Detour from the Hundred

Last time I provided an update on propelling myself through the Horrible Hundred, Rakuno suggested that I take a look at the Crystal Tower raid when I got the chance. As it turned out, I’d already completed most of the attunement quest so, ‘Why not?’ I thought and trotted my way out to Mor Dhona.

I only had to collect one more piece of aethersand — this one wind aspected — for Cid to refine into tools to smash down the ancient barriers protecting the tower. As a refreshing change of pace from the Horrible Hundred, the actual ‘work’ part of this quest all took place within a single area with no real backtracking to speak of. Please Square, more of this.

These sentinels have stood guard over this place for an age. We understand very little of what is going on here or the technology inside. …. Let’s smash ’em!

Seriously, the critical thinking skills forced upon us our MMORPG characters often makes me shake my head in wonder.

The barriers in place here are deadly, and it is openly acknowledged that the sort of technology in here is well beyond our understanding. There is a talk on how disastrous it would be to have it fall into the wrong hands. So of course what we need to do is:

  • Take down all the protections we can find.
  • Allow someone who until very recently was a sworn enemy, to come in and look around.
  • Have no-one watch this person while we’re otherwise engaged.
  • Trust another pair we’ve never seen before but we know lied to us to also come in and poke around the place.
I have Monster Hunter World to thank for making me not look like a complete scrub on this fight.

Final Fantasy XIV is far from the only MMO (or hell, RPG full stop) guilty of this, but come onnnn.

Rakuno advised me not to look into spoilers for this place ahead of time, which turned out to be good advice. For as much as I mock the story points above — it is otherwise quite awesome. And I haven’t even yet reached the later parts of the story that will tie back to this.

Following in that vein, I’ll not be spoiling anything significant to the story of this place either.

The queue times were surprisingly good, even coming at this from a purely DPS class. Six to eight minutes on average, which is better than queuing for a dungeon much of the time. I’m unsure whether there is a Roulette for this, or whether it is simply a strong enough source of Allagan Tomes that people of higher levels are keen to do it regardless.

Visually, each wing of the raid looked neat. And despite being a continuation of the same storyline managed to have quite a distinct aesthetic from the part before.

This one — the many, many heads not withstanding — looked kinda nice. Shame we had to fight. But… Since you are now defeated… Loots?

No single part overstayed their welcome and were quite brief to finish. The tuning was again similar in feel to a WoW LFR, although perhaps slightly less forgiving. There are a healthy helping of one-shot mechanics which to the untrained eye can be difficult to immediately spot.

Although I laughed in joy at the King Behemoth fight, when it became clear that the crossover event with Monster Hunter World had put a version of the same mechanics into play. So when I saw the comets strike the ground, I knew what was coming next — and sure enough, not too much later in Meteor was cast. Thanks to seeing all this in an entirely different game and playstyle I was able to avoid looking like a scrub.

Hehe. Puns.

Although on the very next boss (and the final for this wing) I did manage to get hit by an extremely large, extremely visible telegraphed AoE though. Noticed it just a liiiiittle bit too late and couldn’t get clear and into the shielded zone in time.

I wasn’t the only one though and as it turned out, this boss gave me my one and only wipe experience for the day.

All in all, I’m glad Rakuno made the suggestion of checking this place out. And even more glad that I actually did so. I had started the day on The Horrible Hundred and had made some OK progress there too.

Not quite to the end of the 2.3 patch content — but close. I’d been sent on my way to parley with Rahmuh for peace. This didn’t… exactly work. But I felt better about this one even so, as compared to the battle with Leviathan.

There was another wave of exposition after this, but it was actually intriguing this time. There was additional insight offered into the Ascians for one.

Hmmm…

I’d say that I’m perhaps halfway — or almost halfway overall. If the story can continue with the pace and interest of the latter parts of 2.3, it might yet turn into something other than a slog.

When I first started playing this morning I started to seriously consider putting FFXIV away in favour of ESO again until the streamlining patch.

Today managed to win me back again, but we’ll see how it goes from here.

No Man’s Sky Added

My gaming preferences are mysterious and ever shifting. Like a leaf upon the wind, one can never be too sure where they may land. … Which is to say, I’m very fickle and typically struggle to settle into any one title for any reasonable period of time.

Which let me tell you, can really make these games I’m playing posts a bit of a mission.

Often by the time I realise, “Yep — I’m playing this thing a fair bit” and reckon it might be an idea to add it to the sidebar, I grow suspicious of the fact that I will be done with it a day or two hence. Or that the act of officially recognising it might even somehow break the spell of game continuity.

