Finished with Final Fantasy Fourteen For Now

I’m never one to pass on an alliterative title.

So as it says above, my 1 month Final Fantasy XIV sub ends in a couple of days and for once I timed things right. For the past week or so I’ve been logging in less and less so it’s the right time for a break.

I do plan on returning, probably when they release the next chunk of solo-able Main Story Quest dungeons. Not that I’ve gone through all the ones that are available now: the last one I did was Brayflox’s Longstop which crops up in the long (and to me, annoying) quest chain that happens before you fight Titan. Do you remember it? You’re sent all over hell & back getting food for a feast?

Generally I think I like the early levels of A Realm Reborn best, before you are expected to teleport all over the world to pick up a package or talk to an NPC. I am not really a fan of fast travel because, for me, it robs the world of a sense of scale and of being real. Of course I COULD just travel between these places on my Chocobo, and I might actually do that if I wasn’t paying a subscription fee which means there’s always a little clock ticking in the back of my brain. I don’t want to waste that much time when my time is limited to what I’m willing to pay for.

Anyway back to this quest chain. I had forgotten that when I was sent to get the wine it became a whole sub-branch of fetch quests and I just couldn’t face it, so I stopped logging in. I will try to power through these before my time runs out so they’re not the first thing I encounter when I inevitably come back.

And coming back should be easy because I’m playing a Paladin and at level 40 (I have managed to get way over-leveled without trying – Brayflox is a level 32 instance) I have only 5 skills that I regularly use. I have more than 5 slotted of course, but I rarely have need to use them. Turns out playing a Tank solo is kind of dull, at least so far. I’ve considered starting to level a healer or dps job but again…the clock is ticking and by the time it occurred to me to start a new job I only had a week of time left. Tt seemed wasteful to start over again. Maybe when I return.

Hmm, so far this post has sounded like a bunch of griping, but in general I’ve been having fun in FF XIV. I’m just grumpy because of this one quest chain.

Concerning Solo Dungeons

Doing the dungeons solo has been really enjoyable for a few reasons.

First, there’s obviously no social anxiety issues when your party buddies are all npcs.

Second, I get to really explore all the nooks and crannies and I have a better sense of the layout of these dungeons now. Dungeons that in the past were just a blur of rooms dashed through while trying to keep up with an experienced party hell-bent on finishing as quickly as possible now feel like fully-formed places. Haukke Manor is actually creepy when you have a minute to look around!

Third, you get to keep all the loot! I know that comes off as very selfish but it’s nice to go into a dungeon and come out the other side having replaced several pieces of gear with upgrades. Bonus: You have time to stop and put that gear on while you’re still in the dungeon!

Outside of the dungeons, the game has been pleasant enough though experience flows in so quickly that, as mentioned, I’m over-level everywhere. There’s not much challenge in overland content right now, which is another reason I thought I might start a new job. Easy-mode gets boring. If I wasn’t focused on the Main Story quest I’d mix things up by re-running Dungeons or grinding Fates (both of which level sync you) but again…the clock is ticking.

I still love the visuals and the vibe of the game. It would be great to be able to own a house and just kind of widen the experience beyond just questing all the time.

Sometimes when I’m done playing I stay logged in and turn on the “Idle Camera” and leave it running on the TV just to watch what folks are doing, see what they are wearing. That kind of thing.

So better to leave while I’m still basically feeling good about the game. I’ve got other things I want to play and FFXIV will be there waiting for me for the foreseeable future.

Weirdly, the thing I’ve been playing most when I’ve not been in FFXIV is Elder Scrolls Online. Out of the frying pan, into the fire. But that’s a different post.

FFXIV: Satasha Solo

Well it took me a week but I finally got a chance to check out the new solo dungeon system in Final Fantasy XIV. It took me a while to get there both because work has been kind of brutal requiring me to put in hours every evening, and because I was just really taking my time while playing. It’s going to be a while before more dungeons get added to the system, so why hurry?

