Tag: FF14

Game Time: Firefall and Final Fantasy 14 weekend

Last week i was a MMORPG player without a game. That’s not a new state for me, i’m in that waiting phase for almost 3 years now. Of course i’ve played MMORPGs, but without much dedication. Then, incidentally, a friend of mine started playing Firefall and decided to inject some life into the game and a longstanding, but gamewise inactive guild on friday. And there’s also the early access to Final Fantasy XIV.

Firefall

We created an Army for us and frankly, i didn’t expect others to join us. Part of that has to do with our more recent history of going into and out of games in quite a rapid succession, so many members lost faith in the community being able to form an active guild. While some of the members are close, they started viewing the community as forum-only. Not surprisingly, forum activity is quite low nowadays. Surprisingly, for now we seem to have grown to 5 members, if i counted correctly, with two invites pending. I guess we’ll see a first result in about two weeks- if we are still playing the game, and do so together, we have achieved something.

Firefall is not very beginner friendly, besides there being a tutorial and beginner missions. Once you are in the world, you’ll begin wandering around freely and some things are not self-explanatory. For instance, there’s this type of ARES mission where you have to bring some coloured items with you and it seems to me that the mission fails when you don’t have those items. But i wouldn’t know where to get them. Some other members tried starting a race and had to realize they don’t know how to summon a vehicle yet.

I guess it'd be fun with a vehicle
I guess it’d be fun with a vehicle

Mind you, finding out stuff is part of the fun to be had in this game. I’m looking forward to more of this game. What i like here, is:

  • while it’s not easy to understand the game mechanics, it is an easy game to pick up and have some fun with others. Without level- and gear restrictions, you can play together as you want
  • it seems there is content for almost any group size- even with ARES missions or other singleplayer content, there’s nothing wrong with some other people being around
  • getting to know the mechanics is fun

Final Fantasy XIV

On the other hand, there’s Final Fantasy XIV ARR. With the early access beginning on saturday, i clocked about 6 hours this weekend and my good feelings about this MMORPG are getting deeper. My newest discovery are story missions that take place in an instanced battle area. For now, i’ve met about three of these, and i guess the first one’s just an introduction to the feature while it gets more difficult afterwards. These quests actually consist of more or less just one fight- but i met a group of bandits, had the mission fail on me because i didn’t realize one of the enemies is a healer (the mob’s tag had been the same as the other mobs’ tags- you had to look at the enemy to find out he’s a healer).

After continuing this quest chain you come to a fight with “bird-men” – my first try failed here, as well. You go into this fight with a group of rangers and there are many enemies around- i have no idea how to succeed here- i guess there would be two options to try out next: bring the main guy down and hope that the mission will succeed or concentrate on healing the rangers. I’m not very confident one of these approaches will do the trick, though, so i’ll be looking forward to figure out what to do.

Up there
Up there

 

And this is great- first, the mission feels epic in scope- i don’t know why that is, but i guess it comes down to the fact that you’re not supposed to be the “chosen” to free the land from all evil, but just an adventurer lending a hand. The mission and quest texts, not only in this one, support that- there are also NPCs that are annoyed by all those adventurers around. The whole game supports you in immersing yourself in the experience.

I’ll have to change my goals, though, mainly because i learned that you’ll get retainer access only with level 20 (don’t know whether this means doing the Level 20 story mission or getting to the level), so i’ll do as follows:

  • Bring the Conjurer to Level 20 to get retainer access
  • Go to Limsa Lominsa and enter the Arcanist guild
  • Go to Ul’dah and enter the Weaver guild
  • Level Arcanist, Botanic and Weaver to 20

So yes, there’s much to do and it will take some time to reach these goals.

Final Fantasy XIV ARR: I love the game!

Now, i’m going to make it quick, for a change. I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV today- a lot, i think. Raptr is telling me i played over 4 hours, which is very much for me, indeed.

I managed to reach Level 14 with my Conjurer- i’m sure you could be quicker about it, doing duties and all, but i take my time, read the story/questtext, look at the gorgeous scenery and so on. Then i had to do a duty call to progress in the storyline and that’s where i stand right now- the duty server is not working. No harm done, i chose to play as a botanic for a while and reached Level 10 with that one.

