The Premium 10 Pull - A (bi-weekly/monthly) Look at Gacha Games - Valentines Banner Edition

So you've decided to roll on the Valentines Banner

Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Premium 10 Pull, what makes this occasions all the more special? Well funny you should ask that, this last week almost, if not all of them, every gacha game tends to celebrate Valentines Day. Some more than others, but none the less this is one of the many seasons of Limited events, giveaways, and above all else, giving players the excuse to "spend time" (translates into see two panels of dialog worth of voice acting from their favorite characters), with their favorite characters. We will be focusing on the Valentines shenanigans first, then onto the "other" stuff and by other stuff the things that kept me from writing the next piece of the 10 pull. So without further adeu, I edited the first image I made with the first blog:

Yeah man these aren't gonna get any better anytime soon.
Yeah man these aren't gonna get any better anytime soon.

ONTO THE GAMES, Starting with...

DRAGALIA LOST - VALENTINE'S CONFECTIONS 02/14/2019 - 02/22/2019

Finally the event character everyon-
Finally the event character everyon-

... NOPE

I mean she's still a nice unit after everything is said and done.
I mean she's still a nice unit after everything is said and done.

Okay so, for a good couple months the favorite theory was this was the event that would introduce Mym (Better known as the human version of Brunhilda, the fire dragon Euden befriends into one of his many dragon pacts) as a playable character. I mean its clearly her time, shes constantly fawning over your character like the romantic she is and fits into a valentines banner like nobody else. Yet here we are, Cygames deemed it so because what better way to introduce a new healing unit into fire than just coloring Light's best healer in a coat of flame and changing her skills around a bit to match the valentine's motif.

Meanwhile, the event that follows the actual summoning banner is... rather Lackluster. So the way Confections works is there are at least three sets of valentines related stories. The opening two revolves around the main story cast trying to find ways to thank Euden for bringing them all together. The next two feature the other two valentines characters on the banner Orion and Ezelith, both sporting a whole one star downgrade from their previous versions but both using different weapons. Then the last two feature the Banner leads themselves Hildegard and the dragon Prometheus. So to actually access these stories to see them, you have to... play the game. By play the game I mean, no theres no special valentines quests or bosses to fight (atleast not all the time), I mean play the base game. Imperial Onslaughts, Dragon Trials, any story quests, all of that. After completing quests you get roses that you can trade into the Valentines currency shop for a TON of useful upgrade materials.

Pssffk- Yes Mym, I know just...
Pssffk- Yes Mym, I know just...

In the grand scheme of things this event is extremely lackluster, Its essentially a Facility Event (The events that give you a free element aspected building to boost certain element types) but with all of that cut out of it. Yet, this event is offering some of the most rare materials you can get in the game with just a measly little time investment, such as a WHOLE Damascus Bar, a gold key, key fragments, and SILVER BARS AND KEYS. None of these items are this easy to get outside of uncapping characters fully, raid and facility events, or... MONEY. So if you're playing and didn't know these items were available, what are you waiting for?!

As for the characters available on the Banner itself, V.Hildegard is a fantastic healing unit, yet if you didn't already have another healing unit by the name of Verica, you aren't missing too much. Hildegard boasts higher SP costs on all of her spells and currently her second skill, which is her shield, isn't that useful in high tier content YET. Verica is currently still the go to unit for High Midgardsormr due to her lower spell costs, yet its not like Hilde CAN'T do High Midgard, you're really just missing a way to clear stuns, and an emergency burst heal which can be remedied through weapon options.

Valentine's Ezelith is probably the most useful utility wise out of this banner, at the 4* rank she gives you a ranged archer unit with two damage skills, and a full 100% stun resist making her a safe pick to dps High Midgard with. With Break Punisher being her main passive to boot she can pump out damage bow users most normally can't, with her only real downside is that she is a ranged unit so her HP requirements for high end content scale up higher than your melee classes.

Valentine's Orion was a clear meme character boasting his Strength Doublebuff passive and Curse Resistance. Yet for a small amount of time during launch he actually was THE character to pull at 3*s. Cygames unfortunately did not properly code his burn damage and he was actually dpsing High Midgard down faster than Mikoto. This was shortly fixed and we got 300 wyrmrite because of it. He is back to being a meme and almost unusable.

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That pretty much covers all you need to know about Valentine's Confections, What's next for Dragalia Lost? VOID BATTLES, these will be available on February 22nd, and will be the missing link between Imperial Onslaught grind and High Dragons, offering new weapon choices for all elements (if you can best the new bosses) and hopefully bringing that content closer to a lot more Dragalia Lost Players.

GRANBLUE FANTASY 02/14/2019 - 02/25/2019

I will never understand Cygames' desire to keep Medusa away from her fanbase
I will never understand Cygames' desire to keep Medusa away from her fanbase

Okay so the only real reason why we're covering Granblue ahead of everything else that doesn't actually have anything Valentine's related is because Granblue has two new characters in its newly minted "Valentines" roster. Last year they added the originally only obtainable character via... HAVING A JAPANESE CELLPHONE CONTRACT to the roster as an obtainable, yet limited valentines character. After the addition of Valentines Medusa, it would only be suspect that they would continue to build up a valentines roster akin to their Halloween and Summer offerings... even if they are all kinda "meh" in utility.

This year we got TWO whole new characters, Valentines Clarisse and Valentines Melissabelle. They will join the limited Valentines Medusa during the Valentines season, and will of course only be available to pick up during this time (Outside of extreme circumstances). Also making a return, you can (depending on if you either play the game as Gran or Djeeta) give chocolates to your favorite characters, and get a couple scenes worth of dialog from them that can only be accessed in-game during this period.

As much as I would like to roll, I'm saving for a Zodiac... again.
As much as I would like to roll, I'm saving for a Zodiac... again.

Outside of all of this, the event that ran besides the Valentines stuff this year WAS a Light Advantage Guild Wars, and with the last blog we basically covered what Guild Wars was, but before when Guild Wars would land on a holiday the event bosses would take after something that was inspired by the holiday. Case in point, last year THIS thing was the boss.

A... Giant chocolate horse. Guild Wars used to be fun...

WHAT IS NEXT FOR GRANBLUE FANTASY:

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I can hardly believe it's been 5 years, almost 3 since I myself started playing the game myself. The 5th Anniversary will boast maybe one of the biggest in-game currency give-a-ways of any gacha game (outside of a full game shutdown), a plethora of in-game bonuses and resource cost reductions, and of course the biggest event story update of the year with the continuing What Makes the Sky Blue part 3. This is the time of the year to tell everyone "Its never been a better time to get into Granblue Fantasy" all the while reminding them "It's never a better time to avoid starting Granblue Fantasy).

FATE GRAND/ORDER 02/06/2019 - 02/20/2019

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Okay to be fair I started writing this blog a couple of days ago when this event was actually running... sorry I'm late, so I will atleast recap what happened during the Valentine's period. This event was a rerun of last year's Valentines event, but since there was a good chunk of servants added to the game SINCE last year, there have been a bunch of new additions to this event by virtue. Every servant added before this event (and during of course) all got a 4* CE you could receive from them as a sort of valentines gift, in exchange for chocolate coins. In addition to that the event also gave out a currency you could trade in for a whole bunch of useful materials to help uncap servants, including the elusive Crystalized Lore, which is used to fully max out a skill on a servant to level 10.

I wish I could honestly say more about the event but I really didn't touch it, it seemed like alot of work for a game that... constantly continues to fuck me over in the RNG department so, maybe when the next thing happens (AKA, an actual important feeling thing) I will go a bit more into detail rather than... farm materials in other games that actually give me SSRs.

The bias is strong with this game, sorry.

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The 5* Servant introduced with Valentines was a popular one though, none other than the Sith Lord herself, Mysterious Heroine X Alter. She... as of her incarnation into NA is... billed as one of the worst Berserker 5* characters you can get. Most Berserkers usually want a deck revolving around doing massive damage via a triple Buster deck... and like Vlad (But also unlike Vlad), she doesn't and as of the moment her Quick deck as a Berserker limits her functionality to do insane damage... that is until Skadi gets added into the game, OR if you somehow have Scathach to pair up with her. Again though, her time is not now, its in the future along with the recent rate up with Edmond Dantes, you are purely rolling for a extreme down the road future investment... All I did was throw tickets at her but as usual nothing, I'm saving for Summer.

WHATS NEXT FOR FATE:

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AN ACTUAL STORY SINGULARITY!

Yes, leading up to the eventual Part 2 of the FGO story we are getting the singularities that take place before then starting with the introduction of Shinjuku. We will be getting the anticipated Archer of Shinjuku as a 5* Archer servant along with a new 4* assassin and avenger (whose names are also a mystery... if you don't look them up on a wiki) I of course already know who... exactly the old man in the banner is but if you want to keep that a mystery until Shinjuku drops I will abstain from mentioning it here. Also I GET TO PLAY THE GAME AGAIN.

AZUR LANE 2/14/2019-2/20/2019

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Azur Lane did not really... have a valentines event, all they really had was if you had your favorite ship selected as your secretary on valentines day you would get a special thing to take up inventory space from them. During Valentines they ran a special week long event for the IJN Ryuujou, where you grinded the event maps long enough and eventually got enough of the currency to unlock her... I misread the time the event was going to run for officially and this is the first boat I have not collected... I am sad now.

WHATS GOING ON NOW FOR AZUR LANE:

The Winter's Crown event is another lottery event where you do the event maps to get the currency to empty out boxes for sweet materials, upgrades and even ships! The Duke of York will be available out of the third box, and one of the more anticipated HMS vessels, the HMS Victorious finally makes her debut in the Limited Time build banner for the event. With this event coming to the US, we will also be getting a new addition with the HMS Sirius, who is completely new and wasn't available during the original run of the event on the Chinese or Japanese servers. There are 5 ships in total to build, two to grab from the Lottery Boxes, and of course a certain number of these ships will be available by just clearing out the event maps and getting lucky. this event will be running into the next month until the 13th, there will be plenty of time... unlike the last one, to actually do what you need to do. Good luck with your builds... I need more Quick Finishers.

KINGDOM HEARTS III

... Hey wait a minute
... Hey wait a minute

THIS IS NOT A GACHA GAME.

So the REAL reason why I haven't been updating you on great gacha games such as Another Eden and... Langrissr... is that I spent alot of time playing KH3 instead. I finished it a little bit ago and... boy, BOY, do I have some news for you guys... Do you know what game ALSO has a gacha game about it?

KINGDOM HEARTS UNION CROSS: (NEWLY ADDED)

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So... without... maybe spoiling Kingdom Hearts 3... All I can really tell you is that Union Cross ties into the main series in such a way now that... Union Cross is now the most important game in the timeline and also maybe the entire franchise. Because at one point Kingdom Hearts 3 literally becomes the biggest advertisement for a mobile game I have EVER seen. So upon this realization and massive want to go back INTO Kingdom Hearts after being thoroughly disappointed by the overall package of the third game... Picking up Union Cross seemed to be the way to go as I play through the old games for either the first time... or if you're KH 2, the second time.

A little backstory for the game, Union Cross used to go by a different name, you might (or might not) have remembered a game called Kingdom Hearts Unchained... well that game turned into this game. I'm not really up to date on the reason why Square Enix rebranded the game in regions, all I know is that when the game came out I couldn't play it due to my phone being too ancient to run it. I forgot about it for about 3 years... that is until the inevitable release of KH3. After witnessing... the INSANITY of what they decided to do in terms of how the story should go from that ending, I really didn't have a choice and I was already hooked on the idea of... downloading a Kingdom Hearts mobile game.

I'm not... particularly far in the game.. nor do I really have any idea of what I'm doing either
I'm not... particularly far in the game.. nor do I really have any idea of what I'm doing either

The game has seen quite a bit of life since people have also come to the same conclusion I have had, yet I can't really tell you if it has sustained itself over the growth of people finishing KH3, all I know is the game has newly updated guides to help accommodate players like myself. Even going as far as to tell me "You need to be about 300 chapters in to get to the actual tie-in content". So that's what I have been trying to do while also juggling the other 4 games that I have, adding a 5th one seems insane... but in the end so is Kingdom Hearts.

So far from my time with the game I have done enough to unlock the actual events that run from time to time, which actually included a Valentines themed Heartless raid boss that you can take on and as you beat him his next incarnations only get stronger. Unfortunately this is about as far as I have climbed into the Union Cross train so far, this game is actually pretty different from the games I have been playing, most of your power comes from Medals that you equip to your keyblade and little familiar pet, then depending on which keyblade you are using you want to order those medals accordingly. Alot of medals have Buff and Debuffing properties so properly chaining Buff medals into damage medals seems to be the key to doing well, but so far my keyblade medal capacity is low so I have to make due with what I have in terms of space. Look forward to more Khux within the coming Premium 10 Pulls.