Anyway, this is going to be a super short post. For Satasha, the party was made up of generic NPCs. I’m not sure if that holds true later or not, but at this point in the game you’re not talking to the Scions (??) yet, other than having one show up in the middle of some early game Duties to help out. But you don’t really know them yet.

But even though I was fighting with, y’know “Eager Lancer” and “Optimistic Conjurer” or whatever, it worked well. We sailed through Satasha with no issues, and I saw parts of the dungeon I’ve never seen before since most groups go through it in the fastest and most efficient way possible. For the first time I was able to go slow enough to understand the layout and see what switches needed to be switched and so forth (though that is all really simple in Satasha — I seem to remember there being more choices in the old days).

Bonus side effect: Doing the dungeon with NPCs has been thinking more about doing it again with people now that I understand it better. Maybe even as a tank. We’ll see.

The only thing my NPC friends didn’t do is shut down the grates in the final boss room. There’s a mechanic where 4 grates in the corners of the room start leaking water and if no one activates them, eventually Adds will spawn from them. My NPC chums ignored those grates, though to be fair most human players do as well since it tends to be faster/easier to just burn down the boss and semi-ignore the adds.

Oh and one thing I hadn’t been clear on: you can re-run the dungeons with an NPC party, too. I wasn’t sure if Square Enix was going to allow that or just let you do them once with NPCs in order to push the story forward. But nope, you can replay them with NPCs whenever you want, so that’s nice.

With only one run and my lack of experience, I can’t comment on whether the quality of loot was the same as running with human players. I can tell you I got to keep it all! 🙂

Final Fantasy XIV, The Solo MMO

Here’s a perfect example of life as an old person. There I was, finally really enjoying Guild Wars 2, when I jacked up my shoulder. And when I say “jacked up” what I mean is, I went to bed one night feeling fine and woke up with my shoulder feeling like it was on fire. Best I can figure, it’s a rotator cuff issue, but WHY it happened, I have no idea. I was just put on some statins for high cholesterol and I’m wondering if that is it. I’ve stopped taking them for a bit to see if this goes away.

Anyway this isn’t a medical blog, but the point is with my shoulder the way it is, sitting at a keyboard is really, really painful. Work has been hell. I tried to push through and keep playing but eventually decided it wasn’t worth it, so I headed back to my consoles.

But the MMO bug was still latched onto me. There’s ESO on consoles, of course, but I wanted something different (I low-key play ESO pretty much all the time). And then I learned that this week the FFXIV patch drops that brings the Trust System (tho they call it something else) to the original A Realm Reborn stages of the game. What this means is you can do the ‘story dungeons’ solo with a group of NPCs.


I always love FFXIV right up to where I’m forced to group to progress. I don’t like being reliant on other people and I don’t like other people being reliant on me. If I screw up a run I feel awful for days. Basically what happened in my prior FFXIV sessions is I’d play until I really fucked up in a dungeon, then I just never log in again, but even before then having to wait for the dungeon finder to decide it’s time for you to play…between that and the login queues FFXIV hasn’t been a good fit, much as I love the world.

Now though, I can play through the MSQ until the end of ARR at my own pace and not have all that stress. I am so down for that. Of course my “main” is already through all of ARR so I had to start a new character to experience what it’s like to be a new FFXIV player. Bonus points for being able to pick a class based on what sounded fun rather than based on avoiding any kind of high-pressure roles (eg tank or healer). So for the first time in ages I’m playing a Gladiator. I’ll tank for NPCs, but not for people.

My first take-away is that leveling has been sped up a lot. Yesterday I installed the game, created a character, spent too much time going through the settings [it always takes me a while to get used to the controller for FFXIV, but this time out I don’t even have the game installed on PC…PS5 only!], and barely played. I was level 2 or 3 and had done one quest that involved combat. This morning in a few hours I got to level 11 just by doing Main Story Quests, Class Quests, keeping my Hunting Log on track and 2 or 3 low level Fates I stumbled on. No other quests done. None needed so far.

At level 11 I’m still wearing some of the gear I was ‘born’ in, and that quest where you have to have everything level 5 to complete it? That quest is still there but he waved me through regardless of the fact I was wearing some level 1 gear.

