Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Arriving in Kugane

Warning: Mild Spoilers for FFXIV Stormblood.

I’m still behind on story at this point, so I don’t know how much of a spoiler this will be to those who are dedicated to getting the expansion done. We got a good chunk of story completed last night, though, and I finally got to see Kugane is person for the first time.

My instinct was correct in thinking that after a defeat in Rhalgr’s Reach we’d be heading off to far away lands to find help from our companions. It makes sense to rally forces on both sides of the Empire to make a push, especially when it’s obvious that taking the enemy alone is not a good or feasible  plan.

This required a long boat ride (and a short Aetheryte warp once attuned), which was interrupted by the first dungeon of the expansion, Sirensong Sea.

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Syn and I went in blind with a PUG, and despite having a rushing tank, didn’t have any problem dealing with it. There’s some mild boss mechanics, but nothing harrowing, and the location was pretty interesting overall.

Once that was cleared, we finally earned our way to the first big city, Kugane.

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Here, we were greeted by rather dubious new company and an interesting twist of circumstance. We were given the grand tour, took some time to explore the city and attune, and checked out the housing plots.

Overall, Kugane may be the most impressive city I’ve experienced in FFXIV so far. Ishgard was pretty big, but it was also divided into zones, like the ARR cities. It was also rather confusing to navigate in some areas.

Kugane feels just as vast, maybe because of the vertical building, is much more colorful than the snowy Ishgard, and has a great sense of atmosphere. It also has a good layout with a nice central marketplace, and a great spot for crafters to work on leves. I am looking forward to doing some leves here soon!

While our quests haven’t taken us out to the Ruby Sea just yet, we’re moving that direction. Instead, we spent some time running a Leveling Roulette, which netted me a much-needed level 62 Red Mage. I’m a tad concerned about falling behind on levels for the MSQ… but I guess I can just PvP if that ever happens.

Oh, and Alphinaud is a better artist than I am…

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Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Red Mage Main – Level 61 Ding!

It feels like it’s been a long road from 50 to 61, but finally, my Red Mage is on level to where I left off with my Bard. I didn’t go very far into the story because I wanted to use Red Mage as my main for the MSQ, and also because Syn was out of town for work, and I’d like to duo the story with her.

The story roadblock kept us from getting very far over the time we did have this weekend… but despite being behind most my FC, it might turn out to be a good thing. This way, I don’t have to keep playing catch up with my Red Mage, which is the job I want to main for sure.

I thought I was going to spend all weekend in the PotD for leveling, but that really didn’t happen. I did run a few 51-60 floors, but for the most part, doing Leveling Roulette, daily Beast Tribes, daily hunts, and a bunch of PvP got me through.

I had so many various ways to make it that, while I didn’t do it in a day or anything, I never really felt bored by repetition. FFXIV now has a pretty good spread of leveling options… I just need to finish getting my last few jobs up to 60 to call that a done deal. 🙂

I haven’t really put together a glamour for her yet — I just picked the Augmented Cashmere Robe of Casting I’ve had on hand due to the neat particle effects and glamoured my easily-bought Augmented Shire Rapier with the CE Chicken Knife cosmetic.

I took a look at all the neat primal rapier glamours, and I’m especially taken with the Manipulative Moggle Mogfoil (less for the moogle, but more for the neat music note particle effects). However, while I have the recipe to craft it myself, the materials aren’t cheap, and neither is the blade on the marketboard. I don’t have 5 mil to my name, and certainly not to spare for glamour, no matter how cool it is.

Maybe one day.

Making Stormblood Progress

(Story talk follows, only mild spoilers.)

Syn did have a little time and a decent enough hotel internet connection last night to work on some of the story with me. Up until now, nothing much had happened around Rhalgr’s Reach aside from us just helping out NPCs and gaining their trust. Well, that changed pretty epically.

We made it through the second point that was a story roadblock for players over the weekend, an instance that you entered by talking to Pippin. I can certainly see how this complex instance (which I didn’t fully expect) could have hung up the servers. It was much longer than the previous one, and had a ton of cutscenes and action.

