FF14 Quick Leveling Guide (1-80) – Endwalker

FF14 has a few paths for leveling. I wanted to write a quick summary of my recommended approach. I’ll update again in a couple months once Endwalker has settled.

Experience Boosts

Hopefully you pre-ordered something, which will give you access to an earring that increases EXP gains while leveling. Being in a guild will give a flat 10% boost as well. Logging out in a town (the moon icon near the EXP bar) gives rested exp gain of 50%. Finally, any food will give 3% exp gain and is super dirt cheap.

Also of note, if you are leveling a job that is a lower level than your highest one (e.g. you are leveling a 30, and you have a 70), you get an EXP boost as well! For that reason, it’s a huge benefit to fully level 1 job before taking on others.

If this is your first character & job

Fresh sprouts (you have an icon over your head) have two choices. Either you follow the Main Story Quest (MSQ) on the top left of your screen from 1-80 or you buy a pass to jump straight into Shadowbringers territory. I strongly recommend you do the MSQ. It will guide you through most of the systems, unlocks a bunch of stuff, and the story is absolutely worth it. It will take about 200 hours, all told, if you don’t skip cutscenes. It is worth it, and a great way to meet people.

Alternatively, you can boost to level 70 and skip the quests (pay for both) and then select NewGame+, allowing you to replay the MSQ and still access all the systems. This is certainly viable if you have friends at the end with whom you wish to play.

If this is your second job

The first thing I would recommend is unlocking all the flight points in all zones. This will take a couple days to knock out (aetherial compass to find the nodes, then 4-6 simple quests per zone). Insanely useful.

After that it boils down to level ranges and your preference:

  • Level 1 – 15: Unlock the job, complete the Rank 1 hunting log, and then do FATES near Aleport until 15. You will want a Chocobo companion, likely set to healer, to make this go smoother. It is better to do lower level FATES without sync, than to do a high level one that takes longer.
  • If you are a healer or a tank, you are better off just queuing for Duty Finder for leveling dungeons (avoid the 50/60/70 ones – the gear requirements here are too high). You’ll get decent experience, gil, and stuff to sell. Queues are usually pretty fast. If you are a DPS, or don’t ever want to worry about gear levels…
  • Level 15-61: Palace of the Dead is the place to be. You need one class at 17 to unlock (you have one at 80). Run it a a matched group, and keep going 10 floors at a time until you’ve cleared floor 60. From then on, just re-run floors 51-60. Gear doesn’t matter at all here… but you want to pick up the blue chests to have stat boosts instead. Weapon + armor buffs max out around 65, so you’ll be a while before that happens. Pomanders aren’t that big of a deal here.
  • Level 61-71: Heaven on High. This is PotD version 2 and you cannot access it until 61. Very similar structure, you’ll be repeating floors 21-30. There is one floor type that sucks, it’s entirely open. Save your esper summons to clear this one out. Aether boosts are also present, so your actual gear does not matter a lick.
  • Level 71-80: Bozja. This requires to the Return to Ivalice quest be completed and then start the resistance quests. You need to be 80 to start it, but 71 to access it with another job. You will be item level synched and boosted to level 80. Again, no need for gear at all here, everyone gets synced to the same stats and level. You can enter with level 1 gear and deal a much damage as someone in full epic gear. The goal of this zone is to complete as many FATES as possible, increase you rank (this is quickly explained in game), which will then open critical engagements (8-24 person events). Leveling here is pretty quick.

These 3 last activities are repetitive, but they are also social and quite quick. The neat bit is that they lock you to level 60/70/80 along with the skills, allowing you to fully experience the job quickly, and set up you hot bars. Even if you don’t use them for primarily leveling, it’s a good idea to run through them just to get a feel for the jobs. It also means that you only need to buy Poetics gear at the end of your leveling journey, and only per role (tank, healer, melee DPS, physical range, magical range). It’s very economical. However, without gear you wont be able to do any Duty Finder activities – if you do plan to buy gear while leveling, I suggest doing so at 51/61/71. Buying gear at the X0 levels is usually 3x the cost and half the stats of a level X1 equivalent.

Have fun leveling!

Final Pass

FF14 shuts down for a couple days to prep for Endwalker’s early access launch. If the last night is any indication, those servers are going to take a beating when they come back up. Even solo duties (class quests) were failing. Good that there’s clearly some pent up demand, less good that the architecture woes are not yet fully resolved. If I was a guessing man, that would be main reason for any launch delays.

