Docks and Bellowbacks

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I believe I have talked about one of my side projects before, but for those who are un-indoctrinated…  I have been charged with setting up a gaming space at work.  For the first pass we decided to go with a Wii U given that it is sort of a universal middle ground between folks who self identify as gamers… and those who do not.  Everyone has played at least one round of Wii Bowling, and already since installing folks I never thought would sit down for a game of Mario Kart have done so.  Part of the build out involved picking out controller docks because we did not want a bunch of wayward cables.  For the Wii U pro controllers I chose the above dock by Nyko…  admittedly more on price than anything.  However after getting it and setting everything up… I am absolutely in love with the design.  Each controller has a boot of sorts that you plug into the USB port, and it fits relatively snugly.  Then on the backside is a magnet that holds the controller in place on the dock itself.  It just works amazingly well and the magnet is strong enough to not only hold the controller but also serve as a guiding mechanism to make sure that the controller gets docked successfully.  Which made me start to wonder…  does Nyko make these docks for any other console system?  My challenge is that in my office I have a PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and am contemplating moving my Wii U back upstairs.  That is five different styles of controllers that need to be charged and cradled in a reasonable manner to keep from getting a whole slew of cords tangled.

The tragedy however is that while Nyko makes controller docks for pretty much every system available…  none of them work like this one.  In a perfect world you could simply buy one base dock tree and then a bunch of connectors for the various controller types that you have.  After a few hours of frantic googling… it seems like no one really has a system that works like this.  There was however one apparently for the previous console generation that had support for the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360…  but for whatever reason never carried forth into this generation.  What I would love is for Nyko to simply just release versions of this docking system for all of the platforms, or in truth…  just sell me docks and then controller boots individually and allow me to mix and match my own system.  In part I am writing about this problem today, because often times as soon as I complain about an issue… one of my readers comes out of the woodwork to present a solution.  So if you have any ideas…  that does not involve access to a 3D printer because I am already thinking along those lines…  I would love to hear it.  It is honestly the magnets that make this system work so amazingly well and quite honestly…  I don’t have the electrical chops to make a magnetic USB connection work.  I think part of the problem is that the Wii U pro controller uses the USB connector that the previous generation used…  so mini instead of micro.  That said… this feels like money left on the table because I know a lot of people like me with multiple console systems all with controllers that need charging.

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Last night I returned to the cursed lands and continued my process of roaming around aimlessly.  I went a completely different direction than the one I had been heading in… and encountered the Fire Bellowback…  or as I think of them Fire Beetles.  I ran into a trio roaming around some ruins… and after scanning them a few times to sort out how I was going to attack I went after them with gusto.  The thing I didn’t expect was the fact that they essentially throw napalm at you, and have an insane range.  I was well into the fields on the far side of the river and they were still lobbing fireballs at me.  Essentially I got damned good at dodging while fighting them, and eventually whittled them down using my bow kitted out with extra tear damage.  As you can see in the above screenshot they each rewarded an insane 1050 experience, but also provided a hefty amount of salvage.  Other than that I actually started working on quests… namely the “Revenge of the Nora” story line.  I have been playing this game in short spurts, and prior to last night it largely meant just roaming around and taking down machines.  I cannot underline just how much fun that is… and how perfect the game play feels as you bulls-eye a watcher in the eye and watch it explode.

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I really like that Horizon seems to reward you equally for aimless roaming and focused gameplay.  I essentially had looked at the direction that the game was suggesting I go… and went in the opposite direction and largely…  that was a completely fine decision.  It was not really until last night that I finally sat down and started following the quests… and that too was a perfect fine decision.  I am broke once more however because I bought a purple set of armor, and decided to go with the version that has balanced resistances since… more often than not I end up in melee range before fights are finished.  Probably a lot of my success with the fire beetles is due to the fact that I had fairly decent resists going on.  What I really want now is some upgraded weapons, because I am still using the Carja bow that you get from either collectors edition or the pre-order bonus.  I got a whole slew of items and I am not completely sure which ones came from which thing.  I’ve heard that the hunter trials reward items, so in theory I need to focus on doing some of those now.  Regardless this game is still freaking amazing… and it serves as part of the reason why I have struggled to get into Breath of the Wild.  In many ways the newest Zelda game just feels awkward and cludgy…  whereas Horizon absolutely nails smooth and flawless gameplay.