So I guess I’ll just be playing for a month, if that. I assume I’ll burn through the ARR content pretty quickly then I’ll have to wait for the next patch when they add that Trust system to the first expansion’s dungeons. Hey, it’ll be like playing on a “Progression Server” in some other old-timey MMO!

Apologies for this being a kind of low-effort blog post, but it is killing me to by typing (again, this shoulder thing) and I just want to get this out and go find some pain-killers!

Final Fantasy Fourteen Fail

Like that title? I’m still reading a bunch of Golden Age comics so alliteration is my life now.

So sometime around today my subscription to Final Fantasy XIV expires and I’m not renewing it. This is the 2nd time this year I’ve subscribed and basically not played. It’s time to learn my lesson.

Now let me be upfront. I actually think FFXIV is a wonderful game. I love the world’s aesthetics. I love how the characters talk. I love walking through cities and watching the crowds of players interacting. I just don’t really enjoy actually PLAYING, and spending $15/month just to sight-see is a little steep for me these days.

I did have more success this month than I did early this year when I basically never logged in. This time out, I started a new character just to get re-accustomed to how things work, and interspersed those sessions with logging in my level 60 Dragoon and refamiliarizing myself with his skills, as well as setting up the UI (since this was a fresh install and I hadn’t backed up my settings to the cloud last time I played).

My Dragoon somehow had not gotten a lot of his skills so I started going through those quests. I was wandering around some bleak frozen area (Coerthas/Foundation area) where I rarely saw another player. I found the map kind of confusing; maybe the designers expected me to have a flying mount? But I would run back and forth trying to get from Point A to Point B, with the points being at different elevations. Then I’d find an NPC, talk to it, kill a couple of trivial monsters (5+ levels lower than me) then teleport back to ‘town’ and get the next bite of the quest. Solo combat was basically hit 1, hit 2, hit 3, hit 1, hit 4, hit 5, repeat. At least in theory, mobs didn’t usually last that long.

[I wanted to add, this dissatisfaction with tab-target, hot-key based combat isn’t limited to FFXIV. I’ve recently bounced off both LOTRO and SWOTOR for the same reason. The difference with those games, of course, is that it doesn’t cost me $15 to test the waters to see if this ennui has faded yet.]

It was all kind of bleak and depressing. I probably should have powered through it to try to get where combat was challenging. but then I thought “Well if I do that I’ll have to start doing PUG dungeons” which I really don’t want to do even if the community is apparently awesome.

I was kind of tempted to just buy a story skip (looks like I’d want Tales of Adventure: Stormblood for $25?) to get to the expansion where the Trust system kicks in. I just want all the things unlocked, and then I could just become a farmer or blacksmith or something, and just hang out in towns enjoying the vibe while doing whatever dungeons are required with my Trust Buddies. At least I think that’s how it works. I should check to be sure.

But again, money is a little tight these days and there are free-to-play MMOs I can jump into if I want to scratch that itch (though I don’t know of any game that has such a wonderful world as FFXIV).

So I’m kind of bummed, but I’m not sure if I’m bummed about the game or about the place where my head is at. But I have to stop paying a monthly fee to NOT play a game!

Weekend Recap for August 23rd

Another weekend come and gone. This one was a weird one for us. We lost power Thursday night, though it was restored by midnight. Somehow that still threw our Friday out of whack. I’m amused at how ‘delicate’ we are. I can remember going weeks without power due to hurricanes when I was younger and while it was certainly inconvenient, we just kind of rolled with it. These days, 6 hours without power made us crazy. Of course back in the old days not every activity I did required a screen, so there’s that.

Anyway, let’s get started.

Movie Night — This week we watched The Suicide Squad which we’d heard a lot of good things about. It didn’t resonate as well with us. @partpurple almost called it but she started enjoying it more after the half-way mark. I liked it more than she did, but it certainly wasn’t a favorite. I can chuckle at over-the-top gore for a while, but two hours of it got old. My favorite character was Sebastian, and for those who haven’t seen it, he is a rat. Like, a literal rat. I think that says enough about my feelings towards the movie.

