I was dragging most of the day Tuesday so when I got home I stuck to simple, low energy tasks on Stormblood’s official launch day.
Being launch day, I first had to enter a code on my account page to activate the game again. Square Enix somehow continues to have one of the worst systems for activating your game account in the history of the universe. You have to enter a code to get into the early access (two of them, in fact), then you have to enter another code to get in on launch day. It’s craziness. It’s hard to believe that average game consumers put up with it. It’s a process that takes a relatively high degree of technical saaviness to get through. (Maybe this is why people play it on console instead of PC.)
Anyway, I tried the Samurai 54 job duty “Blood on the Deck” once or twice more and continued to fail. (It’s always my blood on the deck.) I think I’m up to five attempts now. Since the new gear didn’t help, I put the Nameless robe back on because it looks cooler.
I did a bit of Googling and found that apparently I’m not the only one having issues with this quest, which makes me feel a bit better. I’ve never seen a job or quest duty so difficult in my entire FFXIV life (with the possible exception of one low-to-mid-level duty I vaguely remember in a desert region with a horde of bird-men).
Other than that, the biggest thing I did Tuesday night was try out the new PvP in Stormblood.
I started out wanting to do something simple with FATEs or leves to play with the Dark Knight job but then I remembered that tons of people have been saying that Stormblood’s new PvP is a) fun and b) great for leveling. So I jumped into a queue for Fields of Glory.
Seconds later the queue popped. So that’s why everyone likes it!
I’m not sure what the technical term is for this style of PvP (Arena-style?) but it’s the kind where you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by playing it. It reminded me a lot of Rift’s initial PvP offerings, and later their Conquest three-sided PvP. It’s also similar to Guild Wars 2’s WvW and ESO’s Cyrodiil, except on a much smaller map, and there are no buildings or sieges.
Unlike most MMORPGs, though, you get an entirely different set of abilities for PvP. They are similar in style to the normal PvE abilities for your job, but not quite the same. It looks like everyone gets one or two DPS abilities, some CC abilities, and some abilities unique to your class. You have to setup all of your hotbars again for PvP. I discovered this when I couldn’t hit F8 to summon my chocobo*. It’s been so long since I setup that hotbar on the side that I had to search all through the menus to find where my mount icons were hiding.
It’s a neat system and I think it suits FFXIV fairly well, but I quickly discovered (yet again, for like the hundredth time in my gaming life) that PvP is not very fun when playing a melee class. Ranged classes generally own you, and you have to spend most of your time wandering around waiting for those rare opportunities when someone wanders too far away from their zerg. (Unless you happen to have a pocket healer.)
For comparison, I went into another match with my Bard, and the difference is staggering. Shooting people on the run at range made it pretty easy to rack up Assists, if not Kills. I can’t imagine why anyone would play anything but a Bard if they were serious about winning PvP matches. It felt incredibly unfair, actually.
Stormblood PvP is pretty good (or at least inoffensive), but not good enough to keep me from remembering all the things I generally dislike about PvP in MMORPGs. There’s a pervasive attitude of what I’ll call … well, cowardice, for lack of a better term. With rare exceptions, the second you touch anyone, they run away. I chased a guy halfway around the map once. Nobody fights unless they can either outnumber an enemy and overwhelm him with a circular firing squad, or stunlock an enemy so he doesn’t even have a chance to fight back. There’s no honorable fighting in PvP, in other words. It’s more of an animalistic frenzy like a pack of predators hunting prey. (Which I suppose is why PvP is so often described in terms of wolves and sheep.)
This is in stark contrast to what I still consider the best PvP experience ever: Quake. When you engaged in a fight with someone in Quake, they usually fought back, and a duel ensued (a duel with rocket launchers). If you played more defensively like I did, when someone came at you, you stood your ground and blasted them until they died or ran away. If they beat you, you reviewed how they beat you so you could defend against it next time.
Stormblood PvP was fun, but I don’t think I could stand it for extended periods of time. There are already too many people in there trying to give orders and dictate strategy about how to win the matches, which I find annoying. I couldn’t have cared less if my team won or not. (Which is basically the main drawback of no-consequence-PvP.) I only cared about how much experience I got when it was over and how long it took to get it.
In the end, after two PvP matches totaling about a half hour, I gained a level for my Dark Knight, going from 32 to 33. Not too bad, and roughly similar to running a dungeon, but considerably faster to queue for. And best of all, no actual tanking was required. :)
Other than that, all I did was advance my Heavensward MSQ to the next big trial: The Final Steps of Faith. It was literally the very next quest after Sohr Khai. I’ll probably wait until the weekend to tackle that one.
* By the way, in one of the MSQ cut scenes, someone pronounced “chocobo” like: CHOKE-UH-BO. I always assumed it was supposed to be CHAHC-UH-BO, like chocolate, but I guess I was wrong.