Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

Advice Needed – MMO End Game Struggles

endgameThis is a difficult post to write, but one that I’ve known has been coming for a while. I’m looking for advice on what you do when you feel a MMO’s endgame really doesn’t match your playstyle, and it’s causing friction. I’m also using this to organize my thoughts and feelings on the matter some.

I know there’s folks out there who have more experience with playing MMO end game than I do. In fact, FFXIV is the first game that I’ve actually reached endgame on. Because I was slow at leveling and progressing, this didn’t become an issue until after Heavensward for me.

The Trouble

Up until the final patch of 2.0, I was still working to finish story for both of my characters, so the game was quite different – I always had story to look forward to, and I never cared about capping tomes, getting the end game armor, or Expert Roulette. I’d run Crystal Tower a few times a week because I was still earning rewards from it, but it was a pretty casual experience.

Once Heavensward dropped and that story was finished, the game became a different sort of beast. There were expectations of daily Expert Roulettes. There was the expectation of raiding Alexander Normal (which I’ve still not finished). I found myself struggling to try to keep up with friends and FC members so that I could group and do things with them.

But the truth is, I’m not a dungeon runner. I’m not a raid runner. I can do the content, but I easily burn out on FFXIV if all I do is run dungeons. I’ll never be a fan of these things, and only tolerate them so that I don’t get left behind too far. Sure, sometimes I had fun running things with FC people. But at end game, it feels like dungeons and raids were the only content people wanted to do for a while.

Still yet, I don’t have a full set of Eso armor for Tai, and not a single piece for Zuri. When Void Ark came out, I gave up on daily dungeons and just started filling the holes in my set with Ark drops.

Finally, so many months after Heavensward, FFXIV is releasing content that isn’t dungeon or roulette oriented (relic and beast tribe). The problem is, the calmer content tends to be strictly solo. I enjoy beast tribe quests and daily hunts, but due to their random nature, it’s not something you usually group with friends to do. I had hopes for the Diadem, but as it stands now, my FC doesn’t have a lot of interest in it, and running it in a group of strangers is the complete opposite of the experience I’m looking for.

What Was Lost

For me, a MMO experience is logging into a immersive world with lots of quests, lore, and story, which you can share with other people if you wish. But, strangely, that’s not the way people seem to play FFXIV – almost by design, story and quests are mostly a solo thing. And once they’re done, you can’t go back and experience them again unless you roll an alt. I don’t mind soloing to some extent, and prefer it over forced grouping of dungeons, but that doesn’t give a lot of options for when you want to do things with a friend. It’s pretty much dungeons or nothing.

Now, all that being said, there’s a lot that I still love about FFXIV and I don’t want to quit the gameI knew long ago that the forced grouping and endgame focus would eventually be an issue for me. I looked at it as something to overcome, but now it’s become the central focus of everything everyone around me does. I have no issue putting time and effort into earning things like gear (I’m actually happy about some of the Relic quest because people are finally doing FATES again), but it wears me out to log in to only do dungeons every day.

I feel I’ve lost sight of the immersive world I used to enjoy. I feel like it’s a struggle to keep up with everyone around me, doing content that I’d prefer not to… but giving up means that I won’t have the gear to do the things that my friends want to (which are usually more dungeons/raids). It’s a vicious circle.

Analyzing the Situation

Part of this is my own preferred playstyle. I don’t mind a 24 man raid once or twice a week, but dungeons every day is a fast track to burn-out for me. I need quiet time and immersion in my game world, or it comes to feel less like a world I come to be a part of and more like something I log in to just to earn tokens. While I like goals in my games, I don’t want my game to always be about goals. Maybe that’s why I love the building and creativity of sandbox games, but FFXIV is pretty lacking in the sand area.

Part of this is in the design of FFXIV. With a focus on forced grouping even through the main storyline and dungeons at end game, it really isn’t a fit for me. There aren’t a lot of options for someone who wants to group with people, unless everyone is seriously into grinding FATEs… but even I can only do that so much.

FFXIV really doesn’t offer a lot of group content aside from dungeons, which is what I think they were trying to do with the Diadem. I think they realize there’s a lack of content that doesn’t reside inside a dungeon roulette. Plenty of other games have introduced content in various ways to address this.

For example, I remember Skirmishes from LOTRO. While they weren’t the best system for everyone, they did offer duo and trio players small group content to do while still working on goals. Some of it was quite challenging. GW1 allowed you to group with people by filling in holes in the party with Heroes – and the storyline and missions were always replayable if you wanted to go back and help friends (something I miss in FFXIV).

Looking for Advice

For a while, I thought maybe leveling my crafting would lead me to the possibility of crafting the gear I needed to get by. Except, the new system allows you to only specialize in 3 crafts, which means I’d need at least two crafters to cover the variety of gear I needed to make. Also, I’ve tried and tried to wrap my head around the whole end game crafting system, and I continue to come away feeling stumped and overwhelmed.

