Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – The Run to Jeuno

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!

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The run to Jeuno.

It was just one of those experiences you had to have in your early 20s in FFXI. It was fraught with danger through zones that had mobs who could kill you in a few shots. And once a mob locks in on you in FFXI, you can bet they aren’t going to let up until you’re taking a dirt nap.

I remember making this run on a level 20 a long time ago. Because in Jeuno, the quest for your chocobo license begins. I did reach Jeuno back then, but I never did complete the quest for my license, sadly.

Now days, things are a lot easier with the home point and survival manual system. Once you reach a place and activate one of these two things, you can warp back there for gil or tabs. So I knew that getting to Jeuno was the challenge, and once there, I’d never have to make that run again.

I was level 23 when I started out, running from zone to zone. I purposely sought out the survival manuals in each area, so that if something should aggro me, I’d have a warp back at least part of the way. Thankfully, I didn’t need to use them. I had a few close calls, but made it to the city, and activated the home points without any deaths.

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It was only once I got there and started the chocobo quest that I looked up what I’d need to complete it. Four clumps of Gausebit Grass. Checking the auction house, I saw that each clump is selling for about 5,000 gil each. Now, I do have a little bit of gil stashed, but that would cost me about 1/3 of what I own. So, I decided to go about it the hard way and gather the grass for myself.

Based on wiki information, these drop most often from Crane Flies in the Meriphataud Mountains. Another zone that was quite a ways away through dangerous territory.

Whelp, I better get my running shoes on.

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Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – Time Traveller

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!

So I hop on the boat to Norg, which happens to be a pirate town of some sort. I explore around and talk to NPCs, but it’s pretty clear that this area is made for someone higher level than myself. I decide to focus on the business at hand, which is talking to the captain and meeting this person he found.

I recognize her as the girl, Iroha, from the very first cutscene I saw in game earlier. I also recognize her because FFXIV did a cross-over event and I have her cosmetic armor in that game. 🙂

Anyhow, she recognizes me, and calls me her master. Then she proceeds to tell us that she’s a time traveler from the future, a future that is very dark and bleak. Apparently, in the future, I’m her teacher and an influential person, so she’s come to me in the past hoping that I can do something to change the course of history and prevent the Emptiness from destroying the future she knows.

Iroha then gives me an orb that I can use to enter her time, and says I should be able to “experience both futures.”

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She naturally doesn’t have a lot of time to explain things before she’s warped out of there, leaving us all with more questions than answers. It’s never good to hear the future is gonna go bad.

After she disappears, Gilgamesh tells me I should probably go look for his daughter, Lion. But to progress, I’ll need to rank up with my home city more. Alrighty, I can do that.

I also get the awesome Rhapsody in White item. Holy crap! This thing! It gives SO MANY nice permanent buffs:

  • 30% bonus to experience and limit points gains
  • 100% increase to combat and magic skill gains
  • Allows an additional alter ego to be called forth at once.
  • 80% reduction in gil consumed by home points
  • Reduces the amount of gil and tabs consumed by Survival Guides

That’s incredible!

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Anyhow, I head back home to do what Gilgamesh suggested — work on some city missions to get my rank up. Along the way, I stop to check on with the Sparks vendor to see if I had any new gear I could equip. And, there was a whole new set of armor that made my Red Mage finally look… like a Red Mage!

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Now I was ready for some missions! In the past, I’d done all the way up to Rank 3 missions, so I was familiar with the “save the kid from the orcs” and the “rescue the guy from the caves” mission. Finishing those got me pretty close to Rank 3, but seeing I was level 23 at this point, my mind was straying elsewhere.

I wanted to make the run to Jeuno.

Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – Support Jobs and Story Ahoy!

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!

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Those who follow my blogging know that story is a huge part of a MMO’s experience for me. Now, I’ve always heard that FFXI had a top notch story, but I’ve never been able to see it, since I never leveled past 20 with any character.

The hope for this story is one of the reasons I decided to come back to this game again, so I was very pleased with the unexpected “main” storyline that became suddenly present in the game. This is one of the newer pieces of content called “Rhapsodies of Vana’diel.”

I actually got my first cutscene back at level 5 when I entered the city for the first time. I didn’t know what it was, and didn’t expect new content since I didn’t own any of the new expansions. But apparently, as long as you at least have one expansion (which all NA users do, no matter how far back you go), the part of the story associated with the expansions you own are active.

Similar to the main quest scenarios of FFXIV, this story makes it so that it’s very hard to miss. And the rewards they give speed up leveling and progression significantly.

