My, what a ride it has been in the last week :) There was no rush, and yet I’m glad I’ve reached certain milestones before my vacation which starts today. Two weeks coming away from keyboard, I’ll be eager to return and proceed with FFXIV (and hopefully have a 9.2. release date or even 9.2. in WoW). Whatever stage Blizzard are at anyways, there’s a ton of stuff in FFXIV to do.
So: most importantly, my main has almost finished Shadowbringers raiding, with just Gaius/Ultima piece left (and I already dipped my toes there before Endwalker and liked it!). The whole expansion experience – before we saw all Endwalker raids – proves to be the strongest so far, both in story and encounter departments!
Storywise, I cared deeply about the events both in NieR and Eden.
Eden continued the Ascian theme, started by Emet-Selch as a plot engine – and while Loghrif and Mitron may burn in hell where they belong, we understood and related to their motives beyond the atrocities they tried to commit. It was important to be accompanied by Scions for a change, because frankly, if I saw Garlond, Nero and Co again for a 12-raid, I would scream. Henlo, warrior of light, we found another allagan thingamajig and pierced time and space! We have a base to settle, don’t bother us – we would rather bother you cause it’s we who are an old married couple.
The story centerpiece was, of course, Ryne and Gaia, and I finally saw Ryne in charge. She was brooding and whining from day 1 to day last during MSQ, with feeble, non-convincing attempts to become something other than just a damsel in distress in tow, and no wonder I hated this character – acknowledging that she had tons of potential. Eden finally obliged, and she really, really bloomed here.
Not only Ryne was magically powerful enough to control and lead the whole operation, but she also took the reins so easily and naturally after T/U left to the Source – btw, a great weave-in of MSQ events here! And beyond that, she was emotionally strong enough to be a spiritual guide for Gaia, not just deal with her own stuff. I mean: wow!
Funniest thing of all, she didn’t grow 10 levels up in badassery and remained this modest, sweet girl, who just wanted – and found – a real friend. That’s some top shit character development and writing!
While I liked Gaia a lot too, she’s naturally shaded by what they did to Ryne. Yet a strong, distinctive personality and a decent character arc.
And I can’t even start talking about the actual plot and danger. They got me at “we must needs collect all elements”. And as you probably know that elements, a big thing out of many and collecting is my ever favorite in any media franchise, you could imagine how excited and engaged I immediately became. Seeing the wasteland get fixed after EVERY encounter? That’s some next level. And not to mention that they unveiled sin eater origins.
Encounters were all awesome, and gave no quarter. Very brutal, unforgiving mechanics – obviously I will fare better on alt re-runs and roulettes, but the first experience killed me a lot more than Alexander and Omega streaks. Dance among the blades in all its prime! Most interesting fights and boss designs, I liked them all a lot, and I’m eager to master them whenever they pop during roulettes.
NieR / YorHA / Whatever Alliance Raids
Storywise, now I know that FFXIV is tapping into other Square Enix games for inspiration and homage, and without plunging too deep, I got that NieR was a standalone game where they borrowed aliens and kill-all-human droids theme for the MMO. Weaved well into FFXIV, no question here, yet imo they did not explore the pro/anti-robot mission and droid characters too well, so they remained a real but storywise vague threat with “whatever” characters, their goals and relations among them.
This could be a major flaw, but it was totally mitigated by “lalafell” dwarves of the First. I just couldn’t get enough of the twins duo, even in pre-raid stories, and while not without lengthy whining quests in the worst FFXIV manner, they pulled a deep, interesting story you cared about – a lot. I’m timegated from the aftermath of rebuilding a village (and maybe I won’t play it), but so far it ended so sad.
Also, an important thing, is that “dwarves” are really all normal lalafell under their “beards” and stuff! Well, we could presume so, seeing local Warrior of Light (Ardbert’s) crew, but all Kholusia questing went totally Teryy Pratchett-style: as females and males both wear long beards and wear chainmail, and you can’t tell male from female even if you’re a dwarf yourself.
I was glad to see your normal lalafell under all the wrappings, and it’s been a woo!
