An Eorzean Interlude (part 1)

Back on Thursday last week I saw online that Final Fantasy 14 was having a welcome back event lasting through 1st May, whereby you could log back in and have 96 hours of game time for free starting anytime until that date. We’ve passed on at least two of these events before, although husband and I really enjoyed playing the game as a duo, we burned out on the super-lengthy quest content before we made it to Heavensward’s expansion zones.

It’s been years since then and it felt like the right time to spend the long Easter weekend just playing the game again. It helps that husband’s on a short break from WoW that just started and other friends weren’t available so we had literally nothing to interrupt this. Jumping back in was relatively easy: beyond the rather large patch, we did have to redo skill shortcuts since our jobs had lost some skills and gained new ones, plus the ‘cross class’ skills were now ‘role skills’ (yes it’s been that long!).

All those outdated skills…

Over the course of three days solid play we’ve experienced some of the best and worst aspects of the game, over the rest of this post and a follow-up I’ll outline my thoughts on these.

Stuff to love about FFXIV:

1. The graphics

This game is so graphically rich and beautiful. The spell effects, the landscapes, the changing weather (e.g. moody thunderstorms in the Shroud) – it is so pretty to play.

It makes me stop and take screenshots constantly when I’m playing, which is a very good sign that I’m enjoying the game.

I could just fill the post with lots of screenshots from these few days but I’ll restrain myself, I’m sure it is easy enough to find a lot more examples on other blogs.

2. Duo-friendly features

This game actually has a few stand-out features for small group play, things that we’d forgotten and, contrasted to other games we’ve played since, made us smile. Firstly if a character teleports (usually this costs some money) somewhere and group mates are nearby, they get offered to ‘ride’ the teleport for free. It’s similar in effect I suppose to the ‘Meet-up’ system in Secret World.

The game has a lot of riding around for the questing. That’s not a complaint, I’ve posted recently that I find it relaxing to actually do a good amount of travel while playing. FFXIV has two features that make for easy duo-play in this aspect: a two-person mount and a follow command. Generally we rode around on our own chocobos, but if one needed a break it was easy to make good use of time by using my two-person chocobo to take both together. Likewise we made judicious use of the follow command while mounted – something we’ve done in many MMORPGs, but I’ve noticed of late with the trend towards action combat (e.g. Tera) follow commands aren’t available as often.

These are little things but they make quite a difference over time.

3. So much content, with variety

As a returning player the game could be considered daunting given the sheer volume of content we haven’t touched. I’ve continued reading FFXIV blogs in the intervening years so I’m aware of some of these different additions. As we’ve wandered around Eorzea there are quests and feature-unlocks everywhere. We stuck to the Main Scenario Quests (MSQ) series almost exclusively, only stopping to unlock the odd dungeon hard mode or job feature

We’ve seen a lot of really good questing content; with laughs, pathos, plot-twists and surprises. There’s combat-heavy content of course but also, perhaps, a more than average share of non-combat activities and interactions – FFXIV gets you to talk to a lot of NPCs.

There’s also been the MSQ mandatory group content, mostly ‘trials’ (one-boss 8-person fights). These have been challenging for us on our first attempt, but enjoyable and mechanically interesting.

4. All the cute

Final Fantasy 14 does cute like almost no other MMORPG, other games have cute things in them, but FFXIV has so much cute and raises the bar with specific creatures. That’s a good or bad thing depending on your tastes, but we love it.

Cutest boss fight, ever…

It just made us smile a lot as we played, and sometimes laugh out loud at how cutesy some of the stuff is. On the above pictured trial I was super lucky and got the Bard bow weapon drop on my first try. Every time I draw or sheath my bow it makes a Moogle-floating sound. I may never replace that weapon!

So there are lots of positives to my experience of the game in 2018 based on three pretty-intensive days of playing the game. We’ve not reached Heavensward in this time, though rushing content isn’t our thing anyway so that was never likely to happen. I’ll talk more about content pacing and other less positive aspects of this dip back into the game in my next post.

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