FF14 – To Do List

The achiever in me has a love for lists. In most games I play, I enjoy reaching the end of the main quest, and then discover the various side-quests as I go along. Depending on how those side quests go, I can spend a fair chunk of time in them. AC Valhalla is a good example. There are like 20 different types of sidequests. I’ll say that boat raids are right near the bottom in terms of long-term fun. While I did finish the main quest, I only had about half of the icons cleared. In the MMO space, I tend to avoid the irrelevant side quests as they are often not integrated into the larger story, or are time-gated in such a manner to make it feel like a gatcha game (e.g. Tillers)

FF14 is somewhat different here, as it makes attempts to keep all the content relevant in some fashion. Now, attempts is a big word here, cause success is a different matter. Still, compared to something like WoW, FF14 has a massive chunk of extra content that has some meaning at level cap. Finding it, well that’s a challenge in itself.

The ‘Quest’ icons over NPC

You will have the MSQ icon burnt into you skull by the time you reach 80. I don’t think it’s even possible to get to 80 without it. As you progress in the MSQ, the other icons start showing up. The Sidequest icon (!) is small piece content that gives some small unlock. Chocobo rides are an example. It is generally safe to ignore them, but they do add some interesting content as you go forward. The Repeatable Quest icon is where the dailies show up. They do have some relevance, like clan hunts and so on, but if the goal is leveling then not a whole lot. (The Levequests icon, sort of like a card deck, is a bit like Repeatable Quests).

The blue icon with the +, that’s the unlock quest icon. You will see hundreds of them, and taking them on feels like chasing rabbits down holes. Following an MSQ, you’ll only unlock about half of the content of any given expansion, if not less. Taking on these quests will open new areas, dungeons, raids and so on. If you ignore them while leveling, odds are you will be going back to unlock them over time. There are usually a half dozen or so of these near every Aetheryte crystal. Keeping track of it all though… woo

Enter XVIToDo. Import your character from the Lodestone and get a very simple interface of all the stuff you have unlocked and the things you can unlock. The mobile interface is also super clean. I entered my character information and took a big sigh realizing that as much as my journey has been long, it’s still missing a LOT of big pieces.

Still, now I have a list to work through in addition to the MSQ. Fun times ahead.

Switch Finally Gets BT Audio

Four years? Four years! Finally!

There are some limitations here… first, the controllers use Bluetooth as well, so you can only have 1 pair connected at a time. This outlier is where for some reason, you have people playing the console locally but without HDMI in use. Maybe a Mario Party game while you’re in the car? I can’t really think of too many situations where you need 4 controllers and bluetooth audio.

Second, you can only have 1 active Bluetooth audio on at a time (but can save 10 devices). This is fine I guess, split Bluetooth across multiple devices at the same time is a pain. I guess any local multiplayer game, like 2P Mario Kart you’d be stuck with regular audio. Maybe for those long car rides… you’d have to play with the audio off?

Third, is that you can’t have local multiplayer across multiple devices and Bluetooth audio. I get why, the Switch uses Bluetooth to host local games, rather than a subset of WiFi. This is the one that seems the largest impact to me. There are numerous instances of 2P meeting each other for some local gaming and this means that they need to stay wired (or the weird bypass option). Doesn’t look like this problem will ever be solved without a full re-architecture of the Switch.

Still, for those situations where you want to game without using a TV, and have some sort of practical use for the kickstand, this is a win. It’s also a confirmation that the device was built with this in mind a long time ago, as only firmware was required. In that respect, impressive planning and I can only assume the hurdles Nintendo had to surmount to get this thing work consistently. 4 years!

Urban vs Rural

I had a post prior about our ongoing elections and how there’s a somewhat generic split between urban and rural voting tendencies. Given the timeframes, what that post focused on was the historical trends, which effectively built ‘strongholds’ for a generation +.

A reminder that the side effect of a stronghold is that the party which controls that stronghold has zero interest in addressing any of those voters concerns. The party wants to expand their control/voting base, so they really are only targeting other areas. The people in that stronghold never really hold their members to account, so there’s no reason for the party to actually do anything. In today’s social media age, that causes anger at being ignored… and well, here we are.

