The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite group size for MMO grinding?

Grinding has existed as long as we’ve had MMOs. In the earliest days of my time in the genre, grinding was the game; I would seek a party in Final Fantasy XI (which took an hour at best as a DRG or four seconds as a WHM) and then sit at camp and grind in the hopes of possibly gaining a level before bed.

We’ve moved on from that as a mandatory thing in every game for every activity. We have not, however, moved on from grinding. Frankly, that’s all right with me. If I’m having fun in a game, I don’t mind grinding as a repeated activity that I’m doing just to keep my wits alive, so to speak. It’s fun for me.

Of course, group size matters. Eureka in Final Fantasy XIV has reminded me of the fun of grinding in small groups with friends, but that’s inefficient compared to a full eight-person group… which feels like too many to me. I like grinding most when it’s two or three people grouping up and hitting stuff as a team. It’s a bit worse when it’s just me on my lonesome in World of Warcraft grinding away at rep or something similar. But what about you, readers? What’s your favorite group size for MMO grinding?

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Allods Online outlines the upcoming Spark Talents system

Why should you stop advancing your character in Allods Online just because you’ve hit the level cap? The game’s next major update is going to let you keep advancing with the introduction of new Spark Talents. Your Spark Level is unlimited, increasing steadily as you earn more Spark Experience; each level requires an escalating amount of experience, but the rate of acquisition is also slowly improving over time.

So how do you get this experience? By doing stuff, naturally. Daily adventures, winning rated combat, completing daily quests, and several other repeatable activities earn you more experience. You can also assign rubies to talents as your level increases, unlocking bonuses to item acquisition, special toys, and of course various bonuses to stats and special abilities. Check out the full rundown if you can’t wait to level up your character, only even more now that you finished the first round of leveling.


WoW Factor: The debate over World of Warcraft’s refer-a-friend nerf

Ah, another day and another thing to enrage people in World of Warcraft. Last time, it was that the Allied Race unlocks might (will) require you to actually play the endgame a bit. This time, it’s that the refer-a-friend service no longer allows you to gain huge chunks of experience just for turning in a breadcrumb quest to arrive at a new zone. Or, alternatively, it’s that Blizzard has just noticed that a decade-old service could be used for some unscrupulously fast leveling roundabouts, and now that it’s sort of proud of the 1-100 leveling experience again, we can’t have that.

Much like the bit ages ago with Star Wars: The Old Republic and the pointless controversy over a cash shop lightsaber, this is one of those situations where everyone involved is being either willfully or unintentionally dim. It’s not that the players grousing about this are right, and it’s not that it was the right decision to make. So, just as I did for that, it’s time to sit both sides down and explain why this is dumb across the board.

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World of Warcraft Refer-a-Friend experience boost gutted to match Heirloom leveling speed

So, were all of the experience boosts you had in World of Warcraft there to get your character to max level as quickly as possible, or were they there to ensure that you didn’t have to languish in zones where you were going to be leveling through awkwardly anyway? How you answer that question will make a lot of difference in how you see the changes made to the game’s Refer-A-Friend system, which has reduced the massive experience boost from the service from 300% to 50% and removed any stacking with heirlooms. In other words, at this point the biggest boost you can get to experience while leveling is 50% across the board, however you get it.

Considering that a referred character with heirlooms was often used as a quick way for a player to game the system with two accounts under the same person, this is obviously going to impact a portion of the player community. Some players are calling for a reduction in price for the level 100 boost token that also comes free with the Legion boxed expansion, claiming that this is just a way of forcing people to pay more to completely bypass the leveling process in short order. Others are pointing out that this plus the 7.3.5 patch changes means that you and your referred friend can both just enjoy the leveling experience together, moving faster but still being able to see a good chunk of the zone with players who may not be familiar with all of it.

In other and wholly unrelated news, there’s been a round of hotfixes to correct some bugs. Hey, we said it was unrelated.

Source: Refer-a-Friend Changes, Hotfixes, Reddit; thanks to Louis for the tip!


