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Sheikah Slate

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A New Wearer of Clothes

One of Final Fantasy XIV‘s selling points for me is the ability to change your class simply by changing the weapon in your hand. In the game, you can go from a tanking gladiator to a healing conjurer simply by swapping your gear which changes your base stats as well and allows you to redistribute your ability points as you see fit per class. With this system, there is no reason to level alts as you can level everything on the same character.

Arcanist!
Arcanist!
Gladiator!
Gladiator!
Conjuror!
Conjuror!
Lancer!
Lancer!

What I did not know going into the game is that crafting and gathering work in the same way. Lay down your rod and pick up your hammer and you go from fisher to blacksmith. In fact, much emphasis has been put into crafting and gathering in the very design of the game. Leveling botanist, I gained an ability to find the highest level tree in the area, a buff to increase my chance to gather the material I wanted off the tree, and stealth. You are not out in the world as a gladiator who does botany; you are out in the world as a dedicated botanist. In Final Fantasy XIV‘s system, crafting and gathering are not something you do on the side, but rather something you do. With the ultra-slow combat, I’ve actually had more fun taking it easy in the game and “logging.”

Botanist!
Botanist!
Culinarian!
Culinarian!
Fisher!
Fisher!
Blacksmith!
Blacksmith!

This DIY attitude in the game is very appealing to me, and it’s too bad the combat classes aren’t more exciting than the crafting and gathering classes. While out in the forest, swapping between logging and carpentry, one of my rings which increases my crafting points had become overly weak, and so I simply switched over to goldsmith and repaired it without having to head back into the city.

All the classes!
All the classes!

In Final Fantasy XIV, your character is the product of what you choose to level and not something that becomes set in stone at character creation. If you roll gladiator and find you’d rather be a conjurer or lancer, you can do that, and if you have the time, you can do everything. You never have to think about which three crafting or gathering classes you have to pick like in some other games because you can do them all. You have a freedom in Final Fantasy XIV that is lacking in other games with their arbitrary restrictions. This is the game’s strongest point, and I hope future games by other developers drop the bullshit limitations and follow Final Fantasy XIV‘s model instead.


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On Final Fantasy XIV 2.0 Beta Phase 4

I had always planned on playing Final Fantasy XIV. The problem was the PS3 version of the game never materialized. Once I had a PC that could handle the game, I was always off playing something else, usually Rift. By the time of the start of the 2.0 beta tests, I had convinced myself I wasn’t going to bother with the game, mostly on account of the videos I saw on YouTube of the painfully slow combat and my jaded attitude toward guilds and casual MMORPG players. However, as I am wont to change my mind, after returning to Midgar in Final Fantasy VII on Steam, I thought I could at least give Final Fantasy XIV a try with Beta Phase 4.

I'm on a boat!
I’m on a boat!

I chose marauder as my starting class, and, yes, the combat is painfully slow for me. As there is no ability queue, I found myself watching nothing but the turning of the global cooldown on my hotbars as I was finding it difficult to judge time by the marauder animations and the thrown in auto-attack throwing off my rhythm. This slow, staring-at-hotbars combat is a deal breaker for me. Fortunately, I found lancer, and even gladiator, more playable, with casters even having an ability queue. I fail to see why it’s so difficult to eliminate the GCD, eliminate auto-attack, and make combat in MMORPGs flow and look sweet. It turns out 1.0 was sans auto-attack, and for all the criticism that version of the game got, that was a move in the right direction. The plus side of combat is the music is sweet, and I have over twenty years of pleasant memories tied into variations on the Final Fantasy battle theme.

Clicking Yes means it will take 30 seconds to kill a Giant Ladybug with a Giant Axe.
Clicking Yes means it will take 30 seconds to kill a Giant Ladybug with a Giant Axe.

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The gear in Final Fantasy XIV isn’t fugly the way it is in Rift and SWTOR, but with the oven mitts, eye patches, and odd colors, I can’t say I particularly like it. However, the gear does have a certain charm to it. It is Final Fantasy in design the way SWTOR gear wasn’t Star Wars in design. Also, it’s pretty cool Square Enix went ahead and made all the gear unisex, even if the designs aren’t considered unisex in our world.

Pink Pirate
Pink Pirate
Fuck Yeah Gender Equality!
Fuck Yeah Gender Equality!
Ear Sleeves!
Ear Sleeves!

What Final Fantasy XIV has going for me, though, is that like TERA and unlike Rift and SWTOR, I actually feel like I’m in a living, breathing world. Walking through Limsa Lominsa and out into the countryside gives me the feeling this world is alive, that things are happening in the lives of the NPCs, while in Rift and SWTOR I always feel as if I’m just moving through gamespace where there are quests to run and mobs to kill. Rift is the superior game, but Final Fantasy XIV has the superior world, and the immersion that grants me is enough to keep me going and seeing if the combat improves for me.

Pigtail physics!
Pigtail physics!
I want this mailbox. Now.
I want this mailbox. Now.