Into the Dunes

So, after completing my first city mission and gearing up, I realized I was really close to level 18. Level 18 is the magic number whereupon you can begin working on gathering items for the very long and very tiring Support Job quest. I know that I’ve succeeded in completing this quest at least twice, and that it was the bane of my existence all those years ago.

Forced grouping was the only way you got this done. And you could group for hours and hours and hours trying to get one of the elusive drops. Some of these are rated a 4-6% chance to drop based on the wiki. So, even with my Trust-buddies, I knew I was going to be out there for a long time.

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I was surprised, however, that I completely by-passed the La Theine Plateau in my leveling progression, totally by accident. I was so high leveled by the time I headed in that direction that almost every thing was easy prey to me. I remember so many hours spent out there trying to get to the point where I could enter the Dunes… I guess this was just karma kicking in letting me bypass it all.

So, I headed into the Dunes towards the outpost of Selbina. It was when I first entered the town that the story started.

Unexpected Cutscenes

As I said, FFXI makes sure you can’t miss the Rhapsodies quests. The moment I walked into Selbina, I was in a cutscene that directed me to see the mayor of the town. Now, FFXI is not a game that holds your hand – there are no marks to indicate NPCs with quests, and there’s a lot you have to figure out yourself, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Arriving there, I got another cutscene which actually set up the beginning of a main storyline for FFXI. I was pleased.

Even more, I learned that the reward you’d earn from this, Gilgamesh’s introductory letter, takes the place of all the items you had to grind for to complete your Support Job quest.

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Can I get a Hallelujah?

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Yes, of course I’ll get your bee pollen for you. Do you want that gift wrapped? I can do that, too!

Quest for Pollen

So, I went out to the La Theine Plateau to hunt Giant Wasps for bee pollen (don’t the devs realize these are two very different types of insects?). I found them very scarce, and after killing everything, wasp and non-wasp, in the area around the crags, I’d only gotten one of the three drops.

Thank goodness for the wiki and forums, which told me that Giant Wasps may be in greater number out in the Konschtat Highlands. I don’t remember spending much time in this area since I usually didn’t roll my characters in Bastok, so it was a new place to explore.

Not only that, but when I found my way there, I realized I didn’t have a map of the area.

Oops. That’s right. You need to buy maps of the different areas in FFXI, or you just simply don’t have them. I made a mental note to check out the map seller once I got back to Selbina and fix that oversight.

Until then, I carefully didn’t stray too far from the zone line in my search for wasps. I didn’t need to because there were plenty around, and I got my drops in pretty quick order.

Support Job Success

Taking the pollen back to Selbina, I got another cutscene that furthered my storyline. Any story with Gilgamesh is a story I can get behind. In this game, he doesn’t appear to be a giant many-armed man…. but a pirate instead. And he has an interesting story to drag you into.

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Once done, he gives you his letter and tells you to meet his man on the docks where a boat to Norg awaited me. I didn’t know what Norg was, but I’d certainly take that letter.

Oh yes… yes… thank you!

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Oh, right. Before I forget, buy all the maps!

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Now I’m ready for this Norg thing! Lead on!

Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – Remembering Missions

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!

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Once I became aware of the Quests button on the main menu, I also took notice of the Missions button just above it. I checked it out, and it seems my character must have accepted a mission (Bat Hunt) over a decade ago.

These missions are the only story content I remember from my time playing FFXI in 2004-2006. Basically, they’re a set of quest/missions that revolved around a storyline within your starting city. These missions are repeatable and they earn you rank with your city faction. These missions appear to go from level 1 to 70+, and are different for each of the cities.

Keep in mind that there are no quest markers to indicate a NPC has a quest to give you or a quest in progress in FFXI. So it took me a bit of time to shake the cobwebs out of my brain and remember that these missions are given from the gate guards in the city.

My old character had already completed the first mission, and this was the second. It sent me off into King Ranperre’s Tomb, which I remember spending quite a bit of time in back in the day. This area was for levels 1-10, so I was already over leved for the area by the time I got there. It got to a point where I stopped gaining experience from the monsters there. That’s what I get for forgetting this mission existed!

Anyhow, it was nothing to reach the tomb, where a cutscene launched – the only cutscenes I remember from the game. And then, one of the NPCs gave me a cryptic clue that I was supposed to understand: I’d find my answers from the bats.

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It took a while for me to remember what that meant. When I did, it became crystal clear why I recall spending so much time in this area.

Basically, I needed to farm Ding Bats for a drop of Orcish Mail Scales. Looking at the Wiki, the drop rate for these are approximately 12.4%. Not to mention, the bats only spawn at night. Fun times!

