My Time at Eorzea, Week Six - Finale

You say that, but the number of times I end up back in New Gridania is moderately embarrassing.
You say that, but the number of times I end up back in New Gridania is moderately embarrassing.

We've done it. We survived. Our 45 day free trial is essentially over. There's one more day left on it, technically, but whatever. I mostly stuck to an MMO for a month and a half and lived to tell the tale. Last week, I switched jobs over to thaumaturge, a wrecking ball of magical destruction. This week mainly consisted of learning more about how the job class actually worked, how to be effective in combat, and lamenting the slower pace of leveling.

I don't think the game does a fantastic job of explaining what the elemental meter exclusive to the thaumaturge does. Last week I implied it strengthened the spell it matched and increased the damage, while reducing the MP cost of the opposite spell. And that's... sort of true, I guess. Umbral Ice also seems to cause your MP regeneration to shoot up, while Astral Fire... just makes your fire spells do a lot of damage. So the combat flow as a thaumaturge can be summed up as dumping as much fire as you can into something until it dies. Unless it lives long enough for you to run out of mana. Then, you use the ability that exchanges your Astral Fire for Umbral Ice and dump as much ice as you can until you have all your mana back, after which, see the first step.

No thanks, my time's up.
No thanks, my time's up.

Over the course of leveling up, I also unlocked the second level ice and fire spells. Maybe it's because I was only fighting enemies in the world and not a dungeon, but they seem a bit underwhelming? Both Blizzard II and Fire II are area of effect spells, with Blizzard II centering on your character and Fire II on your target. Blizzard II seems like a fantastic "I need to get out of this situation" spell, as it inflicts bind on your enemies, stopping them in their tracks, but it doesn't do a lot of damage, even under the effects of Umbral Ice. Fire II does so much less damage than regular Fire that it just doesn't seem very useful.

On the other hand, the supplemental spells seem significantly more useful as a thaumaturge than they did as a ninja. When I was playing as a Ninja, essentially the only things that seemed useful were my basic combo attacks and the mudra system. I had all these other abilities, but it seemed actively lesser to the regular attacks I was doing. Sure, I could throw knives in a circle around me, and that's cool, but it took up the cooldown of my basic combo, and did less damage than the ninja fire I could do. As a thaumaturge, I have spells like Drain and Scathe, quick, simple things that don't take up as much time or MP as the other ninja skills, and provide additional beneficial effects in self-healing and being an instant cast, respectively.

Spoken like an urn what needs to be broken.
Spoken like an urn what needs to be broken.

I didn't quite get as far in the thaumaturge guild's questline as I intended, but what I did get through was at least entertaining. I was convinced that the thaumaturge's youngest sibling, lacking magical talent but overflowing with alchemical talent, would become a ending-of-BioShock magical steroid monster that would have to be defeated. The story took a bit of a different path, and on a quest to destroy a magical voidsent artifact (read: evil demonic artifact), said youngest sibling decided he was going to open the evil urn and got possessed by an evil demon.

So I guess the magical steroid monster isn't out of the question, but now it'd be an evil demonic magical steroid monster. Totally different.

I was hoping to hit level 30, so as to pick up the black mage job class, but two factors made this difficult to attain. One of which is probably not the game's fault, but this week I had a terrible time staying connected to the server. I don't know if it's my home network or an ISP problem or what, but more often than not I would be playing just fine up until suddenly an error would pop up saying I had lost connection to the server, despite no other major downloads or anything happening on my end. When that happens, it's similar to losing connection to an IRC channel. You have to wait for the ping timeout of your logged in character to occur, then you can resume back where you were. It's a bit frustrating. It also goes to show that I'm skeptical of how Stadia would work out where I live. (Topical.)

Secondly: I seemed to be rapidly running out of side quests. I'll admit, this is also probably on me, as I didn't particularly feel like queuing up for the leveling roulette dungeons to try and level up faster. After all, the entire point of me trying out a new class was to avoid having to wait for dungeon queues. There were some alternative ways to level, but even then it just wasn't quite enough to push me to level 30.

Yo man, I just vaped some dank OG bud!
Yo man, I just vaped some dank OG bud!

