A lot of things are going on in my life, quiet or otherwise. I’m between jobs, and in the downtime, decided to take on a massively multiplayer online game.
~~ prelude ~~
My last was Final Fantasy 11. I was playing a white mage and a bard in that one. I eventually wore out of that game, because the grind through the final 10 levels was too much for me. Pickup parties I could find, in general, didn’t have the skill sets to really function well, and the team experience wasn’t good enough to be satisfying.
In Dark Age Of Camelot (aka DAOC), my earlier MMO, I was playing a warden, a healing class that wore armor and could fight a little ( a very little, mind you). I found a good guild, and in time, became friends enough with players in the dominant guild of the server, one called Blackthorn, to help in the final days of leveling. That, and RL friends who were also playing the game. Having the right support in crucial in a team game.
I was looking for something akin to a warden in a new game..
~~ end prelude ~~
So, enter Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn. It’s a pretty game with intriguing content. In many respects, it’s clearly evolved from the older MMOs. Hours are not spent finding parties. There is a Duty Finder that can put together parties for you. The game has other mechanisms to get around the leveling grind that other MMOs face. There are these spontaneous FATES that erupt, little events that if you get into, offer relatively large rewards for participation. It’s not as “grindy” as older MMOs. The class system is free form. Want to play a new class? Get your first class to 10 and you can play just about any class you wish.
Want some skills from your minor class in your major class? By the time you reach level 5, you can begin to add a skill, every five levels, to your major class. There is a good heal, for warrior types, that you get at Pugilist level 8. It’s worth it to spend some time with Pugilist if you’re leveling, say, a tank. It gives you a reserve heal in the middle of a fight.
Since I no longer use Windows on my home PC, another advantage of FF XIV is that I can play it on my PS3. But playing on a PS3 controller, not a keyboard, makes communications much harder. People do not talk much in this game as a result. They seem to talk only when things go horribly wrong. Very little effort is taken to make sure things go right from the start.
I’m to a level now where this creates consequences. By the time you reach the first dungeons, levels 15 through 1 9, tanks in particular have to know what they are doing. Well, not the first dungeon, perhaps, because I’ve been playing this game a week, played the first dungeon successfully as a tank, and I don’t really have all the mechanics of playing a tank down. I think I can hold aggro, but best practices? What are those? If you read about even the second dungeon (min level 16), you have tactics like these being employed(*). That doesn’t even begin to get to the tactics suggested for dungeon #3.
What does this do for the person whose first MMO is Final Fantasy XIV: ARR and they’re playing a character for the first time? My daughter is growing curious about MMOs. I let her make a character on my account. She chose a marauder, a tanking class, because handling one big axe makes the decision making processes simpler for her.
It’s not hard to level in Final Fantasy XIV: Fates, the Main line quest, and other quests all about make it pretty easy to level just by fetching goods, killing a few mobs, and answering questions. Skill isn’t required to level. Finding parties has been made much simpler with FF XIV’s Duty Finder. Want a pick up party? Just log into the Duty Finder and you’ll get one.
They have miniature party scenarios available through the Duty Finder as early as level 10, and I’ve played though those dozens of times, mostly with my healer, my conjurer.
But to play the dungeons, a lot of skill is required at the very earliest levels.
Because so many people are on PS3 controllers, not a lot of talking happens in the game. Since the phrase guild is reserved for the various classes in the game, they call them free companies, or FCs.
One of the earliest issues are the blind invites to free companies. After ignoring a few of them, I accepted one. What did I get? No website, no hello, no FC chat, no discussion at all. The FC existed for the purpose of filling someone’s ego who then didn’t do what a FC should do: give people a context within which to play the game. Needless to say, I left that guild after a few days.
I have questions about my play. I’d like to talk about these issues first before blindly rushing forward with leveling in a game where the skill to play the role defines success or failure. A free company should play a major factor in this, and by that standard, I had good free companies the first two MMOs I played.
I have yet to see a free company friendly enough to beginners and literate enough to function, really, as a company to play that role.
You can’t just have a website. Someone, preferably more than one someone, has to actually use the site. And it doesn’t even have to be forum or bulletin board based. A FC blog might be a more sensible arrangement. But there has to be a mechanism that allows folks in the FC, at whatever level they may be, to actually talk to their peers, and more so, the more experienced players and get their input and feedback.
So there are plenty of good things in this new game. But I’m at the point where I’d like some one who has done these things before to discuss the mechanics of play, and that need has yet to be addressed.
Oh yes, and if you’re low level, and try to post a new thread on the Square Enix forums, you get this:
Square Enix, your forums suck.
* Perhaps it doesn’t seem to anyone that there are tactics in Tam-Tara Deepcroft. But having died about five times to the Priest in Tam-Tara Deepcroft in the penultimate fight, because people didn’t pick up that he was killing the party’s healer (me), is a big functional issue for a party.