It’s official, I’m a Ninja. As of Saturday night this past weekend I managed to bring my first class in Final Fantasy XIV to level 50. Levels 46-49 seemed to be a bit of a slog but the last level went surprisingly fast. For those currently leveling in this game looking for a little boost, be sure to complete as many of the challenge logs as possible on the class you are leveling. The bonuses are remarkable. Completing three of these logs quickly brought me through the last leg of leveling and into the end game. Except I can’t really participate in end game yet, I still have quite a bit of the main storyline to complete. Currently the quest I am on is for level 46 players and I will also have all of the patch content to play through once I catch up to the level 50 ones. There appears to be plenty of time between now and the launch of Heavensward so as long as I do not get distracted I should have no problem being prepared for the expansion. However “distraction” should be my middle name when it comes to MMOs and chances are good I’ll putter around on a few other classes instead of focusing on the finish line. Legitimately, I will need to work on the Dragoon and Monk in order to get the cross class abilities I’ll need to be a better Ninja, so that distraction should still count as “focused.” “A focused distraction,” I like that. It makes my waffling on everything sound intentional. I did complete the Ninja quest line and now have a complete set of gear that has me actually looking like a stealth assassin rather than a pirate or a Swiss mountain climber who forgot to wear slacks. The story was pretty cliché but I enjoyed getting to know the two NPCs, Oboro and Tsubame, and hope to see more of them if Square Enix adds additional class quest content for Heavensward. The final boss was exactly who I expected it to be, but thankfully the fight itself was simple. Personally I don’t like these solo scenarios, and I want to get through them as quickly as possible so if I don’t have to play through it more than once, I’m a happy gamer. It’s not that I mind a little challenge but lengthy solo instances with a learning curve in any MMO frustrate me. In FFXIV for example a few of the quests for the Ninja class have had very specific mechanics you have to be aware of that do not appear until fifteen minutes into the scenario. If you don’t recognize what needs to be done quickly you wind up dead and have to slog through several rounds of trash for another fifteen minutes before giving it another go. Usually there are hints as to what you should be doing but they appear in the chat log and I am too focused on my rotation and what’s in front of me to notice the verbal queues in green text in the bottom left corner of my screen. At the very least I would like these scenarios to start me at the boss if that’s where I die rather than sending me back to the beginning and having me go through all the trash again. Nevertheless I am incredibly content with the class itself. The Ninja in Final Fantasy is quite possibly the best class mechanically that I have played in any MMO. The rotation is the right amount of predictability, complexity, and choice. There is a set pattern (albeit a complex and layered one) and if I spend enough time playing I’m sure I’ll be able to complete it in my sleep but it is one easily interrupted or changed based on circumstances which means you have to know how to respond to changes in the encounter as well as what to prioritize when the standard rotation is interrupted. The best way I can describe it is that you are juggling two priority systems at once. You have the abilities that come standard with the base class of Rogue in which you combo different dagger slashes for damage buffs, dots, and pure dps. Then you have a second set of skills learned as a Ninja based on three Mudra or hand gestures. These three abilities can be used in a number of combinations to produce different effects. These abilities used singly, in pairs, and in threes provide attack speed buffs, enable the use of stealth abilities while unstealthed and in combat, and provide additional single target and aoe damage. It sounds very complicated (and it is) but you are taught one Mudra at a time giving you opportunity to learn at a reasonable pace. That said, going from two mudra to three hurt my brain and left me wearing a lot of rabbit hats for a couple of days. Now I’m feeling confident in my Ninja abilities and look forward to getting involved with more difficult content as I progress through the end game. I think I’m finally settling into Final Fantasy and plan on maintaining it as a home game while I continue to play characters in other MMOs to max level on the side. As much as I enjoy multi-gaming and getting a taste of all the great games in the MMO landscape, I’d like to establish roots once more and I think FFXIV and the Ninja might offer me exactly that.
Final Fantasy XIV
State of the Rez: Evaluation and Objectives
As of Tuesday I’ve written twenty posts on “Waiting for Rez” and by this time next week I’ll have been blogging for two months. This is a milestone for me because when I started this blog I wasn’t sure if it would stick. I have a tendency to initiate projects and never finish them but for two months now I have averaged two posts a week and that’s a pretty solid start. So this week I thought would be a good time to look at what I’ve been writing and to adjust some of my initial goals accordingly. I’m also going to discuss my current gaming plans because they have changed a little since last week.
