Here’s some more detailed reactions to FFXIV after a few more hours playing the trial.
I’ve played all the classes available to the Trial except Rogue and Pugilist. None of them seem over powered, but they all survive fine to solo the content up to about 20 – which is as far as I’ve played. This content contains lots of quests, solo instances and several dungeons, so the game play is quite varied early on as you level.
After sending Tank, DPS and Healers through the Novice training, I found it quite useful. It concentrates on party play, which prepares you for the four man dungeons. So not only do you get nice looking gear from the tutorials, but you get some valuable lessons too.
As I’ve mentioned before, my leveling strategy in Wow was to run dungeons repeatedly until level 60 and I’ve done that with all the classes since May 2017. If you are DPS or healer, it’s likely you are running after a tank that’s rushing through the dungeon, skipping trash mobs and not needing much help from DPS or Healers.
This is not the case in FFXIV. Things move much slower, even when a Paladin, or Warrior shows up as your tank. These are secondary classes that can only be built after you reach level 50 on your primary class. Even these classes are not over powered in a FFXIV dungeon, so they need plenty of support from DPS and Healer. This makes for a kinder more friendly environment for everyone.
Some of my toons here in FFXIV have benefited from the “Road to 60” leveling event, which doubles the XP for new characters on some realms, and most did not. It does not matter very much actually. It takes a few more side quests a “Fates” to get where you need to be, but it’s not a big deal. Basically it goes like this:
- 1-5 – do a few quests in the city you wake up in, to get all the Teleport crystals and help the locals.
- 5-15 – Go out in the world and do three things: Your Class Guild quests, the main “scenario” or “story” quests, and “Fates” and “Hunting” logs as you come across them.
- Don’t forget the Novice Training as soon as you can do it.
- 15-25 – Concentrate on your main scenario if getting a mount is your goal. You’ll need to finish up to level 20 and join a Company before you get your bird. But you’ll likely be 25 or higher with “Roll” or not before you actually get there.
- Oh. And like other games, the bowman class gets a run skill. At level 20, the Archer gets Peloton, which is a non-combat run skill that you can spam, so you and your party can run forever, in a dungeon, or just while you are questing. It’s a great way to travel until you get that Bird.
That’s as far as I’ve gone so far.
More Engaging Story
I’m liking this leveling experience much more than Wow with or without Dungeon spamming. It feels much more like a coherent story and you feel like a member of a team, for your city, your world and your Class Guild. If you are an Alta-holic like me, then you’ll hit ESC and skip lots of cut scenes after the first or second time you’ve seen a leader rattle on for several minutes about the vague history of past heroes and battles. But that’s ok. You’ll want to watch them through at least once for two reasons:
- There’s actually an engaging story here, and leaders and other folks that you come to care about.
- The voice acting shows you how to pronounce those names of places and things in the world. Sure there’s lots of text to wade through, and lots of that I skip, but there is good voice acting too.
It’s, surprisingly, not all about fighting. After a dungeon or instance run, you get a few wind down quests to feed the Chocobos or something else. There’s a lot of running around delivering things. But after the first couple of times on a ferry, ship or airship, you can skip that too with ESC. Oh, and you are never waiting on an Airship or Ship schedule either. They take off when you show up, not 5-9 minutes later while you stand around on the dock, like in Wow. And unlike Tera, you don’t have the watch the Airship or Boat ride every time. Once you’ve seen it, just hit ESC and get on with your play. Neither Wow or Tera show you the whole trip anyway, unless you take a Bird in Wow, which does show you the whole trip, Always! Whatever. I’m just happy to get on with playing the game after I see it once.
I am glad there are only three cities, at least so far, to run all around through to pick up the Aetheryte Crystal TP points. And don’t forget the trick to getting back to Minifilia in the basement of the town with no Aetheryte Crystal. I tend to take a lot of airship rides these days.
Here’s a few other observations:
Pet’s are cool. They are called minions, and no, you cannot play “Pokemon” with them, like in Wow. But they are smarter than other such vanity pets I’ve seen. If you have a Coeurl [cat] or Wolf Pup, and someone standing next to you has the other, then they start playing with each other. I’ve never seen vanity pets interact with each other spontaneously before. This is very cool. I’m not sure how widespread this is among pets in the game, but I’m on the look out for it now.
But sure and take the quest chain in Aleport starting with “Like Cats and Dogs” at level 15 and get both pets. There’s also a quest chain at 22 for a larval fly, that amazingly does look cute.
