FFXIV – Yo-kai Grinding

I’ve had a Yo-kai Watch in my inventory for a while, but I never knew what it was for or where I got it. I remember finding it in my inventory, and I kept looking at it, thinking, “What the heck is this thing for?”

Well it turns out that I must have accidentally done the Yo-kai Event quest in 2016. I have no memory of that, but when I went to find the Yo-kai quest-giver in Ul’dah the other day, he/she/it was nowhere to be found. I went to the Gold Saucer, followed the crowd of people, and found the Yo-kai vendor, which I must have already talked to in 2016 too. I even had the Yo-kai Medallium book, and one Yo-kai Medal on one of my Retainers.

I’m not much into minions (especially these extremely weird minions) but if nothing else, this Yo-kai Event is a great opportunity to level some alt jobs. People are out in droves grinding FATEs right now. Basically all you have to do is equip the Yo-kai Watch and participate in FATEs in low-level zones, and you earn one Yo-kai Medal per FATE. But more importantly, you get experience points! Oh, and you can purchase the minions from the Gold Saucer vendor with the medals.

I don’t know what these things are supposed to be either.

Once you have Yo-kai minions, if you equip the watch and summon a minion and participate in FATEs in the correct region, you earn Legendary Yo-kai Medals (at I’d say roughly a 30% drop rate), with which you can purchase weapons from the Gold Saucer vendor. The weapons have no stats and are kind of silly-looking, meant only for glamouring. You can find the correct region to farm by consulting the Yo-kai Medallium book (in your quest item inventory).

So some of my Labor Day was spent getting two weapons: The White Mage staff and the Bard bow. I gained a White Mage level (up to 56) and a Dark Knight level (up to 40). Sadly, neither White Mage or Dark Knight are particularly well-suited to FATE-grinding. Instant-cast ranged damage is your best bet for FATEs, which means you see a whole lot of Bards, Machinists, and Red Mages out there killing everything before you can even get to the mobs. Thankfully it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to get a silver or gold medal in a FATE.

FFXIV – The Rising Event

Hard to believe it’s been four years since The Calamity.

I don’t normally care that much about these anniversary or holiday events, but when I saw the wind-up Gosetsu I knew that I had to have him. Not that I ever take out minions in the game or anything. It’s just the principle of the thing.

I had it in my head that The Rising wouldn’t be starting until after the Tuesday patch, but this morning (Sunday) I logged in and everybody was talking about it, so I went to Ul’dah and sure enough there was the NPC. It was a brief event, as all FFXIV events are, and the word jumble password thing was fairly annoying, but at the end I got my precious Gosetsu wind-up!

Apparently Square Enix will also be doing a 14-hour live stream event. I might have watched it if they had committed to a 16-hour event, but I just can’t be bothered for a pitiful little 14-hour thing. It’s like they aren’t even trying!

I am still doing very little in FFXIV, by the way. My main activity is running Retainer missions, then Adventure Squadron missions. I have no idea what the purpose of Squadrons are (other than burning excess Company Seals), but it’s fun to make them do pushups in the barracks. :)

Comfort MMORPGs

Here’s another post based on a MassivelyOP’s Daily Grind:

What’s Your Comfort MMO?

I find this to be a somewhat odd question, because I generally like to have a constantly-changing game experience, as opposed to an experience that is always the same. I am the kind of person who likes to learn and try new things all the time (within the boundaries of crippling anxieties, of course). This is why I try out most new MMORPGs if I can.

Still, there are a number of long-running MMORPGs that I keep coming back to after long absences, around once a year. One of them is WoW. I usually drop back in and subscribe for a month, then leave again. It takes me about that long to run into the edges of the game–that point where I find myself mindlessly repeating the same mechanics over and over and over again.

I used to return to Rift a lot but I’ve soured on it lately. I just feel like I’ve done everything that matters and now the only way to advance is to join a guild and I just don’t want to make that kind of commitment. Rift still has a somewhat complex set of abilities you need to use to be effective, which makes it increasingly harder to return. I think they over-extended themselves a bit after Storm Legion.

LotRO is one that I’ve started returning to more frequently. Particularly in the past year, of course, when there was some concern that the game might disappear. I liked that they simplified the classes, because it made the game a lot easier to return to. Previous to that, it was a massive chore to get back into the game each time.