Actually, it wasn’t that terrible. Since I was over leveled, none of the other creatures were attacking me. Plus, I now had a full party of alter-ego Trust-buddies with me, so battles were fast, and the drop came in the first night of farming.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I also managed to level up to 17, which was high enough to get beyond wearing that awful harness armor. Hurrah for the Lizard Jerkin set, which I promptly purchased using Sparks.

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Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – Super Easy Solo Leveling: Records of Eminence

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!

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While buzzing around on the FFXI subreddit, I was given a really great, updated starter guide. The first thing this guide stressed was something called Records of Eminence (RoE). Naturally, I’d never heard of this before, but researching more, a whole new world of questing and leveling opened up to me.

Quest Menu

I learned that is that there is  a Quest and Mission option on the Main Menu! You just have to page over with arrow keys to see them. Within the Quests menu, there’s a whole section for RoE, including the tutorial that will get you started (Quest > Records of Eminence > Tutorial > Basics > First Step Forward).

This leads you to talk to a specific NPC in your home city, and activates a rather amusing cutscenes. I must admit that FFXI has a lot more hidden charm than I knew about!

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Once you get that creepy doll and unlock the RoE quests, you can go back to the Quest menu and start activating up to 30 RoE quests. Some of these are one time rewards for things you’re already doing (like Missions). Some of these just stay on repeat and keep throwing experience and Sparks at you as you complete them (such as regional kill quests).

You can choose to turn these repeatables on and off whenever you like. So if you’re going to be leaving an area for good, and entering a new one, it’s a good idea to accept the kill quests for the new zone you’re exploring.

New Trusts

I wanted to note that there is a long questline that unlocks a bunch of new Trusts for you to summon. I noticed I had this item Cipher: Valaineral in my inventory, but had no idea what to do with it. Looking it up, I understood it was associated with a new Trust, Valaineral.

I had to take the item and trade it to the Trust NPC in my hometown, which unlocked a new Trust to summon. This would then unlock a new RoE quest to summon that Trust outside the town. When I completed that quest, a new Cipher was rewarded to me for another Trust. So, it was a cycle of unlocking Trusts, summoning them, getting a Cipher to unlock a Trust and summon them.

It was a bit redundant, but in the end, I had a full group of Ciphers, including a Paladin, White Mage, Scholar, Bard and other such characters I could call on.

Sparks of Eminence

I can’t talk about RoE without talking about the Sparks. Not only do the quests reward good experience, but you get this currency known as Sparks. The thing you need to know about this is:

Sparks = FREE GEAR

I had wondered where I’d be getting my gear as I leveled up seeing that there wasn’t much to choose from on the Auction House. After learning about Sparks, I understood why.

img_20160417_161816You go to the original NPC in your hometown who unlocked the RoE for you (for example, in San d’Oria, that’s Rolandienne). They now offer to let you purchase gear of all kinds of levels in exchange for the Sparks you earn in RoE quests. I quickly picked up a set of level 17 gear so I could shed myself of the harness armor. This stuff was dirt cheap, too – like 60 Sparks per piece, and I already had over a thousand Sparks just from the few quests I’d been doing.

That wiki page I linked above will give you a full list of the gear you can pick up with Sparks. I’ve read some folks who say that with using Trusts, you really don’t need to gear up like you used to in this game, but it’s so cheap to do so using Sparks that I prefer to just go ahead and keep my gear somewhat relevant.

It looks like there’s other things you can buy if you’re maxed level, and stuff that can increase your skills as well.

All in all, an excellent system to help a new player not just level but gear up in a very convenient way.

Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – Super Easy Solo Leveling: Field Manuals

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!

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If you’re anything like me, when you think of FFXI, you think of a game that requires a huge time sink to level. I remember spending hours leveling during my teens at the La Theine Plateau, getting ready for that big level 18 when I could start the SubJob quest in the Dunes.

But this FFXI is not that game anymore. Every time I turned around, I was leveling without meaning to. Before I knew it, I’d hit level 11, the point at which you start wearing the infamous harness armor. Ugh. At least I found most of it in chests instead of having to buy it.

Between exploring on my own and doing a little research, I discovered things that propelled me forward along my leveling track. Not only do enemies give more experience, and Trust-buddies make it easier to solo, but there are several new systems put in game to help the low-level solo player level quickly.

Field Manuals

I discovered Field Manuals by myself, and had no idea what they were. Just floating books hanging around outside the city walls. I think I even ignored it at first, thinking it must be part of something that didn’t pertain to me.