And before someone offers the thought that I need to take time away, I have taken a break from FFXIV and dungeon content for close to a month, especially over the holidays. I logged in a few times to do holiday quests and did some FATE running, but I put some distance between me and the game in hopes that I could figure out why I’m feeling disenchanted.

I suppose that time away has told me that I don’t really miss the game and dungeon stress when I’m not playing it. I’ve already vowed to play less this year because I want to focus on creative projects and other things that got ignored due to nightly dungeon runs last year – I need a more balanced way of using free time. But now I want to figure out what I can do to enjoy the game again. I’ve put over 840 days of sub time into it, and I don’t want to leave all that I’ve built on my characters and FC.

I definitely don’t like the feeling of struggling to keep up at end game, and still feeling left behind despite my best efforts. Last year, I wasn’t playing as a casual gamer who was there to enjoy the MMO world and the people in that world, and it’s taken a noticeable toll on me.

So have you ever faced these kinds of feelings in a long-term game that you want to keep playing? What did you do? Any advice? 

Author:

I'm a technical writer by day, gaming gal by night. I have a wide array of gaming interests, though I most often blog about MMOs, RPGs, and Nintendo fanstuffs. Like what you just read? Check out my Webcomic and Fantasy Fiction projects! https://aywren.com/fantasy-fiction-webcomics/

19 thoughts on “Advice Needed – MMO End Game Struggles

  1. Plenty of times, in plenty of games. Took me awhile to understand that I have choices with my time, and stepping back, even for a little time is ok.

    Sometimes it’s just pulling back from the intensity of the game to find enjoyment in the game doing an alt, or trading or such. Sometimes it means not logging in from time to time, and doing something “else”, whatever that may be, gaming or personal things.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts!

      I did consider an alt, though I already have several, and FFXIV isn’t super alt-friendly once you get to higher levels. I think my FC probably considers me nuts because I keep rolling new characters in a game where one character can do it all. XD

      I suppose my other fear is that taking time off from the end game means falling behind my friends in progress. While I’m not a speed player, and I’ll never have the best in slot gear, I have tried really hard to keep myself equivalent enough to be able to join people in content they needed or stuff that everyone was clearing.

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  2. What works best in this cases, I feel, is to take a breather. Play something else whenever you don’t feel like playing XIV.

    This is what I am doing myself. I am a raider currently attempting Alexander Savage, third floor. We’ve been at it for months. If I were still doing my roulette or pushing Primals on top of the raid I’d have been burned out ages ago. What I do now is that I only log in to raid, and do events and new stuff (like Thordan when it came out) when I feel like it; when I don’t feel like running a dungeon for the new Relic I just play something else. It keeps things fresh and makes my jumps to Eorzea enjoyable.

    My FC recently obtained a house and I was happily helping to build an airship, which was surprising to me because it is essentially crafting stuff, but my breaks helped it all feel fresh and good.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts! 🙂

      I actually did spend a good time away from the game over the holidays – mostly indulged in Wii U gaming, which is about as far from dungeons and raids as it can get. That’s why I was coming back to tackle this question now that I’ve had a breather.

      I think I’m most concerned about the talk of the introduction of new Tomes (in the next patch?). After running dailies for Eso, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to handle doing it all over again for the new Tomes without burnout. I never used to worry about Tomes or capping or any of it because I was never at end game. Also, in the back of my mind, I know that Eso will become the new Law Tomes, and easier to get… and the cycle continues.

      But I know that FC folks will probably want to work on that, and if I don’t, (I feel) that puts me behind. If I ever figured out crafting, that could be a viable way of sorta keeping up, I guess? I mean, the Sky Pirate set a friend crafter made for me is enough to get me into Void Ark where I can run for better drops. I don’t mind a weekly 24-man as much.

      Anyhow, good luck with AS3. I’ve heard it’s a really tough one to tackle. I’m nowhere near touching that kind of content, so you have my respect! 🙂

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  3. If you ever figure out what works, I’d like to hear it too. 🙂

    I’ve never lasted long in a game whose endgame design just doesn’t jibe with my playstyle – throw me in a competitive PvP or raid/gear-focused PvE environment and I lose the interest or will to play after a couple months.

    The only thing I can think of is to voluntarily choose to prioritize what you feel you enjoy, nevermind the fear of falling behind or losing out, and go at your own pace.

    Easier said than done, of course, but if you think you’re into something for the long term, you’ll get there eventually, while burnout is forever. The destination may even get easier to achieve with the passage of time, while the racing people peak early and then burn out like a star and stop playing for the time it takes a slower paced person to get there.