But that’s a tangent. What I really wanted to talk about is the rural urbanite. Depending on the city you live in, there was a small, yet noticeable population of rural residents that actually spent most of their time in an urban setting (long-haul commuters). You can see this more as the baby boomers retire and cottage country undergoes a massive shift in demographics and engagement. There are quite a few reports of camping grounds taking over small town councils, with seasonal representation. That’s a generational shift with geographic tendencies. And yet, that particular demographic (retired and can afford to move to cottage country) also has a rather particular voting trend. The older you get, and the more money you have, the more likely you are to be right leaning.

This doesn’t apply to the ‘true rural’ areas. You’re not going to find a densification in the Appalachians of retired wall street bankers. Instead, you’re more likely to find that urban sprawl doubles the geographical size. Folks will retired and move 1-2 hours away from an urban centre. It actually squeezes the rural centers to smaller and smaller sizes. This is generally accounted for in Canada’s 3rd party redistricting exercises. Gerrymandering is extremely rare here – the US is a real edge case globally.

So that’s one particular trend, the ‘aging out’ of the urban centres. There’s another one, that won’t necessarily impact THIS election but will impact the next one.

I’m going to call this the pandemic spread. Or more specifically, the massive proliferation of remote workers. Where areas were having emigration issues where the high school graduates would move to urban centers for education, and stay for employment, that shift is starting to reverse. A lot of education can be done remotely, or even those that have been away for studies can now return to urban centers IF they have a reliable internet connection. Canada has some serious challenges here, mainly due to geography and lack of population density (90% of Canada is within 100km of the US border). Low Earth Orbit (LEO) will have a massive impact on the ability to remote work, and therefore the distribution of the population.

This isn’t about urbanites (born and bred) leaving in droves to rural settings, but more about slowing the haemorrhage from rural to urban. Small towns now have an incentive (outside of politics) to build an environment and services that support more than the grey-haired club. It’ll also mean that the traditional strongholds, structured often due to geographical location, and likely to see some chipping at their control.

Which is a really interesting paradigm shift. Rural was often seen as being more and more irrelevant in the larger picture of politics. Yet the reality is that the age curve of baby boomers and the ability for younger remote workers (where property costs are extremely lower) can lay their roots are causing a heck of a shift. Not for this election (1 week to go!) but it will certainly be there for the next one. A more spread set of political views would certainly help with the more ‘extreme’ and echo chamber spaces we have seen these past few years. Let’s see how this plays out.

Balance is Hard

There’s enough bad news on Blizz that I figure I can at least try to explain some of the more complex factors that are working against them from a design perspective. This one will be on the concept of class balance. I’m picking on Blizz (WoW) here because they are an edge case compared to other MMOs

For each character/class, you have a base toolkit. Let’s just call that the baseline, where everyone starts on the same page. Your level 1 rogue is identical to any other level 1 rogue. As you progress, you make choices, and your power level changes. Of those, the following categories of choices directly impact your power level.

  • Class/spec boost
  • Gear
  • Enchants / Gems
  • Legendary
  • Talents
  • Potions
  • Drums
  • Food
  • Covenants
  • Conduits
  • Shards of Domination
  • RNG of Torghast (some classes have horrible RNG here)

Each of these has a particular scale of power increase as well. Some are big boosts, some are smaller. Some are additive, some are multiplicative. Some stack, some don’t. When a person says “my class is underpowered”, they are effectively pointing to a magical list of attributes that are a nightmare to balance out.

  • Is it because you’re not using the rotation properly?
  • Are you using the “best” temporary stat boosts?
  • Did you pick the “right” covenant/conduit?
  • Did you get RNG lucky on the borrowed power system?

If you were to take 2 Rogues, in the exact same gear, same talents, same covenant, and same conduits, you would still see massive power swings due to the other temp boost options (potions, drums, shards… heck, even the timing of bloodlust), not to mention their rotations. Raids have a particular baseline to balance against, where the devs go in with the assumption of a given power level, and try to allow variance to be related to player performance.

You can compare to FF14 here, where there really aren’t that many potential boost to look at. There are no borrowed power systems, and food buffs are relatively small. 2 jobs at the same gear level are going to be pretty much the same, excepting the execution of the rotation.

Blizzard has a major challenge in finding the right balance in difficulty on a sliding scale that swings wildly – if not an impossible task. I’m not feeling sorry for them though, this is entirely of their own making. They continually insist on building more and more complex systems on top of this balance tower. And the only way to “balance” this effort, is to make one section dramatically stronger than all the others (think Infinite Stars in BFA) – essentially breaking everything. And this has nothing to do with the concept of class identity, which is its own balancing act.

