Archives for posts with tag: Final Fantasy XIV


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.


Recently, I wrote about my return to the time-sink that is Destiny after almost two years away from the game, and it seems as if there must be something in the water; just this weekend, I returned to the realm of Eorzea more than three years after I last logged into Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

Though there are similarities here – both games are persistent worlds that require a large investment of time and a willingness to group up with others – the situations surrounding me leaving each game were quite different: where Destiny disappointed as much as it thrilled, I loved A Realm Reborn right from the get-go. I took part in phase 3 of the game’s closed beta on PlayStation 3, pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition, bought a PS4 almost solely to play the upgraded version, and even had a small series on here, called ‘Postcards from Eorzea’.

But around April 2014 – not long after I’d upgraded to the PS4 version – I just drifted away from the game. From the official launch on PS3, I’d been playing with a good friend, levelling and running dungeons together, spending hours working on our digital avatars almost daily, and eventually, that friend decided that he didn’t want to pay the sub anymore. I understood, of course: a subscription MMO is a commitment, after all, and if you’ve paid for access you feel like you have to play the game as much as possible. These games have a habit of monopolising your time.

After my friend quit, I tried to soldier on for a bit. I had a group of fellow Eurogamer forumites that I’d chat with in our Linkshell, but they were all far more hardcore than me, and so were much further ahead in the game. It just wasn’t the same. So I stopped, and I’ve honestly missed it ever since. I’d still pay attention to news from the game, I’d sometimes look back through my captured screenshots and reminisce over some of the beautiful landscapes that make up the continent of Eorzea, but I didn’t have any plans to come back. So what’s changed?

My interest in Final Fantasy XIV was reignited in a big way when noclip’s excellent three-part documentary covering the game’s development was released just last week. Most people that follow the game will know that the original iteration of Final Fantasy XIV – what Square Enix now refer to as “1.0” – was an absolute disaster, with then-CEO Yoichi Wada going so far as to claim its launch “greatly damaged” the Final Fantasy brand as a whole. Square Enix embarked on an ambitious plan to not only continue to support 1.0, but secretly make an entirely new version of the game under new director Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida, dubbed A Realm Reborn. The three-part documentary from noclip is an excellent, in-depth look at the death and rebirth of Square’s latest MMO, and I’m honestly quite surprised how open members of the development team were allowed to be in their interviews. It’s well worth a watch even if you aren’t particularly interested in visiting Eorzea.

However, the main reason behind my decision to dive back in actually does relate to Destiny, in a somewhat round-about way. If you read my piece about going back to that game (and I am still playing! I’ve recently picked up Rise of Iron and am currently trying to get my hunter up to the required level to do the Wrath of the Machine raid), you’ll remember that I joined a group on the100 – a good group of chaps united under the banner of Town Called Malice. One of the players there has also dabbled in Final Fantasy XIV in the past, and had also expressed an interest in going back. So now I had someone to go adventuring with! I was heading back to Eorzea.

I considered grabbing the Starter Edition on PC, as it’s currently £7.99 in the Steam summer sale; I already have the PS4 client installed (and it took an entire evening to update!), but I quite liked the idea of splitting my play time between the two platforms. However, I remembered that I’d once bought a Square Enix mystery box which contained a Windows license that I never redeemed – I was fairly sure I wouldn’t be playing the game again, back then. So I searched my inbox, and found the email containing my keys from the Holiday Surprise box bought in December 2015. Sure enough, there was a key for A Realm Reborn, but with it being a year-and-a-half old, I wondered if it might have expired. I headed to Mog Station, redeemed the code, and was granted a Windows license and a thirty-day sub! So I’m back in the game without having to spend a single gil!

As my original character, Khroma Midgard, was a male Elezen bard on the Odin server, I decided to roll something different this time. Please welcome Khroma Moonsong, a Conjurer on Louisoix.

I created a pink-haired catgirl. Yes, I know, I’m a walking cliche.

