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Archive for June, 2015

Endgame and whale hunting

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.

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Legends speak of a fabled beast, the WoW-killer that is prophesized to one day come and steal away all the WoW players to a terrible and dark place where they would have to play some other game. Luckily, a group of players, the WoW-knights, are ever vigilant against such threats and have in the past led many crusades against such terrors. So far they’ve been mostly successful and WoW has remained the king.

Lately though, we have seen the rise of the dreaded Final Fantasy XIV beast. A monster of 4 million players (and climbing) that is snatching away players and even worst, keeping them !!! Tales of woe have reached my ears that even the new WoW content did not bring back the wayward sheep. Whether or not this beast is the fabled WoW-killer remains to be seen but for the first time in a long while, WoW is threathened and the knights are taking notice.

As usual, the first strategy put forth by the Knights was to ignore the FFXIV beast, thinking it was feeding off attention and thus, would die from starvation. It’s a proven strategy that has worked in the past but this time it failed. The FFXIV beast is from an old lineage and it can draw on the followers of its predecessors for sustenance. This beast does not require WoW players to live and that makes it that much more dangerous. Now one would think that since it doesn’t need WoW players both can live in harmony but the beast is hungry and it wants more! Even worst, it offers a lot of things that are similar to WoW so that it can drag away unsuspecting players to their doom.

So the Knights reverted to their second strategy, try to exorcise the beast by recanting the holy incantation of the WoW-clone. Since FFXIV includes so many of WoW features, surely it is but a pale copy. Players would always prefer the original that had been refined over many years to perfection. Sure FFIXV could hide behind the illusion of New but such things past and once people curiosity had been satisfied they would return to the original, better game.  The WoW-clone strategy is a proven one that has seen success many times in the past especially when it’s combined with the New Content superweapon. Let the New illusion fall off, launch New Content superweapon and every goes back to normal.

To everyone horror however, for the first time ever a game has not only resisted but prospered despite these attacks. Even worst, FFXIV has launched its own Heavensward new content weapon recently and the damage is telling. Players not coming back to WoW, some even leaving to go join up with their wayward friends. Guild groups have died, raid bosses stand undefeated… it is a dark time.

Desperate for a new strategy, some Knights are now studying the FFXIV beast in the hope of stealing away what makes it so attractive. There’s clearly something else at work here and it’s just a matter of figuring it out. Once that’s done they can take away the features, include them to WoW, people will come flocking back and everything will go back normal.

We can only hope so.

This part is for anyone who might be a bit too confused by the above. FFXIV might or might not be the WoW-killer, time will tell.

What it is however is a game that has combined the better aspects of WoW with the better elements of the storied tradition of Final Fantasy and added some features that the developer felt would make the MMO better. Kinda like WoW combined the best parts of Everquest and Warcraft lore while adding some improvements to make WoW.

FFXIV is not a WoW-clone. It’s a variation on the MMO genre that WoW helped define. Most people playing it enjoy it for itself and not because they want WoW with a Final Fantasy theme. If you ask FFXIV player why they play that game they will give you a range of reasons but none of them will be “because it’s like WoW”. In fact many might answer “because it’s not WoW”.

So here’s the big secret for all those WoW players who are looking at FFXIV and wondering what features they should copy to bring back the players. FFXIV is not stealing players away from WoW, these players are actually enjoying FFXIV for being FFXIV. World of Warcraft is losing players who are tired of playing it.  

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Pre-expansion jitters

I thought I’d get a pass this time but it’s clear now that I won’t. I’m in full pre-expansion jitters mode and I just can’t seem to settle on what I want to do with my gaming time.  In the past 48 hours I thought about subbing to WoW, to Wildstar, trying Swtor again and god knows what else. I totally blame my WoW interest on Heroes of the Storm that I’ve been playing a surprising amount of.

The fact that I’m playing a Moba at all and enjoying myself is likely the highest praise I can give to HotS. It used to be that I would play League of Legends or Dota2 an hour or two every year or so but I’ve put in way more in just the past week. I think it might have to do with no item system that I hated in the other games but I’m way too much of a noob to know for sure what’s different. Still, I can bring some of Starcraft 2 skills to the table so I’m not doing too awful.

In FF14 I finished leveling Bard to 34 and got Quelling strikes so I’m really done now with my pre-expac goals. Won’t have cleared Coils but I’m fine with the progress we made. I’m still working some on crafting but more as a side thing than my main focus.

And that’s pretty much it right now. Want Heavensward to come out and trying not to fall into the WoW trap again.

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Quick gaming update

Oh hello everyone!

Sorry for the recent quiet but work has been insane as of late and since I tend to do most of my blogging at work during quieter moments it has not been working out lately. Twitter has been a good source of quick entertainment but no real time for blogging until right now so I’m taking 15 minutes and doing a grab bag post of recent happenings.

On the FF14 front I put crafting on ice while I leveled my archer/bard to get Quelling strikes. I have three levels to go now so I’m nearly done with that and after that I’ll probably head back to crafting until Heavensward hit or I could always take Bard to 50… who knows?

I had an urge to play Swtor last weekend. That urge lasted just long enough to get me through Ajunta Pall tomb. My inner dialogue during that experience was along the lines of “I could do this in FF14 and it would be better”. Also the cash shop all over the place is still annoying as hell.

Between FF sessions I’m playing lots of Bloodborne which I’m enjoying a lot. I’m trying to do the game as spoiler-less as I can and while there was a few slipups, overall I haven’t been spoiled too much. I managed defeat Rom the vacuous spider yesterday and now the game has gone into truly weird mode. Love it.

I’ll keep this short for now because I can see the end of this rare moment of quiet. Hope you all have a great week!

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