a B-Rank hunt monster, one of the rare monsters that could randomly spawn in its assigned area about every thirty minutes to an hour on death. You could kill a B-Rank assigned monster for a total of 50 seals plus the 20 you got for getting full credit on killing him. The first two weeks of the weekly hunt mark was the same target, Naul in the Coerthas Central Highlands, and everyone was assigned to kill him for the week. Because everybody was looking for him, Naul became a running joke fast. Coerthas for a long period of time, while being a central hub for FATE parties, also became a cesspool of people making Barrens-esque chat jokes every second about Naul and his whereabouts. When you eventually found Naul and got your weekly done for the time being, your third and final option was to well, hunt.

The Hunt was this new crazy thing people were grasping to understand. In order to find the monsters faster people began creating linkshells dedicating to finding them. Eventually those linkshells grew into giant hundred man search groups dedicated to combing all of Eorzea for the monsters. The way the monsters worked at the time was B-Ranks, like stated before, spawn ever hour on the hour and offer 5 seals. A-Ranks spawned every hour to two hours and offered 20 seals. The main targets, S-Ranks, often had special spawn conditions you could meet to make them show up earlier than intended, otherwise they would show up between a day or two days after being killed. Trying to find out how S-Ranks was a huge phenomenon of testing out different things. Hundreds of people cooking a meal in one spot, hundreds of little minions running up and down a road, things like this were tested to see if one of these would spawn. Heck one of them was even out of peoples control, in South Shroud on a full moon, a Mind Flayer had a chance to spawn. It was a really cool idea at the time until it was figured out that if you could just wait the designated spawn times for these monsters that you really didn't have to do anything. People in these hunt linkshells became lazy and decided to leave the work to other people while they did other stuff. This behavior ended up making some people very disgruntled, and thus the era of regulating hunts began on Leviathan.

So after a while, a group of people decided to start up a linkshell that would end all hunt linkshells. The idea was simple, if you wanted to actively go out and hunt monsters, you joined the linkshell, when you were done you left it. While in the linkshell you were not allowed to give out any hunt information, if you were found out or suspected of giving out information you were blacklisted by the hunting community and almost surely screwed out of future hunts and allied seals. You had to hunt on a healer or tank class, since credit is decided on how much aggro you generate during a kill of a hunt, rather than your overall contribution, a DPS class would kill these monsters too fast for their liking and would ultimately lead in a blacklist if anyone noticed and cared to report you. If you accidentally pulled a hunt monster too early, unless you were in a raiding FC that could do whatever it wanted on the server, you became a social pariah. People would bitch and whine at you, and again you would be blacklisted. Hunts became this cold efficient thing at the cost of its core idea, because people decided to regulate, corrupt, and manipulate a system that was easily manipulated.

While Hunts had created this gigantic community problem for people trying to get gear, it also created another huge problem entirely. A-Ranks and S-Ranks gave soldiery along with mythology upon kills, how many you ask? almost as much as an Expert Roulette for A-Ranks, if not more for S-Ranks, and the clear difference between getting soldiery for doing a dungeon and killing a hunt? The hunt monster took a minute to kill, while the dungeon took twenty to thirty minutes. You could kill five A-Rank monsters in the matter of 15 minutes and cap on soldiery within that frame of time. Hunts, in its current form, were cannibalizing THE ENTIRE GAME. Nobody was doing dungeons outside of the relic quest, nobody was doing Ramuh. It was an age of laziness and shitty behavior, people acting as if each hunt target was so precious that everyone had to wait as the whole server came to one part of a zone and crash it.

This was the important lesson Square learned this patch when introducing this feature. It broke the golden rule, never EVER, release content that undermines not only the content you just released and intended everyone to do, but also playing any part of the game. When 2.4 rolled out it was a godsend, it meant that hunts for the time being until 2.5 were just a second thought. This feature was a great idea, it was in the same vein as the Mist of Pandaria's Timeless Isle, it was a way to give gear to people who needed the catch up or to quickly get an alt class to start raiding on. The only difference is that 2.3 was the middle of the lifespan, when the idea was clearly an off the rails experience meant only for the grace period of waiting for the expansion. As of 2.5 the linkshell that still pretty much manages most of the hunts is still around, but thanks to third party tools and trackers nearly anyone can get a group of 8 people and hunt along with them without the same punishments given out in 2.3. I guess should be thankful that Leviathan only did that during its dark period, apparently there were servers out there with such a tight grip on hunts the only way you could participate and get the full benefits is if you paid the linkshells gil. The Hunts of 2.3 were truly the worst period of the communities around XIV, and I'm glad Square implemented the idea in a better way.

Frontlines, Relic Novus, Chocobos, and more?!

So as mentioned before, to help promote the new Frontlines, it was given its own story reason for existing. Frontlines was the long awaited giant PvP battleground that pit up all three of the Alliances that make up Eorzea. Depending on what faction you joined during the journey of 2.0 decided which group you fought for in PvP. Unfortunately thanks to this limitation if you were to say join up with Gridania, you couldn't queue up with your friends if they were part of Limsa or Ul'dah. You could theoretically switch sides at any time, but then you face the reality of having to level up your rank with at faction again all the way from zero.

So this gigantic battleground was essentially a 24vs24vs24 encounter with a bunch of capture points each of the factions fought over. Outside of that there really isn't much I know about Frontlines as a whole other than the stuff I hear from people that attempted to do it. Nowadays its really hard to get into Frontlines because of the insane amount of people that need to queue for it, and on its release the queue system was actually broken to the extent to where it was inaccessible most of the time. With my long tenure with the game I'm really sorry to say that PvP is something I'm still not sure on anything about it. Yet Frontlines was such a huge addition to it that I felt it needed to be mentioned, the scale of it and idea were really cool.

2.3 also introduced the next step in the relic questline, known as the Relic Novus. After finishing up all your books and turning it into the Animus, you could head back to Jalzahn, who would tell you the next required step into enhancing your relic. It required you to gather another 1500 myth tomes to get a special ink to create an infusion scroll, in which you could use a catalyst called Alexandrite and fuse materia into it. This meant that you could finally customize the stats you wanted on your relic, making the relic the future possible best in slot weapon for the entirety of the game from here on out. The way you got Alexandrite was simple, you could do a daily quest that required you to do the expert roulette, which would give you a special map that leads you to an Alexandrite. You could also buy a map for a certain amount of tomestones, and there was no limit on how many you could buy a day. You could also get them from FATEs, but even Square had to come out and say this is probably not the way you want to do it, the drop rate was revealed to be a near 1 percent chance on FATEs.

The most upsetting part about this step was the fact that when you put in a certain amount of materia into the scroll, there became a risk. The success rate would eventually drop, meaning you had a chance to lose the materia on the infusion, but luckily not the Alexandrite (at which point would apparently be too cruel for Square to do). Yet this meant if you wanted to max out a stat like Critical Hit rate or Determination, it could cost you millions of gil to do so. I myself gave up on that idea and just put accuracy on my relic, which still serves me well to this day.

The real gamechanger in the patch though, chocobo raising. After being teased about it for so long, we could finally have a better way of leveling up our Chocobos, and even change their plumage! Shockingly enough the dying of chocobos is a long and very confusing process, as it works on a very finnicky RGB scale. One key mistake people always made was that the scale started from a blank slate, which is incorrect because all chocobos start at Yellow on the scale. Alot of people ended up getting the wrong color chocobos, and because the fruit required to dye chocobos were tied to waiting for them to grow in gardens. The only way for you to get seed was to spend the precious Allied Seals, thus making chocobo dye food CRAZY expensive. I myself even made over 2.5 million gil on selling a full harvest of U'gharmo Berries on the market board. It honestly blew me away, but it made sense considering gardening and housing was still a benefit only some people got depending on how their Free Companies managed their garden plots at the house.

Mor Dhona would undergo a few changes this patch, alot of the area that became the marketplace area served as an important step for crafters on the rise. Most of the turn in items for the endgame crafting mainhands and offhands became available here, along with the NPC that gave the Alexandrite daily quest. This would be the last time until 2.55 where Mor Dhona saw any further growth. The city was finally past it's growing pains, it was a young adult, ready to take on the world around it.

2.3 done!

Like I mentioned before, this would be the only patch in the game to not have the Hildibrand quests not introduce a new trial for everyone to enjoy. Yet that doesn't mean this edition of the quest was bad, on the contrary it was quite good. Even if it was a two hour long joke just to see how well Inspector Hildibrand looked in a dress. The questline would get back on track with the inevitable appearance of everyone's favorite Octopus. Please look forward to it!

So that's going to do it for the 2.3 recap. As much as I detested The Hunt and what it did during its reign of terror, it wasn't the idea of it I was mad at, it was the implementation of the rewards it handed out. Honestly it even Syrcus Tower a thing people didn't even want to do, and it gave out an effortless upgrade token for your time spent in it (depending if you won the roll on it). Luckily the end of 2.3 for me was a huge highlight, as I ended up defeating the Second Coil a couple of nights before the 2.4 patch, which meant I was able to be on the ground floor of Final Coil. The 2.4 recap will be up within the next couple of days, and I promise it will be alot more positive than 2.3. Hey, every MMO has its growing pains. So as always thanks for reading, and I'll see you all next time.

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Living the Fantasy: a Year and a Half of A Realm Reborn Part 2.2

At the top of the blog I'd like to take another moment for thanking @zombiepie for featuring the first two installments of the blog on the community spotlight this week, thanks so much! I've been having a fun time revisiting the game from its start up till this point and will be continuing to do so. Stay tuned! We still have three more patches after 2.2 to cover.

It would be the turn of the new year, and the new fresh faced Final Fantasy XIV would be seeing its 2.2 major content patch on February 22nd, 2014. A successful first five months and we were already seeing a steady flow of new content being delivered. 2.2 would be known as the patch that XIV really got its footing, it introduced what is considered everyone's favorite Primal fight to date, the next tier of Binding Coil, and a continuation of the Relic questline in its long journey to become a legendary Zodiac weapon. It also introduced the long awaited PS4 version of the game, which me being a PS3 player was probably the most exciting part for me. To help explain further, here's the trailer for one of the best patches to date:

During this time, I was unfortunately still stuck behind Twintania in Binding Coil for the first few weeks. I would eventually go on to beat it and journey into Second Coil, but not with the group that I got there with. This patch was kind of a personal downer for myself, as it took a while for me to finally join up with my current group, who have since gone on to clear the final encounter of the game. Though my personal raiding experience does not at all hamper my overall enjoyment of 2.2.

2.2, Into the Whorl

Now 2.2 for a multitude of reasons was a huge deal, mostly because this was the first content patch where most of the content felt new. Leviathan was a fresh face, and Second Coils was a completely different and harrowing experience from its predecessor. You got your normal additions to the daily routine, the three new dungeons and the introduction of the new Expert Roulette and your continuation of the 2.1 story. Along with that you finally got the ability to upgrade your shiny Relic Zenith weapon into the next two stages of the questline... but not without alot of time and effort put into it. Tomes of Philosophy were phased out of the game to introduce Tomestones of Soldiery, as well as Mythology tomes being bumped down to the new first tier currency. Which meant a whole new gearing process for everyone was about to commence. So here were the things that got you started on the journey once again.

  • Lets all go swimming! Except minus the actual swimming part.
  • Speedflox Myth runs!
  • Raiding, How I stopped worrying and loved the pain.
  • The Greatest Story Ever told, now with more fan service!
  • Let me tell you about Atma, or Only Nerds let Books tell them what to do
  • No Flash, All Glamour

The day to day activities of the entire population quickly changed overnight. People were rushing to get the Story Quests done to fight Leviathan for a sweet weapon, others chose to start the long journey of collecting Atma for their relic weapons. Brayflox took over for Haukke as the most popular farming dungon, and everyone was going nuts with the new Glamour system.

Bigger Fish to Fry

With the introduction of 2.2, Primals became the new headliner for all the patches, and to this date none of them had the same impact as Leviathan. The new Primal on the block was tied behind doing story quests just like Moggle Mog who also received his EX version in this patch, but because of the fact many people were stuck behind Twintania in Turn 5, alot of people opted to do the story first. If you could successfully down the Lord of the Whorl, and with a bit of luck, he would drop an i95 weapon for your class, the same ilvl weapon that Twintania dropped, but for some classes their Leviathan Weapon was better due to major stat differences. It was a no brainer for myself, since the bow was more than optimal than my Turn 5 weapon.

Leviathan was the main focus of the 2.2 story, it starts off with you meeting with a Doman refugee by the name of Yugiri who actually is pretty high up in the food chain from where she came from. Yugiri's character model was a bit of a surprise though, it simply just looked like a Miqo'te covered up with a mask and a thick layer of clothing, but her tail was reptilian, it would be later revealed not to long ago at fan fest that she was one of the new Au'Ra, the race coming in Heavensward, for the time being though we had no idea and just thought maybe she was something completely different and unrelated. After meeting up with her and a bunch of fetch quests later the Sahagin, the children of Leviathan, get their hands on a bunch of crystals and... you probably can guess what happened next.

Yugiri Mistwalker

Leviathan was summoned, and was heading towards Limsa Lominsa with the intent of ruining everyone;s time. A plan was devised to send you with a bunch of other adventurers on a platform with safety rails on the edges to deal with the threat once and for all. The Story Mode fight actually included most of the mechanics found in Extreme mode, but with the exception that the bumper rails stayed up at all times. Levi Story mode also did a significant less amount of damage, and offered no loot. We were a bit baffled with how the weapons were supposed to be distributed because in the patch notes it was revealed the same weapons could be upgraded with an item called the Mirror of the Whorl. Square decided that handing players i95 weapons for an introductory fight was probably a bad idea, so when people started clearing Extreme mode for the first time and got their weapons, the question remained, where are the mirrors?

