Surprise! Some of you were thinking, "Keen mentioned playing FFXIV but then never followed up with a post so he must not be playing..." Happily -- this time -- I can say you're wrong.
I am indeed playing FFXIV.
Right now I'm somewhere close (I hope?) To Heavensward. While the story remains a real drag for the time begin, I was able to experience a neat zone called Palace of the Dead.
Palace of the Dead is.... let me just quote the official website.
The Palace of the Dead is an ever-changing dungeon whose architecture is never quite the same each time players enter to explore its depths. All players will begin at level one, and only by fighting the enemies within will they be able to gain the strength and experience needed to explore its shadowy depths.
Players who choose to leave and return later can continue playing from where they last saved. We challenge all who enter to make it to the last floor!
As the description says, you enter Palace of the Dead and begin at level one. As you fight monsters, you RAPIDLY level up. I'm talking like every minute you gain a new level here for at least the first 20 levels. Character progression proceeds as normal.
You can group in PotD with any combination of classes up to four players: All dps, all tanks, all heals... the choice is yours. We went in with a tank and 2 dps.
Every ten levels you will encounter a boss fight. If you successfully defeat the boss then you can save your progress and begin next time at the next set of ten -- or if you fail halfway through fall back to that point. My understanding is a little rocky here, but I think there comes a point where if you fail you'll fall back several tiers. Like failing at 99 can drop you to 50 or something.
While progressing through levels the goal is to reach a portal that takes you to the next. This is done by unlocking the portal.
Throughout the levels there are three types of treasure coffers and a special hoard.
Gold - Give Pomanders which are items that can be used to grant temporary buffs or remove effects or traps (more on this in a sec)
Silver - Contain Aetherpool upgrades which give your weapons in Palace of the Dead an upgrade (up to +99 to each armor and weapon)
Bronze - Potions, special items
Accursed Hoard - Hidden throughout the levels these treasure chests give
Pomander are like baubles you pick up that give a buff, reveal the map or invisible chests, transform enemies, etc. These can be extremely useful as levels become much harder or full of traps.
You can hold up to 3 of each Pomander and I believe they are stored in a shared inventory across all members of the group.
Some floors (I've been calling them levels but just realized "floors" is a more apt name) have traps or status effects. A floor might at random determine that you can not use items.
Some floors are full of traps that you can't see. Stepping on a trap might root you or disable your spells or even drop your HP to practically zero.
Some floors even have stronger enemies with a 'Gloom' mechanic.
The levels I've played so far (Up to 50) have all had a really straight-forward map. As a member of the party explores a new room it is revealed on the map for the group. Each room might have chests or mobs needed to kill to unlock the portal to the next floor.
It's a simple map concept, but it works. It feels old school.
You can enter PotD with up to four players. My group did the place with only 3 people. I think it scales to your party.
As I mentioned earlier, the group can comprise any class combinations. You can enter this as a pre-formed group or use a group finder.
Fixed Party - This is when you form with friends and form a group to enter. Future trips into Palace of the Dead must be done with this party and composition meaning that it has to be the same people playing the same jobs.
Matched Party - This is a system where you can use the group finder. You'll be put into a party of four players. When you want to resume your progress, you'll be matched with players who reached the same floor checkpoint.
I think the system of this endless challenge dungeon is called "Deep Dungeon." There might even be a couple of them in the game, or will be soon?
I really like and support this system of PvE. I think it adds a flare to the typical mundane dungeon running and promotes group play.
I'd love to see a system like this come to future MMOs.
I haven’t had the best schedule for leveling lately, but I was able to put in some decent time working on my FFXIV MSQ’s (main story quests) a bit.
The overwhelming consensus seems to be that the original content in A Realm Reborn was full if filler quests for a few reasons:
I totally believe it.
I had a quest last night where I was helping prep a caravan of refugees for travel. An entire quest involved one of the caravaners not liking the smell of chocobos. So I had to go get perfume, come back and apply it to the chocobos. Then I had to sniff the chocobo. Then I’m pretty sure I had to get some kind of scarf to cover his face because he still couldn’t stand the smell of chocobos. I kid you not, this is a main story quest.
