Saturday, 17 September 2016

Patch 3.4 - Soul Surrender trailer drops!

Now thats got me pumped for the next update! Granted its muh MMO of choice so i was regardless but this has me much more excited than i was for 3.3 which wasn't a bad patch but felt a little thin on things to interest me if that makes sense. Though granted 3.35 included a lot of stuff aimed for my kinda gameplay style. Still lets do the rundown!

-First off we see a hooded man in a mask rallying some Ala Mhigans at the Sunken Temple of Kharn, perhaps an Ascian trying to lure humans into summoning a new primal? Maybe Doomtrain or Eden? or maybe they are somehow involved in the final of the Warring Triads release in 3.5 or 3.6?
-Alexander finally wakes up. Hopefully we see some actual changes reflected in the Dravanian Hinterlands this time since even a step is supposed to 'drain the land of aether' as it moves. Perhaps pull a "Vale of Eternal Blossom" circa Seige of Orgimmar to use a WoW reference where a verdant land was ruined by a would be world conqueror that really upset the players and showed how they cared for the world. Inside however i dont see much of the changes they mentioned when they said "players arent as big a fan of steampunk as we thought so the final wing will be time travel based" unless perhaps thats reflected in the outside areas we dont see.
Still the fights all look great and it will be great to fight the 'true' Alex in his core but to see more brown and bronze its still a shame we got an Alexander that in my opinion artistically speaking doesnt gel with the themes of FFXIV and the FFIX or FF Type 0 Alexanders would have been far more inkeeping with the aesthetic. Perhaps this one will see a longer lifespan but i still get the feeling this doesnt mean a final Void Ark is how the expansion aids its raiding cycle. I foresee a one boss raid trial after all is said and done. Alex ending now leaving only a 'raid finder' raid to finish the expansion just feels strange.
-Apartments which will probably sell out in minutes as usual for housing. Cute locations that remind me of my FFXI days, but when i already have a small house in the Goblet i'm not gonna be a dick and buy up an apartment, gotta get those cold and tired Lalas off the streets!
-New Hairstyles including Gladiolus from FFXV that i could see a lot of femroes rocking if its not genderlocked for dat amazon warrior cred.
-New outfits and eehhh not really feeling these. Maybe the Ishgard Aesthetic has runs its course but after all this time getting very similar sets in terms of design and sillouette theory i'd like to see a return to some more traditional Final Fantasy looking gear. I can't remember the last time my Black Mage got a dyeable pointy hat outside of a raid or a tome vendor but it was probably lvl.50 content at the latest. I really hope we see more of an FFXI/FFIX inspiration in some 4.0 sets myself. These aren't bad at all but all starting to feel very samey.
-New dungeons! first up Xelphatol looks huge and foreboding but i expect more wind mechanic related rage ala Neverreap based on what we are seeing here. Interesting to see the Ixal Cheiftan summoning Garuda not unlike the Ultima Weapon did. Maybe its another instance of a beastman with an Echo related power like the Sahaghin Priest from the Leviathan storyline?
 And then we get one of my predictions for 4.0 a few posts back coming way sooner than i expected, Great Gubal Library hard mode, and boy does this look like a crazy number of bosses. It looks less like a story heavy instance and more another 'just for fun' dungeon like Hullbreaker Isle and i can't complain. Theres only so many times you can fight that Ymir fight without getting bored and wanting something new to tackle.
-Duels, so finally the "1v1 me bro!" audience has an outlet. Can't see it leading to much other than maybe some silly tournaments for gil in party finder but who knows?
-Hildibrands story continues, i found the last entry far better than the first for 3.1 which was honestly pretty lame. Hopefully we get to find out if Gigi really is a Time Mage to see if they are canon in this FF world.
-Garrison followers -duh i mean Adventurer Squadrons! Hopefully they end up a little more like the Trust NPC's of FFXI than WoW's infamously disliked system where you sent out npcs to do quests for you and it killed off the open world aspect of the game for many. Jurys out on this one till i get my hands on it but i am wary to say the least.
-Palace of the Dead floors 51-200 i am honestly surprised this is coming so soon but like i said just the other day its inoffensive optional content you can dump some hours into for an instant que that doesnt rely on the 'holy trinity system' theres no reason to complain about more of it, especially if we get some more story from it especially!
-Sophia the Goddess, Containment Bay P1T6 and man thats a cool looking boss. Lotta Yunalesca vibes from this one and its not like they have added a bad primal fight yet so i can't wait.
-and we end with the Main Story questline which seems to be revisiting the older primals so perhaps Xelphatol has a tie into the warriors of darkness AND the Ala Mhigo storylines? perhaps this is what ties it all together to set up 4.0? either way this was some interesting stuff to mull over. Still not sure on just who the Warriors of Darkness are. I have a few theories but i'm still guessing till the day it releases like everyone else. Its just nice to be back to crystals, primals and ascians again after the months of dragons and goblins!

All in all this looks like a really solid patch and i havent been this excited for an update for a while. A new raid, new dungeons, new story, more deep dungeon and we still havent seen things like the journal we are working on with the Miqo'te girl yet. This time of year is also getting close to the seasonal events too -and i LOVE Halloween events in MMOs especially!- so there is going to be lots of fun stuff to do when this drops at the end of the month. See you in Eorzea then!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Down into the Deep Dungeon they.. Dove? Dived? whatever!