I won’t give away too much, but I’m pleased with how Stormblood has set up an antagonist that’s a true threat to the Warrior of Light. Especially after the disappointment that was the Warrior of Darkness. After so many major successes, and thinking she’s so powerful, my character just got schooled in a one-on-one.

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I like it. Even if she doesn’t.

The Empire isn’t something to mess around with before you understand what it is. This has made it very clear. The team has lost valuable people and resources, so I’m going to assume this is where we reach out to Doma for help.

I’ll hopefully see soon enough!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: PSA – Frontlines PvP is Fun and Fast Leveling

Here’s something I never thought I’d write: Frontlines PvP is fun. It’s also a fast and low stress experience.

Alright. The sky is falling now.

The one good thing that happened during the great Raubahn block this weekend was that it nudged people in my FC to look into alternate ways of leveling. MSQ was a no-go, and one could only run FATEs and PotD so much. That’s when someone noted that Frontlines, with all its changes for 4.0, is a good alternative.

At first I was Noping right out of that. But the Posse gave it a try, and came back with good reports. So, I decided to try it. And while I won’t say I’m addicted to it (like Vix is), consider me pleasantly surprised.

Casual PvP

My experience with PvP stems back to two games. I first tried to PvP (poorly) as a Witch Hunter in Warhammer Online. And then, I did some casual PvP in the Moors in LOTRO with the Posse years ago. And… that’s it.

However, I’d consider Frontlines to PvP what Crystal Tower is to Alliance Raids – something low-stress, quick to pick up, and easy to do.

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The cool thing about Frontlines is whether you win or lose, you get rewarded. Of course, the reward is better if you win. But losing isn’t a big deal, and the experience is still really good for the time it takes (matches are quick, usually about 10-15 mins). Queues are really short (a few mins), and it doesn’t matter which Grand Company or job you’re using.

I also like how the PvP skill bars are consolidated versions of outside skills — this reminds me a lot of what Guild Wars does. What’s super cool is that when you use a skill, depending on which one it is, it sometimes turns into a follow up skill. So all your combos are on one button, which really keeps things easy and fast. I don’t think I’ve seen this done in a game I’ve played before, and I was impressed by the idea.

How It Works

I’ve only played the Fields of Glory (Shatter) so far, as that seems to be the one that’s most popular. After unlocking it, it becomes part of the PvP section on your Duty Finder, and you enter it just the same as any other duty.

This is a 72-man deal, so you’re running with an Alliance of 24 others, representing one Grand Company. The basic idea is to score points for your GC.

You do that primarily by doing damage to crystals, known as “ice.” There’s small ice and then there’s big ice. Big ice, obviously is worth more points to damage than small.

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Ice, ice baby. (sorry)

I like the idea of ice mostly because it prevents turtling. It puts pressure points on the map that all teams want to take, and PvP happens naturally over the course of the match.

Killing other players, while satisfying, is not as lucrative as destroying ice. Taking a base is helpful, too, but also not as good as destroying ice. Dying only has minimal impact on your team’s score, so there’s really not a ton of pressure. Just do your best to support your team and everyone will get a reward when its done.

Other Thoughts

I’m really not so great at PvP with Red Mage, but that’s what I need to level, so that’s what I’ve been using. I tried once with Bard, and I know that’s much more my playstyle — I like the mobility to it.

However, despite not being practiced and not on a class I’d normally choose, I’ve gotten the triangle icon that indicates “Battle High” a few times. Reading the guide, I discovered that meant I’d killed 4 players consecutively. Have no idea how.

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Proof!

I can foresee myself continuing to use this as a supplement to leveling in the future. I’m even working on a set of the Garo armor, and possibly may be shooting for the mounts somewhere down the line.

tl;dr: If I can do PvP, and I don’t think it’s too bad, it’s probably not too bad. Give it a shot if you need a change of pace and see if you like it!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Stormblood Tidbits

I have a bunch of little things that I wanted to mention, but don’t really have a place for them. They’re too short to have their own posts, so here they are as quickie tidbits.

