Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, H1Z1, MMORPGs

Weekend Highlights: FFXIV, Cities Skylines, H1Z1

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Welcome back to cold, hard reality from a long three day weekend (for those who celebrate Labor Day). I’m trying to shake out the cobwebs and get back to the routine, but I have a feeling it’s going to take most the morning to do so. In the meantime, allow me to reflect on all the gaming done over the weekend.

FFXIV: The Two Year Reward

Gals look sharp in it, too.
Gals look sharp in it, too.

I’ve kinda been trying to sneak a break from FFXIV when I can lately, since all that’s on my roster is running EX daily dungeons for Eso armor. I re-iterate that dungeon running is not my favorite activity in FFXIV, but earning armor and progressing with Syn keeps me somewhat on track. I’m at the point where I personally don’t care about capping Eso for the week (not that I ever cared about capping any tomes that had a cap in the past, to be honest), so just getting a few runs down at a more leisurely pace is actually a good thing for me.

The FC did decide to blitz through all three floors of the Crystal Tower on Friday night to unlock the content for folks who had never done it before. I think they were also working on clearing EX Primals on Sunday, though this still remains an activity I’m not very interested in for myself. Maybe I’ll do them someday, but if I don’t, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on an integral part of the game.

In the middle of it all, I forgot to note that I earned my 720 Day Vet Reward in FFXIV – the Advent Attire. Meant to look like Cloud’s outfit from Advent Children, I’m supposing. It’s a neat reward (though I’ll have yet to see if any of my characters actually will wear it), and mind boggling to think that I’ve been subbed to FFXIV for 2 years straight now. I pay my sub monthly, so this isn’t a reward in advance or anything.

I don’t think I can remember ever being subbed to a game for 2 years without a break before. That’s really a testament to FFXIV (despite my dungeon grumbles).

Cities Skylines

Last week, I was stoked to be the recipient of the Blaugust Anook Community Choice Award! I was given a choice of the prize that I wanted, and I selected Cities Skylines, which is a game that’s been sitting at the top of my Steam wishlist since it first released.

I really wanted to make some time to try this out, and since it was a gift/prize, thought it was only polite to do so. Right?

Anyhow, almost 16 hours later, I have nothing but good things to say about this game. It really is a blend of a more modern feeling city builder with a lot of the old skool gameplay (I remember the days of connecting tons of water pipes under my Sim City and still wondering why the wasn’t water getting to my residents).

It does have some measure of challenge to it – guides encouraged me to not get frustrated if I needed to scrap and restart cities, and to learn from the experiences. That’s exactly what I’ve done, as I run across little snags here and there that ended up sending what looked like a flourishing city straight into failville in matters of minutes. My newest city, however, seems to be surviving, and I’ve reached the Grand City level, which thankfully unlocked a solar power plant.

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I haven’t even touched mods or anything like that and I’m still having a ball. I can only imagine what I’ll do once I start messing with player-created content. 🙂

H1Z1

My zombie hunting troop surprised me when they requested to revisit H1Z1 this weekend. It’s been a long time since we’ve loaded up this game, and everything I built previously has long been washed away in the restarts. Despite that, we rolled up new characters and headed back to our favorite spot at the church.

There were a number of features and improvements that struck us from almost the moment we logged in. First, and best of all, they made it so that nighttime wasn’t so dark and nasty. I know there was a thing where Smed (back when he was still heading this up) noted that players just tend to log off or hole up for the night in H1Z1, and it’s because it was simply too dark to do anything constructive. Well, they fixed that, and very slowly, my team started to grasp that going out to do stuff at night was actually a thing now.

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This is a good thing, because night cut our productivity and game time down drastically before. It was the point where I’d previously just hole up in the base, or hover around the base to do cooking or something. Now, we can actually go out and scavenge, cut wood, explore, or whatever freely during the night. Thank you dev team!

The next thing we noticed was the start of a weather system. For the first time ever, we saw it rain in game. Of course, being alpha, this is still in the works. It was raining out of a sunny or clear night sky. But the rain has some neat effects – the water and reflections on surfaces look good, and it’s neat to hear the drumming of the rain on buildings when you go inside.

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A wet deck reflecting torchlight at night.

