Final Fantasy XIV Back on the Menu

It was all but inevitable, really. Ever since watching the Shadowbringers Trailer the YouTube algorithm has been working its magic on me surfacing up more and more FFXIV videos as I willingly dive headlong down the rabbit hole.

You know the effect when you’ve bought a car or even just thinking of buying a specific car, you then start seeing them everywhere? Even outside of YouTube, it’s been a bit like that with FFXIV too. Feels like every third blogpost or tweet is at least mentioning it, even though this is distinctly not the case. Not to that extreme at least.

In any event, I’ve spent… a lot of time in FFXIV today. I’ve gone the fresh character route again and I’m going with Archer as my main job at the moment to turn into a Bard later. I’ve done healer or tank every other time I’ve played (and in most every other MMO too), so whether I stick to DPS or not we’ll see.

Early Return Impressions?

Despite the length of time in game I didn’t level terribly far, perhaps 13 or 14 on Archer? … But then I also got to ~12 in Leatherworking and Carpentry. Then 6-7ish in Conjurer and Lancer as well. I seem to have a compulsion to unlock every base job around as part of the character ‘setup’.

It wasn’t really needed before and it’s needed even less now that you don’t need to level two base classes to enter a more specialised job, but it still would’ve felt wrong not to. When I get Air Ship access I’ll no doubt unlock everything else too.

Unless…! Unless I end up regretting my decision not to use a previous character and I jump back. I will admit to possibly making this face: D: when I landed my character into Gridania and started remember just how much of the mundane start I’d have to get through again. So far though? It has honestly not been a chore at all. The XP rate has been tuned such that you can for the most part run through the Main Story Quest and unlockable quests, ignoring the rest.

This is quite a contrast to Elder Scrolls Online — where quite often the ‘side’ quests are interesting in their own right, and I oft legitimately struggle to stay focused on my goal: Complete the main story. Here I’m glad for the ability to skip side-quests and will never look back at them.

WoW Refugee?

While reading Wilhelm’s ‘February in Review‘ post I was reminded of an old chestnut; ‘WoW Tourist’. For a while, it was thrown around in basically any MMO you could care to name that wasn’t itself WoW. In the context of Wilhelm and SynCaine’s conversation there was an argument over whether WoW Tourists buying into other MMOs for only a short-term before leaving was detrimental to their longevity or not.1

The most common use of the term in my experience was more against people who would come to the game’s forums, world chat, or anything else and say:

“I think <game’s feature> should be more like <how WoW does it>.”

This sort of commentary was inescapable and people were not very tolerant of it after a while. “Go back to WoW!” was frequently the follow-up.

I mention all this because it certainly seems(?) that this effect isn’t really around any more. Possibly this is more an effect of the MMOs I follow (or don’t follow), but when looking into FFXIV for example it has gone from ‘WoW Tourist’ to ‘WoW Refugee’ — a person to be welcomed in and shown how to adapt to life after WoW.

There didn’t even seem to be any real kind of smug undertone to it either, just a desire to share the necessary knowledge.

Of course, I’ve not really engaged in the in-game chat much yet or even paid it any attention. It’s possible this would blow the feel-good ‘Humanity has progressed’ feeling I got going on straight out of the water. ;)

Just putting this here… :)

The Time for Talk is Over

Oops.

Hrm. So, last time I maaaay’ve been a tad… overconfident… in my abilities to persuade everyone of doing things my way. I thought I was done with Khenarthis Rest — war averted, shoulder armor equipped, day saved.

Not so much, as it turns out. The Maormer (Sea Elves) were still very much in favour of attacking the port, in order to express their vast dissatisfaction with the Dominion coming in and laying any sort of claim to the area.

Yelling ‘I come in peace!’ seemed to have little impact.

Plan B: Kill the bad guys, steal their electricity.

So after being tricked into experimenting with extremely high voltage lightning pillars armed with only a lodestone — and surviving, it was time to move to plan B.

There was a small army inside this place, but I still managed to take away all their zappy-zap-power. Unfortunately, they did still have one trick up their sleeve.

I get to summon a tiny goblin thing, and they get this?? The distance belies the scale.

Luckily, the Maormer only had a very tenuous control over this titanic elemental beast. So once I disengaged their safeguards it was more interested in slaughtering its captors than anything else. Moral of the story: It’s not the size of your summon, it’s how you command it.