So where am I now?

I have the character link in the top left, but for posterity I took a screenshot before logging off. Ignore the item level for now, I am doing deep dungeon runs that sync your character gear to a given level. I shouldn’t need to buy any gear until 80 (15-51 in PotD, 51-61 in HoH, 71-80 in Bozja – you don’t need any gear for any of it.)

I did manage to get my White Mage to 80 and my Gunbreaker. I was hoping to get a DPS role to 80 as well, and the Dancer is the closest so far. Honestly, my real goal was to get everyone to 15 so that I could clear out my starting level gear. That worked (Blue Mage has a different leveling system). I didn’t bother showing crafters as I don’t have any. Gatherers are all at 80, and my Retainers are at 60 right now… well shy of useful for EW. No biggie.

My White Mage is fully leveled with a more than decent ilvl to start EW. I do think I’ll run through with the Gunbreaker though… tanking with him has been a lot of fun and instant queues are nothing to sniff at.

It’s not shown here, but I’m at 5m gil as well, which is way more than enough to keep me going. The Duty Finder (LFG) system has been the main source of gil. PotD/HoH give no meaningful amounts of gil.

Am I ready for Endwalker? I guess I am. MSQ is all complete, bags are ready, quest log has only 2 entries. I’ve got all the old flight points too. I’m also in no terrible rush to complete the content – I still am not even 50% done on the older stuff! I’ll plug away as I go and see where the world takes me. It’s been a right long time since I’ve been excited for an expansion, kinda feel like I don’t want to get my hopes up too high.

Guess we’ll see on the other side.

FF14 – Now What?

I hit 80 on my WHM the other day. 13 days played to get through the entire MSQ – I did start in 2013 and stalled out at the end of 3.0. In terms of cost vs time spent, it’s a crazy value. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say all that time was well spent as there is a limit to one’s sanity when it comes to cutscenes. I can’t see how anyone would ever consider picking up FF14 when Endwalker comes out, and start from scratch. Nor should a new player just plop down at 70 and understand all the interconnected systems with a boost. A problem with no good (or perhaps simple) answers.

But I’m not here to talk about them! I hit 80! All the world is my oyster! It’s also a very big oyster. There are a lot of things I can do now, with close to 5 weeks before Endwalker comes about.

  • Learn the systems
    • There are maps, airships, savage runs, desynced battles and a pile of other terms that make no sense to me right now. In those 13 days played, I’ve never had to intersect with those systems.
  • Level more classes
    • Battle classes will be a slow process. Gunbreaker is my main target for now for instant queues and they have a decent look
    • Harvesting classes are the first one. Diadem + GC books mean a relatively quick run up to 50 for Mining and Botany. Having these at 80 for the expansion release will probably be the largest generation of Gil for a foreseeable time.
    • Crafting classes will come later. The guides I’ve read peg this at about 3m cost to get there quickly.
    • Blue Mage. Maybe?
  • Unlock more stuff
    • Beast tribes haven’t been touched. I don’t see a huge involvement here though…
    • Extra dungeons/raids/trials need to be unlocked. There are a few dozens to go. I do have Alphascape done though! (12 raids in a row, throwbacks to FF5, FF6, and FF1. Ghost Train baby!)
    • Flight paths in Stormblood and Shadowbringers will be required. I’ve got most of the ones on the map done, but there are quests to do.
  • Relics
    • This seems like a MASSIVE timesink for what is a glowing weapon skin. So count me in!
  • Housing
    • I have a room. It’s pretty much empty. I should do something about this.
  • Make some Gil
    • I would argue that this really isn’t needed, for a large set of reasons. However, there is something to be said about not having to worry about money. I figure if I can keep a float of 10m, that should be more than enough for a long time (I’m at 3m now).

For now, I think I’ll focus on a couple daily roulettes for the Gunbreaker then the rest of the time leveling the harvesting classes (and unlocking flight). That should keep me busy for the next few weeks. It still feels daunting to have finished climbing the MSQ mountain, only to find a mountain range lurking beyond.

Oh yeah, and find some time for Metroid Dread while I’m at it.

