Sunday, 15 April 2018

Ever danced with Diablos under the pale Moonlight?

Man. People are not happy. They already weren't happy with Eureka. I mean i get it. I outright hate Eureka and have not touched it since my post about it. Its an anti-fun void i want to avoid in favour of time spent in Monster Hunter World or Warframe instead. Heresy i know!
 Like most however i was eager for news in terms of the next update. More story, more raids, all that good stuff right?


Eeehh its been better lets put it that way. Or just say the reaction online is -shock of shocks- "Mixed". We have a name and a rough date. Under the Moonlight is the next major content update for FFXIV and its coming in the last week of May. Yes that means another month of nothing but Eureka. Yayyy... But theres a bunch of new things coming. Trouble is pretty much all but one or two come with a massive "buuuuut" followed by news that is leaving people disappointed, incredulous, apathetic or outright buttmad as the kids say.

So lets do the rundown:

-Patch 4.3 will be the end of the 'Doma story' but will continue afterwards in a rebuilding campaign. 
 Its odd that it feels like Stormblood has been around forever and yet still its story feels like things are wrapping up too quick. Most likely from splitting focus in two very different ways compared to the much more focussed -and in retrospect- superior experience of the Heavensward Main Story Quests. Thus far at least. As someone who used to main NIN i'll be a bit sad to see Doma wrap up but to be honest its also been quit a bland story so far and i would rather it ramp up and go out with a bang than just feel like overstaying its welcome just for busywork. The rebuilding is interesting as maybe this is where Rowena is going to set up her next shop to give the Relic quest? (please anywhere but Eureka!)

-MSQ with a trial that is being kept hidden and even being left out of the trailers.
 Lotta fan theories about this one. Is it Yotsuyus brother? is it fighting the newly crowned Doman King to protect her and stop him becoming a murderer? is it a certain someone shown at the end of the last MSQ's cutscenes? we just don't know and we have a wealth of choices this time. Of all the news in this somewhat sour liveletter this is easily the most exciting. Especially since the primals this time around have been considered a bit bland and this 'mystery' fight could be anything and with an extreme already confirmed folks are hoping for something special.

-The Four Lords story continues, but without a Primal fight.
So instead of the expected 'next on the checklist' animal spirit primal we have what looks like a single player trial against a familiar turtle in a half shell gone a bit gammy. Its been a while since 'The Wall of Rahbaun' so maybe it won't be a nightmare this time?

-More Hildebrand quests.
This is another high point. The last ones were an improvement and once again got a out loud chuckle or two from me. Can't wait for the detectives next chapter!

-Namazu Beast Tribe Dailies.
Honestly i don't know many players personally who kept up with the beast tribe dailies this time around. But people have levelled far fewer jobs so maybe the incentive isn't there anymore? personally i'm doing them now and then but the 'every mount must fly' ethos is getting a bit ridiculous when its stuff like a white elephant. Just my tastes but its a bit silly in a way that feels more 'videogame' than 'fantasy story' if that makes sense. Still there will be crafting and gathering this time around which -while i've capped all of mine- is a nice way to to have more stuff to do bar farm useless scrips.

-New instanced dungeon "The Swallows Compass".
Another dungeon set in the Doma region is a nice surprise but i guess if the story is wrapping up it makes sense. Being just the one i wonder how rewards will tier between current content and the new stuff that comes with it in the patch. Will it be a one and done for anyone not playing gear level catch up.

-Return to Ivalice part 2: The Ridorana Lighthouse.
More Ivalice story, this time more XII than Tactics but boy does the inside look better. The 'Lighthouse at the edge of the world' from FFXII looked great on the outside but inside was a lot of repeating tilesets of the same blue-grey stonework. All the clockwork and gears seems a lore more like Pharos Sirius on steriods and thats great. Buuuuuuuuut -and this is a big one- its coming with a new raid system. The 'only greed' system. Remember needing stuff for your job/role? yeah thats gone. Need is gone. Instead you can greed everything. Like everything everything. Dps that wants an easy queue? go Healer but roll on the Dps gear, to spite the Dps players competing more for their gear. Or go Dps for the larger number of spots to queue for and steal that tank gear the 3 tanks are now competing with everyone for.
Quite honestly i have no idea why they thought this was a good idea and we all know the incoming reaction will be "you rolled on my tank gear, fuck you i quit, find another tank to ninja" on repeat. This is maybe the worst idea the team has had since ARR and i can only imagine the inevitable shitstorms will hotfix this back to the current system fast.
But news of crafting and gathering tied into the raid is a neat new idea i will give them that.