SWTOR is another that I return to often. It’s a very easy game to get back into because combat is easy. I find myself mesmorized from watching the cool lightsaber animations and listening to the cool lightsaber sounds more than anything else. I don’t play it as much though because they make it really difficult to enjoy playing for free, and I don’t want to subscribe to more than one game at a time.

Other runners up might be GW2 or TERA. Possibly even Mortal Online. I’ve always wished I had more time and/or ambition to play Mortal Online actually.

I can’t list ESO or WildStar or some others because I haven’t yet been able to return to them repeatedly.

I don’t go back to any of those MMORPGs for “comfort” though. I go back when I haven’t played them in a sufficiently long enough time that the game feels “fresh” again.

I should also mention FFXIV, because in terms of what I would call a “comfort” game it would probably be whatever I happen to be playing at the moment, which is FFXIV. Though I am drifting away from it as I wait for the next content patch. I’m at a point where most of what I do in the game is wait in a queue, and I don’t have much patience for that.

FFXIV – Stormblood Story Deep Dive

Here’s another post I wrote a long time ago but never published because I forgot that I wrote it.

Previously I gave a high-level summary of the Stormblood story, but now I want to dive deeper into more detail. There will be huge, massive, unbelievable, mind-shattering spoilers here that go far beyond anything that was in the previous post, so you’ve been warned.

The biggest plot problem I remember: There was one point in the story when our heroes had to watch while Yotsuyu terrorized some villagers. Gosetsu was going to charge into the fray to help the villagers, but of course Lyse and Alisaie objected because it would be suicide (allegedly). That made sense. But then a minute later Alisaie said, “Wait, no that sounds like a great plan, Gosetsu, you go get captured and try not to die as a diversion.” That was a terrible plan! The worst plan ever! How does it help anyone to let Gosetsu be captured or killed? It would have been far better to keep him with the group! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing there.

Another thing I chuckled about over and over (which I’m sure is just a technical limitation of the game engine): This was a story about nations at war, but we never actually saw more than about ten or twelve people on-screen fighting at a time for these nations. There was one scene when the Alliance fought it out with the Garlean Empire over I think Castrum Abanyia, and you saw like ten people charging at each other with swords. There was never anything like the Helm’s Deep scene in Two Towers, is what I’m saying. Every nation’s army apparently has no more than a dozen people in it.

You also never see more than like ten people in a town or village, even counting the NPCs you can’t click on. It seems like that would be an unsustainable population. One day I’d love to see an MMORPG with more realistic town populations as big as what you see in a typical Assassin’s Creed game, where you have to push your way through the crowds.

Okay let’s talk about the principle characters.

Lyse: As I said before, I liked her, and often found her dialog quite funny. The biggest problem I had with her is that I never felt like she was necessary to the plot. Even when she became the leader of the resistence, I felt like that position should have gone to M’naago, who had seemingly done more to earn it. (I always viewed M’naago as second-in-command after Conrad.) Lyse apparently had a rich history with the Ala Mhigan resistence but I never saw it developed “on screen” so to speak, so it was hard to buy into it.

Alphinaud and Alisaie: Not much to say. Alphinaud is still Alphinaud, and had no character development. What is going on with Alisaie and Lyse, though? There were some … hints. I also did not miss Krile whispering, “I knew you’d come for me,” when Alphinaud rescued her. (That started back in Heavensward. I can’t let that go without saying that anything involving lalfells is ultra-creepy to me.)

Krile: Her kidnapping turned out to be a big old nothing-burger, to use the political vernacular. Just a way to increase the stakes a little bit. It worked for a short time, when they first brought her before Zenos, but then they quickly shoved her onto the back burner in the story so I figured she would be fine. (I don’t think it would have raised any stakes for anyone who skipped over Heavensward, because Krile wasn’t seen much at the start of Stormblood.)

Thancred: Offscreen for most of the expansion, except when we conveniently needed him to tell us where to find Krile. I feel like they started to set up some kind of personal crisis for him somwhere in Heavensward, but seemingly abandoned it.

