Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Whence Relic?

What a year its been for videogames. I have been swamped. I've logged into FFXIV on patch days, done my content and jumped back out. From Persona 5 to Xenoblade Chronicles 2 not a week has gone by where i haven't had something to do. Yet i've had this nagging feeling i've left FFXIV by the wayside the last month or so. Personally? i think it has to do with the Relic.

Anyone who's seen the census numbers has seen a staggering player dropoff rate for Stormblood compared to Heavensward and you gotta ask why right? Great dungeons. Fun events. New things to chase and zones to dick around in. So whats missing? what carrot isn't there for players?

Its the Relic.


Maybe a lack of Deep Dungeon isn't helping. God knows going "i've got to get ALL these jobs AND two new ones back to cap again?!?" won't help but nothing kept folks i know playing in HW like the Anima Relic.
Sure we bitched and moaned about grind elements. Its a cathartic thing for an MMORPG player right? but it was something to do and more importantly something to chase. An increase in player power, a flashy model to show off to let other players know 'yeah i did the thing' and right now? everyones using the same gear and weapons and nobody has a reason to log in beyond slightly higher numbers in Ultimate.



In a year of amazing games to play this is not a healthy thing. It happens to a lot of MMORPGs but usually the cold months are the big playtime period yet here we are with most regions having their active player numbers drop by over 60% and i honestly believe its the lack of a carrot in the Relic and Eureka which is still in a "will we ever hear about it?" state which is giving me Diadem flashbacks.

I'm still logging in to get up some easy levels on my last few classes in bursts but without the chase the rpg kind of loses out to the mmo and for Final Fantasy of all things thats kind of making me nostalgic for the days of farming maguffins for tomes in Idyllshire again.


What about you?

Friday, 13 October 2017

Lets talk about Command Missions for a hot minute.

So in exploring all the content of Patch 4.1 one thing has surprised me by how i have enjoyed it. Namely the new Squadron activities. I remember back in HW Squadrons were a chore us completionist's did to unlock the new rank and then most never touched it again. It was boring. It felt pointless. That isn't quite the case anymore. A quick visit to your Squadron hall will show you dont just send them on missions like a bad clone of WoW's infamously bad Garrison Quest system. You can join them and run dungeons almost like fighting with trust NPC's in FFXI. As well as customising their appearance.

Two positives immediately spring to mind with this. First people afraid to even try healing or tanking in an mmo can now try it without that stress and anxiety of 'letting down the other players' that puts so many off leaving them stuck only in dps jobs forever. Second adding customisation and glamour makes these characters feel connected to you like your retainers. You could even argue now they are even moreso your allies than the retainers were as personalities. My conjurer Cecily is easily my strongest Squad member and is leveling and unlocking masteries fast. This makes me want to give her a cool glamour and take her on more runs. Thats a level of npc party interaction that feels more offline final fantasy in some ways and considering the state of single player final fantasy games right now thats a really neat thing.

So far i've done more Command Missions than dungeons and i hope they add more things to do. Hopefully they one day make them into full Trust NPCs and you can take them out into the world with you instead of your chocobo. Theres always the sincere worry of npcs killing the mmo aspect but as long as they are not part of endgame or simply max difficulty content of any expansions level caps they are really just your own final fantasy party unique to you and now thats all the more so true when you can actively customise them.

Sure they are still a little dumb but for a side minigame this has a lot more legs than Chocobo Racing or Lords of Verminion had even from the outset. Hopefully we get some fun stuff to do with them thats unique in future. Like maybe redesign guildhests so two players and two npcs can team up or something? let you show off your Squaddies you worked hard on to others or something?


Either way its been a pleasant surprise in a very good patch i'll talk about after i've done all the content but for now they took a subsystem nobody cared about and made something fun out of it.

Maybe they should have called it 'a Squadron Reborn' instead? :p

Friday, 29 September 2017

The Legend Returns Trailer Drops!