There’s a lot of things i like in this game, as i mentioned, but what impressed me the most tonight can be summarized by the following screenshot.

And that was that
And that was that

If you think this was just the beginning of a long chat complaining and moaning about missing functionality on launch day, you’re wrong. I was there for another 5 minutes and nothing else came up. If this was the only thing happening in the chat, it might not be something worth mentioning, but i read people talking about Animes, other TV shows, other games – and nooo, no WoW here- Rift was mentioned once (for the good launch), but i didn’t know the other games- ok, there was something about the Witcher, but an in all it read like game enthusiasts chatting about their hobby.

Furthermore, the community seems very helpful and newbie-friendly, at least as long as the question asked is not something that would be quite obvious if one read the help popups. But even then there’ll be someone offering a nice response.

FF14 - climbing trees
I had to go up there, of course

Other than that, i received /bow and /salute emotes whenever i healed someone, and i did that quite often. When i saw someone in trouble or with a lower than 50% health bar, i threw a heal at them. I’m sad to say that there hasn’t been a group invite, though. But with so many players in the area it wouldn’t make much sense to invite everybody who’s on the same quest. And also, i could’ve invited someone, as well. With this community, i might just do that some time.

The community reminds me of the Lotro community when the game was still pay-to-play. It’s still very good over there, especially on Landroval, but boy, did the FFXIV community impress me today.

FF XIV ARR early access anticipation rambling

Clash of business models

This week was all about payment models- again. There have been numerous blog postings regarding that topic as well as discussions in the corresponding news articles of Wildstar’s and The Elder Scrolls‘ announcements of going with a sub at launch.

To highlight a few:

These three entries actually represent very well what i’m thinking about this topic- i mean, first of all- i’m wondering why we are still discussing this topic with such a temper. It should have been proven by now that it’s not one of these models that is “right” or “wrong”, this comes down to one simple thing- is a game worth the monetary investment it asks for or not? And how much time do i want to invest in the title?

If there is one title that i’d play exclusively, without feeling like missing out on the fun of all the other MMORPGs- and each one of them has its strengths and weaknesses, i’d have no problem paying for a subscription. Now, when i play 5 different MMORPGs, i won’t pay a sub in each of them. I don’t think we- as customers- should take a stand for one business model over the other, we should make a point by paying for games we like. Take the Repopulation, for example. It’s a title i could see me paying a sub for judging by all that i know about it- but it’s a f2p game. Should i not play it now, although it seems to be an incredibly deep experience, because i don’t believe f2p and Sandboxes mix too well? Should i just assume it’s going to inhabit some bad business like lockboxes or “pay-to-win” items? I don’t think so.

On the other hand- should i not buy TESO or Wildstar just because they’re pay-to-play? If i thought they’d be longterm candidates, i should buy them- but there’s something else to take into account with these two: how confident am i that they’ll stick to subscriptions? For me, i’d say: not confident at all- we already know TESO will have an ingame-shop on top of the subscription- which rises another question: one strong advantage of subscription games, usually mentioned by proponents of this model is that you don’t have a cash shop intruding into your game experience. When they have one, this advantage is gone. Of course, the pay-to-play faction now says something the free-to-play-faction used to say when they were in the minority: the badness of the ingame shop depends on the items sold. No it doesn’t. Sure, when there are only account services in there, that would be fine. But these things get handled by customer support traditionally. Setting up an entire system (ingame shop) for these doesn’t make sense- so there’ll either be some different items in there, as well, or this is Step 1 of going something-to-play later on.

From a business standpoint, i can understand the decision of Carbine and Zenimax, but from a player’s perspective starting p2p and going f2p/b2p after a year is not fair play. It would be different if they just lowered the box price and give the client out for free after a year while still charging the sub.

I’m still waiting for a business model that lets players pay less when they play less.