Leviathan himself was a very enjoyable fight, in fact alot of people refer to him as the best Primal fight to date, he wasn't unforgiving even with the Extreme mode turning the platform into a similar version of Titan's, yet never shrunk in size. His mechanics were very easy to dodge if you were paying attention to the tells on the sides of the boat to where he was going to dive over next. He had a very reasonable DPS check, and easy, yet annoying to deal with adds if not dealt with swift enough. Overall he was pretty much the answer for all those Titan complains, and people's bloodlust towards clearing Titan was sated. Yet, things quickly changed, while people still farmed him normally because they enjoyed the fight and wanted weapons, the one complaint people had was the fact that the mirrors we needed to upgrade our weapons came from him... It just took a while to figure it out because the mirror was a rare drop... a 3-5 percent chance drop. The chance at upgrading a weapon aren't scoffed at, in 2.2 the only other weapons that could rival the easily acquired Levi weapons were the Raid weapons out of Second Coils, and the High Allagan Weapons from the last boss of Second Coils. With the close second being the Relic Weapon.

It became a running joke that the mirrors did not actually exist. For every mirror he probably did drop there were about five Water Ponies that dropped for other groups at the same time. In retrospect it was a very minor inconvenience, if you put the time into raiding and your relic weapon, you didn't really need to upgrade the Leviathan weapon at all, but people merely wanted it because it looked cool with the Tidal Wave effect. Today Leviathan is still done by alot of people for the horse, and since the introduction of 2.4, the mirrors actually drop every once in a while... a couple of patches late, but hey, you can go back and get the cool looking wave weapon you've always wanted. Luckily the Glamour system arrived this patch so technically you can still use it as a cosmetic!

Above all else, Leviathan quickly became a poster child for the Primal encounters, something that everyone could do and enjoy if they put the time into learning it. Every fight from then on out would go onto be in the same vein. Alot of people unfortunately didn't get to do this fight for a good couple of months though as Titan was still blocking people from coming through. Echo, the buff your party gets when failing an encounter but surviving more than 5 minutes eventually was introduced to the old Primals, and they became that much easier. Titan still knocked plenty of people off the platform, proving that you might be hitting 20 percent harder, but that doesn't mean you're surviving 20 percent longer.

The Illuminati is after the Goblin Cheese!

A ridiculous notion yes, but actually not quite as ridiculous as you would think to not happen in Final Fantasy. The story for Brayflox is that a goblin group known as the "Illuminati" is after Brayflox Alltalks, an NPC in the story from 2.0, and her famous cheese. The reason I chose this dungeon for the dungeon recap was simply because... Brayflox was the dungeon everyone ran. While Halatali Hard Mode had some cool things going for it, and Lost City of Amdapor having the return of Diabolos as a boss encounter, Brayflox was the instant favorite for everyone to run, especially because of the relic questline. Why you ask? It could be done within less than ten minutes.

Speedrunning dungeons in Final Fantasy had existed before Brayflox. For example the first blog covered the two Story mode 8 mans that capped off 2.0, Castrum Meridium and Praetorium, along with the 2.0 dungeon Wanderer's Palace also being extremely fast to complete. 2.1 mentioned that Haukke Manor was the speedrun of choice as well. Brayflox was a dungeon that came off of the response from Square after Pharos Sirius. This was a three boss dungeon, with a lengthy amount of adds splitting them up. Yet, it was found out that a geared enough tank and healer duo, along with the two right DPS combinations, could chain pull all three gigantic groups of mobs and AoE them down. Pretty crazy right? Well heres a video:

The clear difference with this video and my explanation is that this group doesn't even have a healer. Yet still was able to clear the place in less than 7 minutes. Because of this and the inevitable discovery of the second part of the relic quest, Brayflox shot up in popularity as the dungeon to run, with people running it almost 20 times in a day. Because of this dungeon the Myth and Soldiery tome rewards values would eventually be tweaked so you didn't nearly get as much from the place anymore, but only when its time as an "expert" dungeon was over. Another reason why Brayflox was also popular to run was it was the first dungeon to drop an incredibly rare minion, known as the Baby Opo-opo. This little guy is still sold for millions to this day, he possibly even had a lesser chance to drop than the mirrors. Which is why I'm so glad I eventually got one from a Brayflox run.

My character finally makes an appearance!

While Brayflox was definitely the fastest way to get your tomes, and it was fun to try and get a personal best on every run. I think overall Brayflox wasn't a very good dungeon. It definitely made the dungeon scene a whole lot more active but not in a way I would have liked. Still, it was a whole lot better than what 2.3 offered... but that story is for a later date.

In Another Bind

Like I mentioned before, when 2.2 came out and the Second Coils was introduced, I was unfortunately stuck behind Twintania back in the first set of Coil. The way Coils works is exactly how the Primals work, you can't run the new Coil until you're able to beat the final boss of the last Coil. It was a painful time to be honest considering around the time I completed it, and all the time I invested into trying to down it prior, I was only able to go about doing it once the Echo was introduced, and the fight wasn't as hard anymore. The group I ran with which was in the Free Company I was apart of at the time, was just incapable of clearing content as a whole, and it took a combination of two groups inside of the Free Company to eventually get a kill.

The combined group... one of them wasn't actually in the Free Company either.

Eventually the good times would come to pass, my group would form up again after this kill to make sure we could all down the fight consistently (which we never could) and went into Second Coils. Shortly after the group would implode and I would be on my own once again. I would eventually meet up with a certain Dragoon that would change my fortunes for a short while, until that group also imploded due to some of the people went to Wildstar and we never heard from them again. Time passed and I would eventually end up with my current group after a long and tireless journey. I've been happy ever since.

Now the main reason I contribute my original group's failures, was because the Second Coil of Bahamut was even harder than the first. The raid content in XIV has always fit a certain style that is very alien when compared to other MMOs. You and a group of seven other people go in to fight incredibly challenging content, meeting certain DPS requirements, and above all working together as a team to beat mechanics. Coil, outside of Titan EX, is about as unforgiving as it got. If one of your party members died in the middle of the encounter, especially during progression encounters, you were met with either instant, or certain failure. Yet there was a very distinct difference between all of the turns of coils and Second Coils.

The first two turns of Second Coils, Turn 6 and Turn 7, were not only demanding in your DPS output and ability to do mechanics, there was also the needed ability to adapt to a changing situation. Unlike the other turns save for maybe a Turn 5 from Binding Coil, and turn 10 from Final Coils, there is actually bit of random chance involved in both Turns 6 and 7. Turn 6's mechanics that were met with the need to adapt was the boss would put three bulbs down on the battle field in very specific spots. When the bulbs are left alone, they start to grow a briar patch that will keep getting bigger and bigger, eventually the size will cap out and cover a good chunk of the arena. Normally this doesn't pose an issue, except there is about a 3 out of 8 chance that one of the bulbs would end up in the middle. If the bulb isn't killed fast enough, a briar will begin to grow under your group, and you will more than likely die if it gets too big. On top of that the boss randomly tethered two people together with a vine, that the only way to break was to run away from eachother a certain distance. If not dealt with the vine would slowly eat away both your healthbars and someone was guaranteed to die. Both of these factors together led to alot of groups wiping because the players selected to be vined, and the overall shape of the arena with the fully grown briars dictating where you could go without taking more damage than you should shrank. Even with those random factors thrown in, Turn 6 was not even comparable to the next challenge for those who were able to conquer the boss.

Now because of the class I played, and the stakes that were made every week during the climb up to Turn 9, I'm a bit biased towards this fight. I honestly think, even above Titan EX in its prime, that the original Turn 7 was the hardest fight in the game to ever exist. What made this fight so hard was that its mechanics were purely designed on you being able to adapt to the situation on a dime if need be. To star off the boss would put a debuff on three people, a tank, a healer and a DPS, all of course random of those roles got it. They had to be able to dispose of the debuff without their character looking at anyone, if the debuff hit zero and they were looking at a person, that person was petrified. When you got petrified in this fight, one hit from anything would kill you. If a ranged DPS got petrified, they died, if the main tank got petrified, he died, if the healers got petrified then the whole group dies. Very rarely did a situation pop up where if someone got petrified they lived long enough for it to fall off. On top of that there was an add that spawned every 20 or so seconds called a Renaud, which was just a giant Cyclops. If the Renaud was let loose, he would go on a rampage and proceed to one shot his target if he got too close. There was no living through the hit either, he did a flat 30k damage to anyone that even dared to step into his hitbox.

The fight from my point of view went like this. I had to, while beating up the boss on my spare time, grab a giant Cyclops as fast as possible, kite it to a spot in the back of the room, bind it to that spot so it can stay still long enough for the healer who has the Curse of Voice to stone it while trying to remember not to hit it even once or it crumbles and we all die horribly. The reason why we needed a Renaud in the back of the room was because the boss would eventually put out another debuff called Curse of Shriek, it worked similar to Curse of Voice, but instead of a cone, it went raid wide. the only way to protect everyone from it was for the Cursed person to run behind the Renaud and wait for it to go off, when it did the Renaud's stoned body would act as a line of sight that would protect everyone bunched up in front of it. Yet when bunching up to dodge that mechanic the ranged DPS couldn't ever be too close, the boss would randomly throw out fireballs to those specific two DPS simultaneously. It was just enough damage where if you got hit by both you could easily die. Thats only covering half of the mechanics too, later on the platform you're standing on becomes a disco, as the three rings eventually turn into floor AoEs that if you stand in when the AoE switches rings you blow up and die. At 35 percent an add spawns that introduces a new move called Petrifaction, which if you're looking at it as the add is casting it, you will instantly get petrified. Once you kill the add, that move gets transferred into the boss, and suddenly she can do it too.

The key reason, atleast as to why I believe this was so difficult, was that your group had to be hitting a certain DPS throughout the entire fight. If you pushed one of these phases to fast or too slow, it would screw up the timing on everything. When the fight starts the timer for when a Renaud spawns starts ticking, and after the first one spawns it will spawn again at the same rate. The mechanic you needed to petrify the Renaud started as soon as the fight begins, but if you moved to phase two at any point, that timer resets, and begins anew. Meaning the possibilities of when you would get another Voice, and when you would get another Renaud, was endless. This is why alot of people opted to use the four stack method, where you just put them one on top of another and keep them all in the same place. If you managed to get four all in the same place you could bypass that mechanic all together and not have to worry about it anymore. Yet if your healers forget to do their constant reapplying of the petrify, OR if you push the phase right as before she's about to cast it, things would go real bad real quick, as all four would become unpetrified and wreak havoc on the party.

Turn 7 could either be done in one attempt, or take up your groups whole night just trying to get past it. Both situations happened to me on numerous occasions. This fight was so stressful to me because I was the kiter for my group, meaning most of our success relied on me doing my job correctly. I'm not going to lie, on nights where we didn't manage to get past it within the first hour I would start to wonder whether or not I even wanted to keep raiding anymore. Of course nowadays with the Echo now flooding Second Coils, and the nerf hammer coming down, the fight is probably now the easiest in all of Coils. From all the way to the top to the bottom of the barrel. Oh how the mighty Melusine has fallen. Players going in today for their first time will never understand the true horror this fight was for me. Simply put, they don't know how good they have it.

My group would eventually go on to clear Second Coils merely days before the introduction of patch 2.4. The Second Coil of Bahamut proved to be plenty challenging for many people. In my opinion, Second Coil is probably the hardest raiding ever got. While Final Coil had fights with steep learning curves, most of its demands were mostly static, as in you need to be healing this much, and you need to be damaging things this much and so forth. Not much relies on spur of the moment game changing situations, but that doesn't diminish the challenge at all. Second Coil is simply just a harder group of bosses... because two out of four of them were total bullshit. Which was proven once the mechanics for both of them were turned down.

I also should mention Second Coils is the only Coil to date to actually receive a "Savage" Mode, which is basically taking the already difficult fights and making them even harder by adding more dimensions to the mechanics that were introduced. This was introduced as a thing hardcore raiders could shoot for after they were done with the normal version. This version never awarded any higher tier of loot, it was mostly for bragging rights and titles. You can still access this set today, and its still as hard as it ever was. So if you were ever curious to how much harder it could get... well look no further.

It's Completely Random

At long last, after five months of waiting and hyping up the relic questline from Square, we were finally introduced to the Legend of the Zodiac chain quest. Everyone was so excited to find out what challenging things we would have to do to upgrade it this time, maybe Leviathan and Moggle Mog had some components, or maybe they had even bigger plans in store... unfortunately to everyone's dismay the actual outcome was met with one of the biggest complaints out of all the 2.2 content.

With your shiny Zenith weapon you would return to Gerolt's stomping grounds in Hyrstmill, only to be met by an Alchemist by the name of Jalzahn. This mysterious fellow offered you a proposition to turn your shiny weapon into something more, if you brought him the right components. In your questlog you were given a list of twelve collectible items known as the Atma, and with that the playerbase began to riot. The twelve Atma pieces you were expected to get didn't come from dungeons or bosses, it came from FATEs. Yes, they decided to go with FATEs... again. Only this time instead of getting it on the first fate you got gold on... It was completely random! It didn't matter how many FATE's you did in a certain area, or the amount of time you spent, or for some people the time at which you decided to do said FATE's (looking at you Japanese Atma Theory). It was a random drop, that decided to drop when it wanted to, and that was it.

You see the backstory behind the decision Square went with for this process was the fact that their other MMO, XI, also had a really long (and by long I'm told nearly a span of over a year) quest for you to obtain this legendary weapon. In retrospect, this infamous step in the questline shouldn't have been a problem, and it definitely wouldn't span as long, except for some people it did. I can't really speak about this against anyone because I happened to stumble across all of my Atma within the matter of a week, but it definitely wasn't met without some hardships. Yet there are some people I know to this day that after a day or two of trying to just get one Atma during 2.0, they simply gave up, and their main class' relic weapon is still a Zenith. They just simply decided to go with other options for weapon upgrades at that point. It was a decision met with so much backlash that Square actually had to rethink the questline halfway through creating it so they didn't make the same mistake again.