I've spent a while thinking about what to write about the Deep Dungeon experience in FFXIV. Mostly over how my past experiences in other games means my opinion may be a very extreme minority in terms of likes and dislikes over the additional gameplay mode. Does it invalidate my opinion? not really but i wonder how many people i would actually be recommending it to in the long run.

See its like this. Another game i own on PS4 besides FFXIV is Bloodborne by Fromsoftware. Bloodborne is one of my favorite games of all time. When you have been playing games for nearly 3 decades thats no small feat to achieve, especially when my reaction to modern games is a resounding 'meh' 9 times out of 10. Why am i mentioning Bloodborne? Well you see there is something Bloodborne did that no other game in the 'souls series' of games did. It added a new area separate to its interconnected quasi open world. A place where the game randomly generated a small series of interconnected caves and tunnels full of random enemies and a number of unique bosses to fight to farm for certain items designed to be repeated again and again. They called it "The Chalice

Sound Familiar?

 So heres the thing. I loved the chalice dungeons. But i have never ever heard of anyone else who has. Not one. ever. Now when i saw Deep Dungeon being announced everyone else was referencing systems from FFXI but right away i went "hey. This is the Chalice Dungeons again. Sweet. Everyones gonna hate this." because the repetitive, farm heavy nature of the Chalice Dungeons actively killed any love a lot of people had for Bloodborne.
Now i wasn't expecting it to ruin XIV for anyone but i was really not expecting people to like it and personally i can say i have seen a fair few 235 Glowey weapons out in the world (and i've got a fair few ready for the Jobs i have yet to hit 60 on for an easy boost) but i can't really say thats a sign of it being enjoyed it might just be an easy weapon for players who dont want to do the Relic and are not a fan of farming Primals either. I can say i'm one of two people on my server dumb enough to grind for the mount however so take from that what you will. But Shiva EU is a pretty laid back server in terms of chasing the carrots in most regards.

So baring in mind that my own opinion may not represent mosts on this sort of gameplay what did i think of Deep dungeon? simply put there is not enough of it and i am glad thats being rectified in future, but for now the amount of content is an adequate timesink, but as a Lore nut they really did not deliver on the final Edda story i wanted but the ending at least was a touching end to a character whos kind of been on their own journey since our own began 3 years ago now. Still i wanted more of her, more dialogue, more development and more Cutscenes. She watches us on each floor then shows up to be the "Black Bosomed" boss with one mechanic to watch -or not as the case may be- and she says she was controlled before her spirit moves on for good. Leaving the player sad, unsatisfied and slightly creeped out wondering if the little ahriman thing on her shoulder was a withered version of her 'Husband' or if they managed to produce some form of offspring that will want revenge later.
 Its always a good thing for a dev to leave the player screaming for more but still i wanted more story given the mode than the level we got which is less than the Golden Saucer or PVP which really, really sucks. Edda was a really interesting character even if she is at her base just the Japanese 'Yandere' stereotype really but i wanted a more fleshed out end to her than we got.

Story isn't for everyone though so in terms of gameplay? pretty solid actually. The traps are suitably annoying, the enemy placement can range from faceroll to "oh shit i turned a corner into the wrong neighbourhood and theres a dozen dragons in this room!" and in general every mechanic works perfectly. The leveling balances the floors out and makes them play differently and is also a good way to learn a new job and set up that hotbar before you even get past lvl.15. The Aetherpool gear makes it a fun risk vs reward with the Silver Chests that may be mimics and the various items that effect a floor are something i have never experienced in an mmo before and thats always a good thing.
Compound all this by the most important factor: No holy trinity. You can -and i have- done all dps runs, all healer runs and all tank runs. Sometimes its a 10 floor all dps run with no heals bar potions and the one Monk self heal you can cross class or cure/physick and nothing else. It can be tense and strategic. Repeating the same 10 as all heals can be easy in terms of risk but you also have to deal with the very real time limit. All tanks can be a healthy mix of the two but make bosses a joke if you save a Succubus morph item. Its never really the same experience. You could get one Bard and 3 Astrologians, all Monks or nothing but melee which really sucks on higher floor pulls.
 Essentially its the most mixed bag experience Final Fantasy XIV can provide which can be awful and can be amazing. Which basically sums up my general opinion of the experience in the grand scheme of things. Its a mixed bag. Some will love it, some will hate it. Some will breeze through it and others will have a terrible time. It really is an mmoprg experience that is so basic in design but can lead to so many different kinds of experiences and little touches like the FF5/6 style character UI's are really charming and thats how i would sum it up really. Its a charming experience. You wont play it as your endgame. But it showed up in a patch one day, i had fun and its there whenever you want that kind of experience again. I would recommend it though it absolutely isn't going to be fun for everyone. Though in any good MMORPG what is without suffering from hyper homogenisation in this day and age?

All in all look forward to the extra floors and i hope we get some armour glamour out of it along with new traps and items.

Only maybe not just glowing white models next time eh?