Regarding quality being the “cure”, i’ll say this: if you are the kind of player missing the deeper and more longterm-oriented games from the early generation- like UO or EQ, for example, i’d agree- if/when a game wants to be “deep” and cater to a loyal customer base, pay-to-play would be the way to go. If you want to dabble in many MMORPGs at the same time, there’s no “cure” for b2p/f2p, as these models themselves are the “cure” for subscriptions. This is not a question of quality, but about design philosophy and targetted audience. No one could sensibly argue that GW2 is not a quality game- it is, it’s just not what i’d consider a MMORPG- and even if pressed, i couldn’t answer why that is. It is a quality game by all standards. 

 Anyhow, enough of that.

Preparing for FF14 ARR

Regarding Final Fantasy XIV ARR i get more excited with each passing day. Although i learned that somehow i wouldn’t have had to purchase the new version, because i bought FF14 1.0 – it’s really no big deal, i paid about 8€ for that one, but still. I’m hoping to be able to gain more included game time- as i learned from neoGAF (via asianinaction, thanks very much), somehow i could be eligible for quite some sub-free time. 30 Days included in the client, free play until September 9th for owning 1.0 (if they know i own it- somehow Square Enix’s account management system doesn’t make much sense to me), 30 days for registering ARR…maybe. Well, if it comes with only 30 days, i might try to get some more, but i wouldn’t be terribly mad, since i guess it’s my own fault.

So, i’m making plans. It seems to me, after reading some guides for the Paladin, White Mage and Scholar on ffxivguild.com that i’ll be going for Scholar first- which means i’ll set my first ingame goals as follows:

  • continue to play my Conjurer until i finished the level 15 Story Quest and gain access to airships
  • Level up my Botanic skill to 15, as well
  • travel to Ul’dah to start with Weaver crafting
  • travel to Limsa Lominsa to begin levelling Arcanist

As for my choice of starting with Scholar as second-tier job; i don’t like to be the main-something in groups. Tanking is not for me in every case, healing is fine and i tend to not totally suck at it, but it still comes with responsibility that i don’t really want. When something doesn’t work out good i’ll have feelings of guilt that don’t really mix well with enjoyment of MMORPGs in general and group content in particular.

But i think others feel quite the same way, and that’s the reason why i enjoy being the back-up plan very much. From what i read, the Paladin is going to be some kind of Tank, while the White Mage is a good Tank Healer. So, with the Scholar being good in group heals, i’m going to start with that.

Of course, my level of anxiety lowers significantly when i’m in a Dungeon with guildmates, but i’ll be entering FF14 solo. I hope to find a good guild (linkshell and/or free company) with time, though.

Regarding servers, i chose Balmung. It’s a northamerican legacy server which has been selected as unofficial RP server earlier. I read a lot of good stuff about the community and somehow i expect to find the FF14 equivalent to Lotro’s Landroval. I just hope there are other europeans over there, as well.

So, tomorrow is the big day. The early access begins at 2 a.m. PDT (which is 11 am Berlin time) and i’ll be ingame as soon as i can. To all those who are waiting for early access / release as well: have fun in the game!

Game time: Waiting for Final Fantasy XIV ARR

So, i was able to fit in two gaming sessions in the last two days- who would have expected that? With my new shiny arriving on saturday and the newfound freedom to play what i want, i went into two different games.

Star Wars: the old republic

Yes, you read that right. I mean, i bought the game and it’s “free-to-play” now, so why not? Unfortunately, the client is really big and it took some time to get even to the minimal needed download to play on a starting planet. After that was accomplished, i went in with a new character on my “preferred player” account.

The “rumours” stating that SWTOR is very restrictive to free players are true, though. Although i didn’t feel very much in my first evening playing up to level 5, there’s a lot crossed out even for preferred players- you’ll be greeted with a screen showing you right off the bat that you are only preferred and not a subscriber. While i think it is ok to inform players about the restrictions they face, it’s really not welcoming when you see what you don’t have before even selecting or creating a character. The next thing crossed out were most of the available races- but i’d run with a human, anyway, so that didn’t hurt much.

All in all, game-client-wise, it was not a pleasant stay: long download times, two or three crashes and the restrictions presented to you in a “in-your-face” manner. The stay in the game, though, was surprisingly pleasant.