Y’shtola: Also offscreen for most of the expansion. Her dramatic life-threatening injury near the beginning turned out to be meaningless. At first I worried it was going to turn out that Lyse’s voiceovers were directed at Y’shtola’s grave. Then I realized she was probably talking to Papalymo. Then when Krile was kidnapped I briefly wondered if maybe Lyse was talking to Krile’s grave. Then I reverted back to Papalymo again. I expected to see a scene of Lyse standing over Papalymo’s grave, though. :) Anyway … not much else to say about Y’shtola. I would have bet money Y’shtola and Suda were the same voice actor, but it turned out not to be the case.

Scions: Is it my imagination, or are the Scions of the Seventh Dawn still leader-less? I recall some talk about selecting a new leader back in Heavensward but I don’t think anything ever came of it. Alphinaud acts like the leader, but sometimes Y’shtola does, too.

Estinien: I expected to see more from him. When I saw him standing over Nidhogg’s eyes after the credits I fully expected him to take them and turn into a bad guy again. I was like, “Nooooooooooooo!” Huge relief that he destroyed them instead. It would be nice to see him again in the patches but we don’t really need him anymore.

Raubahn and Pipin: Just out of curiosity, are we not supposed to notice that Raubahn’s kid is a lalafell? Did they ever explain that? Anyway I suspect Raubahn might be leaving for the great hereafter in one of the patches. I mean, he gave his prized sword to Pipin. That seems like a major red flag, and a big warning sign for someone about to commit suicide.

F’lhaminn: That’s Minfilia’s mother, if you don’t recognize the name (I wouldn’t have). Why did she leave her place behind the Rising Stones’ bar where she’s been forever?? I noticed that right away at the beginning of the expansion. I found her sitting quietly at a table upstairs over Rowena’s place at the back of Revenant’s Toll. Also, again, are we just not supposed to notice that she’s a Miqo’te and Minfilia is (was) human? [I now know this was explained in FFXIV 1.0.]

Conrad: I wasn’t surprised at his death at all, considering how much they made of him asking Lyse to be leader.

M’naago: Fun character, and I thought she was more deserving to take over leadership of the resistence.

Meffrid: The first casualty of the expansion, I was surprised that he died. He was a minor character, but we followed him around doing quests for quite a while so it stung a little.

Yugiri: Overall I felt like her character didn’t get enough attention, except around the one part when she went out to rescue those captured townspeople. I thought that scene was brilliant, and the following scene with her on the beach. The realization that the townsfolk might not want to be rescued was a powerful moment for her, but I don’t think they followed up on it. Sadly Yugiri largely disappeared from the story after that, replaced by Hein.

Gosetsu: One of my favorite characters, I was devastated when he died. Though I suspected he was going to die, considering he talked about wanting to die to balance things out. Shortly after his death, there was a passing mention of a possibility that the floor had collapsed into a river, so I figured we would see him again, along with Yotsuyu. I thought it would be in a later patch, though.

Hein: I never really liked him. I never felt he was a good leader, and I would have prefered to see Yugiri in that position. Other than a few moments here and there, Hein seemed to have a kind of flippant attitude toward the whole thing, as if he wasn’t taking it seriously. (Sort of like a Brett Favre kind of quarterback, instead of a Troy Aikman kind of quarterback, if you know what I mean.) It seemed very strange that both Yugiri and Gosetsu deferred to him. I did find his voice fascinating, though. I could never figure out what kind of accent it was. I think it was perhaps a native Japanese/Asian speaker affecting a British accent?

Isse: I thought this kid from Namai did a great job of conveying the plight of the oppressed Doma population under the Garlean Empire rule. Wish I could remember the exact quotes but it was something like, “When you [Yugiri] come in here telling us we can overthrow the Empire it … it doesn’t help.” And then later that old man among the captured villagers explained it even better. “It is as salt in our wounds.” That was one of the best scenes in the whole expansion for me.

Cirina: The woman whose name I continuously mispronounced as Serena. She was a docile little flower, even when she talked about entrails and butchering meat and bloodthirsty combat. Her reaction to Magnai’s advances was hilarious.

Sadu: The leader of the Undying Ones, and probably the most memorable character of the Azim Steppe for me. If she is not Magnai’s “moon” I will eat my hat. Great voice acting for this character, especially when she was flying around blasting the Garlean floaty sky laser thingys.

Magnai: I didn’t really like him. It seemed like he was spouting some kind of sexist nonsense at every turn, which was a little surprising to see in a Final Fantasy title. Of course it was all a big setup for the audience because it was pretty clear to me that he learned Sadu was his “moon” when he saw her in action, and she is the complete opposite of what he was expecting from his moon. Seems like there should be more to that story.