But I’m going to risk it. I’m putting the cards out on the table and saying: Yep — I’m playing a boatload of No Man’s Sky at the moment. Not an outcome I expected when I first booted it up and tinkered around a bit. I didn’t really see much of a reason to consider it significantly improved over what I’d seen before.

Oh good. Doesn’t look like I’m on the menu today.

Turns out I was wrong. I’m glad I went back for a second look. I couldn’t even tell you now, only a few days on why I did though!

Not really any change otherwise this time around.

Changes to the Game List

Added

  • No Man’s Sky

Remaining

  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  • Final Fantasy XIV

Nearly Removed

  • Lost Ark

Removed

  • None

My Lost Ark account is still functional, I check in every once and a while. But I’m trying really hard not to get too invested in my characters. The risk of being banned is still ever present and I can’t imagine the pain of that happening if I actually reach end game and make significant progress with it.

To such an extent I almost wish the ban hammer had already fallen.

I half expect to find some Night Elves hiding in the bushes here.

For all others interested — we’re told that an NA release is in the works, and it looks like Smilegate recently even put out job postings for an English localisation team. But the next step on this journey is the Russian release slated to go into open beta late this year.

That release is rumoured to have a native English language option. It’s also suggested that the Russian release will be far ‘safer’ for foreigners to play, with laxer restrictions than the Korean release.

So my plan is to hold off and wait for this release before getting too heavily involved. But… I can feel that I’m very close to getting my boat in Lost Ark, and I kinda want it. So we’ll see. ;)

Battling Leviathan

Yep. An honest to God post about a game. I feel like it’s been a while! So I jumped back into Final Fantasy XIV last night, cracked my knuckles, and prepared to continue playing Courier Conversation Quest. (Yeah, I’m still working my way through the 2.x post-ARR content).

I must have stopped at a reasonable point last time around though. Because while there was certainly a fair share of this and running back and forth between the same areas, I actually got to fight some things. Sahagin mostly.

Sahagin? They’re basically Naga. They’re the dead things on the ground in this shot.

The storyline goes to lengths to remind you though, that you’re not necessarily defending the good guys in this battle. There is a lengthy discussion on the morality of the Limsa Lomasin admiralty in their having broken the truce first.

The Sahagin are in the process of summoning Leviathan in the hopes that their spawning grounds can be saved from the continuing encroachment of nearby settlements. The tensions had been building here for a while before it turned to out and out open hostilities again.

For all that, there are still civilians to consider who are not necessarily responsible for how things have unfolded. So you go in and save the day. Become the hero in one story, and undoubtedly a parent-slaying, land invading villain in another.

Anyway.

This all culminates in a raid / trial. Visually it’s a pretty good encounter. It has some mechanics, but I couldn’t really tell you what any of them do. The difficulty was tuned somewhere on a par — possibly even a bit under — the difficulty of a WoW LFR run, so they didn’t much matter. But given the necessity to PUG it to get through the storyline, I was more than OK with this.

There was a bit where Leviathan smashes down on one end of the platform you’re on at sea, sending all players hurtling down that way. Prior raid training suggests that whenever you’re forced to a certain place you should make every effort to vacate said place ASAP. So I did, and it looked like at least some of the others in the party did too. I couldn’t really say if anything bad happened to those who kept fighting from the spot they’d been unceremoniously dumped onto though.

Leviathan defeated once more in this cycle.

And so wraps up the end of the Patch 2.2 content. Just.. 2.3, 2.4, 2.5 and 2.55 to go.

If you hear any sobbing from out back, just ignore it — it’s nothing.

Time to Loot Journal: July 2019

Looking back over the past month I’m left wondering… What happened? Where did the time go and what did I do? It seems like a lifetime ago that the health scare raised its head, and yet it was only a handful of weeks. The endoscopy is the end of this week and all going well will put this concern to rest.

Other unrelated sickness in the household has meant I’ve spent a week working from home, which I think lent itself to time blurring with the removal of a regular cadence of work and back, work and back to mark out the days.

Oh! Blaugust is coming though! Over the latter part of July I’ve been in a sort of warm-up exercise mode for it, posting if not every day then every other. It isn’t too late to sign up and jump into the Discord though. :)

Blog this Month

Published 18 posts this month. Up 8 from last. Second most posts in a month since I started Time to Loot (with first place going to February). My Blaugust goal is to hit a post all 31 days though.

