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.
Hey, remember the MMO Book Club? That’s the Reddit-and-Discord group that allows members to vote on a game to play, then organizes a guild and events inside that game over the allotted time period, ensuring that folks who want to try out an MMORPG have a ready-made community of likeminded casual people who aren’t going to immediately scamper off to greener pastures. You scamperers, you.
To date, the Club has dipped into Lord of the Rings Online (which we streamed!), WildStar, The Elder Scrolls Online, and TERA, the reigning champ. As the group enters its second half-year, it’s opened the voting once again; that takes place in Discord to avoid brigading.
“The shortlist of games you can vote on to play with the Bookclub now are: Guild Wars 2, Secret World Legends, DC Universe Online, EverQuest, RuneScape, ArcheAge, World of Warcraft and TERA.” (Voting for TERA extends the current cycle another month instead of moving the crew to a new game.)
Just about 20 years ago, my boyfriend and I were wandering through Media Play (heh) when he picked up this box for some new online subscription video game with a cheesy Hildebrandt cover. I was skeptical. He bought it anyway. The next morning, after I’d played all night and totally bogarted his new game, we figured we should probably get a second account. And so we did, in spite of being clueless teenagers who could barely afford one sub, let alone two.
That game was Ultima Online, and it’s the game that birthed the term MMORPG and quite literally dragged me into the realm of virtual worlds. Without it, I wouldn’t be right here where I am talking to you today, having married that dude in the interim. And as of yesterday, that game is 20 years old.
Last autumn, when the game was turning 19, I did a fairly in-depth video on the coolest parts of UO, the parts you can still play today, as I do frequently dive back in and am playing this month too! It’s Massively OP’s best-performing video to date, proving that the game is very much not dead and done. Pretty much everything in the video is still accurate, except for the part on the business model (spoiler: UO is kinda going free-to-play), so I’m going to include it below, but then I’ll recap some of the important bits from the last year and answer a few questions anybody reading is sure to have.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Lawbreakers, Hyper Universe, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Pokemon Go, World of Tanks, DC Universe Online, Crossout, Monster Hunter World, Runes of Magic, Atlantica Online, Revelation Online, League of Legends, Crossfire, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, Path of Exile, and Dungeon Fighter Online, all waiting for you after the break!
The next major patch for Final Fantasy XIV
contains many pieces of content, but it also promises to improve the quality of life for players with a new set of UI improvements
. For example, don’t you hate when you don’t know how much time your chocobo companion has remaining after summoning? Patch 4.1 will add a timer and will allow you to summon minions while your chocobo is out, allowing you to adventure with both cute critters and combat buddies at the same time.
The patch also simplifies party finder creation dialogues and lists required desynthesis skill right on the item in question. There’s also a new universal input for duty actions and a “duty action” button you can add to your hotbars, covering mechanics like the Vril used against Lakshmi. That probably means more duty actions are coming in the future, so go ahead and slot that in now as the game’s UI continues to improve.
During this week’s Massively OP Podcast, Justin and I attempted to tackle a question sent in by commenter and listener Sally Bowls – specifically, she wanted us to speculate on what a post-launch monetization plan for Star Citizen might look like.
“Assuming they have a lot of overhead and expense, are they going to fire most of their employees at launch? Keep them and support them with subscriptions? DLC? Cosmetics? A stream of new ships would be my first guess – but new ships good enough that people spend $50M-$100M per year withouth causing old customers to think the new shiny invalidates their previous purchase? That seems to me a non-trivial tightrope to walk.”
Put away your instinct to joke that it won’t matter because Star Citizen is never coming out. Let’s just reasonably assume that it does eventually launch into something the studio will call more or less ready. How do you think Star Citizen will make money after launch? That’s the question I’ve posed the Massively OP team for this round of Massively Overthinking.
The next major patch for Final Fantasy XIV
is on its way, and like every patch, it starts with a new portion of the main scenario quest
. Sure, the end of the Stormblood
story saw the liberation of subjugated provinces… but what does that mean for the many people who had long seen that end as an impossible dream? We don’t know yet, but we know that Raubahn and Lyse both will have some important questions to answer… and quickly.
