Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV: Tower at Paradim’s Breach Alliance Raid

-No spoilers, just thoughts.-

I usually don’t run the new Alliance raid the week of release. I’m not sue why I did this time around, and I did it as a healer on the first try to boot – healer was my only job with a high enough ilvl at the time.

I’ve been slacking on gearing up this expansion… just call me a little tired of expert runs every day. Thank goodness for crafted battle gear you can buy off the marketboard! But… that’s neither her nor there.

Not only did I go in as healer but I went in mostly blind. As it was the day after the raid’s release, there weren’t any full guide videos at the time – the first one I saw was released the day after I first cleared it. And thankfully, I could watch that video before I ran it the second time on another character.

Most folks know my stance on Alliance raids by now and are probably tired of hearing it. Gone are the days of encouraging casual folks to do these raids and helping them get through. S/E has proven time and again that after Void Ark, Alliance raids are just not content for truly casual players – I’m talking folks who don’t have a strong grasp on how to pick up mechanics and respond to things quickly.

This raid was no exception. It’s learnable for sure, but a lot of things are not intuitive, no matter how much the raid bosses are designed to “teach” you mechanics through experience. The third boss, especially, left me in a state of “what just killed me?” pretty often until after I watched a video to better understand how the mechanics are put together.

Basically, I tell FC folks to watch a video rather than die a million deaths on this. I’m sure in a few weeks, things will settle down, but this first week has been a doozie.

Glamour… Rather Not

And the gear design this time around? Let’s just say, the main reason I ran Bunker as much as I did was to farm for the glamour. I even admired the gear from Factory enough to push through it several times.

On the flip-side, I find the gear this raid to be either mostly uninspired or just plain something I would never use. Not to mention, the male version of certain sets are just… awful (IMHO).

Example: Here’s the female aiming set – a shot taken from this video.

That top is alright and I could get behind it!

For the males….

What even happened here? Compared to the elegant female gear, this is awful unless you want a military-looking set for a bard or dancer (machinist could pull it off, maybe). And I don’t.

In fact, I got those pants above as my first drop and glamoured over them immediately. Just yuk.

Story? What…?

The main kicker for me, being someone who has not played Nier, is that the story just went down some crazy rabbit hole that I gave up trying to follow. You have a bunch of angry dwarves that are supposed to tie into this alien android plot and… the story just left me far behind in the series of quests between the second and third raids.

I got that there were good androids and bad androids, but we never got to know the good androids for long enough for me to feel anything for them by the end of the storyline. In fact, I don’t recall spending all that much time with them at all outside of the raids. I’m never paying much attention to NPCs and their chatter when mechanics are flying around during fights. Smack dab in the middle of a boss fight is the worst possible time for a game to try to make me connect to characters!

So it really felt as if the story was certainly trying to connect to the folks who already cared about these characters through Neir. And not so much to anyone who had no clue as to why we should be caring about these characters in FFXIV.

I know that I’m not the only one who didn’t “get it.” There was a post on Reddit, which apparently got removed (huh), that discussed disappointment with the raid storyline. Though the original post isn’t in tact, the follow-up comments nail a lot of my feelings on this.

Pretty much this… -source linked-

I knew going into this raid series that the concepts and aesthetics for Neir generally don’t appeal to me (I will say that I do have it free on the Xbox Game Pass, so I might still try it to see if it changes my mind). The one thing that folks who enjoy Neir say is the story is amazing – and I’m all about story.

So maybe that’s why I was disappointed that there really wasn’t anything all that gripping, thoughtful or mind-bending about the raid story itself. The boss designs were meant to make you go “huh,” of course. But I was expecting something deep and engrossing when it came to the plot.

Of course, there’s these follow-up weekly dwarf quests that we’re getting that might help explain some of this(?) I plan on doing them to see what I can learn, but I hope it’s worth the annoyance of the game sending me back into the Factory or Bunker to run around and pick up trashed technology for the fifth or sixth time.

I know this sounds like a relatively negative post and I’m sorry for that – I hope that for whomever this raid is geared toward, you had fun with it. I’ll continue to run it on my healer mostly because this is the most challenging content I’ve attempted during my healer practice, and I have a lot still left to learn. Plus, even if I think the gear is ugly, it’s still an upgrade for my bard and I can always glamour over it.