Loading screens and zone portals are a thing in this game. Some games have eliminated loading screens and zone portals – Wow and Tera have none. Guild Wars 2 still has portals between zones. The zone portals in FFXIV are pretty fast, but maybe that’s my SSD system drive. Your load times may vary. Oddly, there are zones inside of cities
There are lots of story instances, dungeons, and travel trips that cause loading screens. These are fine. But the portals between zones should go. Tera makes it work. If you walk between zones, you can tell by watching mobs or other players disappear when you cross zones, but that’s the extent of it. The zone crossings are usually planned to avoid mobs at the boundaries. I’ve never seen a zone crossing in Wow. If you enter an area where your friend, even your party member, has a different status of a quest than you have, they will disappear or reappear right in front of you as you walk into an area that is affected. I don’t see a problem with that. But I’m not sure any of those cases exist with FFXIV. In Wow / Silverpine Forest, as you enter and meet up and begin the quest chain with Silvanas, there are some cases where the world changes that cause this behavior. But I’m not aware, so far at least, of the FFXIV world changing because of a quest. NPCs or the World do not change as you progress with the quests except in instances. So no problems for FFXIV.
Another problem is the Population Segregation problem caused by Realms or Worlds. Apparently each World in FFXIV is completely separate. This is the way that Wow used to be, but they fixed it. First Wow did “Connected Realms” and now, as far as I can tell, the entire world is “connected” in Wow. This means that if your friend is on some other Realm, then you can friend them with their “Battletag” which is their account id, and then if you party with them, you end up on the same server with them instantly, or at some convenient point. The transfer is invisible and seamless.
In Guild Wars 2, it’s very similar. Every one appears to be in the same world, but behind the scenes there are multiple servers with a limit of 100 or 200 players per server for a zone. You see these limits as you do the World Events to kill the Mouth of Mordremoth for example. If there are too many folks playing in your server, you are kicked and have to find another with the Party tool. For small parties, if you party up with someone, you can use the menu item called “Join in World” to put you both on the same server, if you are in the same place and don’t see each other. As far as I can tell, GW2 started with one database for the entire player population, and they move the character data back and forth behind the scenes to optimize things as you play. Any game can do it this way.
Tera is “old school”. Tera has separate realms and then “channels” in each realm. If you are on different realms, too bad. No fix for that. But if you are on the same realm, just party up through the friends list and then agree on a channel number to play on and meet up. Manual, but it works. But it’s the most primitive too. Not a design for something new these days.
FFXIV really needs to get rid of their Worlds with a fix like Wow did. Just make “servers” disappear behind the scenes. If you party up, then you should appear next to each other on the same server automatically if you want to. “Join in World” is a great hint for “We care about seeing each other now”. FFXIV also has “Data Centers”. And Ok, if you are on a different Data Center than your friend, tough luck. Re-Roll a toon on their Center to play together. But all the current “Worlds” should disappear. This will fix “balancing”. And do what Wow did for name collisions. Wow puts a (*) after the name if the toon is from a different “World”. But it could be a much smaller mark to say that the name might collide with someone local to you. Name collisions don’t matter anyway, really. So what if there are lots of Vanillope or Beyonce characters.
The biggest problems that these fixed Realms or Worlds cause is the depopulation that happens when, over time, folks leave the game or stop playing. So worlds are empty of players. Their databases are full of folks that no longer play. Wow solved this very nicely. Sign up on any world and play with the folks that are playing. FFXIV needs to get with the program and do this fix before they absolutely need it. They have already had “balancing problems” and have “Encouraged Transfers” to populated or less populated worlds. These are temporary fixes. The correct fix is to put players that are playing together, and allow any of them to party up and communicate. Worlds or Realms are a way to divide the population to manage scaling the game. But it doesn’t work as folks stop playing or take a long break from playing. When folks are gone for years, and then Re-Up, they expect their hard work to be waiting on them. But the game must go on with the active players that are there.
It’s annoying that in the trial you can only make one character in each World. So the toons you make are scattered all over the list. I guess that’s an intentional minor annoyance to encourage you to subscribe.
Questing and Maps
FFXIV has some of the best quest planning and map support I’ve ever seen in a game.
Wow’s map is minimal and is always in the way. The quest design is scattered and not well designed to lead you through the game. But, AddOns such as WowPro solve that problem, since Wow has an addon programming language. So with addons like WowPro and TomTom [ for navigation] Wow is just fine.
Tera’s map is pretty good, and the quest design leads you through the game without help. It’s fine.
FFIXV on the other hand has no addons, but you don’t need them. The quest chains are extremely well designed. Breadcrumb quests take you from hub to hub and you can complete or not complete all the quests when you get there. The map shows all the quests and hovering the mouse over them says their level and name, so you can decide or look them up to see what they are before you go there. Clicking on objectives in the “Duty List” takes you to the map to show you where they are. They are highlighted on the map. Fates appear as blue circles on the map.
There is only one thing wrong with the FFXIV map. It has “pages” instead of a continuous map. So if you are looking at the wrong “page” then getting to the page you want to see is a pain. Even if you know it’s right next door. That one change would make it super.
Oh, one other minor thing. The roads or paths on the map are too hard to see. It should be obvious on the map where the roads are and where the forest or bushwhacking way is. Especially when it gets dark every half hour, it is hard to follow the road. Minor but annoying.
So, sign up and get playing.