Fears for Launch
All in all it was a pretty great head start weekend, but there was one big problem that I fear is only going to get worse as we move forward to the official launch tomorrow. Right now the initial datacenter login procedure is having some major issues. What is happening is that several of the highest population servers are all on the Aether data center that I also happen to play on. When you attempt to connect to that data center, if it cannot find a slot the client times out… throws a nasty error and exits. This is like the worst possible way to handle this error, and my hope is that we see a patch soon at that at least takes you back to the start screen allowing you to attempt to connect again. Normally speaking it takes a half dozen tries to get past this screen before getting into the login server queue… at which point you have won and get to play the game. Last night I opted to switch machines and got stuck behind the login issues for roughly fifteen tries before being able to make it into the game. If we are running into these problems on a Sunday evening… I feel like life is going to be unbearable come Tuesday for the official launch of the game.
I love Square but sometimes they just make horrible design decisions when it comes to infrastructure. The way the client works is that you log in on the launcher, and then it launches the game passing in an encrypted token with your authentication information. As a result if anything goes wrong with the client, it essentially crashes back to desktop and to the launcher forcing you to log in again. If you have the mobile authenticator this means entering another one time password and beginning the entire process over again. If you remember the above image from the original launch of the game… and all the infrastructure issues we had to deal with. They all came from the fact that they launched the game without any form of a queue system. The positive is that they have fixed that issue and for the most part the game has been stable if you can get past the Data Center gates. I had some initial lag on the first day, but after that the game has been flawless… once you get logged into it. My hope is that with the launch of the game we see a small patch that changes how the client works, in that it no longer drops back to desktop on timeout errors, but instead allows you to attempt a reconnection.
Lord of the Hive
Yesterday was a big day of taking on new content, and potentially there will be some story spoilers here, so apologies ahead of time. When I wrote my last blog post I mentioned that I had unlocked the first trial and yesterday after dropping my wife off for her next trip I managed to attempt it. Ravana the Lord of the Hive appears pretty quickly through the story as being the primal associated with the Gnath, an insectoid beast tribe from the Dravinian Forelands. Instead of waiting around for a full guild group, I queued for it and managed to get a group relatively easily. In the group was a paladin tank that had apparently done the fight a few times, and helped us through the various pit falls. It was decided that I would end up tanking, since the Paladin was wearing mostly strength gear and since Ravana hits extremely hard. This fight like so many other primals has a hard wipe mechanic that if you do not dps down the adds fast enough a saber falls to the ground. Towards the end of the add phase he sucks the entire group up into a whirlwind and they take damage for each saber that is left on the ground in this fashion… in my experience more than one… maybe two is a full raid wipe.
Now with the Free Company I have, my point of view on dps is a bit skewed. Most of us rolled into this expansion in most of a full set of level 130 gear, and most of our dps do silly amounts of damage. We were flat out failing at the dps check mechanic, so I suggested that I go into my new deliverance stance and help with the adds. That seemed to make all the difference in the world as I was able to shred the adds pretty quickly in my new pseudo dps stance. We made it through the encounter, but took long enough to get a limit break three, and another limit break two… and the group was getting precariously close to a second “saber” phase. I didn’t realize our dps was that low, and honestly I walked out of the fight thinking it was just “that hard”. Later in the evening yesterday we walked into the encounter with seven of eight members of the group being from our free company. We did not manage to get a limit break three at all before he died, and during the add phase he didn’t even get a single saber to hit the ground. With that sort of dps… the fight was actually really easy, but I still am concerned about what the fight will be like on extreme mode.
The second bit of content that I got to experience new yesterday was the dungeon of Sohm Al. You reach it very shortly after finishing the first trial encounter, and it happens to act as a gate keeper for your final Aether Current that you get upon completing the quest. Thankfully as soon as I got there in the content I had healers and dps ready to go with me, so I was able to get a full guild group for my first experience in there. I have to say I am really liking the dungeon design so far, in that they are extremely fun experiences to go through. They remind me very much of the last set of dungeons that they released as far as difficulty level. Additionally so far they seem to be dropping some interesting looking gear, that I hope to collect a full set of. The tanky set that comes from Sohm Al looks like the armor that the Lucia wears, so it might be my next appearance set that I wear for a bit. The new crafted gear that you get from quests however appears to be influenced from the Varlet set that comes from the previous 2.55 expert dungeons. I’ve expanded the number of retainers that I have once more, and now I am feeling less constrained about the awesome things that I am collecting.
When the game released originally I did what I always do in MMOs and tried to complete every single quest objective that it places in front of me. The problem being that in Final Fantasy XIV there are a fixed number of quests available for ALL of your jobs. This meant that after my very first job… I was forced to grind them up using FATEs and dungeons with zero quest support. This time around they seem to be flooding us with quests, but I am tackling them in a very methodical method. Essentially I am following the main storyline until I reach a level gate, meaning that I have to have progressed another level to get the next step. At this point I go back and start working my way through the side quests looking for any that unlock Aether Currents, and after I have completed those, I start doing a bare minimum needed to get to the next level threshold. The goal is that I save plenty of side quests for when I start working on my dragoon, and hopefully that eases that process at least a little bit. Last night I hit another level gate in the story content, but thankfully I have maybe an eighth of a level to go before hitting 55 and progressing again. I am not sure if we are going to raid tonight or not, but in any case my hope is to push through to the next level and continue the story, because it is getting really damned good.