My agenda has not changed from my initiate plan, and this is what I’m up to now: exploring and leveling the jobs I picked, while experiencing the story and group content on the way that I left for later apart from MSQ.
Leveling alts in my case is something of a slog, because it’s not a rush to level cap, but rather focused on side story/unlocking new dungeon content. Even if I’m doing my share of daily roulettes and the highest level dungeon my level allows – the most effective way to move on – I’m still devoting most of the gaming time to side quests.
By now, I have completed all ARR zone quests on my Lalafell, including level 1-7 stuff in capital cities, and cleared the entirety of Heavensward content on my Mi’qote “main”, from Ishgard quests and through the sky pirate Alliance Raid and steampunk Alexander normal raid. I’m planning to run all the quests on both of my alts, both for completionist reasons and to carve all the lore in stone of my brain.
The exact word I’ve been seeking and which the game supplied to me in Endwalker was “verbose”, and this applies not just to target Urianger, but basically to everything in FFXIV. Of course, the writing becomes gradually better with every next expansion, but it’s still a sort of one of the game’s major plagues, and especially in earlier content where I am now.
Even in Shadowbringers and Endwalker you could safely cut a half of each dialogue panel without losing any major sense (try this exercise, you’ll be surprised!). But in ARR/Heavensward it’s often unbearable and often inclines me to fast forward the text, even if I’m seeing the lore for the first time. I’m a very fast reader, capable of grasping the text piece meaning in a fraction of a second, and I might still fast forward several boring quest dialogues, especially where they elaborate on their feelings – dude, I already got what you mean and feel in the first two panels, no need to drag it through ten! – and Limsa’s folk are the worst offenders of common quests. Har-har, gobshite, o’er me lass, mate, curs me scurvy dogs – this all sounds very pirate-y and conveys the vibe, but damn, it seems like most their dialogues were written just to insert more of this special vocabulary for the sake of it.
As you play through more and more quest stories, you also can’t help noticing that FFXIV writing is not devoid of its own tropes and generic moves. Of course, there will be traditional for Japan story plots of “the way to perfection” and atonement, and there will be plenty. A bad guy, be it an outright villain or a reluctant ally, a stick in your wheels at first, will eventually come to understanding the cause of good and how noble are your motives, and swap to good himself – after thrashing or otherwise, so defeating a villain does not necessarily mean his death as in western media examples. Hell, even Meteion in Endwalker applies to the trope :) A good guy would often join you deep in his internal struggle, dark past and hubris, and learn to accept himself and live on with a new purpose. That is not bad per se, and the quality of character development and general player interest depends on every next given story, but patterns exist, and root in Japanese media, anime, manga, movies, books and such. Refreshing for the western users at first, but becoming more common in the long run.
That all said, it’s not much of a critique, but rather observations. Even if you see a character for the first time – like that Au Ra tomb raider in Alexander raid questline – and immediately outline her character development based on your previous experience: like she obviously has a dark story and secret, she is bitching, so she would definitely turn to good, be our ally and probably save the world – it does not make the story less moving and interesting, because it is told well.
Side questlines coped with the world building well, as I expected. Now I know that a lighthouse keeper in Lower La Noscea loves a sergeant from the docks, and that farmers here have a problem with these particular pests, and that Quarrymill guard are struggling with poachers, and Idyllshire goblins are building a free town, nost friendly and protective to outsiders – that will suffice. It’s exactly what I wanted from them, and it’s exactly what I got, not hoping to make any big discoveries and awe, but aiming for understanding and knowing the zones, and now every time I pass by the locals and monsters are well-known to me. Goal achieved! So I continue doing side quests for the next expansions of course.
The new significant story arcs were raid and class/job stories, which varied from good to boring. Raids are a simpler case: Alexander arc was amazing in whole as a story, not to mention the raid/boss/encounter design and hilarous soundtrack, the sky pirate arc was quite common and did not move me much (but boss and raid designs were cool nevertheless). Apart from seeing the story, it is still important to unlock all the raids for both alts, because it makes my duty roulette richer and more varied, so I’m doing it again.
Job arcs receive from 4 to 1 their own stories, depending on which level they start: 1-30, 30-50, 50-60 and 60-70.
Rogue/Ninja: 1-30 was har-har pirate rogue story, least inspiring until the final terrorist quest. 30-50 was an introduction of ninja arts, ok, but nothing special. 50-60 employed me as a protector of an Eastern hime (princess) which looks promising.
Archer/Bard: I absolutely loved the 1-30 questline of mi’qote poacher gang, 30-50 was something I fast forwarded, my, what a drag and bore, the worst questline so far, 50-60 looks very promising again with a tension of two completely different people you’re escorting in their quest.
Thaumaturge/Black Mage: I think I liked the wannabe arc 1-30, it’s been a while, the beast tribe quests 30-50 were awful, 50-60 were interesting with a conjurer to convince him how black magic could be good, 60-70 looks promising.
Pugilist/Monk: the old master arc 1-30 was hilarious, one of the best questlines so far, 30-50 was such a bore, 50-60 was a very nice adventure to marry shadow and light chakras, now we stepped into the revolution business which I’m not sure will be good or bad.
Samurai: starts at 50, and 50-60 was an exciting trip of fighting bad guys, with a twist in the end and a moving ending. 60-70 – we have an assassin to follow, looks good.
Dancer: 60-70 arc is weird, maybe not in a good way – fighting bad pirouettes with good pirouettes.
My job level state today is this:
- Dragoon – 90 (mi’qote main)
- Dancer – 66
- Samurai – 60
- Monk – 61
- Machinist – 66 (lalafell main)
- Black Mage – 60
- Ninja – 50
- Bard – 50
As you see, I level my alt jobs on more or less equal level, and what is also good: the jobs are split between characters naturally so that they support each other. For example, my main now levels Monk/Samurai simultaneously, and I have twice less gear to worry about. Strength-based, an acquired ring or chest piece automatically upgrades both jobs’ gear.
So, mi’qote main would bother only about Strength dps gear for three jobs and Dexterity for dancer, while lalafell needs only Dexterity to cover three jobs and Intellect for black mage. That’s a lot less allagan currency, less gil to spend in the long run – and less bag space occupied.
In conclusion, I’m having a time of my life, as it’s the best stage of any new MMO (new to myself, of course): a ton of content and stories to explore, and different classes to explore and master. With story done on my main, there’s nothing rushing me, nothing important to manage and catch up, just moving at my pleasure and at my own pace, ticking out the milestones one by one.
P.S. Oh, and elephant in the room: login queues. As always, mornings and afternoons are quick and painless to login, but even the rush hour – the weekend’s evenings – proved to be not good, but bearable this week. I managed to strive through a 2,3k and a 3,8k queues without a single lobby error, so I guess logging in in the evenings is at least once again an option. But it takes about 1,5 hours, so good luck switching for your alt or logging out on a current character – you’de better have something else to do, like watching a movie :)