Another Eden: The Cat Beyond Time and Space

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Another Eden also fell victim to the lust of Kingdom Hearts 3... I think it actually released at the same time so I did the opening of the game, went back to bed alot in-game to piss off my main characters sister enough to where I didn't get breakfast, and got to the future. To be honest I'm actually rather impressed with the presentation of this game and also the fact that this is the first mobile game that I'm playing that doesn't have a stamina system? It doesn't gate you from playing the game outside of just being underleveled for content, and all the stuff I have been hearing about it is that the game isn't super difficult at all as long as you remember to power up the units you have. This is definitely a game I think that's worth checking out... I just have to spend the time to check it out myself... so I guess make that 6 mobile games at the same time, oh boy.

The Rs of your Ten Pull

  • SMT Dx2 is running a crossover event with Bayonetta, a free 4* demon I think is what I heard correctly? Still not enough to get me to go back and check it out
  • I still have Langrissr downloaded, but man, that stuff on the release was whack and I kinda just put the game down to see if they would atleast fix the global chat issues. Seems like a competent FEH clone with... some depth.
  • Speaking of Single Player games, I hear they're finally gearing up Yoko Taro's SINoALICE for an english release sometime within Q1, might be interesting to check out
  • FEH is currently running its Second Anniversary... thats about as much as I can tell you about it. It's cool though that what was originally supposed to be an advertisement for Fire Emblem has kind of eclipsed the series in its own way. I might just open it up to check it out at this point.

And that's the end of your spark fund.

So I think a biweekly or monthly format would work best for this. Mostly due to the repetitiveness of mobile events, it would be better to spread out these updates as it gives more room to actually say nonsense about whats happening in games like Granblue, and proper time for literally any new mobile game to come out to shake up the market... even if it doesn't. Next time I hope to get a bit more into Khux, and Another Eden, all the while seeing if... I can atleast give Langrisser a fair shake... Who knows maybe that Epic Seven game is also still worth peoples time, it seems like people are enjoying it.

Save up for next month's banner, see you all later!

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The Premium 10 Pull - A (weekly? or monthly?) blog about gacha games.

I am back once more

And with a sad attempt at trying to write more in the year 2019, I have finally decided, whether people get it or don't, to write about the games I have been sucked into for the past two years. We're here to talk about the current goings on in all the gacha I play, any upcoming news that makes it my way about these games, and talk about future releases of these types of games... so I give to you the reader of this blog:

I will never claim to be a graphic artist, nor will I pretend to ever be one.
I will never claim to be a graphic artist, nor will I pretend to ever be one.

So to begin with this edition of the 10 pull, we'll look into the game that has been updated the most recent with...

Azur Lane: January 10th-31st

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So Azur Lane is in this really weird position compared to a ton of other mobages that have come out over here. Case in point if you compare FGO NA to JP, the game runs as if NA was a classic progressive server. Azur Lane is this really weird hybrid where we very much had a starting point but Yongshi has been hard at work to speed up the NA content roll out by releasing stuff way ahead of time with a lot of QoL features still missing from the game.

Crimson Echoes is an incredibly recent event in other regions as well as our own, where as you can compare previous events such as Divergent Chessboard, which was an event run well ahead of us even getting the game last year. Regardless I really enjoy the fact that Yongshi is very much aware of the kind of lag there can be with situations like that and for the most part have given us a nice boost in terms of available ships to build off the bat, and things to... spend money on if we so wish.

Crimson Echoes is an event based around the Sakura Empire, and serves as some sort of prequel story explaining the past of Kaga, Akagi and Amagi. Amagi first appears as a limited time buildable ship with this event, along with a couple other elite and rare ships. Kaga also gets a Battleship variant you can totally spend wisdom cubes to get. Don't actually pull for her in the limited time build, shes available in the event shop if you manage to do the event long enough. The only downside to Azur Lane events is honestly they last for either too little a time (which are all the silly events that don't have content to them such as some of the ones running now like the New Years login or the fortune pulling new years event), or they take up an entire month. Yet in the long run it only makes sense to run these events for so long because of the lack of shop currency you get in these types of events. Divergent Chessboard was also like this. I much prefer the lottery events where you trade in currency to roll for useful items out of a item pool like the Fallen Wings event. Mostly because almost every item you get in Azur Lane is insanely useful.

SEE SHE'S LIKE RIGHT THERE DON'T BLOW 30 MORE CUBES THAN YOU HAVE TO LIKE I DID
SEE SHE'S LIKE RIGHT THERE DON'T BLOW 30 MORE CUBES THAN YOU HAVE TO LIKE I DID

DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO START PLAYING THIS GAME NOW:

Yes, there will never be a bad time to start playing Azur Lane, you lose access to ships at the current moment such as all the Iron Blood boats and the Eagle Union ones that came out in the last couple of months, BUT the meta pretty much stands on the ships that have been available in the game since day one. At the end of the day its a collectathon game for ships that you like, and progress in the game at your leisure.

Enterprise, Illustrious, Hood. The original holy trinity. always available to obtain.
Enterprise, Illustrious, Hood. The original holy trinity. always available to obtain.

WHATS NEXT FOR AZUR LANE:

I dunno, lol. Okay for real though theres a ton of events they could rerun but it seems like they're getting pretty close to just releasing new events along side our region so its a mystery at this point. We will eventually get the ability to level our ships past the 100lvl limit to accommodate the CRUSHINGLY DIFFICULT SINGLE PLAYER CHAPTERS past chapter 8.

GRANBLUE FANTASY, JANUARY 9th-15th

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So Granblue Fantasy is pretty much day and date in all regions, you just play whatever is new to the client the same as JP. The only reason why the US has access to this game in english is because the Southseas Asia market. The current event going on in Granblue is a rerun event of a two year old event Table for Six, which is a sequel to the L.E.T.S. H.A.N.G. event, that can be found in the games relatively still new Side Story feature. (Fun Fact, Let's Hang was actually the very event Cygames even decided to translate to english, it served as a test and thanks to that test the rest of the game is translated, and maybe in the far off future see a Steam release due to surveys asking for opinions on how to finally officially bring it to the US).

Table For Six is pretty much a gag event about a bunch of Gag characters (Aside from Korwa who when I started playing was one of the most broken characters available), sharing fantasies about love, school life, and... espionage. You get introduced to the meme squad that is Lowain and his friends and of course the mechanization of one of the story's main characters... (who is now both available in the game as a character, and as a summon.)

I'm... not going to lie this event is pretty much for new players to get their hands on some items to help them boost their own abilities to get stuff in the actual game, I on the otherhand only do reruns to grab single draw tickets and delicious damascus crystals, which are used to uncap weapons without spending hard cash. The Summon is... terrible, and the dagger is decent, even I used it when I started playing Wind. You also get a shiny SR event character Sutera, who is actually pretty useful for new fire players who are lacking in usable characters (an 8.0 on the gamewith tier list if you are into those kinds of numbers).

IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO START PLAYING GRANBLUE FANTASY NOW:

LOADED QUESTION. It is never a good idea to start playing Granblue Fantasy (so why am I even writing about it). THE SMART ANSWER IS: No, in the grand scheme of things to start playing right now? You totally could, in fact I'm not even going to tell you that you missed getting about $900 in USD of free rolls on the Gacha for the BIGGEST celebration of the year... oh wait.

Dun worry... they'll be back... They always come back.
Dun worry... they'll be back... They always come back.

Yeah, that totally happened, but the good news! It will be happening again to celebrate the game's 5th anniversary at the end of February! We'll get a roulette wheel to spin with thousands of rolls to give out to every single player whether they be one 10 roll or ten 10 rolls! The only advice I would give to you is... don't actually start playing until the game is officially celebrating the anniversary. It is a future investment towards a thing called your "Start Dash"... but in the end that might not matter because that will cost you some money, but in return you might get a Start Dash so invaluable to your account that it MIGHT make spending 3000 yen through Paypal make sense.

The realistic answer is: Yes, if you start playing now, they will keep giving out stuff like this if you stay committed long enough so, its not really anything to worry about. The game is an insane timesink, its whatever you want to put into it.

WHAT IS NEXT ON GRANBLUE FANTASY:

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Specifically after Table for Six, of course, is Guild Wars. We however call it in english "Unite and Fight". It is essentially an event dedicated to people who start crews to fight other crews. How do you ask? By seeing who the fug can nuke a boss faster and more efficiently than the other team. Unite and Fight offers neat and almost mandatory rewards such as Guild War weapons that have insane power spikes for new players and also access to future investments known as the "Eternals". The Eternals are super timesink SSR characters you can only get by upgrading their specific Guild Wars weapon. You can only obtain these weapons during this event. If you were to start now and manage to get into a crew to leech these rewards, the best one to start with is a dagger.

Dragalia Lost, January 10th-15th

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HA HA I HAVE PLAYED YOU FOR A FOOL. Dragalia Lost has no current event up. Dragalia Lost unlike its cousin Granblue Fantasy, doesn't have a new event ready after the next one concludes a day before. Right now the only thing really going on is a thing called Dragalia Gala, or what we would like to meme into existence "DraGala".

Dragalia Gala is essentially a summon banner that has increased rate ups on getting 5* Characters, Dragons and Craft Essences "Wyrmprints". It also will feature a PREMIUM character from the main story that can only be obtainable with this bimonthly banner. Sarisse is the first one of these Gala characters... and honestly powercreeps about half of the fire characters and nearly ALL BOW USERS... We're only four months into this game folks...

So if there's no event than what did I miss:

A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT LIMITED BANNER THAT ALREADY BANKRUPTED US BEFORE DRAGALIA GALA!

Like literally nobody should have came out of this banner with any Wyrmrite intact to feasibly ROLL with.
Like literally nobody should have came out of this banner with any Wyrmrite intact to feasibly ROLL with.

So usually the banner summons ARE included with its own baked in event, Eastern Emissaries was what is known as a "Raid" Event, where you and three other people get together to hit a health sponge until it dies and drops loot. However in this event since it was a New Years event, gave out INSANE REWARDS such as and not limited to free summon tickets for the gacha, and uncap items for weapons (which are near impossible to obtain in the game at the current moment) and keys to uncap... "Wyrmprints". HOWEVER these drops were incredibly rare and even some unlucky people didn't see a single key fragment drop (BUT NOT ME I GOT A FULL KEY... AND 8 TICKETS). It was also hurt by the fact the way to even proc the chance to have these items dropped were bugged for the entire event, and could not be fixed before the event ended... So yeah, they gave out compensation to everyone who participated eventually but in the grand scheme of thing it sucked real hard.

Anyone need a spare? I got like two extra I didn't need.
Anyone need a spare? I got like two extra I didn't need.

THE SUMMONING BANNER ITSELF HOWEVER. Nearly everything on the banner, was an asset to get. The new 5* Shadow character Ieyasu is probably the most broken character in the game as of the current moment thanks to his character specific mechanic being broken and power creeping all other DoT ailment effects, not only that but every character that wasn't Ieyasu on the banner ALSO had this effect. Even the DRAGON ITSELF has this effect, which was the only thing I didn't get. I normally wouldn't be upset about this because hey, gacha is gacha... except that these characters and the dragon that dark desperately needed... are limited to new years events... meaning if you wanted a 60% attack up dragon for shadow, sorry. Needed the best character in the game? Nah he's gone for the year. Meanwhile Shadow's character pool pre-Emissaries is pitiful, with its sole 5* character being very low on the tier list due to the fact... she uses a bow.

YOU SEEM RATHER DOWN ON THIS GAME, SHOULD I SKIP IT:

... No, mostly because almost all of the games salt and shortcomings are either fixed, or compensated well for frustrations, and the fact remains that this might be the best playing one of these out of... all of them I've played so far. If you don't get lucky with characters then you can always promote 3* characters to be 5*s themselves and a lot of them are actually that damn good. A lot of the 4* dragons are actually insanely useful, and you will never be barred out of doing any content... mostly all content. The current endgame which are the High Dragons are "Pay to Participate". Unless you were insanely lucky and pulled exactly all the 5* dragon copies you needed along with a viable character for those fights... you are going to end up spending some dosh to get there. For the record though they are trying to fix that gap a bit, they give wyrmrite out the ass and constantly screw stuff up that nets you summon tickets and things to help you progress through the game further.

IF THEY FUCK UP ANOTHER EVENT THOUGH I DON'T KNOW.

At any point they will be adding for new players as of now a free 5* character voucher, so if you really want to reroll an account in this game, it just go a whole ton easier.

