Posted in Uncategorized

FFXIV Stormblood: Falling in Love

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that despite the technical issues that cropped up with Stormblood, I’m far more optimistic about FFXIV than I probably have been in years. This, simply put, is because I think I’ve finally found a job that I love: Red Mage.

Rough Times

All throughout Heavensward, I had a tough time dealing with raids, end game content, and the frustration/exhaustion I felt at the whole thing. Part of it was because the game had become a repetition of Expert Roulettes and Alliance Raids, neither that I was particularly enjoying.

But I started to understand as time went on that part of the reason I didn’t enjoy the content was because I never found a job that really suited me. Therefore, I spent most of Heavensward end game being terribly frustrated no matter how hard I tried.

Bard had been my main job in ARR. I hated the changes that came with Heavensward that transformed them into a bowmage with nerfed damage (until a more recent patch). In fact, I put leveling on hold and spent about a year struggling to find a replacement DPS job.

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The closest I came to this was playing Dragoon, which I ended up leveling to 60 twice between my main and my alt. However, Dragoon is a very active job, and gets exhausting for me to maintain good DPS, especially with the whole Blood of the Dragon timer counting down all the time. I was alright at it, and sometimes it was fun, but in more high-end content, it wiped me out.

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For the same reasons, Monk and Ninja weren’t for me. I could never wrap my head around Summoner or Machinist, and Black Mage just got frustrating after level 50.

So… really… that left me with leveling Bard, swallowing the changes, and trying to do my best on Dragoon. But neither of these were sparking a feeling of “WOW! This is SO fun and I really want to play this and try it out in all sorts of content!”

Well… all that has changed.

Along Comes Stormblood

Stormblood ushered in some huge class changes, especially for Bard. I appreciate what I’ve seen of it, especially in making songs into actual songs that are something that improves the Bard themselves, not just those around the Bard. There’s a bit of support there, which is nice, but now Bard can stand on its own and buff itself as well.

I haven’t really spent that much time learning Bard, however, because Red Mage has consumed me. I honestly want to play nothing else right now.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve felt a draw to a job in an MMO the way I am feeling towards Red Mage. I was hesitant to be too hyped for it at first because I didn’t know how the job was going to feel. But I’ve always loved the idea behind a hybrid caster who uses a cool fencing sword and has an awesome hat.

For the short time I did play FFXI back in the day, Red Mage was my main job. My dream, which was never realized, was to earn the Red Mage artifact armor in that game. It feels like coming full circle here — FFXIV just handed me the AF armor as soon as I unlocked the job!

As of last night, I’ve leveled halfway through 57, and I’m pushing hard to make it surpass my Bard’s level so I can pick it up as my main job.

Why I Love Red Mage

I’ve had people ask me outright what I think of Red Mage, and when I respond with optimism, they ask me what I like about it. It’s really hard to put into words. It’s more than just hype and flair, though I love the visual aspect and aesthetic feel of it.

The biggest thing is that I understand how it works. I know that sounds weird, but I can’t say that for every job I’ve played. I’d watched a few videos from the media release that described the “rotation.” So, when I sat down and set up my bars for the first time, I already had a basic grasp on what I needed to do. I’ve made a few discoveries as I’ve leveled, but overall, the way the job works makes sense to me.

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The job doesn’t stress me out, which is huge. I feel like my damage output is strong, I can hold my own solo, and in a group, I contribute well. There’s some thinking to do, however, and a lot of flexibility (especially when you start unlocking Cures and eventually Rezzes).

I prefer a gauge that you’re building up, rather than one that’s constantly counting down. Red Mage’s gauge remains full as long as you don’t zone or use the energy on melee releases. I like that. I think I may be done playing Dragoon, because I can’t bother being stressed by losing BotD buffs for another expansion.

It’s just plain fun to play. This makes me want to do content, rather than struggle through content with a job that isn’t as fun.

Red Mage is about balance. And, for me, balance is a concept that’s super important in RL. In my fantasy writing, things often go wrong without balance. Or… my characters are often seeking to learn to balance something in order to master it. So, a job that focuses on finding a balance really appeals to me, and opens up some Role Play desire.