Tai’s New Hair

I knew from the benchmark that I would be changing Tai’s hair for Stormblood (as seen above). I did play him past the first story roadblock last night, and I got him some fairly nice Dragoon armor.

However, I just don’t know if I have the interest in playing Dragoon beyond this point. The more I read about the changes to it, the less I want to play it. I did start unlocking Samurai for him, but I’m way too focused on playing Red Mage to want to work on it.

This may be the point where I end up retiring Tai for good. I’m much too involved in Red Mage, and I really don’t have the energy to keep up a second alt. I won’t set this in stone, but it’s my general feeling right now.

FATEs Have Returned

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I was so excited to see people running FATEs in both Heavensward and Stormblood areas. I’m happy for the perks the new FATEs have, and glad that they’re getting a bit of a boost to encourage people to play them again.

I took part in some of the early Heavensward FATE parties while leveling my Red Mage, just for old time’s sake. It didn’t take me long to out level that area, though, but it was fun to see soooooo many people out there on Friday.

Hunts Have Returned

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Buying mount speed upgrades requires hunt seals. Hunts also give good experience for level 50-60 characters. So I’ve been back out there doing my daily hunts and Beast Tribe quests again.

Above, I saw Void Ark in the Sea of Clouds while on a hunt. I always screenshot Void Ark.

Fokelore Books

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I finished my weekly gathering turn-ins only to be shocked with the fact that the cost of Heavensward Fokelore books have been halved. I was only hoping to buy the final Botany book I needed, and ended up buying one of the Fishing books, too.

It seems there are also new Fokelore books for Stormblood at the same price. I’ll be working on those, and the final Master IV crafter book I need to get.

Leveling Gatherers

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I’ve also been back on the leveling boat for my gatherers. Doing the GC daily turn-ins will see me reach 62 tonight on miner and botanist. Fisher is a little slower, however.

I haven’t been putting full focus on this, but I am working on it as time allows.

Free Company Participation

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Our FC participation this weekend has exploded! We reached an all-time high of 51 people logged in at the same time. Boy has it been busy. I screenshotted above where we had 50 folks online, but then, later we broke that record. 😀

It’s been a pretty incredible weekend, crashes and issues aside. Looking forward to this week!

Posted in Uncategorized

FFXIV Stormblood: Falling in Love

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that despite the technical issues that cropped up with Stormblood, I’m far more optimistic about FFXIV than I probably have been in years. This, simply put, is because I think I’ve finally found a job that I love: Red Mage.

Rough Times

All throughout Heavensward, I had a tough time dealing with raids, end game content, and the frustration/exhaustion I felt at the whole thing. Part of it was because the game had become a repetition of Expert Roulettes and Alliance Raids, neither that I was particularly enjoying.

But I started to understand as time went on that part of the reason I didn’t enjoy the content was because I never found a job that really suited me. Therefore, I spent most of Heavensward end game being terribly frustrated no matter how hard I tried.

Bard had been my main job in ARR. I hated the changes that came with Heavensward that transformed them into a bowmage with nerfed damage (until a more recent patch). In fact, I put leveling on hold and spent about a year struggling to find a replacement DPS job.

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The closest I came to this was playing Dragoon, which I ended up leveling to 60 twice between my main and my alt. However, Dragoon is a very active job, and gets exhausting for me to maintain good DPS, especially with the whole Blood of the Dragon timer counting down all the time. I was alright at it, and sometimes it was fun, but in more high-end content, it wiped me out.

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For the same reasons, Monk and Ninja weren’t for me. I could never wrap my head around Summoner or Machinist, and Black Mage just got frustrating after level 50.

So… really… that left me with leveling Bard, swallowing the changes, and trying to do my best on Dragoon. But neither of these were sparking a feeling of “WOW! This is SO fun and I really want to play this and try it out in all sorts of content!”

Well… all that has changed.

