Sunday afternoon I finally completed something I’ve been putting off for about six months now: The Antitower.
I wasn’t planning to, it just sort of happened. I had just gotten back from the grocery store Sunday afternoon. I sat down to figure out what to do for the rest of the day. My mood was better than usual for the waning hours of a weekend, and I was wondering if instances were still broken (I had heard they weren’t but I suspected they might go bad again as server congestion ramped up), so as an experiment I queued up for my nemesis The Antitower.
The expected time read “over 30m” (which I interpreted to mean “never”) so I switched back to Samurai and went to do more FATEs in Western Coerthas to see if I could finish getting to level 54 before the end of the weekend.
[I said in my last post that I made 54 on Saturday but that was inaccurate due to the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey out-of-sequence way that I write and edit posts sometimes. In fact, I stopped at 53 on Saturday.]
I went into that zoned-out zen state of FATE grinding, where you think about nothing except targeting the next nearest mob and hitting your optimal rotations, ad infinitum.
Time passed and I completely forgot that I had queued for a dungeon. It must have been at least 45 minutes later when the Duty Finder popped up and said The Antitower was ready. “Oh!” I thought. “I forgot. I don’t really want to do that anymore. But I’m tired of grinding these FATEs, and I’m feeling supremely confident in myself right now, and it’ll save the FC from having to carry me through it, and it doesn’t matter because it’ll probably just crash and burn anyway.”
It didn’t crash and burn. I was deposited into the dungeon with three other people, much to my surprise.
I almost dropped right out of it again. But as I said, I was in a good mood, for I had successfully avoided the temptation to buy any ice cream or Little Debbie Fudge Rounds or any other junk foody snacks at the store. (This is mainly how I accomplish cutting bad things out of my diet–if I don’t buy the bad thing, I never have an opportunity to consume it.) I would be salt- and sugar-free for the rest of the day, which would undoubtedly make my Monday and the rest of my week about a thousand times better. (I can draw some fairly strong correlations between the quality of my diet and my mood.)
So I boldly said “Hi!” and told the group I was new.
I think it was the tank who said, “No problem, I’m new too.” Normally you don’t necessarily like to hear that your tank is new in a PUG, but in this case I didn’t mind.
I started panicking for another reason, because I suddenly realized that not only was I new to the dungeon, but this would be the first time I would play the Stormblood Bard in a real life this-is-not-a-drill group situation. And I really hadn’t studied it at all. It was the classic taking-a-test-without-studying scenario. Except in game form.
So off we went. I’ve watched MTQ’s dungeon guide for the Antitower several times over the past six months, so I wasn’t completely unaware of what I would see. But it had been quite some time since the last time I watched that video, and as it turned out I didn’t recognize most of the boss mechanics until after they had already gone by.
Thankfully, if you follow the standard DPS protocol of avoiding AoEs and turning away from glowing eyes, there wasn’t anything the healer couldn’t heal through in Antitower. (This healer, at least.) There was one part where I was supposed to avoid damage by going behind some rocks, and there was another room-wide AoE that kept hitting me that I don’t know if I could have avoided, but other than that I had worried about this dungeon for nothing (yet again–I don’t know why I keep doing this, the MSQ dungeons and trials are usually the easiest ones). Even with the tank struggling to hold threat at the beginning, we got through with no deaths and no wipes in 25 minutes.
I was concentrating so hard through the whole dungeon that I don’t know if I could evaluate whether it was “fun” or not. There were a lot of “dance moves” (ie. moving out of AoE effects) which I tend to like, so I would probably enjoy it again, and it was fairly quick, which is always a plus.
Now about this new Bard.
First, I love that you can move again. Everything is back to instant cast. It’s like time-traveling back to 2013 when everything in FFXIV was wonderful.
Except for one minor but irksome thing. I haven’t done any kind of deep dive on the changes yet, but I noticed right away that one of my go-to abilities for dungeon trash was gone: Wide Volley, the AoE spam attack. (Yes, I had to look up the name. I know it as “the G key.”) As it resides in my coveted top three hotbar slots (or “T, R, and G”), it was a commonly-used ability for me. And as far as I can tell, it’s gone, leaving nothing to replace it but the pitiful cone attack Quick Nock (“the C key”), which I literally never used unless a free usage triggered from Wide Volley.