Another quest was right before fighting a big primal named Leviathan. I had just witnessed an awesome cutscene, and the city of Limsa Lominsa was preparing for war. Everyone had their responsibilities… including me. A report came in that someone in a nearby town had previously fought Leviathan. That could have only been someone who was part of the original group of hero people or something, so they sent me to check it out. Turns out it was a local hillbilly who lied. I get that it’s a little funny, but really that was a main story quest to send me all the way there? Right before fighting Leviathan? Whew…
There are definitely moment when the story is better. Pretty much anything that’s voiced over feels legit and interesting. The back-and-forth ‘talk to this guy’ stuff is definitely not.
Many of you have said that the game really picks up around 2.4/2.5. I guess that’s when they start to decide what they’re doing with Heavensword?
I’m making decent progress, I think. I just beat Leviathan. I remember from a few years ago that the Primals were always my favorite part. Anyone know about how much longer I have until I reach the content that really takes off? No major spoilers, though, please!
Between all of the games I'm playing, I had an itch to pick up FFXIV again and see how the game has evolved.
I last played back in patch... I think it was 2.1? It was basically right before the King Moggle stuff came out. I played at launch for about 3-4 months. I did the first raid. I was in that stage of grinding for gear. The game sorta sucked in terms of content. It was rather a dull grind of the game long and rather boring dungeons.
Fast forward just under 4 years and here I am back in Eorzia.
First things first, I decided to play one of the newest jobs: Red Mage.
Red Mage are typically pretty interesting to me because they mix melee and casting. Having played for a few hour already, I can tell these RDM are far more caster. I'll write up some thoughts on the class in a future poast.
What I want to focus on today is the return experience.
I'm completely lost.
I logged in and had absolutely no friggin idea what I was doing. I had no idea where to go. I had no idea how to unlock RDM. I didn't know what any of my abilities did (on my 50 White Mage).
Returning to a game like FFXIV isn't easy, but neither is returning to any MMO 4 years later.
With the help of some friends, I was able to figure out the very, very basics. I found out where I left off in the story, and I'm pretty much just questing through those main story quests (MSQ's) as I learn the ropes again.
I was able to get a Duty group for the Good King Moggle event. That was sorta fun to just jump right in and kill him.
According to the FFXIV Wiki, I'm a really... really... long way from the Heavensward and Stormblood expansions. I'm on the Still Waters quest. That means I am exactly EIGHTY (80) quests away from the Heavensward expansion.
The story is incredibly confusing. I'm not the best reader to begin with, and having so much unvoiced dialog is a little tedious. Add in the lore (which I don't understand) and the names (I don't remember and can't pronounce) and it's all a little overwhelming.
Do any of you play FFXIV? Can I skip the next 80 quests? Should I? I'm worried that I won't have the stomach to push through them. I don't want the game to feel like a quest grind where I'm running from one point to the next ad nauseam.
I'm feeling a little defeated knowing that I'm still hundreds of main story quests away from even the most recent expansion.
What I really like:
What I wish I knew more about:
I know this post was all over the place. Sorta matches how I feel about the game right now. I welcome our insight and help as I try and make my way through these expansions.
I'm quite intrigued by what I see so far, the Red Mage class, and have hopes that at max level the end-game content has improved since launch.
I think I’m getting my second wind in FFXIV. I actually made progress for the first time in two months by completing Titan HM which is the last step I needed for my Relic. It took so long to obtain that I already have the Tomes of Mythology needed to Zenith (+1) my staff.
My plan now is to tackle Crystal Tower — the new “raid” added for players to gear up in prior to moving on to Coil (the original, harder raid). Apparently CT is very doable in a PUG via the raid finder. I tried last night to no avail for 30 minutes. Maybe I was queueing at a bad time. I plan to queue up tonight with guildies, and hopefully see even more progress by the end of the week.