Posted in Black Desert Online, MMORPGs

BDO: Dream Horse End Game

A few weeks back, I posted about how I’d finally got a T8 Charger and was now tackling awakening it into a T9 dream horse in Black Desert Online. I knew this was going to be a huge undertaking, and was prepared for it to take months, if not even a year for the process to pan out a return.

In fact, I’ve hardly spent much time on courser training since I brought her to Stonetail Ranch. I had a bunch of the materials you need to complete courser training from the handouts at the anniversary and just random boxes I opened over the past couple months. But I was also picking up a conch shell every night with loyalty points, and slowly amassing the items I needed for my first try.

I was really shooting for the pegasus, like just about everyone else, but I also tossed materials in there towards the unicorn, Dine, and a tiny bit towards Doom (who I didn’t want). Last night was the first night I thought to head back to the ranch as I had enough materials to hit the 200% I needed for the first awakening attempt.

Keep in mind, I read the first attempt you make at awakening has a 1% chance of success. When you fail, you earn failstacks that increase your chance of success by 1% each time. You’ll get it… eventually… but the materials you need to awaken the charger, not to mention the stone to facilitate the event, take time and effort to gather.

I was just telling Amoon yesterday that I was in it for the long haul, and quite resigned to the idea that I’d be working on this for months. But something extremely unexpected happened last night when I attempted my first awakening…

No… I thought. No… that didn’t just happen!

But it did! I was absolutely beside myself in shock and excitement!

The bad news: It wasn’t the pegasus. The good news: It wasn’t Doom.

I think I’d probably have sold Doom for an attempt at the 12 billion it’s worth and just buy another courser to start over again. I’m not a fan of Doom, sorry.

Dine, the Unicorn, was my second choice. She can’t glide and she won’t be able to be part of the attempt at a T10 horse whenever that comes out on our servers. But she is supposed to be awesome for desert travel. I will totally take her for my Shai main, which actually fits quite well!

So now I have to train her up again and try to regain the skills she lost. After awakening, the horse returns to level 1 and loses their skills. So, it’s back to training and skill swapping. Thankfully, I still have some skill swap tokens from when I was training her as a charger.

I’m really after getting all of the important skills that she needs – sprint and instant acceleration – to be the best horse that I currently own. It’ll be fun to train her up from scratch, too!

I feel like achieving my final goal came a little too easily… but you know… I guess I could always try it again if I want the challenge of it. Trust me, I’m not complaining!

Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV: Weekend Events – NPC Raid & Art Party

I know I’ve been writing a lot about BDO lately, but I’ve also been playing FFXIV just as much as always. I’ve just not had anything exciting to talk about since we’re all waiting for the patch to drop tonight.

However, over the weekend, I attended a couple of fun community events with my RP alt, Amon.

On Saturday, a FC I’m a part of on Marlboro set up what’s called a Full NPC Raid for Syrcus Tower. This means that we invited the players who have NPC characters or look-alikes to come and create a full pre-made raid party.

Of course, Amon had to be there, along with Syn on her Scylla character. But quite a few showed up! Enough for two full runs, in fact.

On Sunday, we attended a Hatching Tide art party hosted by another FC on the datacenter. The funky thing about this year is that Easter fell so early in April, I thought we wouldn’t be seeing a Hatching Tide event. Well, that was wrong – we’re getting one after the patch drops this week.

So may as well celebrate the new patch and have an art party!

Fun times!

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV 5.5 Preliminary Patch Notes Highlights

Another patch is upon us next week, and it’s time for me to take a look at the 5.5 preliminary notes to see what interests me. As usual, this glosses over the stories/dungeons/raids because these are pretty much givens.

Yay!

I’m going to let this be the stand in for all of the housing and decoration updates. There are a LOT of them, and all of them are really good. I like how different this housing exterior is, though I’d likely never use it myself – I only have a small house and this seems to take up quite a bit of yard.

Good updates to Triple Triad! I really need to play this again.

In particular, this is the Rainmaker hairstyle. I’m glad they’re putting it back in there for people who missed it because it was odd how it never returned for any of the Make it Rain Campaigns.