Shadowbringers Complete (5.0)

When I rejoined FF14, I was in the middle of 3.1, the first content piece after Heavensward. It’s been about 5 weeks now and I just completed the 5.0 MSQ, with just over 50 quests left to do in order to be prepared for Endwalker. Well… prepared isn’t the right word, perhaps ‘able to take on the first quest’. There is plenty of stuff to do once at 80. This post is instead going to reflect on the MSQ proper, less the stuff around it – so some spoilers here (not the 5.x stuff yet).

The biggest benefit for Shadowbringers (ShB) is that it follows Stormblood (StB), as the former took a tangent to the main story villains and meandered for a long time. ShB goes right back to start of ARR, with the Source and the 13 split shards from the initial sundering. You end up on the First, after it has been swept by the light (this makes sense once you complete Heavensward’s extra MSQ). In short, it focuses on the Scions (good guys), Ascians (bad guys), why the world is the way it is, and what’s at stake.

FF14 has a habit of applying nuance to the world and less the characters. Bad guys are just bad, but the people on their team may be good. There are a few characters that have some backstory to try and explain their actions (Yotsuyu is a really good example), yet most just undergo a heel/hero swap (Fandaniel, Nero, Gaius). ShB does the same thing here for nearly everyone – except the Ascian villain. Emet-Selch provides a ton of backstory to the Ascians, how Zodiark came to be, and the loss of his world. It’s extremely similar to Zanarkand in FFX. You know from the start he’s a bad guy, but you’re also hanging on his every word. When you finally reach Amaurot, there’s a lot of sympathy for what came before.

Tangent. Remember Man of Steel? Where Zod is convinced that to restore Krypton he has to kill everyone on Earth? That was dumb, because there was no empathy for Krypton that was – all we ever saw was war. It had as much weight as if he wanted to put a shopping mall. The good news is that ShB learned that lesson well, and you can have some appreciation for what was lost way back when. Now, why stuff went wrong is certainly something Endwalker is going to address.

The general pacing of the story is an improvement as well, where you start in the main hub, and then branch out to restore areas in line with the larger story arc. You gradually restore the Scions, uncover more of the history of the First, and get access to some rather interesting locales. The pyramid zone and work with the Talos are memorable enough. The Tempest seems a bit of a bolt-on near the end (though the ride to get there is damn cool). It feels like they forgot that they needed an underwater level and just plopped it here (which makes sense, since the Light doesn’t reach the sea floor)

Eulmore is the heart of this expansion, not because of it’s location, but because of what it represents. If the end of the world is guaranteed, you’re going to have people simply accept it and try to go out with a bang (see Snowpiercer for a great example). The apathy and desperation of this city is really something to see… it bleeds into everything. Ran’jit is the perfect example of this… someone who spent years fighting only to suffer loss after loss, and he’s just plain broken. When that larger arc ends, it feels like the expansion is capped.

But it’s not, and then you reach Amaurot. I won’t spoil this part too much, but it has a dungeon that feels like a WoW raid in terms of visuals. If this is where Endwalker goes in terms of storyline/visuals, that would make me very happy.

The final boss of Amaurot… the beauty of the scene offsets the chaos of the fight.

Another tangent, when it comes to villains. The best FF villains are those you interact with, not just speeches but actual action and consequence. Kefka is memorable because he’s just always around the corner (plus he actually wins if you think about it). Sephiroth the same. Who’s the villain in FF12 again? I’m picking on FF here, but it applies to all video games (and most movies). You need that interaction to see more than a 2 dimensional character. ARR had Gaius, Heavensward didn’t really do this part well, Stormblood’s main villain you saw twice, and finally in Shadowbringers, Emet-Selch is practically in your party.

While it’s not the best FF story, it certainly feels the strongest of all the FF14 stories told so far, or perhaps the one that returns most to the series roots.

FF14 – Quest Tourism

My brain is having trouble accurately remembering the ARR quest line. I know that we all love to bash WoW’s hit and miss storyline management, but FF14 really takes the cake in terms of WTH moments. The good news here is that with 30 years of FF games to reference, this isn’t exactly weird. It’s the opposite really.

Calling back to FF7 for a minute, I still recall the jarring view once I left Midgard. The tone of the game changed as the scope went wide. And the Midgar Zolom (the 100 ft fire breathing snake, impaled on a stick) still is etched in my skull. FF6’s World of Ruin was like playing a 2nd game, with a different set of rules. Zozo still kicks butt! FF13’s resurrection bit. Cloud of Darkness. The whole Yu Yevon / Dreamer set up. Garland being Chaos started it all off. FF likes to go one way, then throw something on the table that changes the context of the adventure. You think you’re doing these steps for one reason, but some reveal occurs and you find out it’s a whole lot bigger.