Finally new content! It feels like forever since i've had something to do besides leveling alt jobs and farming scrips!

Theres not too many major surprises this time since we have all had the chance to pour over the majority of content but 3 things stood out to me.

1. Nashu returns without Hildebrand? Perhaps she is looking for him and he crashed down on a certain islet with two unlikely companions waiting for him?

2. The first shot of the sub-trailer for the Return to Ivalice Raid was some sort of claw holding onto a white soulstone looking crystal. I doubt its going to be anything related to the Sun-Cryst from later Ivalice Alliance games but it would be neat if its not just part of the Tactics Lore but also teasing another job. The Geomancer in the Astrologian already has people thirsty for another job from XI returning in the future.

3. It looks like the Summons from FFXII maybe be showing up with the exact same effects that they had at the time. In XII they were either protecting things connected to the Dynast King or lurking in areas rich with a raw Aether called 'Mist' that were patrolled by strong monsters usually filled with ruins as the indigenous people had to up sticks and abandon it because of the mist intensifying over time.

Considering the relations to XII and how XIV's devs have always skirted around Ivalices Connection to Eorzea its going to be interesting if this is just Eorzea side Alt universe or a Deep Dungeon style 'through a Thinny' alt world jaunt. The final Boss of D.D's Floor 100 suggested some weird beyond the grave shenanigans going on in Ivalice so time will tell.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Patch 4.1 The Legend Returns live letter

So heres a thing.

I was honestly taking a break just to wait till 4.1 hit. Write up a take on the whole 4.0 experience from launch day to its update to sum up my thoughts on the 'base' story and experience of stormblood.

Buuuut as a huge Ivalice fan i really had to put this up in the interim. The latest Live Letter has gone live and man did we get some stuff to talk about.

So coming October 10th 'The Legend Returns' is the first big content update to FFXIV's Stormblood expansion and it appears to be the 'give something for everybody' patch games like World of Warcraft have failed to pull off for years. No matter what your focus in game there is something for you, 'course this means there might not be enough of certain niche's but there isn't going to be anyone left going "but i have nothing to do in this patch!" which for MMORPG's is super rare.

So lets do the rundown:

Glamour will unlock at lvl.15 and not lvl.50 - Not a huge change in the grand scheme of things but for convenience, quality and life and letting beginners have more to do this is a great change. It sucks to get some really ugly gear and be stuck for hours. Especially if you bought a few months gametime or took part in an event for lvl.1 cosmetic gear with no stats that you simply cannot use until ARR's endgame. Now everyone can clownsuit and slutglamour, viva choice!

Royal Menagerie Extreme Mode - You know who is getting the Thordin treatment and i think everyone was expecting this and i look forward to the fight. God knows over two months of just Lakshmi and Susanoo was getting real tired.

Bards can perform music with notes on a hotbar - Now i know the LOTRO crowd are perking their ears up at this one. I fully expect the 'jazz for your soul' lalafell videos and post wipe respawns having an 'ooo watchu saaaaayyy' macro at the ready in alliance raids. Another example of the devs doing things neat that most studios would consider a waste of resources. But i'm sure the A Stage Reborn people are freaking out right now.

New Hildibrand and beast tribe quests - Side content is always good and hildibrand and more ease for levelling alts all the more so. Given the nature of the Kojin i would imagine this may be our moogle equivalent for crafters which right now have Leves and little else to do.

Pvp Content: Wild Wings - Essentially competitive boss rush speed run raiding. Another push for a streamable, competitive format i think. Not my thing but theres a fair few other MMORPG's chasing the esports bux with worse ideas.

New Dungeon: The Drowned City of Skalla - A new dungeon set in a sunken city. Perhaps in the Ruby Sea? or maybe another Sirensong Sea style dungeon out in the ocean? maybe its on the way to a new location? people have been eyeing Thavnair for ages and they do have a consulate in Kugane.