-Deep Dungeon 2: Heaven on High.
Finally we get info on the new Deep Dungeon and surprising nobody its that giant tower of interlocking caskets in the Ruby Sea. What is a surprise is the apparent 31 floor main story levels and the following 69 are the intended for premades hard floors. Instead of the current 1-100 and 101-200 hard. Maybe its going to be super short, maybe the xp will be super great and finally an explosion of alt levelling will occur? Either way its something i loved in Heavensward returning far later than i hoped but better late than never.

-Eureka part 2: The Pagos Expedition.
Well i can't say i'm excited for this. More mobs to grind but in a snowy, coerthan looking map? great news for some but for me its just more content i will not be touching. I know im a grouch about it but in a game full of optional content its the only one i actively dislike after experiencing it.

-Ultimate Ballad Ultima Weapon.
Not quite the same mouthfull tier as "Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan" but we are getting there. Nice to see a beloved 2.0 fight return but apparently very different in ways not yet explained. Maybe Gaius plays a part? or the primals themselves?

-PVP updates.
Not groundbreaking but improving on it is no bad thing. A lot of games, even the giants like WoW, have a bad habit of shitting out pvp content and not working on improving it till the next paid expansion pack unless theres some truly game breaking or retention tanking content. Gotta admit they show pvp more love than most hotbar mmo devs do these days.

-The Final Fantasy XIV Companion App.
and heres the next shitstorm. Remember the app thats been in the works for over 2 years? well its finally showing up. With "funpay minibuys". Thats right once again Square Enix is taking a game you already buy the game, the expansions and pay a sub for and adding in more activities reliant on microtransactions.
 In this case an additional sub fee gets you 'kupo nuts' to use as premium currency to buy and sell on the market from your smart phone or tablet. In the grand scheme of things its lame and no big deal. As the latest in an increasing series of additional charges? players are starting to lose patience. Of course you can ignore it, it isn't game breaking and wont show up in game like cash shop gear and mounts. Still its getting close to that 'straw that broke the camels back' period for some people as they see another thing hyped up for ages be stained by the inclusion of real money transactions that not everyone can afford and definitely not everyone wants to support.
For some it is a none issue and there are cries of 'entitlement' and 'whining children' but personally i see it as gross. But i feel the same about a lot of systems like the retainers and character limits per server. Right now of course they aren't deal breakers and the core experience keeps us entertained. But this is a balancing act and every new micropayment makes us worry that one day that balance will shift and the love for the game isn't as great as the distain for greasy microtransactions. Its nothing right now to worry about really in my opinion. Still its a let down to see SE feel they need to resort to it at all.

so yeah. Mixed bag right? some neat stuff. Some disappointments and a couple of "what the hell are they thinking?!?" ideas that may bite them in the ass. Theres been a few comments of late about Yoshi having one expansion left in him and i think part of the freakout going on is the worry that maybe these strange choices are a sign of the 'saviour' of the game -and to many the entire brand- taking more of a backseat to new voices that don't have the same love for the product as anything but a money farm.
Could be worrying for nothing of course, but if people didn't worry they wouldn't care and thats one thing we all have in common when it comes to Eorzea, right?

Saturday, 31 March 2018

"Magnai Fantasy XIV?"

God i miss when Square games used sprite art.

That is all.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Eureka: Maybe it should have stayed Forbidden?