WHATS NEXT ON DRAGALIA LOST:

OUR THIRD LIGHT EVENT IN 4 MONTHS! (SHADOW WAS JUST LUCKY ENOUGH TO GET ONE RECENTLY).

Boy I sure do love... Light Events...
Boy I sure do love... Light Events...

It is known as a "Facility Event", these events are used to help boost up your Halidom Castle level (I forgot to mention there is a facebook village game in this game that is mandatory for progression). It will also boost attributes of all light characters by about 8% when maxed out and during the event makes it so you do damage to event mobs by an insane amount. These are arguably the more important events to invest in because of the free 30 halidom levels and free stat boosts to element characters. (Its also circus themed for people who are... into the circus).

FATE/GRAND ORDER (NA) January 9th-23rd

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FGO is the only game on this list that you can actually predict what's going to happen mainly because of what was stated in the Azur Lane bit. FGO NA is for all intent and purposes... the classic progressive server. From what I understand only a couple of summon rate ups have been swapped around, and maybe an event or two was cleaned up for NA's release because they were kinda bullshit and not fun. However it's pretty much day and date with JP's release schedule... as of two years in the past. That means when your cool friends who all play JP are doing these awesome events and all these Quality of Life improvements... you have to remind yourself that it's literally a two year wait for the servants you want or the events you want to do.

CURRENTLY going on in NA is the very first appearance of a character that shows up in Chapter 6 of Camelot and Chapter 7 of Babylon, "First Hassan" (or as the story and everyone else calls him King Hassan). You can spend your saints quartz to roll him... or spend all of them not to get him, entirely up to you. When you do end up failing to get him the other thing going on is the 1/2 off training grounds event you can use to level up the Hassan you WOULD have gotten (unless you did get him then GOOD, GOOD FOR YOU). Other than that FGO has nothing of interest going on to players caught up on the story...

Well if I missed the la-:

AGAIN, from my understanding there have only been really like two events that happened in the first year of the game that have never happened again. One of them being the Magical Girl event that brought in Fate/Kaleid's characters into the game (One of them more limited than the other), and the Solomon Singularity raid event.

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The Solomon Singularity raid event was essentially a huge launch for the final chapter of the original part one of FGO's main story that concluded everything for that story arc. Players "teamed" up to take down these massive healthbars known as Demonic Pillars to unlock cutscenes and progress to the final boss of the game at that current moment in time. You could only participate in this event if you had cleared the story up to Babylon and actually had the power to do any damage to the bosses (assuming you did because how did you even beat Babylon, or for that matter get past Gawain in chapter 6). Each demon pillar offered its own rare materials used to enhance servants, meaning one of them got instantly fucked (Barbatos) because he dropped the most coveted material in the game (Heart of the Foreign God). He didn't even last 8 hours.

This event also marked the first time you could obtain Merlin, who ushered in a new style of play that made everyone go insane for buster crit teams. (He's essentially the white whale of the game for us until certain other servants come out that buff other card types in the same way). I rolled 6 times for him and spent about 20 tickets. I'm dead inside.

You missed the chance to kill the pillars with everyone but the singularity is still mandatory for completion, you can still beat all the pillars on your own as one shot fights and still get like 7 summon tickets, but boy if you need Foreign God Hearts later on down the road... you missed this one golden opportunity.

You also don't seem to high on this on-:

If you like the Fate franchise, its worth playing. I didn't and I still think its worth playing... (even if this game has screwed me over 17 times in a row with 5* cards going the way of CEs and not servants) It's a single player game, whatever you get on your account will not hurt or hinder your ability to play the game to completion, it just... will require you to brain harder, and maybe make good friends with a whale who has a max bonded Heracles, a Waver, and a Merlin. (Yes you will actually need to friend the person to make them useful you can't use them fully otherwise... its really dumb). Rerolling is a pain in the ass so I just recommend you say fug it and go in with whatever you get. (I'm not a qualified Fate Grand/Order player to recommend this way of play all I can say is I finished the last singularity with only one 5* servant to my name).

WHAT'S NEXT FOR FATE:

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If the event list is to be believed (which theres no reason not to since, again classic progressive server), this event with Orion and Artemis will be the next event. It's a rerun, I haven't played it originally so... I hope there's a lot of summon currency I can hoard until summer. Shoud be... great.

Orion will also probably be on rate up for some reason.

Alright so this is getting pretty long in the tooth so one News Bit

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Another Eden is a single player gacha game that has managed to escape from its home region and will be arriving to us, the United States, later this month. It is being helmed by the writer of Chrono Trigger, and we all know how well having a famous writer of videogames works out for single player gacha games, (Is Sino Alice still around?). Anyway I was actually curious about this one mostly because I have tried worse gacha games with even less going on for them... No I will not write about Epic Seven today.

There's also a pre-registration campaign going on if you were interested in trying out the game, you just have to go to the app store of your respected platform and hit the pre-order button (atleast that's how it works on iOS). It costs no money, and if you're lucky never will... or are smart enough to never get into these games. If they hit enough pre-registers then you will get a free 4* character, which I can only assume if it doesn't hit the 150,000 mark then they give her out anyway because why wouldn't they.

There's a lot of snark in this news bit, why so-:

I'm just gonna cut you off there, I am genuinely interested in the game I'll try any of them but I am someone who is somewhat invested in three of the games above and forever shackled to Granblue. I guess worse case scenario the game has a story I can complete like Fate and I only have to pay attention to it when new story stuff gets added. Also like I love Frog and there's a Frog in this game. I tend to always snark around new releases, I mean you should have seen me on the pre-release of Dragalia... and look at how passionate I am about that game now.

So would you recommend this game?

I'll recommend anything you want me to, but yeah it seems neat, if you have the time of course.

The Last Bits of your 10 Pull

  • I have played tiny bits of Girls Frontline, I don't know enough about it to say anything about it. Azur Lane kinda fits the mold of that game though so.
  • I played a big chunk of Danmachi but quit after assembling a pretty bullshit team and also pulled all the Kino's Journey characters... Game is too generous and that's a bad thing
  • I hear Fire Emblem is alot better, it was really disappointing to me when it came out but I'm probably not gonna get back into it
  • The SMT game literally just came and went, barely played any of it but it was a real good looking game, maybe even the Crysis of Gacha Games
  • ... lol Destiny Child. (avoided for very specific reasons)

And that about wraps it up for this edition of the Premium 10 Pull. If you managed to read all the way down here from start to finish I thank you, and wonder how you got this far as well. Heck even I'm shocked I got down here.

Whether I continue this as a weekly thing, monthly... biweekly thing, is yet to be seen but I seem pretty high up on the recapping of all this. The four games mentioned above will be my main focuses maybe even more pop up along the way (Gosh I hope not, I need to finish real games). Stay tuned.

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Meester's "I confused this place for an Anime site" Anime of the Year 2018

Alright we are back for Round 2

So with the conclusion of Goblin Slayer (since it was a week delayed from everything else), I hearby dub this season of Anime over, the Fall Lineup is "over" (excluding ongoing series), and we're full on our way to Winter 2019. This is the period where we are no longer allowed to talk about what happened in Fall because soon we will be bombarded by atleast 249 new shows debuting at the same time and nobody has time for any of that shit. Except for now, where I'm going to take the time to go back over the recent year of really good shows to share what I thought was great, sucked, and was FranXX'd (Seriously, this blog is going to get very messy when we reach that point). THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU ARE INSANE ENOUGH TO GO BACK INTO THE ENDLESS BACKLOG OF SEASONAL ANIME, YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.

SO Without further adeu, we start off with:

BEST EPISODE OF THE YEAR: LAST PERIOD EPISODE 7 - ANIMAL FRIENDS

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Alright so Last Period (Which was actually mentioned in my Game of the Year Blog... for some reason) is a relatively... "unknown" gacha game that I only found out about through the anime. The Anime naturally should be about the epic story of the characters you see in the game on the quest to do what you do in the game. Alright so Last Period's anime does none of that. Last Period, instead of wasting its time trying to sell you on the game most of the time (Like Granblue's bullshit) through a serious trek through the actual game story, it decides to... literally take the piss out of gacha games, cultural phenomena within japan, and also for some reason... CERTAIN SHOUTOUTS TO RIDICULOUS ANIME INDUSTRY CONTROVERSY.

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Episode 7 is literally a gigantic retelling of the Kemono Friends scandal that Kadokawa managed to orchestrate. Using the Last Period characters, and them dramatizing the actual real life events (albeit a bit exaggerated). The main characters visit one of the party's hometown and take a tour via an extremely popular tour guide that everyone absolutely loves and adores. Shortly after said tour guide has been fired from his position after all the love and dedication given to him by... everyone, for absolutely no reason (on the surface). Chaos spreads as everyone goes on about their own way to try and convince the Mayor to let the damn tour guide keep his job, even going so far as multiple parties starting petitions, and summoning 5* characters from the actual game to sign said petitions. Its later revealed by the mayor (due to one of the summoned characters talking sense into him) to reveal the reason why he fired the tour guide in the first place and then decides not to fire him (He fires him because he doesn't understand what taking a vacation means). Everyone keeps their jobs, and everything ends happily... The actual series of events that this show jabs at does not end the same way, and even calls them out on it.

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This episode is weird, this show is bonkers, and there are plenty of dumb enjoyable episodes just like this one. Yet this one just sticks out as the showcase episode for me in this oddball show because of how deep it was willing to go with its cuts. Relentless. I couldn't stop laughing the entire time. If this caught your interest at all, then I'm glad to say that there's plenty more like this within the show, it was definitely a dark horse during its spring run.

RUNNER UP: ZOMBIE LAND SAGA Episode 8 – Go Go Neverland SAGA

Essentially this episode is the point where Lily is revealed to be a trans girl, and it goes into depth how she died and her life before becoming one of the Zombie Idols of this weird collection of girls. It's pretty emotional and I didn't expect it to hit me in the ways it did because I myself do not relate to the situation, nor can I ever, but it was a really good episode. I cannot do it justice within a small mention.

WORST ADAPTATION: GOLDEN KAMUY

This is the only thing anyone remembers from this adaptation and if you say otherwise you are lying
This is the only thing anyone remembers from this adaptation and if you say otherwise you are lying

The caption honestly sums this one up... Man. It wasn't even impossible to adapt this show, it would have been kind of limited in scope (maybe less limited than what we got but still). I easily dropped this in favor of the manga after the anime atleast sold me on the concept of the property, which is overall still the way to go about experiencing this fantastic IP. As I started reading ahead and watching too (I dunno if they decided to catch back up with some concepts) but early on you would have never gotten the impression that Sugimoto was dealing with a lot of pre-war PTSD moments that were shown in multiple flashbacks while in the anime those scenes played out without even a mention of these flashbacks.

Friends have also told me that the adaptation has just straight up cut out entire story arcs, and a lot of the silly little attentions to detail are just gone like facial expressions and the cooking. I don't think I will ever go back to the anime personally, as this show along with Made in Abyss (mostly due to there just not being enough Made in Abyss to consume at any given time) has reignited my love for reading manga... Also what the fuck man, why did this show have to get mauled by a bad CGI bear.

RUNNER UP: PERSONA 5 THE ANIMATION:

Seriously, this one is a waste of time, and it doesn't take home the prize mostly... because it never had a shot in the first place. Deserves a mention though, that first fight with the Personas was crap, and what seemed to be the actual soul of the game was gone. It had no Style man, and without style, P5 is an even bigger mess.

That ending track though was hot, for real.

WORST SHOW TO TRY AND GET THROUGH WHILE PLAYING GRANBLUE FANTASY: YU-GI-OH VRAINS

Card Games on Surfboards in VR
Card Games on Surfboards in VR

Guys, I love Yu-Gi-Oh, and I probably will never stop loving Yu-Gi-Oh. I will never play the card game again but I love watching youtube videos about what people think about it. I also love to rewatch old episodes of literally every arc up until I think the arc before VRAINS... I don't really know what happens post 5Ds... or most of what happens in 5Ds. All I know is that throughout the entire year I have tried to sit down and watch this show, and... I keep playing Granblue instead.

This show is not bad guys, honest its just I just can't keep up with it while I multitask because holy shit theres alot going on per duel... I will get through VRAINS one day, but for now its just going to be picked apart episode by episode until I eventually watch it fully to completion. Maybe I'll finish by the time the arc after VRAINS is done so I don't have to watch that one. Also like... the main characters name is fucking Playmaker. PLAYMAKER. If that doesn't say you're losing this fucking duel then I don't know what it takes anymore.

RUNNER UP: CARDCAPTOR SAKURA: CLEAR CARD

Pretty much everything I said about VRAINS in the first paragraph... Even the Granblue part... mostly fell off because this came out around the same time as the actual collab? And I got distracted and also had other shows to watch. I'll get back to you Sakura... maybe if Winter 2019 has nothing.