Very very nice and much needed! Thank you!

Also very nice. I really need to get back into fishing one day.

Okay. I REALLY need to get back on that boat. This sounds great!

This sounds like a lot of fun. I hope I can catch one.

These are both really cute mounts! I guess I’ll have to make an effort to get to these fetes!

I wonder if these will have something to do with the Ocean Fishing changes?

This is so so so nice! Thank you! Much needed!

Yes, yes, yes, yes to all of this! Thank you!

Nice!

Nice for those Nier fans. I’ll pick these up, but I doubt I’ll put them to use, myself. Can’t knock the addition of new hairstyles, though.

Never had too much trouble with this before (unless there was a spinning tank), but any help is welcome!

Awesome! Keep going with this! I’ve needed to take screens in Fractal before and this would have come in handy!

Nice retainer changes! I still have some retainers that need leveling up, so this will be handy!

Hmm….

Another set of custom deliveries? I’m not against them, but it seems awful late in the patch cycle, especially one where we’ve already crafted quite a bit. I’m going to assume this is a follow up to the Firmament, which means I need to hurry up and get those quests done on three characters this weekend.

I wonder what this is about? It wouldn’t happen to be super expensive gil mounts, now would it?

Wait… wait.. what is this “Object” option you speak of? If it’s what I think it is, this could be AWESOME!

This is a nice option, but only relevant if you have 4 players already in your party (which we almost never do when I play). I’d love to see it where one day Leveling could understand this automatically when matching players rather than it just being a setting. But it’s a very nice option to have.

Meh

Actually, there was nothing that I saw that made me go meh this time around.

Overall

This patch has a lot of nice QoL stuff that we really need. I also see that it’s going to nudge me back into things like Triple Triad, the Firmament and Ocean Fishing. That’s not a bad thing — I’ve been needing new projects to think about. So this should be enough to keep me going until the expansion, though I know we have another half patch coming out between the two for story at least.

Posted in Black Desert Online, Gaming, MMORPGs

BDO: Narchillan Gear Get

See an awesome guide on how to get Narchillan Gear here!

One thing I’ve learned about BDO is that you really need to pay attention to the details in the weekly Patch Notes. Events come and go quickly, they drop coupons for free items in the notes, and spend a good bit of time explaining important changes to the game – including this new Narchillan gear addition.

So why am I making a little bit of a fuss (in a good way) about Narchillan gear?

Well, due to the bonus XP event last month, I’ve gotten all of the characters that I’m going to level past 50 to at least 56. This allowed me to pick up the Oasis gear for them (which is said to be temporary). But in the meantime, I’ve been wondering what to do to gear up aside from that.

I’m pretty much a solo player and I don’t really need the top of the line gear because I don’t expect to be doing major end-game content in this game. In fact, if Oasis gear wasn’t temporary, I’d be just fine with it. But I have a feeling that with the introduction of Narchillan gear, Oasis gear is on the way out – or maybe they’ll just let us keep it, which would be nice.

Based on the guide I linked above, Narchillan gear ranks somewhere between DUO and TRI Blackstar gear. I believe Blackstar is some of the highest gear you can get right now, so for the ease and inexpensiveness of Narchillan, this is a really awesome set for someone like me who has nothing but Oasis.

I tested it out, and though you can only do the quests for each item once per family, you can bank the Narchillan gear and pass it around between your characters. Sure, this isn’t as convenient as having a set for each of them, but the fact that it isn’t character bound is what really motivated me to work on this.

To get Narchillan gear, you have to start a questline with Fughar – a deer-looking fellow that’s usually located near stables in the big towns. There’s a quest for each piece of armor (accessories are not included in this) and for one main-hand, off-hand and Awakened weapon. Weapons, obviously, can’t be shared across different classes, so this is the one you do have to make a choice on.

Basically, upgrade a piece of Naru gear to PEN and trade it for each piece of Narchillan gear. If you’ve tossed your Naru gear for any reason, you can talk to Fughar to exchange beginner black stones for those. It also takes beginner black stones to upgrade the Naru gear.

