In all my life of gaming (trust me- it’s been a long one), I have never actually gotten immersed in any MMORPG-type games until now- with a $12 monthly subscription at that! I guess Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn really just tickled my fancy at the right place and at the right time, and has now successfully become a craving. What, why and how? Do read further- it’s pretty much what this post is all about.
I only knew about the game around early 2013 when a random site I was on was advertising it’s free beta phase, in which I gladly tried the game out. It was okay- it had what an average gamer would expect out of a WoW-ish online game. The graphics were way better though. After a few quests leveling my female Mi’qote gladiator (race with the neko ears), I decided along with an MMORPG-seasoned friend we’d buy and try the game once it comes out. It IS Final Fantasy, after all.
There’s a lot to like in this game at first glance- I’ve even made a post about it before titled XIV Reasons to Play Final Fantasy XIV. Do check it out for my comprehensive reasoning on why people should jump in and play.
Come August 24, I paid $30 for my PC copy inclusive with 1 month free play. I considered it a good investment since it would be a fresh game, a fresh start. In other words, everyone would be at level 1. That was how things were…until after a few days. You’ll be surprised how people dubbed as ‘no-lifers’ could reach end-game content within a matter of days! My gamer ego did its best and tried to catch up, though only to little avail.
Proceeding quickly to reach end-game content gave me a crash-course to what MMORPGs are really like- the endless leveling grind, dealing with pick-up groups, seemingly eternal quest chains, impossible dungeon raids, really really vast locations, how the marketplace works- everything! It was quite the daunting yet fun experience. Very different from your single-player RPGs and whatnot. It was then I finally understood why people are getting hyped and addicted to this stuff. Before, I thought MMORPGs are just a waste of time and money and that the companies are only in it for the capital gains. Well they are, but I realize that they also include genuine substantial content that shows they’ve definitely and passionately thought about things- I stand corrected.
Feast your eyes on the chaos whenever friends and foes battle each other in unlimited swarms!
Being a beginner on this genre, the learning curve was a bit steep. At around the fifth or sixth dungeon of the main storyline is where I learned the responsibility each class needs to fulfill when raiding a dungeon with others. Basically, it taught me how and why tanks, DPS and healers REALLY NEED to work together to get things done. Coordination and communication is the key.
The basic 4-team setup implies that the tank needs to get and maintain threat so that the enemies would focus only on him, giving the two DPS the chance to inflict massive damage without getting targeted. All the while, the healer will be keeping the tank alive as he eats every attack. Healing and doing damage also generate threat, so that’s where the problem lies. Everything must be in place- the moment the squishy healer and the 2 squishy DPS gain more threat than the tank, they’ll die. The tank will follow since no one will be healing him.
That’s the basic of the basic- pretty much every MMORPG out there follow this simple concept at its core. Things will get a lot more complicated though when it becomes an 8-man party and 24-man alliance!
Speaking of dungeon raids- I was unlucky enough to get my share of trauma being teamed up with insincere, inconsiderate and foul-mouthed players. After a handful of curses and criticisms from them, I learned it the hard way that it will save you the trouble of getting bashed if you know what you’re fighting before fighting it- as tank, you might need to face the enemy opposite your teammates since it could have a wide frontal cone AoE (area of effect) attack that could wipe everyone, or there could be other special mechanics to the fight e.g. moving away the enemy from a random-spawning area where it poisons you AND restores the enemy’s life, or killing a small fry on a certain location or else it will explode and kill you, silencing or stunning an enemy before it casts a sure-kill ability, combinations of those I’ve mentioned, and much more! Things get crazier as you progress. Talking to your pick-up group before engaging the enemy also helps- provided they all speak English.
Insta-butthurt players are a rare sight these days though- it is SOP now to respect your fellow random teammates even if they’re new to the dungeon and know nothing. A lot are actually willing to help others even if they don’t have anything more to gain in those dungeons. That said, people only usually get pissed off if said newbies aren’t following instructions set for them or they just couldn’t learn the ropes after a significant number of tries. The common reasons are (1) they’re not trying hard enough, (2) they sincerely just couldn’t learn, (3) crappy internet connection causing lag and (4) they feel trolled so they counter-troll. Well, this is why it’s best to join a guild / free company to save you the hassle.
