Wisdom of Nym: The 60 climb in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

    
50
Earth below us, drifting, falling, floating weightless, coming home.
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.

Always and forever like a boss.One of the stated goals of the designers was to make the climb from 50-60 about as long as the climb from 1-50. I don’t think that’s altogether possible – if nothing else, you probably haven’t been given as much mandatory side-leveling to unlock jobs – but it’s certainly true that you sit at each level for a while. When you unlock your first new ability, that’s your only new ability for a good long while, and you have time and space to use that trick to its fullest. The dungeons level-cap just one level after you can unlock them, and you’re expected to do them with a bit more frequency as you level. And the quests, oh twelve all the quests…

The bright side is that you can treat this as an answer to the problem of leveling a second class to the cap, since you have so many sidequests still sitting around. But the down side is that you have, well, so many sidequests. That experience bar is very slow to move, it’s a fair bit harder to just chain your levequests together, and FATEs are pretty well tuned to no longer serve as the experience farms people like to pretend they are. It seems as if you really need to consume all of those quests on your main to keep moving at a decent clip.

Part of it, of course, is that you don’t have the at-level roulette that we’ve all grown accustomed to in leveling thanks to low-level options. I think there’s also a general shift away from being able to do everything equally on one character; making it a bit harder to work with crafts and such means doing so is a bit more decisive. But it also has the amusing and positive effect of making individual steps along the path far more relevant than they would be otherwise.

In the average expansion with a level cap raise, interim levels are pointless. Why in the world would you farm a non-level capped dungeon when you’re going to be past the level in less than half a day? Yet Heavensward isn’t just a new endgame; it’s a new game all the way along the path, and that includes the fact that the new 50-60 portion of the game has content tuned for it and gives you a chance to be pretty well kitted out.

The daily hunt lists provide the best example of how carefully everything has been designed, I think. On their own, those daily hunts provide a nice boost of experience for you as you level through content, along with seals that are completely useless in terms of helping you along the way. Once you reach the level cap, those seals are very important and useful… but the experience component doesn’t go away, meaning that you can use the leveling content to also improve yourself at the level cap in an interesting symbiotic relationship.

None of that in and of itself speeds up leveling, though, and you’re left with a choice in every zone: Do I try farming a dungeon for more levels, or do I do all of the quests in a region and use that to push ahead? Both will work, but you probably shouldn’t do both, just for the sake of your sanity.

This is compounded by the fact that dungeons are not strictly efficient ways to level. If you focus on doing your daily hunts, questing, and so forth, you will probably be able to get to level 60 faster than if you purely ran dungeons. But the loss of efficiency isn’t as notable if you run out of quests or if you’re trying to leave scraps for a future class to pick up.

And then there’s the simple issue of fatigue. It’s exhausting to be in the same zone endlessly, a problem that the Churning Mists has in spades, but it’s also exhausting to see the same landscape forever and a day. You don’t want to know how many times I’ve run through the Vault and the Aery. (Fortunately, the latter dropped the top I wanted without too much trouble.)

I was pretty well done with this zone by the time I cleared the last quest, all right.

Strictly speaking, I don’t think there’s any point where you need to grind. If you are diligent about quests, grab your daily hunts on a regular basis, and do each of the dungeons once, you should be able to stay on-level for all of the content the expansion has to offer. But there are definitely spots where you’re encouraged to grind on a dungeon over and over, either because there’s no finer source of equipment upgrades or just because you want to leave quests for your second class through Heavensward.

I’m not sure that I like that. I am sure that I like the volume of quests, and I definitely like that we have a big chunk of time to get accustomed to each new ability as it works its way in. Rather than feel as if my rotations have been disrupted, I feel quite comfortable with where Armor Crush sits as a Ninja (although I’m not super comfortable with my hotbars; that’s a different issue). The slowness might even be an ultimate necessity, given the game’s love of teaching you how you should play your role in a slower fashion instead of just dropping new stuff on your bar and leaving you to figure it out.

