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Recently Square Enix was running one of its “come back to Final Fantasy XIV” promotions. If you were a former player you could get a week of sub time just by logging in. As the period for this was winding down I figured “Hey free time, I better use it!” so I did.

I’ve always loved the world of Final Fantasy XIV. The weird creatures, the ridiculously overwrought dialog, the cute female characters [ahem, not sure I should admit that one]. For me it really leans into the “fantasy” part of the title.

I’ve always disliked Final Fantasy XIV because of the forced grouping. In order to unlock things in the game you have to follow the Main Story Quests and these send you to group dungeons fairly often. I simply DO NOT like playing with others, particularly strangers. It makes me super anxious because I’m afraid I’ll do something that negatively impacts other players and I hate looking stupid in front of people. [Yeah don’t think this stems from altruism; we all know me better than that. I just don’t want to embarrass myself.]

Busy starter cities
I was happy to discover that the ‘starter cities’ are still nicely populated

But I started playing and thanks to a “Preferred Server” buff I flew through the levels and the quests and within a day or two I was faced with queuing for dungeons. I summoned my courage, queued up, started sweating it out. When the Duty (as they are called in FFXIV) popped I almost declined it, but I didn’t. And I found that at this point you are essentially carried in low level dungeons. Bosses die so fast (since most of your party will by max level) that you don’t even have to worry about special mechanics.

This, I guess, is the beauty of FFXIV rewarding high level players to replay low level content. And for me it made a huge difference. That first dungeon wasn’t so bad. Just to be safe before I did another I watched some YouTube videos showing the special features/tricks of the next few dungeons, then I pressed on.

Questing
All these people are doing a level 15 or so quest. The little filmstrip icon next to their name shows they are in a cut scene

Before this gets stupid long, let me summarize. I learned that low level dungeons are generally stress free. I learned that letting folks know “This is my first time” often actually gets you helpful advice. And I learned that if the party wipes, it’s generally not the DPS dude’s fault (that’s me), it’s just over-exuberance on the part of the tank, and people shrug it off, slow down a little and finish the fight.

Somehow I’ve now gone from dreading these dungeon runs to looking forward to them. Now my gripe is that queue times are too long for a DPS and I’m thinking of starting a tank or healing job. Now I’m often the first guy who says “Hi!” in group chat; I’ve become, dare I say it? Social. I joined a Free Company (guild). I joined a Linkshell (group chat). OK so it is the Novice Network linkshell that is pretty impersonal, but still!

I don’t know what this is, but I didn’t mess with it. It was level 50

I feel like after playing FFXIV for a while, I’ll be able to go into any other MMO and queue up for group content and not sweat it so much. I’m sure at some point I’ll have that experience of someone getting mad and rage-quitting or calling me names because I suck, but already I have a nice body of experience that shows me that is the rare exception and not the norm. Honestly for the most part, people don’t talk at all except maybe a hello at the start and a ‘thanks for the party’ at the end.

That said, I’m still having a blast with FFXIV. I’ve re-subbed and will keep playing for the foreseeable future. Which reminds me, I should probably cancel my SWTOR subscription. 🙁



Comments:
3
  • Yay! Awesome to hear you’ve been able to get through the worst of that fear and start running the dungeons.

    I understand the fear well of not wanting to impact others and/or look the fool. It’s a fear I face myself, *especially* with end-game content. Even when it’s a game I’m fairly comfortable with such as WoW, diving back in after some time away back fresh into a Heroic/Mythic is as much a mental challenge to hit queue and then accept it when it pops than anything else.

    Especially since I am 9/10 times playing a healer where screwing up absolutely can lead to a party wipe that’s your fault. Hah.

    But those low level Duty’s in particular, just have fun and enjoy! They’re pretty low stress as you’ve found. 🙂 And a great learning experience working your way up to the rougher stuff at end-game.

  • I have to say that, while those low level dungeons may be stress-free now, they absolutely weren’t during the month after launch, which was when I was doing them. The people were just as pleasant, for the most part, as they are, in my experience, in almost all MMOs. PUGs have a completely unjustified reputation, almost entirely based on WoW, as far as I can tell.

    In terms of mechanics and actually succeeding in order to get over each of the content gates the damn things were a nightmare. There were several reasons I declined to subscribe when my free month ran out but the compulsory dungeons were near the top of the list, and I speak as someone who has actively enjoyed pugging dungeons in many other MMOs.

    • @Bhagpuss — Oh yeah I can just imagine. I generally watch a dungeon guide before going into these dungeons so I know what to expect in terms of mechanics, and often the groups now are so over-powered that we just ignore mechanics to prevent adds from spawning and such. I always assume at least half the group are well-geared level 70 characters synced down to level 30 or whatever the dungeon is, and even I tend to be synced down as a first timer.

      I’m fairly content to be coming along well after the fact, to be honest!

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