FF14 – Garuda

The end of the ARR main sequence quests is in sight… but there is one more primal fight to finish: Garuda, in the Howling Eye.

I watched MTQCapture’s video on the fight beforehand, so I have an idea of how it works. I mean, I’m all for the fun and puzzle solving aspect of going in blind, except this fight is years old so I don’t have to do that!

The fight went well,but I’m glad I watched the video in order to know to hide behind the rock piles when Garuda started her screaming.

Questing remains fun, because I do enjoy the fantasy landscapes of Eorzea. After completing a quest that brought me this area, I just wandered around aimlessly in these bridges of broken orange crystals because I thought it was beautiful.

I’ve been impressed with the Duty Finder and how reasonable it has been to find groups in order to progress along the MSQ. On one hand, if the devs are going to require mandatory grouping in order to advance, you expect there to be a solution offered to the players.

Other MMO have group finders, but the in FF14 works so smoothly it is amazing. It’s a system where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole – syncing levels down, changeable classes/jobs, cross-server grouping, a healthy population in the first place, with the double genius of the roulette system: entice players with extra rewards for a role in need (i.e. group needs tank, healer, or DPS) plus the randomness of which unlocked dungeon is picked (prevent “favorite” dungeons from getting all the attention and ensure they all have a chance of being filled) – it all adds up to frictionless grouping.

Queueing as a Summoner, a DPS job, it doesn’t take much time at all to find a group. I think the worst was between 10 and 15 minutes, often it is 5 mins or less. That’s faster than the global LFG system I had to deal with in WoW Classic earlier this year, and a lot less work… in order to participate in what is theoretically the whole point of games in this genre.

Once you queue, you can’t change class/jobs and still enter. Even if you are the same role. I found this out when I queued as a Summoner but then removed my soul crystal to be an Arcanist instead. I remember thinking that due to level syncing and losing a few of my most recent abilities, I’d be better off as the base class (answer is: no, it’s fine, if you sync down levels you just lose the ability to use the particular skills that are higher level than the sync). The game warns about this so you can change back.

I mention this because I’ve read in ESO there is a problem of players getting tired of DPS queues and queuing as “fake tanks” as redditors call them. To be fair to ESO many posts state that many dungeons on normal mode don’t actually need a dedicated tank and it’s fine. Folks get saltier when players want to run harder dungeon modes and queue jumpers sneak in.

FF14 doesn’t have this problem due to stricter class roles. A really functional group finder is a game changer. πŸ˜‰ Ba da bing.

FF14 – The Stone Vigil

I kept playing along the MSQ, not needing anything else to level. I’m not complaining, obviously the design to get folks like me to the higher levels, play the latest content, (buy the latest expansions and subscribe), needs a little xp boosting to help out.

Along the way I had to help out around the castle at Whitebrim Front, and came across a startling deja vu:

I flashed back to LoTRO and the Balrog’s (Durin’s Bane) corpse that is located in Zirakzigil. Also crashed into the snowy landscape. OK the LoTRO wiki screenshot doesn’t look very similar but I swear you can get a view very similar to the one above! Or my memory is shot, who knows. πŸ˜‰

Next up in as a mandatory dungeon was Stone Vigil. And here was where I had my first difficult run. Before this, every instance was smooth sailing.

Not to say this was a disaster, but this was the first instance where the party wiped. Right near the start, literally two turns from where you start out.

The thing is, I don’t really remember what happened. We started normally, started the fight, and I was busy going through my rotation, avoiding AoE skills. And then, I hit the ground, and got a popup about returning to the start or waiting. I looked over and the tank was down, perhaps even the other DPS had already restarted and ran back. I suppose technically we didn’t wipe, as in, the entire group was down at the same time. It was more like two players were down, came back one at a time but in the meantime another player went down, etc. so we cycled what ~3 were in the fight at any given time.

Being so close to the start we did manage to beat that initial fight, regroup, and continue.

And here’s the magical thing – nobody complained.

The tank didn’t scream, the healer didn’t scream, the other DPS didn’t say anything. We just… went on and like it was no big deal. I payed super attention the next few fights, worrying maybe I stood in AoE and that caused the healer to save me but then the tank got hit hard just then, etc. Fortunately, the next fights went just fine.

For all I know, what happened could have been anything from a player got distracted by a real life situation, a player fat fingered their skill, we were catastrophically unlucky with a pull, or somebody forgot the role the queued for (I’m sure this happens as this game lets you switch classes/jobs!). Or something else entirely. But nobody griped and several minutes later, we beat the instance!

