Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV: Pandaemonium Raids Complete!

I won’t talk about story in this post, but I can’t promise there won’t be mild spoilers.

The Pandaemonium raids released last week, and a small group from our FC finished them up on Thursday night. I honestly didn’t expect to push through all the fights in one night, but that’s what ended up happening.

While most of you who read my blog knows that I am not much of a raider, I was curious about the story of the new raids, which tie directly into Elpis. In fact, you get a little sneak peek about the raid once you finish up the entire 6.0 MSQ.

While Yoshi-P noted that 6.0 was the end of the Zodiark/Hydaelyn story arc, it’s clear that there are still threads of story that come from that foundation and spread out in their own ways. So while Pandaemonium isn’t a continuation of the 6.0 story arc, it does spin off from it.

In terms of difficulty, I went into each fight having watched a video guide. I don’t like going into raids blind because that just leaves me feeling frustrated and inadequate. Sometimes, even if do watch a video, it doesn’t mean I can do or remember all the mechanics I see in the guide anyhow.

I found the first and last fights of Pandaemonium as the easiest of the run. In fact, we ran the first fight twice because we had a FC member who logged in after we’d cleared it once, and it was no sweat either time.

The second fight gave us the most trouble – especially since a number of folks outside our group were also new and blind. I believe that’s the only run that we had a complete wipe on, and is not a fight that I want to repeat if I don’t have to.

The third fight was also challenging with a lot of overlapping mechanics. Thankfully, it felt as if the team we joined had people who already knew how to do the fight. All the things that I thought were going to be difficult were executed well, and we got through it the first shot. However, a team of new players who come in blind to that fight… I could see that being a challenge.

The final fight might be the easiest of the raid, IMHO. I memorized most of it quickly between the video and giving it a try. I’m thankful for this because I might actually attempt working on the weapon this time – maybe.

I was also lucky enough to score the minion drop from the fight on the first run!

Now, if only the snake minion I’ve been farming on Amon will drop like this…

Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV Endwalker: Checking Off the List

With two runs of Endwalker under my belt and a third pushing through, most of my time has been spent working on various goals for different characters.

Gathering Ease

As seen above, Ben (my main) now has both Miner and Botanist at level 90.

I usually don’t work on my gatherers so early in an expansion, but to be honest, with the removal of high quality gathering mats, daily Grand Company Turn Ins and weekly Deliveries is too simple a way to hit cap now. In fact, it’s so simple that I’m leveling a fourth gatherer and thinking about pushing most of my alts in that direction.

Gathering and selling maps was a big part of my gil income last expansion. I only did this on three characters, but having a few more map sales a day would be fine by me!

Speaking of leveling gatherers, I also finished leveling Amon’s Botanist to 90. His Miner is only 88, so soon I’ll have both of those complete.

I haven’t been concentrating that much on crafters yet, though Ben’s Carpenter is level 87. I mostly did that because I needed to level to craft a new housing item I wanted to give as a gift for Starlight. 🙂

I also want to finish leveling that so I can maintain my crafting mentor position on Ben. Not that I really use it for anything much, but all those hours I spent fishing for collectables back before it was easy to get them reminds me what I went through to originally earn my mentor badge.

Captain, O My Captain

Another small project I worked on was ranking up both Tai and Tad in the Grand Company. In order to get the new GC seal material boxes that have random minions and mounts, you have to have the rank of Captain.

This requires you to level your GC squad to at least 50, and have specific stats to finish a flagged mission. Before you can even see that mission, however, you have to run five unique squad dungeons.

Both of these characters had squads close to having the stats they needed, but I’d not run a single squad dungeon on either of them. So, I had to spend some time burning through low level dungeons on squads for both of them. As of yesterday, they are now Captain rank!

Reaper Level 80

Yet another thing I was working towards was leveling Tai’s Reaper to 80. Previously, he was a level 80 Dragoon who had finished all of Shadowbringers. But I knew that Reaper was probably going to be his main job once it released, and I was right.

