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Climbing a New Kind of Ladder (or Was That Old?)

My MMO time of late has been spent doing what I enjoy most: leveling. Maybe that’s why I’ve been having so much fun in FFXIV, there’s always something to do. When I came in, I knew about the open class system, but I didn’t anticipate branching out into the different professions so much; usually I’m not much of a crafter and that’s a big part of the game. But, it’s been refreshing to slow down and really focus on the journey.

The mystery of it all is still really compelling but there’s a touch of hesitancy there, too. Even though database sites are starting to pop up, there’s still a lot we don’t understand. Take crafting for example. I’m an armorer/blacksmith (the pair is pretty much mandatory) and each one has you choosing when to strike the red hot metal.

Creation has several variables. Each step has a countdown timer of about 20 seconds, during which you must choose standard, rapid, or bold synthesis, or to wait a full step before striking again. Each has a different chance to succeed or fail, with bold and rapid holding each end of the spectrum. Every strike increases the quality of the end product, decreases the durability of the raw materials, and brings you closer to completion – more or less depending on if you succeed or fail in the step. It’s important to watch the material you’re working with because it will change colors and the color determines which type of synthesis is most likely to result in a “succeed attempt.” Failing dramatically drops the durability. If it hits zero, even as you hit 100% completion, you lose the materials and have to start over.

The thing is, at this point we can only really guess about what to do when. We know that metal glowing solid white is most likely to succeed, especially if you do the standard route. Glowing red might be best to use rapid synthesis on. Alternating colors probably just to wait. Those are guidelines, but who’s to say that applies to other crafts? You really have to rely on other players or just fudge your way through and learn on your own.

Then there are classes. In FFXI, most players say that you have to have a properly leveled sub-job to be any good for parties. Here, very few people have gotten far enough to actually see most skills for themselves, so we have to go to outside skill lists and research to decide. Or, you know, we could play what feels fun – but who wants to be gimped when they could just take the best path now? The min/maxing mindset is definitely taking shape. Thankfully, I’ve been having a great time switching between pugilist (r.4) and gladiator (r.7) which are said to support each other well.

The world is pretty much self-gating, like other games. Here, though, you find what’s level appropriate by how tough the mobs are rather than where quests tell you to go. It definitely has that old-school feeling where exploration is important. With no one holding your hand, you’re left to discover things on your own. I like that.

So far, the going has been fun. I’m level 11, now, and it’s pretty much from a couple days of guild leves… about half of which were battlecraft-type. I’ve gotten a lot of XP just from mining and toying around with armorsmithing. The game isn’t always clear, so I’ve died a few times trying to find story NPCs. Hint: when they “mark your map” they don’t mean your normal ‘M’ map. They mean that second one you keep hidden for emergencies or something. You know, the one you can only access by physically clicking the map button at the bottom of your quest log. The exploring was fun, though, and I found my first dungeon in the process. Hint #2: “Iron” Clobber-things are tougher than “Copper” Clobber-things. Lesson learned.

I’m actually looking forward to playing with the new standard edition folks. I know a lot of players are a little skiddish by the fallout we all expect but I’m not. In-game, you’d never know people were unhappy. Part of that, I’m sure, is that a lot of people just aren’t talking – the only general channel is /shout. The major feeling I walk away with, though, is that the people in-game are having fun. They’re not the ones running amuck on the internet shouting about how broken or boring the game is. In-game, life is pretty good, honestly, and that’s a nice vibe to get.

Tonight, I think I’ll stay up a little late and finish out the new story missions I opened at level 10. I was a little underwhelmed to begin but things get a lot more interesting quick. There’s a conspiracy afoot in Ul’dah and I want to know what happens!

I have a question for you all, though: does anyone know how to tell if you’re getting hit with the fatigue system? Myself and several guildies have noticed getting less XP if we grind on the same mobs for too long, but then it picks back up again if we switch (namely, marmots give less than clobber-things after a while). There’s not the biggest variety of mobs early on, so we’re all kind of hoping it was a fluke. Grinding is satisfying in its own kind of way.