So, chalk up another victory for the FF14 playerbase and taking things in stride. It’s a game, have fun, trust the other players, don’t gripe and threaten to quit the group at the first sign of trouble. Because I can easily imagine other games where a group hits a “rolling wipe” in the first fight past the entrance, and everybody bails.

Scholar Clothing

In the long term, I want to switch over and try out healing. That’s part of why I chose Arcanist, since the xp is shared with Summoner (DPS) and Scholar (Healing). It’s super efficient, getting two characters for the price of one.

So far my only experience healing is doing the Scholar job quests. Due to the increased XP gain, I was level 45 and could do In the Image of the Ancients to get some very snazzy clothing.

Don’t I look awesome?! In my Scholar gear. The Summoner gear looks cool too (I also cranked out the level 45 Summoner quest that grants armor) but the hat has a horn like I’m a unicorn. I’m digging the look of the mortar board.

FF14 – Brayflox’s Longstop and The Navel

This definitely marks the furthest I have been in the MSQ. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember doing Haukke Manor the previous time I played, but I checked old blog posts and I did. So there’s a reason to keep a blog – to remember things. πŸ˜‰

Moving along in the MSQ I arrived at Brayflox’s Longstop. I haven’t been paying super attention to the story line, but I believe I’m here because I’m gathering supplies for my own banquet, and need wine and cheese. Of course, the cheese guy wants me to first take care of the dragon problem inside Brayflox’s Longstop.

I don’t require Hugo/Nebula award winning prose and storylines, just having an overarching story to follow helps guide from zone to zone. So… it’s fine!

The dungeon itself was fun, and a change of pace since it was set outdoors. It was also very colorful and I enjoyed it. Actually, this whole game is very colorful – even in a relatively bland setting the graphics effects from other players is eye catching. Nothing wrong with that!

After finishing Brayflox’s Longstop and enjoying my banquet, I was inducted into the “cool enough to fight a Primal” club, and received orders to fight at The Navel. So my banquet totally wasn’t a last dinner, just in case, it was a pre-celebration on my upcoming victory!

The Navel is classified as a Trial, which means it is essentially a one-room dungeon with a boss fight. No trash pull, no travel… just you (and the rest of the team) vs the big guy.

It was a tough but quick fight with us prevailing, and of extra importance for me as an Arcanist/Summoner/Scholar is that defeating the Primal Titan unlocks my next Summoner Class Quest, Austerities of Earth. Onward!

LoTRO – Troll Cave

Back in Middle Earth I began a task Halbarad set out for me: get Dwarves, Elves, and Men to cooperate against the threat of Angmar. That is, I was working on Vol 1 Book 3. πŸ™‚

I decided to take a quest I generally ignore, one that led to a giant troll cave south east of Meluinen.

I defeated the troll-keeper, Favargair, and also completed troll slaying deed because there were so many inside the cave system.

There were also trolls outside, east past Merenost. I had ventured here a few times in the past but also generally didn’t need to (due to xp buffs and so on, not needing to do every single quest available for quite a while).

As for the troll I fought, it is true even in bear form he was bigger that me, but he was not the victor!

Next session I plan to finish up book 3 and then see how many levels I am away from starting book 4 on level. In the past I would either complete the east side of North Downs, or go to Evendim. I remember doing some quests out of Tinnudir on my Lore-master, the character I most recently leveled into the 40’s. I may stick around the North Downs and work on slayer deeds in order to get my virtues to decent levels.

FF14 – Friendliness (and Haukke Manor)

If you read any MMO subreddit or forum for any amount of time, you’ll find people asking about how friendly/helpful the community is. It seems like ESO, FF14, LoTRO rank comparatively well, and other games maybe no so much.

Well I had a nice interaction with my group in Haukke Manor, a dungeon on the MSQ mandatory path.

To sum up, we fought through pretty well, encountering no problems. After one boss fight, I went to look at what loot was in the boss chest. When I was done making my need/greed/pass selections, everyone else was gone! Out of the corner of my eye I saw one group member float then vanish, so I know they didn’t run out of the room.

But the instance wasn’t over… hm I figured there was some teleportation thing on the ground I missed. So I clicked around a little, ran around the room, but found nothing.