In order to move into Endwalker, and more importantly, in order to be able to wear his official glamour set, I needed to get him to 80.

I didn’t work super hard at leveling him, but I did at least do Beast Tribe quests every day. I also tried to use Alliance Roulettes for him when the queue allowed for me to switch characters. He’s one of the characters who doesn’t have the requirements for Bozja open, so that wasn’t an option for leveling him.

Anyhow, that is done. Now, once I get Tad through Endwalker, Tai will be ready to go next! …If I can maintain the endurance to see another character through.

Snake Runs

I won’t go into details about this because it’s somewhat spoilerish. Basically, the level 87 dungeon drops a snake minion that I need for Amon for lore reasons. However, the snake minion is non-tradable. This means, in order to get said minion, I must farm it with Trusts.

I have run the dungeon eight times so far without any luck. Runs will continue.

Pizza Emote

Not really a goal, but I was on board to get myself that pizza emote from the GrubHub promotion. As soon as the gates opened, I already had my order ready to place. I don’t know if that promised me an emote – seems like there was some issues for people not being able to get theirs that I hope works out.

I did end up getting mine, however, and gifted it to Amon.

Pandemonium Unlock

This week, the new raid dropped. I’m not much of a raider, but I am interested in this particular story arc. So, last night, Syn and I worked to unlock the raid.

That’s when I found out I was two ilvls too low to run it. So, we ran an expert instead, and that bumped me up one ilvl. Today, I finished that up by running an Alliance and picking up one more accessory.

Really, this was on me for having bought the weapon first and not the accessories. I didn’t think about it very well. But now, I’m ready to give these fights a shot and see what the story holds.

I’m trying to make sure that aside from leveling, MSQ, gathering and maybe some crafting, I do all of the important stuff on Ben as my main. Now that I’ve got Tai settled in where he needs to be, and a lot of the gathering leveling out of the way, I can focus more on earning tomes for Ben and leveling some of his alt jobs.

Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV: Finishing Eden Raids

I tend to be a little behind the curve when it comes to things like raids and trials in FFXIV. Unless the raid has a reward I can’t live without, or there’s story I really need to see, I simply forgo doing them until they’re no longer relevant (and easier to finish).

That was the case with the Eden raids. I finished the first set and just never came back to do the rest. It’s not that I thought the story ideas weren’t interesting at the time – the concept of trying to revitalize the Empty on the First did have me interested. But I heard from Syn, who tends to do these raids before I do, that the second set of fights were a step up in difficulty (and indeed they remained the hardest set of fights in the raid from what I experienced).

Due to story changes that came up in Endwalker revolving around my RP character, Syn suggested I might want to experience the rest of Eden since it was somewhat linked in theme. It dealt with what life was like for sundered Ascians who needed to make a choice between their past lives and their present.

I already knew the gist of the story because I hadn’t stayed away from spoilers. In fact, I’d inquired of Syn what it was about and she’d summarized it for me. But it was far better to have played through the experience, even if fights got in the way.

When all was said and done, I felt this was one of the stronger raid stories in the game. I don’t have any real emotional attachment to the other raids when it comes to story – Coils was good for its time and Omega had Alpha to keep me curious. Alexander had a clever time-travel story, but none of the characters introduced there connected with me much.

The amount of effort that went into a very character driven story for Eden gives me a lot of hope for the story of the next round of raids, which are dropping with maintenance tonight. That’s another reason I decided to go ahead and push through Eden (aside from the fact that Syn was encouraging me and willing to wait around for me to watch cutscenes).

For the most part, running the raids were her instructing me what to do on voice chat during the fights. There were only a couple fights that I failed miserably on, despite going in blind. I’d still have to practice a lot to really learn the fights, but that’s not the purpose of having cleared them for me. I doubt I’ll ever go and do them again.

I did get a couple full sets of gear (for glamour) and the Gaia minion.