I think I can do it — but we’ll see.

Life often has a way of sneaking up and inappropriately pinching your behind when you’re not looking after all. Someone should tell Life it’s 2019 and we don’t stand for that sort of carry on any more.

As for totals? This will make for 98 published posts. Almost broke 100 a month ahead of prediction! I have to say, quite chuffed with getting this far.

Most Viewed Posts

  1. Transport Fever: Things I Wish I Knew When I Started
  2. Heart of Rage: Tips for The Monitor
  3. Blaugust 2019 is Coming!
  4. Starting The Horrible Hundred
  5. Humble Monthly: July 2019

I was right! The Heart of Rage post at last falls out of top spot. That was a pretty impressive run for it though I suppose. But now the Transport Fever starter guide has taken over with almost 4x the views this month than HoR.

Games this Month

RankGameHours% Gaming TimeChange
1Final Fantasy XIV29.938.5%↑2
2Lost Ark29.838.3%New
3Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey4.55.8%Returning
4Stellaris4.15.3%New
5Warframe2.83.6%New
6Astroneer2.53.2%New
7Devil May Cry 51.82.3%Returning
8Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice0.91.1%New
9Celeste0.81.1%New
10Parkasaurus0.70.9%New

July saw a total of 77.7 gaming hours, down 2.9 hours from June.

And in an almost complete flip from last month where the total active hours were way down from watching shows on devices other than the main desktop, this month saw an unprecedented high of 317.2 total active hours. This is up 141.1 hours over last month.

Much of the increase to total active hours comes from spending a little over a week working from home, plus some return to this device as a TV/Movie watching device.

For July, this means gaming made up 24.4% of the active hours, down 21.2% from last month.

Final Fantasy XIV

Talk about juuuuust eking it out for top spot. Less than 6 minutes difference between it and Lost Ark.

Final Fantasy will certainly still hold strong next month. But whether it will be #1 or #2 is anyone’s guess at this stage.

I’m still looking down the barrel of the vast majority of The Horrible Hundred to complete. But I’ll get there. I’ve just been horribly distracted by Lost Ark, and it’s all Mailvaltar’s fault. Don’t look at me like that, it is! ;)

Lost Ark

Perhaps rather cruelly, I first found out about Lost Ark some 4 or 5 years ago.

I’ve finally got a chance to dive in and try most of the base classes. And Oh my God, where has this game been my entire life?

The blend of MMORPG and ARPG is just so perfect. I’ve leveled two of the Warrior classes — Berserker and Warlord to nearly 30, and with a friend just joining decided to take a look at Bard alongside them.

Easy contender for top spot next month, but as I called out in the sneak peek — it’s by no means certain. Technically you cannot play this outside of Korea, so my account could be terminated at any point. It is going to be difficult in the extreme though to keep my mindset as one of testing and experimenting rather than dedicated though.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

The last episode of the Fate of Atlantis DLC dropped this month, spurring me back into AC’s rendition of Greece where the myths are real.

I’ve started my way into chapter 2 of the First Blade DLC.

I’ve almost finished annihilating the Order of the Storm — Chapter 2’s addition to the Persian Cult — but I’m endeavouring to hunt a few final clues before the final engagement of the chapter. It is my hope that I can save this person rather than slaughter them. I don’t know if it’s possible, but it has been elsewhere in the story. So… Here’s to hoping!

The Others

Quite a hodgepodge here, as is my way. :)

Stellaris made a bit of a surprise return visit in the form of a 4 player game set in a small galaxy size, so that we could test out the recently released Ancient Relics Story pack which added archaeological dig sites that you could have your scientists work on.

Warframe saw a little bit of a revisit too after Tennocon. I still have much to do here, as even in this return I didn’t set foot onto Venus/Fortuna. I think I’m holding out for The New War and Empyrean to download into our hot little waiting hands.

Although I did discover today that there has been a little more added to the story of space mother (aka Natah)! It came alongside the Jupiter / Gas City revamp, and it is apparently quite telling of things to come in the New War story. I may not be able to resist doing that soon.

The rest on the list also make some degree of sense for me I suppose, but if you quirked a brow at Parkasaurus… Well. It’s a tycoon game for a start. I do also love those after all. But mostly, I have an 8-year old boy who still adores Dinosaurs. So this thing was about the best thing ever. For… *looks* …A bit under an hour. ;D

Current Games of Interest: July 2019

This one’s a little odd. Usually I have another game I’m adding when I do these posts. Not so this time. But I’ve been giving my games list on the sidebar the side-eye for a while. It is very much not accurate. Beyond even the point of thinking a game there might just hold out that little longer for a return.