I came to realize i like the graphics- style-wise as well as judging by the look- the quest presentation is very good, as well. If you take your time with it and watch those voiceovers, you’ll start to care for your quests. The dialogue options further increase the feeling of involvement, so that was great. And then, something really surprising happened: i was on a quest, and somebody else was on the same quest. Within seconds i had a group invite! Now that’s interesting, i thought- that hasn’t happened to me at least in this year, maybe even in 2012. I had a nice time in that group until i realised that it was late and i would have to go offline.

All in all, i think SWTOR is a nice “play-to-finish” MMORPG, but don’t fool yourself when going in- i think a sub is the best way to experience this game. There’ll come XP reductions, limited dungeon- and warzone-runs and so on. While i was surprised when i went in with an open mind instead and had a good time, i think i won’t log in again.

Guild Wars 2

This game used to be my big hope for the genre, and for some time it looked as if it would be what i expected it to be. But then, quite suddenly, actually, i got the feeling i was working with a neverending to-do-list of daily and monthly achievements, renown hearts, vistas, points of interest and waypoints. I liked the dynamic events, although they didn’t influence the game world as much as i had liked.

When i went in yesterday, my character logged in while a dynamic event happened around her. I didn’t know where i was, my inventory was overflowing, i had popups because of my achievement points and no idea how to play my character. So that was somewhat troublesome. When i beat this event and tried to defeat the champion to enter a balloon for the queens jubilee, i already had enough of that. The gameplay is nice and all, but GW2 is too fast paced for my taste.

Final Fantasy XIV

I read some nice articles about this game in the last few days- to mention two of them, there’s Keen from Keen and Graevs gaming blog answering common questions regarding FF14 and ZAM prepares us for launch.

What i got out of it: first of all, i can’t wait! There are so many systems and experiences i don’t know in this game that it’ll be a joy to discover them. For instance, i knew there was some kind of multiclassing- in the sense that one character can do it all, but also in some synergies between classes.

What i didn’t know is that some of these combinations form second-tier jobs, and now i’m torn- will i become a Paladin, White Mage or a Scholar? I have no idea how they all work out, and the difference between the White Mage and the Scholar is only in changing around Arcanist and Conjurer as primary or secondary class.

I really like hybrid classes, though, so i’ll want to build something that’s able to heal and do damage- i’m quite unsure which of these three will be my best option. The most fun i had with any class in any game was with the druid in WoW when he got the Bear- and the Cat-form and i could do anything in a dungeon – primarily DPS, but healing and/or tanking when an add attacked the main healer or somebody else. Great times! Unfortunately, those didn’t last long because at that time, you had then to decide where to go with your druid. A combination of two out of the three roles was still possible, but being mainly DPS and helping with tanking and healing wasn’t really viable. So that would be great, maybe the Paladin is the way to go? Hm, we’ll see.

The thing with FFXIV is, i can see a long time ahead and i don’t even know a thing about the game – i just know that i’d like to play one of these three second-tier jobs and be able to craft myself some armor, at first. So i know, let’s say i’ll stick to Paladin, that i need to level my Conjurer at least to 15 (by doing story quests which also unlock the first dungeon and airships ), the Gladiator to 30, and the corresponding gathering and crafting jobs accordingly. With my gaming speed, this can take some time.

Oh, and “Spiritbond“? Didn’t know about that one, either. Great!

So, i am really looking forward to that one.

Final Fantasy XIV ARR

It’s time to confess. While i’d made a point for playing and sticking with one MMORPG, it doesn’t come easy for me, as well. Sticking to Rift is as good a plan as any, but when you don’t have any urge to login, something isn’t right with your choice.

On friday, i remembered there was going to be a Final Fantasy XIV ARR open beta this weekend. With time to play and the urge to find out why some players seem to be very happy with how the game turned out i decided to give it a go.

First off, i own a copy of Final Fantasy 14 1.0 – i didn’t like it, but one thing stuck out positively: in general, i liked the approach to crafting. I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but i saw similarities to Vanguard’s crafting system. After spending every available minute of the weekend playing FF14ARR, i’m happy to say that i still like the approach to crafting- and better yet, i also like the game.

The good

I won’t go into changes from 1.0 very much, because i didn’t come to know the first iteration of the game, but one thing needs to be pointed out: the user interface is hugely improved, not only in design but also gameplay-wise. I remember it being quite a pain to group up in 1.0- while i didn’t group up at the weekend, i can’t imagine that it will be troublesome in ARR.

