Putting a bookmark in Final Fantasy XIV


Needs more beard.

After, what, three-and-a-half months, I think I’m ready to put a bookmark in Final Fantasy XIV. I’m not burned out on it, not really, but I feel as though I’ve gotten my fill of it and that I was getting close to playing out of obligation rather than desire. That always sets off a yellow warning light in my head, so I’d rather be proactive (and save a little money) than push forward.

It’s a shame, too, because I’m not in a bad place at all. I found an absolutely terrific guild that made me feel quite welcome and probably contributed greatly to any conflicted feelings that I’m having right now. I was also almost through 2.55 content, which meant that I could soon roll my Mechinist and head into Heavensward stuff. And it’s not as though I was hating the game — I wouldn’t have played it for this long of a stretch if I did.

But as someone noted recently, I’m a guy who’s almost always on the move with MMOs. Sometimes my stays are long, sometimes short, but when it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on.


I want this quote on my tombstone.

It’s not hard to identify why my roots in FFXIV started to retract and pull up from its soil. I was frustrated that it took so long to play a class that I should’ve had access to as early as the other jobs, especially considering that I’d have to level the Mechanist from 30 anyway. So there was mild resentment all the way through the 2.x stuff that I was doing this to be able to play what I wanted.

But far more than that was the story. Yes — that much-lauded story that FFXIV fans can’t seem to help but bring up every third sentence. I think there’s a lot of acclaim to be given to the narrative, to be fair. You really do get a deep sense of these characters, their motivations, their journeys. I didn’t like every one of them (ahem, Minfilia), but I often found myself entertained and even occasionally moved. FFXIV takes its time to tell the story it wants without rushing players through with bite-sized text boxes.


However, a little urgency and focus is needed with this game’s tale, at least through what I encountered. It takes far, far too long to get going or for anything interesting to happen. And even when it does, it gets so horribly repetitive that I started making up a FFXIV cutscene drinking game in my free time. Take a drink for every stoic nod, every nod at a nod, every time a character clenches a fist under a chin, every time you are recalled to Rising Sands/Vesper Bay, every time a new primal threat is mentioned, every time all of the Scions crowd into the room for a meeting, every time a Lalafell does a starfish gesture with all limbs, etc.

By the time I got to where I left off in the game, I realized — and I am not exaggerating here — that I was spending maybe one minute of actual play time to every four or so of cutscenes. Cutscenes that never met an editor, but just ran on and on, dredging up past conversations, making you listen to characters slowly get to the point, and — worst of all — making you click on every. Single. Chat. Box. That. Pops. Up.

FFXIV, you need an option to progress through cutscenes without the player’s constant prompts, especially when the scenes are fully voiced. I can’t imagine having to do this in TSW or SWTOR.


Why are kids in charge of cities and nations again? I mean, they’re cute and all, but they really should be in kindergarten instead.

With some judicious editing, the story could’ve been a lot tighter and far more interesting. Again, there’s some GREAT beats along the way, particularly when the game stops trying to enact a one-room play in Minfilia’s office. But I got so tired of just bouncing from cutscene to cutscene with little to do between other than travel from one place to another to prompt the next cutscene. I know this will sound hypocritical when applied to other MMOs, but I felt so much more on rails here than I normally do in theme park games with a main storyline.

A guildie and I were talking about how we didn’t necessarily feel like being part of the Scions, yet nobody deigned to ask our characters. We would certainly opt out if we could, but instead we’re being forced to do the bidding of all of these characters who keep rewarding us with unnecessary praise and hero worship.


This was the single greatest tome that I ever got in this game. The eyes moved and everything.

I don’t want to end my current FFXIV run sounding like I am chewing on nothing but sour grapes. But I felt like I needed to explain why my interest, if not snapped, then eroded below the threshold of wanting to keep a subscription up. It was a good few months and an interesting journey all around.


For now, I’ll impart to you this good advice: Stay away from strange beams shooting out of heroes’ hands.

FFXIV: Scenes from the Lalafell underground


Random screenshots from my adventures through FFXIV along with some commentary!

We’ll start with what I thought was a neat shot of the entire Scions team standing around in the same outfits they always wear. Must be a stinky place, if they never change their clothes.


A fairy-fly warding off the night. Also, who builds these impossible architecture? That’s the real magic power in this world!


This would be such a great character shot… if I only had pants. Maybe I could button that coat down a bit?


So… how long do you hold this pose before it starts getting incredibly awkward? And what do you do afterward? And did that pirate lady accidentally shoot the knuckle off the guy on the way down?


What I thought was a really pretty picture of a Venice-like arch and seascape beyond. Love the color palette here.


The new Han Solo, age 80, frozen in carbonite.


I *like* Jessie. At least she wasn’t kissing my butt the way that every NPC in this game seems to. It’s too bad we can’t choose our own companions and associations.


OK, if the game is meta-mocking the constant nodding, maybe it’s time to, I don’t know, put an end to it? Wish my character would talk or use some expression other than (a) resolved, (b) super-resolved, and (c) unconscious.