 I'm not one to bitch and for once i am really tempted. Starting off great eh? but Eureka has arrived and i think its fair to say the reaction is 'mixed'. A big factor, in my opinion, behind the polarising nature of the content is quite simple: There isn't actually much content.

 You meet up with Krile in Kugane and start the quest to head to Eureka 'The Forbidden Land'. You take a boat to a newly discovered island in the Sea of Glass to investigate its mysteries. What does that conjure up for you? intrigue? treasure? adventure? yeah me too. By the time the intro cutscene ends those reveries are cut short with a pretty big "wweeeellllllll..." as you learn what you actually do on Eureka.

 Eureka is an island covered in mobs with a small hub settlement of 7 npcs and 3 aetherytes around the perimeter. You have a unique level here like Deep Dungeon gives you with Palace of the Dead but with a interesting twist. You find magicite that as you level lets you use a Magia Board to put points into it thats empowers you with one of six elemental choices. You have points in thunder? well thunder enemies do less damage and you do more to water but take more from earth. Basically two rock>paper>scissors rotations for the six elements. Neat idea right? you level up and gain new elements and then?

Well thats the question.
And the problem.

 See Eureka right now is basically this. Form a 8 man murderball and kill mobs to grind xp and a new collectible crystal currency to upgrade your lvl.70 artefact gear. Sometimes a rare mob or fate spawns and you zerg to it. You kill it for some stuff and lockboxes and then back to the grind. Thats it. Like thats all you do. Thus far at least.

 There is a questline of sorts with Krile but in my experience i've reached a point where each one has been 'go to X location to pick up a thing and come back' and beyond that it seems designed from the ground up to dissuade exploration. Those aetherytes around the island? i made it to one and promptly got a "you need to be level 9 to use this" message. Nothing to do but return back to base and get back to grinding. Grinding where the xp requirement appears to outright double per level, so naturally so does time to level. You might want to explore other areas right? but there are two issues. The first is monsters have huge aggro leashes and most ways are blocked by either monstrously high level mobs or intentionally placed opposing elements on mobs near choke points so the first element you pick to get through the starting mobs around town ensure you are weak to these stronger monsters and therefore you die easy. Second issue is the worst in my opinion. There is nothing to explore for.

Now i know the draw of an MMORPG can be different for everyone. Some want to raid. They want a large group based activity and a wall to climb and conquer. Others want to craft. They want to be the suppliers with a reputation for min maxing and playing the markets to be the go to merchants on their server. Everyone has their tastes and i get that. For me? exploration. I have a lot of flaws with the later expansions but the big draw of World of Warcraft for me was simple. You liked Warcraft 3? liked exploring every nook and cranny of those maps? well heres a complete open world version to explore to your hearts content! Throw in a huge chunk of environmental storytelling littered around the world thats just there so theres something neat to find and theres my draw. My passion for videogames to a T. Exploration because you never know what you might find. So when the answer to that here is a big fat Nothing you can imagine my disappointment. It may as well be an empty zone for me really.

This is of course to say nothing of the on death XP debt system which honestly i don't mind. I played FFXI and Maple Story so its not a big deal to me. But i can imagine it is to others when they don't have the carrot making the lost time seem worthwhile. Sure there is tiers of upgrading artefact gear that will take dozens to maybe over a hundred hours solo to complete but i look at the top tier weapon reward and just think why not get 10 tomestone tokens and do 7 kefka fights in party finder for the same or better?
 Folks who know me know i love a grind. I got all my relic and deep dungeon weapons after all. So hearing me of all people complain must seem strange or even hypocritical. Thing is its not the grind thats the issue but the structure. Think of it like cleaning your room as a kid. You see the whole as a daunting task eating up your after school time so what do you do? you compartmentalise. You see your desk as a job. When its clean you did the job. Then under your bed and so on. You make it feel like manageable little pieces of the whole so the job in its entirety is easier to get through. Thats how the Relic grind works. You aren't farming a huge checklist of all the items for one long turn in going from a lvl.60 blue to a Lux Anima relic in HW content are you? well, maybe nowadays maybe but at the time? of course not. Its tiny chunks. Waystops on the way to the final destination with their own tangible rewards. Even if its just a unique model. It makes the journey feel worth it. Right now Eureka does not feel worth it.

