Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Where are all the Relic weapons?

Remember A Realm Reborn? The Relic quests? The Trial of the Zodaic Braves?

Fun times right? All those Titan Hard Mode runs where low ping was suffering. We all did it. We got our Relics -a Stardust Rod was first in my case- and Eorzea was full of glowing weapons from coast to coast.

So what changed?

The current Relic state is the 'Hyperconductive' State with the current patch adding the new way to upgrade it again, but if you kept up Hyperconductive Kannagi in my case is what the patch starts the relic state out as for its max form.

You want to know how many other Hyperconductive weapons i have seen?

Four. Four in total. 

Everyone else has Sephirot and Thordin weapons and why? what happened to the mass Relic owning players?
In my case it was pretty simple and uniform from all i asked: "Have you seen the tome grinds for this?!?" and honestly i cannot blame them.
There has been some side stuff you can do to buy relic materials through other means but on the whole for the current step and 2 before it you are looking at a whopping 80,000 tomestones alone before all the other materials.
Lets say you do all the roullettes and get around 600 esoterics per day. That is 133 days. That is almost 4 and a half months of spending hours of your day, every single day without pause. Before the current Aether Sand farms to boot and the preceding fate farming atma 2.0 as well.
Compared to something like a dozen runs max on average of an extreme primal fight in a farm group thats a bit ridiculous in hindsight, isn't it?

All the more so for the people playing catchup with the previous steps having received no nerf whatsoever. Its a massive slog and the longer it goes on the less it is worth it in the eyes of the players. By the time you may catch up to the 230 level weapons everyone else will be further ahead and the other players will have farmed the other weapons. So good luck buddy, enjoy being stuck behind forever or putting your nose to the grindstone till you experience sheer burnout.

Which honestly is where i'm leaning at 80/240 maguffins for the current stage of my own. If im getting bored and thinking i should take a break for a week or two what about people who are new to the game and want to get started now? Theres no catch up route, its just a grind they will forever be behind on and thats a bad videogame experience to say the least.

There are plenty of ways to make catchup easier. half the 80 items for stage 3 to 40, make aether oil no longer market prohibited. They can do lots of things to make it faster, but this doesnt make it more fun does it?

Like i said at the start, if you were there you remember the ARR Relic, mostly because titan HM on the american servers from europe was a nightmare for many, but the nightmare was a challenge to overcome. Titan stood in as the wall to your relic and it was put up or shut up time. It was a challenge at the time but we all did it, we got our relics and it was a mark of pride to be in the primal killing club. You felt satisfied that you overcame a challenge.

I have overcome no challenge for my Hyperconductive Kannagi. I farmed fates and dungeons. I also did the beast tribes dailies i was doing anyway to level alts.

These are not feats of heroism or daring deeds. Its currency farming. Just like the worst parts of games like WoW, Destiny or The Division it is just farming points through repetitive busywork for a weapon upgrade that shouldn't leave you thinking "thank god its over" when you are finally finished.

At this point i reflect on these thoughts and i sincerely think i would not recommend the current relic to anyone just starting the lvl.60 experience. Its a massive catchup grind and the reward isnt worth it. Not just the ingame item but the sense of accomplishment is utterly diminished by crushing malaise and burn out.

Thats why you don't see the Anima Relics often. Theres no new blood starting it. Those of us that started on patch day are in for the long haul like the stubborn mmorpg grinding mules we are. For most of the Adventurers in Eorzea however it seems this has passed and years from now people will look at glamours of the Heavensward Relic and go "Wow.... i cant believe how much of your time you wasted for that thing!".

Which is funny since thats all videogames are really i suppose, but the failure is when the player is conscious of it.

I just dearly hope the next step involves something other than Tomestone farming i really do, and i dont blame you if you are burnt out on it. Sometimes its better to take a break and in this weapons case i really do recommend it. At 230 you are still pretty damn on top for most classes with the Relics, the sand isn't blocking your gameplay progression in the long run so never let it become a chore.

If only Yoshi P's team could aim for that in the quests for it more.

Friday, 17 June 2016

"Unable to complete version check" PS4 fix!

Well i experienced an annoyance the last few days trying to log in on my PS4. One that i looked up on and found many suffered from for weeks if not months at a time.

"Unable to complete version check"

What happens is you sign in on the launcher and when it should load the 'PLAY' button it crashed to a black screen, displays the aforementioned message and reloads the launcher to repeat it.

Quite simply you are stuck. Your launcher is out of synch with the servers and is no longer compatible. I had downloaded nothing, the only change in my experience had been a change to my phone line at the time so god knows if that was the cause.