There’s also some cons to the rain, such as campfires in the world getting too soggy to light. We even built a deck extension over our campfire to keep it out of the rain. It lit for a while, but once it went out, we couldn’t light it again until the rain stopped. And sometimes the rain goes on for days.

We really appreciated the changes to grouping that were added. Now, when you group, you see your team members off on the left side, and you can actually voice chat only within your group if you need to. Also, people in your group have a large green chevron (as my team calls it) over their head, indicating position and making it easier to see team members from a distance. Nice changes!

Aside from that, the number of bears have been reduced significantly. Prior versions of this game, it was more like we played keep-away from bears than anything else. We always had like two or three wandering around our camp area we had to keep an eye on, and only sniped them later when we had the guns and ammo to take them down. This version, we played quite a bit over two days and only had a few run-ins with bears. Much more balanced.

They’ve also fixed wolves – which used to dance and jump around people sporadically while attacking, making it really hard to kill them. They hold still now, and it’s much more reasonable to try to survive against them.

There’s been a lot of improvements with building, too. Mostly little things that I noticed – like deck additions, easier alignment and placement, small shacks that sit on the ground, but can also be built on the deck. Nice progress in this area.

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Our little base by the church.

Overall, though, I still don’t see a large population of people playing this game (on our PvE server). I also still feel though the foundation of the game is there, there’s not enough here for me to feel drawn to play for a long period of time. There’s no reason to build anything up right now because wipes will just clear it eventually. And the one time we tried to explore an actual town (Cranberry), the place was so shockingly overrun by zombies that we couldn’t even come close to approaching it. We tried, and it was like an endless spawn or something, way more than the four of us could handle.

So H1Z1 is getting polished up, but still has a long way to go.

Wii U

The other big news of the weekend is that I bought a Wii U. But this is too much to tack on to the end of this post. I’ll write about it later. 🙂

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Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Alexander Attempt

 

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We’re continuing to make progress in upgrading gear by running Expert Roulette, and Tai finally hit ilvl 173 this weekend. Since I’m not keen on dungeon running, I’m doing my best to balance Roulette with down-time in the game to mitigate risks of burnout. I know if I push it too hard and too fast that I’ll just get tired and need a break from the game, which is not something I want to do (I have too many goals I want to achieve). But I have no other option to earn Law Tomes but to run Roulettes, so I’ve cut daily Trial and Leveling in exchange for one daily Expert.

This works more or less for me since I don’t have to run Expert solo. We’re usually running it with other FC members, which is a much more relaxed atmosphere for me to learn and practice. We usually roll up Fractal, which I’ve become more and more comfortable with, though the final boss is always frantic, it seems. The game loves to torture me by sticking red circles under my feet just after I start a Limit Break! I’ve died more often to that than anything else the past few weeks. 😡

Hey There, Alexander!

So, Syn got it into her head that we could try Alexander Normal yesterday. I was more keen on waiting until reset and for certain FC folks to return from vacation, buuuut she wanted to try it, so I gave it a shot. This is the first time I’ve attempted any sort of 8 man raid in FFXIV as I was too chicken to do any Coil. However, I keep hearing that it’s pretty easy, just a bit above Crystal Tower difficulty, so that encouraged me to give it a shot.

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After watching a video on the mechanics of A1 – I was surprised that this wasn’t really a dungeon. It was, actually, a mini-boss followed by a boss fight. Is this how Coil usually worked?

Despite that, we still spent a good deal of time attempting to beat the Oppressor when we got there. Sunday night is really not the best time to PUG something like this, I think. The folks who are most serious about getting their Alex drops probably already have earlier in the week, for one. I just remember the same held true for Crystal Tower when we used to run that.

Needless to say, we didn’t beat it. After three tries, and getting very close the final time, we came to the conclusion that the DPS just wasn’t there on either version of the boss. I was worried that being just above the cap would drag the raid down, but from what I understand, our side of the fight was ahead of the other side (not significantly, but ahead). I think I can still do with some more stat boosting, however, as many of my lower ilvl items on Tai are major armor pieces.

Even though we didn’t beat it, it was still a good learning experience. Next time we try it, I’ll have a better idea what to do, and will hopefully approach it with another upgrade. Maybe.