  To further explain i'll use two comparisons. Diadem in Heavensward and The Isle of Thunder in World of Warcraft's excellent Thunder King patch during its Mists of Pandaria expansion. In Diadem you literally grind. You fill a bar as the singular core objective with some rare prizes from fates along the way. Yet we also ran around looking for hidden chests didn't we? theres treasure in them thar hills if only you can be the player who finds it. Same thing to a degree in WoW. The Isle of Thunder is an instanced island off the coast with lots of mobs much stronger than the mainland and players grind activities and daily quests to unlock wings of a raid as a server. The island itself was a foggy old ruin littered with treasures and toys to find. You were just doing repetitious mob killing to fill a bar but you didn't care because minute to minute gameplay was based on exploration for those treasures. Filling the checklist of objectives was just to facilitate that experience. Not the sum of the contents reason for being.

 Yet nothing like that exists on Eureka at the time of writing this. Nothing. Its a field of mobs to kill. Something you can do in dungeons for your weekly tome cap. Something you can do out in the world for hunts or fates to level alt jobs or get hunt log rewards. Its just a overwhelming and constant sense of 'this is time better spent doing any other in game activity. Or worse a feeling of "i don't want to play this at all, i think i'm going to play something else and take a break from FFXIV for now" and its been days and i'm already seeing that.

 I began this saying i'm not one to bitch and often thats true. However we have been teased this content for over a year. A real world year of "Diadem 2.0 coming soon and the futures so bright you gotta wear shades!" and this is what we have as the result of a year of R&D on how to improve Diadem?

 Maybe theres more switches to throw to unlock stuff as enough players reach the caps. Maybe there is some secret trial waiting for players to discover. Maybe theres a patch to shower us with an embarrassment of other activities like the Relic Weapons that still have yet to surface that will make this seem like nothing but ground work for the future.

 But right now? this content is bad. Real bad. If you love a game and want to see it improve you have to rip the band aid off and say something isn't fun. You pay a subscription fee to access this stuff right? sure theres always the binary crowd that believes there are two camps of "true fans" and "evil haters" and nothing in between but sometimes even the best teams can simply disappoint. For me this is the first time the FFXIV team has disappointed me and thats sad to say. I hope it improves and god knows if any team has shown they can turn something around its this one right?

For now at least i think i'm done with Eureka. I hope i have a reason to come back and explore someday but this is a firm 'no thank you' on this content from me and if you like it more power to you and i hope it keeps you entertained but me? i think i'm going to stick to Chocobo Racing, Lords of Verminion, Treasures Maps or something, anything else but Eureka.

They sold us a return to FFXI style mechanics and after a few days my only reaction was "i would rather be playing FFXI right now instead". If thats not a failure of the game designer in terms of consumer reaction i don't know what is and thats the saddest thing about all of this.

Monday, 12 February 2018

The Sigmascape in review

Boy was i excited for this one as a big FFVI fan. Just like Ozma in Heavensward i have once again not been disappointed. Which was a nice surprise after i honestly did not care for Deltascape at all. Choice of bosses, style of fights -the gravity manipulation fight in particular was so one note and dull- but also in theme. Conversely here we have something that felt far more faithful to the tone of the game it was lifting from instead of just 'HEY REMEMBER THESE!?' which i find always reeks of lazy design choices when its something from an earlier game but not matching the 'real' versions tone. It was a big nitpick i had with games like Dark Souls 3 that were at times overly reliant on predecessors to name a particularly egregious example.
 This time though? i dug it. I enjoyed myself and found myself going 'oh man thats cool' a fair few times as new mechanics appeared instead of just reskins of primal or coil boss abilities showed up. I think its a little easier than Deltascape but that could also be after multiple patches to balance jobs and let people do the numbers on the jobs -though its odd i have not seen one SAM in Sigmascape thus far but multiples of everything else. Personally i'm not 'done' so to speak with crafting and gathering and working on pve jobs again but still stuck to RDM for this raid. In PUG's (pick up groups) i have found self healing and -more importantly- the combination of Swiftcast and a res invaluable since no bloody SMN players seem to remember they can do it nowadays. So bare in mind this is the opinion of a ranged dps with self heals and a res that saved peoples bacon far more often than i expected as i talk about the fights.