With my introductory post for “Waiting For Rez” I set a goal to write one post a week, but have in fact averaged two to three. Topically, I set out to write on MMOs and on Christian themes like personal reflections on scripture or spiritual poems. While I have stayed within this framework my religious posts have been far more personal than I had originally intended but I plan on continuing that trend because it has been beneficial for me and I think others as well. My gaming posts have been rather diverse (which they will continue to be) and for continuity I’ve enjoyed a regular “State of the Rez” where I write a weekly wrap up of what I’ve been doing in the games I’m currently playing.
As for the poetry, I had intended it to be a regular feature but that has not been the case. This may change at a later time, but right now I want to focus on guides, first impressions, opinion pieces, and personal reflections. The main problem is free time. I only have so much of it I can devote to writing in a week (and still have time to play MMOs) and during these first two months it has taken me three or more hours to write a 1500 word post and eight lines of poetry were taking just as long if not longer. I enjoy it, but I’m going to set it aside as a goal for now and focus on writing regular posts better, faster, and more concise, then revisit the addition of poetry at a later time.
Having written for a while now I have a better idea of what my goals are in the months to come. I have decided I will aim for three posts a week instead of one, and for the sake of consistency I will be posting on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Bio Break was the first blog I read consistently and I’ve always appreciated Syp’s reliability in posting Monday through Friday. I can’t write every day like that but I can maintain a specific schedule. As a general rule Sundays will be a personal spiritual reflection, Tuesdays will be an MMO topic, and Thursdays will be a “State of the Rez” post like this one. I’ll try this set up for the next two months and reevaluate at that time what’s working and what isn’t.
As far as gameplay goes I have some new goals as well. Last week I wrote a roundup of all my main characters across several games and my intended in game objectives. I was hoping to continue playing three to four MMOs at a time and focus on raising at least one character in each one to level cap. After a few weeks of playing three, then four, then five games over the course of a week I’ve decided that approach doesn’t work for me. Two seems to be the sweet spot, and that’s where I’m going to try and settle. With a single game I tend to obsess and burn out but playing two at once has helped keep me focused yet balanced. That’s a good place to be. The plan is to have one core game that I will play during the week and one causal game I will play on the weekends still with the intention of reaching level cap in several games.
Since I did end up picking up the Shadow of Revan deal that Bioware was offering for Star Wars: The Old Republic and I am still subscribed to Final Fantasy XIV for another three weeks those are the two games I will be playing. Because the leveling in SWTOR is so much slower when you aren’t a subscriber I’m going to focus on it to try and level as much as I can before the 60 day subscription included in the purchase is up. On the weekends I will play FFXIV until my game time ends and then I need to evaluate whether I want to continue for another month or take a break and play The Elder Scrolls Online instead. At the very least I want to reach level 50 on my Ninja and hopefully get to level 15 on the Conjurer class so I can try healing in a dungeon before my time is up. If in three weeks I’m still really engaged with FFXIV I’ll continue for another month. As with my writing schedule, I’ll give this plan a try for a couple of months and see if it works for me.
Finally, I want to say thank you to everyone who has been reading this blog, encouraging me to continue, and generally welcoming me to the blogosphere. This has been a great community to be a part of and I look forward to interacting with you all more in the months ahead.
State of the Rez: Green Lantern’s Light
Normally I’m a one MMO at a time sort of guy— I have never been able to juggle several titles at once—but recently I have found a nice balance between playing The Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy XIV, both great games and varied enough to satisfy different elements that I enjoy in my MMOs. So naturally, having finally established a comfortable multi-game routine I decided to upset the hard earned equilibrium and add a third: DC Universe Online. I have played this title before and overall I am still not impressed with the game, but I am enjoying the play style of the “light” power set to which I gained access when I purchased the “Fight for the Light” DLC. It changes the combat into something I enjoy and grants me the privilege of joining the Green Lantern Corp which just may be enough to keep me around for a while. More on that in a bit, first an update on how things are going in the other two games I’m playing.
