Darkside of Eorzea

Ancestral Armor

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This morning is a relatively horrendous day here in Oklahoma.  It has been alternating between no rain and torrential downpours and with both the temperature has dropped quite a bit.  Enough so that I had to go put on socks and find a fuzzy blanket to crawl under.  This is to be expected since this is of course the first weekend of the Tulsa State Fair.  Essentially every year during the fair, the temperature drops from shorts weather to jacket weather in the matter of an afternoon.  This is just the way the rhythm of nature goes here in Oklahoma.

Additionally today is the very first Tulsa Mini-Maker Faire.  Yesterday was another first for Oklahoma… we had our first web development conference that I attended.  We had representatives from WordPress, GitHub, Etsy, Mozilla and a cool local javascript games company.  I only managed to attend the first half of the conference because we had a minor catastrohy at work that I had to come back and fix.  However what I DID attend was pretty awesome and it is extremely cool that Tulsa has become the “cool” city in Oklahoma or at least the one with the thriving art and technology scene.

When I got home that night I started the grind to 50 on my Warrior in FFXIV.  I say grind… because literally after 49 I had no quests left to do to get me any experience.  I will address that problem a bit later, but first check out the awesome picture above.  Upon reaching 50 I was able to do a rather difficult quest and claim the chest piece to match the rest of the gear I got at 45.  Honestly it feels like cruel and unusual punishment to have to walk around for five levels looking like a clown… but I guess it is to make you appreciate the chest piece all the more when you finally get it.

Darkside of Eorzea

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As I said above… I had NO quests at all available from the beginning of 49 until I dinged 50.  This meant one thing… FATE grinding.  Essentially this is how you have to level all characters past your first.  Leve quests reward almost insignificant experience and actually killing mobs to level is grossly inefficient after about level 10.  So the end result is players roaming around in large parties tackling FATEs in one of a handful of zones.  The 45-50 FATE grind is out in Northern Thanalan and while there are multiple FATEs that spawn out there… everyone is essentially waiting on a specific one to spawn.

The above image is taken by a friend of mine from a Dark Devices fate group.  It is the biggest piece of fuckery I have seen in a video game in a long while.  Essentially DD as it is known, should be a really cool four part FATE, but players have figured out that they can delay the first part and instead grind a literally endless stream of instant spawn cultists.  The result is that players will form up in full parties and AOE the shit out of everything that is spawning, soaking up xp from the kills for 14 of the 15 minute fate timer.  At roughly 1-2 minutes from failing the FATE, a group of players usually breaks away and kills the 8 or so named mobs needed to close out the event.

The problem with this whole scenario is that firstly… it is a hack…  the developers I am sure never expected players to abuse the fate in this way.  Secondly the problem is it favors only classes that have a strong spammable AOE.  So essentially any melee class is screwed because they simply cannot keep up with their one AOE attack (if they even have that) due to the TP restrictions.  The Black Mage of course is the king of the fate with their endless spammable Ice based attacks.  The problem is… last night we had roughly 100 players in the same space trying to fight over the same mobs.

If you are in the right group it can be as much of half a level… pending you get the majority of the spawns and get gold on all four fates.  If you are NOT in the right group… or not in a party at all… it becomes this massively frustrating experience.  Each time they patch, I hope and pray they break this fate so it is no longer the grindy bullshit that it is today.  I wanted to hit 50, so I joined a group and rode along for the experience using whatever AOE I could throw out with overpower and occasionally a steel cyclone.  Quite frankly… I would not have hit 50 last night had I not managed to get into two good groups for this fate.

Asian Grindfest

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For as much positive vibes as I have thrown the direction of this game over the last few weeks, and all the efforts they have made to westernize it… there is still a pretty egregious Asian grindfest lurking below the covers.  You essentially have just barely enough quests available to you as a player to level a single class from 1 to 50.  In truth there were numerous spots where I had to resort to FATE grinding because the quests just were not enough to push me to the next level where I could continue the main storyline.   Additionally I have run more than my fair share of dungeons along the way… so I do not believe a player could quest their way from 1 to 50 without some sort of augmentation.

The problem lies that one of the best aspects of this game is the ability to play multiple classes on the same character.  This means that if you spend all your quests on one class to level it… you will be left with nothing but FATEs and Leves to level your other characters.  Getting from 1-15 is relatively easy, you can hit 10 within 30 minutes and it takes about an hour more to get 10-15.  The 15-20 and each additional 5 levels after that, the speed slows down massively.  The only way to combat this is to grind FATEs.  After about 20 doing leves offers you a truly insignificant amount of experience, and since those are limited on the total number you can have…  it is almost not worth doing them.

I fear that players will be dropping off like flies unless Square can provide some other questing opportunities.  They could do this one of many ways.  Firstly I would uncap the Leves… these are extremely fun and it seems silly to limit players to only doing a handful of these a day.  Next they need to increase both the xp and monetary rewards from them… because after about 25 both are grossly insufficient.  Lastly they simply need more quests…  there are far too few of them out in the world, and the xp gained from simply killing mobs outright is laughable.  The only reason why dark devices works like it works… is you start getting 150% multiplier from every single kill your group gets…. and you literally get thousands of kills during that time.

The game is extremely good in some aspects, but in other aspects the design is a confusing mess.  It feels at times like the designers really did not know what they were doing.  There is still the problem of how a level 50 player will earn money.  I see tons of money sinks… but zero money fountains.  They need to get the 2.1 patch out as soon as possible so that they can address some of the gaping holes in their games design.  Ultimately whether or not they fix this… will determine how long I play the game.

Wrapping Up

I think I am going to wrap the post up here… this is the first truly negative post I have made about FFXIV since the days when I was not really sure if I was getting into it or not.  There are some glaring problems, so hopefully they will address them in the same way they have addressed the infrastructure issues.  I can tell the game was not really made for a western sensibility, so here is hoping they will understand that the west is the key to their continued succeed as we have the larger number of wallets ready to give them subscription bankroll.  Hoping that the day clears up soon and we can go out and do something.  Hopefully your weekend is going awesome and not being rained out like ours.

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