The main way I spent this past week was tackling hunting log objectives. Each base class (eg: Rogue, not Ninja), has its own individual hunting log, consisting of a bunch of types of enemies out in the world to go and defeat. The experience gained for each completed entry in the hunting log is very similar to a quest completion, so they're a decent way to tackle leveling without touching the dungeons or having main story quests around your level to run through. Unfortunately, even with those, stacking on top the bonus experience I got for playing on a "preferred" world, in addition to the armory bonus, a means to help lower level classes catch up to higher ones by providing an experience bonus, I still only topped out at around level 19 before running out of hunting log objectives at my level, and running out of nearby quests at my level.

All in all, I had a good time playing Final Fantasy XIV, but I can't say I'm too disappointed that my time's run out. I also don't see myself returning to the game until it goes fully free to play, which given the lifespan of Final Fantasy XI, I assume will be some time in the 30th century. MMO's aren't my preferred style of game, and if they aren't yours, Final Fantasy XIV probably won't change your mind. However, free's free, and thanks to the corporate overlords at Square Enix and Twitch for partnering up and letting people give the game a shot.

Fine. Geez. I'm leaving! You don't have to yell about it.
Fine. Geez. I'm leaving! You don't have to yell about it.

Start the Conversation

My Time at Eorzea, Week Five - 5/6ths Life Crisis

Fly on, Stringfellow.
Fly on, Stringfellow.

A pirate's life for me in Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn, as we take on Leviathan and move on to the next primal fight after that for our grand finale!

Is what I would say if I did any of that. Fact of the matter is, the main story quests just started to grate on my nerves. I was tired of the mandatory primal fights and dungeons, as exemplified by last week's Good King Moggle Mog XII adventure. Because I had hit the base game level cap, there wasn't a meaningful sense of progression any more. Sure, I was unlocking newer and newer gear, but it was primarily just accessories, and not even cool new armor. I had been dressed as a generic ninja long enough. So I decided it was time for a change.

I love how matter-of-factly this is stated.
I love how matter-of-factly this is stated.

Heading over to the desert city of Ul'dah, I decided to pay the thaumaturges a visit. Why thaumaturges? I figured the opposite of the physical melee DPS class I had been playing was a ranged magical DPS class. One of the smarter decisions in Final Fantasy XIV's class system is the fact that I didn't even have to make a new character to try this out. It saves the trouble of having to replay the long story, and allows you to just switch up your equipment and try something new.

Anyway, after leaping into the abyss and receiving my first magical rod and shield, it was time to jump into combat. The first quest, seemingly for every class, involves popping out of town for a brief moment to murder small indigenous wildlife. It's a smart way to ease you into the combat style that you'll be dealing with as a new class. Thaumaturges rely on switching between low cost ice spells with high cost fire spells, as well as managing an elemental meter. The meter flips between ice and fire depending on which spell you lead with, and empowers, but raises the MP cost of the spell you lead with, while lowering the MP cost of the opposite spell. It seems a little complicated early on, and there seems to be a large meter, but it only caps out at around 14 at early levels, so I'm sure it'll get more complicated as I get more levels as a thaumaturge.

Time to mance some wisdom.
Time to mance some wisdom.

This early combat experience proved another major difference between the ninja I had been playing and the thaumaturge I was currently playing. With the ninja, most abilities would occur in time with when you activated them. I hit one of my combo slashes, and my character would do it, even while moving. This resulted in a very fluid, mobile combat system. The thaumaturges don't have that. As soon as you start casting a spell, if you move before the spell timer finishes, the spell gets cancelled. Additionally, figuring out your range also seems of the utmost importance as a thaumaturge, as enemies slipping out of the range of the spell seem to cancel the spell as well.

Ironically, this lack of mobility makes one aspect of combat more... annoying isn't the right word, but let's say complicated? Certain enemies have attacks that can disrupt spellcasting, which are primarily area-of-effect attacks. This means they get the glowing yellow indicator on the ground. As a ninja, I never had to worry about it, not just for not having to worry about my spells getting interrupted, but because I could very easily just move out of the way, maintaining all my attacks. As a thaumaturge, this becomes more of a lose/lose-slightly-less situation. Either I end up taking the hit, disrupting the spell, or I move to avoid the damage, also disrupting the spell. It makes certain enemies, again, not more annoying to fight, but definitely ones I'd choose not to fight if given the option.

I get that a lot.
I get that a lot.