Contagion and Chill

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Sofa Time

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It’s been a shockingly busy week for me, and most of it was completely unexpected.  Monday through Wednesday I had my boss out, which means I get to not only be myself…  but also him for all purposes.  Which means my “general and administrative” time goes through the roof while attending meetings, and juggling things from the other managers in our department that need resources for this or that.  On the gaming front I was equally busy, with Monday and Tuesday largely being either prep time for the raid or actually raiding.  Then Wednesday night we had the World of Warcraft raid, and while it didn’t actually make I was ended up getting pulled into tank some Mythic Dungeons for Valor.  So when I got home last night, that was the first night of the week when I didn’t already have something planned.  After doing a round of exercises in our newly reclaimed home gym in the garage…  I plunked down on the sofa and spent the rest of the evening playing The Division.  A whole bunch of stuff happened that has greatly improved my outlook on the coming levels.

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Firstly I did in fact move on towards the higher level areas, and there I started getting either upgrades for just green drops like crazy.  The other big change is that I have started vendoring most of the stuff I get because I am simply not getting enough blueprints fast enough to be able to keep myself outfitted in crafted gear, namely not the weapons.  Because of this influx of cash I managed to pick up a nice new marksman rifle, and a brand new LSW that have greatly improved my ability to kill things.  The biggest splurge of the night was a purple chest piece I found on one of the vendors that has over 250 armor.  At the end of last night I was just shy of level 17 and have been cleaning up on the higher level stuff.  I unlocked a security tree perk that allows me to see all of the intel that I missed along the way once I complete all of the side missions for an area.  As such tonight I will likely be poking around and picking these up for quick and easy experience boosts, and start cleaning out the low level zones again.  I had been concerned about how roaming the low level areas meant I was only going up against lower level mobs… but then I quickly did the math and realized that the bulk of my experience is coming from quests and objectives… and grinding mobs is next to meaningless.  I kinda miss the days when grinding lots and lots of mobs was a viable means of leveling…  since that is ultimately my instinct anyways.

Focusing In

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Right now I think my best path is to try my best to push through to level thirty.  I want to run around and spend time in the Dark Zone, but I feel like that is largely useless until I get somewhere near the cap since the items dropping won’t be staying with me all that long.  I also noticed that before I upgraded to the 15+ DZ area the mobs were dropping level 11ish gear which really wasn’t that useful.  Now that I have moved up to the next tier, everything is way over my level and simply not doable without a group.  The fact that you get zero leveling experience while in the Dark Zone really makes me want to avoid it at least until I have capped out my character.  So as we go through the weekend I plan on slowly prodding along and picking up as many levels as I can.  Now that I am almost 17… 30 seems significantly closer and given that I went from 15 to 17 in essentially a single night.  Tonight I plan on picking up the rest of the intel that I missed, and then focusing on going back to higher zone questing.  I’ve completely most of Central Park, and then will move on the higher tier zones after that.  The side missions and encounters all seem to go pretty quickly, it is the missions that are ultimately the ones that I end up having to rez multiple times while doing.

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The game is honestly much more difficult than I expected it to be, especially as a largely solo player.  The gear really matters, and when I got the two new weapons I am using… I saw a massive increase in how successful I was in completing encounters.  The thing I struggle with right now is how much I like to snipe and how hard it is to remain in cover when there are a bunch of mobs gunning for me.  I’ve never tried the turret but I am contemplating using that as a way to draw fire away from me so I can get off a round of head shots to whittle down the opponents quickly.  In truth there are simply a lot of time with the Rikers folks that I have better luck just bobbing and weaving in and out of cover while firing my light machine gun.  Really it is the other snipers that are the bane of my existence, and the folks who fire off a heavy machine gun.  Though the last is largely due to my impatience and not wanting to always wait for them to need to reload.  I am still very much enjoying the game, I just wish I had more time to play it.  I hope this weekend I will have some more time to just hang out and chill out on Sunday and can maybe get into some grouping time with friends also playing.