There’s an old school feel about Final Fantasy 14 that i liked very much. I liked the idea of (level-)gated  content options. I wanted to craft as early as possible, but had to find out that you can only get your second class after finishing up the level 10 quest of your first class. I wanted to go to Limsa Lominsa to become a weaver, but had to find out that i’ll have to finish the level 15 storyline quest to unlock airship travel and so on. So there was always something i look forward to reaching- at first it was level 10, then level 5 of my first gathering profession (botany), then level 15 for going to Limsa Lominsa.

Final Fantasy 14: a realm reborn also has a remarkable love for details. I don’t know if this will continue through the zones, but the early ones around Gridania all struck me as being believable. I prefer to see some civilization when i’m out adventuring, and fact is that most MMORPGs lack that kind of design- you’ll start in a pretty wood, maybe with houses or small villages strewn about, but the second, or third zone at the very least is wholly devoid of many signs of humanity. The early adventuring zones around Gridania still have villages, houses and other buildings in them, which makes for a pleasant stay in those areas. Also, the scenery is very beautiful and changes a lot from day to night.

The combat also gets a positive mention here- it is on the slow side of things, but i like that. Action combat doesn’t leave much time for chats and so the whole experience in those games can feel somewhat lonely, despite there being 10 other guys doing the same quest as i do.

The highlight is still the gathering/crafting. It’s some kind of minigame- when you chop at a tree it’s not only lumber you can get- you’ll have a selection of items you could get out of that tree, each one coming with a chance to get it. You have abilities in your hotbar according to your gathering/crafting job. For botany, there were abilities to show the next tree in my levelrange, raise the chances for successfully farming the materials of a tree and so on. For crafting, i only came up to level 3, but it looks beautiful and most importantly: no crafting job is self-sufficient. You can, of course, level all gathering and crafting jobs, but my guess is that this will be a long term project- if you’d want to be self-sufficient all by yourself, you’d have to level all crafting and gathering jobs parallel to each other. I didn’t count, but i think that would be about 9 jobs to level- in addition to your adventuring job.

So my guess is that at first you’ll be better off just buying things from retainers when you need materials from other jobs. When you start crafting as early as possible i think you don’t really have a choice, since you can not travel to the other capitals to learn the other gathering/crafting jobs.

One thing i wish i knew before changing over to gathering: you should keep some level 1 clothes- otherwise you are going to begin your gathering life in your undies. Fortunately there’s new clothes when you get to level 5 in your job. I guess one could buy something from vendors or other players, but i just “walked it off”.

The hunting log also gets a positive mention – i understand this as some relative of the deed system from Lotro: you get a list of enemies to hunt down and get extra rewards for doing so. Tier 1 of those was quite easily completed just by following quests and backtracking a bit for enemies i fought before attaining the hunting log. There’s something similar for gathering- you can see where to get resources and what resources you already gathered. I don’t know if this one comes with experience bonus, as well.

And finally, i really liked that i could retire to an inn room before logging out to get resting experience, which amounts to experience bonus for defeating enemies as in most other games. As said, this game seems to have a love for details- resting in a guest room is one of these things.

The downsides

Every MMORPG has them, right? So far, i’ve only encountered one- and a highly subjective thing at that- there’s cutesy stuff all over. But really, i’m happy with those as well if i’ll continue to have as much fun with this game as i had this weekend.

Other than that- well, some might call the game “business as usual”- when you look at mechanics, combat mechanics especially, there isn’t much new about this game- and also when you look past combat, almost everything has been there in other games.

Conclusion

FF14 won’t get your attention by proclaiming innovation and/or new features, but somehow it manages to bring older, missed ones back into a new game. I had a lot of fun with it, it even made me read quest and help texts…and enjoy it. It’s a long time ago that i chose to fight some more enemies or gather some more resources than needed just because i had fun doing it, but it happened to me in this game.

Once again, i was in for a big surprise- it’s funny that this seems to happen always with games where i don’t expect much. I’m really looking forward to next saturday when early access starts.