I am now entering my 3rd month with Final Fantasy XIV and I thought I’d stop and talk about it some. For reference, I have leveled both a White Mage and Astrologer to level 60, I’ve been at 60 for a few weeks with both actually and am starting to get fair gear for my level. I have also leveled the 3 gathering classes to level 46, and the about 8 crafting classes to almost level 40. I have not completed all of the Main Story line quests as of yet, but I feel I am probably pretty close to being done with them.
I first want to discuss the quests…. I did try to pay attention to the quests early on, but I got bored fairly quick and got tired of reading the insane amounts of text for what didn’t seem all that interesting of a story early on. I hear it picks up, but when I have this sense of “catching up” in terms of actual game since I didn’t play the first 3 or 4 years of the game, reading a ridiculous amount of text that don’t actually have much to do with the game play, well it’s easy to let it go. I don’t believe any of the story is interactive at all at any rate so I don’t feel like I am missing out. By interactive, I mean no choice I make or any player or group of player changes the story. We can’t as a server decide that we don’t care about X going on so that thing is going to not happen. As a matter of fact, you pretty much have to defeat whatever bosses you have to defeat because the only way to get content unlocked is by unlocking content which requires beating bosses. So if I decided to actually not defeat a boss because I don’t believe in his cause, well not only am I not unlocking that raid or dungeon or trial, but I am also not unlocking everything that gets unlocked AFTER it in the storyline, which is just awful. You may as well not play at that point. So there really is no story choice at all and there is no player that ever affects the game world at all in any meaningful way and because of this, I just don’t care about the story, even though I’ve heard it’s decent.
Now the reason that I came to FFXIV in the first place is because I heard that the raiding scene was pretty good. I am just starting to get into the raiding. I am not in a guild that has a regular group that raids, so I generally go in duty finder and just get auto added to the random raids. So I admit that I have a limited experience here. Still, I have gone through most of the most recent line of raids. I have had a difficult time getting through the level 50 raids as there are fewer people who go through them which makes sense. My overall reaction is…. what raids? Which is only slightly unfair. Group content in this game is divied up into a number of different categories… It’s all instance and level synced so even at 60 you can play the level 17 dungeon and it is easier for a 60 than a straight 17 but still can be challenging.
- Dungeons – are what you’d think, it’s usually 2 smaller bosses, one more challenging boss, and a bunch of trash. Usually it is a decent sized run that takes about a half hour and I find the Dungeons fairly satisfying, though they don’t drop any gear worth wearing for the most part. Most dungeons have a normal and a hard variety. I like this, as it reuses the assets from the original dungeon and keeps it relevant and variety later in the game.
- Trials – These are essentially one off boss fights. The boss is usually fairly challenging, especially at extreme. The fight does have 3 difficulties: Normal, Hard, and Extreme. I kind of hope and expect for a forth difficulty with the upcoming expansion. Really, this is a non-loot event which is odd to me, the Extreme version does have super rare mount loots that people farm them for. They tend to have a decent tome drop compared to dungeons and they are super quick, like 10 or 15 minutes, there are a couple longer trials but they are rare. Honestly, I don’t entirely understand why people do the Trials but I find myself doing them more than other content because I find them fulfilling and when I only have a few minutes, they fill up time well.
- GuildHests – Really these are kind of mini-trials. Most of them are a single fight and not overly difficult. The last Guildhest is level 40 so I have a feeling they won’t be continued longterm. Again no loot or anything, you do get some grand company $$ but not much.
- Raids – Ok I am going to actually split this up into two:
- Mini-Dungeons – This is actually a more accurate way to describe most of the raids in this game. Take 8 players and put them through a series of bosses, sometimes with trash mobs between. This is where most good loot is dolled out. They are generally quicker than actual dungeons because they have less trash to go through, but the mechanics of the bosses are far more complex and the boss fights take a bit more time. This is not at all what I would call a raid however because there isn’t a time investment or strategy investment really. They are like 2 or 3 trials put together, generally take 20-30 minutes. Honestly I’d rather do these more than Dungeons because there’s actually loot here. But because there isn’t a daily roulette, there aren’t as many groups doing it for some reason.
- Raids – There are, I think, 3 Raids per 10 level tier. Seriously, only 3. And they aren’t overly popular to do. Probably because they actually require time and effort to do. But they also don’t seem to have as good of gear as the mini-dungeons either so there’s less reason to do them.
So here’s the thing. The best loot in the game is dropped in the mini-dungeons so everyone tends to focus on that. This makes sense. The second tier of loot can be received from doing ANY of the rest of the content (outside of guildhests). Because you receive tomes from doing them, you turn in tomes for 2nd and 3rd tier gear. YAY hazzah. Some methods you get more tomes than others, but generally you get tomes from doing near anything in the game. So in the end I feel very unfulfilled by what I’m seeing with the raiding tier. I don’t visualize small dungeons as raids, I really don’t. Raids are a massive undertaking…. to me it’s generally 20+ (though I would take 15+) people getting together and coordinating for a greater goal. And that was the draw I was looking for. 8 people running through large scale content, while fun is the stuff that fills the middle between the big thing. The dynamics within these are great! They totally remind me of the instanced dungeons in EQ2 that we would use to gear up to do the raids. But here they are the end result. It’s weird. The whole gear system is f’d up.
So Blech. I’m still playing FFXIV but I feel the writing is on the wall. I do really like their crafting system, being able to switch jobs is pretty nice too. I feel the game as a whole follows WoW’s “let’s make the game really easy so that casual players can play and hardcore players feel left out.” But that’s becoming standard, anything meant for a hardocre player is viewed as “not with the times.” I may go back to giving EQ2 another play, but honestly don’t have high hopes, it seems like the servers are pretty dead now.