About twenty days after launch, I finally reached end-game content and at the same time, my first lvl. 50 paladin tank. Although tanks aren’t as cool as the DPS classes (Dragoon, Black Mage, Summoner, etc.), we are sort of a rare species that everyone needs when queuing dungeons. That means instant queue for us! Since everyone else is playing the awesome-looking DPS roles, they will have to wait in line to team up with the few tanks there are. In the first few weeks, other DPS actually had to wait for more than an hour just to get into a dungeon with a tank. Me? It only took a few quick seconds or minutes!
A celebratory beach party at Costa del Sol was in order after reaching level 50. Ha ha.
After that, I decided to max-level the other battle classes as well. It takes a good three to six days to level 50 one if done via FATE-grinding, which can be a total crawl if you’re not patient. But it gets pretty fun when you party up with other random people who also want to level theirs. I didn’t level my gathering and crafting classes though- it doesn’t interest me in the moment and I’m afraid it would take up too much of my time.
Unlike any other MMORPGs, one single character already has access to all the classes so no need for multiple accounts. Here are the other battle classes I leveled:
Thaumaturge / Black Mage
Conjurer / White Mage
Lancer / Dragoon
Arcanist / Scholar, Summoner
Archer / Bard
I really have to level my Marauder / Warrior and Pugilist / Monk soon so I’d have maxed everything already!
Another thing I love about FFXIV:ARR is how they continuously conjure up new content right then and there- usually about special occasions celebrated worldwide where you can do quests to get limited-edition items:
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Promo
Females get Lightning’s outfit and males get Snow’s!
A lot of content also brings about nostalgia from other Final Fantasies- places, friends and enemies alike:
Wanderer’s Palace is full of tonberries, along with the Tonberry King himself!
The seemingly unbeatable Demon Wall at Amdapor Keep!
King Behemoth at the Crystal Tower! ‘Nuff said.
The game can literally be likened to a theme park packed with lots of rides and events. Although it may require a lot of your time to actually really enjoy your play, in my opinion it’s worth it. There’s the main story line, class quests, job quests, side quests, FATEs, dungeons, raids, PvP, crafting, gathering, guildhests, guildleves, chocobo leveling, trials, hunting logs, fishing logs, real estate and housing, free companies, grand companies, mounts, minions, the list is endless! Totally something you can enjoy your free time on.
A sure favorite event of mine is the Odin FATE. He just randomly appears around the four vast shrouds of Gridania in an interval of every two to four days, and doesn’t appear on the map like other FATEs. Players will only know about it via word of mouth in the general chat box. Once word gets out, almost everyone in the server not queued in a dungeon will be teleporting to Gridania to participate in killing him. That’s more or less hundreds of players each encounter! If you get silver or gold you’ll get items interchangeable for Odin gear.
Once Odin is reduced to about 10% of his HP, he’ll start casting Zantetsuken. He must be killed immediately before he’s able to cast it because everyone will die and he’ll just disappear like nothing happened, like so:
That’s why every team uses their melee DPS Limit Break at that crucial moment
I mentioned about joining a guild earlier (or free company in FFXIV terms), and you should ASAP if you’re playing and you don’t have one yet- it will significantly help your overall online experience for the game. Of course you should canvas first and make sure the one you’re joining is a good one. How to determine if a free company is worth joining? Check out their sites and forums and try to talk to their magistrates in-game. If you think they are genuinely welcoming, then that’s pretty much it. For me, the more the members, the better!
Why join? For starters, free companies can enable added buffs (less teleportation and repair costs, more xp gained, etc.) depending on its rank and status as a guild. Organized FCs also schedule farming and learning dungeon runs for its members, fundraisers, just-for-fun events, tips, free melds and crafting, not to mention they will help you in your required dungeon quests even if they’re done with that already. Well, that’s pretty much how my guildies at Mirai are. Mirai is Asia-Oceania so it somehow kind of brings the continents together.
If you’re not contented with the FCs you see, you can just start your own and invite fellow players!