At the time though people could definitely see why they decided to go with this method. They wanted the FATE parties of old populating the other areas of the world again. It was a callback to the 2.1 storyline of having veteran players come back to do old content to help out the new players. It was a very fine notion and at the same time they could kill two birds with one stone. Yet... the drop rate on the Atma was what ultimately killed this idea. While the areas were still flooded with people trying to get their pieces, alot of 50s were disgruntled, they couldn't even do the FATE's on their other classes if they wanted to also do two things at once, you had to be on a class with an equippable Zenith weapon in order to qualify for an Atma at the end of the fate.

After collecting all 12 Atma you returned to Jalzahn, who would proceed to turn your weapon into the Relic Atma... and the real kick in the teeth that sent people over the edge was that all the collecting was just... for a reskin! The Relic Atma was an increase in item level, and item level alone. The stats remained unchanged. In order for your weapon to get its stats, you needed to do the next step, which was turning it into the Relic Animus. The Relic Animus upgrade process atleast was a warm welcome compared to the unpredictable grind the Atma process was. You were introduced to a special vendor who dealt in books that you had to complete each section of by doing certain activities. These activities included Dungeons, Leves, more FATEs, and killing 100 monsters (10 of a different monster each, which totaled up to 100). Upon completion of each book up to a total of 9, your Atma would slowly get its stats and turn into the Relic Animus.

This Step was mostly tolerated simply because it was atleast a grind with a target already on it. People knew what they were getting and when they were getting it. Each book also costed you around 1500 Tomes of Mythology, which is where the Brayflox Speedruns came in. Atma was eventually, but not until recently, reworked so you can atleast expect your pieces within about five to ten FATEs now. All that time I spent in Western La Noscea killing those poor Sahagin for a rock, now trivialized because they upped the drop rate. I'm not complaining though, it was kind of fun to see the zones filled up as they were back in 2.0... even if it costed a bit of my sanity in the process.

I am a Manderville Man!

Once again we're met with the Agent of Inquiry, Inspector Hildibrand and his trusty assistant Nashu, as they continue the search for the Phantom Thief. This time around we're introduced to what is considered Hildibrand's Miles Edgeworth, Inspector Briardien. This case would eventually lead the two to the Rapscallion we all know as Gilgamesh and his long time friend Enkidu. Gilgamesh, joins Hildibrand on the case, as he too is looking for something, his stolen Spear (which he totally didn't steal in the first place). This chapter of the Hildibrand side story would prove to be one of the more absurd ones. Hildibrand's father, Godbert Manderville, an actual semi important character in the main story and owner of the Gold Saucer in 2.5, would go onto leave his biggest impact in the game as of 2.2, maybe you've seen it somewhere before this blog.

SUPLEX!

The Hildibrand Questline would also be the host of a very special Trial boss fight from here on out (excluding 2.3). 2.2 would introduce us to the Battle on the Big Bridge, a one time encounter with Gilgamesh in order to retrieve the Spear he has stolen and arrest him for being the so called Phantom Thief. Battle on the Big Bridge is one of the craziest fights in the game, it also is one of the only boss fights that was actually fully voice acted. Yes everything Gilgamesh says to you was accompanied by actual voice work, a trend that wouldn't even carry over to his next appearance in Battle in the Big Keep. Unfortunate, but doesn't at all downplay the overall enjoyment of battling against one of the more famous Final Fantasy characters from the original series.

Everything about the Hildibrand questline is just so absurdly good, and continues to be a great addition to every patch, and this fight will always be one of my favorites. In Heavensward one of my biggest hopes is that Square puts as much effort in to putting personality into more of these fights. Oh and of course, after defeating Gilgamesh, you are given everyone's favorite dance emote, The Manderville!

We're almost through the Maelstrom

In this patch Mor Dhona grew even larger, where there was once farmland, there was now a work-in-progress non-functional marketplace, along with the new Summoning Bells, so now you could access your retainers from inside the city! Rowena's two croneys would now operate out of an actual concrete Stall, and apparently she herself became too good to hang out with them anymore. She would go on to move into her new fortress in the wall where the farmland used to be. More stone towers and buildings would populate the area, finally Mor Dhona was shaping up to be a respectable place.

Along with Mor Dhona getting a new look, so were players. The long awaited and most requested feature, Glamour would make its debut this patch! Glamour was essentially the Transmog feature from World of Warcraft, but with less rules attached to it. Meaning what you wanted to do in Warcraft, like be a silly billy running around in your underwear in raid without taking off your clothes was more than just a possibility in XIV, but an actual thing you could do! The only limit was items that took up two or more slots couldn't be Glamoured over pieces that took one, which meant that sweet Odin armor was still unable to be glamoured. Yet if you wanted to have a pumpkin on your head while wearing nothing but your summer bathing suits, then you were more than welcome to. Once again people were running old content just to get their hands on gear they wanted to use in their new everyday outfit. Which was finally a positive way of implementing that type of idea into the game without forcing you to do it.

2.2 Send Off

2.2 was a great patch that deserved alot of the praise it got. It wasn't without its warts but if there weren't then Square wouldn't have anything to improve on later. I enjoyed my time battling Leviathan, my raiding experienced was a little on the downside, but overall I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in Eorzea. It got me to where I am now and I've never been happier to play the game. Special mention that didn't make it goes to the launch of the PS4 version. Without it I'd still be playing on the toaster that is my PS3 Phat, and after going through the open beta during 2.2 before its actual launch made me never want to go back... until I had to for a couple of months.

That's going to do it for 2.2, this entry is pretty long in the tooth as well but I hope you guys read all of it, or atleast the ones that caught your eye, In a couple of days we'll be going over 2.3, which is the patch I actually wanted to cover the most... For my own reasons, but for now, thank you always for reading, and stay tuned.

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Living the Fantasy: A Year and a Half of A Realm Reborn Part 2.1

2.1 was the first major content patch we got after 2.0, it added a many a new things for us to do in Eorzea, so much that it was actually quite shocking. 2.1 was possibly the biggest patch of all the content ever released in one go. One of the main reasons why was because most of this content was actually pretty much finished around the time 2.0 launched. Which is evident if you look at what was added, and the fact the PvP trophy for the PS3 users at the time was unobtainable until that point. Yes, PvP was an afterthought not shipped with the game, but rightfully so since its first incarnation was rather lacking, and was later polished up with future updates. So just like last time, were here to recap what the average life of a player was from day to day, and the most memorable things from the patch. I myself was busy with Binding Coil, and trying to help my FC raise money for an FC house. So without further adeu:

2.1, The Realm Awakens

So as the video above helps explain, this sizable expansion had a bit for everyone. We got two new hardmode dungeons and one brand new one, we got the Extreme versions of Primals, The story continuation of 2.0 introducing a brand new primal in itself, the Crystal Tower 24 man raid, PvP, FC Housing and more. Almost about all of the content introduced in this patch was met with backlash more often than actual praise, yet even though I had my own qualms with the patch I still have to hand it to them for making it a pretty wild experience, so naturally here's what you were most likely doing when the patch dropped:

  • Story content is just going to be a bunch of fetch quests and old dungeons, huh.
  • The OG Primals have one last hurrah... for a good eight months
  • Summoners are fucking broken
  • 30 million gil for a small house?!
  • Its the end of the week, get your Crystal Tower drop yet?
  • Let's look for Treasure!
  • The peak and inevitable collapse of the challenging Dungeon
  • Hildibrand should have been the main story

I'm probably missing a few things but honestly on top of the stuff you were already doing to get gear for Coil, you had a lot on your plate for a good while. To top it off with the introduction of things like the Crystal Tower you could get an ilvl 80 piece of gear on top of your regular piece of Darklight and your biweekly piece of Myth gear. The game was slowly learning how to improve the quality of life for the average player, which was fantastic if you weren't getting your drops in Coil... you know if the piece you were looking for did indeed drop, but we'll give CT its time to shine later for now we'll take a look on one of the more fun additions to the game... even if it was hidden behind a pretty bad chain of quests.

2.1 Story: A Realm Awoken

A Realm Awoken was the next chapter in the A Realm Reborn storyline, where we pick up at the point we left off after defeating the Garlean Empire to asses possible Primal threats in Eorzea, along with the story NPC Group, the Scions of the Seventh Dawn and their future as protectors of the realm. The story itself was actually pretty decent even if they didn't decide to do voice work for most, if not all of it. It also ended the era of going to the Waking Sands to continue the future story beats. The Scions would eventually move to Mor Dhona where the Seventh Heaven currently is. What ended up being a big disappointment was the amount of work... or lack of work was put into the quests leading up to the inevitable climax of the story. It was nothing but fetch quests, and a forced trip into an optional low level dungeon known as the Sunken Temple of Qarn, one of the infamous lowbie dungeons where low level players new to MMOs would have no idea what to do. Which was an attempt to make more high level players who had been through it before to help those players.

What ended up happening though was a bunch of disgruntled 50s getting angry at new players who didn't quite grasp the mechanics of the dungeon. There was nothing wrong with this practice as it was a thing they continued to expand on, but the first iteration of it was executed very poorly. When you were finished with that long line of crap you were eventually told that the Moogles have stared getting a bit hostile. A group of Moogles known as the Moogleguard would get their hands on a bunch of crystals and somehow magically summon a Moogle known as... The Good King Moggle Mog IIX

Now because this was a Story mode boss he wasn't really all that challenging to the high geared people coming in to finish the 2.1 story. In fact my first time through we had about 8 or 9 deaths without wiping just because we were too geared to wipe. Yet Moggle Mog was something interesting, he was a boss that was completely random. Yes he had a bunch of hard hitting moves and raid wide damage, but unless you could see the tells of the Moogleguard beforehand, which at this point nobody knew about, you didn't know what was coming next. Moggle Mog doesn't have a set pattern of abilities, which made him an actual challenge to the people who were fresh coming into the game, but for the rest of us he was just a fun little encounter to figure out, and to later farm him later because he dropped Moogle themed weapons for each class. The best one being the Grimoires, instead of being the same textures as the rest of the books... they were popup books. This would not be the last time we hear from The Good King, he would eventually go onto having one of the biggest clusterfucks of an Extreme mode in 2.2, and is still to this day one of the more fun Primal encounters.

Two Dungeons... and then there's Pharos

So along with the story content we were introduced to the new format of how we were going to be introduced to Dungeons per patch. We were to receive two remixes of previously released dungeons known as the Hard Modes, and one entirely new dungeon never before seen in the game. The dungeons we got were Haukke Manor Hard, Copperbell Hard, and... Pharos Sirius. Haukke Manor and Copperbell were actually two really fun ideas for what they were, two dungeons we've seen before with either some twists on some bosses or something completely new all together. For example in Copperbell, the second boss in both the level 15, and Hard Mode encounters, share similar mechanics but are handled very differently, where as both the first bosses were completely different from one another in terms of mechanics. Haukke was the preferred dungeon to run for your Myth and Philo tomes, as it was the fastest to complete... And then theres Pharos Sirius. Now you may remember from the 2.0 recap and how I mentioned Amdapor Keep was the hardest dungeon in the game to that date. It really seemed Square wanted to keep a trend of challenging dungeons going. Pharos Sirius was a four boss dungeon, the only one in the game still, and it was known as the hardest dungeon in the history of the game. Pharos Sirius in the duty finder was labeled as a entry level 50 dungeon that new players could clear within the time limit. Unfortunately about 90 percent of those attempts ended up in failure... at the first boss.

While still a fun challenge, and a wonderful idea, it would seem that Square did not scale this dungeon correctly for the audience it wanted. The first boss would usually be all that new players ever saw after their group wiped five times and just decided it would be faster to just find another group to hopefully clear it... or move onto Haukke for the day. What the first boss did was not really that hard at all by any means, at certain health intervals he would summon Zombie Dogs, if left up too long they would spit out an instant AoE attack that would put a stacking debuff on you. If you hit three of that debuff, you would explode, cause damage to everyone around you, and get a vulnerability debuff that also stacked. What made this boss so difficult was the lack of people who knew that these things had to die fast, and back before the nerfs happened to the place the adds had way more health than they had any right to. If your group managed to get past that one difficult spike, you were golden... until the final boss, Siren.

Siren was a boss that pretty much showed whether or not a healer was good enough to go do bigger and better things. Siren after 50 percent health would put a group wide debuff that weakened healing potency by a huge margin, like if you were to be healing in Cleric stance is the best example I could come up with. Along with that she randomly put a party member under her charm, in order to stop the charm from going off the healer needed to top off said player before the debuff goes away, if not the player was now under her control and started attacking the closest party member for a while. If the healer was the one charmed and failed to get it of themselves, then it was more than likely bad news for you. On top of that she had adds that could stun you until they were killed and dealt with.

The outcry for this dungeon was off the charts, it quickly built up a reputation, alot of people still see it as the reason why most of the dungeons we got afterwards were not nearly as challenging ever again. Luckily around 2.5 we started seeing a bit more interesting and deathly mechanics again in some of the dungeons we got, but it nearly took a year for Square to get over this phobia. Will a dungeon like Pharos ever exist again? Hopefully, it would be a shame if there wasn't.

Wrath of the Primals

One of the bigger parts of this patch for the playerbase looking for something to do in their offtime from raiding, was the introduction of what we know as the Extreme Primal. Usually nowadays when a new primal is introduced he normally has a Story Mode encounter with light mechanics that might transfer over, and an EX encounter that represents the actual power of what the primal has to offer. Arguably these fights were originally, probably, supposed to be in the game along with PvP, with the possibility of holding onto this content to help tide over the wait for 2.2. Which wasn't a bad thing, if you really put it into perspective the Extreme primals did their job, and if you were able to conquer all three you got a pretty nice weapon in return.

Garuda was the most popular primal to run because most classes wanted a second ring to go with their other i90 ring, if they weren't seeing their class ring out of Coil anytime soon. Garuda was also for the longest time regarded as the easiest and fastest to run, yet one day during a hotfix something horrible changed with the fight that never really got noticed by anyone except people tanking the fight. One of her tank killer moves, Wicked Wheel, usually dealt with a minor cooldown, and some healer mitigation like stoneskin, usually did the trick. After this hotfix, she was suddenly shredding i90 tanks to pieces. Suddenly your 10k health warrior couldn't even take a single one of these, as they would fall to the floor dead. Paladins once again became the prime candidates to tank it, even with the changes done to Warrior this patch alot of people didn't grasp what they were meant to do just yet. Even with this change Garuda was still the fastest to clear, and most people decided to farm it hours on end for the hopes they'd get a ring, or the fabled Nightmare mount. Which is a Black Unicorn with a flaming gold horn that gallops on the wind.