What I find really interesting here is that FF14 continually puts you front and center in all of this. Sure, there are factions and leaders and villains, but the whole storyline is about your impact on that world. There’s no NPC that magically jumps into battle with super nukes that you go ga-ga for. This gives the appearance of player agency in the world. You even get prompted for dialogue options. Now, the reality is that there is no agency and everyone gets the same storyline, but your experience is shadowed enough to give a positive impression.

One of the interesting quirks of FF14 is that it’s very terrestrial – or at least will be up until the moon expansion. You never feel like “this is the entire world”, as there always seems to be something about “over the horizon”. The leveling process is fractured, in a sense, in that it moves you around the world on a fairly linear path. The MSQ forces you to experience it a certain way. The closest to this is likely LOTRO, where you are following a story in acts. You are given clear instructions to go here, do this thing, talk to this person, and then most likely travel to the other part of the big map for the next bit. It’s quite jarring frankly, where the journey itself is more important than the character level associated with it.

It really is closer to the traditional FF games here in that sense. There wasn’t anything preventing you from grinding crazy levels early to smooth out the process later, or skipping levels to plow through at low levels. Those numbers acted more as a difficulty modifier to the main story line, which you never really could skip. Compared to the giant in the room, retail WoW is focused entirely at bringing people to the end state gate and then hoping for the best. There’s plenty of reasons for this… prime that FF14 has so many classes and only forces the MSQ once, while WoW forces you to repeat the content for any alt. There’s no way people would purposefully sit through all them again for FF14.

I’m still making my way through the 3.2 content and it’s really striking the fundamental differences here. It’s heavy handed and slow here, full of exposition. The opposite of the fast food buffet we see elsewhere. It’s also consistent and logical – in as much any fantasy setting can be. I’ll be keeping some pulse check on these story beats as I progress, but for now, it’s super refreshing.

FF14 – Main Story Quest

It’s an MMO, there are quests everywhere. FF14 still takes a rather unique path here as it’s a mandatory process to go through the story quest (MSQ) in order to unlock a bunch of features. This is somewhat different than other MMO’s, where the quests themselves are more of a step in order to reach max level, and that once you get that final ding, you can ignore all the levelling content.

I remember back when I did the ARR MSQ and was confused when I found myself forced to group at an early level. I had no real issues with the step, it’s an MMO after all, but it was still jarring compared to others. And that the game had an LFG tool built into the entire process was really something. It still remains one of the few MMOs that goes to great lengths to harmonize the leveling experience and the end-game experience… what you see at level 20 is pretty darn close to what you see at the end.

FF14 has “groups” of MSQ, those that are related to the leveling portion, and then the post-expansion patches. The former group is usually enough to get you to the max level for a given expansion (ARR had some gaps, not sure if still present). The latter group is meant to be a mix of storyline and dungeon reveal. Again, you need to go through this portion to unlock said dungeons in the LFG (roulette) tool, so you’re certainly motivated from a mechanical perspective.

The link above refers to the arches of the quests. Each can have 3-5 substeps within, and FF14 loves to have steps cross the map. Leveling, this isn’t too bad as it points you around. Post-leveling, it can be somewhat ridiculous to teleport everywhere for a 30s cutscene, only to return to where you were. The 3.1 content has 1 minor battle with 2 small enemies, then an instanced battle with support NPCs that takes about 20 minutes to complete. The whole 8 quest arc takes about 2 hours to get through – that’s a lot of exposition.

The length of the MSQ can be seen as a downside, especially for attracting new players who want to be with their friends. From ARR -> end of Shadowbringers, there’s close to 200 hours of content to get through. You can buy a boost to get to the starting line of Shadowbringers, which still leaves you with a good 40hrs or so. Yes, this puts a burden on the players to get to max content, but on the flipside, it also makes sure that they understand all the expansion mechanics and group functions. It eases the transition to end game, rather than creating a quit wall.