Alliance Raids added to a new Alliance Roulette and party member size limit removed for 3.X content - Not much to say about this you can't already infer. An alliance roullette is a good way to keep the numbers up for people still doing the storylines or farming glamour gear and gives everyone more rewards and things to do. Not terribly exciting but a welcome change.

The Lost Canals of Uznair - Further exploration to deeper canals can be accessed by finding another map inside the instance. Perhaps this is a little more Deep Dungeon than just another Aquapolis like folks assumed?

Adventure Squadrons update - Not the most cheered for update but your squads level cap has increased, you can glamour their gear and they have new dungeon missions to run. Hopefully with rewards that make it worth actually doing after you unlock your Grand Company Promotion this time around.

Expanded Cross World systems - Now including Raids, Custom PVP matches, Friend lists and tells. Hopefully tells doesnt mean the Gil Spammer containment isnt broken and we get everyones spam at the same time. Beyond that playing with your friends even if you are on different servers is always a good thing as long as the server community doesnt die. We will have to wait and see on this one.

New higher Raid Difficulty - Ultimate - Starting with Ultimate Coil, maybe its Neo Bahamut this time around? we are getting that post savage raid content the hardcore crowd wanted. Ultimate Ozma when?

Return to Ivalice - Oh Boy here we go.

So there may be some players to young to remember, or simply didnt play games at the time, to know there was a series of Final Fantasy games that were not stand alone self contained universes. Including title's like FF Tactics, War of the Lions, Tactics Advance, Vagrant Story, FF12, Revenant Wings and more eventually this series of games all set in the same world albeit in some cases centuries apart was known as "The Ivalice Alliance". Unlike other attempts to make a sub series like 'Project Fabula Nova Crsytalis' however this did not fall through. It never really lead to insane sales like the main series games but on the whole the world of Ivalice is easily the most fleshed out Final Fantasy world other than Eorzea and Vanadiel.
And now we are going there, only things like a bit more 'Dark Souls 3' than we remember. Written by Tactics creator and 'father of the series' Yamui Matsuno this is the next 'Crystal Tower' or 'Void Ark' 24 man storyline for this expansion. So expect revisiting this place a lot on alts and when grinding the new maguffins for your 4.0 relics.
Not much on the story right now but knowing XIV its either going to be one of the other worlds getting ready to collapse into void, a storybook ala FFTA or an Alt Ivalice native to Eorzea from a pre calamity age. Our last main villain was listed as 'having trained as a Samurai in Rabanastre' after all.


There are still more tidbits coming in as translators work their butts off to get through a wealth of infodumps but on the whole im ready for new content and have been for maybe a month even. Plus i just really, really hope Ivalice gives us some Vagrant Story love. Of all the Ivalice games its the one that needs a little love the most.

So start counting down kids. Just a mont to go!


Yay....

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A Realm Reborn and the End of an Era

[INSERT 'DAWN OF THE FINAL DAY' MEME HERE]

 Here it is. The day before servers go down for the 4.0 24 hour maintenance. Which means that this is the final 24 hours of life for the Playstation 3 client for Final Fantasy XIV. It feels like its come so fast, i played on pc but the PS3 beta was actually what sold me on the games rerelease after the initial reputation put me off like so many others.
Its a bit strange to look at my shelves of games and in the Final Fantasy section my FFXI discs are all fine and can be used for the same game i played almost 14 years ago yet these ARR discs i bought what feels like only recently but was already a good 2 or 3 years ago at this point are useless for any purpose beyond collecting's sake or should i desperately need a good drinks coaster. Yet its happening tomorrow. The PS3 players that lived through the calamity of Bahamut and the fall of Dalamund now have their very real final day ahead of them tomorrow. Thats such a rare thing for mainstream games but there are people that cannot afford a PS4 or a gaming PC so for them this is sadly the end of Final Fantasy XIV.