But that leveling path does have some uncomfortable holes along the way. I’ll have a clearer picture of how uncomfortable once I start bringing Paladin along. At least the two most chain-run-ish dungeons I’ve found are pretty dang fun to play.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or by mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Now that I’ve had a little time to process, next week it’s time to start talking about the leveling dungeons in depth, and also start unpacking the new classes in more detail for how they play. Please look forward to it.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.
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Omniel
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Omniel

“Moogle Hell”. I like that term and am going to steal it!

Omniel
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Omniel

Gonna have to check it out. I generally find side quests somewhat irritating, but the new side quests that came out with the xpac aren’t so bad on account of some really good writing and storytelling.

Dnote
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Dnote

rottenrotny I’ve not got into HW yet, but my friends who have reached 60 have advised me to avoid doing side quests where possible if I plan to level up any other jobs to 60.

themindstream
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themindstream

Telos_ Many of the side-quests do reward common gear (which is perfectly fine for leveling and for 50-60 looks quite attractive – some is recolored versions of old dungeon sets but they’re also dyable which dungeon sets are not and that puts them in high demand for glamour). The only ones I would say are strictly necessary are those that go toward unlocking flight for a zone. While hitting main story gaps is a pain (mind that not everyone will hit them depending on how they level) I prefer it to a lot of the bloated sidequesty filler that the 1-50 main story required (Company of Heroes or corrupted crystals anyone?).

The actual gameplay of the sidequests is pretty standard (and anyone who sidequests their way through the Churning Mists may end up raging at the derpiness of certain residents therein) but most of them are pretty well written. Dungeon grinding is probably faster but it also depends on your luck with the queue, and you have to cross the gap from 50 to 51 before the first new dungeon is available.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Leviathonlx ihatevnecks Wratts Some but not all. Most of the flying quests, maybe all of them? are gated behind level or main story progress rather than other side quests. And considering they’ve set it up so you usually end up finishing a zone before you end up being able to unlock flight for it, you’re almost better off just saving those flight quests for an alt, or doing only them and then letting an alt character do the other side quests for XP.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Drewbob Go with GLD – you’re going to want their Provoke and Awareness skills for cross-class, they’re kinda must-haves for any tank really. You get a couple useful ones with MRD/WAR too, but if you were only going to level one job up to 50 before switching to DRK, GLD would be the better of the two.

Khalith
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Khalith

Drewbob Hey there, I understand your desire to get drk however if you were just to start the game you would not be able to get drk any time soon, the reason for that, is because you have to do the 1-50 main story and then  all the patch 2.0 and on quests at level 50 before you can even think about going to ishgard or unlocking drk.  From just starting the game in early May, it took me about three weeks of playing a significant amount to do 1-50 and doing all the post 50 pre-ishgard stuff.

If you’re willing to do all that however, I believe that you should start with Gladiator/Paladin.  The reason for that is because after playing all three tanks (warrior/paladin/dark knight) I can tell you honestly that in regards to functionality, nearly all the drk abilities (pre-50) function nearly the same as the paladin abilities.  Going from Pld to Drk feels very natural, I even laid out my hotbars for drk the same as I do my paladin and don’t notice any significant difference outside of visuals and certain abilities being off the GCD for one that isn’t on the other.  But again, besides that they’re the same.

IcaruSS
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IcaruSS

ihatevnecks rottenrotny
Go play World of Warcraft for a while.
They don’t even BOTHER with creating lame stories anymore!  In their big patch, the new “questing content” is literally:  kill these things until your bar fills all the way up, then come back tomorrow and do it again.

Drewbob
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Drewbob

Hi! WoW player who is REALLY turned off by a WoW right now, here. I’m likely going to start this game in the next couple weeks, and am intrigued by the Dark Knight. Is it advisable for me to get there along the way as gladiator/paladin, or should I just go warrior, since cross class skills for the Dark Knight are just gladiator/marauder?
Thanks!

rottenrotny
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rottenrotny

seemsthatway98 rottenrotny Disagree? I wish it were more sandbox-y in that regard. Like an Elder Scrolls game. Rarely do you encounter topography that you can’t climb over.