The sort of benefit here is that the MSQ only needs to be done once per character, meaning you can level any other job/class while just worrying about experience. People say WoW is alt-unfriendly, well FF14 is both the friendliest and most punishing. The only reason I can think of having an alt is if you want a different looking character. There are niche reasons (RP, more retainers, raid lockouts, FC farming) but those would really wait until you have many jobs at max level on a main. And sanity wise, if you want a different looking character, pay the $10 for the race change.

So now I’m 2 hrs into the max-level journey at 60, with 8/44 quests complete before Stormblood. There are 4 dungeons and 2 raids in there too, so the estimate to get through this is about 25 hours. Let the journey continue.

FF14 – Clown Suit

Oh, how quickly we forget how games love to throw you under the bus when you had super cool looking armor, then make you dress like a clown…  Do all devs have this desire?
ff14 clown suit

I’ve completed the first few starter quests in Ishguard, enough to be on the quest that will give me a flying mount.  A few particular notes about this so far.

The FATES are “broken”.  In every ARR zone, FATES are run everywhere.  It’s rare you see more than 3 up at any given time.  N. Thanalan is on farm mode right now.  HS zones, every fate is up, all the time.  I found one that was a single target boss-like enemy.  We started pretty much when the clock started and ended up being 4 people trying to take it down by the end.  We failed the timer and I was on full-time healing duty.  The HP scaling doesn’t work (SE admitted this), their damage is significantly higher than ARR and the experience/time spent is less than half of previous content.  I’m guessing this wasn’t so much an issue when people were doing MSQ to get to 60 but now that people are trying to level alts, then it’s really a quite glaring issue.

The quests are better, in terms of pace and quality. I like house Fortemps.  Ishguard has a whole Game of Houses (which I claim GRR Martin has heavily borrowed for GoT) jive to it, which is a fair bit better than the lack of flavor in the previous 3 capital cities (Ul’dah was so-so).  The duties (contained personal quest zones) are larger too, instead of just battle arenas.  It’s cool.

The art/music is quite impressive.  I’ve always been happy with the FF series for both, but this expansion improved a lot.  Well, the clown suits aside. The enemies look better, the zones are amazing, Ishguard is massive… it all works well.  Plus, everyone has buckles.  Ain’t FF without a bajillion buckles.

The combat is more or less identical, if not a fair amount more difficult.  I am in decent enough gear, able to solo large chunks of ARR content.  HS basic enemies seem to be twice as tough.  I’m not really looking forward to my first dungeon.

Picking up the new classes isn’t terribly involved but playing them with what they give you is.  I have no alternate jobs and only a few spare pieces of strength gear.  When I picked up the Dark Knight class, it gave me a weapon, a chest and pants.  I needed to find pieces to fill in the rest.  And as with any expansion gouging is present – the gear for level 30 tanks is about 30x the price of gear for level 25 tanks.  So for the price of one level 30 hat, I was able to fill out my entire slot set.  I played as a DK for the first combat quest, to unlock Darkside.  I failed it a few times since I played it as a DPS until I realized it was designed to be played as a tank.  Once I did that, it was a cakewalk.  (Side note, I usually play a caster, so the GCD isn’t that big a deal.  It is when you play melee, very weird pace change.)

I like the content presented thusfar.  I think in general, it’s an improvement of what came before.   FATES need some number tweaking, there are some balance/bugs that need to be sorted out. As a whole?  This is certainly one of the smoother/slicker expansions I’ve gone through.

Impulse Buys + FF Update

It was my birthday last week.  One year older, though in truth the date itself never means much to me in that fashion.  It’s nice to see family mind you, but it’s not like I move the hand on some death clock.

It’s also an interesting fact that as you get older, it gets a ton harder for people to figure out what to get you as a gift.  I would say that time and a solid experience are the best things, at least in the grand scheme of things.  I don’t need another mug, but a day off? That’s sweet.  A night out?  Great too.

Of course, there’s always cash.

Impulse Buys

I’d been thinking about getting a couple items for a while, and with the birthday cash, I picked up my tablet and made the buys.

First, a top end coffee maker from Bonavita.  I had tried coffee from a friend’s place who had this machine and it was by far the best home brew I’d ever had.  I had bought a Tassmio single brewer a while back, and even though that was good, it was costly and wasteful.  I’m not a coffee snob, I’ll have a cup of freeze dried at 5am to help wake up but I also like to have a great cup from time to time.  Plus, I wanted something that can serve more people too, as my 10 year old $20 machine was horrible.