I have some passing curiosity about Pandemonium, but seeing that Syn is going to be on holiday for a while and will only have her laptop, I don’t see us doing any of the raids at launch. I’d much rather let things calm down and have folks who somewhat know what to do by the time I go in to learn it myself.

Anyhow, another chunk of content done.

Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV: Endwalker Completed Again

Wednesday night, I finished Endwalker on Amon, making it my second time through the expansion. That’s the one downfall of having so many alts, and alts that you’d like to be in somewhat relevant content.

For me, this is because I want to level all my gatherers to 90 so that once maps start opening portals, I’ll have a flow of gil from daily gathering as I did in Shadowbringers. This means I need to at least get three of my characters to a point where they can hit up the level 90 nodes, wherever those will be located. So far, I’ve finished the expansion on two of those characters and the third is about to enter Garlemald.

The nice thing about going through the expansion again is that I can pick and choose what I want to rewatch when it comes to story points. I thought that the expansion being as long as it was, it was going to be long and drawn out to replay. But I’ve found, with the exception of those few forced NPC instances and the follow-hide quests, it really wasn’t that bad.

I buckled down and skipped most of the cutscenes (unless I wanted to pause and see something), and got it done in about 4 solid nights of after work playing. Having memorized a lot of quest locations and aether current spots the firs time also made it faster.

The fact that you only have to do two trials with a real group of players also makes replay far easier. This time, I did Trusts with every dungeon, and honestly, it helped me learn the mechanics a lot better. I was a little antsy about replaying this with Trusts seeing how poorly I felt I did on some dungeon bosses the first time through. But I didn’t have a single wipe the whole way through.

Even that second trial (which I won’t name because of spoilers), if you majorly mess up, the Trust doesn’t let you fail it. I was surprised about this. Not only were the Trust healers super fast to respond if you ever got hit with a mechanic that took you to low life, but if you actually get killed, the instance tells you that you survived due to strong will (or something like that), and you were only stunned for a few seconds as a result.

Update Based on Feedback (thank you!): You get a stack of buffs that allow you to survive death-hits in this fight, so you can still wipe it (I just wasn’t paying attention to my buffs, apparently). Also, I’ve been informed there may be an enrage timer if you can’t pump out the needed DPS.

So unless you have a strong group of friends to take you through, Trusts are superior than struggling with PUGs. I’m looking forward to the day that they make other trials use Trusts since now the excuse of “they can be tempered” should be kicked to the curb.

The more I spend time in the new zones and become comfortable with them, the more I’ve come to like Endwalker. I always have this period of adjustment with new expansions due to the unknown. It actually helps me to play through them all over again for some reason.

I still stand by my thoughts on some of the small pacing and storytelling issues I felt the first time through. And I may actually use one of my alts to do a slow playthrough in the future, just to get a feel for it a second time around now that I see the big picture.

But for now, I’ve got plenty of work to do across my characters. It’s just a pain that due to queues, I’m mostly forced to log in on one character and stay on that character all night. That forces me to have to choose between farming Tomes on my main, who needs it for gear, or actually making progress on alts. Because there’s only so much Tome farming I’m going to do in any one night.

I know we’re all hoping that the queues chill out soon. And that my issue is a little complaint in the big picture of it all, especially since some folks are still struggling just to play through EW right now.

Sorry, also, there weren’t more images in this post. I just didn’t take too many non-spoiler pics!

Posted in Nintendo Switch

My Nintendo Switch Review (2021) Made Me Sad (Again)

It’s that time of year again – Nintendo sent out an email for yearly Switch stat usage. Last year, reading this made me sad. This year, I was still sad, especially since I’d made resolutions around my Switch gaming to improve how much time I spend with the system and tackling the very real backlog I’ve formed.

I even made some resolutions last year to play more Switch and find a way to organize switch games in my backlog. I did discover Deku Deals, which I’ve been using as that tool to not only track sales but keep an eye on what’s on my Switch game-wise. This has been an excellent change, but it’s not been enough, apparently.

So, what do my stats say?