But then, I came back and explored it a bit more and discovered that Field Manuals are like quest givers for the certain area you’re in. They provide you with kill-quests (called Field Training) for creatures that you’re probably already killing.

For example, out in Ronfaure, one of the quests was to kill 7 Forest Hares, levels 2-6. That’s pretty easy to do, especially with my Trust-buddy. Once you accomplish it, you don’t have to run back and turn it in. It just automatically dumps 300 extra experience and gil on you (on top of what you got for killing them individually), and 30 tabs.

Tabs I haven’t explored too much yet. It looks like you can spend them for buffs and to transport yourself from one Survival Guide to another. Survival Guides look just like Field Manuals, but they’re actually a warp system in overworld and dungeon areas. Glad to see the game is helping players get around places faster!

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A few more things to know about Field Manual quests:

  • You can set to have them auto-repeat if you just want to sit out there and grind mobs
  • You only get the gil and tab rewards once an in-game day, but you can still repeat the quests for the experience
  • The quests have a max level… so once you no longer get experience from mobs, they stop counting for the quest
  • You can cancel your current quest at any Field Manual you find
  • Make sure to push the down arrow when selecting from quest Pages – there are more quests to choose from than it first appears!

Next up, I’ll talk about another newer system that not only lets you level quickly, but nets you FREE GEAR! Can you believe it? FFXI has gone all casual on me. 🙂

Posted in FFXI, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – In Excenmille We Trust (Solo-Friendly FFXI!)

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!

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Meet my new Trust-buddy!

So remember how in my previous post I mentioned that I noticed that the Red Mage character I rolled over 10 years ago had 8 hours sunk into her, but only had 4 levels? Well, when I got back to town, and visited my Mog House, I noticed the inventory there was stuffed full with fishing gear, rods and bait. I also noticed that her fishing skill had been leveled.

Then I realized that my character had 65K gil on her! Now, this isn’t very much, I know, but for a brand new character, that’s quite a bit to start with. I used to love fishing in FFXI and remember when selling fish at the AH was profitable. Now I know what this character did for 8 hours – fishing and selling fish stacks for gil!

I’m glad I decided not to reroll her! 🙂

Trusts

FFXI has been known over the years as a not very solo-friendly game. In fact, it was the forced grouping that pushed me away all those years ago. I’m a shy player, and I like being able to make progress at my own pace. FFXI didn’t quite mesh with that playstyle, but I’ve heard that it’s done a lot to help leveling players handle older content on their own.

One big thing that I researched before coming back to the game were Trusts. This reminds me a whole lot of Guild Wars’ Heroes/Henchmen system. You bond with NPC heroes, and this allows you to summon an alter-ego version of themselves when out in the world. They have their own jobs and skills, and level up as you do (though you need to resummon them when you level).

In the beginning, you can summon up to three Trusts at a time (granted that you’ve unlocked them). This means you can put together your own NPC parties to help you out with lower level content! And I am having a TON of fun with this!

My First Trust

Since I’m in San d’Oria, I had to find the Trust quest giver, Gondebaud, who offers a quest upon reaching level 5. This was a simple quest – just go and talk to someone named Excenmille. This fellow is apparently a pretty powerful hero, and he also seems to be quite full of himself. 😉

Since I never leveled very far into the story of FFXI so long ago, I never experienced the text and tone of the game. This was the first time I really got to see some of the more recently-written NPC dialogue, and I found it pleasantly amusing. In fact, it reminded me a lot of the feeling of FFXIV writing.

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Okay, so he’s a bit vain. But I can put up with that. The dude can fight. He can heal. And I feel like 100% more confident of myself running around with a partner at my side.

We just ran around that forest and slaughtered everything, even the things that I used to be afraid of. Vengance! I was just having so much fun beating on things that I didn’t even notice that I was continuing to level, but I hadn’t picked up anything beyond the starter gear. So, I headed back to town to gear up.

I wasn’t yet aware that Quests and RoE existed yet… so I was doing things the old-skool way. I went to the armor shop and purchased a set of leather gear. XD

I’ll blog about Sparks and RoE later, but just know that there’s a better (and cheaper) way of gearing up now, but I had no idea about it at this point. I didn’t care, though. I was proud of my new gear and happy to finally bank the starter stuff.

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I was still exploring town, buying my spells, and re-learning my way around. I noticed there were all sorts of Home Points around the city I was unlocking for the first time — I can’t remember if these existed before? But they work a lot like the Aetheryte system in FFXIV, allowing you to warp around from one part of the city to another.

I went back outside to work on a little more leveling, and that’s when I first discovered the Field Manuals. But that’s a story for another post! 🙂