There is however a solution.

From the dashboard of the PS4 go to settings>application saved data management>delete>ffxiv and you will see a few files. Most are character information, one is system data. Delete it.

Don't worry its not deleting all your game files and patches. Just forces the consoles to download the launcher again, ensuring it is the latest version. 
The game will behave like a fresh install, ask if you have a SE account and sign you in. The patcher will download about 57mbs of data then play normally. Aside from playing the beginning cutscene again and asking to select a datacenter the game should behave normally now.

This fixed the issue for me, for now at least, i hope it helps you as well!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Workshop Wisdom #1

With the addition of Moogle Beast quests all of a sudden Eorzea is booming with the sounds of industry again!

Perhaps you, yes even you good sir/madam can can engage in the fine arts of craftsmanship -Today!

 So you just hit level 60 on your first crafter. What now? Well the answer is pretty simple, you settle for that and make a steady income from what you can make and sell on the auction house or you start to take it to the next level. This means Blue Scrips.

What does this mean?
It means using a new proc you get in the mid to late 50's for each class you can craft an item, but not as a item to use or sell but instead as a Collectible. The quality rating of this is achieved just like trying to get a HQ normal item.

Check in Idyllshire and Mor Dhona for Rowena's employees that will exchange these items for scrips. Usually they demand certain items of certain ratings so check first. Not everything can be a collectible and not every collectible is even desired at the time so check first and plan for you material gathering second!

The scrips first uses will be for things like the rank 3 master recipes for your class and then your tools. Dont worry too much about the gear at first, the Moogles now give you them in exchange for their daily currency and thats good enough for now as long as you upgrade your accessories too.

The best place to begin is the 35 durability items. To use Leatherworker as an example this would usually mean crafting an item like Dragon Leather. 3 Skins and 1 log. you just need a botanist lvl.51 or higher and any combat class that could farm Green Dragons in the Churning Mists. You gather your materials and what now?

Well heres where your old pal Danny has a tip. Time for the wonder of macros!

-Though bare in mind these macros require having cross class skills from other crafters so having a few at 50 is required for this set of macros, remember to power level them with leves, ixal dailies and the use of buffs like manuals to get the most out of crafting.

Now open the menu and go to macros, for console users this is on the far right on the Systems sub section. Great a new two new macros, select an icon for each and name one "35 durability 1" and "35 durability 2" respectively.

Now enter the following:

 As you can see it requires the following skills:
-Byregot's Blessing
-Careful Synthesis 2
-Comfort Zone
-Great Strides
-Hasty Touch
-Ingenuity 2
-Inner Quiet
-Steady Hand 2

But also you need to look at your stats. First of all you need over 250 CP to be able to execute all of the moves to begin with, and after that put everything possible stat wise into Crafting and Control through gear upgrades you make or buy for now and cheap materia melds using the new melder by the Jeweled Crozier Market Board.

HQ materials help but thus far this usually means a guaranteed 5000-7000 quality rated collectible, and usually 4000 is the level desired by the scrip npcs.

This is just an easy way to get started getting scripts to upgrade your recipes, tools and later gear but for now this could be an easy way for casual players to get their Aether Sand for their Relics without farming leves for Vilekin.

Hopefully this is a nice beginner tip to get you started crafting Collectibles and getting your scrip caps to start making it into the big leagues of crafting!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Easy Crystal Sand farming for the new Relic stage

Very quick post since this could change at any time.

There are lots of methods to get the new Crystal Sand needed for the Anima questline for the relic. The easiest is a 1 for 1 trade of one sand for one amber encased vilekin. These drop on every 3rd or 4th levequest.

So do the following:
>Pick up a levequest from Ishgard for the Dravanian Highlands
>Go start it, look around and if there is a chest loot it
>Either way abandon it and restart it and search again
>Repeat until you exhaust your leve allowances.

At a possible 20 in 30 minutes thats a small chunk of the 250 needed for the Relic done very easily, have fun!


"Tell me why create, a circle none can break
Why must you let go, the life you were bestowed
This I fear I'll never know"

 Here it is the day after patch day. While Heavensward is not finished with at least 5 storylines ongoing (Alexander, Void ark, Hildebrand, The Warrior of Darkness and the Scholars should it continue) as of now the story of the Dragonsong war has. 
 So did i enjoy it?

For the most of it yes, yes i enjoyed it a lot. However its not without its flaws, so expect some spoilers as i talk about the experience below.

