FF14 – Console Learning Curve

I finally bought a PS4 Pro last Friday – Black Friday – along with a few games, including 2 MMOs: Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy 14. It took a while to install (downloads on the console seem throttled) so I let both complete overnight after putting the console into “rest mode”.

I started up ESO first, but it requires a PS+ membership. Those are $60 a year, currently on sale for $40 a year, but FF14 doesn’t have the same requirement. So I switched over to FF14 instead. I’ll get to ESO later.

Rather than use my old account, I started a new one. Establishing an account was awful on console – doing all the “enter name, password” fields using the controller made me want to get a small keyboard to use.

But I made it through and created a Lalafell character because I like short/tiny races.

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After a bit of fumbling around I figured out how to take screenshots and transfer them over to my PC using a USB stick.

I also started on a “new” world, Adamantoise, and as a bonus I’ll get a 100% xp bonus to level 60 (or until the population stabilizes). I hope to benefit from this boost for a few weeks!

Last time I played FF14 I started as a Lancer and then changed classes half a dozen times until settling on Arcanist (eventually opening Summoner and Scholar). This time I just picked Arcanist with the plan of opening up Summoner and Scholar in the future. I’m also interested in Rogue -> Ninja and maybe even Pugilist -> Monk but for now I’ll be good with Arcanist -> Summoner and Scholar.

Using the controller took a bit of getting used to. I was very grateful for the slow ramp up in FF14 – having a choice of several tutorial quests that involve moving around the city, talking to NPCs, fetching items and handing them over, interacting with the environment, attuning to an aetheryte crystal, etc.

You know, the annoying quests I take for granted in most MMOs I’ve played, irritated that I have to do this stuff rather than fight monsters and level up!! Here, every one of these quests let me practice using the controller to navigate and interact with the world. Even the initial combat quest was welcome as I picked on ladybugs and sheep while building some muscle memory on how to do it via controller.

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So far so good, the only thing I’ve noticed is that selecting monsters to fight (basic targeting) is clumsy. I need to rotate my view plus hit the left/right arrow keys on the d-pad and I still don’t quickly target what I want to fight. I was thinking that the tab/shift-tab from a keyboard should translate well to left/right arrow keys but somehow I wound up cycling through nearly everything in radius before targeting what I wanted. I’ll poke around some docs and see if I’m missing something. Maybe I was cheating by using a mouse click to select when I played with keyboard/mouse on my computer.

The good news is combat feels pretty good. Holding the L2/R2 button pulls up a cross overlay (seen above with the tan background and the blue words sprint/auto-attack/return/teleport) that lets you use skills by pressing buttons (triangle/circle/cross/square clockwise from the top). So for instance if I wanted to cast “return” I’d hold L2 and press “cross”. As a low level Arcanist my combat rotation is currently Bio and Ruin so combat is basically L2+circle and L2+cross. Obviously as I gain more skills to use I’ll have more buttons to press.

Hitting the regular R/L button cycles hotbars, which currently is how I get to my pet bar. So far I’ve been ignoring my carbuncle and just relying on it auto attacking whatever I’m fighting.

The other way combat feels good is that my hand and knuckle doesn’t cramp holding a controller. Draping my hand over a mouse for an extended period makes my knuckle lock up and get really stiff. I have to do stretches (tight fist, open hand and spread fingers, repeat) periodically if I play for any amount of time using a mouse/keyboard.

Meanwhile playing with a controller on my PS4 means I can sit on my couch and be far more comfy. I’m liking that a lot!

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Mini break

I had some out of town visitors last week, so I didn’t do much gaming. It is interesting to me what games I thought about and was eager to get back to, and which ones were bucketed into “eh, I can wait”.

BDO – I just can’t get into. It offers a lot to do, but it turns out I’m not all that interested in lifestyle skills, simulating a trade empire, fishing or raising horses. What it does have going for it is exploration…

…which brings me to EVE. One goal there is to wander the universe in a cloaked ship, exploring relic/data sites as I come across them. This playstyle doesn’t have a direct analogy to other games with exploration (GW2 for instance) so EVE bumped up on my interest list. Of course, while away with my visitors I kept my skill queue full and working on my behalf. 🙂 I probably still can’t reliable make corp/fleet activity, but I think I can get my monthly sub fee’s worth of a few hours on the weekends.

