Category Archives: FF XIV
So my miner hit 50! Always a good time in FF XIV. Now I have access to high level crafting mats. I can efficiently farm crystals and in-demand materials to buff my wallet. AND I’M OVER A MILLION GIL POORER AND MIGHT PAY MORE THAN 4 MILLION TO MAX IT OUT.
Yeah. I’m POOR. I mean incredibly poor. I’m nowhere NEAR first to market of course, and I can’t gather the absolute top end gear. I’m making money at an acceptable rate, I could probably clear a couple hundred thousand on a work night and I don’t doubt I could clear a million on a GOOD weekend binge. Between the ventures I can complete and the unspoiled nodes as well as crystal grinding or finding key materials to farm I am quite sure I can make a lot of money out there but WOW is it pricey.
Right now we are a month or so out from the 2.55 or whatever patch which will probably be the last content patch before Heavesward. Heavensward will render all my gear useless and require me to start over. That being said it’s not the worst money grind I’ve ever had and it’s certainly a different sort of engagement in gameplay style.
Money isn’t a huge deal in FF XIV. There’s not a lot of things you need to buy and it seems like accumulating it to buy vanity gear or to fill in key pieces (or help level an alt) is the big priority. I will keep grinding money and try to figure out the best ways and places to spend it when the expansion drops but it will be interesting to see how fast I can make money and how worthwhile it is to upgrade gear I will be dropping in three months or less.
So FF XIV, LotRO and EvE all have one problem in common. They have great communities. I’m not kidding. They all have great communities. And that’s a problem at times.
Tonight I was running the monotonous drudgery that is Dzemael Darkhold. I’m not sure whether it’s the worst dungeon in FF XIV (Cutter’s Cry is close and some people hate Aurum Vale just as much) but it’s not a fun dungeon. I was helping a FC mate through it, and he had only run it once so we were going to clear things thoroughly and rather deliberately. I wasn’t going to race through and I wasn’t going to skip lots of things. We got a DPS and a healer through Duty Finder and off we went. And immediately the complaints began. Now I’ll take complaints from a healer. It friggin sucks to have your queue be this dungeon, and to have a group wanting a full clear. Then our DPS started bitching. About everything. I invited him to keep talking if he wanted to wait for another 45 minute DPS queue.
By the end I was heated. I was upset at the way I and my EXTREMELY new friend had been treated by these guys. They were rude, inconsiderate, and constantly pushing for bigger pulls and faster clears even though the healer was going OOM as soon as I pulled more than one group at a time. They kvetched like my grandmother when I forget to call (which… I need to do) and were all over the place hitting targets and pulling extra mobs. It was a fiasco. The bosses went down easily, which is a bit of a surprise in DD.
What made it that much more painful is that this game has a great community. 99% of the time you’d get supportive people giving advice, then hearing what your intentions are, and why you are doing it this way, working with you instead of against you. We had one of our DPS sitting out a fight because he didn’t think we should bother with side rooms.
EvE has people who will shit up the game sometimes, and some of that is to be expected in a game, but others will take things too far. Out of game threats, homophobic slurs, asshattery that frankly demeans the community and the insulter far more than the insultee. And yes I’m making new words here. You don’t like it make you own blog.
LotRO has people that will use any excuse, bug or other opportunity to harass the large RP community, and finding people for raids can be… ugh. Also the line between casuals and elitists is SO thick it’s a lethal weapon. You can get whomped by it because someone thinks your legendaries are crap. I’ve only run into it once or twice but MY GOD is it awful.
And all of these things are made worse because the communities in these games are SO GOOD. The podcasts, blogs, news sites, vlogs, forums…. everything. It’s so good! There’s so much content generated by the community and it all helps a lot. Even divisive people add a ton through both what they generate and the spin off comments and hate that adds even more entertainment. It all adds up to a situation that when you get genuinely toxic people, people who have no interest in helping others meet their goals, who just want to do their thing or who actively seek to destroy other people’s experience.
Ok rant over. This weekend I’ll talk about getting our new guy geared up once he hits 50 on Dragoon. That’s right folks. Dead Dragoon jokes incoming!