The Good

 I think first and foremost it has to be commended for finally making some NPC's other than the faction leaders and scions matter for more than a single patch. Had you breezed through ARR's 1-50 content a year before Heavensward i would not blame you for assuming Hauchefant was an original character for the expansion, but he was not. You did quests for him in the 40's in Ceorthas Central Highlands. But he had no personality. He did nothing but stand behind a desk and send you to another questgiver for the most part. Not only did they make him a fleshed out character but they made him one the audience cared about to the point they added his shield in as a glamour item for paladins crying out to 'rep mah boi fortempts!'

    something Similar can be said for Ysayle/Lady Iceheart. What we assumed was another moustache twirling villain of the patch only there to excuse another Primal fight grows into a far more fleshed out character that is not in fact the cliche femme fetale but a deeply insecure character whos basically winging it based on ideas that are little more than the half hearted ideas of a young girl raised on almost fairy tales. Even Hraesvelgr comments on her as "poor, deluded Ysayle". Its rare for an rpg to pull off 'pitiable' without some connotations of 'pathetic' underlying it. She was not a pathetic character, but a truly pitiable one which lead to her becoming more understandable and likeable in the longrun. 

The dragons themselves were a nice breath of fresh air for the fantasy videogame genre. Too often they are merely regally arrogant, timeless monsters that speak english. Here they were people for better and worse. They lived and died based on very relatable needs and emotional reasons. Compared to the usual demigods clad in scales this was a very welcome change. Even Niddhog -who will get more comments on later- had the understandable blood vendetta pushing his actions. He wasn't some world ending cartoon monster. His sister had been murdered and the outrage and need for revenge consumed him. He wasn't right to do so of course, but how often can you say an evil fantasy dragon has understandable motivations behind their actions?

The dungeons related to the story up to and including the new Sohr Khai addition were all at worst very enjoyable and the variance in locations and types of boss mechanics were pretty solid overall. Nothing felt like a cutdown tutorial for later fights bar The Vault basically being a mini taster for the Knights of the Round. Even Niddhog is vastly different in the Final Stepps of faith than in his original dungeon fight.

His final fight in particular is worth commending. It is mechanically pretty simple really. Dont stand in anything, dps the shadow dragon first. The usual stuff. Yet it feels so much faster than any other fight i can think of other than the finale of T13 in the Binding Coil of Bahamut. The addition of Dragonsong by longtime series composing legend Nobou Uematsu adds a sense of urgency and tension you dont expect from such a melancholy song. Definitely a highlight in terms of fights for this expansion.
Overall the story was enjoyable, the characters memorable and it took a few twists i did not expect yet greatly enjoyed. That said...

The Bad

So. Niddhog. Where the hell was he buggering off to? How did he arrange this horde of dragons? We know they are all sentient, some were even human/elezen heretics. So they are not mindless monsters he could assemble with some magic power. He just shows up with an army and we assume he rounded them up, but why do we not see it?
This is the biggest weakness of the Dragonsong story arc. The crescendos are amazing, but the buildup is barely there. The story has these highs and then it feels like nothing happens for ingame time weeks or months until suddenly everyone shows up and its go time again. To the point in this patch they outright say something to the effect of "and how do we know when Niddhog will attack?" followed by an off screen roar and guess what? hes attacking right now!
Its an issue in pacing. When it gets going it goes and doesnt stop till the end of that patches content. But theres never a sense of building escalation with the story. It feels like im reading a fan edit of A Dance of Dragons with only the 'important' chapters kept and the rest is cut. So you feel this sense that the story jumps and you love whats there, but feel like you missed something inbetween.

To be brutally honest i am going to take a shot in the dark and make the assumption that something was cut for time. Next time you go back to The Aery to fight Nidhogg stop at the ramp up to his platform and look down. Notice anything? if you look hard enough you will see the whole thing is floating on top of Allagan tech straight out of Azys La. We know the Allagans were experimenting with dragons AND there is a very important cutscene near the end of the base 3.0 story where we meet Tiamat who is chained up in some mini binding coil and we get a long talk about the Allagans dragon binding technology.
I can't help but feel there was some other plans involved for Niddhogs finale other than 'fight him on a flat stone bridge' originally. What we got is great and adds a sense of capping off what started with the Steps of Faith fight that began the story back in the final patch of A Realm Reborn, but unless there are more plans for the Empire beyond the Triad involving this dragon binding tech so heavily focussed on earlier i think there was some more allagan story planned that we arent going to see. It happens in ongoing games development to be sure. But that stuff is always going to be there tempting the imagination to wonder isn't it?