Mirai event where we hunted small-fries with gathering classes not meant for battle lol
Last December marked the much awaited 2.1 patch: A Realm Awoken where they added a whole lot of content for players to get themselves busy with. It introduced the Crystal Tower- the first ever 24-man alliance raid, extreme modes of the primal trials (Ifrit, Garuda, Titan), hard modes of a couple of dungeons, new dungeons, PvP, new and improved game features, and a whole bunch of main story and side quests!
The Crystal Tower is considered a game-changer as it stepped up the battle mechanics a notch. 4-man teams are okay but 8-man parties can be a tiny bit chaotic already. What more with a 24-man alliance!? Good thing about this is that the 24 are split into three parties of 8, with each party having a certain responsibility placed upon them as they go through fighting various mini-bosses and bosses.
For example, the 1st dragon boss spawns skeleton small-fries that must be killed in the farthest green platforms. Team B would tank and DPS the dragon, while Team A will get the skeletons on the left and Team C, on the right. Their tanks would lead the skeletons to their respective platforms, and the DPS would kill them. If not, the skeletons would do an AoE causing major damage to everyone. Note that the skeletons must be killed before the dragon dies or else there’s another AoE. Once the dragon dies, it will revive and the whole thing repeats again until you can finally kill it the third time. One mistake by team A or C’s tanks could potentially cause a total wipe, which will be a hassle on the whole alliance- everyone will need to respawn and start over.
That’s just the first boss of the Crystal Tower, and more bizarre mechanics will be placed on the next bosses. That said, the whole raid is actually easy once you get the hang of it- provided that your other teammates also don’t screw up. When you think about it, the more people involved, the more risk the team has of screwing up, right? That just makes the journey more fulfilling when you finish the raid.
Anyway, the Crystal Tower is fine and all, just don’t get me started with the Binding Coils of Bahamut- it’s the hardest yet. Although only 8-man, it currently has 5 sub-dungeons that just reek of complicated mechanics and instant wipes if you’re not REALLY geared. Oh, it’s just not about gear- you need the skills, too: footwork, knowledge of the battle, skills rotation and cool-down management as well as multi-tasking powers are thoroughly checked. One time we did Turn 1, took 2 hours of constant wipes, and ended in failure! Lol.
I can’t explain exactly why I love this game- sure, there are a lot of factors. Though a big contributor would be being able to accomplish those seemingly impossible tasks with people you don’t know from all over the world. It’s kind of fun when you think about it- I’ve met and befriended people there of all ages, of various nationalities: kids (of course), those in my age, a married couple in real life playing a married couple in-game, one in his late forties, a freelancer in his twenties, corporate employee in his early thirties; Australian, Japanese, Indonesian, American, what have you! It’s pretty much a chopsuey of ethnicity and life circumstances out there.
For us to be agreeing and working together in a virtual and non-existent world although we’re considered to be strangers in the real world, it does bring about a weird yet fluffy feeling of miniature world peace.
Anyway, my status in the game as of now: I’m currently farming dungeons and raids to get my iLvl. 78 Paladin to iLvl. 90 while at the same time gearing my Bard to iLvl. 80 and my Black Mage, to iLvl. 70. If you’re playing, you could say I’m doing repeat runs of the Crystal Tower, trying out the first few turns of Coil, and also farming Ultima and the hard modes of the Primal Battles. Maybe I’ll do the extreme modes after a few more upgrades. Ah, I also need a static group soon- good pick-up groups in high-level dungeons just don’t come that easily.
High-level looting system can be pretty harsh, with some only giving you just one piece of gear per week!
I guess that’s it- my experience in playing FFXIV:ARR, my first MMORPG ever, in a nutshell. Will I continue playing for the next months to come? Definitely, though I don’t know how long Square Enix will be able to maintain this craving- we could only last so long if things become repetitive. So far they’re doing a great job, far better than my last pseudo-online game, Diablo 3. My interest in D3 died after the first few Paragon levels since the grinding for better gear- only to be used in the same enemies (only stronger)- became pointless for me.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my review, and thank you for reading if you’ve reached this far!
If you’re thinking or playing or you’re already playing, just hit up Asteria Edelfelt up in Tonberry!
Update! Patch 2.2: Through the Maelstrom is on its way, featuring the hardest primal battle yet: Leviathan!