Family TV — The highpoint of our whole week, in TV terms, was Friday night watching episode two of What If…? on Disney+, and episode 2 of The Lower Decks on Paramount+. Both were really good. We’re really impressed by the voice casts (as well as the stories) on What If…? and this episode of The Lower Decks had us howling with laughter. Both are animated shows. What If…? is a series of stand-alone alternate history shows for the Marvel Universe, and The Lower Decks is a comedic Star Trek spin-off about the lives of lower ranking crew on board a star ship. When The Lower Decks was announced I was sure I would HATE it since I’m pretty serious about Star Trek, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

Reading — Copy/paste from last week. Still on book 6 of The Saxon Stories series from Bernard Cornwell.

Gaming — I had a dumb gaming weekend. Thursday I finally re-subscribed to Final Fantasy XIV, but about 10 minutes after I did that the power went out. Friday I spent getting clients upgraded/installed on both PC and PS5, and tried to figure out where to roll a new character to get my feet wet. There is really no need for alts in FFXIV but the last time I came back I was so intimidated by the jobs and systems I’d forgotten about that I just bounced off completely. This time I decided I needed a new character so the game could re-teach me things and let me ease back in more gently.

Then I noticed that thanks to QuakeCon, the Elder Scrolls Online Blackwood expansion was on sale. I already own the expansion on Xbox but don’t know anyone else who plays there. I did have a friend playing on Playstation though, so even though I’m not nearly as advanced on that platform, I sprung for the expansion and a month of ESO Plus.

So now all of a sudden I have TWO MMO subscriptions. I spent a bunch of time researching a build for my ESO Dragonknight, and getting all the settings tweaked, plus doing the quest to get one of the Companions that Blackwood added.

And I started a new character on the Zalera server for FFXIV and got him rolling along, but now I’m kind of more interested in ESO. Typical me. I hate the forced grouping in FFXIV for dungeons. Social anxiety really spikes. ESO has grouping for dungeons too, of course, but they are optional and nothing is gated behind them (plus once you get powerful enough you can solo a lot of dungeons in Normal mode). What makes things worse for FFXIV is that if I play on the console (which is where I prefer to play) I run into the problem of no communication since, y’know, no keyboard.

I guess my next step is to get a cheap wireless USB keyboard for the PS5. It’d be useful for both FFXIV and ESO.

And because I guess I was operating under the delusion that we have plenty of disposable income these days, I ALSO bought the update/upgrade for Ghosts of Tsushima on the PS5, but thus far I haven’t even touched it. Clearly I need more gaming hours in my day!

So that was the weekend. Now we have another super hot week to get through, but September is ALMOST here. Also Gamescom is this week so there should be some gaming news to talk about to get us over the finish line of Blaugust.

Hope you’re all doing well!

Final Fantasy XIV Crash & Burn

The last time I wrote a proper post here was June 10th and at that point I’d been playing FFXIV for about 10 days. And until about a week or two ago, I’d been playing it every day, pretty much exclusively.

Then I skipped a day for some reason. And another day. Then I logged in for about 10 minutes and that was that. I may be done with FFXIV for now.

This always happens to me; it’s my cycle of Discovery, Ridiculous Enthusiasm (accompanied with “gonna play this 4-ever!” giddiness), The Routine and finally, the big DROP happens. I think I need to learn to acknowledge when playing has just become due to habit rather than desire, and maybe step back at that point. If I play a few times a week rather than every day maybe I can keep the enthusiasm up. Makes sense, but y’know, at my age I’m not sure I can learn new tricks.

They don’t look like trolls but believe me, they are.

What really killed FFXIV for me was the Horrible Hundred; the huge swathe of quests that happen after you finish A Realm Reborn and before you start Heavensward. During these (which took me a few weeks to get through) there is almost no multiplayer content. A few raids and dungeons, but mostly you run around doing fetch quests.