Destiny 2’s endgame is now helpfully locked behind Curse of Osiris access

If you’ve decided to hold off on buying the Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris DLC, good news! The game’s endgame is now locked away from you completely! Looking back, it’s unclear why we prefaced that by calling it good news.

Yes, the first DLC for the game is out now, and that means an increase to both the Power level cap and the addition of new endgame antics. However, if you don’t own the DLC, your Power level is capped lower than the required minimum… for activities that were present in the game at launch. The Heroic strike list also locks you out even though it has a Power level you can reach.

Obviously, the endgame activities for the game are meant to rely upon the most recent DLC, a common situation in more or less every MMO ever. That doesn’t make it feel less irritating when content that has been in the game since launch is suddenly inaccessible to you as a result.

Source: Kotaku


Wisdom of Nym: Deep-diving Final Fantasy XIV’s leveling structure

I do a lot of leveling in Final Fantasy XIV. This is, in part, because I am stupid; for several dumb reasons I have my main character and six alts, which is not seven only because Balmung is currently locked. (As soon as that changes? Seven.) I also have a spreadsheet tracking my progress across every character that currently has me finishing up – as in, bringing a single job for each alt and every class for my main – in early November. So I spend a lot of time thinking about leveling. And I think the game is better than it’s ever been in Stormblood, in leveling as well as other departments.

Of course, there are people who aren’t as happy about it, for understandable reasons. There are dead spaces for every job in the current leveling setup, levels where you get either nothing or no impactful additions. (A trait boosting your primary stat is definitely important, but it doesn’t really change what you’re doing.) It’s even prompted some people complaining about how late certain jobs get their core mechanics and how the level sync works.

So let’s talk about all of this. And more to the point, let’s start by explaining why a lot of the staggering of abilities amounts to, in fact, a good thing.

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The Daily Grind: Should expansions change the core of an MMO?

Those of us playing Final Fantasy XIV have had about two months with Stormblood now, which has prompted one complaint to come out as the “main” complaint of the expansion: it’s not all that different from what the game was before. Which strikes me, at least, as a somewhat silly complaint; of course it’s not all that different, it’s an expansion to the same game. I wouldn’t buy a Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion expecting the game to suddenly become something other than it already was, after all. Why would I be upset that the expansion to a game I enjoy is… more of that game?

But then, that may just be me. Heck, it may just be that this particular game aligns nicely with my personal interests. After all, Guild Wars 2 had an expansion which arguably changed the core of its gameplay already, although there’s some debate about whether it was for better or worse. World of Warcraft has been through many sea changes with its various expansions. So maybe that’s what people really want from an expansion?

Let’s put it to you, dear readers. Should expansions change the core of an MMO? Or would you prefer that a new expansion gives you the same core game with enhancements rather than changing the heart of the experience?

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Chaos Theory: Are levels good for Secret World Legends?

We’d heard about (and stressed over!) various Secret World Legends changes for a while, but you just can’t know how those changes will affect the game until you experience them. Now we have. We’ve had three and a half weeks to dive in and play around, getting a feel for the Secret World reboot. So how do some of those changes play out in practice? I’ve already noted a few initial pros and cons, but some topics — like levels — needed more time.

Moving to a level-based system was one of the changes I was personally most unsure about with this reboot. I have never been a fan of levels, preferring skill-based systems. Luckily, the ability to personalize your build with the weapon skill trees was retained. And I get that levels are more universally recognized. But after nearly a month, I have found that although levels do have some benefits, as currently implemented they are causing issues within Secret World Legends that are affecting gameplay — but mostly only for patrons! The good news is there is a fix.

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World of Warcraft may be making big changes to Artifact Knowledge with its next patch

Artifact Power is the big power mechanism behind making your Artifact weapon more powerful in World of Warcraft. That seems pretty straightforward; it’s called “Artifact Power,” after all. It also has a complex relationship with Artifact Knowledge, as the cost of each new ability increases as your artifact grows in power. Eventually, you need your artifact to offer a several million percentage increase to each bit of Artifact Power so that it won’t take you years to get a quarter of the way toward your next trait. And actual Artifact Knowledge might be getting some big changes in the game’s next major patch.