 

 

Exploring Draumheim

Great Sell-Off

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Normally this morning I would go into my new game picks for the coming week to serve as alternate writing fodder to Blaugust.  However that is not going to happen because I am not really feeling like writing that post today.  I am struggling right now with a mix of allergies and asthma that have conspired to make me miserable.  One of the things about being sick is that you tend to surround yourself by things that feel comfortable or nostalgic.  Just as there is comfort food, there is also comfort gaming… and when I feel like shit I find myself wandered off into games I have pushed to the side.  Essentially when I am feeling my worst I am lease capable of dealing with the stress of interacting with other people.  As such yesterday and last night I ventured into a realm where almost nobody knows my name anymore…  Telara.  Rift was one of my games of the week for this past week, and with it comes a series of problems. Namely when I log in I am staring at a bag and bank full of dimension items and crafting materials.  I am not sure if you are the same as me in this aspect, but if my bags are a mess there are so many times I will log in and then log right back out because I cannot be bothered to fix that situation.  Honestly if I don’t do something quickly in Final Fantasy XIV I will be nearing that point as all of my retainers are clogged and my inventory continues to get more and more semi-permanent additions.

With Rift however I finally did something drastic.  Last October Rift released the Nightmare Tides expansion, and I still don’t have a character to the new level cap of 65.  During this time I have been accumulating crafting materials from doing the Minions minigame, and quite honestly I have more than I will ever actually use.  By the time I actually get around to hitting the level cap I will more than likely have just as much materials I do now.  So instead I decided to reinstall BananAH and post every single crafting material on the Auction House.  It cost a lot of plat to post everything, but luckily by the end of the night I had managed to quadruple the amount of plat I had going into this experiment, and there are still a bunch of auctions up there that may or may not have sold over night.  The money gained was a side benefit, the real mission was simply to clear the shit out of my inventory.  At some point I will do the same with the various housing bits, because there are some things I will quite literally never end up using in any design.  With the bags clear however I finally felt like I could actually go out into the world questing, and it improved my outlook on the game considerably.

Figuring Logistics

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While the great sell-off took care of one issue keeping me from playing Rift, I still had another big one standing in my way.  Rift has quite possibly one of the most complicated character creation systems, namely that for a given class you can have any combination of three different souls from a pool of ten potential souls for each slot.  If my math is correct… and I would seriously question that… but I believe that gives us 120 possible combinations with a pool of 76 talent points to distribute between your three trees.  What I am trying to say is that basically every time I decide to play the game it requires a bunch of research on my part to determine what the current “viable” builds are and what purposes they serve.  To say that Rift changes a lot is an understatement…  they are constantly patching the game and tweaking things and often times these have ramifications have effects that trickle out and make or break the last patches specs.  The class that I tend to care about the most however is the Warrior, and while I have a level 60 rogue and a level 60 cleric…  I tend to mostly focus on Belghast first and foremost.  So over the last week I have poked around the Class Guide forums and stumbled onto one that looked promising titled:  Warrior Solo Leveling (61-65).  Luckily it was not too far off from the build that I had tried leveling with before, so I was able to tweak out my hot bars without much issue.

One of the big strengths of Rift is also one of it’s great weaknesses.  The macro system is excellent and allows you to do some really interesting things with it.  The problem being the game also gives you so many sideways and optional abilities that you feel like you are required to macro everything together for fear that you miss some opportunity for not having 32 fingers to hit abilities with.  The big thing I like about this incarnation of the soloing build is that essentially I am really only using one macro, and all that does is chain a series of high cool-down single target abilities onto Empowering Strike.  The combo point dump abilities are on my bar separately, as is the main reactionary ability that I hit after using one of them.  The feeling is that things are less random than they have felt before when I have played a suggested spec.  I am hitting buttons largely because I know what the effect is going to be, and because I want to use it at that moment.  Sure I still have one single mixed bag ability, but it feels like it is less important than the things I am not macroing.  The other big thing is that it seems like my survival has gone up significantly, which was a huge problem I had previously.  I am still under level for the region I am hunting in, but I am wondering if that just means that I missed something important in the previous zone.

Exploring Draumheim

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At this point I had a spec and I had clean enough bags to be able to venture out into the world.  I had two ports available in Draumheim so I grabbed one and hoped that I had picked the right one.  It seems that I did as when I landed there were numerous quests available.  The zone is extremely cool with all manner of nightmarish abominations wandering around in the midst of the ocean that is being drained away.  The coolest thing about Draumheim is that it seems to be a nightmarish echo of Telara.  There are numerous places in the zone that represent areas from the game, for example there is absolutely a version of Meridian and Sanctum as well as a nightmarish version of Port Scion.  Similarly I ran into a copy of the great toad-like Greenscale, who represented the aspect of hunger.  When I first attempted to play Nightmare Tides I was not sure if I liked it or not, largely because I am not the biggest fan of underwater settings in MMOs.  Now almost a year later the subtlety of the expansion is starting to sink in.  It is less about us traveling to the physical plane of water, and more about us traveling into the physical manifestation of dreams and nightmares.  Nothing in the zones are quite what they seem, and last night I ended up helping out a series of existentially confused hay bales…  and I am not making that up… they are quite literally named that.