    Try to do stuff in game that you enjoy to remember the feeling of what you liked and had fun with. Conversely, try something new that you think you might enjoy, the process of newness and learning might help make it fun.

    (If either doesn’t satisfy, especially if you need company with you, it may be time to acknowledge that the game and its endgame no longer fits, for the moment.)

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    1. These are good thoughts, thanks!

      Luckily, I have so much to do that’s not endgame gear grind in FFXIV, that it’s not hard for me to find things to keep me occupied. In fact, there’s so many things I’ve not finished or started yet because dungeon runs took up most of my time and energy for the last half year.

      You’re right that those who race forward burn out fastest. I was never in a rush to get things in any MMO I’ve played (rarely make it to level cap in most of them), but it felt like suddenly, that’s what it all became in FFXIV about after the expansion hit. Probably that was due to being the first time I’ve ever experienced a MMO’s end game.

      I won’t say that some of it wasn’t fun. But I know with my personality, it’s not sustainable. I’m thinking about making a list of those things I’ve never finished in FFXIV yet and dedicating some time to them. Fishing, for example, is always a great way for me to unwind.

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  4. For me I’m an insufferable alt-aholic, so I’ve been working up all the various jobs. 2 more levels of MCH, then 10 levels of Dragoon, and 25 each for NIN and MNK to go……

    When I 1st hit 60 on my SMN, I did the daily experts so I could get the Esoterics and all of that. And I’ve got the full Eso suit for summoner and a lot of it now upgraded to i210 from weekly runs of Void Ark. And that’s good enough for me. Of course, all those daily experts that I used to do got me tons of law tomes, so I had fully upgraded i180 sets waiting for my for my healers, my tanks, and my ranged guys. But I stopped doing those, so while I have the i180 weapons for the 3 melee classes, I don’t have sets of gear for them yet.

    On the other hand… I don’t really care either. I’ve never been one to be on the bleeding edge of gear and content in any game. The fact that I’ve got my summoner so close to full i210 right now is shocking even to me…..

    I also play other games. Lately it’s been a lot of Endless Legend, but I’m starting to feel the pull back to some other MMO’s. Heck, I might even finally give Wildstar a real chance instead of just getting to level 7 like I currently have. gotta get some play time on that before it shuts down, right? 😉

    I also have Civ5, TSW, still need to finish Pillars of Eternity, finish Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong, and I’m even thinking about giving SWTOR another go….. plenty of stuff out there, nothing say I have to be locked in to 1 game and whatever its endgame is.

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    1. You have a lot more dungeon tolerance than I do, then! I also have way too many other games I still haven’t finished yet. Need to keep working on that Steam list!

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    1. It’s probably a good thing that you don’t get caught up in all that, to be honest. It’s best to play at your own pace. 🙂

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  5. Perhaps the mistake you are making is overestimating the amount or ilvl of gear you need to be able to do the group content? I know that many people have a “full best-in-slot or gtfo” mindset, and that is really anathema to your playstyle. If you feel like you are drifting towards or being pulled into that mindset then that could be your main problem.

    I can’t say for sure, not having any experience, but FFXIV group content can’t be that finely tuned that you need to be as close to the bleeding edge as you can in order to not sabotage the group. Surely. I honestly doubt that, if you stopped dungeons altogether for the next 2 or 3 months, and only did the weekly raid about 1/2 the time, you would fall so far behind as to become a liability.

    So, I would suggest just being in the moment. If you feel like running a dungeon, perhaps to help a new scholar through story content (:P), then go for it. If you don’t like the idea, don’t be afraid or ashamed to decline. “Sorry, I’m not in the mood for that today” is a perfectly acceptable response to requests imo.

    As long as you enjoy interacting with the people around you (i.e. FC) then it doesn’t really matter how much you are “progressing” through the end game. Which in this case is gear level and occasional raids.

    Obviously it would be great to have more non-dungeon small-group content, but you have to work with what you have. I hope you find the right balance, Aywren.

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    1. It depends on what you want to do in FFXIV. For example, to be involved in the casual 24-man raid, Void Ark, you must have at least item level 175. You can’t even enter the instance until you have the gear level, so the game doesn’t allow ungeared folks to hold others back by design. Seeing that the top ilevel is 210 right now, it doesn’t require the best in slot, but it does still require more than you can get from finishing just the Heavensward story.

      Previous to this patch, you could only get that kind of gear through gathering Tomes in dungeons. The newest patch has made it so 2 star level 60 crafters can make gear that’s ilvl 185, so that would be good enough to run it. It’s just quite expensive if you’re not the crafter or know someone who is.

      Void Ark, by comparison, drops item level 200 gear, so that’s a good equivalent to the highest in the game. You can only get one piece a week, so it does encourage you to pace yourself a bit more slowly.