The thaumaturge's story thus far seems like a fairly simple, predictable one, though I'm only about three quests deep. After completing some early magical training, the youngest brother of the siblings that run the thaumaturge's guild runs in and complains that the player has taken their spot as the next thaumaturge to be trained. This is because, explained by the guild leader, the youngest one lacks the midichlorians necessary to be an effective thaumaturge. They shoveled him off into the nearby alchemist's guild, where he spends his time developing synthetic midichlorians and other magical steroids to try and become a thaumaturge like his siblings. I can't imagine where this could possibly go over the course of the next fifteen or so levels.

My time with Final Fantasy XIV is nearing its end. Next week is when my free trial runs out, and I have no intention of adding more game time afterwards. These last few weeks have been an exercise in trying to expand out a few hours of play into a full length blog post, because of the gradual loss of interest once I maxed out my ninja. However, this last week I feel more excited to jump back in. Not excited enough to spend money, mind you, but excited enough that I'll probably resume playing later tonight or tomorrow, as opposed to writing these blog posts and then not playing again until the following Monday. I suppose there's a lesson to be learned here, for both life and MMO's: sometimes you have to change things up to bring back your enjoyment of something.

Also: I'm just going to be super honest. Thaumaturge has stopped looking like a real word to me by the end of writing this.
Also: I'm just going to be super honest. Thaumaturge has stopped looking like a real word to me by the end of writing this.

Start the Conversation

My Time at Eorzea, Week Four - Keys to the Kingdom

You came to the wrong neighborhood, kupo.
You came to the wrong neighborhood, kupo.

My time with Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn draws ever closer to close, as we continue to run through more transitional content between expansion packs. As mentioned last week, this is definitely not something I see myself returning to. In the intervening week, I only did a grand total of fifteen quests, covering the end of Good King Moggle Mog XII up to the beginning of the Sahagin and Leviathan being introduced as the next big problem to deal with. Somehow I doubt I'm going to manage to get through the seventy remaining quests over the next fifteen days, but we'll see how it goes.

After all, the future isn't what this blog post is about, it's about what I did over the last week. Or more accurately, what I've done over the last three days. Most of which was putting off fighting Good King Moggle Mog XII until I could fight him with my friends. After gathering said friends, we hopped into the queue, and began fighting the primal.

I didn't take any pictures during the fight, so have this semi-old picture of a pretty solid Futaba.
I didn't take any pictures during the fight, so have this semi-old picture of a pretty solid Futaba.

With bootleg This is Halloween from Nightmare Before Christmas blaring, we fought the Good King. What followed was probably the most MMO-style boss fight that's been in the game thus far, and perhaps because of that fact, maybe my least favorite boss fight?

Good King Moggle Mog XII doesn't immediately show up, first the eight players the game rounds up have to take on the seven Mogglesguard of the king, each representing a different job or class of a player character. Knock one down, and more jump in the fray until all seven are defeated, after which they all jump back up and summon the King.

After that, all seven moogles rejoin the fight with their King and the name of the game is re-murdering the Mogglesguard, followed by the King until it's dead. The problem is you end up with eight player characters and eight enemies flinging effects across the screen at all times until the screen is a big mess of effects that makes it hard to see what's happening, let alone target the member of the Mogglesguard you're supposed to.

Moving on!
Moving on!

The "supposed to" part is where the MMO-part starts to creep in. Before Good King Moggle Mog XII, the Primal fights mostly boiled down to "Avoid attacks, hit boss." Certain Primals had different ways to avoid attacks, sure, be it hiding behind rocks for Garuda down to just avoiding the Area of Effect indicators for Titan, but for the most part it was "Kill boss before boss kills you." And I suppose, if you want to get reductive, Moggle Mog is also that. Except apparently there's an order of the Mogglesguard that seems to be the agreed upon order of "Fight this one first, then this one, all the way until you win".

On one hand: it's pretty neat that that kind of information was probably discovered through trial and error when the boss was first added in, and then has disseminated throughout the internet until Monday night when I looked at it and used it to beat the boss. When I think of it like that, I can see the where people find appeal in things like MMO raids and other such things. But it's really just not for me. The idea that someone had to bang their head against a giant, furry, angry, moogle-shaped wall with seven other frustrated people sounds like a miserable experience.

For such a small man, you're a huge asshole.
For such a small man, you're a huge asshole.

Anyway, after all that, the story took a bit of a downbeat turn. It turns out Doma, the fake-Japan where all the Ninja and Samurai come from got destroyed by the evil empire. Bummer. This resulted in the next set of quests revolving around helping out a contingent of refugees from Doma find shelter in Eorzea. The contingent is led by the mysterious Lady Yugiri, a veiled revolutionary leader who fought back against the empire and failed. She's also definitely probably not an Au Ra, the lizard race added in the first expansion, given the fact she's got a weird scaly tail and ear flaps that look like horns, but I digress.