Then we have Niddhog himself. The biggest bad of the expansion and honestly? one of the weaker ones. Quickthinx may be a cliche douchebag, but hes a cliche douchebag with a plan. Diablos is.. well he's Diablos. You know what you are in for with him by this point in the franchise.
Nidhogg was the chance to break the mould a little. Not make another raging lizard in the vein of Warcrafts Deathwing but a calculating, methodical villain whos understandable grievances make him a victim of his own weaknesses and bad choices instead of another monster to put down. Yet at the end thats all he is, worse than that actually. he's the ghostly shade that needs putting down again.
At the end of it all Niddhog ends up being a bit of a damp squib. He never really does anything beyond hurt a couple of other Dragons and feels more like a nuisance than the adversary he should have been tonally speaking. 
But thats not a very long list of negatives so i suppose so all in all i would call the story a relative success in terms of multi patch story arcs in MMORPGs.

All in all the good outweighs the bad and there are so many fights, cutscenes and story moments that can actually stir an emotion in the player and thats very hard to pull off in a game with ideas like "threat" and "global cooldowns" to do so. Was it perfect? honestly no. It felt a little rushed and could probably have used another patch inbetween to flesh out the story further and show Niddhog actually do some evil things that warranted such a buildup and reaction to him.
Though this doesnt diminish the impact of the other character arcs mentioned above and in the end they made the story for me and those will be the characters i remember fondly long after this expansion is over. Lets hope this is the start of a trend of fleshing out a bigger roster of characters. Hopefully 3.3 is also a trendsetter for them all surviving for once!

Duty Commenced!

 So there really is no better way to start this sort of thing that jumping right into it is there? So here we go.

"There and back again, a Hobbits tale by Bilbo ba-"

Wait, wrong story.

 Hello. my names Danny and this is an attempt at a blog based around my experiences in the virtual world of Eorzea in Final Fantasy XIV. I have been playing since the launch of A Realm Reborn which very pleasantly surprised me after the horrid reputation 1.0 had online thus leading me to skip the experience. A reputation i was quite ready to believe after the "Decade of Lightning" that made up most of the Final Fantasy releases during the Playstation 3's lifespan which honestly soured my reaction to the brand for what had been quite a while by that point.

 As you may guess from that comment i am a longtime fan of the series. Quite a big fan in fact (i even liked The Spirits Within and X-2, but don't tell anyone about that!) and one thing i always wanted was a Final Fantasy i could play with my friends growing up. I got this in a fashion with Final Fantasy - Crystal Chronicles which is a charming little rpg-lite party game on the Nintendo Gamecube, though sadly time passes and people have to move and you cant meet up to play local co-op games like you used to. Eventually Squaresoft -now Square Enix decided to make this fantasy a reality with the release of Final Fantasy XI.

 While i did enjoy what i played of Final Fantasy XI when it came out i was far too young and impatient at the time for its more thoughtful, slow paced gameplay (though i would go back later and love the experience, cursing the years i missed where it was a more active player base) and quickly left it behind for a series of short jaunts in various MMORPG's of the time. Maple Story, Guild Wars, many korean F2P games most of whom have had their names swallowed up by the internet and history. Then being a fan of the RTS game Warcraft 3 i would settle on World of Warcraft for quite a long time. A fun experience but one that lost its original direction in recent Expansion Packs and in my opinion suffered too much from industry brain drain and eventually this lead to too many changes resulting in my experience no longer entertaining me so i sadly looked elsewhere. By that point a new release was generating some buzz.
 Sort of.

 In an effort to resuscitate a brand badly damaged by a declining series of FFXIII sequels and the reputation of "FF 4.0" on XIV 1.0's part Square Enix announced they were effectively rebuilding Final Fantasy XIV from the ground up. Much of the staff would be replaced. Many of the mechanics would be changed and the world itself was going to receive a massive overhaul in order to prove the Final Fantasy IP still had legs in an age where even the most diehard of us longtime fans were beginning to drift away to other series like Persona or Tales for our Jrpg fixes.