I’ve already earned commendations with the job, which is more than I tend to get from running Bard or Dragoon. Last night, I was in PotD for leveling with another Red Mage and two Samurai. I think I surprised them when I actually used Cure to keep the party’s health up — I am more than just DPS, and I love it! Though the Cure is never going to rival a real healer, it’s cool to have a dual cast double Cure.

About the only thing I find Red Mage weak in is running Frontlines PvP. Oh, ooops… Running PvP???? ME?

Hahah… yeah, that’s an article for tomorrow. 😉

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Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Uncategorized

FFXIV: Stormblood Storyline Snafu

I want to start this post by saying that while it’s sad that Stormblood EA didn’t start smoothly, this wasn’t something I didn’t expect to happen. It’s the risk you take when you buy into Early Access, and I remember quite well the Heavensward EA… and how the data centers crashed repeatedly.

I took Friday off with the hopes of playing as far into story as I could this weekend with Syn. We’ve duoed every storyline in the game, and this wouldn’t be an exception. She has a business trip, and is flying out today, so the idea was that we’d see as much of Stormblood as we could while she was still around. However, that didn’t happen.

Bottle Necking Story

Friday morning was uneventful, and we got plenty done. However, as more people joined the expansion, a few very painful bottle necks began to appear in the MSQ.

The first happened when you needed to enter a solo instance, Best Served with Cold Steel, by talking to Raubahn. You’d go through the cutscene, and then the game refused to load the instance. You’d just get kicked out back to the map with an error.

As time went on and more people attempted to enter, it looked something like this:

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And this was just 1 of 3 instances of this map…

Apparently, to prevent the servers from crashing under the weight of the solo instances, they severely restricted the number of players who could access it. This meant that the servers stayed up, but the story was stuck (in two places).

Some lucky folks did get through, but the rest of us, me included, sat there and hammered the quest, skipped the cutscene over and over and over again, and prayed RNG loved us enough to let us in. I’d do this half an hour at a time, in between leveling and other stuff, but I’d have to say I spent at least 3-4 hours of EA trying to get in.

Yeah, I’m stubborn.

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I know that I’ve had to see the start of this cutscene over 100 times. I should get an achievement.

Of course, this caused a lot of frustration, which gave way to memes and jokes on Reddit while we waited and failed to gain entrance. Poor Raubahn was the center of the jokes, and apparently, he was even trending on Twitter a while.

Instance Issues

Another thing that FFXIV is trying and not doing well with are creating instances of the same zones. This is new to FFXIV. It reminds me of what they do in Guilds Wars or Guild Wars 2. But GW2, this system is not.

It’s nice that they’re trying to prevent maps from bogging down. However, they didn’t think the feature through. Whenever someone in your group gets kicked due to server issues, the game does not look to see which instance their group members are in, and dumps that person in the instance with the lowest number of people automatically.

This means, they usually don’t end up back in the same instance with their party. Also, there’s no easy way to choose which instance you are put in aside from zoning out and zoning in again.

After several such happenings, and spending more time trying to get in the same instance as each other than finishing the quests, Syn and I gave up and just did the quests separately.

What I did get to see of the new zones was exciting, though!

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Look at this guy. Pretty sure he’s a hunt mark.

Primal Problems

Another issue for people who actually got past the MSQ roadblocks was in battling the first primal of the expansion. Apparently, if you win the fight and go to exit, some people were getting completely locked out of their characters. I mean, seriously could not log back in again at all.

This was apparently caused by people using emotes, such as /sit or /doze, while queuing up for the fight. Seems like S/E support is manually helping folks out who have this issue.

Finding Resolution

I woke up early this morning, feeling a little sick to my stomach (I’d eaten something that didn’t go well with me), and I knew I wasn’t going back to bed. So, at 6:30 AM EST, I got up and started clicking Raubahn until I was sleepy enough to finally lay down again.

It didn’t seem to matter that it was early morning, the crowd was still huge and I had no luck getting in. So, I gave up at 7 AM and went back to sleep. I slept in later than I meant to, and when I finally woke up and showered, I found chaos.

First, I saw my sister had tried to call me 17 times this morning (not including the number of times Syn tried to call me). Then I saw I had a bunch of text messages and Discord was pinging.