 Its not as though it wasn't needed though, thats really the saddest part. The previous console generation lasted so long that the hardware is roughly 12 or more years out of date. The game chugged along at the best of times but in heavensward it was a nightmare i played through for the first few months before i got a PS4. Void Ark crashed the client, zone transitions loaded so long that you would get a DC for being inbetween areas too long and Alexander hard locked the whole console to name just a few issues. King Behemoth and Odin was an infuriating exercise in watching players models pop in attacking something you could not see or target and it was over a year between King Behemoth Spawns on a couple of servers. That was a horrible state of affairs.
But for all its problems i made it through it all. Beat Coil, got all my classes to 50 and so on. I platinum'ed the game essentially 'beating' ARR such as you can and i can't imagine how many hours i put in as this poorly running PS3 client replaced World of Warcraft as my MMORPG of choice. I had a good time and my memories of the experience overall remain fond ones.

But they are just memories as tomorrow this version of the game dies and of course 4.0 means so many other little things are changing with it. You can make a pun about a 'storm on the horizon' but i feel sorry for the people being left behind. Surely there are some casual players who have no idea about Stormblood, let alone that after tomorrow their discs simply will not work. They will just wake up to find the game they love is over. For them at least.

Its a reminder no game lasts forever and online games are all the more often a victim to sinking without a trace.

So enjoy it while you got it folks, and feel sorry for the Warriors of Light we leave behind who no longer can.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Time to clean up those hotbars!



Here we are with 12 days to go till Stormblood Early Access. Which means its house cleaning time! One of the best tips i learnt when i was getting into my first mmo expansions was the sage wisdom of "empty your questlog, clear out your bags, organise your banks and sell what crafters need now before demand drops" and in cases of class changes "sort your hotbars out now rather than waste time on launch doing it".
With the Job changes coming in 4.0 i feel that one in particular rings the most true and important after the media tour info has come out. So heres a very brief note of what skills you can delete from your hotbar/crossbar to set it back up for the new 3-5 skills coming between 62-70 in Stormblood.

Ninja: Kiss of the Viper, Kiss of the Wasp, Mutilate, Sneak Attack and Dancing Edge.

Dark Knight: Scourge.

Astrologian: Disable, Combust 2.

White Mage: Stoneskin, Aero 2.

Scholar: Sustain, Miasma 2.

Bard: Swiftsong, Wide Volley.

Summoner: Miasma 2, Spur and Sustain.

Warrior: Bloodbath, Fracture and Mercy's Stroke

Machinist: Lead Shot, Grenado Shot.

Monk: Featherfoot, Haymaker and Touch of Death.

Dragoon: Feint, Keen Flurry, Phlebotomize, Power Surge and Ring of Thorns.

These skills are all gone completely, so cut em loose and forget em! BUT its not all that clear cut. Some existing skills are going into the updated cross class system to pick and choose and some you may want back and others you may want to replace so when updating your hotbar for the removed skills bare in mind the following is now cross class:

Ninja: Goad.

Dark Knight: Dark Dance, Shadow Skin, Low Blow, Reprisal and Delirium.

Scholar: Virus.

Summoner: Eye for an Eye, Virus.

Warrior: Brutal Swing, Foresight.

Monk: Second Wind.

Paladin: Provoke, Rampart and Convalescence.

Dragoon: Leg Sweep, Invigorate.

Lastly here is whats known right now about the new 60-70 abilties going on your hotbars instead and with a few 30-50 for a few select classes getting a minor rebalance like PLD.

Ninja: Hellfrog Medium, Bhavacakra and Ten-Chi-Jin.

Dark Knight: Delirium, Quietus, Bloodspiller and The Blackest Night

Astrologian: Earthly Star, Malefic III, Minor Arcana, Sleeve Draw, Lord of Crowns, Lady of Crowns and Undraw.

White Mage: Thin Air, Stone IV, Divine Beacon, Plenary Indulgence.