9 comments

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  1. Drew

    Fatigue shouldn’t set in until you’ve been XPing a class for 8 hours straight, I believe. (I’ve not been anywhere near that, so I can’t say for sure.) I’ll see if I can’t round up a link on that somewhere.

  2. Green Armadillo

    How do multiple classes complement each other? Do you set a subjob, do you always have access to all your job skills, or are you using a ton of weaponswitch macros to draw a different weapon when you need a different ability? Having to level a subjob (which might be a different archetype from your main job), and, in some cases, having to level a sub-subjob because your main job was not an acceptable sub for your subjob, was not a lot of fun.

    Looking back, FFXI might have been a lot more fun if the community had been more willing to do whatever content the number of people present could handle. Instead, there was this overriding mindset that the low levels were to be powered through as quickly as possible, making anything less than an optimal min-maxxed party unacceptable. I remember a few nights where I joined a group that was actually capable of killing stuff, but the groups broke up quickly because we couldn’t chain pull the toughest possible mobs. I ended up earning zero exp, rather than suboptimal exp, on those nights.

    1. Drew

      Think of it more in terms of the Blue Mage from FFXI, if you’re familiar with that. Once you’ve learned an ability, it’s available for you to select as a skill on your hotbar. You have so many Action Points (determined by the rank of your current class) available, and each skill takes up a certain amount of AP. You can mix and match them from all your combat classes (melee/magic) up to the total number of points you currently have available.

      For example, my rank 10 Pugilist (PGL) has a few PGL abilities on his bar taking up 10 of my available 16 points, a Marauder AoE attack taking up 3 points, and Shock Spikes taking up the last 3 points.

      1. João Carlos

        Maybe you can add a Cure spell if you get more 3 AP free. And that Shock Spikes will be a waste when you group with a Conjurer, they normally will try buff everyone with Shock Spikes and Stoneskin and Protect and Shell. You can trade that Shock Spikes for a Cure, AOE use, when at a group and save your Conjurer from some hate. That too is a good advice for Marauders and Gladiators. Use Cure when grouping and get some hate. It will work better than tauting…

        1. Drew

          I’ve been primarily doing stuff on my own; I have Second Wind in the hotbar as a healing spell, but it’s on a rather lengthy cooldown. I’ll definitely swap out Shock Spikes in a group setting.

  3. João Carlos

    Well, some advice;

    1- get the synth to solid white, ever: the colors are indication of chance of failure, white is lower, yellow/orange is middle and red hallo is higher; use wait for bring back the synth color to white;
    2- get alchemist and culinary to rank 10, they have rank 10 abilities that help to get to solid white synth;
    3- i am not sure if gladiator is the complementary to pugilist: a lot gladiator abilities are linked to shield use, like phalanx; maybe marauder be a better option for a pugilist;
    4- do some leveling at conjurer or thaumaturge, enough for you gain a healing spell: so you can be a auto-healing pugilist;

    Answering to Green Armadillo, you don’t have “suf-jobs” as FFXI had. You can choice any ability you can slot, to the number max of action points you have (higher rank, higher action points), so you can choice slot abilities from diferent class than the one you are using at the moment. Remember that the class need have enough level for use that skill, a level 6 gladiator cannot use a level 8 marauder abiltiry, but a level 8 marauder can use a level 6 gladiator ability. And both can use a level 4 conjurer ability.

    1. Drew

      Also, leatherworking has a skill that increases your success rate (Fulfillment) – and I believe Blacksmithing does something similar for Standard synthing. The one for Goldsmithing 10 is kind of meh, it increases the Quality for your next synth attempt.

  4. H00LiGAN

    Well, looks like the new gfx card makes the game playable for me.
    Now…how do i get onto your world, Chris? The list of open worlds has really shrunk and yours isn’t available.
    This reminds me of when FFXI launched and you couldn’t even choose your world…

    1. Chris

      I wish there was a better answer but the only option is really to wait :-/ That’s a crap alternative, though, so I wouldn’t blame you for starting somewhere else. Keep an eye on the lodestone because they’ve been opening and closing the servers off and on. Want to join us in S12?

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