Ahem. Anyway, on my previous character I had played Archer up until Bard (levelling Pugilist along the way to unlock the Bard job, of course), as well as playing Conjurer up to level 17 and dabbling in a bit of Weaving. This time, I want to focus more on healing, so Conjurer is going to be my main class until I can get into White Mage at level 30 (I’ll obviously have to get Arcanist up to 15 as well!). I think playing supports so much in Overwatch has conditioned me to dish out the heals rather than the DPS!

So far I’m still in Gridania, and it feels like the pace of levelling has been increased somewhat – after just a few hours I’ve already hit level 10, and though the last time I did this was almost four years ago, things do seem to be moving at a much faster pace than I remember. I’m guessing this is done to help newcomers get up to speed for the recently-released Stormblood; now that Final Fantasy XIV is two expansions deep, I suppose the dev team want to offer new players an easier ramp up to the late-game content and encourage them to get into the newer stuff.

I don’t know what’s possessed me recently and made me dive back into two games that demand so much of your time, especially when I’m struggling to get through single players games (I still need to finish Nier Automata, Mass Effect Andromeda and Breath of the Wild) and my backlog continues to grow (Oh hi Valkyria Revolution!), but right now, all I seem to want to do is wander through these populated, persistent worlds. Hopefully this time, I’ll actually be able to make it through the base 2.0 storyline, and then I can think about moving onto Heavensward! This time, I’m planning to stick with it. And who knows, maybe I’ll even revive Postcards from Eorzea!

It’s been a bit dead here recently. I blame it on the heatwave (seriously, it’s horrible!), and definitely not laziness. No, definitely not that.

There’s also been little for me to write about – I write about things that interest me, and there seems to be precious little of that about recently. Bizarre, considering we’re staring down the launch of two new consoles at the end of the year, but there you have it. One subject that always manages to grab my attention however is Final Fantasy, and today we have some new details on the forthcoming Final Fantasy XIII sequel, Lightning Returns.

First up, we’ve got a new trailer which shows off some of Lightning’s costumes – remember that in Lightning Returns, you can change costumes mid-battle to switch up abilities and specialities, much like the Dressphere system in Final Fantasy X-2. To me, some of these costumes(including a purple outfit seen in the new trailer below) look more like something Serah might have worn.

The more costumes the development team show off, the more I get a sense that they’ve taken a fairly strong female character and turned her into a bit of a barbie doll that you can play dress-up with. Which brings me onto the image below.

lightningmiqote

What… just… what??

Ok, I get what’s happening here. This is Lightning dressed as a member of Final Fantasy XIV‘s cat-people race, the Miqo’te. Square-Enix is trying to cross-promote two of its upcoming games, and given Lightning can switch costumes in her game, it’s logical that they do so by giving her a costume from the upcoming MMO. All of that makes perfect sense, and generally I’d be happy to see a bit of cross-pollination between the two – I’m looking forward to both, and previously wrote about how much I’ve enjoyed playing the FFXIV beta.

But this just doesn’t fit her character at all. Lightning has always come across as stoic, determined and strong (maybe cold, detached and boring if you’re not a fan), but she’s never been overtly sexy or flirtatious. I don’t think she will be in Lightning Returns either, going by the trailers we’ve seen up to this point – she seems every bit as serious as her other appearances, so this just strikes me as even more incongruous. Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive, but what’s the point in developing a character and then portraying them in ways that are utterly at odds with their personality?

Anyway, moving on, a post on the Square-Enix Blog detailed some additions to the battle system. Lightning can now counter enemy attacks by timing her own, leading to a critical hit that has the potential to stagger enemies. There are a couple of caveats here: you can only counter physical attacks (magic is immune) and it claims a large chunk of your ATB gauge, so you won’t be able to spam it in the hopes of landing a crit. Lightning can also destroy sections of some monsters, which will not only weaken your enemy but also affect the item drop you’ll receive at the end of the battle.

yusnaan

There’s also the above screenshot of Yusnaan, described as “the city of revelry”. This image focuses on an area known as the Slaughterhouse, where combatants battle one another nightly in a brutal arena. So basically it’s a colliseum. How this feature will tie into the ticking clock at the heart of Lightning Returns‘ 13-day countdown is yet to be explained – will time freeze while we’re fighting in the Slaughterhouse?