I still wish we had a more directed questing experience similar to the old world.  I know they went in this direction as a way of distancing themselves from the standard questing format of MMOs, but personally I find it somewhat lacking.  The story that is there is really good, but there just doesn’t feel like there is enough of it.  Mostly it feels like you can’t get through the content by only following the quests.  Instead of feeling like questing is optional it feels like I have to do every single quest, and do every single carnage quest that pops up when you kill any mobs…  and still do some dungeons or instant adventures or you run into the situation I am in… where I am one to two levels below the content I am  trying to do.  The leveling experience is much less directed, and this is a change that went in with Storm Legion… but the end result in both expansions was me constantly wondering what I am supposed to be doing next.  For most MMOs the leveling experience gets better over time, but I feel like Rift went in the opposite direction.  I get it that quest content is fairly expensive to create, and without the subscription model they don’t have that stable source of monthly income to keep said quest content coming.  The quests that are here however are really good, and one I did last night took me through a series of “computers” that showed little recorded vignettes from the past, all of them fully voice acted.  I like all of the things they have done to make finding quests more interactive…  but I wish we had more hub based quests as well to fill in the gaps in content.  I don’t want it to sound like I didn’t enjoy myself however, because I absolutely did.  I needed a game where I could be anonymous and lose myself in the experience of playing an MMO, and that is precisely what Rift gave me yesterday.  I still very much love Trion and the team behind Rift, and it is one of the games I will continue to suggest people check out on a regular basis.  I feel like they did the absolute best job of a free to play conversion that I have experienced to date, and I am willing to keep giving them more of my money.  I am just nostalgia for the way that questing used to feel in Rift is all.

More SkyForge Thoughts

Controller Support

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One of the questions left unanswered from yesterday was whether or not the game had controller support.  On a whim I picked up my controller towards the end of one of yesterdays streams and I noticed that I could in fact control my character with it.  Today I popped into game with the mission of trying to test this theory out.  It seems that maybe they are working on controller support but that it does not actually work fully.  I could control my character perfectly using both of my analog sticks, and if I hit the A button on my XBox 360 controller I could perform any of the normal actions that require the spacebar.  However it did not actually seem to interact with the world, and pressing A when not hovering over an objective did not perform the jump action, which is normally the default action for spacebar.  I went so far as to go into the keybindings section and it would not let me bind anything to controller presses.

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Now of course if you wanted to go so far as to use Xpadder you could easily get this game up and running.  It takes care of the toughest part which is getting the analog movement feeling right.  My hope is that in subsequent patches it is going to add full controller support, and then this game is likely to increase significantly in enjoyment.  Left button spammy attacks feel less spammy when done with a controller button.  Since writing yesterdays post I have added another few hours worth of gameplay, and I have to say my verdict is still very mixed.  I even talked about it a bit on last nights podcast.  On some level I am feeling about this game much the same as I felt about Guild Wars 2 when it was in testing.  There is something that compels me to keep trying to figure it out, but at the same time I find it extremely easy to stop playing after completing a single mission.  The act of running a mission just wears me out, in a way that content in Elder Scrolls Online used to wear me out.  Things are so ridiculously tightly packed that on normal solo missions you spend so much of your time mindlessly grinding through huge encounters.

Isola Digs

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This morning however I ventured into what seems to be another large shared cooperative zone, much the same as the very first mission in the game.  It involved a series of around 25 smaller objectives that were scattered throughout the map.  The frustrating thing about this zone in particular is that the objectives were super linear, meaning when I tried to do my normal thing and hop off the path…  I missed an objective that I then later had to double back through the entire zone to go find again.  As a whole though I have to say I like this style of zone so much better than the little instanced mini dungeons I had completed more recently.  The game also feels better when lots of other players are wandering around, which greatly speeds up the amount of time it takes to burn through the various health bars of the bosses.  This tells me that a lot of my frustrations was simply that I was soloing content designed for groups to take down.  The fact that I could fairly easily solo content as a paladin, maybe points to that class being a little overpowered for this sort of thing?  Then again tanks in most games are adept at soloing bosses that were originally meant for a group to take down…  I am looking at you Deathknight.