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Huh?? What’s going on?

Syn tried everything to get my attention while I slept. XD

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Note: I never keep my phone in my bedroom when I sleep. Even on vibrate, it would wake me up.

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I love my friends. ❤

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Syn was so frantic because she thought, at first, the reason we were getting in was because Balmung and Greg were down. This could have been a real possibility. Instead, S/E actually did finally get a work-around going.

Anyhow, I called my sister, she told me the quest was working and to get my butt online. I did just that and was thrilled to see I could, indeed, progress into the instance.

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The battle there was actually fairly lengthy and complex. It wasn’t just a quickie thing to jump in and out of the instance for, and it had more than one part to it. I can see why it was taking people so long to get through.

So I beat it! I’m past the first bottleneck… just in time to see Syn off on a plane. *sigh*

Anyhow. The FFXIV community is rejoicing.

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Credit for image to this Reddit thread.

Despite the issue with the Cold Steel quest, I am having a ball in Stormblood. I know it sounds strange, but I have more excitement and hope now for my time in FFXIV than I have in years.

I’ll talk about that tomorrow and the next day, though. Today, I just wanted to chronicle the Rise and Fall of the Great MSQ Bottleneck. 🙂

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Uncategorized

FFXIV: Top 7 Things I Loved from Heavensward

Since Stormblood is just around the corner, I’ve decided to make a few posts thinking back over Heavensward in general. What did I like? What didn’t I like? What was just meh?

Let me start with the good stuff! This is just opinion, totally, so your mileage my vary!

7. Squads

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Though Squads came out as a slightly under-cooked feature, I like them for the potential they may hold. I also like how I’ve trained up my squads to bring me back crafting and gathering scrips. If you stick with your Squad and tailor them to your needs, they can actually be quite useful!

6. Quality of Life

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Heavensward brought SO MUCH QoL improvement that it’s hard to remember or even pick through it all. Improvements to the duty finder/party finder, queuing with your chocobo out, the optimized gear equip button, egi glamours and more!

5. Beast Tribe Quests

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I know this seems to be an odd thing to praise, but honestly, the beast tribe quests have played a huge role in helping me level various jobs, earning stuff for relic, and getting all my crafters to level 60. They don’t get nearly as much credit as they deserve, especially for being solid, repeatable, daily solo content that actually gives a good chunk of progress. Plus, I really enjoy the dances and the storylines that come with them.

4. Aquapolis

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Aquapolis has been a major hit with many members of our Free Company. Not only is it casual and fun group content to do, but it actually does make a good chunk of gil if you get lucky. We did group treasure hunts to help fund our FC house upgrade, and I was surprised at how much you can actually make.

3. Custom Deliveries

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I wish they’d released custom deliveries for crafters and gatherers sooner. I just couldn’t stomach the grind for yet another currency (scrips) to earn better gear, unlock recipes and ultimately, get those darn Fokelore books. In fact, I’d given up on getting any of it… until custom deliveries came about.

Thank you so much for giving casual crafters and gatherers a way to make progress! Because the grind before that was real.

2. Gpose

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Gpose! Gpose!! What’s not to love about a feature that makes taking cool screenshots possible? Even more, the team keeps adding new expanded features and filters to Gpose. There’s really so much you can do with it that I probably don’t even know about!

1. Palace of the Dead

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Palace of the Dead was something I was excited about the moment I heard the concept. It turned out to be what I think is one of the best features added in Heavensward. Some people knock it for the repetitive nature, and I understand that. However, you can use it to level, you can earn lots of neat loot, and you can build up to a nice weapon that stands on its own in end game content. It’s really a casual player’s happy spot, and I look forward to running it a million times to level my Red Mage in the future. 🙂

Those were my favorite Heavensward features. What are yours?

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch, Uncategorized

Disgaea 5 Demo (Noob Vision)

I’ve known about the Disgaea series since the first game released years and years ago, but never played any of it. I even own one on Steam, and was told I needed to play it. It was just not on my radar, not even Disgaea 5, which is releasing on the Nintendo Switch next week.

So, I’m coming into the series as a noob that’s only distantly heard (good) things about Disgaea. I knew it was humorous. I judged that it was probably wild and over-the-top in an anime type way. And while I enjoy good anime, I’ve kinda lost tolerance for crazy eye-roll anime as I’ve gotten older.

