Final Final Fantasy (For Now)
I gave FF14 six months. But I just can’t take it anymore.
Obviously I did not play it as my primary game, else I would not have ended at level 42. That had less to do with my motivation and more to do with the fact that it simply isn’t fun. There is zero satisfying about FF14’s combat – none of the attacks have any weight, and it’s all just flashing lights and high-pitched screeches. I might have been able to get over that, if questing had any meaning. But it doesn’t. Maybe WoW has “corrupted” me into believing one should be able to traverse a narrative without mandatory grinding breaks, but that’s what on offer here.
The final straw was more recent. The day before, I was once again stuck a third of the way into level 41 and the Main Story Request required level 42 to continue. I joined a group of three friends and we ran a dungeon and guildhest in order to get enough XP to get over the hump. The next day, I played through 3-4 MSQs and once again got stuck halfway to the required level 43. So, I queued up in the LFG equivalent and started playing around on my phone.
Then, 23 minutes later, the queue popped. It was a one-boss, no-trash encounter. No loot, shit XP. Fantastic. I queued again, and 17 minutes got into a more traditional dungeon. Except by the time I got to the end of it, I still had not leveled up. I was halfway to 43 with full rested XP at the start, and still needed 25% of a bar to go.
People complain about questing in WoW where you out-level the quests in a zone before reaching the end, but the alternative is apparently completing a zone and then farming public quests/dungeons for days. No thank you.
There is always a chance that I come back a year or whatever down the road. Perhaps after Square Enix fixes their dumbass game design. But for now, I am done. Yearly attempt over.
[FFXIV] The Long Road
Implausibly, I continue to pay for a FFXIV subscription.
In the last week or so, I have made some progress both in the story and in the Job system, hitting level 35. It is slow going though, as I do not consider the game anywhere near the top of my evening entertainment preferences. I will typically play for about an hour or two, run into so kind of roadblock, and then log off and play something else.
The roadblocks are generally the pointlessly forced dungeons – I seriously had to run a dungeon because the Main Story Quest called for cheese, literal cheese – but I am also running into level breakpoints too. My understanding was that XP was sped up so that the sidequests were no longer necessary to complete. That seemed to be true under level 30, but since then, I have consistently been between 50%-60% of a full level behind.
So, yeah, do those sidequests.
Story-wise, I have certainly hit that stage at which the plot supposedly picks up. And it certainly has, comparatively. I do find that the greater focus on Empire soldiers is more able to keep my attention. Traditional fantasy is not especially interesting to me, except when it tends towards more grimdark themes or “realism.” Fantasy + Magi-Tek shenanigans though, have been interesting to me since I first booted up FF6 in my SNES.
Gameplay-wise, not much has changed. My Archer is now a Bard, and that means… more damage cooldowns. I do actually enjoy having group buffs, as it reminds me of the old WoW paladin days. Beyond that, combat is formulaic, boring, and completed in a daze-like trance 100% of the time. It’s still worlds better than my experience as Monk, but I think most of that is because melee in FFXIV feels terrible. And that is probably mostly to do with the high-pitched squeals and screen-flashes that constitute FFXIV attacks. Nothing feels particularly weighty or anchored to the world.
While the sale has since closed, Amazon and a few other places had the Stormblood expansion on sale for $25. I was tempted to purchase it for all of two seconds. The very real problem is that I am ages away from even getting to the end of the ARR storyline, let alone getting to the required Heavensward stuff (which is thankfully included in Stormblood). There is no guarantee that I make it to level 50 at my current pace, so it seems a bit silly to be buying expansions. At the same time, not buying the expansion sort of depresses my desire to hit the end of the road, as that would mean either taking a break until the next sale or giving up.
Oh, well. I shall continue as time and interest permits.
Main Story Sidequest
Against all odds, I remain playing FF14. Some days. For about an hour or two at a time.
Had I stuck with the Pugilist, I would have unsubscribed a month ago. Instead, I decided to try out the Archer and… I’m actually having fun. Usually. The mobility of instant-casts makes up for a lot of what I can only describe as the “jankiness” of FF14’s combat system. No attacks seem to have any weight to them – they are all high-pitched squeals and brightly flashing lights.
There is also an extremely noticeable delay in state-based attacks. For example, the Archer has a Kill Shot/Execute ability that’s off the global cooldown which triggers at 20% HP. Which is fine… except that it always lights up almost a full second after the target is below 20%. Combined with the default 2.5 second GCD, and enemy attack animations not being synced with their damage, the game feels like you’re playing with 250ms lag all the time.
I continue to slog through things though, because everyone talks about the fantastic story.
Know what I did on Monday? I /danced with some Sylphs to earn their trust. Then did some fetch quests for said Sylphs. Then helped out a bar owner, which involved talking to half a dozen people around the world to find out where a particular NPC went so I could return an earring. Then I helped the NPC make some liquor as a gift. Then went on a side quest to catch a traitor in the woods, ostensibly as something to do to pass the time. Finally, I found the the missing Sylph elder hiding (spoilers!) in another mandatory dungeon.
Best. Writing. Ever.
It really isn’t. I’m too committed to seeing this experiment to its conclusion, to see for myself if there is any redeeming value in playing FF14 for its story, to quit now. But I really, really want to. I have to imagine that SWTOR would be a better use of my time at this point.
Still, I shall overcome. With active, conscious effort.