Zenos: Good riddance. Never liked him. As I mentioned before, they didn’t develop this character at all, and he was just a generic cardboard cut-out crazy evil villian.

Yotsuyu: At first I thought she was a generic villian as well, but I applaud them for at least trying to give her a backstory, unlike Zenos. At least we got a little insight into how she got to be the person she is. I thought she was a far better villian than Zenos. Even the voice acting was better. Still, she’s a horrible person who has done horrible things, and I’m not convinced she is redeemable, but we’ll see. I had a feeling she would survive, but I didn’t expect in my wildest dreams to see her and Gosetsu stuck on a deserted island together. I cackled when the camera pulled back. I’m a big fan of “put people into the worst possible situations and see what happens” and I can’t think of any worse situation for either Yotsuyu or Gosetsu.

Big Empire Bad Guy And Ascian At The End: I didn’t understand that scene at all. The Ascian revealed himself to be … somebody. I could’t even guess who. At first I assumed the Ascians had infiltrated the Scions yet again, but how would Big Empire Bad Guy know any of the Scions? Aywren seems to think the Ascian revealed himself to be Zenos. Apparently Zenos’s body disappeared? I missed that. I hope that’s not the case because we don’t need to see him again.

People I thought they were setting up to die at various times but didn’t: Yugiri, Y’shtolla, Krile, Alisaie, and Lyse.

Alisaie often said something like: “Don’t go doing any noble sacrifices or anything,” so I thought for sure she would end up doing a noble sacrifice herself during the story. In fact she
unintentionally did so during that fight against Fordola, but they did another “fake character death” where someone gets hit and falls down looking dead, only to come back a scene later with the explanation, “Oh it was just a small wound.”

Yugiri also tried to make a noble sacrifice, but failed (with another fake character death). I suppose it’s possible the noble sacrifices could come later in the patches.

With Lyse I wondered the whole time if at the end they were going to show her delivering her monologue to somebody’s grave, then show her charging into some battle and dying. (A classic misdirection, because we the audience would think, “Oh she can’t die because of that running flash-forward monologue thing.”)

By the way, if I didn’t mention someone you knew from before Stormblood.. it’s probably because they died a long time ago. I warned you about spoilers!

Random Friday Tidbits

Another brief post just to post something today.

GW2. I did in fact retry Chapter 16, “Hearts and Minds,” and beat it after two more attempts Thursday night, which took another hour. If you leave the instance for any reason, by the way, you have to start all over. So take my advice: Don’t rage quit if you die to the last boss. :) I’ll probably start Living Story Season 3 this weekend although I’m kind of burned out on GW2 already.

LOTRO. I’m continuing to wander around in the Mines of Moria, slowly chipping my way up from level 58 to 59. I’ll probably be working on that today. I spend a lot of time lost, trying to find my way to the quest markers. I have completely forgotten that the Mordor expansion even exists. The “huge MMORPG cultural event” of entering Mordor that I thought would happen didn’t really materialize and everyone is just like, “Meh. It’s Morder. Whatever.”

FFXIV. Nothing much to report. I keep forgetting to login. I only got 360 of the 450 Tomestones last week. The times I do login, I queue up for an Expert Roulette, look at the wait time, then log back off. So yeah, I’m behind on Creation Tomestones. I don’t regret it. The Creation Tomestone Bard gear set looks awful anyway.

Eclipse. I’m not quite in the path of totality but it’s really tempting to jump in a car and drive a couple hundred miles southwest on Monday. Undoubtedly it would be a huge mistake to try. I don’t have any solar eclipse gear anyway. But it’s literally never going to be closer in my lifetime. I’m old enough now to appreciate what “once-in-a-lifetime” actually means. :)

Politics. *deep breath before writing a huge novel* Oh nevermind.

FFXIV – Thoughts On 1.0

I mentioned a Let’s Play series showing Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 in my last post:

Out of intense curiosity, I’ve been watching this series for a while, trying to take some notes about what I like and dislike about 1.0. The YouTuber showers praise on the game while he plays, more than it deserves–to the point where I wonder if Square Enix actually paid the guy–but he’s at least enthusiastic. He is more of a talented radio-voice-guy than a talented gamer though. It’s very humorous to listen to him talking about mining like it’s some kind of exciting baseball game. (Also, I don’t want to brag, but I did way better at reading quest text in my Stormblood videos. :)

The precise version shown in the video is something like 1.18, by the way.