The Doman refugees attempt to settle in the bustling desert city of Ul'dah, but are turned away by a bunch of angry members of the city council. As they made their votes, I heard one of them mention something about how they weren't sending their best people. It was weird it wasn't subtitled, but hey.

Afterwards, the Scions of the Seventh Dawn decide they're going to take in all the refugees in their new home in the highlands near the former Empire base in Eorzea, because it only seems logical that the people fleeing the evil empire would want to relocate to near where the empire base used to be. Once you get the transport rolling, other members of the Scions burst in the door and start talking about how the incredibly gross looking fish people are trying to summon Leviathan.

And we'll deal with that next time! Also I'm getting progressively worse at ending these blog posts! That's not how practicing writing is supposed to work! Thanks for reading though, I mean it! Exclamation point!
And we'll deal with that next time! Also I'm getting progressively worse at ending these blog posts! That's not how practicing writing is supposed to work! Thanks for reading though, I mean it! Exclamation point!

Start the Conversation

My Time at Eorzea, Week Three - The Transition

Pictured: my view for entirely too much time spent in FFXIV this past week.
Pictured: my view for entirely too much time spent in FFXIV this past week.

We're just about over the hill in terms of my writing about Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn. Which is good, because there's not only not a lot of free time left from Twitch, but I'm starting to get a little tired of the game as well. This entry may be a bit shorter, as a result, as I didn't really play that much over the last week, between both real life events and a general lack of interest. It's not really any fault of the game itself, outside of the final two dungeons of the base game which we'll get into, more of a personal taste thing, but as long as I still have access to the game, I'll keep playing and writing about it.

Squad.
Squad.

Anyway, last week I mentioned hitting "The Wall", the final two excruciatingly long dungeons that were included when the original, disastrous Final Fantasy XIV gave way to the A Realm Reborn reboot. Having now actually experienced the content, the point from last week's blog still stands. It just seems like there's nothing unique enough about them to require gathering seven other people to run the dungeons with you, and there are enough named NPCs who are even present during the dungeon's long, unskippable cutscenes that you could probably make it work as a single player instance section, with an optional full party dungeon for the players that want it.

To briefly sum up the dungeons: The evil empire composed of Destiny villains decided to harness the power of the Primals, those big evil summons that had been tormenting Eorzea, in order to fuel a very large mechanized weapon. An Ultima Weapon, if you will. Cid, the character who shows up so you know it's a Final Fantasy game, used to work for the evil Empire as a scientist and engineer, and they're not exactly thrilled about his defection. Therefore: you, the other 7 players, Cid, as well as a bunch of members of your adventuring guild then run through a dungeon and a half of fighting people until Ultima Weapon shows up, unleashed by the leader of the invading force of the Empire who, I swear, just looks like Dominus Ghaul.

Hey, that's the name of this game!
Hey, that's the name of this game!

But then it turns out the actual final boss wasn't the Ultima Weapon, it was your possessed ally from the adventurer's guild who became inhabited by some kind of evil other-worldly force called an Ascian. And then you fight him in the biggest anti-climax fight that there's ever been, especially after Ultima Weapon. But hey. Credits roll! There's also a sort of neat part of the credits where they just list the character names of literally everyone who played pre-A Realm Reborn Final Fantasy XIV. It's a neat way to acknowledge "Hey, we kinda screwed the original release of this up REAL bad, didn't we?" while giving the people who dove into the pool too early a little recognition for their efforts.

I expected this to be the end of the story I could play, since I have next to no interest in buying the expansions. However, in order to bridge the gap between the base game and Heavensward, the first expansion, Square Enix patched in a series of quests to players, as both a narrative continuation, and a bit of an upsell, like "Hey, there's still more, and you can see how it ends if you buy the expansion!" type thing.

Anyway, it turns out repelling a massive invading force and turning a corner of a region into a smoldering crater following the destruction of Ultima Weapon makes it a bit hard to stay in the shadows. In order to cope with the newfound political pressures, your adventuring guild/secret society decides to relocate from their home to a new place in the realm of Expansionland. While I could take or leave most of the writing, one thing I will give the writing team on FFXIV is that they do at least try to give in-universe explanations to most of their weird design decisions. I had complained to my friends about the zone where the adventurer's guild is not having a fast travel point, instead requiring you to fast travel to a nearby town and walk the rest of the way, and then it turns out the reason it's like that is the guild wouldn't do political favors for the town they were in.