Well, this is a little better than last year. And in fact, I actually finished one of these games that I played (Coffee Talk). But I still need to encompass more of my backlog since I’m absolutely picking up more games than I’m playing.

Not quite as much time playing games, either. I did have a drop-off of Animal Crossing, but I know it’s still the game I played the most this year. Speaking of which:

Yeah, that’s a MAJOR drop-off in Animal Crossing. And I know a bulk of this gaming time was in October/November, especially during the Mog Tomes event in FFXIV when I was using it to fill my time during Praetorium cutscenes.

I still haven’t finished Zelda – and I want to – and I really want to put more time into Monster Hunter Rise, but now I’m going to have to relearn the game again at this point.

I can see where I made a strong effort to come out of the gates running in January and February – I’m sure that’s when I was working on Zelda and Coffee Talk. In May and June is when I was playing Monster Hunter. And, again, October/November was Animal Crossing again.

Yep, I’m still very much a docked TV player. The time spend handheld was likely Animal Crossing while running Praetorium in FFXIV. However, I’m quite happy to have the option for handheld for situations like that!

The takeaway – my Switch needs more love! I knew that already, but really, these stats hurt. It’s just tough since the Switch competes with PC gaming such as FFXIV and now my PC Game Pass.

I vow to do better next year, even if it is to a point to focus on trying one new game each month for Switch. I’m really not sure I want to go back to monthly gaming goals, but I might need to come January. I slacked off on goals this year in a big way, but now that I have a lot more to work on in FFXIV with Endwalker’s release, it might be a good thing to start again in 2022.

Posted in MMORPGs, Star Stable Online

Star Stable Online: First Max Level Horse!

When I first wrote about Star Stable Online, some folks expressed surprise at the fact this is a MMO game with levels, quests and stats. It is, in fact!

Yesterday, I finished leveling my first horse to 15, which is the max level a horse can have. I knew that horses got better and more responsive as they leveled, but it wasn’t until back in level 13 that I really started paying attention and looking at the stats.

Horses gain stats as they level up. Some of these stats are effected by things like their breed – they may start out with higher stats in some areas than others. Other stats are effected by the player’s level or their equipment. And then, of course, stats are effected by the horse’s level, too.

Here’s what my horse, Exlipsevirtue, looked like at level 13 vs. level 15.

You level your horses by doing daily training on tracks or courses. I also found out if you want to spend your star coins (the pay-for currency), you can pay to boost your horse to the next level once per day. But I’m not going to spend my coins on that.

I also learned that if you have unlocked all the areas and daily courses in the world, and you are dedicated to hitting all of them up each day, you could level a horse in about 5 days. But I’ve been causal and lazy and haven’t really pushed my questing hard (or at all). So I’m still just level 6 and I’ve not unlocked most of the areas yet.

It also took me a lot longer because of two things:

  • I didn’t train every day for a good chunk of time. It was only since Halloween that I’ve been buckling down to do my dailies.
  • I got sidetrack and leveled a Halloween horse to about level 8 before switching back to Eclipsevirtue to finish up his training first.

So in all honesty, I could have had this done a long time ago.

The Christmas Event is going on in Star Stable right now, and it’s pretty cute! They have events and a little winter village to visit with new free gifts every day. Of course, they also released a new holiday horse – this one has a base Arabian breed which interests me because I don’t have any horse of that kind yet.

I did pick up a holiday horse from the previous year – the Fawncy. I love the idea of a deer-patterned horse!

Winterrambler

This took more star coins up than I expected, so I’ll have to wait until next Saturday to be able to afford the new Arabian type holiday horse. But that’s fine. I’ve been training this new horse – Winterrambler – now that I’ve finished with my first.

Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV: Endwalker MSQ Complete (No Spoilers)

Non-spoiler post!

I actually finished the MSQ late afternoon on Monday, but I’ve been gathering my thoughts and digesting the experience to write about here. I’m going to pick and choose what I talk about carefully, mostly because folks are still going through the MSQ, and I don’t want to be that person while they’re enjoying their time.