So yeah, I feel bad for the devs who have to balance all of this because the game directors created and maintained this model. And conversely, I’m really happy for the devs who had leadership make decisions that benefit both the overall game health and their ability to balance it all out.

Epic vs Apple – Big Win

This was a very interesting lawsuit because it hit 3 fundamental aspects of the App Store – first, the need to even use the AppStore at all, second the % of cut that Apple took from developer sales, and finally the requirement to use Apple for any in-game purchases. That business line accounts for a big chunk of Apple’s income. There was a fair amount of mud slinging on this, which was certainly entertaining.

Now we have some answers for the 3.

AppStore Is Mandatory

This was expected, and to most people, a long shot to start, if not a red herring. Epic was smart here, as it forced some disclosure on Apple’s part of the inner workings. For multiple reasons (if not primarily security) this has to be the case.

AppStore Cuts are Pro-Rated

The rate is low for the first $1m in revenue, and scales depending on the size of the application. Again, this makes sense for the smaller organizations that barely recouped any costs, and Apple is big enough to absorb it. The downside here is that it will likely generate more bloatware as the cost of entry has dropped. See itch.io as a good example.

AppStore Must Support 3rd Party Payment Options

This was the real meat of the case, though the one that had the least amount of press. Today, if you only use your phone for Spotify and pay your sub through the app, then Apple takes a cut. For multi-platform apps, this isn’t a huge deal as you’re unlikely to use a mobile app as the primary method of payment. Well, it seems a judge ruled that Apple no longer has full domain over payment processing inside the applications. That leaves a particular use case that is going to be a massive change.

No question that the AppStore makes a ton of money off F2P/IAP. The game industry made about $110 billion on F2P games in 2020 – the market is massive. Apple makes a chunk from that for games like Clash of Clans, Honor of Kings and so on. Does anyone really think that Tencent wants to pay Apple 15% moving forward? And you know that Google has got to be sweating as well!

This one is a big deal, and a massive shift in the market. Odds are it will generate alternative payment programs that are lower % cuts for the smaller apps, and then some in-house machines for the bigger ones. Heck, it may even mean that Apple themselves needs to re-price themselves appropriately.

The details still need to be worked out, as well as the timing. And certainly there will be some appeals. Lots of them. But from what’s come out so far, it really looks like Epic won this battle.

Blasphemous 100% Complete

I’ve got a thing about this genre where I really enjoy finding every nook and cranny. Didn’t know I had this until I played Metroid 2 on the GameBoy. I played the heck out of that thing! And since then, there’s just some weird itch about it.

I wrote prior about Blasphemous (I’m on Switch) being an attempt to merge Dark Souls and the larger genre. I still hold to the idea that this doesn’t make any real sense, since it’s actually the other way around. What makes a Souls game is not the respawning enemies, or the healing mechanic, or the difficulty curve. It’s the hit box mechanics in 3D. If you were to somehow move Souls into a 2D space, you’d be looking at a grimy Celeste.

Still, Blasphemous has a dark theme to it, a rip on some religions’ need to focus on guilt. It takes a very long time to make sense of the lore, the text within isn’t super clear on the overall intent. I guess Souls has that in common. It does allow for some very enemy and boss art styles. Fighting a bishop’s corpse held aloft on bony hands, or a weird baby monster with a snake attack, or even a triad of warring sisters. It’s consistent, I’ll give it that.

In terms of difficulty, this is where things get a bit weird. The game starts with making enemies the challenge, but as you increase in power, it then starts adding the environment as a larger hazard. I certainly died more to giant laser beams, exploding bombs, flying scythes and spike pits than I care to admit. Since you only ever get 1 weapon and it just swings harder, there’s not much in terms of mechanics that changes the pace. Even the magic powers you get aren’t terribly useful since they a) cost a lot to use and b) leave you vulnerable while casting. You learn the cadence early and the rest sorts itself out. I mean, I beat the final boss on the 1st attempt. (The penultimate boss though, that was a war of attrition)

Fine enough, but the chase for 100% is what drives me here to look beyond the wrinkles. There are quite a few collectibles in the game – bones, stones, beads, cherubs, spells and so on. You can mark the map for these items if you pass them and don’t have the required skill to collect them. Collecting all of a given set gives a reward, nothing big mind you. I am 99% sure you don’t actually need to collect any special skills to work your way to the boss. The real challenge in this game is that you have no idea how to actually collect any of these skills in the first place!

