Though I enjoyed Heavensward as expansion content, I look back at that time as probably the most conflicted and discontent as I’ve ever been in FFXIV. Before Heavensward, I was pretty carefree about what “end game” meant. I leveled an alt, we did Crystal Tower, maybe plinked away a little at a Relic that I never expected (and never did) finish. I had jobs that I enjoyed playing.
After Heavensward, a lot of that changed. Bard was a mess (IMHO), and I spent about a year drifting from DPS to DPS trying to find a replacement that I never actually found. Running a dungeon now and then turned into running Expert for tomes almost every night to cap for the week. Alexander was something everyone thought they needed to run, but was never that much fun to me. Even the safe haven of 24 man raids got more serious and punishing, something that I’ve never approved of, and still don’t.
I had to drop playing my alts because I struggled to keep up on my main. I hated the feeling of chasing carrots, but I felt compelled to keep my gear relevant. Overall, I struggled with this. I knew that something that I once enjoyed about the game was lost…
And it was my fault.
The game had not changed. My perception had changed. Being part of a FC that was meant to be casual, but evolved into mid-core put me in the middle of people who strove to achieve things like end game gear or Alex drops. I don’t fault them for that, because to some people, that’s fun. It’s how the game is designed.
I fault myself for playing a MMO in a way that just didn’t work for me.
I grappled with this issue for a long time. With all the grumbling I did about Alex and Alliance Raids, one would think I hated FFXIV. I didn’t. I was just overwhelmed. I had to find a balance for myself, but didn’t know how to achieve that.
I stuck it out, though. Where many people offered the ever-wise advice of “Take a break,” I never did. As frustrated as I was with end game, there was a lot in FFXIV that kept me playing, too.
By the end of the expansion cycle, I’d become a bit wiser, learning what did and did not work for me as an individual. I knew that if I wanted to enjoy Stormblood, I needed to set some guidelines for myself, make some promises, before going into it.
Stormblood has been out over a month now. At this point in Heavensward, I was feeling the heavy weight of end game on my shoulders and seeing the writing on the wall. So how have I done in keeping these promises to myself so far?
1- I promise not to do content just because everyone else is doing it and because I have the ilvl.
I found it ironic that Vix brought this up a few days back. She’d been trying to run some EX stuff and some Omega, and she came to the same conclusion. One night while playing 7D2D, she said to the Posse, “I don’t see the point to running EX or Omega.”
I laughed and said, “You’re right. There is no point. It’s just there if that kind of stuff is fun for you. Run it if it’s fun. If not, don’t bother.”
Oh, I have by-passed so many EX runs, even though so many folks seem to think they need to do this content. Thankfully, KoM has a number of individuals who enjoy running and teaching this stuff, and I am more than happy to let them organize and do just that. This frees me up to do less stressful stuff I’d rather be doing.
I ran Omega Normal once for the story, and that’s all I wanted to do. I’ve chosen to run Omega 4 weekly for the weapon. I don’t find the fight too stressful, and I’ve already accumulated 3 drops, so I figure what’s 4 more runs of it going to hurt? I never chose to earn an Alex weapon, so this is a first for me.
I’m not really working that hard at capping tomes. Heck, I don’t even really have a full set of Verity stuff yet. I run a few dungeons here or there. Maybe do some PvP. The gear I have is enough to get me through what I want to play right now.
I’d say I made good on this one so far.
2- I promise not to put myself through another Relic grind.
Don’t know about this one yet. Have to see what Relic is going to be like. I keep hearing it’ll be tied to Eureka, which is an interesting concept to me.
3- I promise not to chase carrots, even the clever ones, unless the rewards are really, really important to me.
I’ve done pretty good with this. I still don’t bother much with Wondrous Tails, especially when there’s nothing on the book I want to do. The one I did finish last week was because I could keep spamming Frontlines, which I was going to do anyway. XD
4- I promise to find a job that I love and stick to it.
I HAVE DONE THIS!
Oh, man, if you don’t already know, I’m so in love with Red Mage. This has changed everything.
I also really like what I’m hearing about Bard, but I’ve spent very little time re-learning the job. I want to, eventually, but Red Mage is everything I hoped for in a job, and it has made FFXIV a much more positive experience.
5- I promise to let myself play alt characters, as long as it’s fun to do.
I’m doing that, too. Not only am I allowing myself to play alts, I even have gone as far as to create a FC for my alts, and work on a RP Adventure Journal.
Being less worried about end game gives me the freedom to play FFXIV the way I usually play MMOs – with a bunch of varied alt characters. Seeing that gearing up is really not a problem all the way up through the end of Stormblood 4.0, and now you don’t need to worry about leveling all the sub-jobs and sub-job skills anymore, there’s really not a reason not to kick around on alt characters. These things alone have make FFXIV much more alt-friendly.
This has been something I’ve deeply missed, and I feel so much more positive about FFXIV when I have this creative outlet.
6- I promise to give myself time to relax and enjoy Eorzea.
I’ve done this. I spent just as much time gathering and crafting (which is mostly relaxing) as I have leveling in Stormblood.
Also, placing my alts in a quiet and judgement-free place where I can take some time away from the more social FC atmosphere helps a lot. It gives me a choice of play environments, and I can hop back and forth between these as I need to.
7- I promise to find a balance while still making progress.
I feel like I’ve done this pretty well. Believe it or not, Frontlines PvP is a very good alternative to the pressure of forced group dungeon running for me. Not only can you level alt jobs there fairly quickly, you can also earn Tomes there if you prefer.
Matches are short and lucrative. Queues are fast, even for DPS. It’s more open-world feeling, and no one notices if you suck at it. It’s been my go-to for leveling outside of dungeons, especially things like my Paladin. I’m considering taking a healer in for leveling, even. I’m really glad we discovered it, and I hope it remains a viable alternative to being stuck in a dungeon all the time.
Will doing this be easy?
That was the question I dropped at the end of the original post. And, you know what? It’s not been too hard at all.
I think it’s a combination of a lot of things coming together in the right way: finding a job I enjoy, finding alternate ways of progressing, allowing myself time to get away and play with alts, and delegating less appealing tasks to those who enjoy them more in the FC.
Now days, I feel like I have a lot of game-goals and projects I’m working on, and that keeps me eager to log in. I’m also working on a creative outlet that stimulates my need to write, draw and use imagination.
I don’t know what the future will hold, but for now: so far, so good.