Queues

The elephant in the room is, of course the queues. I didn’t have as much trouble as some folks because I took Friday and Monday off. This enabled me to get up early and hop in my server while the queues were still normal-sized every day. And I almost never logged out until bedtime.

Of course, I was actually playing the entire time I was logged in, so it wasn’t a matter of hogging space on the server just to do so. The one time I did log out on Saturday, trying to get in that afternoon saw a long, frustrated 4 hours of queue and several 2002 errors.

How the queues feel

I can brave a queue just fine, but the errors that throw you to the back of the queue were the real enemy. Hopefully, I heard they had some fixes to these errors that they’ve implemented last night.

Gameplay

I felt that some of the dungeons, specifically the first one, were a bit harder this time around. I’m antsy to even try them with Trusts because as we PUGGED them, just about everyone on the team was on the floor once or twice.

Between Syn’s white mage and my red mage, we were the synergy that kept our teams going. The second trial, we chose to watch a video and were so, so lucky we did. I don’t think I’ve ever rezzed as hard on any content as a red mage as I did that trial. (And didn’t even get a single com!)

Tanks seem to be a little more squishy after the stat squish, and I know Syn was healing her heart out to keep the tanks up during just about every fight. Even trash. Tanks don’t seem to realize you can’t double pull and not use cooldowns!

Anyhow.

The return of the single player instances was hard and heavy. They tried to shake it up by making some of these stealth instances. I don’t play stealth games for a reason, and while I made it through these scenarios, I did not enjoy them at all.

I also did not enjoy the follow-and-hide scenarios where you have to stay in range of an NPC but not be spotted by them. Or you start all over again. This was also a source of great frustration and every time the game forced me to do it, I lost my will to run through this expansion on an alt a little more.

That being said, I do appreciate the new follow system they added when it’s used for NPC chatter in locations. I think that’s a nice mechanic to replace clicking the standard questionmark over the head quest markers. It feels more organic and it’s mostly optional.

Locations

As a Final Fantasy IV fan, I adored the references to my favorite series-game! So I may like some places more than others do simply based on that.

Overall, the locations in this expansion ranged from serving their purpose to being outright stunning. I can’t say that I adored every zone, but some, like Garlemald, I don’t know that you were supposed to “enjoy.” I struggled to get through some of the areas that felt dour and opposing.

The worldbuilding was hot and heavy in this expansion. Whether or not it was laid on a little too thick probably depends on the individual. I felt like we were given a LOT of information in a short bit of time about many different cultures. Maybe because I was moving through the MSQ in large chunks, this felt overwhelming to me.

I’m not saying it’s bad – I definitely want worldbuilding in my game! But just about every zone brought a deluge of new information dealing with new cultures, peoples and their values. Often back to back – so before I got to really digest what I just learned, I was being fed something else.

Most of the locations were stunningly created. I can never find fault in the area designs and the overall themes, and fully appreciate everything that goes into making them individual and memorable. I certainly have some favorite areas over others, though.

Story

I left story for last because this is the area I want to talk least about. As much as I hold FFXIV to high standards for storytelling and applaud what I think is done well, I will also inspect the story with an eye for constructive criticism.

I know many folks are lauding this story, and for good reasons. It’s a solid tale with a strong message and meaningful interactions. Characters that you loved often shined brighter, and some characters even became new favorites this time around.

If anything might have been working against them, it was the sheer scope and ambition of the story they sought to undertake. I feel like they mostly pulled it off, but at the expense of concise brevity. Sometimes less is more. I really started to feel that in some parts of the story – especially when we hear the same repeated “lessons” and “values” over and over through multiple extensive monologues.

I feel like the story came from the heart, however. There were some truly fantastic ideas and experiences. There were lots of moments that made me laugh and respond emotionally. It’s still leaps and bounds above any other MMO I’ve ever played in terms of what it attempts to do with story and character.

I may have small nitpicks, but it did not overall reduce my admiration of the team and their work. So please don’t take me as being disrespectful! I very much love FFXIV, and I think the number below proves that.