Take the Three Gnarled Tongues – which allows for branches to spawn where you can climb up them. Look at the steps to unlock this thing. You need to find a given room, then give the “thing” in that room 3 items – one of those items needs another skill to get. Then you get an egg that you need to lay at a tree (?!) and take that resulting hatched egg to a frozen pool. There’s no way any of this is intuitive. You’re just going to reach things, press the interact button, and then hope you happen to have some object that interacts. I won’t even go into the whole Redento quest line.

Which means the game effectively has a “quick path” and then what amounts to a “100%” mode. The latter is really only enabled through donating 20,000 gold (tears) to the church to enable a much better teleport option, as you’ll be backtracking like crazy. Once that is unlocked, the whole path to 100% becomes very enjoyable.

Plus, I got this for $12. The game may not be perfect, but for that price, it’s a crazy good deal.

Super spoiler video, but gives a good show of the art style of all the bosses

Restart The Normal

It’s been a solid 18 months since things were even close to normal for me. For many of us. The pandemic changed the way I work, the way I play, the way I interact with people. My kid’s school and my wife’s job were turned upside down as well. In the larger scope of things, we’ve come out of this pretty darn well. I lost my grandfather to COVID, that’s going to stick with me for a long time. The days of not quite knowing what’s coming next, those have been draining.

These last 2 weeks have been some semblance of “normal”. My kids are back in school, with some limitations as no child is vaccinated yet. They have masks and relative social distancing. Already after a few days I can see major improvements in their social abilities. It was like they regressed for a while and getting back into it. Sort of like riding a bike I suppose.

My pick up hockey starts tonight. It’ll be great to play with the boys again. But I do have butterflies as to how this large social setting will work out. Everyone has both shots, so I’m less worried about them having ill effects, but it doesn’t negate the fact that it can still spread to other people from us. I’m sure once I get back onto the ice, things will just feel better. At least, I hope so.

The kids also start their hockey back up this weekend, so I guess my weekends for a while will be in the rink. I’m coaching again this year, which is extremely rewarding. There’s a new coach in the fray that I’ll be helping along, and some of my own rust I’ll need to get through. That means a new set of practice plans, goals, fundraising, parent meetings, equipment, ice bookings, and oh yea, ensuring the kids are having fun. Next few weeks are going to be some busy days to get it all sorted out. The kids themselves are still too young for shots, but any adult stepping into a rink will need their full doses by the start of October.

You can infer from this that I am clearly on the “get vaccinated” bus. This is not the forum to explain why. I am not a doctor and frankly, no one should be taking medical advice from anyone who isn’t actually trained in it. I can say that there are certain obligations we all have as individuals to be able to co-exist in a society, things we do or don’t do to make it all run smooth. I am glad we don’t have polio around anymore, and the odds of my kids getting whooping cough or varicella are next to nil. That’s not because I made a choice, but because we all did.

The more we act as a society that wants to get along and that trusts each other, the quicker we get back to “normal”. Whatever that means anymore.

FF14 – MSQ Progress

Since the Main Story Quest (MSQ) in FF14 is mandatory to get access to pretty much everything, it acts as a sort of secondary leveling metric. If you’re playing only a single job (class), then you should never be lacking levels in that front to get to the next stage of the MSQ. If you’re swapping around jobs, then yeah, you’re going to need to supplement the exp gains.

Each expansion has a set of MSQ, then there are post-content MSQ that prepare for the next expansion. Of interest is the following:

  • ARR – 185-188 (starting city makes a difference)
  • ARR+ – 20
  • Heavensward – 94
  • Heavensward+ – 44
  • Stormblood – 122
  • Stormblood+ – 40
  • Shadowbringers – 107
  • Shadowbringers+ – 51

That’s 663 quests to get through, most where you’re just talking. Some where you kill 1-2 monsters, or delivery an item. About 10% of them unlock a dungeon or raid.

I’m currently at quest 87 within the Stormblood campaign, which is about 70% of the way through until the end of this pack. I’ve reached level 67, which is right in line with expectations. I’ll have some thoughts on it once I get to the tail end. That also puts me at 430 quests of 663 total to reach the end of current content before Endwalker comes out – or 233 to go.