Of course this picture does not represent my character, but I did manage to get this mount while it was out during this time, before they started giving every primal their own colorful horse. This started the trend of pony farming we see today in the Party Finder. Now this time, unlike the Relic Quest, the Gatekeeper wasn't to be found at his spot on the top of the Primal Tower. Oh no, for you see, he was "ranked" second of the three, and the legacy we came to know in fear... grew astronomically larger.

The King Ascends to Godhood

Titan Extreme, was the second primal you had to fight in order to finish the Primal Focus quest. Now I wrote a whole part of the last recap on how Hard Mode terrorized an entire playerbase for the entirety of 2.0. What makes you think that the guy deserves another? Well the fight became so infamous, Square themselves decided to poke a little fun over the whole thing and recreate the fight using the old Final Fantasy style, which even people not even playing the game at the time enjoyed. Yes, Titan once again ravaged the player pool with what is probably regarded as the hardest fight to ever exist in the game in its prime. It retained all of the unforgiving mechanics as Hard Mode, added even more bullshit on top of it, all the while the servers around this time were at its WORST.

What suddenly changed from a weeks long adventure for a Relic Weapon, to a couple months battle just to clear a fucking quest out of your log became a phenomenon. This fight singlehandedly funded FC houses for all of the Hardcore raiding Free Companies, some of them used it as a recruitment tool. Hell, there were some people who were unable to clear this fight that they just gave up, some people still have the stupid pun titled quest on their active log just because the fight scarred them for life. At the time, this was only to finish a questline that led to nothing but an i90 weapon that was either usable to you or just didn't have the viable stats. Did the difficulty spike truly warrant this? Eventually we would find out that Titan Extreme would be the requirement to actually do the other Extreme Primals such as Leviathan and King Moggle Mog. Even considering that you still had to fight Ifrit Extreme mode to even get to them, Ifrit Extreme was a child compared to the lumbering adult that was Titan. He would go on to lock people out of content until the end of 2.2, when 2.3 was introduced even Square deemed the encounter too hard and removed Titan, along with his two buddies Garuda and Ifrit, out of the requirements to do Leviathan and Mog, cause at that point only like 5 percent of the population was ever going to see Ramuh... Which at the time of 2.3 seemed like it was going to happen anyway, but that's two recaps away and this is Titan's last hurrah. Titan Extreme is no longer the hard fight it used to be now that we're geared up past the point we only need one tank and one healer to speed through it. Yet let it be known, there has never been anything in the realm of Eorzea that caused the same amount of Havoc as him. In fact because of him you could argue none of the Primals except for maybe Ramuh ever posed a threat to a group. On behalf of all the people I carried through the fight over the course of Vanilla, Fuck you Titan.

The Crystal Tower

Now while the EX Primals were the hardcore raiders funtime, the actual bread and butter of A Realm Awoken was the introduction of the 24 man raid, The Crystal Tower. The first wing, Labyrinth of the Ancients opened up... but not without some really REALLY dumb attunement quest. In fact unless you were dedicated like the rest of the server to sit in an area for two hours waiting for a certian FATE to pop up, you were not running Crystal Tower on the first day. Yes, they fucking walled it behind four FATEs you needed to get Golds on, in order to get four crystals to complete a quest to open it up. Square has not done this since to any other part of the tower, this was a very stupid idea, and luckily for us they learn quick on most of the stupid ideas they have, otherwise they wouldn't of kept so many players. Yet still for new players to this day they still have to do the FATEs, on the first day of the patch they eventually hotfixed the spawn timer on those certain FATEs in their respected areas so now its just a minor inconvenience.

Was the hassle really worth the wait? In retrospect no, you see the Crystal Tower is pretty much like the Looking for Raid in WoW, its an entrance raid that drops i80 gear, which isn't even on par with the Mythology set for most of the pieces, and has some very simple mechanics that nowadays actually wipe raids because everyone is too overgeared to do them properly. So in a very odd way Square future proofed the whole place. For the time being though in 2.1 it was a massive undertaking that was very fun to do when all thee of the alliance groups were working together. Sometimes you got a jokester that wasted your time, sometimes it was someone you knew... from your own FC... because he was an asshole.

Regardless Crystal Tower was a very warm welcome to many adventurers looking for gear to bide the time for their other needed pieces. The way the loot worked was simple, you could run the place as much as you want, and you could roll and win one piece of gear a week. While this process works on alot of levels, sometimes it doesn't. All the bosses only drop one piece of gear a piece... and theres about 9 classes worth of sets that could possibly drop. Sometimes certain sets would just not show up, and you'd end up running the whole week only seeing the Dragoon gear. Eventually you'd just give up and take a piece of loot for a class you don't even have leveled up because hey, reset is like in an hour and it'd just be a waste at this point not to take it. As time moved on Crystal Tower eventually evolved into something completely different with its later wings, it helped become a staple in the quality of life for the average player. Which is a good thing, it helped players catch up into Coil, which was one of its main intents, along with serving as the casual's content, the people who just don't like to be in high stress situations.

The Great Housing Debacle

Player housing was actually one of the big features of the patch, as well as the game. I mean like this was the big MMO feature of the year kind of, Wildstar visited this idea, and then Garrisons were introduced into WoW. It was something alot of players of the game were looking forward to. Alot of FCs were saving up a couple million gil just to be able to get prime real estate, mine included. What transpired was probably one of the most misunderstood things we've seen in the game.

As the patch details came out about the housing, everyone got excited to see what kind of plots were available to us... that is until we saw the price. The price of a small house was nearly in the 30 million gil range on Leviathan. Even more on other servers, nobody could even believe seeing Large Houses going for hundreds of millions of gil. People were shocked and outraged, even with them mentioning a declining rate of the properties over time, shit was still expensive! How could this possibly have happened? Well, Square while doing these prices did a census of the actual gil per player on the servers, while their numbers were indeed correct to assume these prices were fair... They didn't actually stop to think if any of this gil on these rich "players" were related to Real Money Transaction or not. Most of the gil in the game, not to be a surprise to anyone, was in the hands of gil sellers, bots. Not even the rich crafters of many FCs had the pocket the RMT market had.

So as time went on, some of the early Large Housing plots were literally purchased in Primal Blood Money. Our FC eventually got the 40 million scratch for a medium house, which in retrospect was a fine specimen of a house. Things have changed ever since they introduced the individual housing, which started its own debacle in itself. Houses are definitely not as expensive as they used to be, but it was a bad time for Square, a very bad not fun at all time.

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Unfortunately for me, or fortunately, whatever you want to call it, I didn't jump into 1.0. Apparently from what I am to understand is that's where the Hildibrand Story originally came from. Which would make sense considering how the 2.1 entry for Hidlibrand begins, as his longtime assistant Nashu is grieving his death and wondering how she could ever fill his shoes as Eorzea's top investigator. Hildibrand is not only the most fun you'll ever have in XIV, but its also serving as the actual bulk of where the fan service comes from. To not spoil future recaps on the storybeats of these, since a new chapter was released with every patch as well, I can atleast reveal that Gilgamesh was the first character in a pretty tight guest star roster the Hildibrand questline had. As he becomes a prime suspect in the case that Hildibrand is investigating.

Eventually to get more people on board with doing this side story quest, as if they were not fun people to skip out on it in the first place, they eventually made these characters into boss encounters and tied them up behind the trial roulette. So if you wanted to get a little extra tomes on the side you actually ended up having to do the quests eventually, but not like it needs an incentive to do in the first place, they're pretty great cutscenes:

The Final Bits, PvP and Mor Dhona, and Treasure!

Unfortunately, you can even check my trophy data on this one, I have yet to do a single game of PvP of any kind. Its just not my thing, it never has been my thing in MMOs to prove myself among other players against other players. In WoW it eventually turned into a rock paper scissors thing. There were classes I could deal with and classes I could not. This aspect of PvP always bothered me and this is why I chose to never delve with it. Also the fact that in 2.1, because of all the horror stories I heard, Summoners were complete bullshit. I would see XIV streams on Twitch with summoners boasting a 90 percent win rate in The Wolves Den. Which I can believe, their kit comes with a multitude of crap that could honestly stop any of the classes from even touching it. I'm just not the right person to ask about this stuff. Yet it was a major addition to 2.1 and it has been a mainstay since with the introduction of the Frontlines. Also the gear looks MAD sick for some of the classes, one day I'll have to do it for the Black Mage set.

Square also added a tiny little questline for a thing we know as Treasure Hunting. The way treasure hunting worked was that you actually had to level up one of the gathering professions in order to get a map. Then you had to use said map, look at the little crumpled .jpeg they gave you in order to track it down, and then go to the exact spot in the area and dig it up. This feature would eventually be used to serve as a step in the Relic questline, but in its introduction was used to get some extra gil, and also offer some of the rarest pets we know today. The infamous Blue Bird still sells for millions just because its so rare to find it from the maps. It is the only way to obtain it too besides buying it from some lucky fellow who's probably found like three of them so far. More types of maps have been added to the game as well as more things related to other stuff you need for certain end game crafting. An even rarer map can drop from the first map, which that map even has a chance of revealing an even more rarer minion than the Blue Bird. For such a tiny addition to the game it gave another way for gil to be generated, which we desperately needed, we couldn't rely on the 200k or so the new players generated everytime they got their first 50.

And last but not least, Mor Dhona. In 2.1 we saw the place grow a bit as more roads and walls were built, some of the tents were moved around, and the introduction of the Seventh Heaven, which served throughout all the patches as normally the go to place for your main story after 2.1 and any dungeons you needed to get the quests for to unlock them. It wouldn't be till later people could actually use the summoning bells to call their retainers without going to a major city... or being a rich FC with a house. Hey, atleast the dirt patch with all the dying crops were gone, that's fine in my book.

2.1 recap done!

Of course, honorable mention to the thing that didn't make it, Ultima Hard Mode, which is now a long forgotten thing nobody really does anymore because... there really isn't a point. Everything you can get from it you can get in better places. It was a cool re-imagining of the original Ultima fight from the end of 2.0's story, but again nowadays people only really do it for specific reasons, it was never used as a pre-requisite for anything. Still cool though!

Thanks to everyone who reads this gigantic wall of blog, I had a little trouble writing it up throughout yesterday and it took me a while to get it up. I missed the deadline I set up, and I'm sorry. What I can say though is the 2.2 recap should be coming with in the next day or two, as we revisit the Whorl, the nerfing of Binding Coil, Second Coils, Fucking Mirrors, and more. Again, thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time.

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Living the Fantasy: A Retrospective of a year and a half of A Realm Reborn

It has been too long since I've posted a blog, but I felt like the time was right. After last week's capping off of Bahamut Prime, and clearing the Final Coil of Bahamut on its last week of being a lock out raid in one night literally 24 hours later I can finally go Heavensward with no regrets. To honor what has been this strange, long journey over the past year and about a half now, I wanted to look back on each patch as they were rolled out, and how the game has changed for the better (or worse) since the launch. From the gigantic flop that was 1.0, to the 4 million player accounts in 2.5 this is how we got here, and it all started with 2.0!

The Launch of something magical: 2.0

To be completely honest, when I first grabbed the Phase 4 beta code from this very forum I was merely only going to see what this was about. For a while, I was sucked back into World of Warcraft thanks to my streamer friend Brandon505, with the promise of we were actually going to build a guild and raid actual content, what ended up happening was the few of us that remained after he went back to professionally streaming Dark Souls was just us slumming up the Looking For Raid feature. Somebody from his community ended up mentioning that the release for A Realm Reborn was fast approaching and was abandoning the best MMO on the market for something that literally had no chance for redemption at this point. Yet after slamming him for his "poor choice", I got curious, I wanted to see this game for myself. By chance I saw in the recent posts of that year a thread for people handing away their codes, and I of course was refreshing like crazy and managed to grab one within minutes of it being up. Thanks to whoever posted it, the thread has been long gone for a while now and you have ruined my life.

Regardless of having the PC capable of running it or not, the platform I chose was PS3 to try it out on. To this day I don't regret it since I still play on console, as the craaaaaazy problems some people have albeit only 10% of the time on the PC client just puts my tin foil hat into full paranoia mode (maybe one day I'll just add the windows license to my account). So phase 4 I started up a Miqo'te on Ultros, since the original plan was to play with all of the duders on here. That ended up not working out because same streamer friend was going to try out this game and everyone on Twitch was rolling on Leviathan. So after Phase 4 I proceeded to move on with them as a Lalafell, since everytime I saw one running around I felt like I was missing out on something amazing (And I was). It actually wasn't a month after launch on my Birthday that I was actually able to go forward with playing this game. Yes I wasn't actually around for the first month, so that part of history still eludes me to this day, but I'm pretty sure I have the gist of what everyone did once stuff was figured out, unless there was some game changing stuff that happened, I may never know!

September 27th I finally started my journey into the realm of Eorzea proper with my friends! ... Or atleast I would have if they actually were still playing. I didn't actually see this as a huge bummer though, for when I started my fledgling WoW career back in Vanilla a month after its launch too, it was by myself. What captivated me back in those days was happening again, I was embarking on an adventure into somewhat unknown territory. Unfortunately with all the years of MMOs in my time alot of it was known, but there were interesting twists along the way to make it a little bit more exciting than your average WoW experience nowadays. Leveling up a brand new character in XIV at the beginning of the game actually wasn't as grindy as you would think. At the time Square did a fantastic job of making sure your level was most of the time caught up with the story quests, which are desperately needed to be done in order to do anything in the game (I had a friend who was level 50, but never did the story quests past Ifrit because DPS queues). Which is an insane notion. While leveling up you quickly learn that almost asking everything about when you get what was a trick question. "When do you get your chocobo?", "Yo how do I access my bank?", both of these questions were often answered with an actual level requirement most of the time, when in reality it didn't matter, it was all story related stuff. Meaning there were even more people like my friend who ran around fate grinding... ON FOOT, to 50, and had absolutely nothing to do once end game rolled around.