Never having seen or played the original version, my only knowledge of 1.0 was the popular opinion that it was total and complete garbage, the Atari E.T. of MMORPGs, not worth the pixels it was printed on, a game so bad that it somehow reached out of the screen and strangled the player to death right in his chair.

Watching the Let’s Play dispels that myth completely. It actually looks … not that bad.

Likes

Graphics. One thing I noticed immediately is that the color and shading in 1.x seems to be a lot better than it currently is. I don’t quite know how to describe it but it looks like there’s more contrast and saturation in the world–the darks are a bit more dark, the colors are a bit more colorful. Maybe it’s something about the YouTube video that makes it look that way. The current game often looks a bit flat and washed out to me (especially at night). This is something I’ve noticed in a lot of Asian-style games, so maybe it’s an intentional style. While it might be more “realistic” in that real life often looks flat and washed out, it doesn’t look that great on a computer monitor and I wish they would give us Contrast and Saturation sliders.

Left: Screen capture from YouTube video (1.x). Right: Screenshot from current game (4.x). Admittedly it was “foggy” when I took the screenshot but it illustrates the difference I’m talking about. It’s sort of like the difference between a regular and an HDR photo.

Leaning. Your character leaned side to side when you turned, and there were short starting and stopping animations. It looks very nice on video but I would not have liked it if it felt laggy while playing.

Fonts. I like the fonts used for the nameplates a lot better in 1.0 The font used in the current game is very plain and utilitarian and not very artistic. A variety of choices to pick from would be nice.

Map Size. Maybe it’s my imagination, but the outdoor zones in 1.0 looked bigger than they are in the current game. I wish they had retained that. (Though it doesn’t look like there was anything in the bigger areas.)

Seamless Transitions. Transitions between cities and outdoor zones were seamless in 1.0–I really wish they had kept that. I’m not a fan of loading screens between zones in MMORPGs. I find one of the defining traits of a “true” MMORPG is the ability to walk all the way from one side of the map to the other without any transitions (a la WoW), but hardly anyone does that anymore. I suppose it’s too much of a technical challenge, and players don’t demand it anyway.

Cut Scenes. The cut scenes in 1.0 seem to be more complex with more motion capture and more complicated camera movements, at least at the beginning of the game. It looked very nice, but as I’ve mentioned before it probably wasn’t a sustainable development model.

Characters and Story. F’lhaminn is in 1.0! (Minfilia’s mother.) That is so cool! Thancred is also there, in the Ul’dah starting zone, though he seems to be just a lovable rogue and not part of any kind of organization. This kid Ascilia I’m seeing in the videos is apparently little Minfilia, according to the wikis. So apparently the story of how F’lhaminn ended up adopting Minfilia was in the 1.0. I wonder if Raubahn and Pipin is explained as well?

Starting Area. I like that you could start any class in any of the three starting zones. Currently your starting class dictates which zone you start in. Not sure why they changed it.

Map. The map looked better in 1.x, perhaps because of–again–more contrast. However I don’t like that it was full screen.

Character Shops. Tentatively putting this under “likes,” it looks like there was an area where players could setup their own shops with retainers. It also looks like you could go up to actual players and “browse” things they had for sale. It’s a neat concept, but I can’t really tell from the videos how it would work out in practice and at large scales. (Apparently not well, since they abandoned the concept.)

Dislikes

Bugs. Quite a few bugs have been shown in these videos. There’s one where players slide around on the ground without moving their legs which really breaks my immersion. :)

Lag. There is a lot of lag and stuttering shown in the YouTube videos. It could have been this guy’s connection (I’m assuming he’s in Australia) but I would have hated to have to play that way.

UI. The UI in 1.x looked very strange and overly tedious. There are plenty of tedious elements in the current game but it looked a thousand times worse before.

Leveling. It looks like there was a “master” level with sub-levels or “ranks” for each of the classes. I didn’t like it. I like the way it is now, where each class has it’s own individual level.

