As I have come closer to my monthly sub renewal I decided I’d put FFXIV on pause for a while. I’ll be travelling again for nearly two weeks in October and I doubt I’ll get much opportunity to play the game in the build up to that trip. I’ve not felt that motivated to log-in since achieving so many goals in a short space of time. I think the game has just slipped down my list of priorities at present.
The latest patch (2.38) has extensive details available via the patch notes, there’s not much to persuade me to keep the sub open. Personal housing is stupendously expensive. I’ve read threads about this on forums (e.g. Massively’s write-up), the few voices calling for the addition of differing price points for varied sizes of personal housing seem to get drowned out by those defending the current plan. My character has something like 20,000 gil at level 30 – the cheapest house is going to cost 3.2 million gil. Plots are limited though so it’s unlikely I’d stand a chance of getting a house even if I had the money. It’s similar to how Vanguard: Saga of Heroes treated housing – more like a PVE end-game activity than something you can acquire early on and play with as you level and gain wealth.
I still have plenty I would like to do in the game, especially investigating the grand company system more and of course exploring more of the world. I’ll admit the forced PUG dungeons runs for the main storyline has been holding my story progress back. I’m happy to jump into FATEs when they cross my path, I’m also happy to do the odd guildhest for extra experience and gil. But dungeons are much more involved time-wise and the few I’ve done have been stressful since I don’t know the mechanics and the majority of players are rushing through.
If I come back to the game I’ll need to look for a free company (guild) I think to make the adjustment to dungeons a bit easier. That’s too much of a commitment for now but something to consider for the future.
Time to rest
So we spent some time this weekend in Neverwinter focused specifically on the bonus refinement points event. This offered the opportunity to upgrade artifacts faster so we spent a good amount of time hunting through our characters for spare enchantments, refinement gemstones (e.g. white pearls), and runestones that we could feed to our ever-hungry artifacts.
After some experimenting to see the effects of the bonus event it became clear that upgrading from green to blue was a realistic enough step-up. From blue to purple not so much. I used up well over a hundred enchantment and refinement stones from my four mid to high level characters. I managed to get one of my great weapon fighters artifacts from green to blue, my cleric’s third artifact also from green to blue and his primary artifact about 60% of the way from blue to purple. But the latter upgrade process absorbed vast amounts of stones for very slow progress despite the bonus event – that’s a level of grind beyond my casual engagement with the game.
As a side note we also wanted to get the third Tyranny of Dragons boon unlocked as that would allow my fighter and my partner’s cleric to do the class artifact quest – unlocking the relevant green quality artifact for free on all characters on the account. Getting that done by the end of Sunday was a goal so we could then immediately upgrade the shiny new artifacts to blue quality during the bonus event. But time and tide was against us, we were one set of dailies short of getting the boon and there is no way around those daily quest cooldown timers. Paying upwards of $35 to instantly and fully unlock one of the earlier campaigns from the Zen store was not an option either – it wasn’t that important.
In any case the artifact refining we did manage was a boost to character stats and most of my characters now benefit from half-empty banks and bags. In the end we gave up on hoarding the various call-to-arms enchantment stones, it is very easy just by doing the Tyranny dailies or Icewind Dale heroic encounters to get more of these.
Speaking of Icewind Dale our current thoughts are to finish the boon unlock on my fighter and his cleric and to then swap to a different pair to keep the game fresh. I’ll be back on my cleric with his newly levelled guardian fighter. I get to heal again and his fighter gets to stand and shrug off boss attacks with a big shield. We haven’t done any Icewind Dale together for some months so it’ll be nice to delve back into to that campaign as, despite the random number issues with loot, I did really like the setting and back story to the campaign.
The all important pre-expansion patch for World of Warcraft (patch 6.0.2) is likely due a month before launch, so mid October (13th Oct? No firm date announced yet). Already some of our guild-mates who played Neverwinter this summer have drifted back to Azeroth to begin their preparations so our heroic dungeon runs in the later game have come to a halt.
Healing Grey Wolf Den dungeon in Neverwinter
This saddens me as having dungeon runs really added some spice to our enjoyment of the game. For the last few weeks we’ve been duo’ing the campaigns only and that does get tedious especially if you try doing multiple campaigns on different characters – so many dailies!
When the aforementiond WoW patch lands my partner will probably be jumping back into Warcraft as well to get his main character ready for the climb to the new cap and new raids.
I have no plans to jump into the game again, the raiding experience even with flex-mode wasn’t for me. So I have some interesting choices about what I’ll be doing instead. With several evenings a week free once more I could forge ahead in FFXIV or dive back into Everquest 2 properly and make some real progress in that game. I’m feeling at the moment like I’d rather concentrate on one or the other so one of the two will have to go on pause again.