I don’t remember what convinced me to try out the Disgaea 5 Demo that came out on the Switch this week, but I’m glad I did.

Note #1: I did not expect to like this game.

Note #2: I ended up really liking what I played of the demo.

Again, this is from someone who knows nothing about the series, and was wondering why conversations on the Reddit about Disgaea all ended in “dood.” I quickly found out (and fell in love with prinnies).

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So, yeah. The game has a zany, take-me-as-I-am feel to the humor that isn’t too overwhelming partly because it seems to be poking fun at itself… or at least, at annoying anime tropes. For example, I’d like to dump Seraphina and her “Ohohohoho!” laugh… but I get the feeling she’s like that specifically because the game wants to point out how annoying this anime character type is.

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All these years, I’ve also stereotyped Killia when I saw him on the covers of these games, imagining him as the annoying, powerful, emo guy who doesn’t care about anyone and sulks through the whole story. And that turned out to be… really not true so far.

He has a bit of that aloof tough-guy act, but at the same time, he goes out of his way to help Seraphina learn how to fight for herself, even if she’s forcing him into the situation.

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He has a logical and mellow approach to most things, which reminds me of one of my own characters (Tai). I think that this helps to off-set a lot of the other more eccentric characters and situations and make the game palpable for me.

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I can sense a deep strategy game underneath all this. I was amused by the combo and throw system, and interested in developing my hired troops. Though some of my pre-made Prinny troops had some… interesting names.

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As someone who knows nothing about how the game worked, the first few battle scenarios did a lot to help teach me some of the systems. I like how the game kept the tutorials in character the whole time, too. This is how you do a game tutorial.

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I have a feeling that I’ve only scratched the surface of the battle systems since I stopped playing the game as soon as I felt like I was sold on it. Good thing that I did, since the demo save doesn’t carry over into the real game when it releases next week. I quickly deleted the demo so that I wouldn’t be tempted to spoil anymore for myself.

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Trading In Smash

I did pre-order this game. While it was fairly expensive from Amazon, I got a nice 20% off the pre-order as a Prime member. I also have started to trade in some of my pre-owned Wii U games I know that I’ll probably never play again, so I had some extra cash from that on my Amazon account.

The game I traded was Super Smash Bros for the Wii U. Gasp and horror, I know. How dare I trade in Smash?

The truth is, my sister and I both tried to play this game together a few years back… and neither of us liked it all that much. The new Smash games are just all over the place. We both felt there was too much going on and it became overwhelming quickly. Plus the bulky Wii U controller really didn’t work well for a battle game for me.

We loved the original Smash and even Brawl, but this new Smash was just not that fun for us.

I picked it up as a Lightning Deal on Amazon around Black Friday, so I only payed about $34 for it originally. But it was still one of those games I had a lot of buyer regret about since I just couldn’t get into it.

Thankfully, I could trade it in to Amazon for $20… so while I did lose some money on the purchase, I felt it was better to trade it towards a game I knew I’d play rather than see it gather dust here to never be touched again. I haven’t sold a physical copy of a game in a very, very long time as I usually keep them for my collection, but this just bugged me, so I pulled the trigger.

Fare well Smash!

Oh, and for the record, trading a game into Amazon was super painless. They even pay the shipping and immediately credit your account for the trade in.

Posted in Gaming, Nintendo Switch, Uncategorized

Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition

One positive aspect of having only just played Minecraft for the first time last year is that, unlike some folks, I haven’t already invested in the game on a million different platforms. That, and, the fact that I can still play vanilla Minecraft and be blissfully unaware of all the mods that are out there.

I do love my PC version for all the mod potential that it has. I bought the Wii U version on a whim, but struggled a bit with the console controls. In fact, the console controls were one of the reasons I almost didn’t pick the Switch edition.