 I expected nothing much and my PC was too old to really give it a good shot anyway but i noticed they were accepting applications for a Playstation 3 Beta test so i applied figuring 'what the hell' and forgot it for a while.
-At this point i should mention that i am and have always been largely a console based gamer. I know theres always the sort that get their knickers in a twist over "pc master race vs console peasants" but i grew up on things like the NES and later the PS-One along with a series of Gameboys destined to be dropped or broken in some fashion, sorry Mum. So i have never been too comfortable with sitting at a desk playing videogames alone on a computer. I realise the irony saying that talking about MMORPGs like i am, but its worth remembering that consoles have always been my default to go to. The experience/crazyman ritual of sitting down with a controller in your hands and popping in a disc or cartridge is ingrained in me and is a vital part of the videogaming experience for me.
 So naturally when i got the Beta invite to try a multiplayer, online Final Fantasy on my PS3 i jumped a the chance.

 After a very long download and install riddled with errors and restarts i finally logged in at something like 2am to create a Miqo'te Lancer, like just about everybody else i assume given what i saw in the Beta and my experience was 'different' compared to past experiences as a Beta tester.
 I dont just mean the game itself, thought it was wonderfully polished for a beta, no large checkered boxes that crashed the client if you looked at them in the vein of some Lovecraftian elder thing was to be found here. What was really noteworthy was the players. In particular the behaviour of the Players interacting with a quest in the little glade north of Bentbranch Meadows 

Credit to Lunamana on the FFXIV subreddit for this nostalgic screencap

 You see a bug had shown up in a main story quest that blocked Beta progression. The infamous "Demon Stump" as it came to be known required a player to interact with a treestump to spawn a demon to fight, an early iteration of the Treant fight that introduces the first Scions for Gridanian beginners. However this could only be done by one player on the server at a time due to the aforementioned bug.
 Now i mentioned my time with MMORPGs at this point was largely WoW-centric. A more.... volatile userbase i would say and this coloured my expectations to be a free for all shitstorm as players clipped into one many limbed mass trying to be the first to click on the event flag interaction trigger.
 Surprisingly however this did not happen. Instead players formed a queue. Imagine that! Complete strangers in a videogame actually interacting in a mutually beneficial manner in a social way rather than as part of some mandatory game mechanic to access some carrot on a stick to keep going. This was madness! People were polite, talking about the Beta, sharing tips for classes and locations for item drops.

 It was basically exactly what i wanted to see in an MMORPG after growing up watching shows like .HACK// and the sort of thing you see in all the modern shows and books like Log Horizon, Only Sense Online or Sword Art Online. That was when i thought maybe this was going to be something a little more special than 'just another WoW clone' like so many other MMORPG's had turned out to be between 2009 and 2013. Thankfully thats a trend on its way out even if XIV did itself turn out to borrow a few ideas from the former behemoth.

 So a long story short i ended up purchasing the game both on PC and PS3. PC turned out to run terribly as i expected so i ended up stuck with the console version, though honestly i kind of prefer it if you have a keyboard plugged into the USB port for Party chat. Nowadays i have upgraded to the Playstation 4 for Heavensward and the experience is consistently better as you would imagine.

 I began my time in Eorzea as a Black Mage (BLM) and was ready to "Get my Vivi on" with a wide range of Black Magic like all the Final Fantasy games. Sadly i was kind of disappointed in this regard. Remember i said some things were borrowed from WoW? well BLM basically ended up like a poor mans version of a Balance druid circa Cataclysm era WoW and the Summoner (SMN) was almost a straight Affliction Warlock clone, albiet the latter was still more fun to play.
 This sort of meant i kept a sour undertone with my early experiences since the class i wanted didnt play like the class i wanted. That all changed however when SE updated the game with Patch 2.4: Dreams of Ice.

Being a Mage was cool, but who knew being a Ninja would be so much more fun? So much so to this day NIN is my main job in FFXIV and while Heavensward would bring jobs like Dark Knight (DRK) and Machinist (MCH) that i also currently have at lvl.60 -and in DRK's case is my only Tank i enjoy playing as- nothing quite keeps me entertained like the speed, skills and flavour of the Ninja Job.

As of now my time in game is mostly spent working on Relics, the current patch content and my favourite job focusses.

Ninja as DPS
Dark Knight as TANK
Scholar as HEALER
Miner and Botanist for farming materials
Leatherworker for crafting gear and melding
Blacksmith for desynthing weapons/tools for valuable items
and i am currently leveling Bard from 50-60 and finally starting to enjoy the class.

 My MMORPG wants and passions include exploration, puzzles, finding secrets and exploring all the little sub systems that the regular player just in it for the raiding never stumble upon. Give me a world to live in and i am very happy. Sadly most MMORPG's fail in these regards but every patch Yoshi P and his team find something to keep me logging in and playing and after 2 years im still here and loving my time with it.

 So join me and my character Kaz Nibelheim on this blogging journey of well meaning nonsense, wont you?