Archives for posts with tag: Eorzea

Back in July of last year, I wrote about my return to Final Fantasy XIV‘s realm of Eorzea, after some time away. I thought it was about time to update where I am with the game, but first: a short recap.

I first played FFXIV when it was in beta phase 3, which is when Square Enix let in PlayStation 3 players for the first time. I’d never played an MMO before, though I had been tempted, but being a big Final Fantasy fan, I decided this was the one to break my duck. It also helped that a friend also wanted to play, and though he didn’t get into the beta, we both picked up the game at launch, and I rolled a male elezen archer called Khroma Midgard.

Before long, I’d joined a Eurogamer forum-based Free Company and got through a handful of dungeons, but my friend drifted away from the game as he wasn’t a fan of the ongoing subscription. My other guildies had also rushed ahead of me, and though I’m sure they’d have been willing, I didn’t want to ask for help, as I felt I’d be holding them back. Though I managed to advance him to Bard, I abandoned poor Khroma Midgard at Haukke Manor, never to return, never to run that dungeon.

Though I’d managed to put over a hundred hours into my first ever MMO, it always bothered me that I hadn’t finished the Main Scenario. And I sure as heck missed that world; I’d drop in from time to time – one such time being when I bought a PS4 and received a free upgrade to that version of the game – but I found that everyone else had moved on to other Free Companies or servers. At that point, I basically dropped the game entirely, occasionally casting glances at content patches and update news, but not meaning to return.

So what changed? I returned to the game partly because of Noclip’s excellent documentary series into the game’s turnaround, helmed by Naoki Yoshida, but mainly because a member of the Destiny group I joined last year, who had also played FFXIV in the past, expressed an interest in returning. An interest in starting again. It was the perfect opportunity for me to do the same, only this time on PC. So I re-subbed. And then I created a new avatar, one that would represent a new beginning, while also calling back to my original adventurer in Eorzea. I made a female Miqo’te healer, and as she was a Keeper of the Moon, I named her Khroma Moonsong.

khroma moonsong

So, after nine months back, what have I achieved? Well, I joined a new Free Company right from the off this time – indeed, I think I was the fourth player to join – I’ve become a White Mage, and I’ve long since passed my previous roadblock of Haukke Manor. I’m now less afraid to ask for help from my fellow Free Company members, most likely because they’re made up mostly of members of the Eurogamer Discord community, so I find myself interacting with them daily outside of the game. I’m still far behind everyone else – I’m just slow at games, okay? – but I know I can always ask for help when I reach a dungeon or trial.

My goal for last year was to finally finish the A Realm Reborn 2.0 Main Scenario, which I didn’t quite manage. But I’m almost there now; the last thing I did in-game is defeat Rhitahtyn sas Arvina, one of the main antagonist’s most ardent followers. What stands between me and the end of the game I started more than four-and-a-half years ago is two eight-player dungeons. I’m nearly there! I hope to finally finish this very soon, and will update when I do. After that, I have more quests to do before tackling both expansions. Can I get Stormblood finished before the next expansion comes? Maybe that should be my next goal!

As for our Free Company, Eorzean Gaolers (EG, for Eurogamer, geddit?), we’ve grown a bit since I first joined. We’re now up to 19 members (though a few of those are lapsed), and it’s been really enjoyable for me to help newcomers to the game learn the ropes and get through dungeons; there are plenty of great guides out there, but what I feel a lot of higher-level players forget is that sometimes us newbies don’t really get MMOs. Often it can help to discuss early-game stuff with players who have walked that same path, and it’s really rewarding to help people see how much fun they could be having in Eorzea. Especially as the game now has an incredibly generous trial period, meaning new players are always joining in.

We’ve also since bought our own Company Estate in the Goblet, and after a lot of grinding for Grand Company seals (and having to suffer through the Aurum Vale with a random tank and DPS, ooh lordy never again), I finally managed to get my own room in the house a little over a week ago.

khroma's lunarium

Now I just need to spend tens of thousands of gil decorating it. So far, I’ve changed the floor and walls (as a Conjurer of Stillglade Fane, I needed to bring a bit of Gridania with me to the Goblet, so went with a bit of greenery), and added a Glade Fringed Rug, a few Hingan benches, and a bed. It’s a bit spartan at the moment, but I want to add to it over time, rather than throw a load of stuff in there and then decide I don’t like half of it in a couple of months. Anyway, there’s no rush as I still have tonnes of content to play through, and right now, there’s an in-game event to celebrate Hinamatsuri that awards a Far Eastern doll display. I guess I’ll put that in there when I get it.