I decided after releasing it though to make a quick exit. What could really go wrong with just leaving it be anyway? A trifling detail, one I saw no need to rain on the party with as my success against the Maormer was being celebrated in the ruins of town.

… In unrelated news, I’m off by boat to Vulkhel Guard in Auridon.

Vulkhel Guard

Much better. Far less fire and destruction going on here.

It was upon reaching Vulkhel Guard that I decided to reassert the original plan upon myself. Ignore all side content, work through only quests required for the main storyline.

That’s. All. THAT’S. ALL. … Unless this happens. WHAT IS THIS?

There’s a Stargate in my sky. It… appears to be trying to float away? I don’t know. I should go investigate.

I fought against the G’ould Daedra coming out of the Stargate Dolmen alongside a number of other folk ranging in levels from 7 to 40-something. It reminded me a lot of rifts in, uh, Rift.

I returned in short order though and spoke to the Guard Captain like Raz had asked me to.

I’ll spare some of the details here for those who may yet wish to go through it themselves, but I ended up saving the day again (properly, this time) and joining Queen Ayrenn’s secret service.

This is essentially where I wrapped up the last two nights of play. I’m level 11, almost 12 and about to embark on a pilgrimage of sorts with the Queen it would seem.

I really want to keep to the main path. I’ve been pretty good at steadfastly ignoring all the other quest pick-up markers on the map in Vulkhel Guard. But I know me. And after even just these few posts, you might have an inkling too.

Once I leave town and see the compass map-markers in every-which-way around me…? All bets are off.

Restarting in Tamriel

The other day, I rather naively had a bit of a panic about what to do since the Anthem demos were finished. You see, I thought everything was going to go into this… sort of… rumbly quiet of anticipation. Instead we’ve had post-launch updates announced and I managed to get into The Division 2’s Private Beta thanks to Skill-Up.

But! But! I still did get into The Elder Scrolls again. *cough* For that one day. By the time I get back in we’ll be down from 9 days til Anthem early access to… Less. I’m unsure how much more time I’ll give to The Division 2 beta, but I would guess another day at least to cover the Darkzone and PvP.

Anywho, ESO!

Getting Started

If you’re unfamiliar, The Elder Scrolls Online scales to the player level. Everywhere, everything. You can waltz into any zone at all, and it’ll be your level.

When you own the expansions for ESO, freshly created characters will start in the latest content. I guess the thinking being that the latest content is the freshest, the benefit of the most updates to the capabilities of the game etc.

But if you want to follow the story of the new area…? Well, good luck. It’s not impossible by any stretch, but only if you don’t mind wondering, ‘Who’s that and why do they know me?’ every few minutes.

This was one of the factors that lead me to drop the game last time around.

The Plan

I didn’t end up going with a Ranger/Bow type character, no, instead I made a Magicka based Breton Sorcerer. Full on caster. Rar.

I also planned on skipping the tutorial and then immediately getting away from Summerset Isle (the latest expansion) and finding my way back to the starter zone for my faction. … I almost don’t want to say, but I went Dominion, largely because I’ve never done them before. Not last time I played, nor back in the beta.

So that put me into Khenarthis Roost. Apparently if you want to do the main quest, the tutorial is absolutely not optional. Because:

Here we are. The tutorial. After, might I add, quite a brutal scene of being knocked unconscious and then being dragged away to be sacrificed! :o

Not to worry, I’ve played through this tutorial thing a few times now so I blasted through it in no time.

Now, surely, I would adhere to the critical path story only. I wanted to experience the story, sure, but I also wanted to be efficient in getting through it. So when Razum’Dar — the definitely-not-a-spy Khajit — told me I could either investigate a couple of side things or head straight up north to meet him, I knew what I had to do.

The Reality

Not shown: Also going to join the Mage’s guild, the Fighter’s guild and the Undaunted. Er, and also then trying a dungeon. Solo. (It didn’t go well.)

I ended up putting a struggling family in prison for Skooma manufacture. I’m still not sure I did the right thing here. I think I did. But I’m not sure.

What I basically noticed though is that my character is either a much bigger deal than I thought, or I have accidentally been spending all my points each level on Persuasion rather than Magicka like I thought I was.

Because everyone simply does what I say. From vengeful grieving widows to officers of the law who moments ago were eyeing me as the prime suspect. I say, they do. Always. Except for that talking Skeleton guy. He was mean.