2.0, Level Cap, and You!

I joined an FC around level 30, ended up getting all the way to my first 50 within the first week, and began to see what everyone pretty much did with their time in this stage of the game. So around October I was spending my time slowly gearing up to hopefully one day get into actual real raiding in this game. So the thing people did included these activities to get there

  • Entrance level 50 Story content (Castrum Meridian and Praetorium Speedruns)
  • Stealing your relic weapon from Titan when he wasn't looking
  • Darklight and Myth gear
  • Rage quitting Amdapor Keep on entrance when one of your party members wasn't full Darklight
  • Sitting in the Dustbowl that was Mor Dhona writhing in poverty

These were pretty much the five things everyone was trying to do in their day to day activities. Which not including the people already tackling the Binding Coil of Bahamut, which I didn't even see until around November.

So to start off recapping, Castrum Meridian and Praetorium, around the time I got to it, became the fastest and easiest way to get tomestones of Philosophy, the first tier of currency not in the game anymore that you traded in for ilvl 70 gear which we know as the Darklight set. In order to do anything, like get your relic or actually raid, you atleast needed to be full Darklight. So that became my goal, unfortunately because of the fact that CM and Praetorium became the fastest and easiest way to get this currency, the horrible trend and terrible life choice was introduced to the game. At this point you either cared about the story, or decided to skip the rest of the cutscenes in the game now and forever because impatient people rule the group. This is a trend that is still continued to this day in both instances, so to any new players who actually want to do this part, and see this part... the dream died nearly years ago.

Because of this, this also meant the two dungeons that were supposed to be the stepping stone for your gearing up process, Amdapor Keep and Wanderer's Palace were done sparingly. People only did these two dungeons to cap on the second tier of currency for the Artifact i90 gear, Tomes of Mythology. Myth tomes back in the day were set to a limit of 300 per week. Meaning getting anything you wanted could have taken up to three weeks for one piece. Crazy to think we were waiting so long for certain items with the changes they made now. For new people getting into late game you were supposed to do Wanderer's Palace first, which was the easiest of the two starter dungeons. Amdapor Keep... was another story. Amdapor Keep in 2.0 was one of the hardest dungeons to ever see the light of day. There were actual DPS checks in place, hard hitting mobs, intense penalties for ignoring what the mechanics were. This place was the epitome of anger back in the day, only behind the legacy we know today as Titan. People often gear checked if going into the Duty Finder for this place, and if they ever saw someone even without their relic weapon (which is a prerequisite place to complete for it) they would just leave instantly. Amdapor Keep is all but a joke today, but back in the day it had some pride of being difficult, and the Demon Wall had a fun time being King of the Dungeon bosses for a while (He used to summon bees!). All the while these two places also dropped gear from time to time, but none of it really good, with the exception going to some accessories, because you couldn't double up a Darklight Ring of Aiming on a Bard, and as good as the myth ring was it definitely wasn't the first piece of Myth gear you got. It's a pretty bad trend we have today that it continues to kind of be this way, most of the dungeon sets are used for other things rather than to help fledgling players in their quest to do stuff. To be fair though, there are loads more exciting ways to get what you need nowadays. I hope they tweak this a bit when the expansion comes out, to give more people a reason to actually do dungeons rather than to just hit a cap for the week.

After you saved up enough tomes for your Darklight gear, you were ready to go after your trusted buddy, your fated companion for the long trip ahead of you, your Relic weapon. Of course there were TONS OF PEOPLE who SKIPPED THAT PROCESS, and made it a NIGHTMARE for the other people trying to do this legitimately. So the relic quest back in the day was this long sprawling process of talking to an NPC, them sending you off on either 4 man or 8 man content in order to get x thing to turn in to get the next thing. The process started off with you having to beat a Chimera in Coerthas, Doing Amdapor Keep (if people were nice enough to let you), Killing the Hydra in Halatali, for some reason murdering innocent beastmen that don't care what you're doing for a while, and then the original trio of primals. All of this aside from stuff you did yourself, was all actually challenging to do back when we weren't all i130 with Dreadwyrm weapons. Chimera had attacks that needed to be interrupted, Hydra had a Wyvern that spawned that needed to be killed on time, I already explained Amdapor Keep and why that was difficult. Yet when you got past all of them, the OG team awaited you. Ifrit, Garuda, and Titan. Ifrit being the warmup of the three, wasn't actually too difficult. He posed a DPS check today we now don't even limit break to beat, and required interrupts to actually stop him from killing people (which actually doesn't work anymore, but that don't matter too much). Garuda was probably the second hardest, since she actually contained some mechanics that required people to be a bit more coordinated and know where to move, lest they play pinball with the arena by stepping in a tornado. Garuda would not be a bane to players until her EX form, but that's 2.1 and we'll cover that later. For now... We delve into the tale that still sends shivers down the spines of the players that remember these days.

The Legacy of Titan

The third of the OG group, the hardest of the three. Regarded in 2.0 pre AND post fix of Twintania in the Binding Coil as the hardest fight in the game. The primal and god of the Kobolds, Titan. No matter what platform you played, no matter what method you used to speed up your connection speed, no matter what you did, Titan Hard Mode had everyone who wasn't already in Binding Coil of Bahamut's number. Titan was the only fight in the game to that date that introduced a platform with no invisible walls to save you from falling to your death in the center of the Eorzean underbelly. If you got knocked off the platform with one of his moves you were gone from the fight permanently until the group wiped, and if that did happen your group most likely did wipe, again and again. Titan also boasted an intense DPS check where you had to beat up his heart before he did an AoE that instantly killed everyone. With almost every phase change he flew up into the air and slammed the arena, collapsing the edges making the circle smaller with every slam. He trapped people in rock jails that had to be broken to get them out, and after they were broken out had to be cleansed of a debuff that makes all of their attacks hit for the single to low double digits (Which actually STILL gets ignored even to this day). Titan was the King, he decided wether or not you got your relic weapon or not, decided if you got to raid or not. This was around the time were the Party Finder didn't exist and we were stuck looking for people WoW style in the general chat in Mor Dhona, or just going for the one in a million chance of beating it in the Duty Finder. I got lucky, I was in an all Lalafell linkshell that had alot of people doing Binding Coil and clearing it regularly. So I got my relic after a couple of weeks of trying until they made that group for a couple of us. Keep in mind too I was also a PS3 player, I took pride in the fact I could live longer in Titan compared to someone who was boasting they were running SLI GTX 680s and still dying because of the "lag". While I admit the servers even today are still pretty horrendous, I had almost all of the handicaps. I had 10 frames a second, I had the PS3 Phat's terrible wi-fi, in retrospect I should have been stuck for months, like the beginning of 2.1 without my weapon. I got lucky, but with that kill eventually like all content in the game, the pressure of having to do it gets replaced with the relaxation of I got this done and now I can enjoy the fight... if that was even possible for Titan. Because of Titan, the unfortunate trend of selling content became a thing. Linkshells were made specifically to sell clears for people having trouble with the fight. This is how most of the raiding Free Companies made their profits for their future endeavors like Large Housing. It gave alot of people who were not ready to go out on their own and raid in Coils. Nobody learned anything, nobody adapted to situations, the player pool got a little worse. In short, Titan is an asshole, but he was a warranted asshole. He was the trial by fire, something that Warcraft doesn't even do anymore. He was the gatekeeper keeping most of the players who weren't ready out while in turn teaching them how to properly do a boss fight. Wipes should never be considered as a bad thing (most of the time), you use it as a learning experience for the next attempt, to not do what killed you the run before. It helps you in becoming a better player, and is a necessary part of the game. So for us who played in 2.0, we'll always remember this dark period of our lives in Eorzea, but for the ones that got past it could hold their head high for the time being. To know what a threat Titan actually posed in his prime, is a very scary thing to go back to.

Well all that's done, now what?

Well just for the sake of things I'd like to just cover the ever changing face of Mor Dhona. Mor Dhona is the place everyone hung out at before the housing and Gold Saucer were introduced, but is still a prevalent hangout spot to this day. YET Mor Dhona wasn't always the sprawling capital of adventure we know today, in 2.0 Mor Dhona was a HOLE IN THE GROUND. Yes, just for a moment lets remember what was there when we first started hanging out there. Instead of the Tradeposts and Rowena's secret castle house there was a plot of farmland, a literal pile of dirt! Rowena and her group of gear sellers operated out of a goddamn tent! There were no summoning bells here in 2.0 either. The Seventh Heaven wasn't introduced until 2.1 so there was absolutely nothing sitting in that spot either. Mor Dhona has come a long way since 2.0, but its always fun to go back and remember the fact that place used to suck bad, like real bad. The only thing to do there was be a Lalafell and sit in a circle with other Lalafells. (Unfortunately do to the time spent playing a a piece of shit platform I have no pictures of any escapades from that far back). As we move into new cityscapes in 3.0, let it be known that Mor Dhona was the little town that could, it literally started from nothing and became a real hip happenin' spot. We'll be covering what actually got added from patch to patch as well in future posts. Its fun to remember sometimes!

Another aspect I'd like to also cover was the HORRENDOUS POVERTY (Atleast for my server)everyone went through. So for the longest time Leviathan has been known as one of the poorest highest populated servers in the history of the game. 2.0 was a mysterious time for alot of people who didn't craft because... well there was no gil anywhere! Alot of the people who made their gil held onto it, and all the gil being generated was from the new 50s who didn't have to buy anything to get to 50. Gil was a rare commodity, not alot of people had a ton of it at any given time in 2.0. What you got from your journey to 50 was mostly what you got, and the gil you made on the market board came from the same place. The chats of major cities ran rampart with gil sellers before Square fixed that issue and they started operating in tells. 2.0 also was the point where there was no quick /blacklist command, you had to do all of that manually. This was actually a thing that broke the experience of the game for a handful of people. It was fucking CHAOS incarnate, the wild west of the marketboard until it became this highly manipulated controllable thing of the people who made their fortunes in 2.0. The market eventually got better yes, but it never truly recovered from this debacle. If anything WoW shows is that Blizzard knows how to deal with... most of it. Square just continues to let the players manage it, and unfortunately this game out of all the games of this genre I've ever played has some of the most manipulative people I've ever seen.

2.0 in a Nutshell

All Glory to Titan and his Demon Wall. A Long loot grind barred by hard but necessary Guardians of the End Game. People don't really care that they're hanging out in a ditch with no money. Of course honorable mentions that I didn't cover would have to be the FATE farming parties from certain level groups that filled the gap when you didn't meet the level requirements for your next story related thing. The communities of Quarrymill, Costa Del Sol were sorely missed, but 2.1 brought us a great way to not burn out on that bullshit once and for all. I would eventually see my first raid as a co-leader of a raid group into Binding Coil in late November, Early December just before the EX Primals and the way we played the game changed yet again. We'll cover all of that next time though, for this probably is running on longer than it needs to be, especially with no flash to go with any of the paragraphs, which probably won't happen until the 2.2 recap. So thanks to everyone who decided to read this, I'll hopefully be doing 2.1 sometime tomorrow, as it feels good to wrap up what was the best Vanilla experience I've had in an MMO in forever. 2.0 was somewhat of a hot mess of a time but all in all, it was a great mess, it was fun to go through the game's growing pains since the beginning. Again, thanks for reading, and tune in next time!

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So I Decided to Write about Video Games again 8.19.2012

Correct! It's that time again, as I have not been able to keep a steady flow of blogs going at all. Again my main intent is to actually do that, AND on time instead of it being an extra day late to boot. If I keep having to bring that up though I'll start sounding like a broken record, so lets not dwell on my procrastination and incompetence, cause I fucking played video games and I want to write about them. This week I 117% Dust: An Elysian Tail and recap the return of the Midnight Channel. So without further writing anything else for this part:

Dust: An Elysian Tail

To be completely honest before Dust came out I completely wrote off the rest of the Summer of Arcade. I had no interest in paying $15 for a very disappointing re-imagining of something I can just play on my Dreamcast, and with all the F2P stuff I already play and is coming out Hybrid has no shot of sticking. Deadlight being lackluster didn't help, nor does not owning a Kinect, yet when Dust rolled out on the XBLA I decided to give the trial a shot and see where it would go from there. I downloaded it while watching Netflix and it eventually finished up in the middle of a show so I decided to wait until the show finished up. Upon that thought Dust had a different idea all together and it went a little something like this:

>Dust has finished downloading

>Awesome I'll just-

>Dust has finished downloading

>Okay I got it the first ti-

>Dust has finished downloading

>Okay what's going on I'm checking the active downloads why is it only at seven perce-

>Dust has finished downloading

>FINE I'LL JUST REMOVE IT FRO-

>Cannot remove from your active downloads

>GODDAMNI-

>Dust has finished downloading

Okay so we weren't off to a good start but Dust wasn't to blame for this, as watching Netflix at the same time caused a rip in the Xbox Space Continuum that caused Dust to completely go bananas to the point I couldn't even access my account on Xbox.com, an error message would just pop up saying "You're not supposed to be seeing this page!". Well after all that was said and done I was eventually able to take it off my active downloads and re-download it without any issue, and without watching shit on Netflix. Never watch shit on Netflix if you're downloading stuff apparently, or if you want to get dangerous go ahead and do it.

Anyway I got around to booting up the demo and played through it and while I wasn't fully convinced I was intrigued by what had transpired before me. I do love the concept of a Metroidvania type game, even though the only Metroidvania game I ever played at that point was Harmony of Despair, something my friends while playing HoD will not let me forget as they keep asking:

"Hey man you've played Such and Such right?"