Out in the real world, I now have the FFXIV lorebook Encyclopaedia Eorzea, as well as all of the excellent art books, including the latest Stormblood book. I’ve glanced through that and the two Heavensward books (while trying to avoid spoilers!) and I’d say they’re an absolute must for fans of the game, filled with beautiful art and concept pieces from across four years of Final Fantasy XIV. It’s safe to say I’m in deep now, and this time I don’t intend to get drawn away from Eorzea again. (Also, I really want this)

I’ll most likely post another update when I finally finish the 2.0 questline (hopefully this week or next!), but for now, here’s one more shot of Khroma, lazing in her room, with her ever-faithful Relm minion close at hand.

khroma relm bed

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I’m a little more than a fortnight into my new Eorzean adventure, so I thought I’d post a little update on my progress.

In the time since my last post, I’ve joined a Free Company, run the first three ‘beginner’ dungeons of Sastasha Seagrot, The Tam Tara Deepcroft and the Copperbell Mines with a mix of fellow guildies and randoms – god bless the Duty Finder, which immediately put myself and a tanking friend into a couple of instances – and progressed past level 30. Having joined the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, I’m now heading towards a showdown with the Primal Ifrit, and reeeaaally looking forward to getting my chocobo soon. Because sod running about everywhere.

Upon hitting level 30, I was given a million gil and fifteen extra days of game time, which is very handy as I wouldn’t have been able to re-sub until the end of the month. And while waiting for FC members to run Sastasha, I also decided to try out some other classes; on my previous character I was a level 33 Bard, 17 Conjurer, 15 Pugilist and level 9 Weaver, so I decided to try a couple of different classes this time, just to see how they felt. So I’m now a level 31 Conjurer, 11 Thaumaturge and a level 6 Arcanist. If anything, trying these classes out has just reaffirmed that I want to continue on with my Conjurer until she’s ready to progress to White Mage.

Hanging out at Aleport, waiting for a Sastasha run

I’ve also since grabbed the Stormblood expansion, which included Heavensward, from CDKeys for just £15, so I guess I’m in for the long haul now. I’m still really enjoying my time with Final Fantasy XIV, and though I’m still a fair way away from where I was before (I was waiting to run Haukke Manor with members of my old Odin FC at the time), once I get there, I’ve got a hell of a lot of new content in front of me. Of course, it’s been a bit of a different experience anyway, seeing as I’m maining a healer this time rather than ranged DPS – I had played Conjurer to level 17 on my old character, but I don’t think I actually ran any dungeons on that class – and it certainly felt fresh, creeping through Sastasha while keeping tabs on a group’s HP (who am I kidding, I was basically the tank’s pocket healer!).

I’ve got some work to do before I can become a White Mage, however. It used to be that you needed a second class at level 15 to progress to a full job – in the case of White Mage, you needed Conjurer at 30 and Arcanist at 15 – but things have changed while I’ve been away from the game. I’m actually not sure how I progress now, but I know I have to be at least level 30 and to have completed a certain main scenario quest – I think it was a quest to do with the Sylph tribe, and all I can remember about them is endless dancing… /dance

Hopefully I can make White Mage before poor Khroma dances herself to death.

In other news, I’ve also been playing the recently-released Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, which I just couldn’t get into back on the PS2. I played for about 12 hours, made it to the Imperial Dreadnought after a meeting with Marquis Ondore, and just left it there. Whether it was the story, the characters or the gameplay, FFXII just didn’t grab me back in 2006, yet this time I’m absolutely loving it. I think the fact that it was so different from Final Fantasy X put me off a bit, and the perception that it was an ‘offline MMO’ didn’t help things much. Having actually played an MMO in the intervening years, however, they really don’t have many similarities in my opinion. If anything, FFXII‘s ‘Active Dimension Battle’ system makes me think more of realtime with pause systems seen in western RPGs. I had wondered quite how I’d manage, playing both Final Fantasys XII and XIV at the same time, but I needn’t have worried – it actually feels fantastic to be playing two expansive fantasy-based instalments with plenty of lovely Akihiko Yoshida design work informing the look and feel of both worlds.

Square Enix have done a great job with this remaster.

The Zodiac Age features a ‘speed mode’ option, which allows you to speed up the action by either two or four times, and using that to zoom through the more mundane sections of Final Fantasy XII – like dungeon combat against trash mobs – means that I made it back to the Dreadnought in around seven hours, rather than my previous 12 or so, and I’ve even been taking my time to more thoroughly explore towns and other environments this time out. It’s a fantastic quality of life improvement that has helped me to genuinely fall in love with Final Fantasy XII – something I never thought would happen, and certainly not 11 years after its initial release. I thought at best that I’d feel more favourably toward this most idiosyncratic episode in one of my favourite series, so the fact that I feel this positive about it is an absolutely wonderful thing; having played so little of XII in the past, it may as well be a new Final Fantasy game to me.