It's things like that that remind me of me and my friends doing game design in college, going "That's not a glitchy effect, that's just interference from the main character's blaster messing with the projectors." when a professor asked why shooting a force field we had set up resulted in significantly more hit effects than it should've in a sci-fi game we worked on. It's also why while I may be getting a little tired of playing FFXIV, it's not like I'm not still enjoying my time with it. The issue lies more with me having a distaste for being forced to party up for main story content, which I realize is entirely on me. In fact, when I left off before writing this blog entry, the next quest is a boss fight against a new primal.

And we'll deal with Good King Moggle Mog XII next week. Among other things. Thanks for reading!
And we'll deal with Good King Moggle Mog XII next week. Among other things. Thanks for reading!
1 Comments

My Time at Eorzea, Week Two - Walls

Hi, I'm TFP. I spent another week playing Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn, and I figured I'd continue writing about it until the Twitch Prime trial ended. Last week, I became an adventurer, talked to a crystal, hung out with cool thieves, then became a ninja. This week, I did a whole lot more of the same, except this time with added base-game level cap hitting.

Try all you like, I'll keep writing these blogs.
Try all you like, I'll keep writing these blogs.

The main scenario started for the week, to my understanding, with a bunch of hidden character tests to determine whether or not I was a good enough person to take on the Titan, one of the Primals. The Primals are a bunch of older Final Fantasy summons that just seem to hang out in Eorzea and get worshiped as deities. A rather long quest chain involving running a bunch of errands for people until they all showed up at a party and went "Yeah, we were just doing that to see if you were a nice person. The way to Titan is that way."

The Titan boss fight itself is uneventful, but does have the problem of taking place on top of a pillar of rock covered in ornamental lava that makes the ground glow the same color orange as the AOE threat indicator, which makes it incredibly difficult to tell where you're supposed to stand to avoid said attacks. This resulted in me and my squad killing the boss right as I got launched straight off the platform, resulting in my rather hilarious death.

After that, it turns out the whole fighting Titan thing was mostly a distraction so the evil Empire of Garlemald, a bunch of people who look like Destiny villains could show up and abduct the leader of the adventurer's guild I'm a part of, while also murdering a whole lot of other adventurers. Bummer. The next leg of the story resulted in quests following three general directives. First, the surviving members of the guild had to find any ally they could, most of which centered around a church near a location called Camp Drybone, which unfortunately had nothing to do with skeletal turtles. Next, locating the location of said leader who got stolen by the empire.

Mostly your airship.
Mostly your airship.

The third thing sort of ties into the first two. In meeting up with the church fellows, I ended up running some quests for a dude by the name of Marques. Or at least, that's what he said his name was. It turns out his name is actually Cid, because you can't have a Final Fantasy game without a dude (or lady) named some derivation of Cid, for some reason. Also unsurprisingly, he's got an airship. Somewhere. Luckily, some friendly people up in the snowy region of Eorzea seem to have been looking after it.

Of course, by friendly, I mean almost maliciously unfriendly. Also having their own problems with some kind of dragon cult. Most of what this means is that there's a long chain of quests involving an innocent person being accused of being a dragon cultist while trying to figure out who the actual dragon cultist is. Of course, by the end of this, another queue for a dungeon involving fighting many dragons is involved, but finally, the people let Cid have his airship back.

Tell me about it.
Tell me about it.

Then it was time to actually use the airship. This meant picking up another chain of quests involving getting it ready to fight Garuda, a wind-based Primal located in a violent windstorm called the Howling Eye. I actually had to take a moment to look up why we had to fight this bird lady, and the reason seems to boil down to "I dunno, the crystal I talk to in my head told me to do it". So that's cool.

Anyway, one dead Primal later, and it was time to go rescue the guild lady. One Imperial disguise later, and it's done. The game seems to be crashing into the endgame at this point, which brings us to the main point I want to talk about in this blog post: The Castrum Meridianum and The Praetorium. Or, as I was informed as I was talking to my friends: The Wall.

Too much psych. Waaaay too much psych.
Too much psych. Waaaay too much psych.