GW2 moved back into interest. I saw a giant patch containing tons of fixes, most of which probably don’t effect me. However, one thing did – a level 80 boost. Earlier I mentioned the one thing I’d change about my char is switching races Norn to Asura. Well, this is my chance! I have a level 80 elementalist, guardian, ranger, level 60 mesmer, and I’ve tried thief and necromancer and didn’t really like them. That’s fine, there isn’t a game out where EVERY class appeals to me. Closest would be GW1 where I did actually play all classes through all storylines except one… the elementalist. That’s because my GW1 elementalist was my mesmer, who freely swapped skills between professions, and had fast casting instead of energy storage.

I used some level 30 boosts on an engineer and revenant, and a level 20 boost on a warrior. So basically, I have a level 80 boost to use on either a ranger, which I know I like but would like to switch races on, or on an engineer, revenant, or warrior, which are fun but unknown. I’ll think about this and maybe play through the first chapter of the storyline on the engineer and revenant and see before going with another ranger.

LoTRO also moved back into interest. I’ve taken breaks from the game, none lasting too long. My guardian Naerys can level from 100 to 105 now, but I had another project in mind: starting a new minstrel. Which I did and puttered around a bit. I’ll post on that later.

ESO also remained of interest. Zenimax is adding some really interesting DLC (the recent Thieves Guild and upcoming Dark Brotherhood); the game is fun and has beautiful graphics; I like the skill system which lets every class train every weapon, armor, and crafting skills, while retaining 3 skill lines unique to the class.

TSW as well, I want to press along in the desert and not spend ~2 years wandering very slowly around before the next new zones, like I did with Kingsmouth – Blue Mountain.

What fell out of interest was FF14. It isn’t a bad game game at all; I’ve enjoyed all 5 mandatory dungeons I’ve done; the class system is the best. The playerbase seems friendly, the storyline is bizarre but fun to follow. It comes down to the sub fee – given my rather haphazard play schedule, it doesn’t make sense to sub to multiple subscription games. So in the contest between EVE and FF14, right now EVE wins since the play style EVE offers, that of the stealth explorer in dangerous territory, well that doesn’t exist elsewhere. The others are B2P or F2P, and I do support them by making store purchases from time to time. I like this model since whatever I buy doesn’t come with a time limit like game-time with a sub fee does, and I don’t feel as much pressure to play to a quota each month.

There is probably a “fantasy game overload” thing going on as well – EVE is a sci-fi universe while LoTRO/GW2/ESO are fantasy. So FF14 as a 4th direct fantasy game, let’s just put TSW into a different category, is maybe too much for me.

I’m subbed for another cycle under FF14 so I’m not vanishing instantly, but I’ll be thinking about whether or not I want to keep working on my summoner/monk versus exploring null sec in EVE.

Anyway, I’ll see how ESO, TSW, ramping back up in GW2 and LoTRO, and EVE go. 5 games is still 3 too many. 😉

FF – Haukke Manor

Once again, I reached a dungeon in the main storyline quest – Haukke Manor. And once again, the amazing Mizztek provides a great overview because I hate going into group content with no idea what’s coming.

It looks straightforward so I queued up as a Summoner when I had some time. When I’m more familiar with the fights I may try queueing as a healer (i.e. Scholar). But I need to sort out some stuff first, get familiar with the skills, etc. before going live with other players. 😉

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The fights went very smoothly, we hit no issues other than our tank disconnected before we had to go upstairs. She was waiting up the stairs by the time she reconnected and the rest of us ran back… it almost seemed like this was planned as a way to respawn at the start without travel. But probably not.

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The final fight wrapped up and I was slow on the screenshot button so not pic of us with the boss down to the last few percentages of health. Oh well, perhaps I will remember next time.

I got a few equipment upgrades but nothing significant enough to bump my gear level – it is 26 and holding. I seem to do fine in dungeons, really the only difficult fight so far has been against the first Primal. That’s fine, I’m enjoying the content provided so far and have no complaints.

While advancing the the storyline more I’m going to take a minor detour and finish off my Great Company hunting log, so I can get a promotion.

FF -Three Jobs

So… along the way of the crafter I hit a snag.

I leveled up Culinarian and Alchemist to 15, did the new class quests, and picked up a new round of tradecraft levequests. I noticed that unlike the previous lower level recipes, the new level 16-20 recipes (and hence levequests) called for ingredients that weren’t for sale from the guild supplier. Of course, this makes sense in retrospect. It shouldn’t be possible to craft everything just standing in the guild hall, buying all ingredients.

So I went to the market board and checked to see if what I needed was available. It was, but prices were high, at least proportionally according to my current wealth. I needed 3 ingredients, and they were for sale but in stacks of 10 for 5000 gil. This probably isn’t too bad for the convenience, but I only had ~70K gil. I could afford 15K but that’s a major chunk of my money and not sustainable.