However, several things happened this weekend that pushed me into the impulse buy:

  • I had a 4 day weekend thanks to it being my birthday last week
  • I learned you could select from different control schemes on the Switch (this may have been true for the Wii U version as well, but I never thought to look)
  • The worlds are larger than the Wii U version
  • Easy to take and share screenshots
  • I had more than enough gift card cash on my Nintendo e-shop account
  • I had a “lack” of games on my Switch screen
  • I decided this is probably the best portable version of Minecraft you can have (supports both controllers and touch pad)
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A “lack” of games on my Switch screen prompted a re-purchase of Minecraft.

New Minecraft Adventures

Anyhow, it’s always fun to start a new Minecraft adventure. Also, this time around, I figured out how to select a proper skin for my avatar, as well. The Switch version came with a number to choose from, but I went with the Knight.

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The game started me out on a savanna, though the biomes on this map changed very rapidly and were somewhat crammed together. Of course, they teased me with seeing a lovely horse within the first few minuets of spawning.

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Sadly, this was the first and last time I saw this pretty horse. I’m not sure what happened to it. 😦

I built the normal beginner hut and started putting up fences and lighting. Somewhere along the way, I managed to pick up some bones and tamed a wolf. I’ve tried taming wolves before in other games, but this was my first successful attempt — on the first bone!

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I want to take note of the Achievement system. I don’t recall seeing this on the Wii U version of the game. I know the PC version has something similar, but not quite the same in-your-face achievements.

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Once I got the standard housing set up, my big goal was to find a saddle because the game kept teasing me with the horses that were roaming around. I did some fishing (needed food anyhow), but eventually decided to explore and work through some caves.

My adventure took me further than I expected…

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A tree that caught fire from the lava being too close, I guess.

And before I knew it, I was totally lost.

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One thing I had never learned about in Minecraft was the mapping system. It seemed confusing back when I first started playing the game, so I ended up adding a mini-map mod to my game on the PC.

That wasn’t an option here, so if I were to find my way back to my cozy little box house, I knew I had to learn how to map.

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After uncovering as much map as I could find, I realized that this one map did not, in fact, cover all of the world. It was only a small part of the area! Unlike the PC version where you can add to a map to make the original larger, it seems the console version requires you to just make another blank map to start mapping the new areas.

Maps require a good deal of cane to make paper. This was pretty rare to find during my exploration, so I ended up making a bunch of cane farms each time I stumbled upon a new zone of the world.

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While I was waiting for cane to grow, I spent the time fishing for food. Sure enough, luck was on my side, and I fished up a saddle, right near a horse spawn!

I wasted no time selecting a nice black horse and taming him.

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This made all the difference in my exploration. I don’t know what I would have done if I’d had to walk that entire map on foot. Riding and mapping was so, so much better.

Not to mention, as far as horses go, this one was quite nice — look at all those hearts!

Anyhow, it took many hours before I actually found my way back home. I had no idea that I’d walked two full maps away from my original spawn point! Since I had a lot of iron, nice gear, a saddle, and a horse, I was totally motivated to get back in one piece.

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Here’s my fine horse, who carried me home, finally taking a well-earned break. 🙂

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Not only that, but I discovered that just to the west of my base, and not that far away, is a village. I’m excited to start building a road out that direction, set up some defenses for them and build it up some.

Impressions

A quickie review of my impressions — obviously, I had a lot of fun with this version of Minecraft. I spent a number of hours with it, and it played just as well docked as it did in handheld mode.

I didn’t expect to need to play it handheld, but a set of nasty storms rolled through my area on Friday night. I was stoked that I could just undock my Switch and keep playing even while the rest of my electronics were unplugged and turned off during the storm. If I had lost power that night, it wouldn’t have stopped my gaming, either.

I really like having full controller support for the handheld version of the game. I haven’t played the pocket version, but I’ve heard people say that the touch controls are not always idea for Minecraft. I could see that happening. I did use touch controls very sparingly, mostly during crafting and moving inventory around, and was happy that was an option.

I also always love how the console version makes crafting much simpler than the PC version. Sorry. I have so much trouble remembering recipes… it’s more of an annoyance to have to open a wiki to figure out what the pattern is for simple crafting items. The console version just auto-makes things for you if you have the materials in your inventory. I appreciate that a lot!

I know that you can play with your Minecraft friends easily, just by joining their game on the Nintendo network, which is another plus for those who want to play multiplayer online. You can also play with others on local split-screen.