Boss #1- The Phantom Train/Ghost Train:
So i have to admit i am predisposed to love this fight. The original in FFVI is easily one of my favourite moments in that game and the series. The use of different layers of Paralax Scrolling as this rusty old train packed with Ghosts rolled through the foggy woodlands in the Doman Countryside was mindblowing back on the SNES or even later on the PS1 as an example of sprite art at its best. The music, the mood and the fight ending in something Godbert Manderville would be proud of made it a great moment in Final Fantasy history. So when i see the train rendered on PS4 in full 3D with the same spooky music fading into the FFVI theme as you ride through those same foggy woods i had a huge grin on my face. That said this is easily the most easy to beat raid fight in FFXIV since maybe ADS in the First Binding Coil or Oppressor in Alexander. You use light to purify ghosts, avoid aoes and thats really as hard as it gets. It reuses the Alex idea of separating players for a small dps race against a ghost which was visually really neat but again very simple. It is a fight that is mostly just pure fan service. Its easy but if you love the original it pays homage to then its also extremely enjoyable.

 Boss #2 - Chaddarnook, Demon of the Painting: Talk about a step up in mechanics. This is one of those fights like Ifrit Extreme where you know some PUG's will find someone screaming "God dammit no, listen! you cannot skip X mechanic or we wipe!" where you simply cannot go in blind and brute force it. 
Like Catastrophe in Deltascape or the Vrill mechanic in Lakshmi this is a 'keep your mouse/touchpad on the extra button fight' where you bring paintings to life in a Reverse of a certain P5 fight to generate counters to the abilities Caddarnook is granted by possessing certain paintings. It is a step up in raid awareness -as i think the second should be after the dps check of the first in most raids- and while visually i wasn't a fan it keeps you on your toes and moving. There is always something to watch out for so you cannot 'go tunnel vision' and just go through the motions of your rotation and hope the group can power through damage. You simply can't and boy did i have to cast a lot of Verraise in this one. Much to the healers exasperated thanks. Great boss in terms of mechanics and difficulty but visually its a dude in a robe and thats kind of bleh.

 Boss #3 - The Guardian: Now personally i found this much easier but i think that could honestly be because the mechanics of Chaddarnook are just much less well explained than Guardians.
It has a monitor behind it that shows what FFVI monster its about to use the ability of and/or summon. There are new mechanics like tracking missiles, bomb defusal and so on but because its so clearly explained then its kind of a breeze to actually get through. The boss itself is a generic-ish magitek walker and its mechanics are simple and well explained through gameplay. It is a fair, competant boss but ultimately forgettable and thus far is maybe one of the weakest bosses in Stormblood interms of staying power after the instance is complete. Not great, not bad. Just very vanilla 'MMORPG raid boss' in every respect. It gets the job done but never excels at anything of note.