So two of my favorite games are FF XIV and LotRO. They have something in common and it’s something I love and hate about the games. That thing is the legendary / relic weapons. These are weapons that can grow with you (theoretically). These are really iconic systems in both games, and there’s been a lot of words spilled over both systems but hey, I’m all about beating dead horses so grab a club and let’s get to it!
Legendary weapons are unlocked through a level 50 quest that everyone runs at 45. The initial weapon lasts you until about .01 seconds after you turn 51. The weapon you ground so long to get will then be broken up for spare parts. No kidding. Imagine if Bilbo had gotten Sting, then picked up St1ng and Stung or whatever and realized it was .3% better and said SEE YA WEAPON OF LEGEND, broken it into pieces and used a couple of those pieces on the new weapon. Then the rest of the fragments get melted down into more fragments. This is the most EvE like part of the game with level 100 weapon development often involved hours of planning with spreadsheets, tons of bag space, more hours of grinding, and lots of money (real or in-game) and a lot of luck. You can spend a lot of time working on a first age weapon only to get totally hosed by it having only 3 base major legacies. 4 is considered good (or useable) and you can buy one extra for each weapon. I’ve seen one with a base 5 and everyone has HEARD of someone who got 6 majors but I’ve never seen it on any weapon you would want to use (and it’s diminishing returns anyway by that point) but anytime you spend hours and hours raiding or dozens/hundreds more grinding to get items to make a first age only to get screwed by an RNG mechanic…. Fuck that. The system doesn’t feel very legendary and without a lot of planning and work you can go down a road that requires you to redo a lot of the planning on the weapons. There’s also more grinding to upgrade the legacies to make them cheaper to level up so you can level up more legacies and if this doesn’t make much sense… well… that’s why I say it doesn’t feel legendary. It’s a great concept with meh planning and poor implementation leading to a real mess.
Ohhhh Relic Weapons. First you grind. Then you grind A LOT more. Then you grind some more. Then there’s some building of your weapon. Which involves a metric ton of grinding. Then you grind some more. Then you give up and find a group to run final coil and get a better weapon anyway. Let me talk a bit about the grind. Just to get the base (ilvl 80) weapon you need to: Get a broken weapon. Buy/Make and then upgrade/pay someone to upgrade another weapon. Fight a Chimera (one of the more annoying bosses for melee/tanks). Run Amdapor Keep, which used to be a real pain in the neck and is now very fun due to how much damage a group can have. Kill 24 beastmen with a poor version of the weapon you want, kill a Hydra, which is an annoying boss for EVERYBODY. Kill Ifrit (cake). Kill Garuda (pie a la mode). Kill Titan (fuck fuckity fuck fuck this can be a nightmare). Buy some oil (hope you have some soldiery handy) and finally COLLECT YOUR WEAPON. That’s step one. The next step involves grinding soldiery (can be done in an evening) to upgrade to the ilvl 90.
Ok. You’re done with the easy part. Now you have to farm Fates to get Atma. Fates are open world events and Atma are random drops. Supposedly around 15% but at one point they were as low as 2%. This can easily eat a whole weekend just to upgrade one weapon and you will find that, for the item level it has very low stats. There’s a reason for that. Its power hasn’t been unlocked yet! You need to grind more soldiery tokens to get books, then do what the books say to unlock the power. This can take a week or so now, but it could take forever back in the day when there was a weekly cap on soldiery that was less than what you needed to get a book.
Done yet? Nope. Time to grind more Fates, and while you are at it there’s now two levels of RNG hell. First you need Alexandrite to drop, then you use the alexandrite to meld specific stats into a weapon to increase secondary stats that you choose. Great! I get to pick my upgrade path! Only Alexandrites aren’t a guaranteed drop and the melds can fail meaning I need even more of them. Grind-fucking-tastic.
Then you need Light. Light isn’t nearly as random and while it will be another grindtastic hell to get it all done, at least the RNG gods can’t shit all over you for hours on end.