Nope, they’re jumping straight into the ‘removed’ bucket this time!

Changes to the Game List

Added

  • None!

Remaining

  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  • Final Fantasy XIV

Nearly Removed

  • None!

Removed

  • Nioh
  • Transport Fever

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey saw the last chapter of its second DLC release just this past week, so I’ve spent a little extra time getting acquainted again. I still have the final two chapters of the first DLC to play through too, so there is a bit of life left in this one yet! :D

Otherwise, with Final Fantasy XIV taking more of my gaming time again it isn’t too surprising that other things are dropping out. Although that is only a part reason.

In the last journal I talked about how Nioh had been put on hold earlier in the month to allow my eldest son to catch-up so we could play it together co-op. Welp; that never happened. I could carry on with it singleplayer, but the momentum has been broken.

Then all the way back in the May Journal I noted that I would likely put a premature end to the Chasing Truck Fever series. I allowed for the possibility of carrying on with it in a more typical post format. But uh, clearly that didn’t happen.

So away they go!

Starting The Horrible Hundred

The Moogles are coming! Run for the hills, the Moogles are coming! (One of my friends almost refused to engage in this, believing there was no such thing as a bad Moogle. Hah.)

Eeesh. So not too long ago I finished Final Fantasy XIV’s ‘A Realm Reborn’ (or 2.0) main story. I discovered that there were a hundred quests standing between me and the next expansion — Heavensward. Each of those quests can have multiple parts, too.

Since then I learnt this stretch has a name. ‘The Horrible Hundred’ is what the community lovingly refers to the ARR post-game content as. It’s a rite of passage. A trial to be passed to earn your way into the much nicer content that follows. *sigh* Yep. I recognise the sentiment. Right now in the thick of it, it’s enough to at least make me rethink the position. How I’ll feel on the other side of it with some time gone by? Hard to say. The rose-tinted glasses may come into full swing. ;)

Although if I’m being honest, I’ve been in a sort of middle space between pushing on and procrastinating. I’ve absolutely been playing more Final Fantasy, I didn’t go back to avoiding logging in. But I started working on unlocking a bunch of the level 50 dungeons and collecting a full set of Bard Ironworks gear (including the bow! Woo.)

The gear is significantly higher ilvl than what even the post-game quests are providing (ilvl 120 on the Ironworks, I’m being offered ilvl 70 otherwise). It makes the content amusingly easy for the time being and this does at least help speed it up.

Learnt to Love the Journey Yet?

Thinking on it, and the experiment I set myself to try appreciate more of the MMO experience — the low and mid-game experience in particular — instead of just pushing hard for the endgame I wouldn’t say has been a failure per se.

But I wouldn’t say it has been a resounding success yet either. I think the mere fact I was able to step off the train for a while to get gear and unlocks that I know to be completely unnecessary and serve no purpose toward the current endgame to be a positive indicator.

At the same time the drive to simply get through it all and reach the end hasn’t gone away. If anything it is increasing as that point gets closer. To be fair it’s not 100% about getting to the very end, a large part of it is also a drive to reach the new (and new to me) content… Still.

I guess it would be fair to say it’s still a work in progress. I’ve completed 20 / 100 of this quest chain, so another 80 in which to practice! (And of course the expansions to follow.)

Final Fantasy XIV Main Story Complete!

Final Fantasy XIV’s original (well, ‘A Realm Reborn’ original) main story quest is complete. What amazes me most is the quick turnaround I had from acknowledging the procrastination problem and just getting on and pushing through. By close of the same day I posted that, I was most of the way there. The day after (yesterday), I was done.

Since then I’ve been tottering around doing what I assume to be quests relevant when level 50 was the cap. Before the patches started dropping more MSQ to do. I’ve unlocked a half dozen or so hard mode or level 50 only dungeons. I think I might be working on attuning myself to one of the raids, even.

I’ve even done a mild (veerrry mild) farm of Allagan Tomestone of Poetics in order to get myself some of that sweet, sweet, ilvl 120 Ironworks Gear. I very much doubt I have to do this. But there is a slight fear in the back of my mind about the possibility of being gear gated on my way through the patch content toward accessing Heavensward. I haven’t gone hunting out any detail on this though, the most I’ve done is had a quick peek at the list of quests. And… Oh my. That is… quite a list indeed. A hundred of them it would seem. I mean — I haven’t counted. That’s just what the wiki says at the top.