Because you can do quests for pieces individually, the best way I found was to look across all my characters and take inventory of the number of beginner stones they still have – lucky I kept most of them. Then, I spread out the upgrades across my characters as best as I could. So one character would upgrade the helm, another the chest, another the gloves, etc.

This was my first time upgrading gear to PEN. I learned a LOT about the upgrade system – and finally understand what Chron stones are for! I know that sounds silly as a player who has accumulated over 1,000 hours in this game…

Proof! I haven’t claimed it yet because I haven’t decided where I’m going to put the bed…

But I just haven’t had a need to upgrade gear based on my playstyle so far.

I did run across an issue where I’d run out of black weapon stones at one point. I also ran across the issue where I’d tossed out all of my Canon Awakened weapons, which you need for the Awakened weapon trade-in.

Thankfully, I’d left off in the middle of my Awakened quest on one character. So I finished that up, got the Canon weapon for him, and traded it in. You receive a box instead of a weapon straight out, so you can put this box in the bank and it becomes the Awakened weapon of the character who opens the box.

Amon got the Awakened weapon since he’s been using his Greatbow from the beginning and Shai don’t have an Awakened weapon. I know it seems dumb to give my Shai the rest of the weapons, but she remains my main, even if she’s not as strong as some of the other classes in the game.

At this point, I feel as if the Narchillan gear has me set for whatever leveling I might decide to do eventually. But last month I’ve leveled so much that I’m giving BDO a bit of a break in that area. Most of my time this month has been spent running horses and sailing ships for fishing. But in time, I’m sure I’ll be using this gear for leveling of some sort, and I’m glad to have it.

Posted in Black Desert Online, MMORPGs

BDO: Breeding the Impossible T8 Horse and Courser Training

This is not an April Fools joke – this really happened yesterday!

On Tuesday night, I left a couple of BDO horses breeding – a T5 male and a T6 female (with the bleh ketchup/mustard coat). When I woke up the next day, I was greeted with my first ever bred T8 horse from the coupling!

Ever since I started breeding, back 5 years ago when BDO launched, it was my goal to breed a top tier horse. Back then, it was T7. Now the highest you can breed is T8.

The only thing about this horse is that she’s a T8 female. Why is this significant?

Because based on the BDO horse calculator, she shouldn’t be possible from this pairing.

Below, you can see what I should be able to get from a max level T5 male and T6 female.

There’s an 8% chance of a T8 Male based on this, but NO chance of a T8 Female!

So not only was this an extremely lucky breeding, but it’s downright impossible… or just so improbable that it doesn’t even register on the calculator!

Anyhow. I was so excited to get a T8 of my own breeding (more on that later) and one of my favorite T8 coats, that I sat down and mapped out her family tree. It turns out that on both sides of her family, I can trace her lineage back to the two very first horses I ever captured five years ago!

Click for bigger image

The satisfaction in this is why I kept that silly spreadsheet all these years. That just goes to show you that you never know how things are going to play out until they do.

Dream Horse Progress

Kizmit isn’t actually my first T8 horse – I didn’t post about this yet, but last week I took my Shakatu’s seals and turned them in for a ship and a T8 horse (that came with one of the skills needed to become a Courser).

In BDO, to get a T9 horse – known as a Dream Horse – you first must have a T8 horse. You must then train them to level 30 and ensure they have all the proper skills to become what’s know as a Courser.

This is not easy to do. In fact, the guides say it’s nearly impossible to get an organic Courser considering all the RNG and the difficulty of learning the skills naturally.

I bought the T8 horse with all intentions of making it a Courser anyhow. She came with one of the rare skills already, and I had a stack of skill change coupons from various log-in rewards over the years. So I got to work on it.

The good: By the time she was level 30, she had enough skills to pull it off.

The bad: By the times she was level 30, she was missing ONE of the required skills needed even after several skill changes. And… I’d be lying if I said I didn’t throw some RL cash at the shop when the April fools mount skill change coupons went on sale.

Apparently, I got pretty lucky in the end because it can take quite a bit of cash for coupons to get what you need for the Courser. I had 20+ failstacks, I’ll tell you what, and I was starting to worry it wasn’t going to happen.

But then it did!

Kodie became a Courser!