Back when these were new people were probably mixing them up with doing dungeons for fun, but with the “Road to 70” buff I was already so over-leveled that I didn’t want the XP that would come with doing anything extra. I just wanted to get to Heavensward so every night I’d log in, feeling vaguely irritated by how much these quests sucked, but determined to get through them.

And I did, finally. And then Heavensward began and it was more of the same. Heavensward, at launch, was meant to take characters from level 50 to level 60. I was level 60 before I started it, meaning now the Heavensward quests are trivial. The ‘correct’ course for me would be to level a 2nd job, and I thought about leveling a healer but now it’s been so long since I’ve done MP content that I’m facing my natural resistance to doing it. I was a social gamer for a while, though!

Plus as soon as I stopped logging into FFXIV I started remembering the 5,000 other games in my backlog, frontlog and sidelog. (OK I exaggerate a little.) I’ve been bouncing around from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to Dragon Quest Builders 2 and then to Days Gone (among others.).

The best thing about playing an MMO is that you save money on other games, but the worst thing about playing an MMO is that you miss out on so many other games.

My only real regret is that I bought TWO 60-day time cards in order to get two Fat Chocobo mounts for 2 characters and so my sub is paid through to something like October.

The good news for everyone else is that in patch 5.3 (which is out sometime later this year I believe) the developers are going to streamline this early content to make it faster to get through. There are no real details of that, but if you’re considering picking up FFXIV, I’d urge you to wait until 5.3. Right now the grind is really depressing. And despite what some will tell you, the story does NOT make it worth it. (Well obviously that’s my opinion.)

I had a good run, though. Hopefully before too long I’ll be ready to jump back in for a while. I do come out of it with some fond memories….

I don’t know these people but they invited me to their wedding, which was ADORABLE!
I joined a guild and lasted like 6 weeks before my inner introvert drove me to leave.
Of course eventually I gave in and created a Viera.

Final Fantasy XIV makes me a better person. Sort of.

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.

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. 🙁

Putzing around in Final Fantasy XIV

In a way I picked the worst time to return to Final Fantasy XIV. There’s a new expansion officially out on Tuesday and early access started Friday, I believe. Not only does this mean the servers are congested with login queues and disconnects, but the game was down for a full day. Once you get logged-in, dungeon queues for us LOLDPS noobs are extra long since the expansion added two new DPS jobs and lots of people are trying them out, ergo more LOLDPS dorks fighting over the slots made available by the tanks and healers.

All this would be fine if I’d come back for Stormblood (the new expansion) but I didn’t. FFXIV expansions are aimed very squarely at level-capped characters as far as I can tell. I haven’t bought the last expansion yet (there’s very little in it for people like me) let alone the new one. So first I have to “finish” the base game and then I can buy and play through Heavensward and only then will Stormblood be on my mind.

That time I was a girl…until some creep started sending gross tells.

So that’s a lot of bitching in a post I wanted to write because I’m having so much fun! In spite of the crowds and all that, I’m really glad I came back to the game. I’m playing it mostly on my terms, which means I’m not racing for level cap as fast as possible. I play FF XIV because I’m delighted in the world. It feels a little like a virtual Renaissance Faire to me, with the NPCs and their overwrought dialog, and of course all the crazy costumes.

So sometimes I ride my chocobo from one citystate to another just for the fun of seeing what I’ll see along the way. Today I decided to take up carpentry, and one of my first tasks was making maple shields. I could have purchased the material but where’s the fun in that? So I went off to train as a botanist so I could go gather maple logs to make into maple lumber. Then I needed bronze rivets, which required becoming a miner to gather copper and tin ore, then becoming a blacksmith to smelt that ore into bronze ingots, and from there to bronze rivets. Then I finally went back to the Carpentry Guild and made my shields.

Now clearly that’s not an efficient way to play and it’s not something I would do if I seriously wanted to level up carpentry, but for me it was fun to do. That’s pretty much my FF XIV philosophy: do what’s fun.