Combat. Combat seemed to be more tedious than the current game (which is pretty unbelievable considering the current game is paced slow). It looks like it did not use a global cooldown system familar to MMORPGs but instead a system more similar to something like Dark Souls, where every swing deducted “stamina” points, so you had to manage your stamina pool during combat. I personally like Dark Souls combat but it doesn’t look like this implementation worked very well in 1.0. (The slower pace made for some glorious animations though–marauder axe swings looked incredible, and also the conjurer spell casts.)

Doors. You had to click on doors to open them. Yuck!

Gil. In 1.x it seemed like you got a lot more gil as rewards, so you had thousands of gil in the first few levels, which is weird.

Zooming. The person doing the above Let’s Play never zoomed in or out. I don’t know if it’s because you couldn’t or not, but if so, I would have hated that. I play zoomed out quite a lot. (Oh, I see he zoomed in in episode 21, but not out.)

Crafting and Gathering. It looks like the crafting and gathering minigames were a lot more arbitrary and tedious. There was some kind of thing where you had to move a slider up and down to select where you chopped at a tree and so forth. And mining had some kind of pulsing circle that you had to click at the right time to get the best results. I’ll give them points for creativity but it looks like it would have been frustrating to do over time. I like the current system better.

Hotbar. This episode I’m watching shows that it doesn’t remember your hotbar settings when you change to a different class! You had to setup your hotbar again every time you changed? Yuck! Double yuck!

Other Notes

It looks like version 1.0 didn’t have the tight coupling with a Main Scenario Quest that the current version does. It looks like it was more of a sandboxy feel, in that you did your leveling through the use of levequests, rather than following a story to the exclusion of everything else. I don’t really mind either style of MMORPG, so that wouldn’t have bothered me. On the other hand, it looks like it was a bit more grindy to gain levels.

The YouTuber mentioned at one point that there was no digital download available for the game, and you had to buy it at a retail store. I always wondered why I never even knew the game existed until A Realm Reborn came out… that certainly would explain it! I definitely would not have bought a retail copy of any game in 2010. Maybe that was just in Australia, though.

FFXIV – Latest Adventures

To make a long story short, I left my old job and will be home all this week before starting a new part-time job Tuesday. (Technically it’s in the same building.) Being home is weird. I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. I haven’t had a full week off of work since the last time I changed jobs, which was in July 2014.

That means I’m writing this post on Tuesday morning on my gaming PC, which is a very strange situation for me. Most of my posts are written in a text editor when I’m bored at work, so it feels very strange to be “working” in the place I normally reserve for goofing off.

Bard

In the world of Final Fantasy XIV, I’ve been coasting along with my main Bard job. There’s not much to say about it. I try to do an Expert Roulette every day for the Verity tomes, and I pop into Omega raid PUGs once a week for a drop, but that’s about it. Soon neither of those things will help me, as my item level is now 313. I still haven’t gotten around to the Extreme trials or Omega Savage yet, which would be the next thing to do on the progression list.

White Mage

Rawr. Now I can make blue bubbles too!

When one caps out their main job in FFXIV, one typically turns to an alternate job or two, and I’ve decided I want to work on White Mage next. (I’m also mildly interested in Samurai but, you know, DPS queues.)

Leveling White Mage unfortunately means confronting the fact that I don’t remember how to heal. :) I got fairly comfortable with healing leveling dungeons by the time I reached level 50, but that was several years back and I never healed any “endgame” dungeons. I’ve not done anything with the job since ARR.

I actually started a new Conjurer with the idea that I would level it to re-learn the job (see below), but I realized I was only stalling the inevitable. I would have to confront the perils of healing a dungeon one way or the other, so I went back to my 51 White Mage and jumped into Haukke Manor, a relatively short, lowbie-level dungeon I know pretty well. It went fairly well, in the sense that nobody died. It helped my confidence a lot, even though it wasn’t a very complicated run.

I thought about trying some other low-level dungeons, but I was disappointed with the lack of experience I got from Haukke, so I decided to “rip the Band-Aid off” and jump into The Dusk Vigil, the level 51 leveling dungeon. (Queues are basically instantaneous for healers, by the way. Wow.) It was nerve-wracking, but I got through it and nobody died–except me. For some weird reason I died right at the very end of the second boss. I think I was watching everyone else’s health so much that I forgot to look at my own. That run got me to level 52.

I’ve never quite understood why these kids have horns.