After another week with the game, I have stopped bemoaning it for inserting mandatory dungeon escapades with other people. At least they seem important enough by the game's own narrative standpoint, even if I think the game's narrative isn't necessarily outstanding. As the base game started to crash into the ending, starting with the final non-dungeon related "boss fight", in quotes for both the reason of lacking a better term and also for said boss basically just being a regular enemy with a party of people beating it up, the amount of people necessary to queue up for these events jumped from four to eight. consisting of two healers, two tanks, and four DPS players. This already makes the frustrating queue times even longer, but, as informed by my MMO-loving friends, there was another reason this queue takes forever.

Waiting patiently over here.
Waiting patiently over here.

And that reason is "Nobody wants to do these last two dungeons". As relayed to me, because they're so important to the plot of the game, Square Enix decided to make it so that the cutscenes, of which there are many, are completely unskippable. This makes it far less likely for higher level players to queue up for the dungeons, because not only would they get very little out of it, but it would also take forever, preventing them from doing other things.

After doing some research, Square Enix has tried to make it more appealing by providing these dungeons with their own "leveling roulette", a system in place to give players who have out-leveled older content a reason to go back to help out newer players by raising the amount of reward they get for queuing up for a random dungeon. The roulette that targets these specific dungeons apparently give a massive boost to the rewards if higher-level players help out when compared to the general leveling roulette. Unfortunately, it still isn't effective, because the rewards just don't scale enough to the players it's trying to attract who are knee-deep in the expansions.

Which leads to what seems like the obvious question, as someone who still hasn't done either of these dungeons: Why are they forced to be multiplayer at all? The game already has a system in place for instanced combat arenas against "tougher" enemies, where your character is assisted by NPC fighters. If you're that concerned about ensuring the players get your story, why would you force them to get 8 people all at essentially the same point in the story together to do something that could probably just as easily be accomplished by one player and a handful of AI buddies? It seems baffling.

Anyway, queuing up for Castrum Meridianum is where this week's progress has left me. After about 30 minutes of queuing last night, I ended up with a party of four DPS and two healers before the major storm currently hitting the Eastern United States knocked out the internet in my area. If anyone on the Diabolos world or Primal server wants to help me out, that'd be cool. Besides that, if anyone has any hot tips, tricks, or topics they want me to tackle, I'm all ears there as well. After the surprise additional two weeks, I now have about a month left of my original one month free trial, so that's pretty cool.

Goodbye!
Goodbye!

Start the Conversation

My Time at Eorzea, Week One - On Queue

Hi. I'm TFP. I like to write stuff. A lot of it ends up on this website in the form of a review or game of the year list you may or may not have read. Today I thought I'd try something a little different. Twitch Prime, the service in which Amazon decides that if you link an Amazon Prime account to a Twitch account, they'll give you free games, decided it was going to throw Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn out for free in the middle of February, presumably to entice people to try out the new expansion coming this July. As someone who will try anything for free*, I decided I'd give it a shot.

*Subject to terms and conditions. Certain restrictions may apply. Offer void in Nebraska and Colorado.

Normally, I don't really play that many MMOs. I've tried out a decent range of free to play ones, but the only ones I ever stuck with to a level cap were Neverwinter and Guild Wars 2. I also popped a 30 day free trial of World of Warcraft back when there was a video feature, and have returned a few times over the intervening years, but mostly I just stick to not-multiplayer games. Plus, the MMOs I did play, I tended to keep to myself in. Some people like doing the PvP stuff, others enjoy doing Raids and big late-game content challenges, but I kind of just enjoy the general questing nature of MMOs. I tend to think of the other people running about as something akin to time trial ghosts in a racing game. Things to look at and go "Hey, that's a cool outfit." or "Oh, that class effect seems pretty neat." but never as anything more than that.

With that preamble out of the way, I made my character and jumped in. I just want to comment on the fact that despite the fact that Thief/Rogue was a job class in the original Final Fantasy, I find it incredibly irritating that not only did they later patch in a rogue as a job class later, it's also not available for you to start as. So instead I decided to start as an Archer, because Hawkeye's a cool lady.

I'm an adult.
I'm an adult.

As I got used to the myriad systems and teleportation options, a few things jumped out at me, the MMO novice. First of all, moving around is a bit of a bear. The fact that sprinting is your only option to move slightly faster near the very beginning of the game, and it only lasts for 20 seconds, then takes a minute to cool down before you can sprint again, is moderately irritating. (Later I would discover what those Aethernet shards were around the major cities, but it's not abundantly clear at first). Second, the fact that they let you give your created character a first and a last name is perhaps the best part of FFXIV, as the names run the gamut from mine, seen right, which is an old D&D name that sounded cool, to super edgy names like "Darkangel Reaper" that I forgot to grab a screengrab of, to pretty amusing jokes.