SkyForge_FireWardenBoss The other cool thing about this region is that it seemed to be full of boss encounters that did not seem to be tied to a specific objective.  There may be a quest that I missed somewhere that opened these up, but from what I saw there was a fire, water and wind warden.  Above you can see me taking on the fire one.  The only thing missing elemental wise is earth, which I did not really see while wandering around.  I managed to get a few greens off these bosses, so my theory is they are just there to make your experience more interesting.  The boss fights with other players helping were significantly more enjoyable, but I could still shield up as a paladin and whittle them down until I succeeded.  There was only one single encounter where I even came close to dying.    At the last minute a wave of players rushed in and helped me finish the boss off.

Combat Still Repetitive

SkyForge_PaladinFinsiher2 All of this said… my problem with the combat still exists.  It just doesn’t feel like I can do anything interesting with the encounters.  I did add a new combo attack to my repertoire, and while I abused the hell out of it.. each individual fight still seemed to take a little bit longer than they should for the game to feel really “fun”.  The mobs still suffer from the same problem where they tend to be one trick ponies, and keep using the same attack sequence over and over.  There is almost always one thing that you should dodge out of, but other than that it is grind them down with your main attack until they are gone.  There are a lot of things I do like however when it comes to the interactions with other players.  This seems like a game where everything is open tagging, and if you are in an area and have dealt any damage to a pack… you seem to get full credit for the entire pack.  Similarly if there is an objective, it seems like everyone can click said objective, and that seems to have changed from one of the closed beta streams I happened to watch.

SkyForge_CryomancerHelp As a result I found myself wading into a lot of fights that I did not strictly need to just to help out the other players.  Unfortunately not a single one of them did I actually communicate with.  There are a lot of ifs about this game, and I am not quite certain how much I will be playing of it.  In theory I kinda dig the model of purchasing classes or having a slow tedious process of unlocking them.  To some extent I wish I had gotten in on the ability to play the Berserker, because I think that might be a class I would really enjoy.  I have heard that you can go to the training center and test drive all of the classes, much like you can test drive champions in a moba, so that might be one of the things I do next.  At this point I have played around five hours of the game, and I have enjoyed it just enough to keep me coming back to try and find the secrets that I seem to be missing as to why this game is really fun.  Ultimately there will be a point where I just give up on it, but I have not quite reached that yet.  After all it gives me a bit of a diversion from leveling my Dragoon and gearing in Final Fantasy XIV.  If you want to check out the last two videos I have posted since yesterday I will be embedding them below.

Port Naori – Instanced Dungeon-like Mission

Isola Digs – Open World-ish Shared Zone Mission

(was still encoding at the time of posting this… so might have to check back later)

The Ancient Library

Land of Lost Cables

This morning I feel like the world is angry at me.  Namely we spent the last two days doing some hardcore cleaning and rearranging of both my and my wife’s offices.  This involved taking loads of stuff to good will, and even more loads of stuff out to the dumpster we rented.  However it feels like maybe the end is in sight.  The funny thing about this process is I am finding things that I did not remember existed.  Like for example… wedding pictures…  I did not remember we had a book of wedding pictures.  I realize that statement sounds weird… because everyone remembers photos at their wedding right?  Well for us… we eloped and there was a pretty limited group of people that COULD have taken photos.  I am guessing my cousin Sarah took the photos because she does not appear in any of them, but it was still kinda cool…. and god did we look young.

We also found a stack of photos from our college graduation… and apparently overall shorts were a big thing in 1998… because both my wife and my niece were wearing them.  The other awesome thing about cleaning is finding all the things I have bought and re-bought a dozen times.  Like right now I have bins labeled video, audio, usb and network…  and all of them are overflowing with cables.  I seriously should not need to get any form of a USB cable for example for life.  I have every possible connector save for maybe USB 3.  In addition I found more iPhone/iPad cables than I remember us ever having.  So as I dismantle my office today to do the final leg of this process I should have more than enough cables to hook things up however I want to in the final configuration.