I started at the Heavensward+ content about 2 weeks ago. Works out to something like 60 or so quests done a week. If that trends continues, then it’s a month+ to get through all the rest. If I was to look at the entire journey, it’s 11+ weeks of content at my pace… and someone more slow paced may be seeing 4+ months of quests before joining the end portion.

I’ll add a counter to the website to keep track.

Skip MSQ or Not?

I like the MSQ, I really do. The storylines are decent enough, in line with most FF games. There are still the weird bits that often pop up, like literal Ninja Turtles. The villains are often nuanced enough to understand why they do what they do, without some larger puppet strings being pulled. It’s always a larger arc, with a foundational set of NPCs to go through it all.

The real benefit however is the unlocking of various “things” and effectively training wheels for new players. I’ve long been a proponent of this model (WoW’s proving grounds are a lost opportunity), so that new players can be eased into the game’s systems. Be it group combat, crafting, social structures, raids, stuns, flying, retainers, swimming, glamour and so on. There’s a logical structured path to uncover these systems, as many of them depend on each other.

The downside is the length of time required to get through all this. If you “skip” the MSQ, then you automatically unlock everything and likely have no idea how any of it works. WoW is deceivingly simple in terms of systems – very few of them ever interact with each other (think about it, what mechanics from Legion are evenly remotely relevant today?). They can become complex, if you so choose. FF14 is quite the opposite, where trying to do one thing likely requires doing a half dozen other steps first. Skipping the MSQ means you don’t understand it. Plus, compared to many MMOs (LotR excepted), the entire story is relevant.

It would be nice to have a mini MSQ, where there was still some training wheels for the various systems, but that it didn’t take half a year to get through. You’re still a sprout for like 170 hours, so perhaps there’s something that could be done there… it would be a coding investment and now that the game is entering the 4th expansion, I’d be curious if that was worth it.

Dark Souls-ify – Blasphemous

I think Dark Souls is a solid game. Punishingly difficult at times, but well structured and balanced with a focus on smart hit box usage. I think this model existing with Ninja Gaiden prior, and personally preferred the flow of that game. The campfire mechanic (healing in exchange for enemy respawns) is certainly the twist that pops out the most, yet the open world nature is also a highlight. It really bears mentioning that DS games are somewhat slow, gameplay-wise, as choices are deliberate.

From a design perspective, giving the player a choice to respawn enemies in exchange for healing allows for a challenging design that has some safety net. It moves from the prior design choices of checkpoints everywhere and auto-generating health. The former rewards skill, while the latter rewards speed. So sure enough, plenty of games have tried to emulate this new design model.

I wouldn’t say that this has been terribly successful overall, though there are some standouts. Jedi Fallen Order is the closest to this model with widespread success, if you look at games outside of FromSoftware. The Surge (and sequel) are closer mechanically, but don’t really work as total game packages (not bad games mind you). There are others, Steam has enough curated lists.

One I picked up on sale on the Switch is Blasphemous. It’s a merger of the Metroidvania (think Symphony of the Night) with a campfire mechanic. It’s a weird game, where it exchanges planning for this healing mechanic. In a more standard Metroidvania game, enemies will respawn if you leave 2 screens or if you die – and those games are about getting around rather quickly. Blasphemous does not respawn enemies until you die or use a healing lantern (which are not exactly common). And the low use of those lanterns means that you’re rarely ever presented with an actual choice of respawning enemies in order to heal. Like you won’t go 2 screens, take so much damage that it’s worth backtracking and trying again with enemies back. You’ll go one screen more, die, and then proceed along the same steps as if you did heal.

I wouldn’t even say that the difficulty is on par with Souls games, where you should aim for semi-perfection in order to progress. Death here is often related to knockback effects rather than outright damage… or the odd pit trap for insta-kill effect. That seems like a negative take, and in terms of advertising as a ‘dark souls-like’ game doesn’t really work when meshed with the Metroidvania genre. It already has those mechanics built-in.

This sort of imagery is quite common.

Where Blasphemous does work, is in the exploration aspects and multitude of hidden quests. Each zone has a particular flavor with somewhat unique enemies. The lore is obscure enough to give a sense of foreboding, without being confusing. There is a lot of backtracking as you unlock more and more movement skills (extra platforms, higher jumps, poison immunity, etc..) The downside to any game based on exploration is the discovery phase. There are breadcrumbs of a sort, if you look at the item and the lore. But even then, there’s a whole lot of guesswork and no in-game ability to track the 2 dozen odd quests here.