And to think — then there is Heavensward. Then the Heavensward patches. Then Stormblood. Stormblood patches. Then, finally, will be able to play Shadowbringers. Content incidentally that was sort of foreshadowed in the closing chapter of the ARR MSQ. That’s some decent planning right there.

Getting Invested!

Despite just how far away getting to the current endgame is, I’ve started to change how I’m thinking about the game too. A change in how invested I am in mastery of my class. As a lowbie, I’m more than happy to muddle through on my own and make my own discoveries on how a class works.

It isn’t until closing in on the endgame that I typically want to get deep into the theorycrafting of it all. Really dive into the nitty gritty and answer questions like: Is DoT Snapshotting a thing? (Yes it is.) Am I right to prioritise Mage’s Ballad over Army’s Paeon? (Yes, but when I get my next song stance, that will become the new priority.) How does DoT refreshing work? (Full overwrite, any time remaining when you refresh is wiped — the damage is not added to the new DoT instance.) Should I use Raging Strikes before my DoTs to buff them, or after my DoTs to get more Direct Damage in? (Don’t know! I suspect the GCD requirements on getting both dots into the buff window might be too high, but! This could change when I get the ‘Iron Jaws’ shot which refreshes both dots and also refreshes the damage state. Also I’ll need to test this to be sure anyway, as I could be wrong fullstop — DoT damage is a reasonable portion of Bard damage after all.)

And plenty more besides. I am concerned though, that despite FFXIV being so well regarded at the moment? That there won’t be the same degree of theorycrafting done by community as I’m used to from WoW. That some questions I have I won’t be able to answer on my own due to lack of sim tools, etc.

Clearly people are making do and successfully clearing content. But it’s entirely possible not knowing these things will slowly but surely drive me craaaaaazzzyyyy. Crazy I tell you!

…Still, those are problems for another day. Procrastination by way of researching a thing as opposed to getting on and doing said thing is something I’m very skilled at. So I’m going to try my best to keep these questions at bay until such time the answers actually matter.

Health Scare vs. Final Fantasy XIV

After finishing the battle with Garuda — I completed my power rangers-esque set of coloured crystals. Woo!

Progress in Final Fantasy XIV has been slow. Fits and starts best describes it. Small bursts of energy and then fairly long patches of procrastination. Just getting myself to jump in and get started is the real challenge. Once I am in — I’m enjoying myself immensely. But this fact while known intellectually doesn’t seem to help much in getting me to login again time.

I’ve noted this seeming oddity about myself before. Where despite games often acting as a destressor — when things start getting ‘real’ my time falls away from them significantly. Last time (incidentally when I brought FFXIV back into the picture) it was about the goings on at work. Needing to let people go in a restructure is never easy.

Health Scare

This time around it’s health related. Although to be very clear — this is still very much in a state where it could be a minor thing. The sole symptom being a radiating pain when swallowing food.

At the better end of the spectrum (and thankfully, also the most likely) it is ulceration from acid reflux. At the other end of the spectrum it’s cancer. The original plan had been to give it time on medication to reduce the acid my stomach produces. But… After the blood test results were in, my doctor was no longer content to wait. So he has referred me for an endoscopy appointment to happen early next month for a look around.

I think it is that switch of the plans by the Dr which has brought home the worry on this. It is still just as likely to be a relative nothing, but yet still seems that much closer. Friday 2nd August is the date of the endoscopy — if the news is good I expect I’ll know on the day. If it’s less good I imagine there will still be a biopsy result to wait on. In any case… moving on for the moment!

Final Fantasy Progress

I’m level 45 as a Bard now, and have lost the benefit of the XP buff that allowed me to skip all side-quests up until now. As yet — I’ve still not had to touch a side quest, but the Main Story Quest level is quickly catching up to me, and this worries me greatly.

The moment it actually happens? Well… Elsweyr is out now. ;)

More seriously, as much as the ARR MSQ is maligned where I’m up to has actually been getting quite interesting. The change of scenery into the icy lands of Coerthas with a shift in tone to one of more political intrigue was a start. But then the story with the Garlean Empire which has been in the background for a while has come to a head in a fairly major way as well, and just it’s all on!

I just finished the fight with Garuda when I last went out, so I haven’t seen what our next mission will be yet in light of the aftermath there but I’m excited for it.

Now if I could just beat the gaming procrastination thing I have going on, it’d be great!1