After ~30 seconds and still finding nothing, I did a party message:

me: where did you guys go?

them1: we just used Return. It should be on your skill bar.

them2: used in an instance it takes you back to the start

them3: final fight is right up the stairs and it is faster than running back to the start

me: oh, I thought I missed some teleportation thing to click on the ground. be right there!

Hehe, it was a knowledgeable player optimization!

What I thought was cool was nobody was angry I didn’t know about it. Whew. πŸ˜‰

We did win and the way the entire group was so helpful when I couldn’t figure out where they went, without being elitist or condescending, really left me with a positive impression. It’s minor, I’m sure out of millions of players there will be jerks, but this was a very nice experience.

After one even messaged me to ask if I was new at FF14. Yes but no? I played and subbed before on PC, then tried it on PS4 (but didn’t like using the controller as much as mouse/keyboard for this game; however I’m fine with ESO with a controller), and am now on yet another account using the new free trial.

But since I’m on the free trial I couldn’t answer and thank them. 😦

I do plan to sub this time around, when I reach 60. By playing an Arcanist I can level two jobs at the same time, so I’ll have a Summoner and Scholar at 60!

LoTRO – Finishing up the Lone Lands

My typical leveling path in LoTRO is to go from Bree to the Lone Lands. I know that there are some high-teens levels quests in north Bree, and those lead right into the early quests in Trestlebridge, but by the time I’m done with the Barrow-Downs area I’m also ready to start Vol 1 Book 2, the Red Maid, and that is all in the Lone Lands.

As a result, I’ve played through the Lone Lands many times and was ready to move along from Ost Guruth and wrap up Vol 1 Book 2.

I also wanted to work on virtues, including slayer deeds, so I used one of my daily hobbit gifts – a 90 min accelerator – and went into Nan Dhelu looking to kill as many undead as possible. Which was easy because it is filled with them and Radagast sends you in twice for various quests.

Along the way I ran into a rare Elite I hadn’t seen before – Klakki. He caught me a bit by surprise because I thought he was the Master of Nan Dhelu, a different quest I was trying to finish. But it was fine, my yellow line Beorning (The Roar) feels pretty strong.

As for virtues, I’m revamping a bit after finding a guide for healing Boernings, what I plan to do for group content later on. It turns out that I’m a huge fan of mitigation and resistance virtues, so much so I was essentially slotting tank virtues, where healers would find outgoing healing and critical rating more valuable.

I could probably try both (i.e. level up both sets of virtues) in case I want to try tanking, but for now I’ll work on getting healing virtues up, one at a time, and slowly replace my current loadout.

I did finish up Vol 1 Book 2, and right as I was leaving the Lone Lands, I dinged level 30. Which let me start my level 30 class quest… out of Ost Guruth. So I turned around and did that too.

Off to Esteldin, to talk to Halbarad and start Vol 1 Book 3.

*put on geezer hat and sits in rocking chair*

I remember in the “old” days when you had to RUN to Esteldin the first time. No mounts until level 40. Young ‘uns got it easy with mounts at level 20 and even lower.

*old timer mode off*

In fact it’s easier still! I talked to Candaith at his campfire just NW of Weathertop and it turns out his horse will fast travel you to Esteldin. No more long run from Trestlebridge!

I remember the first time I ran out to Esteldin on my then main character, a hunter in the low 30’s. No mount yet, I asked in kinship how rough the run was. Everybody said: no problem at all, very easy. And it was quite safe, sticking to the road I didn’t even aggro anything. It just took a few minutes to cruise through the countryside.

FF14 – Summoner and Scholar

I’m cruising along in the MSQ, having gotten past the awkward spot where I was high enough level to specialize into a job, but not far enough in the MSQ to be allowed to do it. I reached Sylph-Management at level 33, so not as bad as I originally feared.

Again, I’m doing just the MSQ and class quests, no dallying with side quests for now. I’m on the free trial and I’m heavily leaning towards subscribing, I figure I also want to maximize my trial and reach level 60 on a job!

I was about to take a break from being an Arcanist (and now Summoner and Scholar) and try out Marauder (Warrior) but I talked myself out of it for now. That’s on the todo list but I also want to try healing a dungeon, as well as finish some class quests.

Scholar quests haven’t been a problem, I’m getting to them and finishing. The level 35 quest led to a beautiful fantasy viewpoint, the Floating City of Nym.