The combat does bear some note. You’re only ever given your sword, which gets marginally more powerful as you go through the game. There are (very few) magic attacks, and you’re open to attacks while casting, which truly negates most of the benefit. There’s a block/parry feature, but the logic behind it is somewhat inconsistent. The dodge/poke attack however… that doesn’t get old!

I guess I could talk about the lore, but frankly, that’s best experienced in-game. Clearly inspired by Catholicism a few hundred years ago, what with the constant references to ‘guilt’. But it’s a sort of grotesque take on it all, which given the material, is towing a tough line on ironic. I will say that it’s consistent in tone, which is more than I can say for Dante’s Inferno.

The game’s foibles are primarily quality of life items, which from a small dev-team perspective aren’t exactly deal breakers. That said, there are (free) DLC items for the game, the last of which will launch in December that address some bits. And a sequel in 2023. I’d expect that given the solid bones here, that the sequel will find a way to add these items and therefore broaden the appeal. It’s an interesting experiment that somehow works.

Relevant Dungeons

There are a LOT of features in WoW that simply amaze me in their lack of vision. Conceptually they are rock-star ideas that with a bit of work can be long-term gaming pillars. Island Expeditions is the only good new idea to come out of the last 2 expansion, and it’s treated like a lead paint eating cousin. Proving Grounds dates from MoP and is without question the best way to train any player on how to play their class/role in a controlled environment. Timewalking Dungeons is the other bit, where the devs have built over 120 dungeons over the life of the game, and only a half dozen are ever relevant. Every so often they add a half dozen more from a given expansion (and then nerf any reason to do them). There’s obviously been effort to add scaling to these dungeons, so there’s no reason that the pack of them can’t be cycled in/out on a regular basis.

FF14, sensing this relevance issue a long time ago, built-in scaling to dungeons from the start (well, ARR start). This was built from the clear design goal to have dungeons be part of the main story – and ensure there are always people around to make those groups happen. To make this work, they put in categories of dungeons, of which players can select at any point in their class career. The main reason this works is simple – FF14 has from the start, used tokens to bridge the gap towards max level gear. Completing items within this roulette awards tokens, at varying rates, depending on your level, the amount you’ve completed, and the class ratios (e.g. needing tanks).

Heading back to WoW, it’s entirely possible to never see any dungeon that isn’t in the most recent expansion. And way more likely that they’ll never set foot in any given raid. Even to this day, I’d bet there are less people who have done Throne of the Four Winds vs a single pet battle. I mean, that sort of fits in WoW’s more recent design penchant to only build temporary systems, rather than incremental ones. Garrisons, Class Halls, everything Azerite – none of it even matters an ounce today.

Now, I’m not advocating of keeping everything relevant. One of FF14’s main challenges is massive bloat to get from level 1 to level 80 – a good 100hrs to get through it all, and you will have to participate in nearly every single system along the way. They have done some pruning along the way (stances, skill variety, class balance, etc…) to try and “flatten” out the bump, but it’s still a crazy amount of content to get through. But FF14 also celebrates the value in they journey, and goes to great lengths to keep it meaningful and valuable for everyone. This breadth of content creates some really weird scenarios where you are gated from one activity and no real indication of how to get over that fence.

For the last bit, let’s consider the tail end off an expansion for a second. The structure of WoW (I guess old WoW) was that an expansion was only relevant for the necessary DINGs to get to the next one. The actual content and mechanics were meaningless. In new WoW (post-SL), there are entire expansions that are fully ignored (Vanilla, TBC, WoLK, Cata, MoP) because WoD is so generous with XP. And if you were waiting for SL to drop, there was no reason to do anything but ding 50 in BfA in terms of prep. FF14 won’t let you pick up the first quest in a new expansion unless you’ve done the 40-50 post-expansion quests from the previous tier. If you bought WoW today, and wanted to prep for SL, you’d be good by the weekend. If you bought FF14 today, you’re a few months away. And if you bought a story boost, you’d still have ~60 hrs of content to get through.

It’s sort of like going to a buffet and not being allowed to leave until you try everything that’s on display. There are limits to what a person can take. Way different perspectives depending on awareness of how much of the buffet is left to work through. I’d honestly recommend that people buy the story boost to get to the more recent bits, get to max level, and then start the new game + that allows you to replay the skipped MSQ. At least that would turn the buffet to being optional.