Anyway, I don't quite remember how the early story goes, because it seemed especially boring, even for Final Fantasy, but I eventually impressed the adventurer's guild and some grand lady of the forest to be whisked away via airship to the other sections of the map, and I was finally able to become a Rogue. I think the Rogue storyline has been my favorite part thus far, following a guild of heart-of-gold thieves and scoundrels as they try to reclaim stolen artifacts from various pirate groups. Along the way there's a somewhat amusing cop who tries to take you down for being dirty rotten thieves, and while it's not particularly original, it's at least compelling enough that I wasn't idly skipping cutscenes as soon as they started. Unfortunately, since I switched to Rogue, I had to spend a few hours grinding back up to the level I had been as Archer, because despite the main story quests primarily consisting of "Talking to people, then getting experience", I had to be above a certain level threshold to complete them.

Riveting gameplay.
Riveting gameplay.

After catching my Rogue level back up to where my Archer was, it was time to resume the main story. As I progressed, learning more about my character's connection to crystals and aether and assorted other fantasy-esque buzzwords, the time came to deal with some pirates. This meant queuing up for one of the game's many (presumably many, I don't know, I've only gotten up to the fifth one) dungeons. And here's where FFXIV started to lose me. I know, I know, it's a multiplayer game, I shouldn't be surprised when the multiplayer part of the massively multiplayer starts to creep in to the RPG.

But by that same token: Holy cow, those queue times. And that's like noon on a weekend, in the screenshot. What a way to just grind forward progression to a halt. Admittedly, after talking to some of my friends who regularly play this game, some of that time was "on me". When I would play with them, and one of them was playing as a healer or a tank, the queue times dropped from over 16 minutes down to just about instantaneously. Turns out: lots of people play DPS classes, not as many play healers or tanks. But by the same token, there has to be a better way to tell your MMO's story than pausing the quests to make people sit in a party queue.

And mind you, I think the quest design in FFXIV is pretty good. While a lot of the quests are just "Go to location A, talk to person A, person A needs you to go to person B in location B, repeat until someone sends you back to person A", they do a good job of breaking up the traditional MMO quests of killing a certain number of indigenous wildlife. Some of the quests involve doing certain emotes at NPCs, which is pretty novel, though the quest where you have to dance for a bunch of sylphs is moderately demeaning.

Artist's rendition of what playing a Ninja is like in Final Fantasy XIV
Artist's rendition of what playing a Ninja is like in Final Fantasy XIV

Rather quickly, due to starting on one of Square Enix's "preferred worlds", which seems to just mean a lower population server, I hit level 30, which is where the jobs unlock. See, in Final Fantasy XIV, classes and jobs are two different things. So while my class is a Rogue, my Job is a Ninja. It seems a little weird because after cursory research, only one class has the option of choosing between two different jobs, and most of the jobs added in the various expansions aren't tied to a particular class. Unfortunately, I had to say goodbye to the rogue's guild I had enjoyed up to that point and become a ninja, which is significantly less cool. It also meant leaving the various guildmates I had grown to enjoy for a rather stuffy ninja man and his ninja sister. They taught me the ancient ninja arts of totally-not-japan-but-where-ninja-and-samurai-come-from-in-FFXIV-realm, which at early levels mainly consists of tossing a gigantic shuriken at people.

Tossing a giant shuriken works via "mudra", which are a set of up to 3 hotkey presses followed by pressing the ninja attack button. They start you off easy, since the giant shuriken only takes one mudra to use. However, they start to add in more mudra, meaning the Ninja class really just feels like Invoker from Dota 2 just popped in to design an MMO character. The colors of the mudra are even somewhat similar to Invoker's orbs.

Anyway, after about eight days (so this is really week one-ish), I've got a level 37 or so Ninja waiting around in front of a spooky forest mansion until one of my healer or tank friends decides to help me deal with a spooky ghost mansion. I'm bad at concluding these, so if someone reads this and has any FFXIV tips or anything they want me, random person on the internet playing FFXIV through a free trial to check out, feel free to let me know.

I believe we're 8 days down, 22 to--wait, hang on.