Featured: A super-awesome slow-mo attack that no player character will ever be able to perform.


I wonder how many modern players get the True Lies reference? Oh well, I got a laugh.

FFXIV: Moogles and refugees


Some days I feel like the tortoise in that fable, slowly plugging away at the race in the dim hopes of ever catching up to the hare. At least the hare can’t keep running forever! Last night I was pleased to have completed the 2.1 series of quests and moved into 2.2, which brings me a small step closer to Heavensward and unlocking the Mechanist.

The night’s adventures began with a crisis among the Moogles. The Moogles are Final Fantasy’s answer to “Well, at least this isn’t as dumb as those guys” deflection — iconic to the series, sure, but I’ve never known what to make of these floating Hello Kitty lightbulb bat-things. Apparently in this game most people can’t see the Moogles, so why do they torture me so?


Final Fantasy writers get points for throwing out an obscure Simpsons quote. +1!


I guess there’s one upshot to mildly disliking Moogles — I could really get into fighting them in this boss battle. I think it was my first time hitting any dungeon or trial with a (hard) designation, and in fact this guy nearly wiped our entire team. We had three guys at the end with slivers of health, burning him down in desperation.

With that silliness aside, we turn to patch 2.2 and the introduction of a boatload of dragon-people refugees in Vesper Bay. Oh! The Scions finally moved out of Vesper Bay and to a place with a proper aetheryte, a fact that the game celebrated by making me go back to Vesper Bay about four times as if to hammer home the point that it could do whatever it wanted to me and I had to meekly take it and say, “Yes sir, thank you sir, may I make another pointless round trip to this city?”

I do like the new HQ a lot better — it has more personality, although I got a chuckle that Minfilia’s office looked pretty similar to her old digs. Anyway, refugees! FFXIV gets credit for working in story elements that I don’t often see in fantasy literature, nevermind MMOs or RPGs, and the theme of refugees is certainly one of those. Maybe it feels more timely with the real world Syrian refugee crisis, but I’m kind of impressed that FFXIV is tackling such a topic. Doesn’t seem like your standard “let’s go save the world!” fare.

In fact, the game’s been planting the seeds for this topic since the beginning, with lots of mentions and discussions of Ul’dah struggling to accept the hordes of refugees in the area. Now we have ships full of displaced people from an empire across the sea that is persecuting them, and they have nowhere to turn to other than a city that can’t accept them. Sure, they’re imaginary people and so far we haven’t seen more than one of them, but it’s certainly stirred up sympathies while presenting the logistical problem of cities coping with influxes of people that they might not be able to house and feed.


Just really liked this nighttime shot of Ul’dah from afar on top of my mech. A shining city on a hill, indeed.

FFXIV: Hollow victories


Well, I did it. I beat A Realm Reborn.

I know this because I saw the end credits. So I guess it’s time to uninstall? For those keeping track at home, it took me about two and a half months of casual play — and not just a little bit of sidetracking with alts — to get to this point.

The big 2.0 story finale actually started last week for me as I hit level 51. The evil Empire created an ultimate weapon (what made it “ultimate,” I have to wonder?) and the good guys spent a half-hour moping around a table contemplating surrender. That is, until Minfilia and her inspirational midriff came in, gave everyone a little pep talk, and suddenly we were all at war. So THAT’S what she’s for! I’ve been wondering for weeks, now. It’s not like she’s shown any actual leadership or abilities other than getting easily captured in her own home base.

The whole climax of the story took place as a multi-pronged offensive against the Empire in an attempt to penetrate its key fortress and take out the ultimate weapon — which hadn’t been used on anything, by the way. They just kept in the garage to polish it, but here they have a fantasy death star and didn’t go on a rampage with it. Truly a waste.

Let’s take a brief intermission for a Lalafell that’s undoubtedly two minutes away from his own demise:


Lalafell are cute and full of personality, but this game asks too much for us to take them seriously as warriors. My three-year-old could sit on one of these guys.

Anyway, eventually I was queuing up for the big story dungeons for the finale, which was kind of exciting. I might be a little snarky at Final Fantasy for it’s strange choices, but at least it focused down on this attack and kept the pace going well.

I’m calling this post “hollow victory” for a few reasons. One, the good guys’ success was far too easy — they never showed anyone getting killed and as far as I know, every single offensive action was perfectly executed. It didn’t feel like a war; it felt like a paint-by-the-numbers cartoon.

But even more than that was the fact that I didn’t get to participate in any of the major end fights. The issue was that both big groups I got put with had obviously done these dungeons before, so they were speeding through them. Meanwhile, I got bombarded by a nonstop series of cutscenes, some lasting several minutes. So as I’m watching them (with my team’s blessing), my team is racing ahead and beating bosses left and right. That created the hilarious situation in which I’d get a cutscene introducing a boss with a long monologue, during which the boss would be killed by my team, so the second that cutscene was done I’d get a second cutscene showing the boss falling over. From my character’s perspective, they were just dropping dead at her feet for no reason.