Dungeon trash was one of the places where Bards shined, because they could put out some healthy AoE damage (nothing compared to Black Mage, but better than most). It got a bit worse in Heavensward when they put Rain of Death on the same cooldown as Bloodletter. But now it seems that we Bards are meant to plunk away at one target at a time.
That was kind of a bummer. I don’t mind it for myself but sometimes people get testy in dungeons when it takes too long to burn down trash mobs. Fortunately FFXIV is reasonably good at keeping trash encounters within reasonable limits.
I couldn’t quite get a handle on how to use the Ballads either. I don’t know if I’m supposed to pick one and keep repeating it, or cycle through all of them, or pick different ones for different situations, or what. This will require some further study. (If you can’t tell, I don’t read guides very much, at least not at first.)
Anyroad, the point is I got through Antitower and could continue the Main Scenario Quest through the end of 3.2 and into the beginning of 3.3 Sunday evening.
And what a quest it is. The story in Heavensward is really top notch, at least when they take the time to voice the cut scenes. (The silent ones are a bit more meh.) There are some really, really great scenes after the Antitower (this part of the story is more commonly known as Gears of Change). Tense, dramatic, heart-breaking, triumphant, shocking–it runs the gamut.
Let’s see if I can summarize it in a way that I’ll remember what it was about if I read this post later, but without giving too much away for people who haven’t experienced it.
Immediately after the Antitower, there was some (surprising) resolution to the search for Minfilia, who disappeared at the end of ARR. Then, elements among Ishgard’s peasantry, still bitter about dragons killing their friends and family, tried to undermine Aymeric’s plan to end the Dragonsong Wars. Fearing civil strife, a Grand Melee tournament was fought to build unity among the people of Ishgard. But during a ceremony to finally seal a peace between Ishgard and the dragon Vidsomethingfir, an unexpected intervention from the Azure Dragoon Estinien, who has “turned to the dark side,” spoiled things in a most dramatic fashion. Alphinaud vowed to “save” Estinien (as opposed to killing him). Thus ended 3.2, The Gears of Change.
The only criticism I have is that they lacked a bit of narrative courage. Three times they showed someone apparently getting killed, only to find out a little later, from an off-handed remark, that they were only wounded and would make a full recovery. Annie Wilkes wouldn’t have liked it. It takes away some of the dramatic punch.
Next up is 3.3, Revenge of the Horde. It looks like a fairly short one. Presumably there will be another dungeon or trial at some point.
Side note: I’m not sure they’re using the same voice actor for some of these characters. I definitely noticed quite a change in Tataru’s voice. And I feel like Thancred is a different actor every single time.
Another side note: There is actually a tiny advantage in having waited to complete the Heavensward MSQ until after the Stormblood expansion was out: All the Heavensward MSQ quests give out a little bit of experience (something like 15k each), so while I’m chugging away on the old MSQ, I’m also inching my Bard from level 60 to 61, so theoretically I’ll be a little bit ahead of the curve when I get into Stormblood.
I was very pleasantly surprised to find that they hand out ilevel 240 weapons and armor as rewards in the later stages of the 3.2 MSQ. I think I’ve heard about that before but it didn’t sink in until I saw them in the quest dialog. Goodbye neat-looking but underperforming 210 bow, hello plain-looking but more powerful 240 bow. (I also got 240 weapons for Samurai and White Mage.) After you get weapons, they give you a set of gear, too. By the time I was done on Sunday I had moved up from ilevel 224 to 233. (Sadly still two points shy of Dun Scaith eligibility. Ah well. Not really an issue now that Stormblood is out.)
The new outfit is pretty slick but it’s a little too slick–almost like a form-fitting superhero costume. It doesn’t really suit my character. I probably won’t be using it for any glamours.
On to the next thing! (Which, as it turns out, is already done as I’m posting this, thanks to Aywren’s FC!)