So now I’m taking her to Courser training and she’s on the very slow track to become a Dream Horse one day. I hope. This is going to take a lot of time and effort… but that’s okay. Since I just achieved one project – breeding my own T8 — this will be my next goal.

I’m not done by far, though. I’ve got a couple T7 males and I plan on training them and the two T8 females to hopefully produce more T8s if I’m lucky. At least more T7s. Either way, my breeding stock is slowly kicking out of the T5 territory and moving up into the T6-T8 area.

Eventually, I hope to provide pretty nice horses for all of my characters. I certainly know the worth of having a well-trained horse with the proper skills now.

Here’s my T8 Courser, Kodie!

Posted in Black Desert Online

BDO: New Sage and Sorting Out Story

It seems like every time I turn around, I learn something new about this game. It’s vast, and I’m still pretty new to it all myself, despite having played it on and off from back at launch.

The new Sage class launched last week, and I decided to roll one since I had the character slots to do so. It’s a pretty fun class – a heavy hitter, a bit slower than others, but definitely packs a punch in each blast. It’s also more flashy and colorful than other classes I played, and was pretty easy to breeze through to level 56 (yes again).

This time, though, I did something I hadn’t done before, though. I finally discovered the true “main story.”

In previous posts, I lamented the fact that so much of the original story was cut, and that I never saw how all the pieces came together. It turns out that this was absolutely user error on my part – but to be fair, the game wasn’t very clear about what choices I was making.

There’s a couple points where the story branches off into three directions. The first time didn’t seem of that much consequence, so when the second choice came, I didn’t realize that this choice would change what main story line I would experience.

Me being me, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to pick sides with either character in this scenario – neither seemed to be in the right. So for time after time, I always chose the middle: Silence, We’re Done Here! and just shrugged them both off.

I found there was very little story in the second choice — and that’s for a reason. It’s the option to take if you just want to burn through the game through massive killing rather than be bothered by quests. Basically, an option for folks who’d already seen the story. The game warned me there would be more fighting if I chose that option, but it never warned me that I’d forego seeing the main story altogether should I go that direction.

On my Sage, I decided to do something different – I chose the first path. Then, lo and behold, the main story was there! Everything was actually making a lot more sense! The pieces I thought were cut out of the game from the old story were actually all there – cutscenes included. And I got to learn bout what happened to Edan and his company after all!

Needless to say, I was a much happier camper having discovered that this option finally told me the story that I’ve been so confused about all this time. I really feel that the game needs to make it very clear that the first option is the one you should take if you want to know the overarching story of this world.

Once I got my Sage to level 56 and dumped him in Altinova, I was left with a question of where to go next. I had obtained the Chenga Tome, which I’d used to help level my Sage as fast as I did, so I could always start questing on some of my characters while there’s still a level boost.

But I’m also interested in trying out sailing, ship bartering and ocean fishing. The only thing is, I’m worried about being PKed out in the ocean. I know, I know… folks say it hardly happens. But if I’m out there on a boat and I want to AFK fish, I don’t want to have to be worried I’ll come back to a dead character or a sunk boat because someone happened to see me and wanted to get luls.

I have enough of the Shakatu’s seals to get TWO Epheria Sailboats if I wanted (though I think I’m going to spring for one T8 Horse instead of two ships, maybe – I can always pick up a cheaper ship later, too).

I know that a character under level 50 can’t use the canons and can’t do all the dailies to learn sailing, but if my main goal is to just fish and barter for the fun of it… Well, long story short, I decided to roll another character just for that aspect of the game. So here she is!

I went with Mystic and it’s been fun. She’s also quite lovely!

If I want to get deeper into leveling sailing, I can always do that on a 50+ character. But I wanted to have at least one character who would be safe out on the ocean. I know that I already have a Tamer that’s under level, but really, I want to keep her where she is for horse training since that’s her focus.

I’ve gotten my Mystic up to level 48 as of last night, and once I hit 49, I’ll call it quits on leveling her and see what the ocean has to give. I found the job to be a real powerhouse and surprisingly a lot of fun at the early levels.

Oh, and for the record, I tried the third story path on my Mystic, but found it to be a bit more meh than the first path. It’s a different story, and much more focused on quests, but I’m not really into being a hired mercenary for a merchant guild (that treats my character poorly). Though, I guess it does fit this character’s backstory.