Despite my misgivings regarding Lightning’s portrayal in some costumes, I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. The battle system is the main draw for me here; with Lightning being the only playable character and a system that includes counters and debilitating foes by disabling parts of them, it sounds very different to what we expect from a typical Final Fantasy title. Spin-offs and sequels are of course the perfect ground for Square-Enix to experiment and see what works, before bringing those features to bear in the main numbered series.

I also have to admit that I am unashamedly a fan of Lightning – my main gripe of Final Fantasy XIII-2 was that she was barely in it – so it’ll be nice to see her step back into the leading role when Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII launches next February.

Source: Square-Enix Blog

Square-Enix have shown off the first screens of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn for PS3, and after the glorious PC stills and footage we’ve seen, it’s not hard to be a teeny bit disappointed.

Granted, it’s only mildly disappointing in comparison to those screens, and I doubt anyone was expecting anything approaching parity with a high-end PC game. It’s still a very nice-looking game, if a little jaggy – hopefully the final game will look a little cleaner, especially given the amount of detail on display in the screenshot above.

One of the screens also gives us a glimpse of the console version’s UI, which looks somewhat reminiscent of the PS3’s XMB system… of which I am not a fan. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, and perhaps it’ll be useful to have a UI I am at least familiar with when I’m trying to get to grips with my first MMO.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn will launch on both PC and Playstation 3 in 2013.

Gamesradar have posted an excerpt from an interview with Final Fantasy XIV‘s producer/director Naoki Yoshida in which they question the Square-Enix man on the likelihood of a PS Vita version. The answer? Well, read the title again. It’s not looking positive.

Speaking at Gamescom in Cologne, Yoshida talked up the scalability of XIV‘s engine, noting that this is the main reason the team is able to port the game to PS3. The Gamesradar journo followed up this comment by asking if this might mean a Vita port is feasible. “Technically it’ll probably work – you could scale it down and get it running,” he said, following up with less positive words: “The problem is that in an MMO one of the most important things is the network and so, you know, if you’re in a party with a lot of different people in a raid and someone’s on the Vita and they have a very… you know, it’s not a stable network connection then you’re going to be a nuisance to your party members. So global internet networks need to be better.”

I can understand that – the Vita has no ethernet port, after all, and WiFi can be spotty at times. A wired connection makes sense for an entirely online game.  But Yoshida has another concern: “And then also, just more people need to buy the Vita”.

Not a week goes by without some doom and gloom story regarding the handheld’s install base (Joystiq today reported that 2.2 million Vitas were sold, worldwide, as of June 30th this year), and even as a happy owner, the din is often hard to ignore. It’s a valid complaint, too, as developers are unlikely to set aside resources for a chance to sell to a fraction of two million. This comment from Naoki Yoshida further highlights the dilemma.

Stepping aside from the Vita’s predicament and getting back on topic, I must say that the idea of Final Fantasy XIV on Playstation Vita certainly intrigues me. I’ve never played an MMO (even though I’ve read about many over the years, and was initially very excited for Phantasy Star Online prior to the Dreamcast’s launch), but I am planning on dipping my toe into the genre with the PS3 version of XIV – mainly because I have a group of like-minded friends to form a noob party with. But if it was also available on Vita and I could migrate saves between both? I’d likely put in double the hours (and potentially lose whatever semblance of a social life I still have).

Perhaps Yoshida is quietly awaiting the Vita version of Phantasy Star Portable 2 to see how the machine handles an MMO? Maybe he’s waiting for more people to buy the console? Or maybe he hadn’t even considered the idea of XIV on Vita until Gamesradar prompted him. Only one of those possibilities is even remotely positive, and Sony are going to have their work cut out for them to resolve those issues. I hope they can, as I want to see the Vita exploited to its fullest potential.

Read more:
http://www.gamesradar.com/final-fantasy-xivs-naoki-yoshida-says-more-people-need-buy-vita/?comment_ordering=oldest_first
http://www.joystiq.com/2012/08/20/vita-sales-august-2012/