Final Catbards, or Greener Grass

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I’m on a little bit of an unintentional WoW vacation.  After being disenchanted with the community and the game for a bit, I picked up Final Fantasy XIV to play with a friend.  Bards are my favorite class in every game, and FFXIV has them!  I rolled a little catboy archer to play with my friend, and I’ve recently, after four months of playing off and on, hit level cap.

But I’ve noticed a few things about this game.

The Good, the Bad, and the Bardly

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Every game will have its roadblocks.  Some players will find FFXIV to be a bit “grindy”.  But, playing to current level cap, 50, I’ve noticed some things that I like and some things that don’t work too well.

The Good:

  • Dungeons are unlocked through quests, making them feel more like they have a place in the overall story.
  • An incentive system to give reason to be supportive to other players (more on that in a moment)
  • Interesting class system nearly eliminates the need for alts
  • Amazing graphics
  • Great storyline that feels like a Final Fantasy game
  • Starter gear set for each job with pieces at levels 45 and 50
  • Numerous class quests that feel meaningful
  • World travel is easy and much quicker than flight points- less time spent on travel and more time actually out interacting with the world.
  • My server, Balmung, is very welcoming to RP (to the point that it’s branded an unofficial RP server- there are no officially designated RP servers).
  • Bards (this deserves its own bullet point)

The Bad:

  • Subscription-based, I know some people don’t care for that.
  • Dungeon attunements (I like them)
  • Levels 46-50 are a grindfest
  • I couldn’t play for nearly a month because the graphics caused my computer to overheat- I needed a better cooling system (so not so good for less beefy systems).

Leveling was easy until around level 35- generally just doing dungeons and the main storyline quests (and class quests) got me there, and then things got a little bumpy and I had to turn to grinding repeatable quests to finish some levels, and almost entirely those from 46-49.

The storyline itself felt like a traditional Final Fantasy game, with your character as the main character.  Many standard Final Fantasy elements made an appearance (Ifrit and other summons, an airship, this game has a Cid, classes and monsters).

Classes and Jobs are extremely interesting in this game- one character can essentially be every class in the game.  Changing classes is like changing specs in WoW, with the main drawback that when you change classes, you must re-level it.  So on my level 50 bard, I could swap to White Mage and have to start over and level from 1-50, with the ability to swap back to my bard at level 50 any time.  There’s a bonus to leveling other classes- some class spells and abilities can be used cross-class (mainly things like cooldowns).

Really, the only reason I’ve rolled any alts at all is because I want different characters for RP.

Fostering a Supportive Playerbase

Imagine walking into LFR and being welcomed for never having done the instance before.  That was nearly what happened to me last night when I went into an 8-player instance for the storyline.

newbies

The main difference here is that Final Fantasy will detect when someone in the instance group has never completed it and grant a bonus reward.  This happens even in leveling dungeons: groups with people new to the instance will get bonus EXP for a clear.  In endgame content, it’s bonus gear currency.  It would be like, instead of getting 90VP for a wing of LFR, you got 270 for a clear.  New people are seen as less of a detriment, and more of someone you’re rewarded for helping.

And that’s not the only thing, there’s also a system that, after every instance, you can grant a commendation to a player that left a good impression.  Maybe it was someone who was helpful and nice.  Maybe it was someone who did hella DPS.  Maybe it was just a healer who healed you when you stood in bad.

Commendations give cosmetic rewards- things used to decorate your mount, a pet, a title, even a mount.

working on my hat for my chocobo

The difference here is that, instead of dungeon debuffs or votekicks that punish people for not playing “nice”, there is incentive to be decent to each other.  Positive reinforcement -vs- negative.  And I’ve found that makes a lot of difference.

 Is the Grass Greener?

I’m not saying I’m quitting WoW, but I am enjoying Final Fantasy XIV much more, right now.  The graphics are amazing, and I’ve found a really good group to play with.  Plus, I get to be a bard!  Sometimes you just need a change of pace, and maybe FFXIV is that for me.

Plus, they’re adding a marriage system in an upcoming patch that will allow same-sex couples, which is a fair bit better than WoW is doing on that front (not as good as Wildstar, admittedly).  I’m looking forward to playing the endgame and beyond!

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