In any case I hope Neverwinter will remain an occasional side-note to our gaming as we’ve had some really enjoyable sessions in this game. Putting it on the back burner for a while is probably a good idea though as I think I’m approaching burn-out after playing it so regularly for ten months.
This weekend, 12-15th September, there’s a double refinement points weekend in Neverwinter. That could make quite a difference to upgrading an artifact or high level enchant. It makes more sense to me as a more casual player to concentrate on getting one or two artifacts upgraded from green to blue quality during this bonus period. That’s not a massively onerous upgrade in terms of the input of enchantment or refinement items and it gives enough of a stat boost to make a different to a character’s gearscore.
The only snag is that we’re still not quite at the stage of unlocking the third boon of the Tyranny of Dragons campaign – doing so on our latest level 60s would allow them to do their free class artifact quests. All my level 60s have their level 20 artifacts at blue quality already and in most cases have a second artifact also at blue quality. But having access to the great weapon fighter artifact unlocked may tempt me to swap that in to some of my characters trio of artifacts and if I do this weekend would be a perfect time to get some cheap upgrades done.
The artifact system is a pretty hefty grind but it is also offers some unique item-abilities for your characters and an extra layer of character customisation. I’m happy to push the dailies a bit this weekend to try and get that latest class artifact unlocked, but unlocking the skirmish and dungeon and rolling the RNG dice to get the artifact weapon crafted isn’t that appealing at the moment.
I’ve read this morning Tobold’s post on Gameplay vs Story. Although the blog post contains several interrelated ideas the issue of repetition of scripted story content is an issue I identify with.
Guild Wars 2 suffered greatly from a heavily scripted, and I believe poorly conceived personal story. I wrote poorly conceived deliberately there; the quality of the writing wasn’t all bad, but the concept of an abrupt switch from “all about your character and your choices at character creation” to suddenly following the plant-man about was jarring. I had pretty much zero desire to take any alt characters through the personal story after you leave the arcs relating to race and background.
Making questing bland and generic to answer the issue of very strong stories lacking appeal in repetition isn’t much of a solution either. I found the main storyline in Tera utterly forgettable to the point I rarely had a clue what was actually happening. There was some story there but it was poorly told and felt disjointed.
Perhaps the best available approach to date, though not perfect, is to have so much content players can pick and choose different ‘journeys’ through the content not based on a railroaded main storyline but rather as a consequence of the choices of quests or stories the player chooses to engage with or ignore on that particular play through. World of Warcraft was for years my sole MMO for this very reason, I could create alt characters and replay the leveling content (1-60 at least) multiple times and not feel like I was repeating everything yet again.
WoW sadly failed to maintain this concept with the expansions, generally there was one or max two leveling paths through expansion zones with nowhere near the variety of content to mix-and-match. Other more recent MMOs such as Rift and Neverwinter also missed a trick here having smaller and less numerous zones available, which makes the leveling process feel repetitive pretty quickly. It’s an issue that gives a natural advantage to the ‘elder’ MMOs such as Everquest 2, every time I log into that game I feel lost for choice because there are so many questlines to choose from.
Is there a better way of addressing this? Do you feel this is a problem even?
There’s been a lot of toxicity online of late, disturbing headlines of truly atrocious verbal/written attacks by ‘gamers’ against female journalists. This is deplorable of course and makes me rethink my answer to the recent gaming questionnaire where I answered yes to identifying as a gamer. Who in their right mind would want to be lumped in the same group with the neanderthals spouting this hate? Syl has an excellent post explaining a rather deep, plausible motivation behind some of these attacks.
But then its nothing new. I’ve turned off general chat in a dozen MMOs because in most of them it is usually too toxic for my personal standards. I just do not accept ‘gamer bro‘ style dialogue as being something I want to see on my screen during an average session.
There’s little I can personally add to this debate, but when developers pander to this demography I find myself questioning my desire to play their game. Example one would be Tera as a whole, the ‘candyfloss’ armour really is a step too far for my tastes even if there are equally sexualised male armours as well and that doesn’t even begin to address the whole Elin fetish talk you’d see randomly in chat (or in guild chat even).
Then I saw this during the recent FFXIV anniversary festival…
This quest had you putting out pillars of fire by having a lizard spit gouts of water at them. All of the pillars had three identical scantilly-clad female Miqo’te (cat-women) stood nearby who upon being splashed announced phrases about getting wet. Honestly the quest made me feel rather queasy with such blatant misogyny and this was before the recent controversy broke. It’s frickin’ 2014, why is this stuff even in a supposedly broad-audience MMO?
The promo video for the Tyranny of Dragons expansion has a bonus item code hidden in it for players of the Neverwinter MMO. I only just read about this on Reddit and the code still works as of 09:30 GMT+1 (6th Sept). It rewards an item tied to the theme of the expansion.
Full spoilers and a link to the items details are in this Reddit thread.