"NO"

So after the demo had passed I waited a day to ponder on the purchase, then eventually made the plunge and put down my $15. Now initially I was a little bit bothered by the art style simply because back in my WoW days I rolled with a few people in which the style does appeal to because well... you know, and if they ever found out after all the ragging I gave them about it then well... you know. Not that I don't find the art not appealing because it chooses to be that, but because well... that community from most of my experience has been sexually deviant, including said people I hung out with playing MMOs, which made the Champions Online phase really fucking weird (Don't ask, I was a giant robot and wasn't one of the many Animals or Demons). Yet I don't find this game unappealing in any way since hey, I got past it with Star Fox and the like, why should I have a problem with this? In the end I don't, and besides some of the character designs looking a little generic, I think Fidget is one of the most adorable fucking things I've ever seen (partly due to the voicework as well). As soon as you can get past that barrier, atleast from the outside looking in perspective, the game itself is actually quite the celebration of the Metroidvania.

As you make your way through the game with Dust and Fidget you start running into a lot of what you expect to see in this type of game. Plenty of areas you'll end up backtracking to, breakable walls, wall chickens, it's all pretty much there. Even the game knows it's pretty much there as it is a bit self aware of what is actually going on. Fidget occasionally making an observation on how ridiculous such a mundane task is causing you trouble, the part where Dust tries to wall grab before he even has the Wall Grab ability, the fact the wall chicken is straight up called Wall Chicken. Though eventually you'll see it disappear from the main quest, a lot of it still resides in the many side quests you'll be off doing. In fact if I recall correctly the main quest starts off as "Oh hey this is a video game and you press these buttons to do stuff" to start you off, but as soon as you're out of The Glade it completely drops that attitude. It meshes both tones into a nice combination that even though you'll find the gags breaking the fourth wall a bit still contains it into a compelling story with you still caring what happens to Dust and Fidget.

Even beyond the pokes at the Metroidvania stuff, there's even more expanding beyond SotN style Castlevania and of course the friends, which by now you should know are mostly comprised of fellow XBLA indie game characters like Meatboy. As you go about finding and freeing them from their cages, you'll be awarded with a permanent health boost, and if you can collect all 12, a nice surprise at The Sanctuary awaits you. All of these things make this game have a whole lot of charm and it most certainly helps you get through it a bit because even though playing on Tough, there really isn't that much of a challenge once you get the Aerial Dust Storm and the rest of Fidget's spells. The crafting system also seems to be a little bit less than desired as I actually ran through 70% of the game without having to switch out the augment on my sword, not because I chose to, but because I never really found a good upgrade outside of what I had. The Difficulty curve eventually does kick up a little bit as there will be enemies that eventually block your attacks, but they're way too late to the party as you should be able to have Fidget electrocute pretty much anything that gets in your way. If you didn't have the Aerial Dust Storm the game would require you to actually do more work, it even makes a few of the other movement abilities useless just because of the distance you can cover with it. Aside from some of the problems this game has, I can proudly say I enjoyed this game from start to full completion, and if you can give the game a look, it's been one of my favorites this year by far. Also the people who provided the voicework for this game should receive more work after Dust, a lot of these dudes have been on Newgrounds for the longest time, and it'd be nice to start expanding the talent pool on voiceovers. Not to bag on the professionals, but everyone is starting to sound the same in video games, and that honestly creeps me out than animal people at this point.

Bearsona 4 Arena

Me and my friends were waiting for this game pretty much the first day we found out about it. Cause goddamn, we liked BlazBlue, but fuck most of the cast, fuck the crazy unbalanced tiers, and pretty much for me fuck everything but Makoto at this point. The return of the Persona 4 crew along with Akihiko, Mitsuru and Aigis pretty much just trumps anything Arc can do with the next BlazBlue at this point, not even adding a trap will save them this time. So enough with the badmouthing of BB and onto the return... The Return of the Midnight Channel.

Almost everyday for me aside from trying to clear Dust has been spent in Persona 4 Arena. Pretty much just training up and learning all that I can with my main man Teddie. Yeah if you couldn't tell from the title I decided to main Teddie, but I did so kind of begrudgingly at first. I was extremely interested in him prior because in fighting games, I LOVE gimmicks. Gimmicks may not win matches reliably but goddamn it its fun to catch someone with one, and Teddie is just chalk full of that stuff. Yet... What the fuck was Dave Wittenberg so busy with that he couldn't come back and breathe life into the character again? My main issue with Teddie is unfortunately the fact that he's voiced by Yuri Lowenthal, the same gent who already does Yosuke. I normally do like Yuri's voice, but his attempt at Teddie, after going back to regular ass Persona 4, honestly feels a little half-assed, and if it wasn't for the fact that I can't just turn Teddie's VO Japanese by itself means I'm just gonna have to deal with it. I mean, he's still that totally awesome bear, but when did Yosuke learn to throw his voice in a matter of two months?

Personal problems with Teddie aside he's an incredibly fun character to play. Fast, throws items, his bat, Kintoki Douji messing up people in the air, makes a lot of my friends very unhappy if I actually win. Unfortunately for me whenever we do get into a fighting game I'm about almost below on the totem pole in terms of actual play. My friend is a bit higher than me in terms of play level (to make matters worse is that he also plays Kanji, so basically just doing the same Tager shit he did in BB but with better tools), and all of his friends are pretty much above him, with one of them having fucking natural talent with whatever character he plays. I guess it could be worse though, I could still be mashing the autocombo. As I play with them more I do end up learning a lot more everytime, so with that I have been able to step up my game a bit with execution in online matches.

The other interesting thing about P4A has been it's story mode, as many who have played it should know is canonical with the events of P4. It's also clear to me that Arc System Works must have had no part in writing this story mode because given their past track record of story modes a lot of it is nonsensical bullshit. If they did though, good job, they didn't resort to time travel to fuck everything up. I haven't actually completed everyone's story, with Yukiko, Yu, Akihiko, and Aigis still untouched. I have no idea if there's some sort of post game after you do complete everyone's story, but if there isn't, everyone's own story just kind of feels weird as they cap themselves off. Mostly because of the fact the character you're playing has to get to the end in a different way, it makes some of the the characters feel off in the end, especially with Yu as he has to play backseat with everyone despite being the leader. In the end though its still a kick to see what the gang is up to before the inevitable clean slate with Persona 5. I'll probably be playing this game for a long time, probably even longer than BB:CS, cause hey, the cast doesn't suck this time.

The End!(?)

As this week comes to a close a whole new plethora of games are heading our way, it is that time again people, video game season. Next week I got some Fall of Cybertron to look forward to along with the regular sparring of P4A, maybe get back to Orcs Must Die 2 in the process. For now though, lets just take a moment and welcome back video games. Also I should probably work out my schedule for PAX, cause that's in two weeks, fucking insane just thinking about it!

SEE YOU GUYS LATER.

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So I decided to write about Video Games a month later 7.28.2012

Hello and welcome back to something I've been procrastinating for about what the title says. I apologize, mostly because everything I was playing or getting myself into hasn't been too interesting to write about or share, but this week is different! In this edition of writing about Video Games, I take a quick visit into Grimrock, and say my final farewells to The Binding of Isaac, while somewhere in the middle of that talk about how I just got on the "I played Shadow of the Colossus" bandwagon. So without further explaining the gameplan in the intro let's get to it!

Legend of Grimrock, OR The Adventures of Manish Man the Minotaur

So during the Steam Summer Sales I was actually very uninterested in many of the deals. You see I don't tend to go off the handle like some people I know if I just happen to see Crysis 2 for 75% off, or some horse breeding game that happens to be a dollar. I tend to usually only buy up games I actually plan on playing at some point in time. I missed the first 60% off of Grimrock, and made my mind up too late on agreeing I'd buy it at $6. Lucky for me the Community agreed and voted it during the community choice, so without skipping a beat I went ahead and purchased it. So as you know from the Quick Look, Grimrock is one of those first person dungeon crawling RPGs that don't show up very often nowadays. You and three other prisoners that you also customize try to escape the labyrinth that is Grimrock, or I assume that is what you're trying to do. Along the way you're ambushed by monsters and forced to outsmart the deadly traps and puzzles to reach your goals. So in a very Adventure Time-y fashion like I did in Dragon's Dogma, I made my leading character a Minotaur and dubbed him "Manish Man". I have no idea why this children's show has effected my character creations as of late, but I won't question it. Unfortunately in my stupor I forgot to name the other three amigos in my band of merry men and are now stuck with "The Adventures of Manish Man and the Three New Prisoners". I'll just pretend they aren't as important.

It's the part from the Quick Look!

So I am actually currently up to the part seen in the Quick Look and are having a complete blast with what has been thrown at me so far. Even though I had early issues like "Oh man why do I have this Lizardman Rogue he can't even hit anything back there" and "How do I cast my goddamn spells with this archaic calculator". Once eventually got around to figuring out both problems everything has been going alot smoother, but I have to say I haven't been stuck on a game for a whole day like this one in a long time. Due to the game never telling me I could actually fit items through gates made me feel like a complete fool, but every time I tried doing it prior I wasn't able to do it. What, was Toorum too busy with escaping he couldn't leave a note behind to help out? Whatevs man, I'll figure out the rest for myself. So yeah, only four hours into it, and looking forward to getting deeper into it. Legends of Grimrock has been worth every dollar, all six of them.

In this world gone mad, we won't do the Mushrooms, the Mushrooms will do us.

Shadow of the Colossus

Yeah, it's Summer, so I found it necessary to get onto that back catalog of games I needed to play from last year. It just so happened the ICO collection happened to be VERY available, and due to me actually watching some Shadow of the Colossus online via stream or random Youtube Let's Play, it was time. I booted it up, watched the intro, got on my horse, and then began to learn how to ride this horse. This game is one gigantic learning experience, one might even say a COLOSSAL one. Even having gotten 15 Colossi deep I still can't control this motherfucker correctly. Regardless, once I got a "grip" on how to control this beast I made my way to the first Colossus in order to stab him in his weak spot. I have no idea if this is what is intended for most people when they play it the first time, or if it was just me being rarely inept at a video game, I couldn't for the life of me control this game correctly. Holding R1 to stay gripped to things, jumping with Triangle, X not really doing anything with the sword out except for that one Colossi so far, the d-pad I didn't even realized cycled to your bow. Every Colossi up until maybe the fourth one caught me with my pants down. Video Games have not done this to me in forever, and I felt ashamed, but somehow in a good way. For once, a game was mixing stuff up, it wasn't straight forward from the get-go. Like I've said, this game is quite the learning experience, and so far even though the whole point has been "Stab their weak spot" each one has had a different way of going about it. Every time I start up this game I just have a hard time believing this game existed on the PS2, even though it's graphically not there it's somehow not feasible to me that this game was not on a current generation console to begin with.

So far out of the 15 Colossi I have encountered my favorites have been The Underwater and Sand Dune Colossi. I was just amazed at the sheer scale of both of the fights, hanging on to dear life while he whizzes through the water like a Torpedo, or running away on horseback while trying to shoot it's eye out. The Colossi and their respected environments make for great battles and set pieces. I do not regret holding out this long to try out one of the great games of that 05' lineup, because the way this has been set up for me, it was a game I just needed to play as of this week. Hopefully soon The Last Guardian will see the light of day, but until then I still have Shadow of the Colossus, and even after that ICO. (If ICO is anything like SotC though, I'm not looking forward to rewiring my brain to learn how to control that game... ugh)

The End of The Binding of Isaac

To anyone who has been paying attention to my achievements, you might have noticed I have ascended into the Pantheon. I am a Platinum God, and it feels good. Throughout the month of July I was absolutely hooked into 100% this game, from playing everyday to watching dudes stream it it pick up more pro strats, the deed had been finally done, as I made my final descent into Hell with Maggy to end it all. This was one of my favorite games of 2011 and I wanted to prove it by doing every little thing. Collecting all of the items, doing all of the challenges (even the insane Purist one), and clearing the Chest with the whole cast. I can finally move on, and retire Isaac for good. As I made my last run with Maggy into Sheol, the last thing I supposedly needed to do, I stumbled across Epic Fetus in the basement. The game showing one act of humility to me, as if it were a message to me saying "You've paid your dues". It wasn't some reluctant handshake and swift boot out the door, it wasn't some cruel joke to get me killed and force me into run after run with Maggy. It was a graceful finish that Isaac wanted, and I delivered it.

I'll miss this game, and its antics. I'll miss doing all the pro strategies like abusing Eve's invincibility frames, using The Chariot card to get a free item out of the sacrifice rooms. It was a hell of a ride. Thank You Isaac, and thank you Edmund, my friends and I have cursed your name in disgust to the bullshit many times, but without all of that, we wouldn't have had half the fun we had in the basements.

The End!(?)

Well that about sums up what happened for this week, and even then two out of the three games I have started are not done yet. Again I apologize to myself and anyone, I totally wanted to make this a weekly thing, but sometimes interesting things do not happen or inspire me to recap an adventure in a blog on the internet. So hopefully starting this week I can get back into the swing of things and write up more stuff, but for now:

SEE YOU GUYS LATER.

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So I decided to write about Video Games 6.23.2012

Hello and welcome back to me deciding to write about video games. Now if you were paying attention last week, there was no content. Well, thanks to the US Postal Service being the US Postal Service, I did not get the two games I've been promising for the longest time in time to actually play them enough to know what I wanted to say about them. So with that I got down to it and decided to postpone the blog into the week we are currently in. This week is a doozey of a week though, I promise! So without further writing an intro:

Lollipop Chainsaw

Now me wanting to play this game was more of an impulse since there wasn't anything out that I was currently busy with. I completely missed Shadows of the Damned last time this happened because of that, but thanks to it being the season of no games I was able to set my sights on Lollipop Chainsaw. Now I actually have regularly been in and out of Suda51 joints al a No More Heroes, and I thoroughly enjoyed that series a lot, going into this I decided to set my expectations onto the same level as that, and to be frank the game gave me a pretty good impression. I must be one of the only people on the planet that doesn't find Juliet the least bit annoying. It's probably because I'm a huge Tara Strong fan, cause I guarantee you if she wasn't in that role I'd be on the boat with everyone else. Juliet and Nick have some hilarious dialog throughout each level and because of that the clunky combat is bearable for the time you don't have any damage dealing combos. I pretty much ran through the game with little to no problems, and then the game started to hate me.