Now I DID join a Free Company (guild) after one of the Mentors reached out to me. She happened to contact me just as the Novice Network that I talked about a while ago took a turn for the worse as more and more noobs/returners piled in and started treating it like general chat. She told me her Free Company was a ‘learning FC’ so I joined. I’ve since learned that she just trolls the Novice Network for warm bodies, but it turns out I don’t care. I interact with them very little — the odd ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ — but I get some buffs from being in the FC and now I don’t constantly have to deflect random FC invites. I know they’re recruiting in an attempt to get enough people to do Stormblood content and that’s never going to be me, so I might get booted. Or maybe not. They all seem pretty chill. Whatever happens is fine. I guess they have a guild hall and stuff but I haven’t gone looking for it.

I had to do dungeons in order to unlock the ability to ride this cute and cuddle mount

One of my biggest beefs with FFXIV is that it forces grouping on you in order to unlock stuff like Chocobo riding. This time around I’m trying to roll with this stuff and it’s working OK. I’ve done 5 dungeons now and each has caused a little less anxiety. I’m getting better at targeting with the controller (I’m playing 100% on PS4) and I’ve been doing my homework and reading dungeon guides before I go into each one so I’ve at least had a clue as to what, if anything, I need to do special. So far (knock on wood) the PUGs I’ve been in have been silent beyond maybe a “Hi” at the start. No one has been yelling at anyone else. So far.

I bought a 60-day time card which at the time was kind of a bummer because I doubted I’d use all the time (I couldn’t find 30-day cards at Amazon) but it turns out I might. I mean I’ve still got a ways to go in the first month so things could change, but FFXIV might be what gets me through the summer gaming drought.

I have the toughest time paying attention to the orders that Minfilia gives me.

Final Fantasy XIV is really welcoming to us noobs

Through an unexpected sequence of events I won’t recount here, I’m back playing Final Fantasy XIV.

I have the weirdest history with FFXIV which I also won’t recount, but for all intents and purposes I went back to the game as a total noob. Couldn’t remember how to play so I rolled a new character and I’m playing exclusively on the PS4 (so far at least).

FFXIV has always indicated noobs (they use the more polite term Novice) by putting a little seedling icon next to the player name. You’re considered a novice for 168 hours (14 days) or until you hit some point in the story that I’ve already forgotten. I ~think~ it is the end of the main story questline from the original game at launch.

In addition to Novices, there are Mentors. Mentors are players who have offered to help Novices, but there are guidelines for who can become a Mentor. You have to have accomplished certain achievements in game and there are different types of Mentors (Trade Mentor, PvE Mentor, PvP Mentor or just plain Mentor). Here’s a list of Mentor requirements.

When a Mentor and a Novice group up, they both get a 20% experience bonus (up to level 20), so there’s an incentive for the two groups to interact.

Additionally there’s a persistent chat channel called the Novice Network. It’s only open to Novice players and Mentors. It’s supposed to be a channel for getting questions answered. The only flaw in the system I’ve seen so far is that a Novice has to be invited into the channel by a Mentor. My new character was level 20 or so by the time he’d encountered a Mentor to invite him in. I’m surprised Novices aren’t auto-joined to the channel.

There’s a new (to me anyway) NPC in the starting hubs called a Smith and they’ll tell you all about Novices and Mentors. At level 15 they’ll also direct you to the Hall of the Novice. This is essentially a series of solo mini-dungeons that teaches you how to play an MMO as your class. I’m an Archer so I got sent through the DPS series of tasks. The Hall taught me to avoid telegraphed attacks, taught me to attack the mob the (NPC) tank was tanking, taught me to pull adds off the healer, and so forth. I knew all this stuff but I imagine if this had been my first MMO rodeo the Hall would’ve been a great learning tool, plus you get some new gear for going through the mini-dungeons (you can do them all in maybe 30 minutes, tops).

If you don’t choose to do the Hall of the Novice at 15, you’ll get sent there before Sastasha, the first dungeon that you unlock. Since I’d already done the Hall, I’m not sure if doing it is mandatory before Sastasha or if it is just recommended.

In addition to being a Novice, you may be a Returner. A Returner is someone who has returned to the game. In order to qualify you have to have one class to at least level 50 and have been gone from the game for 45 days. Returners get the same bonus exp and access to the Novice network. They have a little flower next to their name.

