FFXIV – Heavensward, What Happened?

Still bumping around doing miscellaneous tasks of little import in Stormblood. But lately I’ve been thinking about Heavensward, the previous FFXIV expansion. I pre-ordered it early and was in there on early access launch day, but looking back on it two years later, I didn’t play it very much at all. (Yet for some weird reason, I remained subscribed the whole time.)

In FFXIV ARR (2.x), I leveled all of the following jobs to 50: Bard, White Mage, Dragoon, Black Mage, Miner, Botanist, Carpenter, Weaver, Alchemist, and Leatherworker. I had no jobs below level 15, and most jobs at least 25.

Heavensward provided plenty of great screenshots, if nothing else.

In Heavensward (3.x), I only did one thing, and that was level my Bard in fits and starts from 50 to 60, the vast majority of it happening late in the cycle. I tried the new jobs and unlocked Machinist, Astrologian, and Dark Knight, but never went beyond the initial level 30.

So what went wrong?

What Aywren wrote about the Bard is exactly true. It went from a joy to play in ARR to a chore in Heavensward. Other games make a habit of drastic class changes with every patch (*cough* WoW *cough*) but in FFXIV it was a real shock to the system.

This is one of my favorite screenshots from Heavensward.

But there was more to it than that for me. I burned myself out with my late-ARR push to complete the 2.x MSQ in time for Heavensward. When Heavensward launched, I was already worn out.

Not only that, but from re-reading my old blog posts, I was still playing The Witcher 3 at the time Heavensward came out, and that surely dampened my enthusiasm for playing Heavensward early on.

I think another problem with Heavensward for me was the sudden change from being an “expert” to being a beginner again. From all the jobs I mentioned leveling above, you can probably guess that I had spent quite a lot of time accumulating knowledge and experience playing my character through all the different trials and tribulations of ARR. Then suddenly I was in the first zones of Heavensward struggling to get through plain old story quests. It was a big mental adjustment.

Getting ready for the masquerade ball! (Not really.)

Combat was fairly difficult in those first days, as I recall. The first Heavensward zone (Western Coerthas) looked bleak. It’s entirely appropriate for the story, but it wasn’t a friendly way to welcome players to the expansion. The second zone (or maybe it was third–Dravanian Forelands) was huge and it was a real chore to run from place to place until you unlocked flying. I remember grumbling about that quite a lot, actually. I basically gave up on the game in 2015 at level 53.

So I fell behind early, and once you’re behind in an MMORPG, it’s easy to find excuses not to play. (I’ve seen a lot of those same reasons from people who aren’t buying Stormblood, actually.) I didn’t start to make progress again until late 2016.

Farewell to Heavensward. Except I’m not technically finished with it yet. :)

So what have we learned from all this? What lessons can we take from the Heavensward years so we don’t stall out again in Stormblood? (By “we” I mean “me.”)

First and foremost and probably most importantly, it pays to keep up with the Main Scenario Quest. Trying to push through it all at once isn’t fun. It’s better to play it in smaller pieces on a regular basis, and that’s what I’m going to try to do for Stormblood. I’m going to make an effort to level something to 70 before the first patch (4.1 I assume).

Another thing is if you’re not having fun with a job, switch to something else immediately, even if it’s at lower level. Don’t try to push ahead with something you’re not enjoying. (That advice applies to every MMORPG, actually.) I’m liking the Bard a lot better than I did in Heavensward, but we’ll see how it goes once I get into the Stormblood zones.

2 thoughts on “FFXIV – Heavensward, What Happened?”

  1. Aside from the technical issues we had in early access, I haven’t had too much trouble acclimating to Stormblood zones or difficulty. The enemies are stronger, of course, but I haven’t felt that it’s quite as much of a slog. Part of that may be I enjoy the job I’m playing this time around, though, and that makes a huge difference! Part of it is that it’s not a constant drab, grey zone. Though, zones are large and I haven’t unlocked flying in any of them yet.

    There’s some filler in the MSQ that made me want to get on with it, but, when action starts happening and story begins to roll, it’s been a good ride. It feels paced well for taking the story in small daily chunks, which is what I’ve been doing. Building a little excitement each night leaves me anticipating coming back to the game the next day to see some more progress. :)

  2. When leveling up I actually pulled out my chocobo again, which hasn’t seen the light of day in over a year. I don’t feel like I ever really “needed” it, but there were a few times where I think it would have been really hairy had I not had it. Still, this morning I was fighting in the overland and it wasn’t until after the fight was over that I noticed that my chocobo had expired sometime before the fight, so… I think I’m pretty acclimated to it anymore.

    The gear curve is actually pretty flat. They made it really easy to get up to an average i260 gear level in the last 3 months, and with SB’s release made i270 just as easy. Maybe easier. The level 69 dungeon drops i288 gear. Hitting 70 gives you an i290 armor set and i290 weapon to go with it, and even with that due to not keeping my jewelry completely up to day my gear average right now is 283.
    So yeah, the level 68-70 mobs aren’t really that much harder than the level 60 mobs.

    They’re all quite a bit harder than the HW level 60 mobs, but that’s mostly due to increased health pools, so they take longer to kill, not that they’re really hitting any harder.

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