However, my Summoner class quest progress is currently blocked. In order for me to do the level 35 Summoner quest, Austerties of Earth, I have to first defeat a primal Titan, and by my count that is 40 (!) quests in the future – Lord of Crags, in order to unlock a dungeon, The Navel.

Of course, the MSQ is supposed to be shortened so I’ll see if it is actually 40 more quests from my current “Highbridge Times” to “Lord of Crags”. Even if it is shortened, I’ll probably attain level 40 before being able to do the level 35 class quest, so I’ll have 2 unfinished Summoner class quests to do.

I suppose this is really a First World MMO Problem: oh no, I’m leveling too fast – due to a xp buff in my free trial – that I’m outpacing the original carefully spaced character skill unlocks. πŸ˜‰

One nice change since I last played is that Minfilia hands over several “Vesper Bay Aetheryte Tickets”, allowing me to teleport to the edge of Vesper Bay rather than having to go to Horizon Bay and then running over. That was super annoying given how often players have to visit Scion HQ.

FF14 – Level 30+

I’m still chugging along in FF14, and… I don’t want to seem like a complainer, but… well I think the streamlining of the MSQ and so forth could use a bit more fine tuning. Still having fun and have some plans for trying out other classes/jobs.

I appreciate the massive xp bump. I’ve literally only done the MSQ and my class quests for XP (outside one or two quests at the very beginning, city orientation type quests of the “go talk to the vendor” mostly to point out where the market in Limsa Lominsa is). Other than that, I’ve noticed substantial xp from discovering a new zone for the first time. And that’s it. No leve quests, no repeatedly running a dungeon, no grinding, no extra questing, no hunting log, nothing. If I have to kill X number of mobs, I do it and return to the quest giver. I try to aggro as little as possible, get my stuff done, and zip out.

I’m past the Tam-Tara and Copperbell Mines mandatory grouping, reached level 31, but not far enough in the MSQ to unlock jobs yet. Or join a Grand Company. Or get a chocobo mount.

Granted, not having the mount and/or Grand Company is kind of independent of level – if the intent is to quest along and unlock Grand Companies (which the chocobo quest is dependent on) at a certain point, well then I’m on track since I haven’t gotten there yet.

But I was kind of looking forward to opening up Summoner and Scholar at level 30, but specializing into jobs depend on the Sylph-Management quest, which by my count is about 15 quests in the future (unless the MSQ is abbreviated from now on). I might be level 40 by then! πŸ˜‰ Only half joking.

Again, this isn’t a terrible outcome, but there are perhaps some unintended consequences of doubling xp gain. So far I haven’t noticed an appreciably slimming of the MSQ. One is I’m massively overleveled for the combat. A recent quest had me save someone from undead. The enemies that spawned were level 13. I’m 31. I think there is some downleveling involved but by the time I applied my 2 DoTs on target 1 and switched to the next one, the first one died. This is probably not the challenge intended.

Another example: doing the “Amalj’aa Wrong Places” quest. Thancred sends me into camp to find some information, which is guarded by 2 or 3 warriors. But they are level 18, I’m 31, they don’t even aggro. So I waltz in, grab the papers, and I’m out without even fighting or trying to avoid them. I could start a fight but what’s the point, I’m 13 levels higher.

The other thing is the gear I’ve received from my class quests (and dungeons) are outclassing the quest rewards from the main scenario. Minfillia wants to give me a quest reward: a weapons box containing a level 18-21 weapon. I’ll be courteous and avoid trashing right in front of her but I already have a level 30 weapon (book) from a class quest reward. Somewhere along the way every MSQ reward is worse than what I already have, or unusable, so I’ve been taking the Disciple of War gear instead, in order to have some gear for an eventual class/job switch up.

OK in the grand scheme of things this isn’t terrible. It’s just I think the MSQ could be trimmed and aligned better, so that the blocking Sylph-Management quest occurs around the time you reach level 30. And maybe inch the Grand Company/chocobo throttle up as well. Like short circuit most of the stuff after Copperbell Mines to Sylph-Management.

Well I’ll be through this section soon enough. After joining a Grand Company, getting a mount, and unlocking jobs, the next milestone will be much higher, say level 50 or 60. I’m sure the MSQ will catch up, that is, the leveling boost won’t outpace the MSQ so much at higher levels, and it’ll all work out. Certainly the boost is nice getting a first character to Heavensward and further.

FF14 – Sastasha

I had done this dungeon before, and it was next up for me again. After a brief refresher watching MTQCapture’s Sastasha Dungeon Guide, I queued up.