Second, in the winter I had seen Star Wars: Imperial Assault in a local game store.  Miniatures + board games + cooperative play?  And add Star Wars?  Hell yes.  Apparently it’s a slight upgrade and skin job on Descent, which I already own and is pretty darn good.  Looking forward to setting it up and playing a few rounds with the little ones.  Oh, and some paint jobs on the miniatures will be fun too.  Did I mention STAR WARS?  Just checking.

I guess that’s not really impulse, since I put some thought about it for a while.  Truth be told, I usually spend a LOT of time researching something before biting the bullet.  This one was pretty quick.

Even more quick was the delivery (that is such a poorly written sentence).  It took 3 business days to get to my door, direct from Amazon.  I do not understand how brick and mortar stores work anymore.

ARR is Complete!

First, the quests in 2.55 are just face painting.  It’s like the entire patch was just cinematics, and a LOT of cinematics.  The last 2 quests, I’m sure that was 45 minutes of in-game cutscenes total before I was able to set foot in Ishguard.

There were certainly highlights in those scenes but in traditional FF fare, there turncoats, smug bad guys, dead bad guys, an escape by the heroes and potatoes just standing around.  Of all those things, the potatoes are the most irksome.  (Side note, FF14 doesn’t have blood or death on-screen.  Which makes it hard to cut a guy in two, but they did it.)

But what’s a potato have to do with anything you ask?  Ok, you probably didn’t ask that but here goes.  A potato is a character who provides next to no value in a given scene, outside of frustrating/confusing the audience as to why they are even there in the first place.  It’s like a combination of a Red Herring and Chekov’s Gun.  It’s just a lot of SMH – but hey, that’s what FF does best right?

I made it off to Ishguard and tried unlocking the 3 jobs.  I started the 2 quests for Machinist and Astrologian but they require me to visit the old lands for some stupid reason that makes no sense in the context of lore.  They hate the other side of that gate, why would they send me there?  Dark Knight I unlocked though, even if it wasn’t terribly obvious how to get it started.  Neat intro to the line too.  I’ll have to spend some time on the market as all my lower level gear is meant for magic-users.

I think that’s about 2 weeks of playing, to get from 43 to Heavensward.  If I’d hazard a guess, it would be 2 weeks or so to get to 43 in the first place, maybe a bit more depending on your love of cutscenes and the duty-finder timer.  All mandatory content for anyone buying HS today without an existing character.  I can certainly see that as off-putting.

#FF14 – Nearing the End

So Close I Can Taste It

Inching a bit closer!  The start of patch 2.55 is all cinematics and rinky dink walk over here, and talk to someone.  6 of them too!  And the subtlety is pretty much gone, time for the big moves.  I got far enough in (popcorn and all) to unlock the last MSQ raid, Steps of Faith.

This one sets you against a dragon, Vishap, who’s walking across a bridge to knock down a door – essentially a DPS race, with a few cannons to help out.  I don’t mind a DPS race but an entire raid focused on one makes you wonder why it exists?  I mean, it looks neat and it’s the first time you’re actively fighting something that much larger than you.  Cripes, we fit the entire raid under the dragon’s belly.

Compared to the previous raid and the dozen or so wipes, I think I cast Cure about 5 times, and just used regen here and there.  95% of the rest of the time, I was in Cleric stance and just DPS.  Clerics aren’t super DPS either, I think I do about 200ish.  I’d guess a pure class would be double?

Have I mentioned how healers have it awesome?  Instant queue for this one again.

Anyhoot, unless I’m mistaken I have 2-3 fetch quests left, then about 30 minutes of cutscenes before Heavensward.  The downside is that the intro cinematic of Heavensward spoils a fair chunk of what’s coming.  The upside is that the MSQ is filling in the blanks and it’s pretty well done.  At least by FF standards.

Final Fantasy Lore

Let’s face it, Final Fantasy is one of the largest IPs on the planet for gamers.  Aside from Warcraft and Star Wars, it’d be pretty hard to find the next in line.  And I don’t mean character, that’s clearly Mario.  I mean the entire world/lore/history.

The neat thing about the FF series is how all the games are set in their own world but share common elements.  There’s always some sort of crystal, summons are always going to be present, character classes are nearly always there, and you’re always going to find Cid, Biggs, and Wedge.  The art style is almost always buckles and zippers and layers, with a side of crazy hair.  Moogles and Chocobos.  It’s not really a FF game without those pieces, though some took a while to make it into the series.