Boss #4 - Kefka: and here we get to the boss everybody was most interested in. Kefka Palazzo. Not unlike certain characters we have already encountered in FFXIV he was a high ranking general for the Empire that destroyed Doma in FFVI. But he was bloodthirsty and took malicious joy in the suffering of others and ultimately turned on not just his emperor but the entire world. Ascending to godhood and remaking the world into the 'World of Ruin' that made up the games second overworld map. So how do you make that into a raid boss? basically the same way they did with Ozma. What is it? what is their nature? what are their abilities? now lets ignore their original boss fight and make an mmo fight around that instead!
Kefka is a liar, a cheat and a bad comedian. The fight reflects this and gets across his character while at the same time does kind of downplay his actual scale and scope in much the same way X Death was treated in Deltascape. Its not terrible mind you. Seeing a certain giant pillar from FFVI rise up around the arena was great but ultimately there are very few interesting mechanics beyond 'if the aoe mark as ? in it then you get IN rather than OUT of it. Beyond that you look away from the tower when it does its gaze or look at it if its yellow. Its trying things that might be novel if we hadn't just had something basically identical with the final boss of Rabanastre in the last patch. Don't get me wrong the fight is an excellent encounter and is much more enjoyable than X Death in my opinion. It just feels like it could have been Ozma 2.0 and instead we just got a mix of 2 or 3 primal fights in the same patch we have a dungeon boss that is literally a mix of 3 primal abilities.
It just feels like a good fight that would be far more impressive if it came out before all the things that in hindsight were probably testing the abilities he uses in the previous patch. Its just a bit of a shame one of the biggest villains in the series gets just a "solid 7.10" experience for his fight. That said i still can't wait to do it on my next lockout so thats really what matters in a persist, repeatable structure of content i suppose.

 All in all i think Sigmascape is a bit of a mixed bag. Its never bad i will give it that and when its good its great. Its just not the slamdunk i feel it could have been and thats a bit of a downer. I still enjoy it more than Deltascape mind you. So its easily a step in the right direction for me. I just worry a bit about whats next. A lot of people are expecting Sephiroth or Ultemicia as the next 'scapes final boss and how do you make either of those into some kind of fun fight without turning them into just X Death again?
Its again just my opinion but i feel the final bosses of each tier should feel less like another raid boss on a ride and more like a hard/extreme primal interrupting the flow. They are the end. For a tier at least. You should be challenged by them to a degree even in the normal mode and my big complaint for Omega's raid across all 8 fights is that it doesn't feel like the events match the gravity of the story its trying to tell whereas Alexander -love or hate some of the fights- really did feel like a complete experience rather than a 'greatest hits' of Final Fantasy in a Dragonball Super style bland tournament setting.

I know thats ending on a bit of a downer and i did like what happened at the end of this tier of raid content with Midgardsormer but it just feels like another side story raid like Void Ark rather than the next Coil/Alex and we already have the honestly more interesting Ivalice storyline for that so for now at least Omega just feels a little inconsequential and disconnected from the world proper and i hoped this tier would remedy that somewhat. 

Question now of course is 'how many tiers left?' because Yoshi is being pretty coy about how many content patches Stormblood is planned to have. Its the beginnings of Spring 2018 and still no Eurea, still no Relic, still no story resolution in sight. We don't know what will be our Nidhogg this expansion, what our endgame circa final patch will be. We only just got a hint at what this expansions 'rebuilding settlement' will be in Doma and it feels at this rate as though maybe theres not one but two or three more tiers left in this and maybe that can make me care about the story more?

I hope so.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Patch 4.2 trailer drops!


Okay, so i'm a VI fanboy but i have been wanting this since the Doomtrain comments back in ARR's quests in Thanalan. Final Fantasy VI might tie with IX for my favourite but personal tastes aside Doomtrain/Phantom Train was one of those bosses i see like Ruby Weapon in the upcoming FFVII remake. You just think "how do they even make that in a modern 3D Final Fantasy game?" and i'm pleased to see Doomtrain looks like what i expected from the XIV fight team. Yes i know its probably the Phantom Train but either one is good and i'm a sucker for a spooky old Ghost Train!

 Now ghost train boss aside what else do we see here? It looks like Gosetsu might be coming into conflict with the Prince over the amnesiac Yotsuyu in his charge. Is she the same monster waiting to happen again? or was her traumatic past what made her who she was and this is a chance at a fresh start? Should she even be given the chance after all she did? or do those crimes even apply to this girl who shows no sign of being the person who ordered them to be committed?
Its a bit of a tropey story hook for a jrpg but its a nice change on the old potential redemption arc. Is this a case of the good guys getting too bloodthirsty in the name of revenge? is it right to stand by as the warrior of light when we are teaming up with Nero to fight Omega when he has probably done far worse things in his time as one of the Legions commanders?
Its more of a shade of grey than the usual stuff and that tends to be when Final Fantasy is at its best. I look forward to the story developments quite a bit.