After a wait of about 10 mins – not sure if that is fast, average, or slow – a group formed and we entered.

Since Sastasha is the first dungeon in the MSQ, it is fairly easy and we sailed through with no problems. It was still fun though!

After finishing this, the MSQ had me travel to Gridania and report to Tam-Tara Deepcroft. I remember this a little bit… but I’ll rewatch a video beforehand as well. Since it was a bit of travel to get there and I was out of time, I decided to log out and make my way to Deepcroft next time.

Next time I do Sastasha I’d like to try it as a healer. There is a healing role available to me as an arcanist when I reach level 30 and have the option of taking up the Scholar job. But with the level sync and so on, can a Scholar go into Sastasha, a level 15 dungeon? I’m not sure.

It appears to me the only healing class for Sastasha (i.e. a healer at level 15 ish) is Conjurer, which is a class I wasn’t planning to train. Hmmmm.

I’m also interested in Rogue/Ninja and Marauder/Warrior, so maybe I’ll be back as one of those classes. I’m a bit leery of going in as a tank because I’m not familiar with the route through. But after more runs as other DPS and healer I’ll be more comfortable giving it a shot.

XP boost is still large, and perhaps on top of generous dungeon XP. I leveled twice doing Sastasha! From 22.5 to 24. That was really nice.

LoTRO – Bears

So one “problem” with LoTRO is I like all the classes. After any kind of break, when I come back, I think about starting again. The general thought process is:

  • Let’s try a pet class – I’ll make a Captain or Lore Master
  • Oh but healers are useful – I’ll make a Minstrel or Rune-Keeper
  • Ah but the gambit skill system is so unique – I’ll make a Warden
  • Hm it’s fun to start fellowship maneuvers – I’ll make Burglar

And that’s how I wind up with 5 characters and do the starting area (which these days encompasses Shadows of Angmar, the entire original game) over and over.

This time I decided to restart with a Beorning. I’ve still got my boosted chars that are trying to sync up with my coworker that plays… but in the meantime I want to remember the previous content I haven’t been to in ages.

I like Beornings: they can be a tank (blue, the Hide), dps (red, the Claw), healer/support (yellow, the Roar), so very flexible. I’m playing a yellow line Beorning now and it is very survivable and mows down the enemies.

It’s fun the shape change from man to bear and back. Only annoyance is you have to be in man form to harvest resources and talk to other NPCs.

As for as questing – I actually feel bad killing other bears as a Beorning, and avoid taking those quests and also try to avoid killing bears! But if one aggros on me… well it’s every bear for themselves and I plan to survive.

Beornings get a travel skill called Wanderlust, which is slower than a horse but instant to enter. It’s handy for running around while finishing off a quest.

I don’t have to worry about Power, so I can chuck all those blue potions. (Well, put them into shared storage in case another char can use them). Beornings use Rage instead of Power.

If you make your Beorning with facial tattoos… they show up when you are in bear form. Cool! I have 3 red slashes which are there even if they are hard to see in the pic.

I’m playing my Beorning slightly differently, by working on deeds along the way. Exploration deeds, quest deeds – those were typically the only ones I did. At least after the Virtue system changed and let you train them by doing any deed, rather than locking Determination +1 or whatever to specific monsters in specific areas. But that change was years ago.

This time I’m checking off several kill deeds too, in an effort to keep my Virtues level appropriate. I will admit to purchasing some accelerator scrolls which do help by cutting the number of kills needed in half.

I decided the most appropriate crafting for a Beorning is Woodsman. I can cure hides and collect wood with Forester, make some weapons/instruments/carvings with Woodworker, and generally ignore Farming. (For making food I generally have an alt take up Yeoman, which includes Cook and Farmer. Then they can grow the needed foods and also cook them. The crafting quests that would have been tricky to do on a lowbie were streamlined away so an alt can park in a good area and crank out the tasty treats!)

Anyway, I’m currently level 27 working on Vol 1 Book 2 out of Ost Guruth. My Lore-Master is in the low 40’s in Book 5 in the Misty Mountains… I’m not abandoning that char but for now I’m enjoying the Beorning more. My goal is to stick to an 80-20 system for my chars: spend 80% of my time playing my main, and 20% divided between all alts.

What I really need to do is tape a sign behind my monitor that says: Rather than play an alt, play a different game!! Because I would like to get some variety be rotating among LoTRO, FF14, and ESO.