Hello, Chocobo!

I was excited when I discovered I got the refer-a-friend draught chocobo this weekend on Zuri. Though I’ve referred plenty of folks to the game, this is the first time anyone has requested a referral code before subscribing. I didn’t expect them to subscribe to the point that I’d get the chocobo, however! It’s a mount I’ve wanted, but didn’t think I’d get — I love that you can ride a friend on the back!

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Even more exciting, when I logged into my Cactuar character, I discovered she had one, too. Tai didn’t get one in the mail, so I figured it might have been just for the first character on your account or something. So, I went and did some investigation to learn that my FFXIV mog mail was full, and couldn’t get any new letters. Oops!

After getting scolded by the mog mailman, I cleared things out, relogged, and sure enough, Tai got a chocobo, too! Woo!

Other Progress

I’m still working through Heavensward on Zuri, who is now a level 55 Bard. I’m still not feeling a whole lot better about the Bard playstyle, but if I don’t choose something and progress, then it’s not going to happen anytime soon. XD

I’ve also continued leveling Warrior on Tai, which I continue to enjoy. We’ll see if I ever get the courage to do anything but level it! I really do hope so, because there’s been a number of times tanks are in need in our groups.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Dragooning (Finally) on Cactuar

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While I remain at a loss for what to level for Zuri (though I’m now leaning towards Monk thanks to a conversation with Curious Cat – thanks!), I’m 100% sure I’m leveling Yet Another Dragoon  on Cactuar. This week, I’ve given high end content a bit of a break and pushed on through the final level of Lancer (thank you Halatali) and the 15 levels of Marauder I needed to unlock that last night. Finally!

The best part of hitting level 30 is unlocking my chocobo companion. I’d totally forgotten that I’d originally named him Spoony’bird back when I expected to be playing another Bard on this server. It’s cute, so I kept it.

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Since I unlocked chocobo stables as well, I headed over to investigate the Greysky Armada’s FC house for the first time. It’s quite lovely – someone has good taste in decorating! I poked around the FC chest and saw they had fruit for recoloring my chocobo, but I didn’t want to take any without permission.

Luckily, I ran into Bel at the house – I think it’s the first time I’ve seen his character in person!

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He said it was cool to color my chocobo, so I set out to obtain a nice snow white bird. Only, it didn’t quite turn out as I hoped (as you can see in the first picture above). The first try, it came out to a dull yellow bone white. Bleh.

So a few fruits later, I came back to a lotus pink chocobo. OH NONONONO!

I went for one last try, and ended up with an ice blue chocobo. Since my other chocobos are blue and green, I was hoping for something different this time. But seeing that I was using up fruits and just missing the mark every time, I decided to settle. Close enough to white, I guess.

Once I finished up all my Maurader levels, I happily kicked it with the introduction to Dragoon quest. Here, I went back in time to re-live meeting Estinien for the first time. He was a butthead back then, too. Said with all due affection.

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Anyhow, unlocked Dragoon and learned my first Jump. Yay!

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While I was around Dragonhead and revisiting old times, I decided to stop in and see Haurchefant. Even back before he knows anything about your character, he’s a welcoming guy. 🙂

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Oh, Haurchefant, do not look at me so. A smile better suits a hero!  ❤

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The fun part of replaying all this is that I get to pay more attention to certain characters in the storyline. I’m going to enjoy looking back on the Ishgard folks knowing what I know now.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Bard Woes & Cactuar Progress

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Pretty much ever since Heavensward released, I’ve been in a state of uncertainty with my Bard, Zuri. Though she’s supposed to be my main character, I’ve put much more time and effort into leveling and gearing Tai, who is now at end game running Expert Roulettes and upping his ilvl.

During all this, I’ve left poor Zuri on the curve while piddling around with leveling gathering classes. This week, I dinged level 55 miner and botanist, and I knew there would come a time soon when the gated content was going to prevent me from moving on even in daily gather turn-ins. Well, that hasn’t happened yet, but I still felt like I needed to just pick something and roll with it to at least unlock the Churning Mists.