My progress was cut short during the final beta weekend because I managed to contract the Another World bug. However, that might have saved the game for me, as it caused me to roll new characters to check out other classes, which I found I liked far better than marauder and arcanist, and to see the opening cutscenes for the other two cities, which I liked better as well.

Lost in Another World.
Lost in Another World.
In Limbo. Game thinks I'm in the Lurkers in the Grotto  instance and not Limsa Lominsa.
In Limbo. Game thinks I’m in the Lurkers in the Grotto instance and not Limsa Lominsa.
A fellow Afflicted.
A fellow Afflicted.

Early Access is now less than twelve hours away, and I’m pretty excited to get moving on my character and heading off to Gridania and Ul’dah to start leveling lancer and gladiator. I can be found on Excalibur as Xylene Cablepunk.


//

Super #&@$% Metroid

Back nineteen years ago, Super Metroid was easily my favorite game. It was so much fun sauntering around Zebes slaying superbaddie bosses, getting suit power-ups and returning to old areas to clear new paths to unlock even more powerful abilities, all of it leading to an epic showdown with [SPOILER] and one of the most emotional video game endings ever.

Super Metroid!
Super Metroid!

Now, Super Metroid is an unreasonably challenging, brutally difficult, merciless #&@$% #&@$% of a #&@$% game. Holy #&@$%. Holy #&@$%. You mean I have to #&@$% remember to come back here when I presumably get some #&@$% ability that allows me to get through #&@$% here? #&@$%. Holy #&@$%! You #&@$% expect me to remember that? And you #&@$% expect me to #&@$% jump back up there after I just #&@$% came all the way down here? Oh, I #&@$% see: this #&@$% #&@$% is #&@$% invincible. You’re #&@$% kidding me, right? Holy #&@$% how do I #&@$% use missiles? Where the #&@$% is the tutorial? Oooooh, Morphine Ball?! That was easy. Oh, now wait, who the #&@$% is this guy?…

How do you select missiles again? You mean Select does something?
How do you select missiles again? Wait, you mean Select does something?
But what  does this mean? Where is the NPC to explain this?
But what does this mean? Where is the NPC to explain this?

If you ever think video games these days aren’t super easy, go play the titles from twenty years ago. The kids games of that era offered way more of a challenge and asked far more of a commitment than most of today’s fare. Having played those games back then, and upon returning to them now, I’m definitely a gamer who has gone soft and become lazy.


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On Leaving Neverwinter

I loved Neverwinter at the start of open beta. I thought it would be the last MMORPG I would ever even want to play. I loved the action, and the class I picked, guardian fighter, was superfun. I like tanking, I like leaping, and as a tank in Neverwinter, being able to raise my shield and block a boss’s attack was supersweet, better than in TERA because you can actually move while blocking in Neverwinter.

Guardian Fighter Xylene
Guardian Fighter Xylene

The game had its flaws, though, but it was in open beta after all. Caturday and the rollback didn’t get on my nerves as much as it did for others, but the tank-cleric threat issue did. A lot. How can a tank tank if she can’t hold threat? By the time they fixed the issue, if it indeed was fixed, I had already stopped logging in frequently.

Turns out as I look back, and this comes as no surprise to me, it wasn’t the game I loved so much as it was the having fun playing the game alongside others. However, as is typical with the casual MMORPG gamer, once they hit endgame, they quit. I wanted to have fun with endgame content: running epic dungeons, getting my gear score up, and taking on Castle Never. Fortunately, others in the guild wanted to do the same, and the guild actually grew as we picked up people from pickup groups, so all was well at first, but as time went on even we couldn’t deny what dawned on us as the game’s problem as we ran endgame dungeons: boss adds.

Certainly, the tank-cleric threat issue didn’t help, but what we found in epic dungeon after epic dungeon was that the bosses weren’t all that hard but the fights were impossible on account of boss adds coming in wave after wave after wave after wave after wave ad nauseum. So while the casuals bailed before they even began running endgame content, those of us who continued on started to lose interest, and some left before Castle Never on account of endgame just being repetitive, unfun wiping to boss adds.

A dragon can't kill me.
A dragon can’t kill us.
But an add can.
But with adds we wipe.
We beat Epic Pirate King's Lair you say? Hold on, have to clear out these adds for the next 5 minutes.
We beat Epic Pirate King’s Lair you say? Hold on, have to clear out these adds for the next 5 minutes.

Five of us from the guild finally did head into Castle Never about a month and a half after the start of open beta. Finding it was just more of the same, it was actually the last time I ever ran anything in the game. We made it as far as the spider boss which we only beat by luring it out of its room of adds. I tried getting people from the guild to come play Rift with it going F2P, but most weren’t interested in that game. I don’t really even know where some of them have ended up because if you’re not making use of social networking sites, how can we stay in touch?

Castle Never!
Castle Never!

I’ve logged in from time to time, but few if any people are ever on in the guild when I do. I can’t really imagine getting back into the game at this point with Final Fantasy XIV so close to release and no community holding me to Neverwinter, so I’m uninstalling the game and freeing up some space.