Logged into this yesterday

I still have lots to explore in the expansion – just started my Reaper and am loving the job! – and I have great hopes for where the game will continue to take us in the future.

Thank you for Endwalker!

Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV 6.0 Patch Notes Highlights

So here we are, awaiting the drop of Endwalker. And all we have are some delicious patch notes to tide us over until tomorrow. So, let me take a look at them and talk about what I found interesting.

I’m skipping over the things that are fabulous but expected – such as new story, quests, jobs and locations. As usual, I’m taking a look at QoL and unexpected additions!

YAY!

I know housing isn’t opening until 6.1, and I have no intention of moving my own location, but it’s still a YAY! to get more housing for those who need it!

New furnishings are always welcome and all of these seem really nice. New wall cubbies? New windows? Finally a new shelf? G I A N T X Y L A P H O N E? Yes!

Hats with glasses? What is this black magic? What does it mean?

I’m not as rabid over bunny boys as some folks, but I’m happy they’re coming. I do have a character ready to fantasia to one, just to have one!

Healer LB3 range extension is fantastic! Thank you!

I know not everyone will appreciate the armor designs – and I admit, all of it doesn’t work well on every character type – but the FFIV fan in me delights in this!

Kinda glad I held off working on any more of my Skysteel gathering tools. 🙂

I’m actually happy about this as long as it doesn’t bork crafting HQ stuff.

I love this idea and hope that we’ll be asked to spearfish more!

I like this and aim to get this for my dancer, Zuri!

This isn’t my style, but I think it’s very cool! (Wish we could fly with just wings in this game.)

I love the look and feel of the new UI rework for the achievement log. It feels much more like an adventurer’s journal now. I’m not an achievement chaser, but I might get into it more next expansion.

This is such a good change! I like the idea of not having to tell it not to use a ticket for low-cost porting! Very good!

Excellent! So many times I’ve blown time on a rez on someone that my co-healer is already rezzing.

YAAAAAAY! Honestly, all I want to be able to do is smile and look at the camera when playing violin. Bards look far too serious during violin mode!

Nice!

Reducing the number of aether currents required to fly? Yes, please! Unexpected but good, I think. Not that I have that many characters left that need to go through this content, just a few outside of Shadowbringers. But still!

Gemstones for FATEs returns! I guess this ended up doing what they wanted it to do, so it comes back. I both like this system and don’t like it – it takes a LOT of FATEs to complete each area!

That’s pretty cute! I’m happy with the exteriors I have already, but it’s always nice to see something new.

New hairstyles for Viera are nice! Seeing that Hrothgar are getting new styles, and the styles are connected to the heads, I wonder if that means they’ve found a way to change hairstyles and disconnect them from the heads – that way, you don’t have to use a fantasia just to change Hroth hair? I can hope, right?

Players asked for stubble, they got Derplander stubble. Nice!

Consolidated shopping is always nice!

These two were back to back and both get a nice from me, so I put them together.

I’m still not done with my Anima Weapons, so maybe this will help out on some step if I ever get back around to it.

Adding more items to the Calamity salvager is always welcome!

I’m really very curious about this and would like to try it!

Hm…

Interesting! I tend to like character portraits – it makes it feel more JRPG – as long as they’re done right. It’s nice they give a way to turn them off, too.

We knew this was coming, so sayeth the flood of crafters hitting up the coffee biscuits turn-ins last night before it was nerfed. Too bad I didn’t know this was a good way to make gil. More interestingly, they aren’t adding any new leves that allow for multiple turn-ins in Endwalker, I’m guessing due to this.

I knew this was coming, too. While I admit the relocation system is super unfair to people who don’t have a house yet, and I am glad it is being removed – I will also admit that we wouldn’t have the plots that we do if it wasn’t for relocation. Hopefully the new lotto system will work as well as people need it to.

Hmmm… gone are the days of leveling off of morbol seedlings, I suppose.