The Ancient Library

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-03 20-27-25-13 Since we are expected to participate in the Four Job Fiesta every single year…  our circle of friends has developed a deep understanding of the content contained within Final Fantasy V… in part because Ashgar has such a deep understanding of said content.  So when it was leaked that Heavensward would include the Library of Ancients needless to say we were a little excited.  Thursday night I managed to get up to the appropriate level to do the dungeon, and last night after Page64-ffv-iosall of the cleaning I sat down and managed to get a guild group to run it.  I have to say I am really damned impressed with the experience and this might be my favorite dungeon yet…  which is a pretty mighty feat considering I really really love The Vault, with its Scarlet Monastery 2.0 feel.  What is best is the way that many of the mobs pop out of books just like they did in Final Fantasy V.  In fact one of the mobs that you run into over and over is good ole page 64.

As you might suspect it has the ability to cast level 5 doom… which apparently plays by the rules set forth in Final Fantasy V.  This means players who are 59 are unaffected, but those level 60 players have to get the hell out or they straight up die.  Granted we have not actually tested this, so it might just be a rumor.  Once again I streamed my run of the dungeon so that I could capture it in video form.  The absolute best part of the dungeon is of course Byblos which takes the place of the middle boss.  The best part is when you kill him he says “Soon, the seal of the master will be open.”  I love it when Final Fantasy XIV does some fan service and so accurately depicts a mob from another game in this one.  One thing I learned is that the Gale Cut attack can be completely avoided if you just move from out of front of him when he is casting it.  So far every dungeon in Heavensward has been better than the last, so I am completely amped to see what the end game dungeons are going to be like.

The Road to Sixty

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-03 18-14-48-09The library finally paid off and I started to get some warrior drops.  The set that comes from the Library is one that I am going to have to farm up because I either look like a Sherlock Holmes era inspector or a refugee from Diagon Alley.  In either case I am a fan of it, and it looks pretty adorable when I run around like this.  Tam is going to be quick to point out that this is not a plate set of armor…  and I will give him that.  It is very much not plate, but instead a cloth robe…  but it looks adorable so I am just going with it for the time being.  The only thing that I have yet to see at all this expansion is a weapon drop.  Every single dungeon seems to drop a nice weapon, but in all cases I have seen zero axes.  As a result I am struggling through on the HQ white weapons that you get through the storyline.  I figure soon enough I will be able to purchase a nice end game weapon as after last nights shenanigans I am roughly a sixth of a level away from sixty.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-07-03 19-45-58-51 My hope is tonight…  in my newly arranged office… I will be able to push the rest of the way into sixty.  It seems there is a dungeon that folks are waiting to run that comes at the end of the main storyline.  I am more than happy to tank for my friends… I just have to get to max level first.  As horrible as 58 was… I have to say so far 59 has been pretty chill.  Just through pushing through the main storyline in the final area and then doing some side quests and two dungeon runs… I have been able to conquer most of this level.  Had I managed to actually do my clan hunts yesterday rather than getting pulled straight into a dungeon I might have dinged last night before logging.  In theory I could do that tonight and hit the cap… then catch up on the last bit of story that leads to the final dungeon.  My god… the story…  things happen and I want so bad to talk about them, but most of my readers I would assume are not quite there yet.

Learning to Fly

Coerthas Distractions

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 08-15-59-02 All I really wanted yesterday was to sit in one spot and play Final Fantasy XIV all day long.  While that did not happen as I had originally envisioned I did still manage to get a fair amount of play time.  The biggest interruption came early on when I was trying to work on my blog post, and the air conditioning company called to tell me they were on their way over.  Firstly I had completely forgotten that I had scheduled our twice a year maintenance for Friday thinking I would be off from work anyways.  Secondly…  the guy who came over seemed relatively new and manage to take an hour and a half doing what normally takes the guy fifteen minutes to finish.  So that was ultimately why I ended up posting so late.  By the time that finished we needed to run a few errands, and I spent until roughly two doing that.  Finally when I got home however I had a solid block of play time and also a mission set out in front of me.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 16-03-31-09 Tam had apparently been playing since quite literally the servers went life at 2 am pst.  As a result he was anxiously waiting on us to catch up so that he could run the very first dungeon.   While Dusk Vigil is not entirely gated by the main story, it does require you to have gotten far enough into the story to unlock a specific camp of NPCs.  Previously I was getting easily distracted by every single FATE I came across…  which was pretty much an endless feedback loop since at any given moment there are a dozen different FATEs up in Western Coerthas.  Instead I had to shift to being laser focused on completing the quests.  This batch of storyline however deserves some time to slow down and savor it a bit as you quest through it.  They have done something that no other MMO has done…  picked up the storyline moments after the last quest of the previous expansion.  Over the course of “A Realm Reborn” they learned how to extremely effectively tell compelling story, and this expansion just continues that trend.  I feel like I am only a little ways in and they have already dropped several big bombshells on me.