One thing that’s still a bit of a mystery to me is the Gambit system. I thought I had my head around it in the early hours, but upon arriving at Bhujerba, hoping to rescue Penelo in the Lhusu Mines, I happened to stop in a Gambit shop and dear god, the options I saw in there. There must have been hundreds of them! I’m going to have to do my homework and figure out more than just useful early-game Gambits, because that shop made my head spin at the potential intricacies of the system. My next stop is King Raithwall’s Tomb, but I think I’ll need to do a bit of housekeeping before I set out, and try to properly wrap my loaf around Gambits. It feels exciting though, rather than a chore; can I get my battle party working like a well-oiled machine without me even needing to intervene? Time will tell!

No you’re not, Vaan. Stop being a silly billy.

It feels good to be so fully immersed in the Final Fantasy series again. I was cautiously optimistic about XV in the lead-up to its release, and I did find a lot to like in the final product, but even though they’re each very distinct within the wider Final Fantasy canon, XII and XIV are giving me all kinds of nostalgic, old-school FF feelings. I’d love to see another Matsuno take on a big-budget Final Fantasy, or to see what Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida could do with an offline instalment. Who knows what the future holds? With Yoshida’s MMO going from strength to strength (and with a Matsuno-penned, Ivalice-themed raid on the way!) and Final Fantasy XII finding a new audience, I’m genuinely excited for the future of Square Enix and their marquee series.

/happy
It’s been a few days now since I restarted my journey in Eorzea, and so far, so good; I’m loving the experience all over again and really wishing I hadn’t quit at all three years ago. I’m still taking my conjurer through her paces in Gridania, but progressing rapidly.

I did wonder, when selecting CNJ, if I might get a little weary of the Black Shroud; Gridania was my starting city last time after all, so I’ve spent many an hour wandering beneath its boughs. I needn’t have worried; I loved the forest then, and I love it now. Gridania had always felt like a second home to me and I missed it sorely in my time away. It feels like coming home.

I’m also really loving the pace of things. I mentioned in my previous piece that leveling seems to have been sped up dramatically – I’m getting a 100% xp bonus for everything I do – and after just ten hours, some of which I’ve just spent wandering around, soaking in the atmosphere, I’m already at level 18! I’m sure things will begin to slow down at least a little bit soon enough, now that I’m into levels that require tens of thousands of xp, but right now, I’m flying.

Everything feels much faster paced, which I appreciate having done all this before, and it means there’s much less downtime; where previously I might have needed to grind out a level or two in order to accept my next main quest, I’m now significantly ahead of the curve and free to just carry on with the story. Don’t get me wrong, there was always plenty to do to help you level up, such as taking on levequests, participating in FATEs or filling out your hunting log, but this time I’ve barely touched any of that content, relying mainly on main and side quests to shoot through the levels. I did finish off my tier one hunting log though, if only for old time’s sake.

Gridania has always been beautiful

Not everything is smooth sailing though. I’m playing the game across both PC and PS4, and each platform comes with its own set of hurdles for me to tackle. As I’m playing on a laptop, I’m finding target selection a bit of a pain thanks to the machine’s trackpad – there’s just not enough travel there for me to quickly and reliably switch targets. On console, I managed to remember that handy ‘L1+R2’ combo to switch to the next nearest enemy, but I can’t remember how to reliably target allies – a bit of a problem when you’re a healer! I suppose on the PC side I could increase my trackpad sensitivity – and it’s something I’ll probably play around with – but I think I’d be better off buying a USB mouse (seeing as i can’t seem to find one anywhere! I’m sure I had loads of the little buggers knocking about…). As for targeting allies in PS4, well… I’d better figure that out before I hit my first dungeon!

One thing that made me feel genuinely stupid happened late last night, though. I’d forgotten to log out in a sanctuary, so jumped back on for a few minutes to get my Miqo back to the Carline Canopy – she deserved a nice soft bed for the night, and I needs that sweet rested bonus. I entered the Carline Canopy and jumped on a table to dance for a minute while I checked something else (there weren’t even any sylphs around), and while I was occupied I heard a notification sound. Someone sitting at the next table over had sent me a tell. “Hello,” said a fellow adventurer called Peregrin Took. “New to the game, or coming in from another server?”

‘Well that’s pretty nice’, I thought, ‘I’ll reply!’ Now, I was on PS4 at this point, and I know it’s been almost three years since I last played this regularly, but I’m not kidding when I say it took me the better part of five awkward minutes, standing motionless on that bloody table, before I figured out how to do that. Well okay, maybe three minutes to figure that out, and another two to type a message out using the PS4’s on-screen keyboard. I mentioned before that I used to be in a fairly busy linkshell – indeed, some days I’d just sit for an hour or more talking in-game – but when I used to do that, I’d have a USB keyboard plugged into my PS3. I’m going to have to dig that out again – luckily, unlike the mouse, that hasn’t gone walkabout!

It’s all a learning process though, even if it’s mostly *re* learning stuff I once knew and have since forgotten. The important thing is that I’m back in Eorzea, and I don’t ever want to leave again.