Along Comes Stormblood

Stormblood ushered in some huge class changes, especially for Bard. I appreciate what I’ve seen of it, especially in making songs into actual songs that are something that improves the Bard themselves, not just those around the Bard. There’s a bit of support there, which is nice, but now Bard can stand on its own and buff itself as well.

I haven’t really spent that much time learning Bard, however, because Red Mage has consumed me. I honestly want to play nothing else right now.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve felt a draw to a job in an MMO the way I am feeling towards Red Mage. I was hesitant to be too hyped for it at first because I didn’t know how the job was going to feel. But I’ve always loved the idea behind a hybrid caster who uses a cool fencing sword and has an awesome hat.

For the short time I did play FFXI back in the day, Red Mage was my main job. My dream, which was never realized, was to earn the Red Mage artifact armor in that game. It feels like coming full circle here — FFXIV just handed me the AF armor as soon as I unlocked the job!

As of last night, I’ve leveled halfway through 57, and I’m pushing hard to make it surpass my Bard’s level so I can pick it up as my main job.

Why I Love Red Mage

I’ve had people ask me outright what I think of Red Mage, and when I respond with optimism, they ask me what I like about it. It’s really hard to put into words. It’s more than just hype and flair, though I love the visual aspect and aesthetic feel of it.

The biggest thing is that I understand how it works. I know that sounds weird, but I can’t say that for every job I’ve played. I’d watched a few videos from the media release that described the “rotation.” So, when I sat down and set up my bars for the first time, I already had a basic grasp on what I needed to do. I’ve made a few discoveries as I’ve leveled, but overall, the way the job works makes sense to me.

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The job doesn’t stress me out, which is huge. I feel like my damage output is strong, I can hold my own solo, and in a group, I contribute well. There’s some thinking to do, however, and a lot of flexibility (especially when you start unlocking Cures and eventually Rezzes).

I prefer a gauge that you’re building up, rather than one that’s constantly counting down. Red Mage’s gauge remains full as long as you don’t zone or use the energy on melee releases. I like that. I think I may be done playing Dragoon, because I can’t bother being stressed by losing BotD buffs for another expansion.

It’s just plain fun to play. This makes me want to do content, rather than struggle through content with a job that isn’t as fun.

Red Mage is about balance. And, for me, balance is a concept that’s super important in RL. In my fantasy writing, things often go wrong without balance. Or… my characters are often seeking to learn to balance something in order to master it. So, a job that focuses on finding a balance really appeals to me, and opens up some Role Play desire.

I’ve already earned commendations with the job, which is more than I tend to get from running Bard or Dragoon. Last night, I was in PotD for leveling with another Red Mage and two Samurai. I think I surprised them when I actually used Cure to keep the party’s health up — I am more than just DPS, and I love it! Though the Cure is never going to rival a real healer, it’s cool to have a dual cast double Cure.

About the only thing I find Red Mage weak in is running Frontlines PvP. Oh, ooops… Running PvP???? ME?

Hahah… yeah, that’s an article for tomorrow. 😉

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Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Uncategorized

FFXIV: Stormblood Storyline Snafu

I want to start this post by saying that while it’s sad that Stormblood EA didn’t start smoothly, this wasn’t something I didn’t expect to happen. It’s the risk you take when you buy into Early Access, and I remember quite well the Heavensward EA… and how the data centers crashed repeatedly.

I took Friday off with the hopes of playing as far into story as I could this weekend with Syn. We’ve duoed every storyline in the game, and this wouldn’t be an exception. She has a business trip, and is flying out today, so the idea was that we’d see as much of Stormblood as we could while she was still around. However, that didn’t happen.

Bottle Necking Story

Friday morning was uneventful, and we got plenty done. However, as more people joined the expansion, a few very painful bottle necks began to appear in the MSQ.

The first happened when you needed to enter a solo instance, Best Served with Cold Steel, by talking to Raubahn. You’d go through the cutscene, and then the game refused to load the instance. You’d just get kicked out back to the map with an error.

