FFXIV: Patch 3.1 – Making Progress, Earning Confidence

There won’t be any story spoilers in this post, but I am going to talk about patch 3.1. 

I’ve taken a few days to experience FFXIV patch 3.1 before sitting down to write about it. I still haven’t sampled all the patch has to offer, but Syn and I did get a huge chunk of content done since Tuesday, much more than I expected to.

Much of this was due to the help of a FC member, Achilles, who is a really good player and patient enough to put up with me as the party’s loldragoon. He was gearing up his Dark Knight and we managed to knock out Void Ark, one run of Alex 1, and both new expert dungeons on Wednesday.

Our awesome Lala Dark Knight! 🙂

Touching on Story

Juuust very mild info spoilers. Imma try to word things not to give anything significant away.

Tuesday was primarily story day. We settled in after work and dinner to really dig into the new plot. It felt partially like they were trying to tie up some loose ends from 2.5 while weaving in the newer elements , such as the warrior of darkness. While we did touch on the Dragonsong War, most of this was focused on the implications on the nation of Ishgard, which is fine. I’m assuming they want to hold back the big bad they established in 3.0 for further developments.

I’m not sure what I think of the Warrior of Darkness and his presentation yet. The whole thing feels… uncanny. Like you’re looking at a mirror image of you and parties you’ve taken part in, but something about it feels … wrong.

The overall story was short. We were able to knock it out in a few hours – and that’s with me being a slow reader. It’s more of a bridging chapter, which is fine, as I appreciate them taking time to set things up and resolve other things. There wasn’t much fighting until the end, where you get a mini instance. While this instance wasn’t hard, it was somewhat frustrating as I felt the objectives weren’t always super clear unless you paid attention to what everyone was saying all the time. I had to restart it a few times due to dumb mistakes, but eventually got it done.

The rewards at the end of the story were worth it, though. They make me smile. 🙂

The Void Ark

We tried to hit up the Void Ark on Tuesday night, but surprisingly, the queue b was a lot longer to get in than I expected it to be. It’s been a long time since we’ve had to wait to reserve an instance in the Duty Finder! On the flip side, the queue was a lot quicker Thursday night, though the party was mostly brand new players.

I’m really enjoying the story and characters surrounding the Void Ark. It has a bit of history thrown in and some neat new NPCs to learn about. It’s a shame that the Alex story couldn’t have been more captivating like this.

The instance is pretty much what you’d expect from a Crystal Tower level of difficulty. On Wednesday, we had a few wipes on various bosses as the raid was mostly unfamiliar with the mechanics. Fudging the mechanics and making it through is not going to be a thing on these battles… as we confirmed on our second run last night. There’s a blend of many different elements from “hide behind the thing to not get hit by big attack” to “turn away from the boss during certain attacks to not get turned to stone.”

I know there’s some folks who want to go in blind, but I really recommend at least reading the boss mechanics and what you need to look out for. A party where the majority doesn’t understand what to do will only wipe over and over again.

Our second run last night had us wiping repeatedly until the raid got the hang of the boss mechanics. We almost spent the whole allowed time in that raid, and I about had Cuchulainn’s mechanics memorized by the 6th time we tried it (no exaggeration). Of course, you had the impatient folks who dropped, but we re-filled the slots and kept trying.

I did snag a belt drop for Tai, and got the weekly item to upgrade his Eso chest piece. So that’s a nice boost in ilvl.

It’s going to take some practice to get used to these like we were CT, but we’ll get there. The rewards are worth it.

Gearing Up With Alex

Now that Alex drops are unlimited each week, there’s been an upswing in people pushing through the raid to get gear. Seeing that the Eso route for ilvl 200 accessories is going to take me much longer, I reluctantly gave in to doing an Alex run.

Go ahead and laugh at me, but Alex raids are not my thing. I’ve only cleared normal A1, and don’t really have motivation to clear the rest, though I probably will eventually. Seeing that I was still running around with an ilvl 170 ring (has since been replaced), my ilvl has been lagging significantly.

Soooo… I caved and ran A1 for the first time in months. It was only my second clear, and while I’m still not a fan of the mechanics, it went fine. I even got an unexpected commendation. I didn’t get a drop, however, which was disappointing.

New Expert Dungeons

We were crazy on Wednesday night and decided to try the two new expert dungeons – Pharos Sirius Hard and the Arboretum. Thankfully, Pharos Sirius Hard wasn’t as brutal (IMHO) as Pharos Sirius normal. In fact, we went in mostly blind (there was only a sentence on the wiki to explain the mechanics at the time) and beat it with a few wipes.

We didn’t wipe at all on the Arboretum, though I feel the mechanics were more tricky on those fights. The dungeon design – a huge garden within one of the buildings outside of Idyllshire – was one of the most peaceful and lovely dungeons I’ve seen in FFXIV so far.

Both times we had one DPS assigned through the DF, and both did an excellent job despite being totally new to it. They were also willing to explore, learn and take the run slowly, which was nice. It was actually more fun to run it with curious players than it has been running the easier dungeons with players who have done it a million times and just want to speed run it. I know these two will eventually get the speed run treatment, though it may prove complex and deadly at first, but hopefully that won’t be for a while.

It was overall a lucrative week with Tai’s ilvl boosted from 185 (I’ve bee lazy with Esos) to 191 in one day. That’s before I get a hold of any Alex drops, too. I still have yet to win anything of worth from that raid.

I’m also feeling more confident with Tai as I play through the more challenging content. I’m still not a perfect dragoon, but (I think) I can hold my own in the expert dungeons and raids. Failing and practicing the same boss fight over and over during Void Ark can be frustrating, but I used it as a learning tool to help me memorize the attack patterns and learn what I need to do when.

Hopefully when we get a group of level 60s on this weekend we’ll try out the Diadem missions so I can report on them, too!