By the end, I’d destroyed the ultimate weapon, axed Gaius, blown up the fortress, and escaped — all without using a single combat skill. Then the game decided that it would just switch into full TV mode with long cutscenes after long cutscenes. It’s usually at this point in a Final Fantasy game where I start to disconnect from it, because Square Enix can’t help but take an interesting story that has two feet on the ground and eventually transition it into slightly silly, quasi-mystical nonsense featuring Large Crystals. But hey, we won the day, so there’s that.

Then, as the end credits rolled, the game had to eat up a lot of time, so I got treated to the leaders giving the most redundant, drawn-out speeches. Yes, it’s a new era. Yes, we’re all united. Yes, let’s cross our weapons and hope that pistol isn’t loaded as you’re pointing it at the other leader there, Admiral. Then… a SCARY ROAR!


“Start wearing battle-appropriate outfits? Perish the thought!”

I’m actually pretty happy to be moving into the 2.x content — feels like I’m making progress of a sort. I know it’ll be a while until I get into Heavensward, but at least I have forward momentum. It even looks like the Scions might be moving their HQ, finally, to a place that I can port to.

I have a lot to do — the main story quest, some side quests (need to start on those Hilde quests everyone seems to gush about), keeping up with job quests, unlocking dungeons, and figuring out what I should be doing to gear up. I felt a little embarrassed that I had forgotten to do my job quests for a while, because when I did them the other night, I got a ton of great gear upgrades at level 45 and 50 that I could’ve used. Pretty much doubled my HP, for starters.

I’m excited to see where the story goes from here. And who knows? By summer’s end, I might be caught up with the rest of the crowd.

FFXIV: Scenes from a prison rescue


Now that I got my mini-rant out of the way earlier this morning, here are a few choice screenshots from the recent prison rescue from the MSQ. It was a great mission, start to end, and it actually felt challenging to try to pull it off.

Nothing like bringing swords to a gunfight, eh?


“If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you? Oh… you’ve already gone splat, haven’t you. Bully.”


Is it just me, or is it disturbing that one of the leaders of the realm’s major city-states is a child that bursts into inexplicable laughter? My operating theory is that she’s being controlled by those emotions from Inside Out and something has gone terribly wrong in her brain.


Really liked this shot. That is all.

FFXIV: Should healers be pressured into DPSing?


Dang, this is a heroic-looking pre-fight shot, ain’t it?

Now that the main story quest has passed from mundane to at least somewhat interesting, it decided to dump me out at level 46 with a notice that the next quest won’t pick up until level 49. I’ve never had this happen in FFXIV before, and while I wasn’t exactly peeved… I was a little peeved. It feels like a weird disruption of the flow, and since I wasn’t doing any side quests, I don’t even know where I’d go right now to pick up some additional work.

Really, it just means that I need to do three levels’ worth of dungeon grinding to get back on the MSQ train. At least as a healer, that’s not a horrible prospect; queues are near-instantaneous for me.

So let’s talk about something I’ve bumped into a couple of times so far, both in the game and in various comment threads/articles — and that’s the issue of whether or not healers in FFXIV are expected to do double-duty as damage dealers. Now, most MMOs I would say that the answer usually (but not universally) is, no, you’re a healer and you come to heal (and buff, debuff, cleanse, etc.). In fact, in many other games I’ve played, if a healer up and started trying to DPS in fights, they’d end up with a grumpy group worried about their own safety.

For whatever reason — and I think it’s an issue of class and game design here — FFXIV has a culture that puts pressure on healers to moonlight as damage dealers in dungeons. Now, I’m not against doing damage, even as a healer. If I’m in the mood, sure, I’ll DoT things up as long as everyone’s safe. But generally I don’t feel like DPSing on my Scholar, because (and follow me closely here) I’ve queued up as a healer because I actually want to heal. If I wanted to do damage, then I think I could probably figure out a way to switch to do that.

As a healer, my vision is mostly drawn to the party panel where I watch health bars and debuff icons, playing whack-a-mole with hit points and slapping shields all over the place. I only keep a little bit of attention on the rest of the screen, mostly to stay near the party and out of any telegraphs. If I have to throw out damage, then I’m taking my toggle off the tank and have to take my attention away from health bars to look at enemy mobs. When I’m doing that, I’m getting nervous because my eyes have to keep darting back to the health bars because — expected to DPS or no — if my team dies then I’m going to get stinky eyes.

It’s sometimes a little more stressful than I’d like in a run, so while I do DPS occasionally, I don’t make a regular habit of it. It’s my subscription and if they don’t like it, vote-kick me out and I’ll find another group happy to be kept alive.

The other night the tank got snarky with me during a boss fight that I wasn’t throwing out DoTs, which violated two small pet peeves of mine — calling me by a role instead of my very-easy-to-spell name and telling me how to play. I bluntly replied that I was fine as I was, thanks, and left it at that.

I know it’s a weirdly contentious topic in the FFXIV community and it bugs me that it even exists. Healers wanna just heal sometimes — there’s a joy to it and I don’t often get to be a healer in MMOs. The “DPS too!” crowd can suck on a lemon.