Having initially purchased the game over 6 months ago I have only recently entered the 40s on any job or class. I have repeatedly changed my mind on which job to focus on, lost momentum as a result, and then inevitably I end up taking a break from the game only to start over with a new class the next time I sub. This time was no different, I started over with the Ninja. However the Ninja gameplay has been such a great match for my preferred DPS play style that I have progressed in the game farther than ever before.
I recently hit level 42 and entered Coerthas for the first time, a beautiful winter zone with an intriguing story about a missing airship and the High Houses of Ishgard. I have once more out leveled the main scenario quests but I am not worrying about that anymore, I’m going to continue playing the way I enjoy—pursuing the storyline regardless of my current level, completing a few challenge logs, and running a dungeon once every play session. I will likely hit 50 long before I finish the main scenario and that’s okay.
Regrettably, I have not spent as much time in The Elder Scrolls over the last week or two as anticipated, largely because I was pushing past that level 40 barrier in FFXIV and finally moving into new content. With the time I have spent in The Elder Scrolls I have continued to focus on leveling my Daggerfall Covenant Sorcerer and trying out the new justice system. I don’t think I will ever spend a lot of time in game pursuing a life of crime, but all the same I’m glad it is there. It makes me feel like my character has more of an impact on the world and that my actions have meaning.
Now I have to be careful of who I attack and who I “borrow” materials from or else I will have to deal with slightly more realistic consequences than the standard theme park MMO where murder and theft appear only as a rewarded quest mechanic. What I have discovered is that while I love heroic quest lines and defeating world destroyers in a dungeon or raid, these big epic moments are not what endear me to a studio’s virtual world but rather it is the small interactions and environmental details that do, bringing the world to life and rooting my character in the matrix rather than placing him or her outside and above it. The justice system accomplishes exactly that, and I look forward to tinkering with it some more.
One last note regarding ESO, I do still plan on writing a second and possibly a third post on writ certification and the crafting system but it will probably be another week before I am ready. I am less versed in the consumable crafts to begin with and there were a number of big changes to provisioning with update 6 such that I need to spend a little more time in game playing around with all three consumable crafting lines but especially with the improvements to provisioning.
Downloading the client for this game was impulsive, I’ll admit. As I have stated already, the game as a whole does not impress me and I had no intention of returning after my last visit. Leveling is even more of a carbon copy experience than other MMOs with the predictable pattern of quest, quest, solo instance repeating itself ad naseam for at least the first seventeen levels of gameplay (I have yet to level further). My previous experience with the combat has been lackluster as well, with the power and weapon skill lines feeling like two separate systems operating parallel to one another rather than in tandem. It is an awkward implementation of action combat and I do not enjoy it.
However when you select light as your power set your abilities work a little differently. Normally your power set abilities are bound to keys 1-6 and your weapon set abilities are tied to a combo system conducted with your mouse. That is why it feels like two separate modes of combat— because it is. Heroes using the light powers still have a weapon set; that does not change. What is different is how the powers are integrated with mouse key combos.
As a green lantern, your hero can create a construct and then use the mouse keys in a distinct combination to create a second or third construct, chaining them one after another. So instead of using the keyboard for power set abilities and the mouse for weapon set abilities (which you still have but I largely ignore) you are enhancing your keyboard abilities with mouse combinations. Functionally this allows you to cast two to three “spells” for the cost of one, because the only resources used are on the initial construct.
This back and forth between initiating with one power and then chaining additional abilities with the mouse is much more integrated than the standard relationship between mouse and keyboard that I have experienced with other classes. Even though I technically still have a weapon set in addition to all of this, if I execute the combos correctly I never run out of resources (so far) and thus rarely have to get into brawling (which I despise).
Logically, I should not be playing this game— there is very little I find admirable about the design. Nevertheless I am enjoying myself and I will continue to play one or two days a week until I am no longer having fun. Even though I find the game to be poorly executed, there is something compelling about a super hero MMO. My hope is that in the coming years we see another studio successfully launch a well-designed game for this sub-genre. Until then you can find me wearing tights and sporting a green, glowing ring in either DCUO or at your local grocery store.