FF14 – Eureka Orthos

The newest Deep Dungeon Eureka Orthos (EO) launched on Tuesday, allowing a rogue-like stroll through 10 floors for xp + a miniscule amount of tomes. It’s available to level 81-90 players. The other 2 DD are Palace of the Dead (PotD) (15-60) and Heaven on High (HoH) (60-70), which are both products of their time and absolutely effective ways for people to level in those sections.

The concept is simple enough, you can either solo, or match with 3 other players to clear 9 floors + 1 boss, rinse and repeat. Group play is dramatically preferred for multiple reasons, most certainly time to clear – though the jobs are random, it’s possible to end up with 4 tanks. Your class is locked to the top level (60, 70 or now 90) with all associated skills. Your attack/defense is based on collecting a random piece of permanent aetherpool boost along the way, with a cap of ~15 more than your top floor – so floor 50 means you max out at +65 Aetherpool. Each run has a set of temporary items that boost a given factor… an auto-res, more chests, more damage, clear effects and so on. There’s also 2 items that turn on a sort of “god mode” that works against everything except the bosses.

PotD is a very simplistic dungeon with very simplistic enemies, the worst of which is going to be a Mimic. You can pretty much face tank the entire thing, including the boss, assuming you don’t get back luck with hidden bomb traps. Very fast, very simple. Makes sense as it covers a very large level range.

HoH adds a minor amount of complexity as there are more AE attacks and one particular floor where everything is open and you need to gradually unveil the map to find the exit. It’s not uncommon to end up pulling a dozen enemies if you’re not paying attention. A marginal increase in difficulty, a bit less than the attention needed for any given Alliance Raid.

EO though, that is at another level and is reflective of modern dungeon design – also notably much harder to access. Multiple enemies have massive AE attacks that can 1-shot you, and there are random enemies that can do the same. The scaling of Aetherpool armor/weapons appears lower as well, though admittedly I am not currently over-powered. The “final” repeatable boss is an AE fest of non-stop dodging, heavily favouring instant ranged attackers. It is chaotic fun. I can’t talk about experience right now as I have no job in the 81-89 level range. I can say that at level 90 it rewards 30 poetics, 60 astronomy and 15 causality tomestones. Poetics are useless in this context. Astronomy gives access to 590 gear, and causality to 620 gear. A dungeon run awards between 50/20 and 80/50 of these, and are arguably easier to run. I think the incentive here is solid all the same.

Continual Design Improvements

What I will point out here is the construct of dungeon design and how it is reflected in overall gameplay. FF14 launched 10 years ago, August 2013. As comparison, this was in the middle of WoW’s Mists of Pandaria expansion. MMO themepark design was arguably at it’s social zenith, before the larger F2P transition. What that effectively meant was a moderate level of challenge, with some smaller focus on area effect avoidance, and the need for re-usable content. I won’t get into how that worked out (it did!) but more in that the design itself was predicated on group-work with minimal friction. The new player experience was, and I argue still is, extremely welcoming. Cool.

As the years have come and expansions gone, the content has become more complex. Endwalker dungeons have multiple AE effects occurring simultaneously, and the raids are extremely punishing in regards to positioning. It is hard to be good at FF14 today, as it has been increasingly hard to be good at any other MMO. Players have done the prior content (well, in FF14 they have) so there are some training wheels preparing them for more complex stuff. The 2.0 dungeons are simple, with end bosses that only have AE attacks, with massively generous timers. Here’s what a 6.0 dungeon boss looks like now:

Still, as a leveling experience FF14 is generally easy, to the point of failing forward. I still die in leveling dungeons, usually due to a tank deciding to wall-to-wall pull and not having cooldowns ready for it. Raids still kill a good pile of people. The mandatory (I stress this word) main story quest forces players to experience the dungeon / raid design for the entire journey, which makes it an extremely rare occurrence for someone to show up at level 90 and just be a walking brain fart. Now, compare that to WoW, where it’s frankly expected that someone reaches max level without ever having done an ounce of group content.

One could argue that more complexity is a good, or a bad thing. It would be hard to argue that it isn’t needed, as the base game certainly is simpler and some differentiation aside from color scheme is warranted.