Next up we have an envoy from Garland leading us into the new 'four devas' Primal hunting storyline. The maps have shown 4 figures on the map based on summons from the earlier games and sure enough Byakko, the White Tiger Lord is first on the hit list. Considering the line about the Garlean Emperor wanting to work with us maybe its a case of pragmatism and after beating Zenos he considers us the best men and women for the job? which when you think about it says something. Does this mean we have taken down the strongest forces of the empire already? or are they distracted dealing with some greater threat, something worse than a raging Primal?
 Along with this we see Krile meeting a new character, an older Lalafell woman who might be a family member or mentor based on her reaction in the trailer. More interestingly it cuts to a new location with signs of chaotic violence around a town with a seaside dock and its own aetheryte. Unless thats the first use of a town crystal in a cosmetic function perhaps this is out first example of a new open area added in a patch beyond the 2.0 beast tribe areas in places like La Noscea?
Sharlayan, Kriles home, has been on the new world map since 4.0 but its far too small to be an expansion destination. Perhaps its been a post patch zone in the making? Unlikely of course but with FFXIV you never know. Nobody expected stuff like Lords of Verminion to show up after all.

Finally we have the Sigmascape. Lots of nods to FFVI including sprites right from the game but most significantly an ending shot of a man in clown make up with a very familiar laugh...

So overall first impressions are good. So far the post launch content of Stormblood has left me a bit cold. Its not been bad but its also not been terribly interesting to me personally. This on the other hand has me very excited. Maybe as much as the patch where we fought Alexander or Nidhogg. Lately i've let levelling my combat classes fall behind. I got RDM and NIN to lvl.70 and im slowly chipping away at DRK and AST but everything else has lagged behind. SAM in particular for me is still in the mid 50's!
After spending the time getting all gatherer and crafters levelled and geared and in the yellow scrip farming/money making stage this is a patch coming at the right time (if Monster Hunter World doesn't steal all my attention) to get me back into PVE content in a big way, so roll on 4.2!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Workshop Wisdom #2

 I've finally gotten around to maxing all my crafting and gathering jobs. All the quests done and back to the more comfortable state of one set of gear for both roles which makes things much easier on my Armoury Inventory.

 Overall its an interesting difference compared to the far more time consuming and expensive levelling content of Heavensward. Clearly they want crafting to be a lot easier. To get to the cap at least that is.
 Instead of relying on Beast Tribe Dailies -at the time of writing there are none for none combat classes in Stormblood yet- or having to farm items to craft complex recipes from your growing repertoire you are given 4 quests to make one item from one maguffin they give you. Still got the macro i posted back in 2016? great. If you have the best gear for your level from the vendor in Kugane you hit those two buttons, turn in the quest and jobs done. With leves doing the filler in between. Meaning if you have the gil to burn you can just go to the marketboard and for some jobs like Weaver never leave Kugane and go from 60-70 in minutes. Only the actual speed of taking and turning in leves holding you back.
 So yeah. Nerfed isn't the word here. Not that i'm complaining when its a cumulative 540 levels for crafters alone nowadays. Did i hate it? no but i wouldn't call it satisfying either.

 So where does the title come in here? well its time to talk about Crystals, Clusters and farming. Everything you make in the game takes Crystals. I mean it IS Final Fantasy after all so its not surprising right? You grab your Miner and go farm them one by one for dozens of hours to stop running out across those 540 levels, right?
 Of course you don't. Sadly i've noticed recently that not everyone knows this. So its time to talk about one of the games myriad subsystems a lot of folks don't seem to know about: Aetherial Reduction. 