I bought those ingredients, so I’ll be able to finish off several days of levequests, but if I really want to level up Culinarian (for example), I’ll probably need to take up Botanist in order to get my own ingredients. It’s a gil-sink that I don’t need right now, since I’m not exactly floating in wealth.

While I ponder that, I decided to take another course again: Thamaturge. With a level 30 Arcanist,  I’ll be able to open up Scholar job since I reached level 15 as Conjurer… and paired with that same level 30 Arcanist, I’ll be able to open the Summoner job too after I reach level 15 as a Thamaturge. I figured, why not, getting to level 15 doesn’t take too long.

With some new short term goals in place, I reached level 30 as an Arcanist and completed the quest to unlock the Scholar job.

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After a bit more effort, I reached level 15 as a Thamaturge and unlocked the Summoner quest. This class quest was tough – I failed it twice! – but the third attempt was successful. The battle involved defeating a summoning fire spirit and adds, and I failed it because I wasn’t taking out the adds quickly enough. One set of adds were summoned pillars that amplified the fire spirit’s power if left up too long. The third time, when the pillars appeared I fought them exclusively.

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With those pillars out of the way, the rest of the fight was straightforward and soon I unlocked the Summoner job.

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Finally, I reached level 30 as a Pugilist which allowed me to quest for the Monk job.

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I thought this screenshot humorously captured the Monk class quest – I’m fighting everything and the quest giver is talking about what great data he’s gathering! 😉

Anyway, with 3 jobs available to me now, I’ll have good variety going forward. Part of me wants to level as a Rogue in order to unlock the Ninja job at level 30. But I’ll make that a low priority additional activity, since I just now hit level 30 on Arcanist and Pugilist and I’ve been playing 2 months. At that rate it would take me another month to level up a Rogue and right now I’m going to move forward in the storyline.

FF – Crafting (again)

For a bit of variety I decided to check out crafting again. But a production craft, not a gathering craft like I tried previously. I was interested in alchemy or culinarian, so I figured – why not try both?

Thus I enrolled as a culinarian and an alchemist and found myself enjoying both of these more than the botanist. Part of it is these crafts makes things more obviously useful to me -potions, food. Another is I don’t have to hunt for materials, so far I can generally buy what I need from at the respective guild supply officers.

It’s a sign I’m enjoying a game when I get into crafting. I’ve tried it in almost every MMO I’ve played. Some systems are simple, basically gather stuff and craft (e.g. Guild Wars, where you really aren’t the crafter – you collect materials and an NPC uses them up to hand back the crafted item; so it is really just trading materials for items), some are a bit more complex (e.g. WoW or LoTRO, but both of these games have a “craft into the garbage” vibe, where nearly everything made that isn’t max level is generally useless, and progressing to max level in crafting means creating a heap of vendor trash.)

EVE has complicated crafting, almost repetitive-stress-injury inducing crafting. You had to hunt down available production lines, import materials to that particular station, obtain blueprints, etc. It was almost too much, given I didn’t want to produce items full time. Even planetary interaction lost its luster after a while; too much time spent fiddling with extractors and then hauling goods to market.

TSW crafting is interesting in that the crafting levels work differently – you don’t have to keep crafting the same thing to incrementally get better (e.g. LoTRO) until you unlock the next level. In TSW, you break down items to get components, then with the appropriate quality level tool kit and items, arrange those into patterns to make any weapon or jewelry. What is awesome is how some missions use crafting as necessary steps to solve puzzles (see Gravity, a fantastic quest). I’m pretty sure if you have the appropriate quality toolkit and materials, you can craft any item of any quality level at any time.

I haven’t really crafted much in ESO so I can’t comment.

And in Black Desert Online, let’s just say I just figured out how to tan hides and make beef jerky – that is I know nearly nothing. 😉 I read about all this complex crafting others are doing so the game is apparently deep in that respect.

Anyway, in FF14 I reached level 10 in both culinarian and alchemist, which lets me grab tradecraft levequests – and these reward a lot of experience! By doing a few of those I was able to hit level 12 in both crafts.

Crafting here involves gathering the ingredients and then using some trade-only skills. Every time you perform a step, the durability sinks and if it goes to zero the overall production fails. As you level, you get a few skills to bump quality chance, restore durability, give a better chance of error free steps, etc. There is something to do to create the product (besides clicking “craft it” and waiting out whatever delay the devs put in) which I suppose could be spun as a positive or negative – if you want to mass produce a bunch of items, this is bad (although if you are creating something you’ve made before there is an option offered to “mass synthesize”); but for attempting to make a few items as high quality as possible, this is good.