BEST SHOW I WILL NEVER WATCH BUT IS STILL AWESOME: THUNDERBOLT FANTASY

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Okay so Thunderbolt Fantasy suffers from the same problems that I have with VRAINS but instead of watching through it like an episode every three months I never actually start episode 1. Everything I've seen about this show is sick, hilarious, awesome. I fucking love puppets. I will eventually watch this one day maybe. For now though it just sits in my Queue... as more seasons get Greenlit and it gets much bigger...

I mean not all is lost, I didnt get obsessed with Jojo until like midway into part 3 being aired and i marathon'd the entire series after seeing Zappelli punch a frog so softly that he made the rock underneath it crack. All it takes is that one moment when I actually see the episode, and then I'm lost.

BEST SHOW I DIDN'T EXPECT TO LIKE AT ALL BECAUSE IT WAS AN SAO PROPERTY: SAO ALTERNATIVE: GUN GALE ONLINE

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I don't like Sword Art Online. I shouldn't like Gun Gale Online. I came out of Gun Gale Online now completely hating Sword Art Online. Mostly hopped up on memories of MMO Junkie (YES ITS NOT THE SAME THING AT ALL, YES I KNOW ABOUT THE GUY WHO MADE IT), I was softened... up to this idea a bit I guess. I don't normally like Isekai at all, but I make my exceptions, I'm a man of simple tastes. I like Overlord, I like Konosuba, I like this show. All oddly share kind of the same reasons why I like the show. Yes I'm human garbage I won't deny that.

Akimbo Grenade Launcher Loli is my spirit animal
Akimbo Grenade Launcher Loli is my spirit animal

All due seriousness though, yes this show is not without its flaws or its bad CGI near the end, but man there were a lot of good shootouts, the show came out around the height of the PUBG balloon so I was super sold on the this pink soldier loli going around kicking literal elementary school kid ass in a videogame. The later story bits are kind of insane and mostly driven by the antics of an insane person who just so happens to be the one person that the main character LLENN adores in real life... then more weird shit happens, there's a laser sword, I'm told the laser sword is from SAO... I dunno, I had fun. Honestly, isn't that what... anime... is SUPPOSED to be about?

BIGGEST SURPRISE: ZOMBIE LAND SAGA

Seriously if you didn't get the memo from the last category.
Seriously if you didn't get the memo from the last category.

Okay so most of Cygames outings this year seemed to come out of a random draw (AAAAAAAYYYYYY) from a hat and whatever two concepts they pulled out... that's what they make a show about... except the second concept was always "Idols" apparently. Case in point, their first outing with this idea being... the girls are Race Horses. Yet while Umamusume proceeded to dominate BD sales over the actual "Popular" shows like Violet Evergarden and... the OTHER show, by being an outlet to buy really cheap Granblue items normally valued at hundreds of dollars for the LOW LOW PRICE OF 120 USD. Zombie Land Saga just decided to exist as a show about Zombies... and the zombie girls are also idols.

Nothing about this show should work, but somehow Cygames, the thing they just threw together without developing a game for in the process *coughcoughthehorsegamewasdelayedintonextyearcoughcough*, turned out to be their surprise hit. A show with a ludicrous plot, carried by its superb comedy writing, and vocal talent (honestly that reminds me of another show near and dear to my heart), it also boasted one of the best episodes of the year revolving around the littlest member of the idol group... I cried. I don't know if they had more planned, or had a gacha game now in the works for this... all I know is that I will eventually want more Zombie Land SAGA. I fell in love with this cast of characters. I love Saki being this 90's ass punk kid with a fixation on Tamogachi, I love Lily because its a character you normally don't see that often being treated like a serious manner, I love Tae because... well... yeah. Also you really can't go without acknowledging the mad performance that Mamoru Miyano gives as his character Kotaro, the fucking insane producer of this zombie idol group, who just... literally is having the time of his life.

Theres laughter, tears, and overall enjoyment throughout this show. It arguably is way better than it had any right to be. It also has a sick ass opening that in all honesty is about as zany as the show itself. Give this one a watch, I can't recommend it enough.

RUNNER UP: LAST PERIOD

Last Period doesn't win this mostly because I gave it Best Episode over Zombie Land, and all honesty I enjoyed Zombie Land more as it came from nothing, where as Last Period came from I could believe this property was from a fake game... but its real. STILL check both of them out if you get the chance.

BEST OPENING: GOBLIN SLAYER

... JUST KIDDING GUYS IT'S YU-GI-OH VRAINS, ITS ALWAYS YU-GI-OH

...*coughcough* Okay with all seriousness this was a super hard year for Openings... fuck even the worst show of the entire year has one of the best openings of the bunch... Yet there's just something about Goblin Slayer's opening that just speaks to me. It says... alot of broken english and nonsense, but it's the WAY its said that makes me go like "YEAH LETS KILL SOME GOBLINS AND NOT HORRIBLY DIE MAYBE"

Also like I can't really fit Goblin Slayer any other way into these awards mostly because I wouldn't call it the "best" adaptation or anything, but man this fucking show got me to read the manga and maybe even the LN in the future, I can't stop thinking about it... and there's atleast one show that is better than it that came out this year. So I give it best opening, I can't stop listening to it, much like the other ones that were so good, but it fits the tone of the show so well and its just, good.

RUNNERS UP... THERES A COUPLE OF THEM (links because im not embedding a thousand youtube videos)

ZOMBIE LAND SAGA (GO BACK ABOVE TO WATCH IT)

... DARLING IN THE FRANXX - (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzJqxT1UGho) (Franxx... we're not going into it now but yes, if I was giving an award out for an entire OST, it would go to... this fucking show, its only strong point)

SAO: GGO - (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1RMnM782u8) It rips... atleast for me it did

LAST BUT NOT LEAST: SSSS.GRIDMAN - (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd-1FWppNTA) This shit is more hype than You Say Run... atleast for me. GRIDMAN does not win this category because...

BEST ENDING: SSSS.GRIDMAN

Youthful Beautiful... is the best ending out of the entire year... AGAIN, at least for me. This is the only other anime song I've listened to nonstop as soon as I heard it play after the first episode... and it just hooks me. It's a great song to cap off of watching just about any of the episodes, it always got me pumped to wait for the next episode week after week.

BEST CHARACTER: Kotaro Tatsumi - Zombie Land SAGA

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It's really hard to pick one character from the entire cast of this show, but in terms of raw energy and performance none of them quite hit the same level as the eccentric producer that runs the idol zombie group Franchouchou. Right from the get go his bombastic personality is what drives the group into doing early shows that devolve into headbanging death metal concerts, a pretty sick rap battle, and really really misguided PR stunts that include doing a commercial for a local fried chicken restaurant. Almost none of his plans work out in the logical sense, but still manage to accomplish a sense of progression for the group. Whenever something questions his intent, he always reaffirms his dominance over the situation by going on incredibly hilarious and insane tangents, and he's really REALLY good at saying the word "Go".

If you removed Kotaro from the show, quite honestly we probably wouldn't even be talking about it right now.

RUNNERS UP:

Anti - SSSS.GRIDMAN

I thought Anti's character arc throughout the entire 12 episode run was one of the best of the year. His transformation from run of the mill kaiju villain to cool guy kaiju with the heart of a human was paced reasonably well. His desire to kill Gridman because that's what he was born to do to becoming an actual Gridman, still fostering the rivalry with the character himself but gaining the want to help people. He was given a whole lot more depth than he ever really needed, and it's not wasted.

HONDA-SAN - SKULLFACE BOOKSELLER HONDA-SAN

Honda-san is merely a relatable retail worker, to me at least. He tends to get a lot of people who come in expecting him to know exactly what they want because he simply works there. He has is specialties but doesn't know everything, and then fights social anxiety trying to give them the best experience possible. I've probably have found more depth in him than I was supposed to given this is a 10 minute runtime show, but it's an endearing show to me, and also hilarious where others find it hard to watch because of the "cringe" factor.

BEST MOMENT OR SEQUENCE: THE HELLSHAKE YANO SKIT FROM POP TEAM EPIC

AND I STILL CAN'T FIND THE ENGLISH CLIP GODDAMN IT

RUNNER UP: SPECIAL YAOI BOOK - SKULLFACE BOOKSELLER HONDA-SAN

If you liked that clip... thats the entire show. So you either get to enjoy MORE of it, or, you've seen everything that you have needed to and don't need anymore of it! It truly is Anime of the Year 2018.

The "Hey, don't fucking watch this"

I have never felt so much anger towards a thing since the Mass Effect 3 ending
I have never felt so much anger towards a thing since the Mass Effect 3 ending

(I have rewritten this part of the blog almost 4 times now, I have too much negativity to say about this show that it turns into one long tangent that still manages to not fully say what I want it to say)

Darling in the FranXX is very much a show that should have had it all. Within the first two episodes you had a mysterious world filled with intrigue, a cast of colorful characters with many varied personalities. The lines were never set in stone with who you thought were against the main characters, the show honestly kept you guessing who you were supposed to root against. The totalitarian government that the kid pilots were born to serve or the giant kaiju robots that were actually destroying everything the government was trying to hold together. Not only that, Zero Two honestly had the best character design out of the entire year of there being characters created or adapted for their shows.

She was literally designed to sell merch.
She was literally designed to sell merch.

This show stops being enjoyable around episode 4 when it throws off the facade of it being about giant robots fighting other robots, and it heavily leans on manufactured character dramas and love quadrangles. The second half introduces so many goddamn subplots with absolutely no time to develop any of them. It tries to say important things about human life, transhumanism, the importance of individuality, and of course the continuation of breeding as a species. All the while bringing up these topics and having nothing of substance to actually say about them, aside from the breeding as a species because the ENTIRE second half is devoted to two of the teens getting it on and getting married... and they weren't even the main couple.

In the end Darling in the FranXX is a worthless show not worth yours, mine, or anyones time. It squanders the raw potential it had with really poor writing, a terrible attention to its own worlds detail in both the first and second half. It had THE one moment of the year where it spiraled the fanbase to write death threats to everyone that WASN'T involved with how one single episode was written. I never want to think about this show again, I wasted 12 hours of my life that I will never get back because I was so curious and dumbfounded about this show that I believed TRIGGER could pull it out in the end with some sort of miraculous ridiculous stunt. They couldn't, and I was left wondering if I could give TRIGGER the benefit of the doubt ever again. This collaboration of A1 and TRIGGER, for me, will go down as one of the worst anime shows to be made in the last decade... Don't fucking watch this.

Which is why it surprised me that The Best Show of the Year was...

TRIGGER HAD FINALLY DONE IT, THEY HAD SAVED ANIME. From what? THEMSELVES. (Ha ha, I didn't come up with that joke). Yes, SSSS.Gridman is the collaboration product by the People who make Ultraman, and the people who brought you classics such as Inferno Cop and Ninja Slayer (specifically the director attached to this project). These people came together to not only put out a show I shouldn't nearly have such an affinity for, but all the while doing everything right that... the OTHER show tried to do, but succeeds in full force. Even weirder that Gridman manages to accomplish so much more than FranXX could with having only half of the episode count.

Every week during the Fall Season I made it a habit to always watch Gridman before my Jojo, my Goblin Slayer, my Zombie Idols (since it aired on a different day and only binged everything on Saturday), I was so entrapped with how the story was slowly being rolled out, the sense of mystery and intrigue always permeated the entire series. You found out important story bits piece by piece in a logical manner rather than a massive info dump that nearly destroys the entire world you have built up. Once again you have TRIGGER nailing character design as they have been known to do for almost all of their shows. MOST IMPORTANTLY, MOST IF NOT ALL CONFLICTS WITHIN THE SHOW ALWAYS GET SOLVED BY USING GRIDMAN. It does not lose itself trying to build characters, it uses Gridman to drive the plot, as he should HIS FUCKING NAME IS ON THE TITLE CARD. All other conflicts that do not require the use of Gridman, get solved in a timely manner and do not overshadow what the show is supposed to be about.

a dramatization of how anime fans see CGI in their shows
a dramatization of how anime fans see CGI in their shows

I can't get over the fact that Over Justice is the bad guy
I can't get over the fact that Over Justice is the bad guy

The most magical thing about Gridman is, most of TRIGGER's failings in all of their shows, are not at all apparent in Gridman. The story is for better or worse (the last two episodes are up for debate) are properly paced, there is proper character development, there are actually no hidden behind the back twists to be found in the show, almost everything is alluded to at some point, hell they even get around the "Aliens show up lmao" by just... having the acknowledgement of aliens in the show at the start. Not only did they receive the tools to succeed in the writers aspect (by having someone who knows how to write these kinds of stories), they also do the impossible by using clunky looking CGI... and making it the standout quality of the show. CGI use in the industry is normally met with negative backlash, but where most shows use it as a detriment, Gridman uses it as it's greatest strength. Because it is an Ultraman property, because those shows had wacky people in suits punching eachother in minature cities, the CGI use in Gridman almost perfectly emulates that feeling of watching one of those shows in a 2D format. As the show goes on too, the people doing the CGI work, get really fucking good at it too. Honestly later CGI fights no longer feel clunky at all, they feel natural and surreal to the extent that it felt like I watch human beings grow as actual talent.