Players will also be exploring the Drowned City of Skalla, ruins flooded beneath what is now Loch Seld in the wake of the Sixth Umbral Calamity, now filled with the remnants of a once-grand civilization. Over in Kugane, players will be meeting up with the Majestic Imperial Theater Company on the performance airship Prima Vista, learning more of the company’s legendary performance of the Zodiac Brave story and diving into the legend of Ivalice. And that’s only the stuff we already know about on the preview page; there’s still more to come.
Where is Batman? Who will win in the rivalry between the Joker and the Riddler? What’s going on at the Gotham Zoo? What’s really going on with all of these events? Who wants a pizza party? Why do drive-through ATMs have braille instructions? Why can you remember ad jingles from when you were five but not the reason you just walked into the kitchen? Answers to some of these questions can be found when DC Universe Online launches the Riddled With Crime update today.
Server maintenance started at 8:30 a.m. EDT and may run for up to eight hours, but once it’s finished players will have new content to enjoy, ranging from open-world missions all the way up to a new set of raids. So get ready to have the answers to several of these riddles revealed through play, although we can’t help you with the ad jingle one. We’re all wondering about that.
Probably my greatest and most constant gripe about fantasy MMORPGs is that for all of the freedom and imagination that this genre supposedly boasts, game designers keep going to the same boring well of tropes and limit themselves instead of exploring possibilities.
Nowhere do you see this more than in races. Dwarves and Elves? We’ve got bushels and barrels of them, all on sale at discount prices. There are regular humans, of course, and Slightly Bigger Humans, and Half-Sized Humans, and Blue Humans. But what about getting outside of this been-there-played-that cookie cutter design to offer some interesting playable choices?
Like fairies, perhaps?
I could never understand why we don’t see fairies more in MMOs. They are widely recognized in the fantasy genre, they seem to have popularity, and they even share some cross-over with Elves. But the poor fae have been unrepresented, so much so that it took a lot of digging to come up with a mere 10 MMOs that allow you to play as one, whether it be as a race or class. Let’s take a look!
Players have long awaited the chance to make Sleipnir, the mount of the Dark Divinity Odin, soar through the skies in Final Fantasy XIV
. Sure, the horse in question is just a regular horse, but he also happens to be a horse for a primal. So it’s good news for owners of the mount that he will take to the skies with the release of patch 4.1
, while the Witch’s Broom will once again be able to cast spells on the ground as it could during its first holiday appearance. Who doesn’t like more ways to play with mounts?
But FFXIV isn’t just making horses fly; it’s also making numbers fly. The latest Square-Enix financial report notes that sales of Stormblood have massively increased income and profits, with the game reaching an all-time subscriber high following release (exact numbers are not disclosed). So everything gets to fly on upward, and you can rest assured that big expansion releases do, in fact, result in more sales.
Apologies for being extensively absent from this column over the last few months! Every day the Massively OP offices are deluged with fan mail demanding, “Bring back Jukebox Heroes! Where is Jukebox Heroes? How can I survive without that epic MMO music to get me through the week?”
To which I can only mutter something about a classified mission to Paraguay, being adopted by a jaguar for six weeks, and subsequently finding myself co-starring with The Rock on his latest escapade. It’s all in the line of duty when you are an MMO reporter.
But I am back, and boy is there a lot of news to talk about this week! Let us catch up on the MMORPG music scene and see what is happening with Destiny 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Absolver, Black Desert, and Champions Online already!
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree saddle up for discussion on Wild West Online’s alpha, Star Citizen’s back-backlash on schedules, the miserable state of Phantasy Star Online 2, and more!
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
Have I really not talked about the dungeons of Stormblood
yet? That’s unexpected. Usually I would have mentioned them by now, I talk about these things a lot. Yet here we are and I haven’t really given a deep look at any of the dungeons through the leveling experience up to the top. It is, frankly, a shocking realization, and it’s all the worse that I spent a lot of time thinking (and working on) columns on more esoteric elements of Final Fantasy XIV
before remembering this obvious one.
So let’s correct this now and talk about these dungeons. The level range for things was adjusted after my initial preview, and we have a similar leveling arrangement to how things were in Heavensward, but I honestly like this batch more. Part of it is familiarity, sure, but I remember feeling like the first two dungeons in Heavensward were kind of clunkers even when they were new, compared to really enjoying the heck out of everything in Stormblood. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t high points and low points, but… well, let’s just get to it, yes?