FFXIV: Digging Through Heavensward

Final Fantasy XIV perception has not changed with me as I moved to Heavensward expansion content. The game has less of an MMO or even a game vibe, and more of a great anime series adventure. It is not unlike watching One Piece which I’m a fan of: a great world, a focus on adventures of dear characters and the story rather than gameplay.

The gameplay is still mostly about moving between questgivers and reading dialogues/watching cutscenes – which is now exactly what I come to the game for, resting from intense but lore-stripped WoW repetitive endgame activities. Like I said, the two games are a complete opposite of each other, and WoW allows not to switch on brain in quick paced, intense combat, while FFXIV is more about learning the characters, the world and their stories in a relaxed way. I barely have a fighting quest in course of a 30 minutes, and maybe a story dungeon or two per chapter, but the story is quite interesting and enthralls me – not to mention the matching soundtrack which is pure gold.

There was a funny moment yesterday, as me & my wife wanted to watch a movie, and I said I needed to complete a dungeon first – announcing the estimated time of 5 minutes, as I already approached the final boss (Nidhogg). What I did not expect was a 10 minutes long cutscene after the dungeon!

Well, we laughed about the matter, as she’s not a gamer at all, but I keep her updated on my adventures and different game quirks, so no harm done :) Still, as much as I wanted to give in the final chapter quest which was immediately after the dungeon and finish the “episode”, I had to put it off till next day, because I suspected another plot heavy and long cutscene, and that we could not allow this evening :)

Oh yes, as long as FFXIV reminds me of an anime series so much, I now refer to MSQ parts as arcs (expansions) and episodes (chapters). I also approach my gaming time in the same manner I approach watching a series season: trying to attune my gameplay sessions to chapters and turnpoints, logging out at a cliffhanger, trying not to burn out with the amount of new lore and all.

I’m tracking my MSQ progress through a FFXIV wiki website, and it seems I’m in the middle of last but one of the main Heavensward story course – with several short patches to follow. For those who played, I’m about to do the Vault dungeon, that revolution thingie in Ishgard city.

Absolutely no rush, and I will catch up with my mage toon in lancer’s tracks once my lancer finishes the expansion story. But it’s already time to buy the next expansion, because it seems like I will outlevel the level cap of the current expansion very soon, way before I finish Heavensward, so I want my further quest XP to count.

What of the Story?

Well, not much to be criticized if at all – I’m loving it. The dragon/Ishgard war is not like super moving in terms of emotions, but is still very interesting to follow, with a number of moral dilemmas to think about. The whole game big bads are looming on the horizon, so I’m awaiting more twists and turns.

Of course, I liked the Game of Thron-esque twists and resolving to the prior events and previous characters, only in terms that Game of Thrones mows its characters mercilessly, while FFXIV does the opposite, and it’s comforting :)

I’m liking Alphinaud now – he finally developed from an annoying brat to an Anduin-type character, even with matching outfit color scheme, so what’s not to like about him now :) The one beef I have is that we still have to save and discover other Scions – shouldn’t they be immediately found and released once Ul’dah status quo was so easily restored to its former self? Well, we’ll have to learn it deeper into the story, yet even if Alphinaud and Tataru are greatest companions ever, I’d like to see and interact with more of my fellow guys from before.

Other Small Things

The mount I got is a yay! It’s a super cozy and elegant flight, no wonder I’m using it by default now.

They added “pathfinder” requirements in this expansion. Previously, you reached level 50 and automatically unlocked flight for all “vanillla” content. Starting with this expansion and on, you need to finish 5 story quest chekpoints per zone and visit 10 checkpoints in the open world per zone to unlock flight in the current area. I mean, I don’t mind this kind of rational gating, and my inner explorer is quite happy about it. But at the same time you unlock flights when you’re effectively done with the zone and moved on, so… is there even a point in flights after? Well, in any case flights are better than non-flights, so it’s something I do.

I’ve learned very quickly to download the checkpoint maps from the very same wiki project and keep MS Paint opened at all times to track my progress, mark it and not to miss the checkpoints on the way, because it was too painful to revisit EVERY point in my first zone and see if I missed it. Now I know better:

All in all, FFXIV provides exactly what I’m expecting from it. As in every MMO and non-MMO game, I’m a sucker for story and exploration, the discovery of new lands and cultures, and that’s exactly what I find here.

Yet again, and I’ll never cease to say that, the case of picking FFXIV over WoW or vice versa has never been the case, will never be the case, and those who even think of choosing one over another can go suck my privates. You can play and enjoy both, you can play and enjoy many games, you can enjoy different movie and book franchises, and that’s exactly what I’m doing now. It’s not a competition, it’s never been, and the further I’m into FFXIV, the better I understand – and cherish the differences and the different experience they provide, and which makes my gaming life richer by the moment.

7 thoughts on “FFXIV: Digging Through Heavensward

  1. The flight thing is actually a recent change – until patch 5.3 last summer, the launch zones did not have flying at all, so they simply added it for MSQ completion so existing players didn’t have to do Aether Currents. Flying is useful for FATE grinding on alt jobs, Hunts for various endgame rewards, and gathering – so while the game doesn’t necessarily force you back to older zones, having flight makes a lot of endgame and alt-job play much easier! The Aether Current system was the first implementation of flying and they’ve stuck with it – both Stormblood and Shadowbringers make use of it and Endwalker is likely to as well.

    It’s hard for me to not spoil the story, so I won’t even say anything, other than that it still has some room left to go!

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    • Oh thanks, I didn’t think of alt jobs and gathering :) Maybe someday it will come in handy. Anyways, I’d do it even if they never sent me back – flights is something that needs to be unlocked early and a must :) I’ve already saved blank aether current maps for my alt on my hard drive, waiting for her turn.

      Yeah, no spoilers please :) Unlike WoW, I don’t build theories or expectations, I’m just eating through the content, and story turns are most exciting exactly for the lack of expectations, it’s like “oooh” at every next moment.

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