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The only thing I can criticize Gridman for is I don't think it quite sticks the landing, but the final showdown between Gridman (Which actually BUSTS OUT his original design and the original intro to the show they were retelling) and Alexis Kerib was so great and ends in such a feelgood cheeseball way that I can totally let that slide. I had so much fun watching this show, getting to love Yuta, Rikka, Utsumi, the Neon Genesis Junior High students, Anti, and of course to a lesser extent Akane. If you have the time to, this is absolutely the one show of the entire year that I would blow my "IF you had to watch one show this year" recommendation on. Hell even after this I actually want to go watch some real ass Ultraman.

RUNNER UP: GOBLIN SLAYER

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I like Goblin Slayer, I enjoy the premise of it. It's anime adaptation takes some liberties by swapping around certain arcs in the story and taking a much more serious tone by cutting down a lot of the exaggerated cutesy anime laced in with the gritty grimdark edge that can be found within the manga. It plays to its own strengths while in the process loses some of its charm.

Also theres questionable use of CGI in a lot of places (but like... not CGI bear bad), and there's definitely some... odd choices in the show itself (They seriously like had a shot of a reflection inside of a Canary's eyeball on screen for a good 5 minutes to end an episode, like what the fuck.) At the end of the day though this is a property I can't stop thinking about, and I will continue to read it as chapters come out.

whenever the fuck that is I guess.
whenever the fuck that is I guess.

The end, and things I couldn't get to:

  • I didn't watch a single thing during the summer season... I hear Hinamatsuri was good though.
  • I watched more shows than just FranXX in winter but definitely did not finish them or mention them. Sorry YuruCamp and Megalobox
  • There are definitely shows I wanted to watch and just added them to the queue that I also didn't mention. Sorry Gundam Build Drivers.
  • I actually want to watch Cells at Work before Winter arrives, seemed like something I would enjoy
  • ... Sorry MHA and JoJo Part 5. JoJo is still JoJo, but man if you fell off MHA a bit after the license exam arc... I consider the next one to be one of my personal least liked.

At the end of it all:

I don't think I nearly watched enough anime this year at all, yet from the shows I did watch I did enjoy myself quite a bit. This year boasts one of my all time favorite shows, continued my love for all things Jojo, and of course Cygames slow but steady dominant rise to conquer all forms of media the likes nobody is even paying any attention to.Did you guys know they held a fanfest at the end of the year and announce an Arksys fighting game that NOBODY is even talking about?! I must be fucking going crazy!

Here's to another year of cool guy activities, we have the return of both ONE's creations in Mob Psycho and One Punch Man Season 2, and the theatrical release/sequel to my ALL time favorite anime Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection... I sincerely hope it is good. We're in for another year folks, stay tuned.

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Meester's "Games" of the "Year" 20"18"

Another year it has been...

Another year where I just didn't muster up the strength to do what I want to do, and that is write about videogames. Yet at the end of they year is when I make the exception, even if I myself personally didn't actually play too many new releases this year. 2018 was... a year for me in the space of games. I saw myself bouncing off of AAA titles left and right (bouncing being my wallet taking the hits while I 80% of the time felt disappointed). I saw more comfort in the mobile space, and somewhat saw some interesting things in the indie scene even if I didn't go out of my way to complete the games I wanted to before the year finished out.

I'm going to be completely blunt here. Theres more games that I just didn't finish than completed. I'm not making any sort of top anything list, this is awards I'm giving to games that I either managed to enjoy from start to finish, or shellack for... not in a sense wasting my time, but... I guess in my mind practicing bad game design? I'm not an expert or pretending to be one, and I'm definitely not going to tell people how they should make games with this, but man, holy shit, were there a ton of games that had so much crap systems that did not fit in with the game they were trying to make. Does it hurt the games that practice this? Yes, and we'll get into that when the time is right but for now let's start off with some positive categories. Starting with...

Gacha of the Year:

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What started as a simple Chinese bootleg of the original anthropomorphic ship game Kantai Collection by Kadokawa, eventually sporadically turned into one of the biggest names in the genre itself (with the help of Kadokawa's poor business sense and as well the... Kemono Friends incident), Azur Lane made its way Stateside unlike its counterpart and quickly made it clear that... PEOPLE WANTED THIS, I WANTED THIS. I am a sucker for anime girls that are also WW2 warships, and when this game launched out of the CBT in late August I just had to get my grubby little hands all over it.

At its core Azur Lane is a very competent and somewhat laid back Shmup that is easy to get into. It starts off very easy with the first couple of chapters before eventually scaling the difficulty of the missions on the back half. Events have varied in difficulty from being somewhat of a pushover to actually needing to pay attention to what is coming at your characters. While in battle you control the Vanguard fleet while the ships you pick to back you up in the main fleet offer artillery support and or bombing runs via aircraft carriers. Most of the time you can mix and match boats of your liking to fit any team composition, with some higher difficulties limiting your fleets to have mandatory Cruisers, Destroyers, Carriers and whatnot.

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The game is probably... the most friendly gacha game I have ever played. This is coming from someone who will tell you that Granblue if you work hard enough you can succeed in anything you put your mind to. Azur Lane is very much a game about picking the right boats for the right jobs, but it's not the lengthy time commitment that Granblue, and the rest of its ilk require. Common rarity boats can be upgraded to higher rarities via the Retrofit system, and can see the same use as higher rarity ships, and even outperform them. Some of the best ships start off as Blues and end up becoming complete powerhouses after being retrofit (if they have one available that is). The best part of all of this is that the game doesn't require you to spend hours grinding these boats to the level they need to be to do their jobs, you can take your time, playing even just 30 minutes a day can accomplish a lot.

Not only that... even though I don't recommend it because the game is super generous with its gacha rolling currency, Wisdom Cubes, it is actually the most affordable gacha game on the market. Heck a hard 10 roll in any other game will cost you upwards of 30 dollars, which is... insane. While it's very easy to get cubes passively without spending money, the barrier to do a hard 10 roll in Azur Lane is literally a fraction of that original cost, with 11 cubes costing you around five american dollars. Yes, I'm very much aware that I'm still defending gambling by telling you that this is basically penny slots compared to high stakes texas hold'em, but in the grand scheme of things the goal of Azur Lane is to eventually collect all the boats, and I feel like Yongshi understands this to a degree and doesn't... overexert your wallet to reach this goal at all. My own collection has been hovering around the 79% mark after nearly every event.

Owari da, motherfucker
Owari da, motherfucker

The game gets updated almost on a weekly basis with new story content, events to participate in, and new ships to construct. It is a never ending treadmill of good times for myself. I should also mention that there IS PvP in this game... but we won't talk about the PvP, the picture provided next to these words pretty much sums up one half of the current meta game until the US version catches up with the Chinese client. If you yourself are interested in the fantastical world of anthropomorphic boat girls, I would recommend this game as the entry point. It's free to check out and doesn't cost you a dime to stay committed... until you run out of dock space for your ships because you've literally collected 150 unique ships and have no where else to put them.

Honorable Mention: Dragalia Lost

Dragalia is basically the spiritual successor to Granblue Fantasy, made by the people who brought you Granblue Fantasy, with the artist originally on the relatively unknown gacha game Last Period, all the while being licensed by our uncle at Nintendo. It is by far the BEST playing gacha game on the market, and the only reason why it doesn't beat out Azur Lane is... they are constantly fucking up design decisions, event modes, and also the endgame bosses currently require you to be SUPER LUCKY and pull mandatory Dragons and Characters to even participate in them. This game has the stuff to be the next BIG thing, but they're still figuring it out. Atleast with every fuck up, we get free shit. I've gotten so lucky with this game though I'm heavily invested in all the elements at the moment.

"Game" of the Year 2018

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My own love for Monster Hunter comes from the Wii entry of the series, Tri. I loved Tri so much, I loved the underwater combat, the flagship monster of Tri, and of course everyones original shithead Deviljho made his first appearance in it. When Monster Hunter World first made its appearance at E3 2016... I was excited for a videogame, that doesn't really happen anymore. Everything about Monster Hunter back onto a flagship console with proper controller support. Heck even when the demo came out I made it a personal mission with my friends to take down the Nergigante in the demo before we even fought him in the main game. Everything about Monster Hunter World feel so much better than it has ever been, the game is definitely not without its own shortcomings, which we will cover but this game was so good to me I bought it twice, once it hit PC I put the console version away and started fresh.

I just don't know where to begin with this game honestly, There's just so much good and so much bad that I don't think I have enough time to cover all of it. The game on PC looks and runs so much better than I would have ever imagined a Monster Hunter to ever be. All the changes to the verticality, mounting monsters has never been easier to do outside of insect glaive. Almost all of the combo string changes made to each and every weapon, with the clear winner coming out of those updates being the Bow, this game was the adrenaline shot the bow originally needed, it is so much... better than it was in previous versions of the game thanks to quick charging on dodges so bows don't lose precious uptime trying to reposition mid fight. From the ground up Monster Hunter World was built to be the best feeling game in the franchise, and it definitely shows in spades.

This weapon has never felt... so good.
This weapon has never felt... so good.

Yet with the improvements with just overall gameplay, online is... still a nightmare. Monster Hunter World arguably has the WORST online out of the entirety of the series, with the early server traffic making the game hard to connect to like its DS counterparts, it really didn't help that co-op wasn't at all seamless. Since Monster Hunter was used to splitting the single player and multiplayer missions up, when it came to make a game that combined both... it made this clunky mess of people trying to join their friends to play but couldn't until the leader of the quest had watched the cutscene, along with everyone else trying to participate in the quest as well. Which led to you and your friends, starting the same mission, progressing to the parts to the monster introduction, abandoning the mission, and then reposting the mission on the board once everyone was out and saw what they needed to see. It should just be a minor gripe but holy shit did this really break the flow of the game. I ended up soloing every story related quest, and only decided to hunt monsters with friends on optional quests if we were looking to get the same monster hunts in. Despite its co-op shortcomings, this is probably the first Monster Hunter where I myself just enjoyed playing the game solo, and learning all the fights on my own, rather than just waiting for friends to show up and or randoms to three cart on missions leading to failure.

With the expansion and new content on the horizon, there hasn't been a better time to get back into the game. As a wise man once said, there has never been a better time to hunt monsters.

Honorable Mention: Warhammer: Vermintide II

I really liked the first game and never really got the chance to play it mostly due to people just didn't want to take a new person through the levels and have them not know where all the stuff is. Vermintide II fixed that problem for me with the different difficulty modes and actual functional gear score system that feels like it actually belongs in the game. More of the same with much more Warhammer than I could ever hope to kill. It doesn't take top honors simply because I failed to reach the endgame and fell off of it for a while. Yet I did rebuy it just a bit ago on PS4 with some friends so... heres hoping!

Best Game As A Service (Ongoing Game):

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I don't know how we got here. This game, while last year during my lists, was rightfully robbed by Danganronpa V3 as the most disappointing game to come out in that year of 2017. What ended up happening post disappointment ended up snowballing into me full-on quitting the game, with a friend of mine who was part of my raid group ended up getting banned for running a virtual machine at the same time as the game being open. I didn't even want to do Osiris, Warmind was a joke, I had no group to go back to, my clan was still rooted on the PC. The game was dead for me, and none of it was even close to what the game used to be.

Forsaken would come out, and I would just sit there and wait. "The grind is back" I was told, "There was a reason to log in and play every week". I didn't buy it, I didn't want to. It seems like out of principle, nobody should buy Forsaken, because this is the mirror image of Destiny. Bungie shouldn't have been awarded a pass for repeating the same play out of the same book... Then the expansion went on sale and I was like why not... atleast it wasn't the worst thing to be playing in November. I treked through Warmind begrudgingly holding onto my character boost for... whatever reason. I made it to the prison of elders to watch a character I didn't really like actually meet his end. I traveled to the Tangled Shore and killed all of the guys. Beat up the man responsible for all of the bad things happening... a Beholder showed up for some reason but hey, I actually had a pretty good time for once in a Destiny story so there's that.