I’ve mentioned this several times in the last few months, but I’m completely over the idea of raiding. That’s why it took me so long to get Titan HM down. Even in a perfectly good group with people who will carry me the whole way, I sit back and watch how they treat each other. Everyone is uptight, rude, and easy to read as a self-interested / self-serving / self-righteous (wanna-be) elitist. I was totally there myself a few years ago. Gotta get that gear! Gotta be the best! Gotta move to the next step! Gotta keep moving and making progress, go go go! Sheesh. If you really want to have a good laugh, watch the videos of the “best” raiding guilds in WoW and hear how they scream at each other.
I joined a PUG group the other day and sat there for one wipe. As soon as we died, the bickering started. It took maybe three whole seconds for me to log out and go do something else. I didn’t even have to think about it. That’s how I know I’m ready for a change. That’s why I haven’t gone back to WoW with some of my friends. That’s why I would rather play single-player games I got during the Steam sale.
Back to FFXIV. I think I’ll be able to do Crystal Tower and see the mid-tier content because of how easy it is, and maybe even casually gear up some mythology stuff with tomes, but I think that’s about as far as I’ll ever get in PvE. I’ll probably move on when EQN Landmark alpha starts. I’d rather dig holes, chop wood, hoard supplies, and build a city. That sounds relaxing and fun.
As 2013 comes to a close I want to reflect back on the MMOs I played this year. It was a weird one for MMOs, and I think this restrospective is quite telling.
Ultima Online Forever
I began the year playing UO Forever, a player-run shard. Practically the entire Keen and Graev Community played together, and we met a dozen new friends. I was reminded of how glorious it is to be able to focus on nothing but gathering materials and crafting. In its prime, UO was able to provide such a fulfilling experience to so many different playstyles. I was one of the top crafters on the entire server, placed the very first house, and became one of the richest players with the largest merchandise selection. The highs of building a player city, and the lows of being ganked repeatedly by other players, were a great way to start the year. This year’s adventure in UO lasted about 3 months.
Graev and I were originally uninterested in Defiance. Then, out of nowhere, we must have been bored enough to pay attention and get interested in playing. We played the beta for a bit, and slightly after launch, and quickly realized it wasn’t for us. We couldn’t get past how generic the game felt, and ultimately decided not to play longer than a few weeks. I’m pretty sure this is the way most people felt. Neat idea, pairing with a TV series and all, but overall “meh.”
EverQuest Project 1999
My next stop this year was yet another player-driven MMO server: EQ Project 1999. I think I played twice this year… I’m still trying to remember. I’m positive I played back in April, but I think I went back sometime during the Summer as well. I played as a Dwarf paladin and a Gnome Enchanter, and rekindled my love for Norrath.
Together with members of KGC, we camped Crushbone Orcs, Crocs in Oasis, Aviaks in SK, all sorts of stuff in Kunark, the bowels of Guk, Sol A, and more. I remembered why I love games that require players to group, and why it’s so awesome to have a massive world all about PvE.
Final Fantasy XIV
FFXIV launched in August, and for the last four months has been the MMO of choice for me and the community. FFXIV started really strong, albeit more themepark than I had hoped. The leveling content is solid, and perhaps one of the more polished MMO experiences outside of a Blizzard product. The class system truly embraces the themepark model by allowing one character to essentially be everything.
Where FFXIV has fallen short for me and a lot of the members in our community is the the end-game. FFXIV focuses on raiding the same bosses over and over, and for a while had a huge leap in difficulty between the grind and hardest encounters people wanted to see.
Thankfully patch 2.1 finally came out this month which added PvP and Housing. I confess myself disappointed by the incredibly high prices for housing and dumbed-down and unbalanced PvP. Overall, I don’t know how much longer I am going to last in FFXIV if they don’t do more to make the game about Final Fantasy instead of about being a theempark.
As you can see, 2013 was… an off year for MMOs. It makes sense if you think about it. This year has been entirely about waiting for the next big thing. EverQuest Next Landmark, WildStar and The Elder Scrolls Online all officially launch in 2014.
The best things to come out of MMOs for me in 2013 were the friends I’ve made. I’ve made at least a dozen new friends — most now a big part of our gaming community — and hope to continue playing with them for many years to come. That’s why I play MMOs, and even in a year like 2013 it’s nice to know that people still make these games worth playing.
I’m curious to hear your impressions of 2013’s MMOs. What did you play?