Not done yet though. Now for the Zodiac Brave step. 400k gil (Which I actually have now, miracle of miracles) 80k grand company seals (you should actually have this by now if you’ve been paying attention) 6400 MORE soldiery tomestones. Which you won’t have. Drop from 15 dungeons, which frankly should get you a lot of the way to that 6400 soldiery, crafted mats (hint they ain’t cheap) desythesized mats (even less cheap) and some gathered mats, which are cheapish all things told. Oh and some random other mats that you probably have sitting in your bags anyway.
Now for the kicker. You can get alternate weapons that will be just fine. One of them is frankly an upgrade to my way of looking at things, dropping a useless stat for a useful one. Some of the weapons are truly phenomenal (there’s one for every class) some are a bit meh. They do look amazing and will hopefully lead to better things later on but for now I’m underwhelmed. I completed step 3 today, and will start gathering books this week. I’m looking at about two weeks of this (!) to get my weapon better than the one I already have, and even then I’ve got one stat I just don’t want on it, then on to alexandrite. I don’t feel like I’m working on something legendary, I feel like a hamster on a wheel. A heavily randomized and slow wheel.
Fine Fine Fine What do you Want?
Well that’s the real trick. I love how LotRO gives you access to the system early. I would love to find a 1st Age Weapon in Moria and bring it with me all the way. I want it to really level up with me as I move along. Especially because the Moria weapons look GREAT. I would open them up even earlier. Most games have a point where the leveling process drops off a cliff. I mean really really harsh. For WoW it’s the 30s and 40s and LotRO this is around 25. FF XIV has it in the 30s. You know what would spice this up? Starting on your legendary weapon. It’s one thing to have a grindfest at endgame when it’s grinds on top of grinds, but if you spread it out over levels upon levels, well, it’s not so bad. You can have it undergo a marked increase in power as you reforge it. Especially in a system like FF XIV where each class only uses one weapon type. In a game like WoW or LotRO you might have to invent some deus ex machina stuff to get around people wanting to switch to a different weapon or different type of weapon (1h vs. 2h for example).
So start it earlier, spread out the grind. Now I want control. Primary stats only please. Let me chase down questlines for secondary stats, let me infuse it with power from the blood of my enemies, let me quench it in the nameless depths below the deepest caverns, or temper it in the heat of the hottest volcano. Let the weapon become part of the characters story. Make it an Excalibur, a Sting, an Anduril, an Icingdeath, a Durandal, something of power and mystery. Something that gains the traits the wielder and creator wants, not some arbitrary set.
I want it to feel legendary. The best results should take time, but more importantly, skill. Want the highest, most powerful version? Be ready for challenging content, raid tier and solo content that is demanding and puts you through trials to earn the right to carry the greatest weapon, not just get carried by friends, but mastering your class, playing at a high level and earning the best rewards. Doing normalized content, where the challenge scales with your level and gear so you can’t just overpower it. I want to walk into town with my glowing blade of light and have people KNOW they are dealing with someone who knows what he’s about.
FF could start the quest with the Ifrit trial, granting you a weapon from the otherwise dropless fight. It starts with mediocre stats but as you progress you infuse it with more power, with optional quests to grant you more and more stats and slots for secondary stats. Unlocking the last stats and the highest upgrades should take truly legendary levels of skill, but it shouldn’t require endlessly doing a low return on time invested task.
So Final Fantasy XIV has come to take a BIG part of my gaming time again. This game just cannot be shaken from the rotation. I’m going to make a list of things I love.
- The slower Global Cooldown. I do sometimes feel like I don’t have anything to do, there are times when it causes things to lag, but if you manage to lineup some cooldowns off the global cooldown you feel like a rock star, and it gives you a LOT of time to enjoy the battle environment, animations, music, everything.
- The visceral thrill that is Final Fantasy’s music and graphics. This game is stunningly beautiful and the music is amazing. Primal fights especially feature thematic music with a very “primal” theme. From the drums-pounding relentless beat of Titan to the melodic, paced Ramuh theme these songs add so much flavor to a rich game. The graphics are, if anything, better. The cities are huge and often inconvenient, but beautifully done and you feel like you’re exploring them. The world is even more so, not as sprawling as that of Everquest or FF XIs MASSIVE planets, but large and wide in a way that forces you to really dig into the world, the lack of flying mounts helps as well.