Though what awaited me after the story was... man, a grind. The process of getting geared up took time again. The process of infusing gear got expensive again. Former farmable materials that you just traded in for pointless rep had uses again. Things that made the game fun to play, the things that gave me a daily objective and goal were in the game again. I should be mad it took so long for it to be added, but in the end I can't really be that upset, because they legitimately fixed the game for the better and I honestly didn't expect that somehow? I eventually was able to get to the Dreaming City which was by far the most surprising addition, I wasn't expecting an entire playable zone after The Tangled Shore. The amount of content coming out on a weekly basis as well... Destiny 2 is finally the game that I wanted the first one to be, a live game, with constant events and a stream of meaningful content coming into the game at a reasonable pace. They figured it out... but for how long?

I bet whoever is thinking about the next thing in the Destiny franchise is thinking hard about what needs to happen. Will Destiny 3 fall to the same fate as 2 and be stripped down to its barren bones state? Who knows, I don't, but I know that... I should just wait and see. For now though, good job Bungie, you... did good, real good.

Honorable Mention: Granblue Fantasy

... Okay it was a down year for the game i'm trapped in a hyperbolic time chamber for the rest of eternity. Yet even though NEW content wasn't really... good. Old content was still done and achieved. The game received alot of QoL updates, a UI makeover. Enough for it to be mentioned based off of the fact it was a very new player friendly year for the game. It keeps getting bigger, and some might even say... it's not stopping anytime soon.

Best Game I didn't finish this year (but definitely next year)

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Hell, I should just wrap this up as the Best Surprise category as well but the runner up isn't really a surprise for me. Cross Code is for all intensive purposes, an isekai. Isekai is the the genre of anime currently taking the world by storm, it's when the characters of said show are transported to a different world, ideally a fantasy or sci-fi roleplaying game-like world. I normally actually do not like this trope. I only enjoy it in small doses, even though two of my favorite shows in the last year and a half do use this trope, ONE of them a spawn from the property that has us stuck in this hellhole of a setting. YET THIS IS A LIST ABOUT GAMES NOT ANIME (even though most of the list is anime inspired games...).

Cross Code is this weird mishmash of puzzle platformer, with real time action combat with rpg mechanics... which actually doesn't sound too weird since most games tend to either do colum a and c... or b and c.... or just c with some other stupid bullshit. Yet the way Cross Code sets it up in this pseudo MMO world... kinda took me by surprise. It is a combat system that rewards you for killing as much shit as possible and doing it as fast as possible as the kill combo chains the more EXP you get the more EXP you get the more you can bully around the trash mobs in the area. I really have to hammer this point home though, it pretends to be an MMO, like a real old MMO... so you actually start off pretty understated compared to alot of the trash you see in the first area of the game... and i fucking loved that. I love how evocative this game is of its source material. It doesn't nail everything I mean, its not going to its a single player game. Yet the fact that this simple touch of detail was added in, and keeps being a relevant detail as you go through the zones is... kind of heartwarming.

The story itself, I haven't gotten past the second dungeon I guess is what you could consider my progress but, so far I love the characters, the party system seems rad, while the game itself can be a bit corny at times (I mean all the classes are related to geometric shapes), its charming. It's crazy that a game like this can be so massive in meaningful ways as we keep running into AAA games that continue to fail at extending the lengths of their worlds with... really boring collectathon or sidequest shit. I will get back to this, I promise, it's just been a... gacha year.

Honorable Mention: Dragon Quest XI

HEY TURNS OUT PEOPLE STILL WANT JRPG ASS JRPGS. I got past the first act, and I really REALLY need to get back to this game. The only reason why it's not THE winner is mostly due to the fact that, its less interesting? Not in a bad way, this is actually my first DQ game, but I absolutely LOVE the simplicity of the world and the terminology in said world. That being said, the game is definitely able to deliver certain depths of complexity with it. This is a good mindless game as well, it reminds me alot of Granblue Fantasy with its combat and how its just... fun to beat up stuff, and then you super overlevel that stuff, then you just instantly kill that stuff... AND THE MONSTER DESIGN IS THE BEST.

Old Game of 2018:

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This was the only game I wrote about in 2018, and I very much wanted to turn the start of this into something I could work on throughout the year... it kinda fell through but hey, new year anything is possible. I digress, Lisa was a game that was in my backlog for so long after falling in love with it longer than when I owned the actual game. Finally playing the game to completion for myself put it into perspective for me why I enjoy the game for what it is... It helped me close out a chapter of my life when I originally bought the game when it first came out... and why I stayed away from it for so long. To finally get that closure and experience one of... if not the best narrative I've ever experienced in a game to date, was nothing short of amazing.

Like I said in the review... Lisa, is a bad game... but it's supposed to be. It uses that to really send it home that this is a game about suffering in every sense of the word. I don't think this game is for everyone... but if I ever had to recommend a game for anyone to play, it would be this one.

Honorable Mention: Path of Exile

I watched a meme review and was introduced to the Toucan. In all seriousness I tried this game way back and stopped in early beta due to memory leaks. Now the game works just fine and i'm currently trying to work my way through act 7 with a build i'm making on the fly. This is a fantastic game, really deserves to win something...

Best Moment or Sequence:

THE HELLSHAKE YANO SKIT FROM POP TEAM EPIC. YES I REALLY MEAN THIS. IT TRANSCENDS ALL MEDIA (I COULDN'T FIND THE ENGLISH ONE ANYMORE, SORRY)

Honorable Mention: None.

LISA of the Year:

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Okay so... when I mean LISA of the year, I'm not giving the game the privilege of being called "the best narrative" or "a game that was important to me". I am playing this game, and suffering. The game on its own terms is... fun. The game has a good "story"... after you get past the opening chapters... like chapter 6 is where it starts to get good (I did enjoy London though). Yet... This goddamn game, I have done ten rolls with all the quartz they have given me. like 15 rolls this year alone, countless summon tickets, and I still haven't naturally picked up a 5* servant that I didn't have to fucking pay for to guarantee to drop. I want to enjoy my time with this game, and I do to an extent the events are fun and the game is pretty self aware of all its problems (jokingly) but man holy fucking shit I can't help but be a pillar of salt with this game.

IF you were to compare this game with any of the other gacha accounts I have: Azur Lane, Granblue Fantasy, Dragalia Lost. You wouldn't even think that I actually own this account by comparison with the amount of luck I actually have in those respective games.

My current servant pool (barring guaranteed 5*s and Welfare 4*s) after a year of playing (Herc and Chev were also freebies)
My current servant pool (barring guaranteed 5*s and Welfare 4*s) after a year of playing (Herc and Chev were also freebies)

The only bright side to my bad luck in this game is that I'm not... overly punished in the sense I can't progress through the game... It's only a bummer that I just don't have any rare servants... outside of the 1* avenger that apparently is rarer to get than a 5* so... take that as you will. I was unlucky enough to roll Stheno during the Merlin rate up banner, if that wasn't a kick to my dick then I don't know what is anymore. That was basically Lisa in a nutshell right there. Game is still fine, I enjoy it... I just don't ever think I will see a return on it. 8.8/10.

Honorable Mention: World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth

I transferred my one 110 character I wanted to play on the most to another server to maybe raid with a group that I was told did heroic progression in legion. They did not, the guild collapsed mid Uldir... normal progression... four weeks in. Things I do to play with friends.

Hottest Mess:

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... I didn't even play this game, don't buy asset flips people. Stop giving Todd Howard the benefit of the doubt, stop giving Bethesda money. This is the worst fear for the franchise finally realized for even people who didn't play the originals. Even worse, is that they continue to use the good name of the first games to try and bail themselves out.

I think the worst part of this fucking game is... they probably made their money back and this game was probably a commercial success for them. 100 more years of misguided Fallout I guess.

Biggest Disappointment:

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I'm just going to be completely honest, and upfront with an opinion that probably is going to sound ridiculous and incredibly unpopular... Red Dead Redemption 2, from top to bottom, left to right, northwest to to southeast, and northeast to southwest a downgrade of the original game. In almost every aspect Red Dead 1 is a superior product, and knowing the amount of time the team at Rockstar spent on Red Dead 2 to make it the way it is so jam packed with easter eggs, events, NPCs, and landscapes... They forgot to actually make the game fun.

The cores are a really bad idea that already replaced a working resource system. The whole survival lite aspect of the game where you "need" to "eat, drink, and stay warm" is so... artificial that it honestly doesn't belong anywhere in the game. Hunting animals now have the unskippable skinning animations that were eventually just sped through in the first game. What the fuck is gun oil really... I just don't get it.

On top of the very questionable gameplay designs and systems, the story has never been so ridiculous. Dutch... is not a human being, he is an alien trying to get back to his home planet. Arthur is just in the same roll as John was in the first game. He is the only sane man in a world filled with insane people, and he has to solve ALL of their problems because it's a videogame. Even John has been downgraded to one of those readily insane people, and hes the fucking guy you do that with 10 years later in the games world. I recently uninstalled the game, I'm no longer going to bother.

(Dis)Honorable Mention: God of War

God of War is a much better game than Red Dead in alot of aspects. What I don't understand though, which actually was the contributing factor of why I just stopped mid game in the first place, is why there's a fake ass gear score/leveling/rpg-lite system in this game, that actually would function better without it even has it in the first place. Which actually brings me to the next category

PLEASE, STOP.

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AAA GAMES WITH BULLSHIT RPG-LITE MECHANICS.

Look, I get it, people love to see the numbers rise up, and work towards a game that has a protagonist gain power throughout the course of the game like they are earning something. Yet... Aside from Assassins' Creed which I have not played either Odyssey and or Origins, all of these games, at least in my mind, would function either the same and or better if they didn't have these fluff progression mechanics.

God of War's whole "tie the character level exactly to the level of the pieces of gear you equip", made me drop that game in a serious manner. Especially when you play on higher difficulties, and every enemy you eventually run into no matter what you do are perpetually scaled higher than you significantly throughout the course of the game. At no point in the time that I played did I actually feel like I was ever going to get one up on enemies eventually by overpowering them. Then when it came to Muspelheim and its challenge tower format... it just broke for me. There is no issue with throwing a challenge like "Kill 100 enemies", sure okay you did that all the time in the old games... except now those enemies drip out... one by one, and every 10th enemy ended up being a Traveller, those mysterious really tanky enemies sewn throughout the game akin to Dark Soul's Black Knights. New God of War showed me it can do things the old games could never do, but when it came to emulating the old games like Muspelheim, God of War couldn't do that.

Red Dead 2's leveling of Arthur's cores are a neat idea, you know back when on the PS2 CJ had all these mundane stats that you could level up just by using stuff for long periods of time. This system when put in comparison to Red Dead's lax character progression where you just kinda unlocked new stuff as you went though the story made a whole lot more sense in the game as a whole than when Red Dead requires you to get into fist fights to level up your maximum health. Because of the limitations on Dead Eye with its core I just stopped using it, its not like Arthur even needs it in the first place the game already lets you snap onto targets, and with a minor movement upwards on the stick always leads to a headshot.

Far Cry hasn't needed skill trees, hunting animals for crafting materials, or any of that nonsense that got introduced in 3 since... well 3. I still feel like a ton of what people liked about Far Cry 3 in terms of its character progression... wasn't actually fitting the game at all. Why limit the rate of which I can get these skill points if it doesn't matter what I pick if I can literally get all the skill points. Why craft bag space when you never need bag space. If you don't need bag space why do you need to hunt. If you don't need money for anything in the game then why have money. Theres like a ton of shit that doesn't need to be in Far Cry, would it make the game worse if they weren't in the game at all? I couldn't tell you, but I know for a fact they don't make the game better. It's almost like they could have done something else with their time making something that would fit a First Person Shooter than to just tack on all these systems. Far Cry 5 kind of even proves that point a bit since now, hunting is still in the game, but its purely for getting more perks on that worthless skill tree.

Like I said, I really can't speak for Assassins Creed since I have heavily said no to playing it. Seeing the character gear screen, the new format in which the game plays, the obvious borrowing of mechanics from The Witcher... I remember when this was a pseudo stealth game with minor character upgrades, but at the same time I remember being very sick of those by the time Black Flag came out. Yes the series needed some change... but for me I don't think doing the thing every other RPG did over the course of the last 8 years... aka taking design tips from The Witcher, wasn't for me at all.

Because of the big games taking all of these maneuvers to increase player investment/player time with the game... I've just stopped playing them all together. I have... literally three games on my phone, that do character progression much better in an environment where it makes sense, all the while STILL managing to be more complex than the game I would pay 60 dollars for. Maybe I would have stuck with God of War if it was more akin to a character action game, maybe I would have tried out Odyssey if it wasn't a 60 hour game of side quests and gear progression, maybe I would like to shoot things in the ridiculous setting of Far Cry if I just... got all of those abilities off the bat.