As time went on and more people attempted to enter, it looked something like this:

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And this was just 1 of 3 instances of this map…

Apparently, to prevent the servers from crashing under the weight of the solo instances, they severely restricted the number of players who could access it. This meant that the servers stayed up, but the story was stuck (in two places).

Some lucky folks did get through, but the rest of us, me included, sat there and hammered the quest, skipped the cutscene over and over and over again, and prayed RNG loved us enough to let us in. I’d do this half an hour at a time, in between leveling and other stuff, but I’d have to say I spent at least 3-4 hours of EA trying to get in.

Yeah, I’m stubborn.

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I know that I’ve had to see the start of this cutscene over 100 times. I should get an achievement.

Of course, this caused a lot of frustration, which gave way to memes and jokes on Reddit while we waited and failed to gain entrance. Poor Raubahn was the center of the jokes, and apparently, he was even trending on Twitter a while.

Instance Issues

Another thing that FFXIV is trying and not doing well with are creating instances of the same zones. This is new to FFXIV. It reminds me of what they do in Guilds Wars or Guild Wars 2. But GW2, this system is not.

It’s nice that they’re trying to prevent maps from bogging down. However, they didn’t think the feature through. Whenever someone in your group gets kicked due to server issues, the game does not look to see which instance their group members are in, and dumps that person in the instance with the lowest number of people automatically.

This means, they usually don’t end up back in the same instance with their party. Also, there’s no easy way to choose which instance you are put in aside from zoning out and zoning in again.

After several such happenings, and spending more time trying to get in the same instance as each other than finishing the quests, Syn and I gave up and just did the quests separately.

What I did get to see of the new zones was exciting, though!

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Look at this guy. Pretty sure he’s a hunt mark.

Primal Problems

Another issue for people who actually got past the MSQ roadblocks was in battling the first primal of the expansion. Apparently, if you win the fight and go to exit, some people were getting completely locked out of their characters. I mean, seriously could not log back in again at all.

This was apparently caused by people using emotes, such as /sit or /doze, while queuing up for the fight. Seems like S/E support is manually helping folks out who have this issue.

Finding Resolution

I woke up early this morning, feeling a little sick to my stomach (I’d eaten something that didn’t go well with me), and I knew I wasn’t going back to bed. So, at 6:30 AM EST, I got up and started clicking Raubahn until I was sleepy enough to finally lay down again.

It didn’t seem to matter that it was early morning, the crowd was still huge and I had no luck getting in. So, I gave up at 7 AM and went back to sleep. I slept in later than I meant to, and when I finally woke up and showered, I found chaos.

First, I saw my sister had tried to call me 17 times this morning (not including the number of times Syn tried to call me). Then I saw I had a bunch of text messages and Discord was pinging.

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Huh?? What’s going on?

Syn tried everything to get my attention while I slept. XD

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Note: I never keep my phone in my bedroom when I sleep. Even on vibrate, it would wake me up.

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I love my friends. ❤

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Syn was so frantic because she thought, at first, the reason we were getting in was because Balmung and Greg were down. This could have been a real possibility. Instead, S/E actually did finally get a work-around going.

Anyhow, I called my sister, she told me the quest was working and to get my butt online. I did just that and was thrilled to see I could, indeed, progress into the instance.

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The battle there was actually fairly lengthy and complex. It wasn’t just a quickie thing to jump in and out of the instance for, and it had more than one part to it. I can see why it was taking people so long to get through.

So I beat it! I’m past the first bottleneck… just in time to see Syn off on a plane. *sigh*

Anyhow. The FFXIV community is rejoicing.

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Credit for image to this Reddit thread.

Despite the issue with the Cold Steel quest, I am having a ball in Stormblood. I know it sounds strange, but I have more excitement and hope now for my time in FFXIV than I have in years.

I’ll talk about that tomorrow and the next day, though. Today, I just wanted to chronicle the Rise and Fall of the Great MSQ Bottleneck. 🙂