      FFXIV is actually quite friendly to those who wait or are gearing up from behind everyone else – it’s just when you’re running dungeons every day to get the best stuff that it wears me out.

      It didn’t help that the patch that brought the better gear and the raid was fairly late. The team took some time off after releasing Heavensward, so all there was to do at endgame for a while was run the same dungeon roulette. They’re working on fixing it at this point, but it was something we needed months ago, honestly.

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  6. If you’re like me (and in this case, i think you are), this sounds like a case of ‘the journey is more important than the destination’. There are people for who the destination (endgame dungeons/raiding) is the meat of the game, so that’s what they’re racing off to. And then there’s people like me, who care much more about the journey: when there is little left to explore and progress comes primarily through repeating the same content over and over, interest is quickly lost.

    In my experience, most themepark MMO’s offer little endgame other than dungeons/raids and/or pvp. As I see it, there are two ways about this. Option one is to go off the beaten track. Do the things you personally enjoy doing and don’t do the things the game or other players tell you you ‘have’ to do. Option two is, as others have pointed out, to set the game aside, for now, until new content pulls you in again or you feel the urge to re-explore.

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    1. Yeah, I’m very much the Journey type player. I guess you could note that working on earning new gear is kinda a journey. But the thing about that is that in half a year, I know that gear is going to be outdated – that’s the way FFXIV has worked since forever.

      So the journey towards gear is not only never-ending, but it’s never-ending type of content that is not my favorite to do, and achievements will always be replaced in short time. That’s why I didn’t bother with it much in the past. Those patches are yet to come, so I’ll have to see how they work when they do. If the ilvl raised 5 or 10 levels, and what I have is still relevant enough to let me do content that I want to do when I do feel like it, then there’s not a problem.

      There’s still tons of things for me to do in game that doesn’t revolve around gear. Thankfully, big patches come every three months or so and include story to explore, which is a good thing.

      Leaving the game isn’t really an option, or something I want to do. I’ve played it less lately because I want to focus on other projects this year. But I’m a guild leader and I put a good bit of time into building the FC last year, so I don’t want to leave it. Too many other people are playing the game because of me, like Al and Syn. Plus I’m a column writer for the game on MMOgames.com, and I don’t want to give up that job.

      So, I’m searching for what alternatives I can to make the game more fun for me again.

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      1. The gear grind is also not my kind of journey. I like to explore the dungeons in a game and try to tackle the tactical puzzles they present in a group. But when you have to run the same dungeons over and voer again to get better items in order to access the next tier of dungeons, it’s not really a journey anymore.

        I’d advise you to resist the pressure the game may put on you to acquire ever better gear. Always running the gear treadmill can be a shortcut to burnout. I don’t know the game, so I can’t really offer you any interesting alternatives. But perhaps you can go off the beaten path and explore some different/unconventional playstyles. Might result in some good columns, too.

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  7. To be honest I am not sure if I should be giving any advice, as it might not really be relevant. I have not reached endgame in final fantasy so can’t say anything there. Been playin on and off lately.

    What I can do is try to answer your question.

    I remember having the same issues with WoW when I still played it. Raiding didn’t do it for me anymore as organizing raids and trying to keep the team together and not discouraged after each wipe was hard.
    Same with running dungeons.

    I had a lot of alts there at max level at the time, but making another char to grind was not fun in the slightest.
    That was when I started looking at the game from a different angle, I mean, at the time I did not care for things like lore or locations, it was mostly go there do a quest etc.

    I found what got me back into the game, as well as what was fun for me. It was the lore and locations. I mean it might sound not that impressive and not be up to what is fun for you, but at the time, finding something new, be it information or sights to see was the breath of fresh wind I needed.

    Endgame in WoW became fun for me as I could explore a lot of places undisturbed by mobs or needing other people to get somewhere. With each new game I started I took more and more time to explore the backstory, locations, lore. Small details were fun to discover, and while I still find myself to grind a lot, I also can just sit back and go around the world and explore, looking for that one little thing I have not seen the last time I was there.

    It might not do it for you, but I do hope you find something that will be a source of fun in the game. A step back to look around you is sometimes needed as all that haste and grind can make you blind to the things around you.

    Hope that this had even an ounce of sense ^^;

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    1. That’s something I wish FFXIV had more of, to be honest. I know they have the vista achievements and all, but I haven’t been motivated to go around locating all of those at this point. That’s the benefit of having a large world like WOW – there’s a lot to find off the beaten path.

      I’ve been focusing more on gathering and crafting the past few days, and that’s been a big help. I was a little frustrated with crafting for a while, but now that I’ve got a clearer path forwards, I’m more inspired to work on that again. I also need to pay more attention to the Gold Saucer sometime – I’ve hardly touched chocobo racing/breeding and haven’t yet started Lord of Verminion. So, there’s still a ton of stuff for me to do.

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