Scholar: Excogitation, Broil 2, Chain Stratagem, Aetherpact and Fey Union.

Bard: Perfect Pitch, Troubador, Caustic Bite, Stormbite, Natures Minne and Refulgent Arrow.

Black Mage: Between the Lines, Thunder IV, Triplecast and Foul.

Summoner: Ruin IV, Aetherpact, Bio III, Miasma III, Summon Bahamut, Enkindle Bahamut and Devotion.

Warrior: Onslaught, Upheaveal, Shake it Off and Inner Release.

Machinist: Cooldown, Barrel Stabilizer, Rook Overdrive, Flamethrower, Heated Spirit Shot, Heated Slug Shot, Heated Clean Shot, Rook Overload, Bishop Overload.

Monk: Riddle of Earth, Riddle of Fire, Brotherhood, Earth Tackle and Wind Tackle.

Paladin: Total Eclipse, Intervention, Holy Spirit, Requiescat and Passage of Arms.

Dragoon: Doom Spike, Sonic Thrust, Dragoon Sight, Mirage Dive and Nastrond.

So yeah quite a few new skills to take up those lost ones based on class huh? Folks are still trying to break down the rotations based on the not quite 1005 finalised tooltips but for now at least you can start getting all those hotbars ready for the new rotations and just fill in the blanks as you level. Get it done now and thats one less boring chore when the expansion drops week after next!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Press Embargo lifted, class changes and my first thoughts

Eighteen days to go till the release of Stormblood, two weeks for early access to boot. This means the media campaign is moving into full swing and the first big reveal has been a number of websites and youtuber's being invited to SE to test the 4.0 builds of all the jobs and the changes that are coming to each class. Naturally this has some players overjoyed, others saying this is it the game is ruined forever. Change is not something the mmorpg player craves more often than not but as is the nature of a persistent game change is inevitably going to happen. So i'm just posting a quick rundown of all the jobs and my thoughts since a full ramble about each would take pages of test to get out :p

So starting with my favourites:

Ninja - is my main job and thankfully its seeing no big shakeups. As i predicted they are streamlining some of the armour crush style abilities but other than that sneak attack and poisons are the only notable loss in the NIN skillset. These spaces on the crossbar are being taken up by new skills that focus more on the 'ninjutsu=ninja magic' idea like the new ten-jin-chi ability that makes Jutsu more than just a rotational filler/upkeep buff so overall it looks like i'm not going to be relearning the job and i don't particularly have any complaints.

Dark Knight - Unsurprisingly they are trying to nerf the button bloat, theres been some slight nerfs and the changes to Darkside are interesting but again beyond that i dont feel like one of my main jobs is getting some massive overhaul and dont think i'll struggle to adapt.

Astrologian - Can easily be summed up as "the same, but cooler" with abilities like drawing 4 cards, cleric stance becoming a cooldown, way higher regen/potency, sleeve draw and the lord/lady adds more tarot deck flavour i already love to the job. Honestly it just looks like more fun from the same job and i really have no worries or complaints about this one at all

Red Mage - The standout for the two new jobs i am actually interested in playing. So far it looks neat. Building white and black meters to dash in and fence then dash out with a holy or flare finisher. My only worry is this will turn out to just be another umbral/astral ice/fire balancing of BLM in another skin and personally -and BLM was my main job for ARR- i got tier of that real quick.

Favourites aside the rest i need playtime with. PLD finally seems to be getting some love and BRD might be really fun in 4.0 But then there are things like WHM that look, for lack of a better term redundant and a lot of SMN players are unhappy with the nerfs even if the Bahamut summon looks rad.
Naturally i'll expand on them with hands on experience in a few weeks but for the jobs i play and the new one i have interest in i can't say i have complaints overall. The big question is will i finally be interested in jobs like MNK or DRG that i got to 60 but never really had interest in playing in the longrun.

Times gonna tell i guess.