Warning! This post might be considered spoilery. I won’t go into details of the story but there’s going to be a few things so fairly ye be warned.
The big rush is over, I’m level 60 and I’ve completed Heavensward main story as of last Thursday. It was an awesome expansion, better by far than anything else I’ve got to play in an MMO in a very long while. Anytime I though the story was slowing down it would surprise me with something new and I’d just want to see the next part. People have compared Heavensward to the second season of a good TV show and I’ve definitely been binge watching it.
I don’t wanna delve too deep into details but The Vault is probably the most awesome dungeon I’ve done in an MMO and the end dungeon turned everything up to 11 and at some point we were joking that we were in fact playing Dragonball Z, the MMO. You also get to meet a particular NPC from FF1 that I just loved and lastly the post credit scene just got me super pumped about the upcoming content patches. It’s so classic Final Fantasy stuff that I can’t wait to see how it goes.
To keep the series analogy going can’t wait to see the next episode.
It’s endgame time!
So the story and leveling part were awesome and probably the best thing since sliced bread. That’s all good and great but what about endgame? The part where things tend to break down?
At the moment of writing, endgame consists of two dungeons, two extreme mode trials and some hunts. There’s the first part of the Alexander raid coming in about a week so we’ll get four of five fights and then two week later, the savage mode of the same. Also add crafting and the new relic weapon grind coming out soon and I think you got most of everything. It’s not a lot to go on and it’s jarringly similar to what we had when Realm Reborn came out.
The gearing set-up this time is that you do roulettes,hunts and dungeons for law tomes and then you can upgrade the items with hunt seals. There’s no weekly cap on seals or tomes so you’re speed of progression will be up to you and how much grinding you can stomach. Myself I’ve been grinding pretty hard for tomes and now I’m about 600 tomes away from finishing which means about a day of roulette plus one or two extra runs. The tome part is not too bad to be honest and someone dutifully doing their roulettes everyday should be done in about 8 or 9 days according to the math and depending on new player bonuses.
The part that I find a bit shoddier is the hunt side of things. In order to upgrade your tome gear you need hunt seals which are acquired either by doing clan hunts (go kill X monsters) or by killing rare mobs. Of all the endgame activities this is probably one of the most divisive. Some people love it and enjoy hunting for rare mobs and others find it to be a pain. There’s a lot of unwritten rules set forth by the hunting community and it can feels sometimes like a closed club. Not helping is the instancing mechanic which means the hunt target is in another instance of the zone. The whole focus on hunt is likely part of Square plan to get us to try out the different endgame activities but I could have done without that part. At least the clan hunts are an alternate source of seals that is painless so at least there’s an alternate way to get the seals.
Overall the endgame part of Heavensward is pretty standard MMO fare. It all comes down to whether or not you can enjoy a good grind or not. It’s not a painful grind but it is a grind and those looking for an alternate type of endgame will be disappointed.
Call me Ishmael
With two extremes modes out at the moment, I wanted to see if I could take them out now that I’m more geared. The first one is Bismarck Extreme, a giant flying white whale of death who is prompting many Moby Dick quotes.
The first good news is that healing wise it’s not too bad and doable. There’s a lot of moving parts to be sure but nothing insurmountable if you’ve done things like Titan Extreme or Turn 5 when they were bleeding-edge content. Where others fights are healer or tank checks, this one is focused on testing the dps. Can you output great numbers while paying attention to your environment and boss debuffs to make sure you don’t kill yourself?
This fight feels very much like a hidden gating mechanism in the sense that it’s a check of whether or not you’re good enough to go do the big boy raiding. In the past it’s been a pretty good strategy to make sure everyone is on the same level and I don’t disapprove. I still have to find myself a group that can take the beast down but I think it’s only a matter of time.
So that was a pretty long post. I hope you’re all enjoying Heavensward as much as I am.