- The game design has a lot of thought going into it and it shows. I don’t agree with all the decisions. One day I will build an aetheryte plaza in Vesper Bay. However the integration of the games many dungeons, FATEs and sidequests makes the game a smooth ride once you get used to the system.
- The game teaches you to play. I may get the wife into this in a couple months. From the tutorials to the guildhests this game will spoon feed you lessons. Sometimes it’s patronizing, until you get into a group in a dungeon and think “wow… these guys should play the guildhests,”
- The community. Look I love EvE Online and it STILL has the best community out there. While simultaneously having the most dangerous community out there. But MAN these guys are usually fantastically accepting, willing to deal with the wipefests and help each other out through thick and thin. Sure there’s been some parties where people freak out, but not like I’ve dealt with in WoW or ANYTHING like the trailer park shit I’ve dealt with in EvE. Do they reach the same heights of brilliance as the best of EvE or WoW? No. But I’ll take the calm tyvm.
- A relentless focus on PvE. Look I like PvP. When I want it I can log into WoT, LoL, and ruin someones evening. They do that aspect well. Squenix doesn’t try to mix bubble gum into salsa, SWTOR has been wrecked by trying to balance the two, even WoW with resources that are practically limitless, can’t do it perfectly. FF XIV gives us a tacked on sort of PvP that I have a hard time remembering exists.
- Interesting classes. I know some people don’t find a ton of variety and I think I see what they are point, but it boils things down to such an abstract that we’re all pressing 1-= with modifiers for different skillbars. Summoners, Black Mages and Bards have WILDLY different playstyles and roles that go way deeper than “ranged DPS” White Mages and Scholars are very different, as are Paladins and Warriors. The melee DPS is the one place I see some blending, but even then the utility difference between Monks, Dragoons and Ninjas makes a huge difference. Each class has its own style, and its own partisans.
- Story. There’s a lot of story. It goes on and on. It’s classic Final Fantasy stuff chock full of JRPG drama and adds a lot to the experience.
Which is not to say the game is perfect. There’s things that do hurt it and make for sizeable humps in the road.
- Uninspiring Mechanics. Look some of these bosses just aren’t interesting. As a tank I more or less have to grab the boss, turn him, and keep him from AOEing the group and that’s about it for maybe 4/5 bosses. That’s not to say there aren’t individual challenges and/or cooldown rotations, but you could fall asleep as a tank at times and that takes doing.
- Crutches and Crutch Removal. Every AOE has a marker on the group. ALMOST. You get used to dodging out of them then that ONE boss comes up and WHAMMO everyone is eating boots to the head. No Bueno.
- Grindfests. You don’t even want to know. Look up some guides on relic weapons. Wow. I haven’t even really tried it.
- Story. Yeah it’s here too. First they give you what amounts to a cell phone. Which you mostly use by nodding your head to whatever is said because you’re a Final Fantasy Hero. Then every mission requires you to go back to the same start point anyway. Usually in Vesper Bay requiring a wasted 2-3 minutes of travel time. It also stifles a good bit of player creativity. It’s hard to blog about the story when it’s THAT cut and dry. Not that that will slow me down.
- Lag. My god the lag. It’s ridiculous and I know I’m not the only one to have screamed in frustration when Titan knocks me a mile off the platform WELL after I got clear of the landslide. Grumble grumble.
Look this is a really really good game. I’m not going to say it’s a great game. It’s fanboyish as hell. If you love Final Fantasy you owe it to yourself to play it because it is CHOCK FULL of callbacks to earlier games. From the enemies, to the music, the the bosses, to the allies there’s endless references to the enemies we’ve hated, the allies we’ve loved, the allies we’ve hated and the enemies we’ve loved. Chocobos are in, Biggs, Wedge and Cid are together as they should be, Malboros have bad breath, and you DO… NOT… FUCK… WITH… TONBERRIES. Seriously.