I do realize at level 12-ish I haven’t learned skills which might add even more to the crafting experience.

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I probably won’t invest giant chunks of time into crafting, but I do like what I’ve seen so far and it’s another thing to do when I want a break from leveling a combat class.

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I find that it is handy to level 2 crafting classes together, because that lets me grab more of the crafting gear from class quests! I wanted the gloves and robe from the level 10 quest, so I took one from the alchemy class quest, and the other from the culinarian class quest.

The subtle appearance above shows my alchemy outfit, which is identical to my cooking outfit except for the class item and offhand. As a cook, the offhand is a knife but as an alchemist, it is an alembic right now.

FF – Into the Beast’s Maw

More progress in FF14 – the next dungeon in the main scenario questline: Thousand Maws of Toto-Rak. Once again, to get an idea of what I would be dealing with, I watched MTQCapture’s great summary:

 

I’ve had a switcheroo on my character – since Arcanist is higher level than Pugilist, I decided to go in as a spell caster instead of melee. I do like fighting at range since it lets me see more of the fight.

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The Arcanist is a DOT class so I summoned my DPS pet instead of my tank pet, and dotted everything up in rotation. The run went very smoothly and we were fighting the end-boss Graffias in no time at all.

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Later I did a few grand company levequests to upgrade my uniform; I thought this shot of 3 sweet tooth goobue’s standing next to each other looked funny. I’ve been switching off level Pugilist by doing a few levequests as well – I don’t want to let too much of a level gap in.

I’m looking forward to reaching level 30 on my Arcanist and opening up the Scholar job, and then reaching 30 on the Pugilist and opening up Monk.

FF – Pacing

I’ve come to really appreciate the pacing in FF14, especially the availability of levequests.

It’s tough to get a solid block of playtime during the week, which means I can’t do much in most MMOs. GW2 tries to address this with daily login rewards, plus an ever-changing set of daily/weekly activities – gather X in region Y, kill Z, etc. At least I remember those, I haven’t looked into too much lately. There is always exploring a bit and so on, but most MMOs are setup to require a chunk of invested time per session, which isn’t all the convenient for me anymore.

Take EVE Online, a game with tons to do. EVE is many things, but fast is not one of them. I can’t even fit a ship in 30 minutes unless I already everything at the station the ship is docked in. Sometimes I would spend an hour, roundtrip, just traveling from the wormhole I was farming planetary interaction in, to the nearest market. That’s just jumping through gates, accelerating, decelerating, dealing with market stuff (buy/sell), and often, the initial scan-for-exit. EVE isn’t setup for the person who can sometimes get 30 mins to 1 hour during the week, and then random amounts of time on the weekend.

So in FF14, the levequest system is awesome. They are auto-generated quests you can pick up that don’t take too much time to do, reward xp/gil (money), and in the case of grand company leves, company seals. Those seals in turns can be used for promotions (not sure what that gets you besides access to better stuff I assume), weapons, gear, crafting materials, etc.

The levequests take place in the area of the quest giver, don’t start until you get to the general area and initiate them, and after completion, optionally let you warp back to turn in and collect the rewards!

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After earning enough seals for my chocobo mount, I looked over what else is available and worked on cranking out enough seals for the basic armor set: gloves, boots, cap, overcoat. I think it looks pretty nice! OK, I might hide that hat but it doesn’t look terrible – the overall appearance is pretty good to me. I look like a number of the guards hanging around Limsa Lominsa, haha.

I also picked up a nice grimoire, and am thinking about also getting a hora (weapon for my pugilist class).

Since I can’t play tons during the week, I always have rest experience so that’s a nice boost as well.

Soon I’ll get back to the storyline quest. Aurora is now level 23 in arcanist as well as pugilist – if I can get to 25 in each, do the next set of class quests, I’ll feel well prepared to continue the story!

Favorite Mobs

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I’ve fought plenty of the Sweet Tooth Goobbue’s for various leves, and I think they are my favorite mob. They just look cool, with the giant mouth containing rows of teeth. When they fight their arms get all rubbery and stretch out to pound the ground. One of their attacks is “moldy sneeze”!

A mini-sweet tooth goobbue would be awesome. Heck, so would a megalocrab, I like the name of that mob too. Even better, a megalocrab mount! 😉