...what?
...what?

Start the Conversation

TFP decides to write things because he doesn't do enough things already.

Man, this new site is all crazy! For the most part I'm a fan, although I do miss the forums on the front page because I liked jumping into all of the discussions, not just ones that I have bookmarked.

Anyway, one thing I've always kind of wanted to do was write things because people used to tell me I was decent at it, so I guess I'll just sit here, this Saturday evening, and do just that about some of the games I've been playing. There will be spoilers. Maybe I'll even do it next week? Who knows.

Fire Emblem: Awakening, or how time travel can really muck things up.

After going to/calling a combination of 6 different stores ACROSS HALF OF MY STATE, I finally managed to track down a (singular) physical copy of Awakening. It was definitely worth it though, the box art and cartridge art are both beyond amazing, although I really am hating the trend of "instruction manuals" being fold-out sheets of paper. Considering how awesome the instruction manuals to Fire Emblem and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn were, the fold out was more than a little disappointing, but I digress.

Point is, Fire Emblem: Awakening is decidedly my early contender for Game of the Year. And truthfully I don't see it falling too far below 2nd or 3rd. While the gameplay is still the high-tension tactics from the rest of the series (of which I've only played any amount of Fire Emblem, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn and never actually... beaten any of them), but what really makes this game shine, in my eyes, are how great the characters are, and the eventual connections they build through the paralogues.

It's these connections between parents/children that brought a new level of personal dedication to the characters for me (even though I ended my first run through the game with only 2 sets of parents/3 children). And, while most of the parents I had were lords and thus couldn't die without it being game over, I do kind of wonder what happens if the parent were to die. Would you lose the child unit? I don't know.

Also, I have no idea how my personal child... set-up... even worked. Because I had the unit that was me, and I married Lucina (hold your surprise). Seeing as she's from the future (and I think I am too?) does that mean there are two of me in this time period, as well as two of her? And, considering the ending of that game, does that mean there are 3 of me in that time period at that time? And since we had a child, who seemed to be roughly the same age as we were, at one time was she born? With the us that were babies, or the us that were time travelers? And what about--

You know what, at this point, I'm just going to wave my hands around, say TIME TRAVEL really loud, and move on.

Saints Row 2, or how OH GOD, I'M A MONSTER!

I really like Saints Row: The Third. It's the right amount of crazy. Everything in that game is ridiculous to the point of absurdity to the point of normalcy. So when Saints Row 2 was free on Playstation Plus a while ago, I picked it up. I ended up barely playing the intro and then deleting it to make room for other things.

Lately I redownloaded it, and man... It's... harsh.

And incredibly glitchy.

I mean, thus far I've only completed the Ronin stuff and done the first one or two mission of the Brotherhood and the Sons of Samedi. And I don't like Boss. In The Third, I felt like there was more of a line between the Saints and the Syndicate. Not much of one, but at the very least there was one. On the other hand, Boss and the Saints feel like bigger villains than the opposing gangs in 2, and that's saying something.

I'm not going to say it's objectively worse or better, but I am going to say that I don't particularly like it.

What I will say is worse is that about 3 times now, most of the time after boss fights, the game just hard locks on me. And it sucks, because I really hate all of the boss fights I've had thus far. They're all terrible. Countering has a weird timing and the only two times I ever beat Shogo were do to less malicious glitching.

The Cave, or how I missed actual adventure games.

If anything, The Cave taught me that man, when adventure games feel great, adventure games feel great. It almost feels plucked out of a different era, what with the puzzles that wouldn't seem out of place in the classic Lucasarts adventures. The puzzles were truly mindbending, but in the good way of making me feel really smart when I figured them out. The writing, voice acting, and atmosphere were top-class in adventure games, and I can't wait to return to the depths of The Cave.

Thus far, I've only completed one trip in The Cave (using The Twins, The Adventurer, and The Monk), and I got the bad endings with all 3 (accidentally, in that I didn't know there was a good/bad ending until looking it up later). I definitely want to go back and write more once I've seen everything, so I think I'm going to cut this segment a bit short.

In conclusion, or hey, writing this wasn't that bad.

All in all, Fire Emblem: Awakening is absolutely stellar, Saints Row 2 I'm not going to say is bad, is just not my cup of tea, and The Cave is charming and the best adventure game I've played since 2008.

Hope you enjoyed this blog, and maybe I'll remember to do something again next week.

Start the Conversation