I started leveling Ninja for a while, but having to push that up from a scratch level nothing to 50 is a bit more of a time sink than I want to indulge in right now. So, I buckled down and decided to push forward with Bard, seeing I was partway through the Dravanian Forelands. I was also only level 53, so I had not yet earned Empyreal Arrow to see how it felt to play in Wanderer’s Minuet.

So, I quested on through, beat up Ravana, and dinged 54 for Empyreal Arrow. By that time, I really wanted to unlock flying in the Forelands, so I pushed through the main scenario quests and jumped into the Sohm Al dungeon. It didn’t help that the party was a bit messy in composition, but my first dungeon run using WM with Empyreal Arrow left me feeling not just slow… but rather ineffective as a DPS.

I know the playstyles are very different, but compared to my dragoon, I couldn’t feel any of the damage I was doing, aside from the occasional buffed triple Emp Arrow spike. With dragoon, I’m bringing it fast and furious and I feel it. With bard, I’m more of a casual string-puller, almost as slow as casters. I’m also starting to understand why people are complaining about the lack of flow in the bard rotation.

I’m just not sure how I feel about it, still. I read plenty of “just keep playing and you get used to it” posts. I may just put up with it to complete content on easy mode (it’s far less intense than playing dragoon, that I’m certain of).

Cactuar Almost Dragoon

ffxiv_07282015_224339Meanwhile, on the Cactuar server, I pushed through the main scenario quests to level 29. It’s probably because I switched classes when I was almost level 25 on archer, but this character is lagging behind in experience badly. Three times last night on my trip from 26 to 29, I was gated out of the story until I hit quests and Fates to make up for it. I’ve never had that happen with the other two characters I leveled.

Now, I’m early level 29 and gated until I hit thirty. Ouch. I’m thinking maybe I’ll run a side Halatali just to get some of my GC hunts done and see how much that gives me. I also have regular class hunts I need to clean up. Plenty of options to get that level, so I’m not worried about it.

I still have yet to level my sub class to unlock Dragoon, too, but I’m getting closer! I really just want that level 30 chocobo companion unlock! 🙂

I decided if I am going to be running most of these dungeons anyhow, I may as well unlock Triple Triad, so I stopped by the Gold Saucer last night for that.

I did complete Haukke Manor for the first time on that character, and can confirm the DPS queue was less than 3 mins(!) So, they really do seem to be giving first-timers the head of the queue on dungeons. The dungeon itself was a standard PUG run with a tank who was too hesitant, a black mage who was too assertive and a healer who refused to lift a finger to turn off the lamps for the final boss mechanics. Ah, well. Got through it and that’s all that matters.

Right?

Gotta love that Gold Saucer cutscene if you approach it at night.
Gotta love that Gold Saucer cut scene if you approach it at night.
Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Expert Mode Unlocked!

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My Au’Ra is now an official Lancer!

We made a lot of progress in FFXI this weekend, starting the first stage at our attempts at earning some Eso Tomes for end game gear. But aside from even that, I’ve been knocking out a lot of side goals.

Cactuar Adventures

Aywren on Cactuar finally reached level 24 with Lancer, where that overtook my Bard levels and I was able to once again start up the main scenario to continue advancement.

The first order of business was to take on Toto-Rak, and to test whether it really is true that queues are faster for a player attempting a story dungeon for the very first time. Seemed to be working as intended as my DPS queue didn’t last but 3 mins before getting in.

It was a neat old-skool run where only two people were down-synced and only one person was higher level, but not even that high a level. Pretty fun flashback run, and everything was smooth. I dinged 25 before the end of the run and all is well. 🙂

Continuing DPS Crisis

FC crafting group
FC crafting group

I’m still indecisive about what class to level to 60 for Zuri. I thought I might have settled on leveling Ninja, and actually got my Rogue up to 16 this weekend. But then I saw almost everyone in my FC had decided to level Ninja for some reason… so… I may just tough it out and keep leveling Bard.

