Once I squared things away with the Great Housing War of 4.1, I was able to spend a little time exploring other things in the patch. Because Syn is out of town, I decided to hold off on doing things like story, dungeons, or raids (though I’m quite concerned about the new raid, as FC folks have called it “brutal”).
Instead, I did things a little more along my line — unlocked the beast tribe dailies and messed around in my first dungeon with my Grand Company Squad. I took them to Halatali, since I know that one fairly well, and wanted to get a feel for the squad mechanics before I did anything more challenging.
And actually, they perform quite well! You can liken them to a group of sprouts, if you will, that you’re training by running them through the dungeon. I’ve heard that if you’re under level 50, the experience isn’t half bad, either.
I’ve seen plenty of Reddit threads, like this and this, that talk about how surprisingly good the AI is on the squads. Of course the AI isn’t perfect. It’s up to you to direct them, using Engage and Disengage commands. So, part of the success is how well you know the mechanics yourself, and whether you can instruct your squad to carry them out.
When it comes to trickier scenarios (like bosses in Halatali who have flame adds that need focused), you only have the option to switch your full team on one target. If there’s multiple adds that need to die at the same time, it’s a little too complex for the current system to handle.
As you level your squad, however, you get new Battle Tactics to choose from. I’ve only earned one set of them, and haven’t went back in to see exactly what that does yet.
Overall, I really like how the squad plays out. It reminds me so much of Guild Wars 1, where you took teams of henchmen into missions with you (they’re more like henchmen than the heroes that were later introduced in GW1).
For someone like me, it’s nice to have a solo option for this first handful of dungeons. As I said, I heard the experience gained under level 50 was pretty good. But that leads me to my next question…
What is the intended audience of these squads?
To unlock the squads to begin with, chances are, you’re already level 50, or pretty close to it. Then you have to level your squad to rank 2. So, by the time you have your squad in place to run dungeons, your main job is probably already past the point where the experience is going to help much.
So, is this an option for folks who want to level alt jobs to 50? Wasn’t that what PotD was for?
On my main character, I have a couple jobs still hanging around in the 30s — Ninja and Warrior. I’ve never unlocked Dark Knight or Astro. Having the squad as an option does encourage me to want to try to level these to 50. So, I guess it’s helpful up until that point.
But I’m not sure what folks who already have everything past 50 will get from them… unless they start adding level 50+ dungeons next. Which is very possible!
Don’t get me wrong — I love the idea of squads and I understand they have to carefully test and code them to survive dungeon mechanics. I’m just curious what the intended use is for them, and which players are going to see this as a benefit.
All that being said, I think I’m heading back in with my Ninja tonight to see just how much experience you get from running a Brayflox with a squad. 🙂