Choose My Adventure: A whale of a time in FFXIV Heavensward’s Sea of Clouds

Hello again everyone, and happy August. It’s happy for me, anyway; this past weekend marked the first time in recent memory that I could step outside without feeling as if the Florida heat was intent on wringing every last drop of sweat from my body and leaving me a wrinkled, raisin-like husk. Not that it really matters, though, since I spent the better part of my weekend in the decidedly less humid world of Final Fantasy XIV, but hey, any excuse for a celebration.

Last week, I decided that the Astrologian had been given quite enough attention and asked y’all to vote on the next stage in my Heavensward adventures, and vote you did. Just over half of the vote was more-or-less evenly split between the remaining two classes introduced in Heavensward, Dark Knight and Machinist, which garnered 26% and 28% of the votes, respectively, but the remaining 48% of you voted for me to swap back to a level 50 character and venture out into the untamed wilds of the new expansion zones. Of the two level 50 classes I have available to me, White Mage and Monk, the vote went overwhelmingly in favor of the Monk.

Just one quick disclaimer before we get to the details: This entry will be more focused on Heavensward’s storyline than previous entries, and while I don’t think any of the spoilers are particularly major ones, they are spoilers nonetheless.

So without preamble, I strapped on my caesti and returned to Ishgard to prepare for my continued adventures. Since I’m an incurable completionist, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the city until I had eradicated every last exclamation mark from my map. Unfortunately, each and every quest was a basic-as-hell FedEx quest that sent me running all over Ishgard. But as it happens, I am the kind of guy who reads all the quest text, and FedEx quests though they were, they were also full of neat little lore tidbits regarding Ishgard’s history and culture, such as the fact that they have an arena dedicated to hosting Chocobo fights. Chocobo fights! I dunno about you, but I’d pay good gil to watch one of those. But while history lessons and guided tours are all well and good, by the time I finished the last quest in the city proper, I was hankering to introduce my fists to some unsuspecting monster’s face.

Luckily, it wasn’t long before I had ample opportunity to do so. As you likely know if you’ve finished the pre-Heavensward storyline, the Scions of the Seventh Dawn have found themselves in quite a predicament, and the Count Edmont, head of House Fortemps, one of Ishgard’s four high houses, has agreed to try to convince the other three high houses to lend their assistance as well, but there’s a small hitch in that plan: While the high houses will readily unite in defense of Ishgard against outside threats like the Dravanians, within the city walls their relationships with one another are far less friendly and tend more toward Game-of-Thrones-esque political maneuvering, only with (presumably) fewer wedding-related massacres.

That, combined with the Ishgardians’ innate mistrust of outsiders, makes it necessary for me to prove myself to the other houses before any progress can be made, and so I find myself in the employ of House Fortemps as a bodyguard-slash-babysitter. See, Count Edmont has two sons. Artoirel, the eldest of the two, is a haughty-but-dignified sort fully devoted to his role as scion of the Fortemps lineage, while his younger brother Emmanellain is more interested in wooing women and attempting to establish himself as a hero in hopes of usurping his brother’s position through fame and prestige. Both, however, tend to have a knack for finding themselves in tight spots, and that’s where I come in.

So for my first foray as an agent of House Fortemps, I was given the choice between accompanying Emmanellain to a place called the Sea of Clouds or journeying with Artoirel to a settlement known as Falcon’s Nest. Thus far, Emmanellain, obnoxiously juvenile as he may be, has been considerably more welcoming than the holier-than-thou Artoirel, and Sea of Clouds is a way more badass-sounding name than Falcon’s Nest, so I decided to make that my first stop.

Frankly, I think it was the right decision. As it turns out, Sea of Clouds sounds badass because it is badass. That’s assuming, of course, that your idea of badass is a bunch of lush, verdant floating islands situated high above the clouds of the Coerthas highlands. If that doesn’t sound awesome to you, then maybe you’re just tired of life. At any rate, without giving out too many spoilers about the storyline itself, I can say that my duties in the Sea of Clouds were essentially focused on two areas: investigating rumors of dragon sightings in the area and dealing with the local race of beastmen, birdlike creatures known as the Vanu, which I can only describe as being like shorter, stouter, more owlish versions of the non-floating-island-dwelling Ixal.


Though the whispers of dragon sightings ultimately proved to lead nowhere in particular, Emmanellain did manage to get his valiant-but-incompetent self kidnapped by the Vanu, and naturally it was up to me (with some help from Haurchefant, the only Ishgardian I don’t want to punch repeatedly in the face) to save his proverbial bacon.

When I first discovered that you lot had voted for me to play my Monk, I thought it was because you loved me and wanted me to be able to quest on a character that has respectable damage output. But I soon realized that the more likely explanation was that you wanted to see if I would still be capable of writing an article after my brain had been thoroughly liquefied.
At this point I feel I should point out that when I first discovered that you lot had voted for me to play my Monk, I thought it was because you loved me and wanted me to be able to quest on a character that has respectable damage output. But I soon realized that the more likely explanation was that you wanted to see if I would still be capable of writing an article after my brain had been thoroughly liquefied. There was a time when I was actually a reasonably competent Monk, but as it turns out, executing the Monk’s rotation in no way resembles riding a bike, and my first dozen or so fights went poorly, to say the least. It’s not that the rotation itself is especially complicated, necessarily, but just that there are about a dozen different ways to completely screw it up. As I’ve said before, I’m accustomed to playing as a White Mage, which has probably the single simplest damage rotation in the history of the world, and Monk just inundated me with too many options for my wittle brain to process.

Regardless, I somehow managed to fight my way through the Vanu encampment and rescue Emmanellain (who would, after all was done, act as if he had been the one who heroically waded through the Vanu legions), but every player who has completed the pre-Heavensward storyline knows that more beastmen mean more problems, frequently of the Primal variety, and the Vanu were no exception to this. Near the end of the questline, I was introduced to the newest Primal, Bismarck, who takes the form of a massive whale-slash-narwhal with wings, and honestly, he’s terrifyingly awesome. Or awesomely terrifying. Bit of column A, bit of column B.

But thanks to the timely intervention of everyone’s favorite Magitek engineer, Emmanellain, Haurchefant, and I were all able escape his wrath and retreat to the Sea of Clouds, where I was instructed to make my way back to Ishgard and report my findings. Unfortunately, thanks to the interference of the dreaded real-life, I was unable to make it any further, but I’d say my adventures in the Sea of Clouds were one hell of a way to start off my journey through Heavensward’s post-level-50 content, and they also make a convenient place to cap off this run of Choose My Adventure.

I hope you folks have enjoyed this little tour through Eorzea, and I appreciate your bearing with me while I shook off the rust and got back into the swing of things. Be sure to stop by next week when I’ll be introducing a new game and beginning the cycle anew. If you have any suggestions for what that next game should be, leave ’em in the comments and we’ll see what happens. Until then, friends!

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Matt each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures — and you get to decide his fate. Be gentle (or not)!

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