Posted in Gaming, Valheim

Valheim: Cart Adventures

I interrupt this series of Valheim progress posts for a story about… carts.

Once we got things in place to produce bronze, one of the first things that Amoon chose to do was build a cart. Carts are interesting things in Valheim. You have to stand in the exact right position to be able to hook it to your character, but when you do, you’ve attached a pretty significant travelling storage unit to yourself.

Note that carts can get damaged when they slam up against things. They’re super finicky, too, and not all that easy to pull into hilly or forested areas. I’ve seen a cart flip over (it doesn’t lose its inventory, thankfully) and even once where a cart sunk into the ground until we managed to flip it out of whatever weird void it had fallen into.

They aren’t the easiest things to maneuver, but they do make for good outside-the-base storage even when not travelling. We often use carts to gather stacks of wood and leave them next to the kiln for processing.

But for the first cart, I had better ideas…

My own personal transportation!

As long as the cart isn’t full of storage, you can sit down and have someone else do all the work of toting you around for a while. 🙂

Okay… okay. So I didn’t really use it for that (very long). I just thought it was funny that you could AFK and travel along with someone else. Proof that this game could do things like horses and wagons. Really!

Amoon’s main reason for setting up the cart was that we’d left much of our inventory back at the Meadows Base. We didn’t have portals set up until much later, so it seemed like a good idea to go back with a cart, fill it up, and transport all of our stuff to the new base. Easier than us all making several trips on foot.

Hearing how the cart could get snagged and tumbled by just about anything along the way, Syn was inspired to begin tamping out a path between the bases to make the return trip easier. I was completely on board with this because it reminded me of all the time I spend in Minecraft games digging up roads between towns that I find and upgrade.

I don’t ever really know why I do this in Minecraft. I just do it. And so it goes.

Absolutely the same vibe

Syn went ahead of me, tamping a very rough path. I came behind smoothing it out, mining up rocks and cutting trees. We only got about halfway between the bases before our hoes needed repair, of course, but it was a fun little experiment.

Amoon did use the path on the return run and it made things far easier, as we hoped. Path success!

Now that we have portals, however, I doubt this little road will ever fully be completed. The world in Valheim continues to grow and expand for us, and that little Meadow Base doesn’t seem like such a priority anymore – I’ll talk a bit about that in an upcoming post!

Posted in Gaming

March 2021 Gaming Goals

Welcome to March!

Spring is coming and it’s time to think about what goals I want to work towards this month. I think this time around will be pretty open and light seeing most of the more intricate goals are already taken care of. So let’s see what I can find.

FFXIV Goals

  • Finish crafting relics on Main
  • Continue leveling Amon’s White Mage
  • Start Shadowbringers on Ben

As I noted in my previous post, I’m going to finish up to last patch’s crafting relics on my Main, and maybe some on Amon. But beyond that, I don’t think I’m geared enough to finish the tools up.

I’ve been working on leveling Amon’s White Mage for the past few months. I might finish it up this month, but if I don’t, I’m not really in a rush. Just making progress there.

I’d like to start making progress with Ben in Shadowbringers. He’s right there at the start and it’s part of my goals to try to push him through the MSQ before the next expansion. So it’s a good time to get that started!

Really, not a whole lot of stuff to work on, but that’s okay because I have other goals I want to achieve!

MISC Goals

  • Switch: Progress on Link’s Awakening 
  • Play at least 1 new Steam game a week 
  • Play at least 1 Xbox Game Pass game 

I’d really like to be ambitious and say “Finish Link’s Awakening” this month. But I’ll give myself some wiggle room instead. Just making progress on it is a good thing.

I’ve been making lots of progress on cleaning up my “Clear” games in my Steam backlog, so I’m going to continue doing this, trying to play one new game from that category each week.

I also downloaded a new game to try from the Xbox Game Pass for this month. Nothing that’s on the Leaving Soon list really caught my eye, but I have lots that are sitting in my Try it Later list for sure!

It feels like these goals are pretty vanilla this time around and I could even get by without having any goals at all. But I’m just going to set them anyhow since I have been progressing through backlog and things like that nicely the past couple months. No need to break the momentum!