(Dis)Honorable Mention: Trading Fun game design for Realism

This is pretty much just another shot at Red Dead 2. Gun Oil is unnecessary, being unable to skip skinning animations is unnecessary, having a one way only fast travel system is unnecessary, brushing your horse cause its dirty and doesn't regenerate health is unnecessary, low stakes poker is unnecessary, having to pump your repeater carbine manually everytime you want to shoot is unnecessary. There is just... so much unnecessary shit in this game, and it makes me wonder WHY Marston so much further down this timeline, never has to deal with any of this unnecessary bullshit.

(Dis)Honorable Mention Runner Up: Fortnite

This game is literally the fake game someone would come up with for a TV show. When all the content creation for The Game Awards was Fortnite content creators... we have a serious problem on our hands... and it's not stopping anytime soon.

Final Singularity: Endless Wall of Text, MeesterO's 2018 - END

So there you have it, this year I've officially fallen off of AAA titles, and I've fully embraced the actual future of our medium as a whole, the gacha hell. The only thing left for us to do is pray that, one of these games that gets turned into Granblue Fantasy doesn't try to hold us up at gunpoint for our bank accounts. 2019 is full of great unknowns, will Battle Royales finally go out of style? Will kids still be able to learn dance moves from Fortnite? Can I ever not play more than atleast 5 japanese mobile games at a time and get my free time to play video games again? WILL I EVER ROLL A 5* SERVANT?! Only time will tell, and in the meantime, I'm gonna try and play this Spiderman game, and finish the two JRPGs that I promised to finish on this list. I might bang out a proper top ten list this year, but I don't know quite yet, I might have actually not played 10 games from this year... or ten games at all this year. Stay tuned.

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Game of the Year 20lateteen(17)

Hello there, it's been a while, and I made a list of games I played that weren't so hot to me in the year of games 2017. While normally I try to make lists for these things and usually have them on the dot before the turn of the year. It took me a bit to realize the other things I wanted to shout out are not good to put in a list format, so a blog post will have to do. These are games I didn't want to put on an ordered list, or categories ala the GB's GOTY stuff that I felt like needed to be addressed. 2017 was a hectic year for me, I ended up cowering in a japanese browser game for most of it, bought more games than I could finish or feel good about, and worst of it all didn't even play Nier: Automata, the one game I looked forward to the most next to Splatoon 2 and Danganronpa V3. I still managed to play enough games in 2017 to compile maybe a list of great games but in the end I should have done more. So, here's my categories, I hope you enjoy, find them funny, or get insulted (not really that last part but you know, opinions they be a different sometimes)

OLD GAME OF THE YEAR (GAME OF THE "YEAR") :

GRANBLUE FANTASY

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Granblue has all but taken over my life, even more so than any MMO has ever done. One could call Granblue the ultimate MMO honestly, its not a traditional MMO by any means but has the trappings of all of them in one convenient package. From capping a currency to trade in for better gear to slowly leveling up said gear to compete in high level raids, its the distilled essence of all of that brought to a format that doesn't actually take up a ton of your time if you choose to let it not to. There's the mobile parts of the game that "try" to gate your overall playtime but in the end the developers at one point will just hand you a bunch of items to bypass it.

Honestly Granblue gets a lot right about japanese mobile games that a ton of others just don't. You have the option to just let it consume you at any point. Granblue is also considered one of the most generous of the "gacha" style games that are popular in japan, often giving its gigantic playerbase a heap of free stuff every month or two. If you told me two years ago when this game was pretty much fresh out of the oven that it would be something I care deeply about, I would have dismissed it as some shitty mobile game. Yet Granblue Fantasy pulled me in, and honestly I don't think I'll ever get out.

Hottest Tracks (Music):

PERSONA 5

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Again, I totally didn't play Nier: Automata, and I think the original Nier's three second loops of overworld music are some of the best things ever done. Persona 5 pretty much ran unopposed for me the entire year for this category. I have serious issues with this game yes but out of all of them the music isn't one of them. Right where 4 left off nearly 10 years ago the people behind some of the hottest tracks in JRPG's hadn't missed a beat (granted they got alot of work inbetween these two games) but the style, and swagger of the overall soundtrack for 5 cannot be triumphed over. The song that plays when you start the game up, blazing. The song that plays when you're completing the final day of the dungeons, heartpounding. The track that plays when you're just idling in the town, just leave it on forever. I was left whistling the main theme at work for most of the year:

I don't think I need to say anymore about this, I strongly feel that this set of music will rank among the highest in my personal lists for a long time to come.

The "I wish I got to it sooner" award presented by Nier: Automata

Horizon: Zero Dawn

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(This is the last time I mention Nier for the entire list) So, Horizon is a lot better than I was expecting. Honestly after all I was hearing about it, and my big distaste for Ubisoft open world games as of late, I decided to hold off on the jump to this one. Instead I invested in Zelda, like most people did and were (well mostly) satisfied with our open world fill for the next few months (or maybe years at this point). When the game went on sale on Black Friday for 20 dollars I decided to give in to my curiosity, and right now would probably place this game "higher" than Breath of the Wild.

Where I was expecting the bland and unnecessary feature bloat that was Far Cry, I got the more meaningful evolution of new Tomb Raider. Almost everything about this game feels good, aside from random arrow shots just going where they "feel like it man" and the bullshit accuracy of some of the mechanical robots (actually upon writing this sentence I'm starting to suspect that if I were to stand still the robots would miss most of the time as if they try to predict what direction you're going beforehand and shoot crooked on purpose, which in that case I'm actually impressed). I'm invested into putting the time into this game to finish it and see how humanity got here, and whats up with Aloy's presence in all of this. Unlike the game that is presenting this award though, I actually got to playing this game, albiet way too late for it to be on a year list, so, this will have to do. Sorry Horizon, we all make mistakes sometimes.

The "Don't make another one of these" award presented by Bioshock 2:

Danganronpa

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At this point, for me, cause I fell on the side of "This game ruins the series" side of the fence, for me to accept another Dangan game, it would have to do what this game almost did(?) and actually make the clean break from the originals. OR, better yet, reboot the whole thing. The things that V3 does not only confounds me but at the same time makes me feel like the characters from previous games that I fell in love with were wasted effort. Yes, video games aren't real, yet the fiction that we all crave (atleast for me) we want it to be cohesive, and respect the characters they decided to make. At this point, I don't actually want another one of these games, V3 jumped the shark in a way that I don't really care how they write another scenario. V3 is basically the Indie 4 or this series, I just don't want to talk about it.

Best Surprise:

PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS

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I was convinced to buy this game by a Blizzard employee. I expected this game to sizzle out like the other popular "flavor of the month" games before it. Yet here we are 86 hours later of playtime and multiple squad chickens consumed I think this game caught me off guard the most. I spent alot of time so far playing only squads and duos as solo play... just doesn't do it for me. Yet I don't feel like (except for maybe like 6 hours of that total playtime) were not enjoyed. Besides when I die I can just play Granblue until the squad dies and we start a fresh game, it's a semi enabler if you will. While I still like this game despite my feelings on where they are going to take it I don' think they can fully destroy the experience. I'm looking forward to more squad sessions for sure.

PLEASE STOP:

TURNING SINGLEPLAYER GAMES INTO JAPANESE GACHA (putting lootboxes that don't do anything for the experience)

Kinda the main offender 2017
Kinda the main offender 2017

This seriously needs to stop, moreso than multiplayer lootboxes. Not only is it a terrible practice on paper, it also causes unneeded controversy for games that don't warrant it. I had a ton of people ask me about Shadow of War and where the lootboxes play into it and I kept telling them I hadn't ran into it yet. Going through the entire game, I came to the conclusion of "Oh damn, you never need to actually buy one of these things" because in truth, you don't. Shadow of War ended up generating alot of hate for a feature that actually didn't hurt or help the game and how it plays. Shadow of War with its recent updates seems to be trying to make some sort of "infinite game service" thing, in a game that even though I'm sure people play everyday (like i don't know how but im sure some "community" exists), it doesn't have the legs for it. We could have had a game that ended when it supposed to and maybe be considered for better things even despite its massive story failings and terrible quests.

When the lootboxes actually... disrupt the way these games are being made, then we have a serious problem on our hands. Its one thing to just tack on these buyable things that dispense goodies in a game that isn't at its core designed to be like a service, but to design the game, like Battlefront 2, where the only way you upgrade IS through these boxes, how long until that seeps into single player games? I hope it doesn't but does that mean single player games on the AAA scale are on the way out? Only time will tell, and as of late its telling us "maybe?"

Best New Character:

Futaba Sakura (Persona 5)

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Out of the entire P5 cast (aside from maybe Yusuke), Futaba is the one I latched onto most. She was the most relatable, heartwarming, and lovable character, out of a cast of women that was EXTREMELY heated in terms of likability. Persona 5 had a lot of good girls, which is the most I can say about the cast overall. Some shined in the overall story, some shined in their social links. Yet none of them managed to shine in both quite like Futaba, in both the story and her social link, she felt like a meaningful character that warrants you to invest your time into getting to know her. She even manages to have one of the best moment for video games this year in my book at the end of it all.

Best Moment:

Telling Futaba that you love her

Her shocked expression, her empty dialog box for 9 full responses. I hadn't laughed harder at something so cute since Undertale managed to do it in 2015.

Best Multiplayer:

Splatoon 2

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I usually base my enjoyment off of multiplayer games I enjoy doing the most playing solo, which is weird considering even though PLAYERUNKNOWN should be in this spot I can't put it here. I don't like playing it alone, where I don't enjoy it in that, I could play Splatoon 2 all day by myself. With the new additions such as the Salmon Run, and the continued updates and support that the game has been getting, it's picking up where the first game left off and doing a faithful recreation of it. Luckily there's just more people playing it than the first one. If only there were a better way to play with friends.

Game of the Year 2017 presented by Granblue Fantasy:

Super Mario Odyssey

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Honestly I didn't think we'd ever end up in this situation again. Where I feel so strongly about a 3D Mario platformer being the best game of the year. Up until October I was almost for sure that Persona 5 would have taken the top spot warts and all. Yet here we are, with a Mario game. The controls feel amazing, the movement options are dynamite, the gimmick is slick and doesn't just make Mario platform better than he ever has but also get around the world in more imaginative ways that I didn't think were possible. The possessions are all fantastic and have their moments. This game from top to bottom is a magnificent piece of work.

You can criticize that there is a ton of barf in this game, the overabundance of Moons and how some of them are trivial to get, I would argue only help enhance the sense of exploration of the levels themselves. Yes there are some ones that are going to be like "Why" and "This is stupid", but in the end the game managed to convince me that moons out in the open mean... well shit these things can be anywhere. They help branch out the worlds, even the smaller ones to such a degree that I felt each level had its own meaningful impact. I am one of those people who enjoyed every world you went to in the game, there was never a spot where I was like "Okay let me get out of this hellhole", I went "Wait let me see if I can find this last moon before I go". Yet the open worlds and the ability to just world hop whenever you want made it so I didn't feel trapped. Above all else, the endgame challenges, when you thought this game was just a cakewalk to the end, rewards players who were looking for something more, and I think that the something more it gives delivers in a way most games did not this year. I will probably be hopping back into this game throughout 2018, its the perfect game to just pick up and play for thirty minutes at a time, for the perfect console to pick up and play anything for just thirty minutes.

The End (For Now)

2017 will not be a strong year in games for myself personally, yet for me it wasn't all negative by a longshot. It was a return for form for Nintendo as a game developer. It was the next evolution in First Person Shooters, for the genre stuck in the Call of Duty mud for so long. JRPG's are still alive and kicking, and I learned to love the mobile game market in ways I never thought I would before (even though Granblue is a browser game at heart, its opened me up to other games of the same ilk). I have come to accept, I probably will never be able to keep up with all the games of the year like I was accustomed to years ago, but its fine. It gives me a perspective on games that I never had before, it lets me value the time I have with the ones I got a chance to play, rather than it just becoming the rat race of absorbing all experiences at the same time. I will probably go back and try to play some games I missed this year... but then again Monster Hunter comes out in a couple of weeks... I'll figure it out and get back to you guys eventually. For now, have a good one, and maybe I write more in the future.