Interesting. I wonder if this will be the same weapon as the crafted weapon? I’d guess likely so.

All very, very interesting. I suppose “unrestricted” is more accurate than “undersized” in terms of wording.

What is…. I mean. I have to have it, but what is…?

Hmmm… I’ll have to mess with this to see if I like it. Sounds like a good change, though.

Farewell Belts!

The removal of belts didn’t actually fit under any of my normal reaction modes, so it gets its own. I’m pro removal of belts, but it’s going to be odd. I am ready to turn them all in on Friday though!

Meh

I really don’t like the system of switching jobs on your retainer – that you have to drop them back to level 1 and remain as a class until you hit the level where they could be assigned to the job you like. It should be easier than that.

I have, for example, a level 80 Dragoon retainer on Tai. I want to switch Tai to reaper, so my options are to either relevel my retainer completely or level Dragoon so that my retainer can level to 90. I have a feeling I know what I’m going to be doing once I determine reaper is the job I want to main… it just sucks to have to start over on a retainer again. This is a system that really needs to be looked at.


And so that concludes my overall thoughts about what I saw in the 6.0 patch notes. There were other things of smaller note to me, of course, but these were the major highlights.

I’m looking forward to jumping into Endwalker tomorrow, and wish all FFXIV players the best during early access!

Posted in No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky: The Hunt for Golden Vector

No Man’s Sky has turned out to be one of those unexpected games that have been back on my radar again this year. Especially since folks in the Posse have picked it up, and we’ve been able to exchange information, help and game support.

Syn discovered that Hello Games is re-running all of the previous expeditions back-to-back in the case that you missed them, like we did. Since we were on vacation and waiting for Endwalker anyhow, we turned our eyes to the prize of the first expedition: the Golden Vector ship.

The one catch – instead of having two months to finish the expeditions, you only have two weeks. At first, this seemed a really daunting task, especially once you look at the laundry list of things you needed to do to finish it. I admit, this one took longer than Expedition 4 – I clocked in almost 15 hours on this whereas Expedition 4 only took me 8-ish hours.

My expedition character at the end of it all.

The thing about Expedition 1 is that it basically asked you to play NMS in high-speed to check all the boxes and earn rewards. A new player would likely be completely lost in doing all this. Even having put 66 hours on my main game, there were things the expedition asked me to do that I’d never attempted before.

For someone like me who who just putters around and does the little quest lines, this was a very good learning experience to see what all kinds of content the game provides. I was happy to have gained all the game knowledge that came from this run, if nothing else.

At first glance, it felt like it was going to be difficult to finish up everything that needed to be done in just two weeks. Turns out, somewhat like the previous expedition, finishing certain steps and milestones grants you items that help you to finish other milestones.

For example, one step rewards an S-Rank multi-tool. This completes the requirement for the step that asks for you to have an A-Rank multi-tool.

The quest that asks you to find an A-Rank ship quickly makes that ship obsolete by handing you a nice S-Rank ship, too. Having that ship in your fleet makes warping around to meet other requirements a breeze as it rarely needed fuel and had so much inventory it wasn’t funny.

So, it really pays to look through the rewards you get for each step and decide which order to do them to make your progress easier.

Oh, the places you will go!

Again, the most fun part of the expedition was the fact that everyone else was all gathered around the same systems you were – and there were a lot of folks doing it! I guess they were like me and had missed out on the Golden Vector.

It was great to see bases built around landmarks that could help others out, and all the communication pods leaving messages to those who explored after. This time, I built my base around a technology merchant and labeled it Tech Merchant just in case anyone needed one. It felt much more like I was doing something to contribute to other people that way.

I also had a lot of fun seeing what people named things…

Thanks, Greg. I love you, too.

I think the most time-consuming of the tasks was ranking up with the Explorer’s Guild. This set you out to do small missions which had a lot of back and forth. Things such as “Scan 7 plants” or “Take a picture on a volcanic planet.”

I did that!

