Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Done with FF14

Well, I've gotten to the point where I'm having more fun dicking around in town than running endgame content, so it's time to quit. FF14 was a blast, especially dragoon story quests and the last two main story dungeons. It has such a satisfying yet attainable storyline ending, unlike most MMOs. The dragoon armor was easy to get too and felt so good to have it.

I dunno, not much else to say. I like how insanely fast you can level up your other low level jobs once you've gotten to level 50, all you gotta do is kill stuff on the hunting log and FATEs. The exp bonus ALMOST tempted me into leveling another class. But I have plenty of other things to keep me busy without adding an MMO to the mix. It was a fun 1 month distraction.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Thoughts on Final Fantasy XIV

↑ My character, Aki Snow on Durandal server!

I'm level 30 now and I'm really loving this game. The story, game design and art design are enough to keep me going in spite of the game being relatively easy so far, compared to other MMOs I've played. It's starting to get harder though, and considering how diabolically hard FFXI was, (and considering the people in my guild bitching about dying all the time...) I have a feeling I won't be disappointed when I get to the end game content.

Comparing FF14 to other MMOs:

I didn't realize it at the time, since it was my first MMO, but FFXI had terrible gameplay. The interface was crap, information about ANYTHING, from crafting, to quests, to where to go to get exp, you had to either look it up online or ask other players. The remarkable thing about it though, was that it created a very strong sense of community. I've heard that FFXI imitated older MMOs like Everquest, which tended to encourage an "us against the game" mentality, but, like I said, FFXI was the first one I played, so I can't compare.

When I look at FFXI screenshots like this one, I distinctly remember the feeling of being a lone wanderer in a vast, desolate world. Enemies were very dangerous, they'd even follow you indefinitely once you got aggro, so they were typically spaced pretty far apart.
FFXIV, on the other hand, is much like WoW. Mobs and players EVERYWHERE, with plenty of quests designed for solo grinding. So far only the dungeons every few levels have forced me to join groups.

FFXI's game design also made you feel very weak and reliant on others, past about level 10 or 15 you were forced to join a party just to get experience points. And because you lost experience points and had the threat of leveling down, surviving and beating a difficult encounter felt super triumphant.
In large part due to Nobuo Uematsu's incredible soundtack, the game made me feel awe-struck whenever I discovered some extremely remote, high-level area that also had an otherworldly beauty about it. Most memorable for me was Tu'Lia (AKA "Sky")
In FFXIV, I've already had a couple moments similar to that:
One of the cool things about FF14 is a lot of players are veteran FFXI players, so there's still a bit of that "us against the game" mentality, even though the game isn't nearly as unforgiving as FFXI was. You don't lose exp when you die! You can never level down!
FFXI is the only game I've ever played where losing exp and leveling down was even possible. When the punishment for your character dying is so harsh, it really makes you cautious and makes you value your character more. When I hit level 75 in FFXI, I felt like the king of the world! I was gonnna do everything the game had to offer and more! BUT! I had to constantly be on guard, or all I had worked for could come crashing down.

Compare that to when I hit 70 in WoW or 50 in Rift. I felt bored!!! In those games, I immediately felt like the struggle was over and was much less invested in the game. I had to find some new way to distract myself with what was left to do, which was mostly PVP, and then PvP became a grind too.

But I'm okay with that MMOs getting boring once you hit max level. If I hit level 50 in FFXIV and finding nothing left to do, I can turn off my subscription and do something else with my time!

Dang... didn't mean for this to turn into another FFXI nostalgia rant. So, here's the point. FFXIV's takes some of favorite aspects from FFXI:

-Ability to change class anytime, and level every class on the same character
-Artifact armor (gear that makes you look like your class)
-Great music by Nobuo Uematsu
-Five races and three nations

Aside from the job system, it's mostly aesthetics. The only other thing I can think of that might have been cool to have in FFXIV would be the skill chains and magic burst system. Although, considering the number of knuckleheads playing MMOs these days who can't even play their basic role in a party correctly, perhaps it's for the best.

After FFXI being my first MMO, WoW was amazing! Quick list of things that blew my mind when I played WoW.

-Ability to solo exp throughout the game
-Ability to make multiple characters on multiple servers without jumping through any hoops.
-Ability to customize your character with talent trees
-PvP, PvP gear
-The abundance of quests, loot, dungeons etc
-In-game information about stats, enemy levels, whether or not an enemy will agro, etc.
-Personal mounts
-Crafting and gathering that made sense, was fun and gave you exp
-No loading screens
-Faster airships

Basically, wow perfected the MMO formula, and everyone has been trying to imitate it since. FF14 imitates all the best parts of WoW, but has some cool things of its own to offer.

Rift was fun, but very forgettable. It so blatantly copies WoW, it's kinda sad. I basically played it so I could try Saboteur, which was totally worth it. The most unique thing about Rift were the eponymous "rifts" which were world events that showed up on your map and spawned special enemies.

FFXIV has something similar with the FATE system. I think the FATE system is kinda broken right now because there are so many more players than expected. Whenever a fate appears people just swarm it. Rifts required more strategy and patience, even on the lower levels. The problem is, FATEs are the best way to level up a second class, so I don't know if there will ever be a time when they don't get swarmed. The boss FATEs are cool though.

Best things about FF14

-Limit breaks
-Five cross class skills
-Once you have a chocobo mount, you can use it as any class, even from level 1!

The Storyline is great. It has the right sort of tone for a world recovering from disaster. Lots of highs and lows, hope and despair, it can get pretty grim sometimes too. I love that we're chasing some mysterious masked man, reminds me of chasing Sephiroth around the world in FF7. The quality of the stories makes me want to play every class just to see what sort of stories the class specific quest follow... but I'll resist the urge. The voice acting can be a bit awkward, but it's not as bad as FFX.

The attribute points are kind of boring and obvious. STR for DPS, VIT for tanks, MND for healer, INT for black mage, /yawn. Where it gets interesting is chosing your 5 extra class skills. Any class can do almost any ability! You can stack damage % and crit chance buffs from other classes for dungeons, give yourself cure and protect for soloing, it's great!

But by far the funnest part of the game is using limit breaks on bosses as a DPS class. Maybe the boss just summoned some adds, or your tank or healer is really struggling. Then you push a button and... BAM!!! BLADE DANCE BITCH! Last 5th of the boss's health is gone and you feel like a goddamn hero.