I remember a couple of years ago, in February, getting ready to fly across the country for Final Fantasy XIV‘s big press event. I was worried, back then. I thought that the game had a huge uphill climb before it could possibly get any sort of mainstream attention.
Here I am, looking back over two years since the relaunch with a smile on my face. The first major post-expansion patch is coming up, complete with a feature that was an expansion element in one other game along with another huge pile of content. The game is undeniably a success story.
A good portion of the past year has been spent looking forward to and then experiencing Heavensward while still enjoying the game as it was, which is very much to the credit of the team and a religious release of content updates. So let’s talk in brief about the year and look to the game’s third year in its re-released state.
I don’t know whether we’re actually going to have a proper two-year anniversary event in Final Fantasy XIV
. It feels very strange to say that, and on some level I feel as if I’m jumping the gun to say that at all; we just haven’t heard anything about it, there’s still time, and there’s no reason to assume we won’t
get an announcement about another event coming out in the middle of the extant Moonfire Faire. But there’s also no reason to assume that we necessarily will
get an event, or if we do that it won’t take place closer to the game’s original release date.
None of this suggests something wrong with the game as a whole, but it’s interesting to see the many ways that the game’s events have shifted over its lifespan. We’re moving into the game’s third year of operation post-reboot, and both rewards from events and the content of events have been in a degree of flux for a while now. So as FATEs are chased on the beaches around Costa Del Sol, it’s interesting to consider the game’s history of events and what may yet come.
I don’t generally like “ranking” classes. The best tanking option in Final Fantasy XIV is the one that you like playing the most, and if you don’t enjoy tanking, none of the options here will turn you around on the idea. But one of the cool parts about Heavensward is the way that you have three tank options, all distinct, yet all more than adequate to tank pretty much everything the game has to offer.
More simply – there might be optimal configurations for Alexander Savage, but pretty much everything else it won’t matter.
I do really enjoy looking at differences between classes, so this is just the kick-off to something that will likely be a regular thing. Let’s take a look at the classes currently sitting in the tank role, see what they specialize in, what their tricks are, and what weaknesses you have to know about in advance before you play one.
Let me start by warning you fans of Final Fantasy XIV that this column may very well have spoilers, but that’s all right because you can read it without running into them in the main body of the article. (I can’t control what people put in the comments.) One of the new toys we have to play around with on MOP is the option to put spoiler cuts in our text, so we can hide things from eyes best not shown that text.
But with actual spoilers.
Now, let’s start speculating. Not everything herein is going to have spoilers aplenty for those who have already finished the MSQ of the expansion, but I’ll be doing my level best to make sure that anything spoiler-heavy is hidden away appropriately. Tread with some degree of caution and all, and let’s get on with throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks.
has been out a bit more than a month now if you count the launch of early access as the “real” launch of the expansion. But we’ve only just had Esoterics added into the game, and we’re finally at the point when the weekly resets are in full force. That month of grace time is over, and we’re into the period when the game needs to keep people occupied for the next two or three months until the next patch, and so on.
At this point, we don’t know when the next Final Fantasy XIV patch will actually be coming out (my money is October, enough time to fill out an Esoterics set for one job). We do know what we’ve got to play until that happens. So let’s talk a bit about the state of the expansion right now and what players have to do, as well as how it stacks up against the offerings at the equivalent point in 2.0’s launch history.
There are three roles in Final Fantasy XIV
, but you could argue that one of those roles has three sub-roles. Sure, they all fall under the “damage” header, but the game really makes an effort to differentiate melee, casting, and ranged characters. Melee is meant to deal the most single-target damage quickly, casters do AoE damage marvelously, and at this point ranged characters like Bard and Machinist – especially Machinist – do damage at a pace that could be generously be described as “damage per half-hour.”
Also they provide support abilities, in theory.
It’s not exactly a secret that both Bard and Machinist have suffered in terms of damage for this expansion, but Machinist has really been hit with it hard. I had of course heard the rumors, but it wasn’t until I took the class for a spin for a while that I could confirm those issues are there, and they’re about as bad as they look when you’re wondering why Machinist is lagging so far behind other DPS.
As of this writing, I haven’t yet cleared Alexander. I’ve had other things to do, and while it might mean I’m ultimately one week behind the progress for its weekly resets, I’m not stressed about that. I’m just about capped with law gear, and it’s going to be a long while before the difference between item levels becomes significant enough for commentary. And, from what I’ve seen, the fights will benefit slightly from a little more time for people to figure out how they work and run them correctly.