But once it was done and all rewards claimed, the Golden Vector ship made it all quite worth it. It’s a nice S-Rank fighter of a style that I really like. It needs a few upgrades added – such as better launch thrusters – but overall, it’s a great ship to have and should be an asset to my main game.

Very shiny!

Though the Expedition 1 character is even better set than my Expedition 4 character, I still plan on playing my main playthrough in general. This has been slow going in terms of upgrades and gear for her. However, I’m also far more attached to that save and all the items I’ve earned there. I feel like I can bring back some of this knowledge and get a lot more out of the game on my main save.

While the other four expeditions will be available, seeing that most of them fall within Endwalker launch, I’m not sure if I’ll be going on to do any of them. The other rewards were nice, but nothing quite as important as the Golden Vector.

Posted in Steam Gaming

FFIV Pixel Remaster & FFXIV Endwalker

When Final Fantasy IV was released on the Super Nintendo back in 1991, it was known as Final Fantasy II to the US audience. While this wasn’t my very first Final Fantasy (I played FFI on the NES), this was a turning point in gaming for me as I suddenly realized games could be just as engaging as a good book or movie.

I didn’t play it until the summer of 1992, and when I did, it changed my life – I wrote about it here.

Sadly, FFIV is one of those installations in the series that has been ported to death across just about every console ever. Not all of those ports were good.

It also received an absolutely terrible attempt at a sequel called The After Years. Many consider The After Years the worst “game” in the FF series. It was originally released in a way that screamed “milking the fans for cash,” and it was a subpar rehash of everything that made the original good.

ANYHOW.

FFIV is one of those games that sometimes gets a shrug from oldskool FF players due to the sheer number of remakes and a bad sequel. However, I’m happy to say that the newest remake – the Pixel Remaster – has tasteful updates while remaining true to the original.

FFXIV Players Take Heed!

Why should a game that came out 30 years ago be of interest to folks today?

Are you a FFXIV player who knows nothing about FFIV?

Then you should be interested! Endwalker is FULL of FFIV references – from the minions the SE is giving out, to the Lunar Whale mount, to going to the moon (yes, FFIV did this first, and it blew our mind back then).

For example, the very first dungeon in Endwalker and the bosses within are references to a FFIV dungeon and bosses. I am super, super happy about this because up until now, FFXIV has pulled from a lot of FF games in the series, but only sparingly from FFIV.

And what it did pull from FFIV was… uh…

Yeah, this nightmare fuel came from FFIV.

So… to get back on topic.

While I’m still playing through the Pixel Remaster, my best friend Syn (who is also a long-time FFIV fan) has completed it. She’s given it the overall thumbs up in that the game has been tastefully updated for a newer audience while not deviating in ways that significantly change the story from the original.

They were wise to keep iconic lines like this one unchanged.

Unlike the 3D version (in which there are story parts added that I don’t consider canon) the Pixel Remaster plays very much like the original FFIV Japanese version. Though I have heard some complaints that the game is too easy and doesn’t require the grinding levels that the old versions did – I haven’t run across that issue at all, though, to be honest. Maybe it was a launch bug that got fixed? Who knows.

While the snazzy updated pixel artwork gets the bulk of the attention, there’s actually a lot going for this remake including:

  • Recomposed music – not just remastered, but completely updated arrangements. Some took me time to get used to, but most of the tracks are really, really nice!
  • Updated translation – this might be the best modern translation I’ve seen so far
  • Good controller support – in fact, I suggest you use a controller for the best experience
  • Graphics update – not just the pixels, but there’s a lot of nice background environmental effects that I appreciated in this version (mist, wind, ocean water, etc)
I wouldn’t be surprise if this song ends up in Endwalker, to be honest. It’s also very iconic!

All this to say, if you’ve never played FFIV before, and have nothing to do between now and Endwalker, I happily recommend this version of the game to a first time player. We’ve only seen a handful of FFIV references in Endwalker so far, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see more! I dearly hope we do as it makes the oldskool fan in me very happy!