The robot theme really, really shines in visuals and boss designs. Averted from the previous expansions’ experiences, it’s not the 12-streak but 24-alliance raids which is the crazy horse on the body of MMO, feeling so out of this world. I couldn’t get enough of industrial and spacecraft landscapes, which were so vast that WoW’s Ulduar and other big raids feel like a tight closet in comparison. The rusty industrial / machinery theme was very strong, and the final raid went crazy with being something totally else, while maintaining cold, brutal calculation vibe. Wow!
Encounters are probably my favorite among all 24-alliance raids. We all love Crystal Tower in roulettes for being a no-brain, quickest pew-pew run, Sky Pirates are my least favorite cause I’m so not into church/diablo theme while being quite brutal even for good organized groups, Rabanastre and Co are stunning in visuals but lack in story (fuck Ramza and Co, I never want to hear about him and his ever again), while NieR has it all.
Nothing too bad about encounters – I managed to survive and not die on most encounters just by quick reaction and comprehending on spot what the game wants from me, exceptional boss and environment design, and a moving story coming along – what’s not to love? I’d like very much for it to be on roulettes, and I will eagerly re-run this questline on my alt.
The final raid streak to go is Ultima/Gaius party. I already beat the first Ultima weapon, had a vehicle mecha-fight duty and saw some story in November, so I can already tell it’s gonna be a cool narrative and not that long endeavor. Judging by previous expansions, it’s a couple more trials and a lot of cutscenes, so it’s gonna be relatively quick and interesting to accomplish. But this comes after my vacation.
Healing Adventures & Misadventures
Well, what can I say? I’m not hating FFXIV healing, and I like it more than tanking, but definitely a lot less than DPS. Today, I’m simultaneously leveling Sage, Astrologian and White Mage.
Can’t tell anything certain about White Mage yet, as it’s in pre-dungeon level yet, and has a long way to go until I get any sensible spell kit to judge. What I don’t like already is that it ruined my expectations to an extent. For some reason, I expected it to be all flowers, petals and butterflies, you know, the Asian healer trope classics, and that’s what I signed for, nature and all. Yet I got my two attacking spells, and they scream “WoW shaman”: as your major hitting spell is hurling stones. Stones, Karl. And a wind-themed DoT. Well, like I said, I barely have four spells, so we shall see on later levels. At least the job story is good, and I make friends with that creepy dragon boy which always scared the shit out of me – the class tutor :)
Sage – I’m not sure I like it too much. Sure, it has an impressive insta-saving kit which I love, but in general it feels quite boring, even with all the lasers and pew-pew. Maybe I level it in lesiure time and abandon, feels uninspiring.
Astrologian, on the other hand, hits all the soul strings with me. His healing kit – even at 39 where I am now – feels more natural and attuned to me than Sage’s, and not to forget about card buffs (which I often forget about, heh) adding flavor, and the most impressive healing weapon, animations and vibes. We’ll see about WHM, but so far, if I wanted to go healing, Astrologian is a doubtless winner. That’s the job I’m very eager to play, and I do.
Healing in general remains to be stressful, even if I know my priorities and perfectly comfortable now with current rotations. I see non-topped – and of course, dead – party members as a personal insult, and with FFXIV punishing mechanics which often bring them to the brink of next-hit-and-you’re-done or killing them, I have yet to grow a fat, rough skin not to always blame myself and get a lot more practice to define where I could have done something to save people, and where I could not – due to lack of cast time and all.
But yet, my healer plan is this: level and see what White Mage is about, level Sage in spare time, and master Astrologian to the highest level of mastery I’ll be capable of. Still no Scholar/Summoner, no: Arcanist is about pets and his major attacking spell sounds like scratching a glass. Yeesh.
Alt Job Milestone
Oh yes, and my bard-ninja-black mage and monk-samurai-dancer are now all 80, so I can go for side questlines in Endwalker!
Well, that was me and my FFXIV week. See you on the other side of vacation where I resume my FFXIV journey and hopefully see some definite news about WoW’s 9.2. release date :)