The introduction of Alexander does mean, however, that we’re past the point in Final Fantasy XIV‘s expansion cycle when we had no weekly resets to contend with… sort of. Really, those have been in place since launch, to an extent. It also raises questions about what role Esoterics will ultimately play, and it’s as good a place as any to start talking about the game’s endgame structure now, what it looked like at the end of 2.x, and where we may go from here.
Final Fantasy XIV
takes you on quite a ride on the way to level 60. There are indisputably fewer dungeons than there are from 1-50 (or more appropriately, 15-50), but the actual dungeons are more involved and fun. They’re certainly more filled with loot, dropping a much higher number of items in a given run, which makes the greedy little monster within me very
happy simply because I like getting things
I realize that by this point most of the front vanguard has already gotten through these dungeons, so this week’s column won’t be just about strategies but about the dungeons as a whole as well as strategy for those who haven’t been through the dungeons yet. Also note that the names of some bosses have been redacted, and I’ll be making an effort to avoid spoilers as much as possible; that being said, there will be some minor spoilers here and there regarding locations. Fairly warned be ye.
As of this writing, I’m not quite 60 yet in Final Fantasy XIV
. Thanks to real life, I’m a bit behind the curve, to the extent that you can be behind the curve when “the curve” has not actually been in release for a full week. All the same, there’s an interesting pair of phenomena at play within Heavensward
. On the one hand, even more so than in the core game, the game encourages you to revisit areas and providing you with new quests to do as you return to the Sea of Clouds, the Western Highlands, and the Dravanian Forelands multiple times. (And never actually leave the Churning Mists.) On the other hand, there’s definitely a sense that these quests aren’t just optional sidequests but are in fact necessary
if you don’t want to be forced into a huge grind as you approach the level cap.
Thursday was a long day. So was Friday, but in very different ways.
Playing Final Fantasy XIV over the past few days has been a weird experience for me. On the one hand, there’s so much more cool stuff to do, and that’s awesome. On the other hand, there’s far more stuff than I can get a realistic picture of in a short timeframe, and this isn’t like Ninja, for which I had the time, will, and (most importantly) connection stability to just log in and grind like a maniac.
I have and will have a lot to say about the expansion over the next few weeks, but right now I want to just talk about the early access period. I think a lot of things have been done really right with this particular launch so far, but there are also some missteps in the mix. There’s also some stuff that’s really annoying, and it becomes hard to separate “annoying but inevitable” from “just plain wrong” at certain magnitudes.
The long wait is almost over. Heavensward
early access starts up on June 19th, and it comes with a lot
of changes. Starting with, you know, all those new areas and stories and quests and abilities and…
Sorry, got a bit overwhelmed there. The point is that it’ll be here, and I won’t be the only one overwhelmed; there is a lot of stuff going on. While you may not be able to jump on and start playing the early access from the moment it becomes available on the 19th, you will at least be in the final stretch during your workday. And if you’re some kind of jerk who works at home, so much the better.
How do you avoid being overwhelmed? That’s what I’m here to help you with. There’s a whole lot going on to prepare for, and I am here to do my best to help you through this intensely exciting time, starting with the advice that no one wants to hear but is completely vital.
At the time you read this, you’ll have about 11 days left until early access starts up for Final Fantasy XIV
‘s first expansion — possibly more depending on how the servers manage to hold up under the load. I wouldn’t imagine it’s going to be as bad as things were at launch, as those issues seem to have largely been addressed, but there’s always the chance…
The point is that we’re getting our expansion, and it’s going to start soon. And that leads the obvious question of what, exactly, we’re going to be seeing in terms of the story. We know how 2.55 ended, we’ve seen the trailers, and now we’re walking into the unknown. So let’s get into spoiler-happy speculation territory, so I can either be proud of myself or laugh at how completely stupid I was in a few months. Yes, I allow for both with a smile on my face. And if you want to avoid any potential spoilers, I recommend stepping away now with a smile on your face; fairly warned be ye.
If you’ve been paying attention the last few weeks, you’ve doubtlessly heard a fair bit about the new skills that the various classes and jobs will be getting when Heavensward
launches. You also probably don’t know half as much about them as you might think.
On some level, this is a bit of a complaint because we have not gotten a straightforward listing of skills and their effects along the lines of what Ninja got, and I don’t know why the Final Fantasy XIV developers would think that we don’t want one. But on another level, even a full and precise listing might not actually fix things. There’s going to be ambiguity no matter what because let’s be real here: I know what an array of the new skills are supposed to be, but I don’t know them. I don’t know how they play. And at the end of the day, a listing of skills is just a pile of data. Important data, sure, but not a prime source of figuring out how I’ll be playing my characters when the expansion launches.