FFXIV: cutscenes and group content

This week we got back to leveling our characters in Final Fantasy 14, dinging 50 and cracking on with the main storyline that was stuck behind a level 50 barrier.

Only characters of level 50 may ride this quest...

Only characters of level 50 may ride this quest…

A chunk of FATEs later and we were level 50 heroes ready to challenge the might of the Garlean Empire. This was a pretty exciting moment as the main storyline had built up to this moment over quite a long time.

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Without delving into spoilers (not that there are many players who wouldn’t know them by now) what followed were two “full party” raids (8 player). The experience highlights a number of issues with Final Fantasy 14, although such issues might also apply to any MMORPG that attempts to tell story through large group content.

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The actual dungeon experience was  interesting from the perspectives of mechanics and dungeon designs. However it was the usual super-efficient sprint from boss fight to boss fight avoiding as much ‘trash’ as possible. In both groups our two characters were the only ones not level-sync’ed down to 50. This made the fights very easy compared to how they probably were meant to be. I suspect in some boss fights the groups were able to ignore certain mechanics or tactics but then this was our first time so it’s hard to be sure.

Stack and AoE!

Stack and AoE!

Unlike in the leveling dungeons there were scant explanations of anything by group members. We had to remind the tanks/defacto leaders that we didn’t know the fights or the shortcuts. It wasn’t exactly an unpleasant experience but it certainly wasn’t as welcoming as the earlier dungeons.

What just happened?

What just happened?

The biggest downside of the session was the terrible design of the two raids from a story-telling perspective. You’re in a group with seven (well six in my case) random players and both instances feature extensive and lengthy cut-scenes – even in-between major fights! So the efficiency-oriented vets have started the next fight before you can even click to skip the next animation. Watching videos after the fact in my inn room isn’t exactly how I like to fill in all the details of a story after I’ve seen the ending. With hindsight I’d possibly have preferred to watch the complete playthrough video on Youtube before doing the run as that would have filled in the story so I could understand what I was playing through as I played it.

FFXIV isn’t the only game to mix story with group content badly of course, but given the huge volume of cut-scene based storytelling in the game I do wish they’d thought this through a lot better. It really spoiled my experience of what, before the recent launch of Heavensward, was the culmination of the game’s leveling story line.

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7 Responses to FFXIV: cutscenes and group content

  1. Meznir says:

    I absolutely hated it. I’m playing this game solely for the story – and I had to skip all the cut scenes or miss all the fights. Even skipping I was miles behind the rest of the group and several times almost didn’t make it into the boss fights before the areas were blocked off. If there are players watching cutscenes then the others shouldn’t be able to pull bosses until they are done. I have absolutely no idea what happened in either of those dungeons and the whole climax of the story was killed.

  2. Aywren says:

    Sadly, this is the way this dungeon and the next you will run have been since back when I did them over a year and a half ago. They are part of a daily roulette that people burn through ASAP without a care for folks who want to see the story. All in all, it is a poor design choice, but on the other hand, FFXIV has never done this with dungeons since. So, I think they learned that experimenting with a boatload of cutscenes in the middle of a speed-run dungeon just don’t work.

    I know it sucks to have to watch the ending in your inn room (I did too), but hang in there. The end of the original main scenario quest line is just the beginning! Soon you’ll have more story than you know what to do with.

  3. Dan says:

    …You know, if you wanted to, you could run this dungeon with only two people now. You don’t have to have a full party anymore for anything in A Realm Reborn content. Although these are the only dungeons I honesty suggest this for.

  4. helenwatts85 says:

    Any luck with grinding out the mounts? Gotta catch all those ponies 😛 http://www.ffxivmounts.com

  5. Pingback: FFXIV: time, dungeons and the expansion | GamingSF

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