I don’t usually interact with other players in MMOs (ironic, I know) but when I was randomly invited into the Novice Network I accepted. It’s a pretty active channel and at least for the short time I’ve been in it, quite civil. It’s definitely kind of chatty…I saw a long discussion about Pokemon games taking place in it. But when I did ask a question or two I always got an answer, and often several.

This experience drew me out of my shell a bit, and by Sunday afternoon I’d dug out a bluetooth keyboard so I could talk in the Novice Network more easily (typing with the controller isn’t ideal). I saw that there’s a linkshell that extends the Novice Network; I guess folks were making friends in the NN and then getting kicked out thanks to no longer being a novice, and so they created a player-run version to keep in touch.

This is the outfit that attracted creepy tells from some sleaze

I played a ton of FF XIV over the weekend and had 1 bad experience (playing a female character and having some creep sending my tells about how sexy I was) but other than that, my experience with the player base was very positive. I ran 3 dungeons, they all did not go perfectly, but no one was giving anyone grief about it.

Overall the way FF XIV welcomed me as a player kind of re-kindled my love of MMOs.

I switched over to a male character but I guess I just can’t help being dead sexy! 🙂

The mixed blessing of FF XIV’s cross-platform support

fat_chocoboFinal Fantasy XIV is unusual in that it is an online game where PC, PS3 & PS4 players all play together on the same server. If you have a FF XIV (and have purchased clients for multiple platforms) you can be playing on your PC, log out, go to the living room, turn on the Playstation and log in with that same character and keep on going.

In a lot of ways this is pretty awesome. At long last you can play on your preferred PC platform but still go adventuring with your friend who’s a devoted console player. Or if you’re like me you can just bounce back and forth between playing on the couch and in the office, depending on your mood.

But there’s a negative side to this as well. I actually prefer playing on the console but I have to confess I feel a little bit uptight about it, at least when it comes to group content. I LOVE doing solo quests on the Playstation but I’m just not as efficient with a controller as I am with mouse and keyboard, particularly when it comes to quickly targeting things. Partially this is a matter of practice but it’s hard to argue that anything is easier than just pointing and clicking with a mouse when you need to target a specific mob.

Then there’s communicating. If everyone in my group is on teamspeak then I’d have to drag out a laptop or something to log in. I can use a keyboard, of course, but that means setting the controller down when I want to say something. Perfectly acceptable while soloing but in a boss fight in a dungeon those lost seconds could be crucial.

If I was on a server that only had PS4 players everyone else (well most everyone else, it certainly IS possible to connect mouse and keyboard to the PS4 and play that way) would have the same disadvantage when it came to controls. Ideally the game would have native voice chat for parties so everyone could communicate that way, but if not we could use the Playstation’s Party Chat to communicate.

But I’m playing with PC players, and I suspect primarily PC players, and I’m really sensitive about screwing up other people’s enjoyment of a game. So when it comes time to do group content (and FF XIV forces you to do group content if you want to advance the story and unlock things like using mounts) my enthusiasm for the game wanes. I don’t want to be fumbling around trying to target the right mob while the rest of my group is doing all the work, and I don’t want to be that guy who never speaks because I can’t fight with the controller and use the keyboard at the same time.

I’m really looking forward to Planetside 2 on the PS4 and Neverwinter on the Xbox One, because both are games I’ve enjoyed and (as far as I know) both intend to silo players so that everyone you’re playing with will be on console. Hopefully both will also come with native voice chat support.

In the meanwhile, back in FF XIV, I’d love for Square Enix to add some kind of ‘solo mode’ for the required storyline dungeons so that players like me can at least get through them and unlock chocobos and such. This weekend I started leveling my 8th or 9th character. I always get to It’s Probably Pirates (the first required dungeon) and quit playing. And oddly even though this is my 8th or 9th time through low level content I still really enjoy my time in that world.

I guess I should bite the bullet and play through that content on the PC and just get it over with, because I want to ride my chubby chocobo!