FFXIV: a return to Eorzea

As the summer warms up I find myself in need of something a bit different to play, a solo game I can drop into as and when I have some hours to pass on my own. Neverwinter remains my current main game for duo and group play, but given the fact I’ve already leveled a few characters to cap and the end-game gear grind isn’t that appealing I need something else for a change of pace.

I could have picked up Elder Scrolls Online or Wildstar, but I’ve written enough about why I’m not that keen on either and those reasons remain true. Star Trek Online is also an option but the game’s ground combat feels like an unresponsive version of Neverwinter’s so for now at least the appeal to that game has waned somewhat. One other game I’ve been tempted to return to for some months is Final Fantasy 14. I’ve followed the game’s updates and development since the relaunch and now, with no other MMO sub to pay, it feels right to be giving the game another try.

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In returning to this quirky, heavy fantasy but steampunk influenced game I have a few specific goals I want to achieve in the short-term.

  1. Unlock a job, either White Mage or Scholar as I like healing in groups
  2. Join a Grand Company to see what gameplay that unlocks
  3. Get a chocobo mount and learn about how I can unlock other mounts

Playing again and traveling around between the major cities (Gridania, Limsa Lominsa and Ul’dah) to unlock some new base classes, I’ve been reminded just how much there is to the game now. It’s matured nicely and has a lot of content. There are quests everywhere but also there are other things to do as well. Every settlement has a guildleve NPC to give you repeatable quests, each class has a progressive log of mini-tasks to do and there are public events, a.k.a FATEs, that appear on the map with some regularity. There are also dungeons and trials that you can queue for if you want structured group play.

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I’m a self-confessed altaholic, I love playing different classes. I also love story-heavy MMOs but those two preferences are often in conflict. Playing LOTRO for instance early on I really enjoyed the questing but repeating zones multiple times in a short timespan to try out different classes wasn’t so exciting. FFXIV may offer a solution to this dilemma by allowing the same character to be anything and everything. I can use the variety of content in the zones to balance leveling my chosen main class/job up with also boosting other classes for playstyle variety.

Only Final Fantasy could make goblins cute...

Only Final Fantasy could make goblins cute…

In a few sessions I’ve made some progress on conjuror (now 21) and arcanist (now 11) so I’m making good progress on my way to unlocking the white mage job. I’ve been working through the main storyline as well in order to unlock the Grand Company and mount quests. It feels good to have multiple goals to progress towards without the normal linearity of leveling to cap and gear-grinding – there seems to be a good deal more to this game!

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7 Responses to FFXIV: a return to Eorzea

  1. bhagpuss says:

    I’ll be very interested to hear how you get on playing FFXIV as a solo drop-in game. It seems like one of the least likely options around for that. What really killed FFXIV for us was the gating of character progress behind a combination of forced grouping and linear dungeons. It’s fine to be asked to socialize with other people to help you progress your character efficiently – many old-school MMOs required that. It’s fine to have linear dungeons – many modern MMOs have those. It’s not at all fine, not for me at least, to hard-lock character progression to both of those mechanics.

    Old-school MMOs always allowed you to progress your character in inefficient ways of your own choosing. I think FFXIV is the only major MMO I’ve ever played that doesn’t. In that respect it felt very much like a single-player RPG with a plotline that you simply have to complete or you can’t play the game except that you have to pay a fee to play it, have to go online to play it and have to find three other people to play it with you at for short periods at regular intervals.

    It’s also incredibly grindy, and although I quite like that aspect, on top of the other gating mechanics it made the whole thing feel like work quite quickly. If it was F2P I’d still pop in sometimes because Eorzea is a gorgeous world to spend time in but I can’ imagine ever making any more serious progress on a character there unless the underlying mechanics are changed (i.e. made a lot easier).

    • Telwyn says:

      It will certainly be interesting to try. Rohan has a linked Reddit thread about how unfriendly the pug community can be but then so far (3 dungeons and one primal boss fight) my experiences have been all positive – much more than I expected really. We’ll see if that changes as I get nearer the cap though…

      • Aywren says:

        I am a player who hates forced grouping, especially with pugs, so with that in mind, I really had to push myself to get through the dungeons in FFXIV, all for the sake of story.

        However, though I’m group-shy, I’ve had largely positive experiences running dungeons, especially in the lower levels. I’ve only had a few times where rude players really miffed me, and that was at higher leveled 50+ content.

        Many times, you’ll be running with level 50 players who are going through lower level dungeons to complete dailies. This will make your life as a healer much easier, as long as the level 50s aren’t trying to speed run. ^^;

        Don’t be afraid to admit to your party when you’re running something for the first time. I always did, and usually had people thank me for letting them know and help me out. I know I’m willing to explain things to someone new, as many bosses have patterns or special weaknesses to be aware of. Though I’m not an advocate of watching videos due to spoilers, I suggest watching videos or at least reading a guide for future primal fights. All of these are memory based battles, so knowing the mechanics is the only way to survive them.

        Sadly, if you’re there for the story, you’ll be hard pressed to find a group who will be patient enough to let you watch cutscenes in the final two story dungeons. That’s one place you’ll run up against rude players under that circumstance. I didn’t even try — I skipped them all and watched them in my inn room. It’s not the way I’d like it to happen, but I understand why daily runners aren’t going to wait on cutscenes that pop right before every important encounter (really not a good design for a multi-player dungeon).

        Hope that helps, from the perspective of someone who honestly hates forced group dungeons… but ended up running them at end game as dailies to earn end-game armor. They get easier as you level and return to them later. šŸ™‚

        Good luck and welcome to FFXIV!

      • Telwyn says:

        I’ve read already about needing to skip the animations – so far I’ve half watched some but if they seem to be going on a bit I’ve skipped the end so haven’t really felt like I missed much. In this respect it’s not so different from other MMOs, WoW could have issues in the raids that have videos and people pulling mobs before everyone was at the next fight.

        I’ll see how it goes with the primal fights, I’m pretty sure for that I was with some higher level people synced down as it went far too smoothly! Definitely the same on the last story dungeon as well (Copperbell) as for the last fight they decided to “burn the boss down, ignore the adds” so they clearly knew the fight and speed tactics – there was no rushing up to that point mind, so it was still a good run.

  2. tsuhelm says:

    FFXIV is the game I would love to play but have also heard that grouping is a bugbear… (in the long distant past I enjoyed FFXI but also found solo play restrictive fast…) I was a FF fanboy on console and still think FFVII is my all time nr1 game so would love to explore this iteration but time, family and PC processing power as well as the final hurdle: cost, all prevent that!

    Will be a keen follower of your adventures…

  3. ElBne says:

    I’ve honestly never had a really negative experience in FFXIV group content and I use the group finder for everything. I don’t know if it’s because I’m the tank or what. And I will openly admit to not knowing content and have yet to be mocked or kicked. I seriously was surprised to read that thread on BoK since I’ve yet to have a “wow-dungeon” experience in game.

    Honestly the only thing I warn people about is the map system, because it will drive you crazy until you figure it out.

    It helps that I stumbled across Covenant of the Phoenix (add dot com for the site) which has an amazing beginner guide and super helpful community in and out of game. I haven’t actually run with them much since launch (I’ve been leveling alt classes and don’t have a 50 yet) but they are always willing to give helpful tips in FC chat.

    • Telwyn says:

      Thanks for the tips. I’m pleasantly suprised so far with the pug groups. If I stay to play to cap I’ll have to find a FC to join so I can have an easier intro to the elder game.

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