The good news is, I did actually get around to finishing off the main questline in this area… I think. I mean, I stopped a diplomatic incident from escalating into out and out war.

And it was around that time that I received my first piece of shoulder armor. That’s when you know you’ve made it to the big time. I don’t really know why I had such sway over the NPCs before — but they’d certainly better listen to me now! I got shoulders!

So I ended my adventures of a few nights ago at level 9 and feeling quite positive about the game. Had I not been distracted by The Division 2 and the Anthem news blow-out, I would be back already — as it is, I will be going back soon and I can’t wait!

What do???

With the Anthem demos behind us, and still around 9 days to go before even the early access launch1 — I find myself in the position of not really having anything to play.

*cough*

It’s possible I have a comically large backlog to clear.

Look, no-one ever accused me of being a completionist, OK?

My approach to gaming has certainly changed over the years. It used to be vitally important to extract every last cent of value out of a purchase. Now there are titles I was so excited about I bought day 1 and then… uh… never quite got around to even launching.

Much of the time when I get into a title, it isn’t even that I grew bored of it that makes me put it down. Simply that a new shiny comes along. Then another. And another. I can be a bit like a kid in a candy shop when it comes to these things. I know this about myself.

So this time? This time… I’m determined not to buy something just to fill in this wait. I’m going to attack my backlog, dammit.

I am absolutely spoiled for choice. I think that might even be part of the problem. But I figure I can stick to something from the backlog for 9 days, like, how hard could that be?2

Considering the Options

I went in for a year of the EA / Origin Premier Access thingo3 so that was a bit of an obvious place to start. I mean, I literally bought it instead of going in for Anthem directly so that I could try out the likes of Battlefield V, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and Darksiders 3. Each a title I wasn’t likely to buy on its own — but when I can get access to them all for a year for only a little more than Anthem alone? … Well OK then, twist my arm why don’t you.

Battlefield V is a beautiful game — but I seem to spend a lot of my time in a position similar to this one. (This screen is from the tutorial-esque mini-campaign, but the point stands.)

But really, this would be cheating a little bit. Taking an Origin Access game now would be adding on something new, not something I already have.

So I thought about the likes of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey which I was loving but haven’t finished. That’s fairly recent and exciting.

But I also picked up Dragon Quest XI. It was over fears that the art style would drive me away, but it’s a charming looking game in action. I’ve only given it- oh, 3 hours so far. In a similar vein, there is also Ni No Kuni II — but I think actually don’t like this one. There isn’t much substance to it, despite having a very broad set of systems.

Jumping way back in time, what about Dragon’s Dogma? I loved my time with that game, I don’t even remember what distracted me away from it.

But no, it shan’t be any of these, fantastic as they all are. As sensible a choice, as they all might be for such a challenge.

The winner is: Elder Scrolls Online

“Wait, you’re picking an MMO? Are you crazy?” you may ask, following on with the very true statement, “You only have 9 days!”

And you wouldn’t be wrong. Many of these 9 days are going to be work filled too.

But the game still fits the bill! It’s one I’d given the side-eye to during the beta (it was… not good, at this time) but had been a bit curious about as it seemed to really be coming along and making positive strides post-launch.

A screenshot I took last year when I played. I don’t recall where this is, or what I was doing.

When the Summer Set Isles expansion came out last year, including Morrowind and the base game in the package I was sold.

Steam tells me I was sold for 40 odd hours. But I believe some of this would be launcher open for further patching, not handled by the steam client itself. *shakes fist*

The Plan

This is where my character was when I logged in… Still don’t know where I am or what I was doing.

I still don’t know exactly what character archetype / class I’ll play. Possibly something Ranger-ish. The Warden appeals if I do go down this path. But I do know I am going to clear out my old characters and start fresh.

Yes, I know – I know! I don’t have to. I could jump in literally to any part of the story, in any area, and it would level appropriately.

I just prefer to start fresh when I step away from an RPG for too long. It’s possible this is yet another contributing factor to my neverending backlog actually. Pillars of Eternity, for example? Restarted a fresh playthrough of that. Got to essentially the exact same point and put it down again.

I might be beyond help, guys.

I also don’t truly expect to finish this game off my backlog over this period. I might be crazy, but if so – not that far gone yet. But over this period, I’ll certainly post on my progress and at the end whether I would be interested in going back or not in the future.


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