Right now, you research Artifact Knowledge at a slow pace with order resources, while also being able to buy catch-up tomes for your alts. However, the current test realm has all of the research projects deprecated and an automatic increase to your knowledge as time goes by, thus ensuring that you catch up without any input. It also brings the knowledge cap back to 50 after it was unceremoniously rolled down to 40. How many of these changes will make it to live remains to be seen, but it would make for a very different leveling experience for your artifacts.


The Daily Grind: What leveling experiences do you dread in MMOs?

If you talked to Final Fantasy XI players, the Valkurm Dunes were the most dangerous place to be in the game. Really, it was just where everyone went to level from 10-20 or so… but that level band was where you’d find yourself with players who still knew little to nothing about the game, bored people just putting in their time, no option to Raise dead party members… lots of bad things, in short.

That is not, however, the only dreadful experience band in MMO history. I always dreaded bringing alts through the 80-85 band in World of Warcraft, simply because it meant some decently designed zones that were all part of a very disappointing expansion. (And they never really linked up or flowed nicely.) For that matter, I hate bringing classes through the 40-50 band in Final Fantasy XIV, and 10-20 in City of Heroes always struck me as kind of dreadful.

But that’s just a small sampling, and I have no doubt you have your own examples. What leveling experiences do you dread in MMOs? When do you feel you really have to steel yourself to get through the blander portions of the leveling process?

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward in review – leveling content

At least we’re finally thought the story. While we walk through a review of Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward in its totality, we’ve taken three weeks covering all of the various stories within the expansion, as well as touching upon a bit of the class design in the last part. Parts one, two, and three cover everything from the main scenario to some of the zone side stories. And now we can move on to the mechanical side of things enthusiastically.

Also, we’re reaching the point where I know I’m going to forget to mention at least one or two things that were really keen from the expansion, but that’s a different discussion.

In terms of sheer volume, of course, Heavensward nearly matched what we got from the base game in terms of patches, and arguably surpassed it in some categories; sure, we only got 10 dungeons from patches rather than 15, but if you didn’t have any interest in Coil in 2.x, you got the entirety of Alexander, which was new. But volume alone isn’t the determinant of how good that content was. So let’s start in on that, albeit not with the dungeons.

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Blade and Soul’s newest patch revamps class progression and adds new regions to explore

The latest big patch for Blade & Soul has arrived, and it brings with it some major changes. Class trees and skill points, for example, are gone altogether. In the place of this progression system is a new one that’s meant to be more intuitive and streamlined. There are also new Hongmoon levels available, and you can earn them while exploring the new Celestial Basin region, so you’ll have plenty of time to decide for yourself if the changes are really a marked improvement or not.

The patch also adds two new dungeons, the depths of Naryu Sanctum and the heights of Mushin’s Tower for groups and solo players, respectively. There are also overhauls to items and the upgrade material system. Check out the full set of patch notes for more details on the changes, which are substantial; it’s going to make leveling a very different experience, but it looks like you’ll have plenty of extra stuff to do while leveling.


WildStar launches the Power of the Primal Matrix

You can log in to WildStar today and get yourself a free level 50 character to celebrate the Power of the Primal Matrix update. Will that mean you’re done with leveling? Not even a little bit! No, the whole centerpiece of this update is the eponymous Primal Matrix, and that means getting in and leveling your max-level character with more levels and nodes and all that comes with it. So you get a free level 50, but it’s more like another step on the same path.

Lucky for you, you’ll have plenty to do at 50, since you’ll also have two new dungeons to explore, the new Primal difficulty, quality of life improvements, bug fixes, ability adjustments… you get the idea. Peruse the patch notes to get a sense of what you’re jumping in to, just for your own edification. And if you already have a level 50 character, so much the better.


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