Dusk Vigil

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 21-48-23-26 Normally I would have told them to go with another tank to Dusk Vigil… even though I love the act of clearing a dungeon that very first time.  Problem being at the moment I am the highest progressed tank in the guild and likely the only one who has unlocked it.  Around 8:30 last night my wife and I decided to go for a walk down to the local shaved ice place, and I told them that I would run the dungeon when I got back.  Upon coming back the new renters across the street were out in the yard and it felt awkward not to go over and say hello.  People think it is strange that we don’t really know anyone in our neighborhood…  but I have to say this is 0 for 2 when it comes to introducing ourselves to new people.  This new one is just as insane seeming and clingy as the last one…  now the positive is that there was an Xbox 360 set up on the living room floor with Lord of the Rings movies and Dragon Age Inquisition scattered around it.  So maybe just maybe they are going to be cool people?  After making them wait half the night we eventually go away from the neighbor and I went upstairs to fight the login boss and get back in game.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 22-19-25-94 Surprisingly I managed to log in immediately and get straight into the server, and got my group invite and we were up and running.  The big take away from the dungeon is that much like the overworld…  the mobs hit extremely hard.  I am an ilevel 128 Warrior, and that first trash pack I pulled was a bit of a wakeup call.  The coolest thing about the dungeon however were the bosses which were in essence a remix of mechanics we have seen in some of the raids, but assembled in a manner that felt fresh.  I imagine at some point we will have a gear level where we can ignore the mechanics but for the time being…  folks have to pay attention.  The layout of the dungeon was extremely cool as well and had both a Coerthas flavor and a stone vigil flavor the deeper you got into it.  The background music and boss music were both amazing as well… with the zone music sounding like a remix of the Heavensward theme with Snowcloak.  The dungeon also dropped some really nice level 110 items that had unique graphics, so I hope to pop back in and try and collect more of it.

Learning to Fly

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-19 23-32-49-86 I have no clue how far a Yalm is, but over the course of yesterday I think I travelled thousands of them hunting down Aether Currents.  For the uninitiated Final Fantasy XIV gives you a brand new Black Chocobo just a few quests into the Heavensward Storyline.  Also for the uninitiated Black Chocobos old a special place in the Final Fantasy pantheon of being the only breed of Chocobo that can actually fly, and while they often look more purple than black…  the one you get in Heavensward is officially a jet black chocobo with pretty cool barding.  When you get yours you also get this device called an Aether Compass.  In order to fly in a zone you need to track down a certain number of the Aether Currents, and in Western Coerthas this is 10 scattered throughout the zone and 5 that you get from doing quests.  If you have ever played a game that has a tracking system the compass works pretty much like this.  You click the item and it tells you the direction and distance away the next Aether Current is located.  This appears in your quest items tab, but I highly suggest moving it to a hotbar because you will be clicking this thing constantly.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-20 00-19-29-65 As a result you have to not only try and figure out how to traverse a zone that is extremely difficult to traverse do to some extreme elevation changes, you have to do this while interpreting messages like “381 Yalms to the South East”.  Most of the Aether Currents are found as a result of some jumping puzzles, that can either be extremely difficult to get to…  or relatively simply if you figure out the path they intended you to take.  The worst feeling is jumping down off something and seeing an Aether Current on the way down… that you could have gotten if only you know it was there ahead of time.  Once you have gathered up all of the currents you can fly around the zone on your Black Chocobo… and I have to say it feels amazing to finally be able to do this.  Sure the whole Aether Current thing is frustrating, but it did an amazing job of teaching me the layout of the zone and it is really the sort of thing that I did not finish until I was already MOSTLY finished with a zone.  This is a great compromise for allowing players to fly, but not feeling like you are somehow cheapening the content in the process.  Other games should really take note of this system going forward, because it feels like you are really earning your ability to fly each time.