 What is it? well its essentially desynthing collectibles. What are collectibles? well during Heavensward levelling a new system was added to use a 'collectors glove' ability to mine, fish, harvest or craft and item not as the item per say but a rated token version. It cannot be used but can only be turned in to an npc. Unlike the Ixal tribe or the Grand Company turn ins however these will only be accepted if the rating is at a certain cap. For example the lowest Stormblood Mining item -Molybdenum Ore- needs a rating of 470 collectibility or higher. Higher the rating the more 'scrip' tokens you get in return. These can be used to buy gear and items beneficial for none combat jobs after vendors offering no more improvements for Gil.
 However mid HW they also added a new system for the players asking "theres nothing left to buy with Scrips, so whats the point of collectibles?" and the easiest answer was 'for making money!'

 So on paper its pretty simple. Check online for the spawn dates for 'Ephemeral Nodes'. These are the nodes that only spawn for a small, set period of time per in game day. Different ones in different zones but the mechanic is the same. Instead of Blue or Gold a Brown node icon appears on your map. Usually offering stone or herbs that when mined don't appear to have any in game use at all. What you want to do is hit that collectors glove buff, have 600 gp and a higher set of gathering stats and use a rotation like the following -though as gear improves there are others- to get a high rated collectible.

Step 1: hit the node
Step 2: hit collectors Glove
Step 3: select an ore or herb, not the crystal and begin collectible mining
Step 4: Discerning Eye
Step 5: Impulsive Appraisal II
Step 6: If a proc of Discerning Eye occurs hit Single Mind, if not Discerning Eye
Step 7: Impulsive Appraisal II
Step 8: If a proc of Discerning Eye occurs hit Single Mind, if not Discerning Eye
Step 9: Methodical Appraisal
Step 10: collect

Now you have your collectible. Next you need to check your ability list for 'Aetherial Reduction' and add it to your hotbar. Simply hit it to open a window that will show any ephemeral node collectibles -don't worry it doesn't mix your scrip collectibles in- and simply go through your goods and break them down. This will net you hundreds of Crystals and dozens of Crystal Clusters. 

In the longrun this is a good source of Gil since there is always a demand from crafters who either don't know about this or cannot be bothered to do it themselves and in the short term this is a way to save gil by not having to buy yourself while getting all 8 crafters from 1-70. Ensuring you have more Gil left over to start getting Materia and some crafter gear to start getting into the true endgame of Yellow scrips and supplying endgame players with rare goods.

So get out there and start Gathering Adventurers!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Whence Relic?

What a year its been for videogames. I have been swamped. I've logged into FFXIV on patch days, done my content and jumped back out. From Persona 5 to Xenoblade Chronicles 2 not a week has gone by where i haven't had something to do. Yet i've had this nagging feeling i've left FFXIV by the wayside the last month or so. Personally? i think it has to do with the Relic.

Anyone who's seen the census numbers has seen a staggering player dropoff rate for Stormblood compared to Heavensward and you gotta ask why right? Great dungeons. Fun events. New things to chase and zones to dick around in. So whats missing? what carrot isn't there for players?

Its the Relic.

Maybe a lack of Deep Dungeon isn't helping. God knows going "i've got to get ALL these jobs AND two new ones back to cap again?!?" won't help but nothing kept folks i know playing in HW like the Anima Relic.
Sure we bitched and moaned about grind elements. Its a cathartic thing for an MMORPG player right? but it was something to do and more importantly something to chase. An increase in player power, a flashy model to show off to let other players know 'yeah i did the thing' and right now? everyones using the same gear and weapons and nobody has a reason to log in beyond slightly higher numbers in Ultimate.

In a year of amazing games to play this is not a healthy thing. It happens to a lot of MMORPGs but usually the cold months are the big playtime period yet here we are with most regions having their active player numbers drop by over 60% and i honestly believe its the lack of a carrot in the Relic and Eureka which is still in a "will we ever hear about it?" state which is giving me Diadem flashbacks.

I'm still logging in to get up some easy levels on my last few classes in bursts but without the chase the rpg kind of loses out to the mmo and for Final Fantasy of all things thats kind of making me nostalgic for the days of farming maguffins for tomes in Idyllshire again.

What about you?