I started Monday evening with what I thought would be a quick trip through the level 54 job duty for the Samurai. I failed it three times. Apparently I haven’t learned nearly as much about playing the Samurai as I thought I had.
The instance first has you fighting a lot of opponents simultaneously. They hit you for a lot of damage, too. Of course our fearless samurai trainer from the East just stands there and watches while you struggle. Somebody threw a regeneration heal on me, though, because I noticed my health going up occasionally. (Maybe that was the “Echo” bonus you get for subsequent tries.)
Then you have to fight a big dog-thingy while four others stand around throwing knives at you. Your trainer finally gets into the fight to handle the four knife-throwers while you fight the big guy. Unfortunately your trainer is very slow to stop the knife-throwers so you suffer a lot of damage from them while trying to dodge the big creature’s blows.
Then you have to fight one more big samurai who does insane damage. That’s as far as I ever got. I’m obviously doing something wrong because I take tons of damage and can’t kill the last guy nearly fast enough. And as far as I know the Samurai job doesn’t have anything to mitigate incoming damage.
I decided I needed to upgrade my gear before proceeding. After searching high and low, I finally found a vendor who sells level 54 Samurai gear at Moghome, but I’m not sure it would be an improvement. The item level on the armor was higher, but the damage mitigation numbers were considerably worse. Also they don’t look that great compared to the Nameless Samurai robes. I decided to leave that quest for another day.
After Heavensward 3.2, Gears of Change, our intrepid Warrior of Light moved into 3.3, Revenge of the Horde. The story here is a little bit of a letdown after the dramatic events of 3.2. Aymeric despairs because Ishgard can’t fight the powerful bad dragon Nidhogg (which controls Estinien), so he decides to go ask the neutral dragon Hraesvelgr if he will fight for the Ishgardians.
Naturally, Hraesvelgr requires us to pass a test before he will help, and that test is–you guessed it–the Sohr Khai dungeon. (At first I kept looking for Sohr Khai under trials, because Hraesvelgr said plain as day that it was a “trial.”)
(Side thought: Sometimes it’s difficult to follow story in MMORPGs because they are always delivered in small bits and pieces: Namely, cut scenes and quest text. I often find myself forgetting what happened in the last story bit by the time I get to the next story bit. And you never know when a player might step away from a game for months at a time and then come back. I’ve yet to see any game make a good effort at making it easy for a player to “catch up” on the story. FFXIV has a storybook in the inn, but it’s kind of a pain to reach it and interact with it. I’d like to see something like a simple “back” button in the quest dialogs, which might show you the previous quest text.)
Normally this would be the point where I set the game aside for six months before I summon up the willpower and energy and determination to complete that dungeon. It’s one thing to PUG a story dungeon at level 20, but it’s quite another to PUG a story dungeon at level 60+. The lower level dungeons forgive and train you, while the higher level dungeons actively try to kill you and prevent you from succeeding.
But circumstances are completely different now. I joined Aywren’s FC Knights of Memory over the weekend, and they were kind enough to put together a group for me Monday night. In no time we made our way through Sohr Khai and that was that. Hraesvelgr’s assistance was secured.
It’s been a while since I did a non-PUG dungeon, and it’s a totally different experience. By which I mean it’s a lot more of a fun experience.
In PUGs I always feel like I have to do everything perfectly in order to keep up with the group, especially the first time through, so I spend the whole instance on edge, eyes glued to the screen, trying to watch every status effect and bar and mob at the same time. It feels like I’m taking a test. It’s sort of a combination of fear of the unknown and performance anxiety.
Sometimes I can deal with that, but most of the time it’s pretty exhausting and I’d just as soon avoid it. (Though it almost always turns out to be far less stressful than I imagine it will be.) Once I’ve gotten through a dungeon once or twice, I’m usually more relaxed with PUG efforts because there’s no more fear of the unknown, and the performance anxiety abates because I’ve already successfully completed it.
Here I should make sure to note that I have never once been yelled at in a FFXIV PUG for doing poorly the first time through a dungeon, so all of my fears are entirely made up out of thin air. With rare exceptions, FFXIV dungeon PUGs are notorieously friendly.
But with an FC group, I don’t need to study up for a dungeon or worry about getting kicked or yelled at. Yay! The dungeon went by so fast and painlessly I barely even noticed what was in it. I don’t even remember the first boss. The second boss had some odd mechanics with collapsing walls and falling meteors that I probably could have done better on, but we got through it. The final boss was pretty interesting, as it had a series of floating platforms you had to dance around on to avoid getting blasted by dragon’s breath.
Apparently the Final Steps of Faith are coming up soon for me in the Heavensward MSQ. Based on the groaning I heard from the FC folks, it sounds like it won’t be quite as easy of a task. :)
Palace of the Dead Redux
After Sohr Khai, we did a quick run through the first 10 floors of Palace of the Dead. Talk about a different experience! Now I see why I’ve had so much trouble with it before.
Here’s how it’s always gone for me, the handful of times I tried it solo: Either I died before I got to the boss on floor 10, or I died fighting the boss on floor 10. And it always took a big chunk of time to get through it. Dying means you get nothing of any value. It hasn’t been all that satisfying, to say the least.
The mobs aren’t necessarily hard, but if you’re soloing and your attention wanders for a moment or you get unlucky, it’s pretty easy to get killed. It takes a fair number of swings to kill the mobs when you first start out, and they do a fair amount of damage to you, too. There are wandering mobs that might stumble by while you’re fighting something else, or there are traps that might blow up and drain your health right before you run into a mob, or sometimes a mob will respawn on top of you.
Then there’s the final boss on floor 10. It murdered me every time I got to it. (Which I think was a grand total of twice.) If I remember right, it does an AoE that you have to step out of, which is no problem. But each successive time, the AoE size gets bigger, until eventually it covers the entire room and you can’t avoid it. So you have to kill the boss before then, and I never could.
Flash forward to Monday night. With a group of four, we mowed through everything on floors 1 through 10 like it wasn’t even there. Or I should say, they did. It turns out that after you successfully defeat a boss, you get to keep the Aetherpool weapon and armor ratings you accumulated during the run. So they had built up Aetherpool ratings of like +90 or whatever, while I was still running around with my newbie +0 katana because I’ve never defeated a floor boss.
When I hit a mob, I barely dented its health, but when they hit the mobs, they lost 75% of their health. :) The final boss died before it even cast an AoE!
Afterward I got some glamour pants and a Page 63 minion, which was pretty cool. I’m not that much into glamours or minions, but it was awesome to finally get something out of PotD. Most importantly though my Aetherpool modifier is up to +3 for the next time I go in there.
All in all, a very fun night! In a way it was too fun because I had a hard time sleeping hehe. (The thunder and rain all night didn’t help either.) I need to temper myself more on weeknights so I don’t get too wound up before bed time.