So I’ve more or less given up on EvE. It just doesn’t have the draw for me anymore. It’s too hard to find interesting people doing interesting things for me anymore. I’m not dropping the Corelin persona in my gaming however, I am adapting him, and the Lintu clan to other games. First up: FF XIV
So I’ve been a Final Fantasy fan ever since the very first game hit my old NES. I’ve played to completion every main sequence game except 8 (I cannot stand Squall) and played all the Tactics, Mystic Quest, etc. I never got into FF XI very much because it came too early for me to really get into. Boy did I get into XIV though. I played it after release when it hit the main stage like a rotten tomato. I don’t know what it was supposed to be, but it was a clean miss. It didn’t feel like much of anything, from a Final Fantasy game, to a Top Flight MMO, to a Grindbox game. It was just a wild mishmash, a Chimera launched malformed into the world. It was actually fun, but definitely not worth the $14.99 a month.
So Squenix bit the bullet, fired some people, moved others around, and reborned it. Let me give you my unvarnished opinion of it. First the good
- Graphics are great, this is a visually stunning game, that does full justice to the sort of majesty we have come to expect from a Final Fantasy game.
- The music is amazing. Seriously. Battle Music is better than world themes, but when has that not been the case with Final Fantasy? Let me give you A FEW EXAMPLES. Yes the last one is a bit odd.
- Fan service. 2 of those 3 songs are references to previous games. Battle on the Bridge is one of the more famous FF themes. Good King Moggle Mog is one of the crazier fights, especially as it has you smashing moggles, who are normally (literally) falling all over themselves to help you. Chocobos are huge. Goobues. Coerls. Primals/Summons/Name it.
- Long Global Cooldown. I wish they used this better but I love how that 2.5 second GCD gives you plenty of time to plan out your move and act or react to the fight rather than spamming through your rotation/priority tree.
- Enough Story. Rather than being a primarily story-drive game like Star Wars, or barely bothering with the story like WoW, this game finds a happy medium. The story is there. You will play through it once, but if you don’t want to pay attention, you don’t have to. I barely did until I got to bits I liked. I will mention that I *HATE* Western Thanalan.
- Combat in general is very good. Some of the animations are repetitive. Arcanists hold their book one way. That’s it. Kinda dull for 50 levels and countless dungeons. Ditto for all the magic users. Still there’s plenty going on. ALL the fights require you to think, move, and react to your opponent. All of them. That level 3 rat has an AoE that will make you very sad if you stand in it.
Now the not so good
- The game is a tiny bit cutesy for the “serious” gamer. It doesn’t always take itself seriously, and this includes ALL aspects of the game. If you beat Thornmarch and get moogle gloves before finishing your relic quest as a monk you are gonna look like this for a while.
Now that’s fine for some people. Including me actually. But sometimes you will be wanting to feel like a hardcore badass, and you are partied with three Lalafell geared out in full up Kawaii gear. You can zoom out and ignore it, but it’s still an issue, and an understandable one.
- The game bogs down in places. 1-50 isn’t smooth, and some endgame gear will be gotten all out of order. You will get your ilvl 80 weapon before you get much more than a handfull of pieces of other gear.
- Endgame on the whole was VERY week until a couple weeks ago, now it is smoother, but still could use some help. I do believe they are working on it, but it is more of a work in progress than it should be.
- It’s a very Japanese game. Grinding is a perfectly acceptable thing to put in for them, to the point where mindless repetition of quests or quest equivalents is just fine by the devs. In addition sometimes the game feels VERY different from a European/American MMO. Be it WoW or LotRO or SWTOR these games have a lot in common. This game defies some of that. It’s not all comfortable for us Americans, although I do like changing things up, sometimes I want to know WHY things are a certain way.
- I don’t like the crafting.
- I don’t like the gathering.
- Housing is expensive. *Really* expensive.
All in all it’s very fun. The community is quite helpful, and jerks get called out more often than they don’t. That’s big for me. The staff is responsive to petitions, and other than the occasional grindbox segment, the game is just fun. Seriously watch that Gilgamesh fight and tell me that doesn’t look like a blast.
Later this month I’m going to talk about how bad I am at World of Tanks, and since it’s Sexual Assault Awareness month I will probably talk about why everything you were told about consent is school is horrible. Till then fly safe, enjoy your game and be excellent to each other. In addition I’m working on the old podcast and streaming with Matt from the podcast on occasion.
Also: Gonna need some new art.