Even the combat basics have been pretty common across.  Sure, the Active Time Battle (ATB) has come and gone but the concept of slow, methodical thinking before actions has been there since the beginning.  Even FF13’s “just press A” mechanics were stalled by a bar that needed to fill up to execute moves.

That’s certainly one of the draws with FF14, how the archetypes and tropes of the series are used throughout.  The story pacing, the maniacal/plot hole enemies, the constant exposition, the humour, the stupid fetch quests, and the cuteness.  At any time where it thought the content felt “off”, the next moment it was back on track.  It’s rare enough to find a game with this much content that’s able to maintain pace/cohesiveness for such a long period.  I’m certainly more and more impressed as I move along.

#FF14 – Crysalis Down, Story Update

Finished Patch 2.5 content, so only 2.55 left to do.  I will say that as the game progresses, the content gets better.  The story is more engaging and the dungeons/raids are a heck of a lot more crazy.  Each Patch seems to unlock 1 dungeon and 1 raid, plus some neat story bits.

Patch 2.4

Patch 2.4 gave me Snowcloak and Shiva to run through.  Snowcloak was a pretty neat dungeons, especially the bigfoot fight where you hit him with snowballs.  The entire group was new to the dungeon and we decided not to read up on it.  After about level 40, there are no more tank and spank fights.  If you don’t catch the mechanics, eventually you’re going to die.  But the ramp up time to learn is fairly lenient.  Learning on the fly is fun, even more so when the mechanics are intuitive enough to grasp – at least in dungeons.

Shiva was a quick run, though there was a wipe due to not killing the adds.  As a general rule in raiding, it’s “don’t step in the bad stuff, stay close to get an AE heal and kill the adds”.  At least of the majority.  I will say that that fight was incredibly neat to watch, and her ultimate is amazeballs.

Patch 2.5

To start 2.5 I needed to clear Ifrit, Titan and Garuda on Hard Mode.  I guess these guys were hard at some time, because they were each twice as easy as when on normal mode.  More skills available makes a heck of a difference, and item level too I guess.  Once that was done, I gained access to Keeper of the Lake and Crysalis.

KotL was pretty neat for the first 2 bosses.  The last one, holy kidney beans, AE city.  A massive dragon head, the floor nearly permanently on fire and then 2 smaller (still large) dragons to take out.  It was the best fight I’ve had in an MMO in a long time.  Superb.

Crysalis though, that thing is a pain and extremely dependent on player awareness.  Massive hits on the tank that I needed to pre-cast for.  Then about 30 floating balls everyone needs to tag, in a specific order to avoid taking too much damage.  If not enough are flagged, then the boss does a massive AE (again, need to pre-cast).  Then more AE from the boss, so everyone needs to be fairly close to take the AE heal (which most ranged classes don’t get and stay super far away).  Finally, he teleports you into some odd version of the moon, where meteors hit the ground for ~75% of my hit points, so the 2 tanks needs to run under them and take the blow.  Miss 2 and it’s a wipe. It took a long time for the tanks to coordinate this properly.  Nearly 10 runs.  People were chipper throughout and very happy when it was cleared.  (Can I say how rare that is?  8 anonymous people and no one was a jerk?)

It was a sad ending to this chapter though, story-wise.  There are clearly some set-up elements in place for 2.55 and I am super hyped to go through that part.

Content Stays Relevant

I think one of the highlights of FF14 design is the duty roulette system.  Every piece of group content shows up in this LFG/LFR system after you’ve completed it once (and 90% of it has to be completed in the story).  It’s split up across low level, high level, elite, trials, story and guildhests (learn-to-dungeon), with each giving a significant exp bonus every day, and some currency for gear to boot.  This means that all the content remains relevant to everyone.  You might have a level 59 in a level 20 dungeon (scaled down of course) because he wanted the EXP bonus for doing it.  This also means that the queue times are fairly steady, depending on the role you run.  Tanks are instant, Healers are near instant for dungeons, ~4m for a raid.  DPS, well I feel sorry for you guys.

And there’s no dev resources to re-jig something to stay relevant.  I don’t get served some sort of warp-of-time dungeon like it was new content I should be happy about.  Instead, they make a new dungeon.