It was then that I realized I had not done any White Mage class quests yet, so I found and completed the 50 and 52 class quests. At level 52, White Mage gets the magic blue bubble spell, which is something I’ve never had before. I did another run of The Dusk Vigil and the blue bubble was very helpful. (In that second run, the tank said, “This is my first time here.” I chuckled and thought about saying, “That’s okay, it’s only my second time healing here,” but I thought the DPS would instantly abandon us.)

Disciples of the Land

In other news, I’ve leveled my Miner and Botanist jobs to 60, and finally unlocked the Collector in Idyllshire. Ironically, you have to get to level 60 to unlock it. Some other gathering stuff unlocked at 60 but I haven’t figured it out yet. I picked up the initial Miner and Botanist quests at 60 and then I’ll be on to gathering collectibles until I get to level 63 for the next quest. (The quests are the hardest part of leveling gathering jobs, because they make you gather a bunch of HQ items which takes a long time.)

Uhh. I guess I’ll figure this out someday.

I even did some fishing to get from level 19 to 26. Fishing is pretty relaxing, and when you get that “throw fish back” ability, it helps quite a lot with filling your inventory up with fish that you’ll never do anything with.

Low-level Playthroughs

I had so much fun recording my videos for Stormblood (most of which still have ZERO views, ahem) that I wanted to make some more for the Main Scenario Quests in A Realm Reborn (1-50) and Heavensward (50-60). In a happy coincidence, thanks to one of Aywren’s posts, I learned that the Midgardsormr server (a name I still can’t reliably spell) is a “preferred” world and thus if you create a new character there, you get an experience bonus through level 60.

So I created several new characters to play through the initial MSQ. I created one each to start in Gridania, Ul’dah, and Limsa Lominsa, to get the MSQ perspective from each starting zone. When the MSQ converges (which happens when you unlock airships and fly to the other factions to deliver a message, normally around level 15), I’ll pick one of the classes and continue from there. Unless I get bored and give up on it, that is.

I had completely forgotten about Ground Zero in the Salt Strand.

The point is that I’ve really enjoyed going through the lowbie stuff again. I find it quite fun to play MMORPGs at low levels, personally. I’ve never seen the MSQ starting from Limsa Lominsa before. Going through many of these low-level quests makes me very sad that I can’t go back and see version 1.0 though. I can tell there are references back to people, places, and things in the initial version, but I can’t fully appreciate them. :(

Wait! I just found an 80-Part Let’s Play for Final Fantasy XIV 1.0!

Ahem. Anyway. If anyone is curious, the experience buff you get from rolling on a preferred world is insane. Normally you reach the Envoy quest at about level 15, but I’ve been getting to it at level 18 or 19. And that’s doing nothing but following the Main Scenario Quest. No side quests, no FATEs, no hunting logs, nothing. And very little rest experience. It took me about two and a half hours to get past the Envoy quest to the first dungeon Sastasha on a new Conjurer, running from quest to quest, skipping all the dialog and cut scenes. (I did all the training missions at The Smith to get the cool gray gear though.) It’s definitely a lot faster to level now than it ever has been.

The most condescending-looking Elezen I could make, shown here in Hall of Novice gear.

That pretty much covers everything I think.

FFXIV – Bard 4.0 Thoughts

I posted a comment on Aywren’s blog that made me think I should write a short post about what I’ve learned about the Stormblood Bard job. Then I wrote a way too long post about it, because that’s what happens when I’m bored for long periods of time.

I’ve leveled a Samurai from 50 to 55, but other than that, I’ve been playing the Bard almost exclusively in Stormblood. I’ll admit the new abilities were a bit tough to grasp at first, but fortunately it wasn’t an impediment to playing through the content. I got through the whole MSQ story without doing much of anything with the Ballads, and it wasn’t until after I got to 70 that the new stuff started to “click.”

When I say “new” stuff I actually mean the same ballads, but which gained entirely different functions, among them: Mage’s Ballad, Army’s Paeon, Wanderer’s Minuet, Foe Requiem, and Battle Voice.

You can pretty much forget everything you previously knew about those ballads, because they are 100% different now. You can also forget that the names of the ballads have any relation to their function anymore. Mage’s Ballad? Yeah it doesn’t do anything with mana, a fact that took me a stupefyingly long time to learn. (I literally thought the tooltip must have had the wrong description for like 8 whole levels.)