Now as some of you may know from the first blog I wrote I've been rather attracted to Score Attack styled modes after Max Payne 3, and Lollipop Chainsaw gives me three ways to play. Score Attack, Time Attack and Medal Attack, I normally pick Medal Attack for personal reasons. Now there is nothing fundamentally wrong about any of these modes, there's even skippable cutscenes! Yet even though they're skippable I would advise against it. I have no idea if this is just on my end, but remember how in Max Payne 3 you couldn't skip the cutscenes since the game was using them as loading screens? Well In Lollipop Chainsaw you are free to skip the cutscene, but the consequence is that later on it will catch up to you. You'll start noticing textures are failing to load up on everything, the game will start stuttering, and there will be more and more segments split up by loading screens. Until eventually you will run into ONE of these loading screens, and never emerge from it again. So when this started happening I decided to try and install the game to see if it would remedy the problem. I loaded up the game, only to be welcomed by even longer load times, even more so at boss fights than anywhere else. Like right before the Mariska fight I was welcomed by a nine minute load screen. On Josey I was greeted by a 10 minute load screen. You're more than welcome to head back to the dashboard some of the time if the game doesn't decide to hang that as well. If you do that during a Score Attack run though, in Score Attack fashion you're forced to give up your progress.

I pretty much threw my hands up in the air at that point and shouted "Japanese Video Games!". Seriously though how does a game get out of development and have such problems? Again this could just be on me and my Harddrive, but I've been playing Dragon's Dogma in the middle of all of it and I have had no issues with that game at all. If it wasn't for the terrible load times and some repeated gags (I just HAD to mention the second Combine sequence, what a fucking WASTE of time), I would have thought this was a pretty good game that was actually worth the purchase, but in the end I'd have to agree with the Quick Look, it's just not Suda51 enough. If you could get this game at a pretty reduced price I would still recommend you try it out, since I still think the Dialog Nick has in the game is priceless. I just wonder how long its going to take to get a decent Score Attack mode in one of these games that doesn't have glaring issues with its forced load times, or its skippable cutscenes breaking the fucking game.

Dragon's Dogma

Yes! The game I've been waiting for a little over a month finally showed it's head, and I was pretty psyched. In the demo I had a lot of fun making my would-be character ranging from Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force to Duke Nukem, but then I found out I could make him a little boy. So naturally like ALL of my RPG characters dating back to Dark Souls, I was able to make an actual sized Finn from Adventure Time. So before I even started my game I was pretty goddamned impressed. After the prologue with the Chimera and not playing as my character, I finally got to play as my character just in time for HOLY SHIT LOOK AT THAT DRAGON. THAT IS A DRAGON. THAT REALLY BIG HULKING THING DESTROYING EVERYTHING IS WHAT A DRAGON IS. Unlike another game that had Dragons in it, THIS GAME UNDERSTANDS WHAT A DRAGON WAS SUPPOSED TO BE. It fits in perfectly with how the Monster Manual describes one, the Dragons in that one game everyone loves were the size of Wyverns, and even Dragon's Dogma does Wyverns much better than that. So after that pitiful attempt to try and slay that magnificent creature, he takes my heart and that's where the true Dragon's Dogma(s) begins.

So after you lose your heart you're introduced to a fellow called a pawn, which is one of the big features of the game. You're allowed one pawn to customize and that pawn can go into other peoples games and collect knowledge about the world and future quests you may embark upon. Now if this game were to allow me to make a Dog pawn this would have been an early contender for GotY. Along with your main pawn you're also allowed two pawns you can summon from other peoples games, which actually led to me borrowing a friend's pawn for healing duties. Unfortunately that's not all she was stuck doing. While in The Catacombs we happened to embark on an Ogre, and Ogres in this game have got to be the funniest thing I've seen so far this year. As we tried to encounter it, my friends pawn decided to cast a spell catching the attention of the Ogre. They... have an extreme attraction to female characters, so in typical Ogre fashion he FLIPS THE FUCK OUT and starts pounding the ground and slobbering everywhere. He the proceeded to jump in the air, travel ten feet in a dropkick motion, and dropkick my friend's pawn halfway across the cavern. The Ogre thought that this was such a good idea, he got up, and did the exact same thing, sending the pawn even further and ricochet off of a wall. Even though there is still half of the year to go, I have to vote this son of a gun for Enemy of the Year.

While Dragon's Dogma does combat and enemies pretty well, I actually feel that there's just not a lot to do in the game. There hardly seems to be alot of those Pre-Planned quests in between the more involving main quest, and the notice board stuff seems to be the typical trope of "go find x number of items" or "go kill x amount of enemies". I found myself more or less trying to explore the world in order to find hidden stuff, hoping there would be more, but that never seems to be the case. While there's still the ambush sidequests from time to time, they aren't what I was exactly hoping for. I guess I'm just looking for more stuff like The Duke choking his wife shouting out "LENOOOOOOOOORE!". Geez Bill, get your shit together.

The Super Monday Night Combat Corner!

There wasn't any!

... I hear it's part of the TF2 ARG I guess.

The End! (?)

Okay so it's been a pretty uneventful two weeks, and I pretty much dreaded writing this up because of it. Hopefully next week I can get around to Lone Survivor finally and Rain-slick Precipice 3 and have more to type about. Maybe Diablo 3, but from what I've ran through so far by myself there really isn't much to talk about besides the game being a massive dick and giving me nothing but BLUES on NIGHTMARE DIABLO... Maybe there's more to what I've experienced than I thought. Anyway That'll conclude this week:

SEE YOU GUYS LATER.

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So I decided to write about Video Games 6.9.2012

Hello and welcome to this edition of me writing about video games. Last week as you all know was E3, so a lot of new things came to be. While the show itself was underwhelming (which shouldn't be surprising with it getting down to the end of the current cycle) there were still games out there that looked like they deserved to be talked about. So this week I bring to you some of the games that interested me, interested you, and above all made the show more interesting. So to begin, I'm going to kick it off with a game I have been waiting for since 2004. A game that was teased throughout this generation but never actually revealed up until now:

Pikmin 3

The return of Pikmin is close at hand with the launch of the Wii U this year, and the announcement that officially made this game a thing has me by the neck. I have been a huge Pikmin fan since the original game back during the GameCube launch. I had been anticipating more since the release of Pikmin 2 during 2004, but Olimar and the Pikmin have been out of action since, only making one appearance in Smash Brothers as a combatant. With only the Overlord games coming close to the original formula, there hasn't been one of these kinds of games in over eight years. With a lot of new features already shown in the press conference, it seems like this game still has many things we don't know about it as of yet. Where is Olimar? How many new types of Pikmin will accompany the new Rock Pikmin? What's the story behind the four leader characters? Hopefully all these questions will be answered within the coming months, but for now, I'm just glad this game is coming out. I'm not looking forward to spending $250-300 just to play one game, but with Pikmin, I just know that it'll be an experience that people shouldn't miss.

Need For Speed: Most Wanted

Now I have not played a single Need For Speed game, not even the first one Criterion had a part in. Yet I have played plenty of Burnout games in order to be excited for this one. An open world environment, somewhat destructible cars, smashing through billboards, this has all the stuff to make itself the rightful successor of Burnout Paradise. Even if my only hands on experience with Paradise was only very long stretches with the demo, I could safely say that no game has been able to lock me into a small sample of itself for so long, for multiple days even. After seeing this game I should probably make it a priority to get my hands on it after all these years, cause it clearly deserves it. I wish I had a bit more to say about it, but like I said this will be my first take into the Need For Speed franchise. Even though my expectations are high and I know a bit of what I'm going to get I'm not entirely sure how to put it into words from an outside looking in perspective. All I know is from the first reveal at the conference, and what I saw in that footage, this has to be a day one pick up.

The Last of Us

Yes, I had to use it no matter how

There's really only one way to sum up the demo during the conference, that dude has no face left. We finally got to see The Last of Us in action this E3, and boy did it look pretty good. While watching the demo, I couldn't really help but notice some of the Uncharted similarities I saw, but all of those were blown out of the water as soon as the conflict with the other dudes happened. My god, compared to all the guys you light up in the Uncharted games it seems like a group containing only three to four guys can be just as deadly in this game. I do expect to see a lot of the missed execution from I Am Alive to be achieved when this game eventually rolls itself out whenever it does. The way that Joel interacts with the environment during fist fights seemed to also get kicked up a notch from Uncharted, as I was not expecting him to bash the enemy's head into that end table, and my eyes literally lit up when that scavenging menu popped up when the player made that Molotov on the fly like that. There is a lot of tools it seems in and out of combat to get you into or out of a lot of situations. While there wasn't any character banter between Joel and Ellie, I am not distressed due to all of the other reports of the extended demo. A while back I said I wanted another trip into Uncharted with Nathan Drake, I no longer want that trip if this is what Naughty Dog's future looks like.

Watch Dogs

Going into the Ubisoft conference, I was not expecting a lot. Rayman Legends becoming a thing, more AC3 coverage. I just about had no interest after the incident with a good looking game gone bad, Shootmania happened (doesn't change my view that Shootmania looks really good). Then... Watch Dogs happened. This thing was accompanied by the most Syndicate trailer I have ever seen. When they were talking new IP, I figured there was no way Ubisoft had anything left, they were totally not going to show what this thing was about. Then... They totally showed what this thing was about. What followed seemed to be a very modern day Assassin's Creed. A guy in a trench coat that had these incredible hacking skills manages to get into this club, and gather information. Some cool things happened, like when he was looking around it was showing things about people that other people really shouldn't know. There was a guy with a QR code for a face that actually led to something in real life. All of this stuff looked great and the game looked really great, but then THIS happened:

A mental red flag

So naturally a good way to get information in a game like this would be to hack into devices and listen into conversations. Unfortunately for me I was suddenly flashed back to a scene where Altair sits down on a bench and eavesdrops on a conversation between two dudes in order to get information on his target. That one thing in Assassin's Creed 1 has scarred me for life, and with that I cannot get these doubts out of my head for this game. Now I know nothing about how the mission structure of the game is or how you go about progressing in it, I still can't escape this idea that Watch Dogs could be to it's possible franchise like how Assassin's Creed 1 is to the Assassin's Creed franchise in general. I probably should be putting my skepticism into other things like the game being another shooter or the bullet time, but something about eavesdropping conversations has just left a bad taste in my mouth. While I still am interested in this game for what seems to be offered, I'm not going to let myself get burnt like Assassin's Creed 1. Color me cautious for this new Ubisoft game.

Beyond: Two Souls

Now knowing Quantic Dream, this thing really isn't going to be much of a video game, but due to the amount I actually liked Heavy Rain, I'm looking forward to "playing" this new one. Most of my love of these games comes from me playing them with one of my friends, which unfortunately me not being around the same area as him anymore may hinder the experience a bit. Yet one of my fondest moments from Heavy Rain came from watching my friend go through it in one sitting. Seeing what he picked and how his ending looked compared to mine was a blast, because of one key thing between his and mine was Agent Jayden. While I got Jayden all the way to the end, I was forced to sit and watch him try to get through the Mad Jack encounter, which ended up him failing too many times on sixaxis movements. What came out of it was a very creepily happy Mad Jack dragging Jayden away to what I assume wasn't to patch him up and watch over him. The conversation afterwards was pretty much like this.

"Wait what just happened?!"

"You just totally let Jayden die."

"Wait what?!"

"You let Mad Jack kill him, and now he's gone forever."

"I didn't mean too!"

"You like totally missed out on a big chunk of the end."

"Can I just-"

"It's over, man"

"BUT"

"IT'S OVER, LET IT GO!"

I wonder how much we will actually get to see of Louis C.K. cop

Despite this key element most likely going to be missing for me, I'm still pretty excited to get into Beyond. I thought that the character models were a complete step up from what we saw from Heavy Rain, as it looks like they've developed the tech a bit more on it. I'm a bit curious on how most of the QTEs will be handled with the ghost following the Ellen Page character around, though from what we heard on the Afterhours stream it seems to be just your basic button pushes to get that hot shit started. If we get anything like the Scott Shelby rampage during Heavy Rain, sign me the fuck up.

The Super Monday Night Combat Corner!

Nothing stops the Combat!

I did mention this at the top right? No? Oh well! While E3 was making a ruckus, I was still dropping mad time in SMNC as I normally should be! Unfortunately even if it was E3, Uber really didn't do much during the week besides reintroduce All Star Leveling and Pro Tags back into the game. Even though Pro Tags are back in I'm bummed because it means my stats were not taken care of well. I have a total of 9 hours and ~2300 kills in game, while the kills may be true anyone who's seen my time played on Steam can call shenanigans that I've only played 9 hours. Not only that, my kills seem to come out of nowhere, as I only have around 150 kills with the Vet and only a staggering 11 kills with my main cybro Karl. Despite that discouraging news I still just played like nothing happened, who cares about those totally cool Pro Tags you can attach to your name anyway?

Most of my playtime this week also heavily favored The Veteran, as I'm still practicing pretty hard with him to understand him even better. I'm still getting used to how the Ka-Klaw works, as I still tend to clip small parts of the floor and walls trying to pull people in resulting in a wasted cooldown. It's probably not helping either I'm playing what is primarily a grapple character on the US East region, as my ping isn't favorable on those servers. What's even worse is that the US East region also attracts people even FURTHER away from the East than me, I've seen totals of over 200 ping in some games. All you need to know is that a lot of my stool grapples end up looking like I'm using a mime's furniture to kill people from time to time. I'm also getting many situations where I do not get the last hit on my kills, only snagging assists. Which is fine in practice if my team is competent to use those kills to help the cause, but when that doesn't become the case I tend to fall way behind in levels in some games. Which reminds me of last week about that one Tank, there were games this week where I go 10-2 and I'm totally in the cellar on my team in terms of money gain. I know I wasn't heavy on the bots in some of those games but... there were some guys who weren't even putting up the same numbers and getting more dosh than me. I mean I've been to some alone time with Bullseye and Jungle Bots, but do they really level you up that fast mid game? Or is it people using Money Magnet? Are people maintaining Bot Streaks? All I do know is that I still have to find that balance with the Veteran like I do with the Tank or Karl, I just don't know the spot where he can spiral out of control yet.