What EO does is provide a crystal clear contrast in dungeon design ethos as there are only 2 other such instances with which to compare. PotD is easy mode. HoH requires you to be awake. EO will kill you. I certainly expect some level of tweaking, but the message is clear all the same. You want a deep dungeon; here it is, 2023-style. Impressive.

FF14 Bender

I hear Dragonflight launched? First WoW expansion I have not touched, nor do I have any FOMO here. I will give some credit, is that WoW in the moment-to-moment aspect scratched a hell of an itch. Outside of that, it’s been on a downward spiral for years.

FF14, in contrast, has a tremendous investment in the relevance of the game, and respect for player’s time and effort. Systems are generally integrated so that progress in one field impacts multiple others. Borrowed power only exists in discreet areas (e.g. Bozja) and is explicit. The is certainly slower, as the GCD is set at 2.5seconds… which is certainly less hectic. I personally enjoy it as it’s much less stressful.

I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to “complete” as many systems as I could. It feels like going to a buffet, being stuffed, and realizing there are 3 dozen more buffets down the line. The main quest line (MSQ) may take nearly 200 hours to fully complete, but that is only about 10% of the actual game content. And most of it stays relevant, due to the Duty Finder system that syncs your level.

As with most MMOs there’s a carrot thing here, a goal of sorts. FF14 certainly has the MSQ and gearing treadmill, giving access to raids. Things that we’ve been told have to be there. And it’s good, don’t get me wrong. But there’s more. Treasure maps are fun. Housing is just stupid awesome in possibilities. There’s a private island for some odd farmville-like perks. Collecting cosmetics is there too. Making a lot of money is always interesting, and way more complex here due to the limits on selling (which is wicked smart). Right now, my goal is just to level up my various jobs.

The crafters are all fine. The combat ones need work. I’ve got bags and bags of gear that I just can’t see to use, so leveling up the characters seems the wises path forward, so that I no longer need the gear. FF14 operates under their expansion levels, with plateaus at 50, 60, 70, 80 and 90. Leveling-wise, the 90 portion isn’t exactly relevant, giving 4 major milestones.

I’m in the general process of getting everyone to 50. Currently 16/19 jobs at 50 or above. I’m in the process of closing off the melee DPS character: Monk, Dragoon, Ninja. This is not a terribly pleasant experience, for one main reason – the general lack of abilities. At max level, there’s nearly 3 hot bars of skills on any given job, plenty of tools for nearly any situation. Most jobs don’t unlock the ability to hit multiple enemies until the mid-20s, and the real abilities only show up in the 50s. To combat this, the Palace of the Dead (PotD) works as an option from level 15-60, effectively putting you with level 60 abilities in a rogue-like dungeon. It’s not hard, though you do get the odd really bad RNG. Heaven on High (HoH) works from 61-70, same concept.

PotD really only works during peak hours, so that the queues are near-instant. If you need to wait 7+minutes, it’s likely better to just solo queue Duty Support (dungeons with NPC support). These are slow as molasses, but better than nothing. Yet you are stuck with relatively crappy tools, especially if you are under level 30.

50+ there are many, many more options present. Hunting Bills are a daily option to kill specific enemies for a good chunk of xp. Beast Tribes are super easy quests for quick xp. MSQ/Leveling/Alliance Raids in the Duty Finder give a few trucks of XP (first time each per day). Wonderous Tails is ~3/4 of a level, but only once a week. Bozja (at peak time) is decent XP from 70-90. Heck, even dungeons are an ok option as your toolkit is more developed.

This gives a sort of time travelling view of the game, where content from 10 years ago still has worth today, as you can queue for a dungeon at level 89 and end up in a level 15 dungeon.

My routine right now is a simple one. Beast tribe dailies (all 12), Duty Roulette if it procs while I’m questing, then the Island Sanctuary to ensure everything is running smooth. Time left over is to get the melee DPS up to 50. There’s a fair chunk to do in that last bit, probably 70 or so runs of PotD. Breaking up that routine is nice.

It’s a welcome distraction.

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.