Here is my take on the altered abilities:

Wanderer’s Minuet: Enables a buff that allows building stacks of “Repetoire.” Repetoire only builds when your DOTs do critical damage, so keep your DOTs going on your targets at all times. When you get three stacks of Repetoire you can use “Pitch Perfect,” which is a hefty damage ability. (Actually you can use Pitch Perfect with one or two stacks as well, but it’s less damage.) This one is probably the most straightforward of the ballads to understand and use, and perhaps a good place to begin the learning curve.

Army’s Paeon: Enables a buff that increases the speed and damage of your attacks with every stack of “Repetoire.” As above, Repetoire builds when your DOTs do critical damage. It’s straightforward to use, but the effect seems fairly negligable to me so I don’t use it very often except on long boss fights when I get bored.

Mage’s Ballad: This essentially enables a buff that causes your Bloodletter and Rain of Death abilities to proc more often. Again, only if you maintain your DOTs on targets. I find this now to be the most effective way (ie. the only way) to do AOE on big packs of trash pulls. Once you have DOTs going on several targets, trigger Mage’s Ballad, and the Rain of Death AOE ability will proc almost every global cooldown. It takes some practice but it’s very effective. In single-target situations Mage’s Ballad just lets you hit Bloodletter more often, increasing damage.

Foe Requiem: Simply increases damage taken by 3% for nearby enemies, effectively buffing your party DPS. (Presumably you need to stand close to the enemy targets.) It uses up mana as it plays, and it doesn’t last long. I often forget to use it. It’s a pain because it’s one of the few Bard abilities that isn’t an instant cast. Probably the best time to use it would be in those rare situations where you have to kill a target very quickly or the group wipes. (Like the nails in the Ifrit trial.)

Battle Voice: Another buff that increases direct hit of all party members by 10%, but it can only be triggered when singing another ballad. I have to admit I never use this, even though it sounds pretty useful when I write it down. :) This one hasn’t yet made it to the two highest-priority hotbars which have keybinds.

And here are some thoughts on other abilities:

Peloton: This Role ability is the replacement for Swingsong, which I use only in dungeons between mobs. I don’t know it for a fact, and I’ve never heard anyone ask for it, but I assume people like to run faster through the boring parts, especially on the Roulettes.

The Warden’s Paean: Removes a detrimental effect. I thought this was new, but it was apparently in Heavensward as well, and I never used it. I still don’t use it. I’m not sure it’s even on a hotbar. I suppose it would help the healer if I removed my own debuffs, but the cooldown is really long and frankly I’m not even looking for debuffs in the heat of battle as a DPS.

Troubadour: Adds an additional party-wide defensive buff based on which ballad is in effect. No one has asked for it, and I can’t think of any situations that would have been significantly improved by using it, so I generally ignore it. If the almighty “meta” ever demands it I’ll start using it.

Nature’s Minne: Increases healing rate on yourself or another party member by 20%. Okay? I guess? I occasionally cast this on myself if I’m low on health and happen to know I’m about to be hit with some damage, just to make things easier on the healer. (In such cases I might also use my emergency self-heal Second Wind.) Otherwise I’ve not yet encountered a situation where this is needed. I’ve yet to encounter a healer who has asked for help with healing, or who would be helped by a 20% buff on healing.

I have to say that the support abilities of the Bard in Stormblood fall into a similar category as the support abilities of all classes in Rift: They aren’t supportive enough to really warrant using them. A buff that increases defense by 10% doesn’t sound terribly valuable to any group. Now if it was a buff that increases defense by 50% I could see people wanting that.

By the way, I found that Square Enix actually has a fairly comprehensive reference for the Bard job (and all other jobs), something I wasn’t even aware of. It has a very handy “Patch 4.0 Adjustment” next to each ability that tells you how each one has changed. It doesn’t go so far as to tell you how you should use the abilities, but it’s a great guide for the exact function of every ability, which is something I like. When I know the exact function of the abilities, the way you use them and chain them together becomes far more apparent and intuitive to me. That’s something guides tend to lack. They just tell you what to do without telling you why you should do it.

The bottom line is that the Bard is very enjoyable to play again. You can move around again without having any effect on your ability to produce damage, and that’s what attracted me to the class in the first place.