I reached Bard level 70 Sunday afternoon. Yay! But that’s not all that much of an achievement in FFXIV. You can’t do much of anything with the endgame until you finish the Main Scenario Quest. And…
I finished the Main Scenario Quest Monday night!
After reaching level 70, you need to do the Ala Mhigo 4-man dungeon and the Menagerie 8-man trial.
I finished Ala Mhigo with a relatively uneventful PUG Sunday night. Then I tried a PUG for the Menagerie, which immediately follows–this has become a tradition of sorts in FFXIV. A final 4-man dungeon followed immediately by a final 8-man trial. I think both ARR and Heavensward ended this way. In those cases, the final 8-man trial was a pushover. You just showed up, dodged a few AoEs, and won the game. Roll credits.
Wellllllll. The Royal Menagerie is a little different.
Overall I would rate the dungeons and trials that I’ve done in Stormblood to be relatively straightforward. There were very few surprises for someone who had the experience of all the dungeons up to 60 under their belt. Emanation was the first one that I wished I’d studied up on before entering it, but still, my PUG got through it after just one wipe. (I swear it wasn’t my fault! I hope.) That experience caused me to watch a video before going into Ala Mhigo and Menagerie, just in case.
In the case of Menagerie, watching a video didn’t help much. The level of complexity in this trial rivals that of an Alliance Raid boss.
I think three of us in this Sunday night Menagerie PUG declared that we were new to it. We wiped five times, then the group broke up. That was fine, because Game of Thrones was looming just twenty minutes away by that point. Based on the overall performance of the group, I’d guess that more than three were new to this trial, or at least the rest weren’t very comfortable with it. The group did make progress, and I was 100% sure we were going to clear it on the last attempt (all but one made it through the Quick Time event), but then something catastrophic happened and everyone died with like 20% left on the boss. I don’t even know what happened–I thought we were on a roll.
It reminded me quite a lot of that time I tried to do Titan (Hard) in a PUG. Not very many PUGs were capable of doing Titan (Hard) in those days. PUG after PUG after PUG failed at it.
Anyway, I got home from work Monday night and jumped into another PUG. After the multi-wipe experience I felt like a pro with the mechanics, and this group cleared it on the first try (although I still died once in the second phase). As it turned out, it’s probably just as well that I didn’t finish it Sunday, because there was a good hour of credits and cut scenes following the trial, which would have cut into Game of Thrones.
On another subject, during downtime over the past week, I’ve started looking into my gathering jobs again. I thought I might work on Fishing (currently at a whopping 19) but my brain exploded at all the work involved in finding the right bait and locations to fish, not to mention the intense inventory space demands, so I quickly abandoned that idea. (I know, I know, I’m sure there are step-by-step how-to guides out there, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.) I’m not entirely sure what to do with fish anyway, except cook them, and my Culinarian level is way down at level 7. I almost never eat food in FFXIV, except when I need to make room in my inventory.
So I turned back to Mining and Botany, both of which are still at 51. Sometime during Heavensward, I started putzing around with those jobs, getting them from 50 to 51 with levemetes, but I just didn’t “get” it. There are Collectibles and new abilities and I never understood how to use them or what to do with them, so I ignored them, which made it somewhat of a chore to gain experience.
Recently I skimmed over a Mining guide and it finally sunk in: Gathering is totally different after level 50. It’s been a chore for me because I was ignoring the Collectibles and new abilities. So I spent about a half hour adjusting my hotbars and running around Western Coerthas and experimenting with these new abilities and I ended up with some “collectible” ore. I think.
Then I spent another half hour teleporting all over the world trying to figure out what to do with collectible ore. I thought I had to sell it to someone, or trade it to someone, or something. But nobody at the levemete table in Foundation is interested, and I couldn’t find anyone else who was. And naturally the Mining guide I read is not even a little bit helpful in this regard. I guess it must be sooooo obvious to everyone what to do with collectible ore that they didn’t bother writing it up. The help guides within FFXIV are also maddeningly brief in their explanations of new systems.
I have to admit, though, I’m not seeing as much benefit in leveling gathering and crafting jobs as I once did, way back in ARR. It seems like gathering and crafting is now an entirely self-contained ecosystem that doesn’t intersect with adventuring at all. In the old days you needed to craft to attach materia to get through certain quests (unless you happened to know some crafters). But now there are Materia Melder NPCs around to do it for you. Crafting’s only purpose now seems to be either just for the fun of it, or for making money selling to other crafters. Since I basically never spend gil on anything except teleport fees, I don’t need any more money. I make way more than enough just on plain old ordinary adventuring.