Out of all the games I did play this week, there was really one I had to mention that was just one of the oddest I've played. It started off in the pro select screen (Where most of them start), except this time, some dude starts complaining that someone locked is precious Assault. So in response of this he picks Gunner, and as the game starts, he goes off and dies purposely three times to the enemy team. At this point in my head I'm like "GREAT", someone was so mad that he wanted to throw the game for us. After about his third death he just straight up leaves, so while we DID lose a teammate, we ended up dodging a bullet due to his intentional feeding. While that was going on, both me and a Sniper start pushing their right lane pretty hard, their team reacts and starts a great big firefight in the middle of the lane with just me and the Sniper. The other team ALSO ended up picking a Veteran and tried to pull me into their group of guys to be ganked, he missed, and I ended up pulling him into our meager group of two dudes and straight up busted his face up. For some reason, their team did not see it fit to go in and overrun our tiny push, even after I started pulling them in one by one. Long story short their defense was garbage, we got an early turret down in a 5v4. Fast forward a bit, for some reason our CG is able to hold everyone off at the Anni fights and we control it for most of the game. Their Veteran 9 deaths later just calls it quits and we're back to an even game. We wear them down to their back turrets, and everything seems to be going our way, UNTIL...

They managed to sneak a Jackbot past us! We have to run all the way back (For some of us respawn) and get this mofo out of our base. Now with the recent updates the Jackbots have been acting a bit funny as of late. This one in particular passed one of our front turrets on the right lane and just OBLITERATED our Moneyball Rock-it turrets! We get that Jackbot down, but their team is pushing pretty hard, so naturally we counter their push and wipe out the whole team, and continue our push to their Moneyball. With them still respawning our bots reach their back turrets and we proceed to take them out, Our Defenders set up their turrets and we start going to town. I was unfortunately not there at the end of it due to me being taken out to a dumb Megabeth Whirling Derbish, We won the game. Now in the end the game doesn't sound as weird as I made it out to be, but it just strikes me as odd how the Gunner just left the game after purposely dying three times in a row. If he was just going to purposely feed the other team, why didn't he just stick around to make sure we lost? I know I shouldn't be looking a gift horse in the mouth, but I just can't help but wonder why this guy didn't go out on his troll attempt.

The End! (?)

With E3 at a close, we can finally get back to our normal routine of playing games instead of getting anticipated to play games. This is the second week in a row that Dragon's Dogma is still not in, 3 if you're counting the first blog post. So next week, don't expect it! Instead, Lollipop Chainsaw more than likely, and also Diablo 3, as a kind soul was able to get it for me (hint: it was the guy I watched play Heavy Rain). Maybe Lone Survivor too, as I got to it two days ago and want to get through that atleast once. So look out for all those and maybe more next week!

SEE YOU GUYS LATER

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So I decided to write about Video Games 6.2.2012

Hello, and welcome to this blog I decided to write up! Yes I've decided to write about video games once again (and yes I changed the name), regardless whether or not anybody actually read the last one. So just in case you were one of the many few that skimmed through the wall of text I posted last week, I mentioned something about Dragon's Dogma. Well that didn't come in this week, so that plan bombed. What I did get my hands on however will pretty much take up all the space that game would have anyway. So here was plan B!

The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb

Yes, the disturbing roguelike makes it's inevitable return with the new DLC content Wrath of the Lamb. Since I had absolutely nothing else to do this week, I found myself going through the depths of the basement once again, only this time with new items, secrets, and bosses waiting for me. Luckily I was able to amass a bunch of playthroughs and a good chunk of the new items to share with you, and whether or not the new items were good or not. So to start off I'd like to share what I though was the best (and worst) additions to the basement.

Best New Item: Prayer Card

Prayer Card is one of the Space items you can pick up, and is by far the best out of all of them. Prayer Card when used awards the player with a new "Eternal Heart", a half-white heart, that can be turned into a permanent heart container if another Eternal Heart is picked up. This item really shows off its worth if its found early in the game, for you can actually use it after you clear a boss room, and as you move onto the next level, will instantly award you with a permanent Heart Container. Meaning you can have up to a total of a 9 heart container gain by the last floor (given how far you actually go). While it may be a matter of preference on what Space item anybody uses, Prayer Card can definitely be considered a staple to some. So if you find it, pick it up!

Best (Worst) New Item: IPECAC

Now this may be a bit controversial only because in my opinion an item with an explosion should instantly be good like Fetus in a Jar. Yet somehow IPECAC's explosive shot is by far one of the worst in the game. It travels through the air in an arc and randomly decides what is close enough to explode on impact. Most notably it will to rocks, but not to enemies, and because of that the item with all this potential is suddenly wasted. Why? Because it has a glaring weakness, it's terrible against fast moving enemies. I will not point fingers yet, because this item actually gets brought back up during a run I'm going to share with you. All you need to know is that IPECAC can be a good friend, but most of the time it's a ticking time bomb waiting to blow up in your face. Only pick it up if you have/had no dmg up items, otherwise stay clear.

I would love to talk a bit more about some other great and terrible items like The Holy Grail and Guppy's Paw, but what the game really comes down to is not what pick ups the game throws in your face, but how you actually use them (or misuse) to your advantage (or disadvantage). So I bring to you the three runs I compiled for this blog (Best, Worst, and Most Surprising).

The Best Run:

  • Character: Isaac
  • Most Notable Pick Up: Fetus in a Jar
  • Worst Pick Up: IPECAC

So naturally my best run would include the default character and the best collectible item in the base game. The reason why I think Fetus in a Jar is considerably the best pick up is not only because of the fact it turns Isaac's tears into bombs, but how the bombs still get effected by other collectibles like Spectral Tears and Homing Tears. Thus making Isaac deadly in any fight if teamed up with Ouija Board or The Holy Grail especially. You can literally run through most of the game with Fetus in a Jar without picking up any other item, at that point it would just be overkill. As I was running through though I made the mistake of picking up IPECAC, which actually turned into a bigger hassle than what I wanted. Mostly because IPECAC screws up more item combinations than it creates, namely with items like Fetus in a Jar, in which it will actually SLOW DOWN the rate you can throw out a bomb. You'd think because I'm already throwing out bombs that it wouldn't be an issue, but because of IPECAC's current state, it simply gimps Fetus in a Jar so much that it makes you vulnerable to fast moving enemies and bosses.

Upon figuring this out I quickly started to just skip everything I saw in the game just to finish it before it could finish me. I mostly avoided the rest of the Treasure Rooms in favor of beating the bosses as fast as possible, and luckily for me there were none of the fast moving ones the likes of The Fallen or Gemini. I essentially dodged a bullet through most of the game. I would eventually find myself in the newest addition in the game, The Cathedral, and run into problem after problem. The first one being Twin Mini Gurdy, which I have to ask Mr. McMillen, WHY. Gurdy was already troublesome given if he's allowed to spawn a legion of enemies. Why split him in two and give him the ability to MOVE. Regardless of Gurdy's newly found mobility I was able to scrape by simply because of The Holy Grail and hiding on top of rocks. Then the second problem ended up appearing multiple times throughout the floor, even right before the boss fight, in which I'm talking about Super Double Greed. Now if you know about Greed he normally isn't a problem to most people, but so far he is the only one of the Seven Sins to actually mess me up pretty bad. I have no idea why, but everyone has their simple problems. I of course opted to have the My Little Unicorn pick up at the time, and in an effort to get through without losing any hearts I used it, only to almost break the game in the process. It turns out that when you come into contact with Super Greed he will spit out a large number of coins. I made the mistake of hitting them BOTH, causing the framerate of the game to spiral out of control due to all the coinage on the screen. So instead of trying to ram into them more before it ran out I had to make the decision to pick up ALL of the coins before I could blow them up, which put me in a bad situation. Luckily, again, I got through it and was able to hit up the Cathedral boss for my first successful clear.

As read above!

The Worst Run:

  • Character: Samson
  • Most Notable Pick Up: All the Familiars
  • Worst Pick Up: All of the Familiars

This was actually one of the first runs I managed to concoct, and by far one of the unluckiest and dumbest. Now I actually ended up unlocking Samson way before I even ever touched Cathedral, and the fact that he had Bloody Lust (a pickup that increases your damage as you kill enemies) sounded really appealing, so I decided to (or atleast TRY to clear) the game with him first. Samson can be a really good boss killer, and destroy floors like there's no tomorrow, as long as they're rooms filled with SLOW enemies. Unfortunately for Samson, alot of the new enemies show up for him to face, and they're mad fast, making him rather ineffective in alot of situations due to how slow his fire rate starts off. Now what made this run suck so bad is what I'm about to show you.

You can't be serious

I for one am all for Familiars given the fact I play Cain most of the time, but with Samson it's a different story. Samson fires so slowly and has little to no impact with his tears that most of the time you should be wanting to get things like Jesus Juice. Yet somehow I ran into every boss that wanted to give me a familiar, namely Steven, Chad, and after that bosses that gave me Cubes of Meat. Along with that a kind Treasure Room wanted me to have one of the many Brother and Sister familiars. It was great in a sense I had a pretty good scatter shot, but it was terrible in a sense my OWN ability to damage enemies myself were so low that it didn't even matter, even after getting Spectral Tears it didn't matter because it doesn't effect my familiars shots. I ended up dying on this floor, and learning my lesson with Samson, if you don't get anything worthwhile in the first floor, just give up.

The Most Surprising:

  • Character: Cain
  • Most Notable Pickup: Prayer Card
  • Worst Pickup: IPECAC

Now in this run I was in a bit more comfortable returning to Cain and his Lucky Foot, as goodies abound were guaranteed this run. I was instantly shut up as soon as I saw my first pickup was IPECAC. I thought to myself that this run was already over, but being the hopeful fool I am I went and rolled with it like a boss, and didn't run into any issues for a good two or three floors. Picked up a Cube of Meat and a Pretty Fly to boot, as shield familiars are normally pretty decent. As I made my way through I would eventually run into the make or break moment, and my most real trouble through the whole run, The Fallen. The Fallen actually has this extremely good advantage against IPECAC, namely, if you damage him enough, he will decide to charge at you Gemini style, the only difference? HE WON'T STOP. He moves way to fast for you to hit him with a tear, and it seems like the only way out of the fight is to just simply die. I couldn't accept that as I desperately wanted this nightmare to end the way I wanted it. So I came up with a plan, I decided to run, make sure he closed the gap every time, and slowly but surely shave his health off using Cube of Meat. It was a test of patience and I would eventually come out on top, as you only need to hit him a little bit in order to knock him out of his charge, which was all I needed to win the fight. Now the reason why I mentioned the Cube of Meat and Pretty Fly earlier was because the fight becomes impossible to win with IPECAC being your only offensive outlet. Without those, or possibly even more suicidal methods like The Virus or Razor Blade, The Fallen becomes invincible. After that the rest of the game became a cakewalk as enemies like The Fallen failed to show up for the rest of the game, and by the time I hit the boss room in Cathedral, I had too much health to fail. I snowballed out of control after the breaking point, which is why I'm still stunned I was able to pull this run off. CLEARED.

Prayer Card all day every day!

Of course I had many more runs, but these ones stood out the most, and they were the only ones I managed to snag screenshots of, since I mostly forget to in the middle of the game. Which is why there's no images of The Fallen impossible fight or of the actual Cathedral bosses. I usually get caught up in the rather hectic gameplay to focus on anything else. So the only thing I can do now is leave you with a bit of advice. Always, and I mean always PICK UP THE PRAYER CARD.

The Super Monday Night Combat Corner!

I said I would dedicate a small portion of this blog to SMNC, and I will darngummit! Regardless of how much I actually played this week, it wasn't much, and all of them tallying up to losses, I still feel like I should share a bit of the action. There's really only one game that stood out above all of them, as I dedicated all of these games to playing my new found Vet love, I was on the unfortunate end of a 40 minute loss. Now normally SMNC games do not hit the 40 minute limit, as usually a decisive move happens pretty much at the 15 minute mark. Apparently nobody gave either team the memo. Now what actually disgusted me about this game was that even with my 10-14 performance and nearly 200 bot kills, I STILL had 3000 less dosh than the other team's worst player, who went 15-30, and had under 100 bot kills. I had to stop myself from vomiting how ridiculous this sounds, I even tallied +10 more assists than him. There was no way the game can award playing like.. like THAT over the rest of our team. Regardless of people performing as badly as he was, our team managed to be even worse, as I wasn't able to get most of my kills due to being forced out of combat by their 15-30 Tank, and not scoring the last hit on enemies. Our only outstanding player was a Gunner, who currently I've been seeing in alot of games just snowballing out of control more often than any other Pro. So after that game I ended up playing 4 equally as bad games and tallied up my first lost streak since I started playing mid-December. I'm sure Uber is making it's best efforts (as they were trying to do with this patch) to fix the matchmaking system, but games like this keep happening, and it's becoming real discouraging to go into this game alone anymore. Yet as the motto goes, don't get discouraged, and I will live by those words, and I will continue to live by this game. Maybe this next week will yield better performances worth talking about, and maybe pictures.

The End! (?)

As this edition comes to a close, I would like to remind everyone that Dragon's Dogma is totally still planned at some point, but at the rate Gamefly sends RPGs to people post their release date, expect to see something else next week, and after that Lollipop Chainsaw. As I am not good with intros and goodbyes, I'll leave you with this one sentence,

SEE YOU GUYS LATER

(Seriously if anyone can hook me up with a clip of Ricardio the Heart Guy where he says this it would be much appreciated.)

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