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A Classtrospective: A Minor Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward Thing

Hello, you might have guessed I have written blogs about Final Fantasy XIV in the past, and you would be right. I wrote a retrospective of A Realm Reborn covering from the launch of 2.0 to the introduction of Shiva in 2.4. and i might as well take the time before getting into discussing what I was going to in this blog, what happened to my plans in talking about this game in the long term. To keep it short and as less depressing as possible, when I was on the verge of completing the original run of Living the Fantasy, I ran into major life issues with a parent suffering from a stroke, from then on it was really hard to sit down and actually write about... well any videogames really and fell into a deep depression. For those who were actively reading those blogs and wondering where the hell the finale went and the other future Heavensward stuff I planned went, I'm gratefully and terribly sorry I let you guys down.

On top of the depression, it just became hard to write the 2.5 blog, because... well if you couldn't tell from 2.4 even if people were doing different things on a patch to patch basis... most of the content is rather the same. Aside from the story wrapping up in 2.5, alot of the content revolved around The Gold Saucer and finishing up progression on Final Coil, which half if that was covered in the 2.4 blog. I am rather glad to announce with the free time I have at the current moment and my living arrangement being polar opposite of what it was a year ago. I felt it was time to maybe try and cover something XIV related, since its a game near and dear to my heart no matter the situation. This time however, we will be covering something that had sparked my interest since the obvious meta changes in groups over the last few patches while making raid statics, is the three new classes added to the game on the launch of Heavensward. That being said I currently raid as a Machinist, but have leveled the other two to 60, and somewhat know where they currently stand in the raid meta of the game. So here we go, starting with what I know best, The Machinist.

The Introduction of The Gun-Mage

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Machinists kind of arrived on the scene with one expectation, if you didn't want to play bard and still be a support DPS, this would be your other option. When announced, they were shown off with one of the more controversial mechanics to ever be introduced to the game, which was the "Gauss Barrel" stance. At the time it was only a thing exclusive to Machinists, but as we got further down the Heavensward hole, to make things even out, they decided to give Bards the similar treatment by giving them a mechanic they never really wanted in the first place. Bards were stuck with a similar ability called "Wanderer's Minuet", which eliminated their ability to auto-attack and all their weaponskills becoming 1.5 second casts. For an entire year, Bards were able to just use abilities on the fly and in most situations, just ignore all the problems of a ranged caster class. People were outraged that because Machinists had to be a support DPS, with this clunky cast stance mechanic that Bards had to suffer as well, leading to alot of people just outright saying "I didn't level a caster".

To make matters worse, when the game finally launched, and as people were hitting 52, which was the level at which your entire DPS kit changed when getting Gauss Barrel or Wanderer's Minuet... the stance actually didn't do anything. It was just the assumption that maybe you used these stances given the correct circumstance like we were told up to the time of release, but as we continued to level, almost every single ability required the use of these stances. So why didn't these stances work? Well... they weren't tuned correctly. The original flat damage increase you got in these stances, which was 20% did NOT actually surpass the damage you would be doing with the stance off and just auto-attacking while using your abilities. On launch, this key ability that nobody really wanted was busted, along with the other abilities you just learned to mesh with this mechanic even further were useless because you were hardly ever in the stance. You couldn't even switch between the stances whenever you wanted because it was originally intended the stances when entering them be a "cast". There was a brief period of time where Machinists could stance dance on the fly with how buggy another cooldown they got, which was Rapid Fire. Rapid Fire made it so your next three weaponskill casts were instant while in Gauss Barrel, and decreased your global cooldown, meaning you could get through your three hit combo faster. Yet Rapid Fire had this unintended glitch to make it so EVERY CAST YOU DID was instant, meaning the original cast time for Gauss Barrel was skipped, and you could unload all of the Gauss Barrel exclusive abilities, then get out of the stance ASAP because of the massive amounts of damage you're losing out on because you weren't auto-attacking. Some people were even convinced this wasn't even a bug, that this was an intended thing Machinists were supposed to do, but that was proven to be utter crap when you could literally cast Rapid Fire, then select a mount and forego the cast animation on the mount and instantly get on your chocobo.

After that whole little spiel, Square did admit they kind of screwed up the whole stance idea, and proceeded to fix it. Stances were no longer a casted ability like Cleric Stance (Which was one of the first stances in the game that did stance dancing, how Square managed to mess up stance dancing for a class that actually DPS'd was beyond me). On top of that the potency of your attacks were also buffed to 30%, which means it was now officially a DPS loss to not be in Wanderer's or Gauss Barrel 90% of the time. I mostly wanted to cover this part of the classes history first, mostly due in part of how much it actually effected an existing class, as well it being one of the most controversial parts of Machinists. However, this wasn't the end to their woes, aside from having one of its core mechanics busted on launch, Machinists on initial impressions became one of the most hated/underused classes in the game from the period of 3.0 to 3.2.

The Machinist Dilemma (Before Gordias Savage)

So the class was already underperforming before the buff to Gauss Barrel, but even after the buff to the stance, the class was being hit with a lot of hatred and disapproval from the community as a whole. It seemed like every dungeon had a Machinist in it nowadays, and for every machinist you got in your Dungeon Finder queue, you could add another 20 minutes to when you were going to get out of it. People GLOBALLY thought that Machinists did shit damage compared to even its support class counterpart. When people met Machinists in any form of content, they were met with groans, disapproval, and even kicked from dungeons. Some people were even quick to ban them from doing any endgame content because, hey, why is the warrior doing more damage than your bad class you decided to level to 60. It was a disaster, and even when people were figuring out the class, they still weren't putting up the numbers to justify bringing along a Machinist to do anything.

Final Fantasy XIV is no stranger to elitism and parsing people against their will, I mean it just comes with the MMO territory. Yet, when it comes to this game, there still is no official way to track DPS numbers without being considered a "cheater" in the terms of service for the game. Most of the problems Machinists faced however actually came from this very issue. One of their most important cooldowns, and the way it was being tracked in-game did NOT show up on the third party plugins we use to track DPS in Final Fantasy. Wildfire is one of the most interesting abilities in the game even today, it is a fifteen second dot that is applied on your target. Once applied, all damage that you do while Wildfire, up to 20% of it upon the falling off of Wildfire will be applied to the target. Meaning once your damage spike is over, you will do one last huge burst of damage at the end of it. The way this damage was applied though was new and foreign to both the programs and the game itself. Final Fantasy didn't even track the damage itself in the combat log, later upon some hotfixes, they were able to get this ability to be tracked properly, and even display the amount of damage on screen so you yourself can see if you hit a really huge number.

Another issue with people mistaking Machinist's possible damage potential was the fact most of the fights at the start of 3.0's endgame pre-raid environment were terribly designed for the class. At the end of the leveling process for Heavensward, there were only two extreme trials to do, Bismarck and Ravana. Bismarck was a bane to all Machinists as a fight in general. Machinists excel in fights with a target that will be alive and targetable for more than 15 seconds. This seems like a very silly concept I know but for Machinists its kind of important, as again, Wildfire needs to be ON the target for atleast 15 seconds and fall off properly to record any of the damage its going to do. The Bismarck fight is essentially 8 adds, the two intermission mini-bosses that act as a DPS check, and Bismarck's back for small amounts of time. Here is a visual aid:

Most of the fights in the game were these very... awkward encounters that really didn't display the right numbers for the class. Even Ravana being a more traditional boss, alot of his mechanics just didn't properly time with Machinist cooldowns. When playing a Machinist or Bard, proper cooldown alignment (meaning when you have the right cooldowns up at the same time at all times) is the most important part of keeping your damage up. Its a class of extreme highs and very bad lows. It has improved since Heavensward has moved along with some class changes here and there, but back in the initial launch, being able to do this huge burst of great damage was all we had, and the fact these fights kind of downplayed that aspect of our class really hurt peoples perception of the class in the long run. Yet we didn't exactly redeem ourselves in the next example either.

Battle of Utility (Gordias, Alexander Savage)

After the time I spent with Machinist, and the buffs being what they were for the class on the initial launch of Alexander, I myself was even skeptical of Machinist's viability in progression raiding. I even leveled Bard to 60 and grabbed a bow from Ravana just in case shit hit the fan and I would become a detriment to my raid group just because I wanted to play the cool class with the robot pal that's dumb as bricks (to be fair the turret doesn't have an AI, Square gave up on AI controlled pets after they abandoned summoner pets). To be completely honest, I still question my decision to raid on Machinist back then for Gordias. I was able to clear every floor, but despite that Machinist was considered a significant downgrade compared to Bard in nearly every fight.

One of the main reasons why can be blamed entirely on both of the classes utility at the time. Bards synergy with casters went pretty far with groups picking them over Machinists for their compositions. Bards have a song called Foe's Requiem, which while the song is up lowers all enemy target's magic resistance by 10%. Paired with another ability they get, Battle Voice, which doubles the effectiveness of the song the bard is currently playing, meaning all magic damage done to the target in that timeframe is increased to 20%. Not only did casters benefit from this, but your scholar offhealer who mostly DPS'd also benefited from this as well.

Machinists on the otherhand got a move called Hypercharge, and Hypercharge depending on what turret you have out at the current moment, increases physical or magic vulnerability by 5%. The Machinist had no other ability to go with this, it was a flat 5% physical damage with the Rook turret, or 5% magic damage with the Bishop turret. Naturally in the raid environment there isn't much to AoE down in Final Fantasy unless its a fight like the Cuff of the Father where there is no actual boss, but a wave based survival mode disguised as raid content, so using Bishop which does 20 less potency on a single target compared to Rook was almost never worth it even for your casters. On top of that Battle Voice could be used to buff the Bard's resource spells if you really needed to, even if its considered a DPS cooldown. On the other hand Hypercharge can do the same thing, but it was wasteful to use Hypercharge in such a way because of the fact it was alot of damage you were potentially missing out on otherwise.

The only real utility tool that Machinists had over Bards was the abilities Dismantle and Rend Mind. Both of these cooldowns essentially do the same thing, they lower the targets damage by 5%, Dismantle lowers Physical and Rend Mind lowers magical. Its been a personal belief of mine that even though mitigating damage is huge no matter what the small percentage, that having these two separated into two different buttons has always been ability bloat. With a class that already has alot of buttons to boot, I hope one day that these two abilities could just be combined, but I guess that would be too similar to what Astrologians offer. Luckily near the end of Gordias progression, the DPS numbers for both Bards and Machinists had caught up to each other pretty evenly, even though Bards were still being picked over Machinists for raid groups at this point in time. Atleast on Leviathan, Machinists were kind of a rarity to see clear past Arm of the Father, aka The Pepsi Man, but maybe we go over that story in another blog.

Here and Now (Midas, Alexander Savage)

Upon discovery that Machinists were maybe under utilized at the endgame spectrum, Square in its vast knowledge of class balance, decided to make one of the most important changes to the class since the stance dance debacle. It was maybe a simple change in hindsight, but it was a welcome one at that, by merely upping the damage increase on Hypercharge to 10% instead of 5%, it practically changed the utility game in favor of the Machinist this time around. On top of that, because of the huge gear increase from 210 to the new 220 crafted set and some 230 pieces, the machinist overall DPS percentile completely overshot Bards by the hundreds. Meaning for the first time in the classes history, it was able to outperform its counterpart class by a large margin. On top of that, the overall damage increase from a Hypercharge turret was nearly incomparable thanks to the fact that 5 members out of your normal group are doing physical damage. When put up against a Bard using Foe's Requiem while boosted by Battle Voice, the Machinist still has the edge in damage output increase by 10%.

After the huge player influx to Machinist, Bards were slowly being phased out of the meta, with alot of top bard players recording their first kills on bosses in Midas first on Machinist. During the release of 3.3, to help balance out the difference again, Square delivered probably one of the biggest buffs to a class since the 2.0 Warrior changes. Bard had nearly almost all of its weaponskills potencies increased by some amount. Increasing potencies on well... anything pretty much went against the Square Enix way. In short, Bards eventually caught back up, but the good news is both classes seem to now strike up a good balance between them, and both now finally co-exist in all endgame compositions.

The Wrap-Up (For the forseeable future)

So there we have it, the entire history of the Machinist class up until now. Going from one of the most reviled DPS classes in the game to finally shaping up to be one of the prominent members of the gang, Machinist is definitely the middle of the road class when it comes to the three that were introduced. Yet there is a trend all three of these classes share, and that is how they were all thought to be... really bad, compared to their actual counterparts. This was a topic that was racking around in my brain for quite a while and I just wanted to share my thoughts and what I tended to see from the community during the heyday of Heavensward up until now. Next time, we will be covering the Dark Knight, and how it dealt with the overwhelming challenge of proving itself to be able to tank with the likes of Warriors and Paladins. It was fun to write about my favorite game again, and I hope to keep doing it this time... instead of disappearing for over a year. . (again I'm really, really sorry for anyone I bummed out). Until next time, I'll just be living the fantasy.

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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)
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
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!
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?
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!

No Caption Provided

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
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!
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.
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!
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.

No Caption Provided

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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