So, is Minecraft Switch Edition worth getting? It was for me. But again, I’m not someone who already has 5 different copies of the game and years of experience playing it.

I think it’s a solid version of Minecraft. I think for someone new to the game, or someone who wants a good portable version of Minecraft, this is a good buy. Or… if you just want another game to add to your Switch screen. Yep.

 

Posted in Everquest 2, Gaming, MMORPGs, Uncategorized

EQ2: Free Level 100 Boost

Some kind of big release went out in EQ2, so they’re offering folks free level 100 boosts to a character of choice. I’m so very far behind in content (I actually have never done any content beyond the 50s in that game) that the content itself doesn’t concern me one bit.

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However, I have a stable full of alts that for some reason I can’t let go of. They all have huge undecorated houses, even the whole Isle of Refuge, and vet rewards for over a decade, still 5K Station Cash Daybreak bucks (whatever) and yet, I sadly let them gather dust.

Maybe I’ll make it a goal to spend more time exploring EQ2 this year.

Anyhow, despite not actually playing the game, my ears still perk up every time they give away a character boost. I’ve actually boosted 5 characters (including the one I just did last night) over the years, at varying levels.

Last time they offered this, I put out a poll on who I should boost because it’s a hard choice! My little Fury Rawring won… but I actually never played with him after I boosted (figures).

This time around, I knew there was no question who I wanted to boost. My Froglok monk, Chirrupp, is the only character who didn’t have access to a flying mount (which I love so much in EQ2). All my other characters may be low leveled in their battle classes, but I spent a LOT of double XP weekends grinding their crafting classes to 90, soully for the flying mount, back when I was actually in a guild and had the means to.

What I didn’t know was when I boosted her, that she’d not only get flying without having to go through the flying quest (yay), but that she’d also get this… whatever it is… dragon-like flying mount. (Faeralith, The Obedient One)

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This is also good, because while I have other flying mounts she can use, I think this one fits well, and is really the only character of mine that it would fit. I just don’t see Ratongas flying around on things like this. 😀

So, yeah. Free level 100 boost.

If Daybreak is trying to remind me there’s a game where I put a lot of time and money and have a huge amount of alts and content I’ve never seen… I guess it worked. I always feel a little ashamed that I haven’t done more in EQ2 than I did.

But there are just too many games!! I guess the reality of it is that I’ll probably keep the client updated, but log in next time they give away another free character boost. Eventually, I’ll get all my characters leveled that way if I’m patient! 😀

Posted in Uncategorized

FFXIV: Cloud Mount & Eastern Journey Attire on Different Races

Yesterday, I claimed my FFXIV Cloud Mount and Eastern Journey Attire DLC from the Amazon promotion. I did have to hop on to support chat with Amazon to get the code as I hadn’t gotten it several hours after making my purchase. Support was very nice and very fast in producing the code, and I had my stuff in a few minutes. So if you haven’t gotten your code from Amazon yet, try hitting up their online chat  support!

Last night, I spent a good deal of time claiming the content on my different alts just to see how it looked for each. I know some of the taller races actually sit on the cloud, rather than stand, and that caused some annoyance for some players.

There’s an idle animation and a ground-mount animation for the cloud. Then, when you actually fly, that’s when you get the cool Dragonball poses.

Seeing that only two of my characters are high level enough to fly, I can only show those.

Here’s my Moonkitty:

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And here’s Tai:

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My non-flying characters…

Here’s Zemi:

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And here’s Hedge Mouse:

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So, they all seem pretty similar.

I also really like the Eastern Journey Attire! You can see the whole undyed outfit with the Dragoon weapon at the top of this post.

But I especially see myself using this for Zemi, whom I’m leveling Ninja and maybe Samurai in the future. Here he is in his red and gold getup! Now I just need a rice hat.

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Overall, the quality of the DLC is excellent. A mount, an outfit and a weapon as a bonus on top of purchasing something for $20 on Amazon is a good deal. I ended up picking up a Nintendo eShop card for the future because I know I’ll be spending some money in the market sooner or later (Stardew for Switch!).

All in all, I’m happy with it! (And so is Zemi.)

Random. I love how this /changepose on the Au Ra male /sit makes them flop down with arms crossed. 🙂

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