I’m still not thrilled with what I’m hearing from high-level Bard players, but it’s going to get to a point where my gathering classes can’t progress until I unlock areas through the story. I did get nudged to speed-level my Armorcrafter to 52 this weekend to contribute to the FC airship. I’ve been so very lazy about doing any high level crafting, and it doesn’t help that Zuri is totally broke. I know… I know… high level crafters and gatherers aren’t supposed to be broke, but I am. XD

Speaking of our FC, times have been real good lately. We’ve had a few new folks join just before and during Heavensward, and they’ve all turned out to be assets to our group. We’ve done a number of officer promotions this weekend, and have watched as members have gone out of their way to assist people leveling through Heavensward and unlocking end game content. There’s been a lot of good feelings going around (at least that I’m aware of), and we have a nice little FC dynamic at the moment.

Expert Roulette Unlocked!

I have a dirty secret… I never unlocked hard mode or expert roulette in 2.0 content. I never even considered the possibility of grinding tomes to cap. I probably wouldn’t have at this point, either, but dang that AF2 Dragoon armor looks nice! Plus, the FC has a pretty solid group of folks who is also running this content, so it makes it easier to learn and jump into.

Though we were nervous, Syn and I gathered a few FC groups to take on Neverreap and Fractal Continuum in order to unlock Expert Roulette. I feel like Fractal is a bit more difficult final-boss-wise of the two, though both dungeons have their particular frustrations and moments. We’ve been reassured by FC members that our skill outweighs our confidence when it comes to playing higher level content (though we still doubt ourselves), as we had few moments of tanking, DPSing or healing the floor in our runs (with the exception of that final Fractal boss… dang mechanics).

We picked up some useful ilvl 160 drops to replace the old ilvl 145 stuff, and continue to work at pushing the ilvl higher!

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I got a pretty incredible run of Steps of Faith last night as well. Seems like most people are so over geared for the trial, they ignore the cannon and dragonkiller mechanics now. I did rush up the tower to strike with the first DK, but for the majority of the time, we just DPS Vishap down without a care, and much to my shock, won it easily on the first try. It’s always fun to do the Dragoon LB3.

I also got Sohm Al as my roulette dungeon, and I only mention it because this is the first time I’ve seen the catbat minion drop. My roll was low and it went to the tank… who had not been a very good tank throughout the run (wiped us in the last boss because he refused to move when tons of meteors are dropping on his head). I was pretty crushed… 😦

At the end of the day, I had enough tomes and seals to pick up the ilvl 180 Law chest piece for Tai. Doesn’t quite go with the rest of the armor… yet. I guess I’m going to have to fix that!

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Operation Clean Up Old Quests Continues

I’ve also been pretty successful in my goal to clean up all the old quests while leveling Tai’s Warrior. He is officially a Warrior now, having just dinged level 35 last night. I’ve cleaned up all quests under level 34 that I’ve been able to find so far, and old maps are looking much better for it. I’m also continuing to be pleased with my Warrior, which I’ve solo-battled almost on-level FATE bosses (with chocobo heals, of course). That would have been a lot more difficult for me on other classes, but Warrior seems to have a good balance of damage and survivability.

Plus, I’m running across all sorts of quirky quests I’ve never seen before…

Uh... Godbert? You okay there buddy?
Uh… Godbert? You okay there buddy?

I’m looking forward to making Warrior my second level 60! 🙂

Posted in Gaming

#FFXIV: The Au’Ra #Cactuar Conversion

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I kept meaning to change my Cactuar Kitty (Aywren) to an Au’Ra, and after spending way too much time trying tons of styles, finally settled on this appearance.

I also decided to start leveling a different class. I’d leveled Archer up to 24 before I paused playing her a while back, but after all the disgruntlement with Bards in Heavensward, and the fact I already have one Bard on Zuri, I decided to level Lancer instead. Yeah, I do have a level 58 Dragoon already, but looking at all the other melee classes, most of them require Dragoon level 34 to get Blood for Blood as a cross class skill… so I may as well just go Lancer in the end. Plus I’m really enjoying playing Dragoon at end game, so I may as well do something I know I like. I may branch out later and try Monk or re-level Ninja.

I was very curious about the new leveling curve and seeing how the low-level end of the game plays with the buff to the Armoury bonus. I flew through the first few levels (thanks to food and rested experience), picking up to level 8 with Lancer and 4 on Conjurer (mostly for the heal).

Looking forward to seeing more blogging folks as I’m going to try to dedicate some time to this character. I really like the race’s aesthetics!

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