Games to me today are even more important than ever – in this world of madness, and that’s not a poetic hyperbole anymore, with no control over the events, it is important to switch your mind for plain, common things, to have some plan, to see and execute some sense and justice – even if it’s a virtual world.
I don’t even know how long it will last – like I wrote, companies all over the world are now in competition who would strike Russia most with their own, personal sanctions. As I wrote before, in certain aspects it hurts not the warmonger, but people – for example, Disney cancelling its cartoons in cinema which hurts innocent kids, first and foremost, Apple banning iphone sales and certain services – not understanding, probably, that their audience is also – and mostly – well-educated, well-earning people that protest against war, and using their devices as tools in reading non-propaganda news, coordinating rallies and what not. But companies made a statement for statement sakes, Russia=bad, but they do not consider what they actually do and whom they actually hurt. Well, not judging, the sentiment is completely undestandable, it’s just sad. Games are not yet touched by sanctions, but I would not be surprised that it might strike hard as well, and I fear to see Blizzard, or Steam (where I buy and keep my FFXIV account and single player titles), or other developers and distributors in the news feed. Well… here we return to where we started: absolutely no control over these events, and meanwhile I’m playing while I can – with understanding that every day might be a swan song.
WoW: Anduin Cinematic (Spoilers Ahead)
It’s a lol, of course, but I actually reinstalled WoW as a means of diversifying my gaming assets. Technically, Blizzard would sooner crumble under fashion of sanctions rather than Steam which combines developers all over the world, including Asia, and yet it may not.
I’ve logged in again, ran around Zereth Mortis for a 20-minute round of daily quests, and logged out. My first bitter impression, spiced up with IRL anger and dismay, nevertheless proved true: Zereth Mortis is an uninspiring grind for no real lore reason, and I don’t really want to play the patch – only if there will be nothing else left to play. Korthia was super engaging, with all its absense of lore and bleak landscape, Zereth Mortis is not. Yet I might see the story quests and probably run a raid once in LFR when it comes out – as long as my sub’s already paid for.
Of course, I spoiled myself the Anduin cinematic today. Let me tell that it’s one of the very few things in Shadowlands lore done right – I genuinely liked it – a lot! Varian and Saurfang, as wielders of Shalamayne, who imbued it with their valor and honor, make so much sense as an anchor for restoring Anduin’s sanity! And Arthas’ soul as a battery makes so much sense too – that’s what Uther sensed when Anduin came for Bastion’s Archon, it makes a perfect sense as a part of Jailer’s domination magic over Anduin, and yet it’s just a fraction of his former self.
Would Arthas appear as a human soul, he would drag the blanket to himself, immediately, and people would ask for more, for a redemption arc, questlines or something. Yet this fragment is sad – even the bitter Sylvanas has let it go – and it’s a fair, just fate for the fallen paladin/death knight/lich king. I mean: wow! That is a revelation which works as advertised, tying lose ends and balancing logic, emotions and character reactions. Blizzard… is still able to do lore? That’s a refreshing sign.
The only thing left in question is why Sylvanas walks in the raid like their buddy, but that’s about the next lore questline coming tomorrow. Like I said – whatever, I don’t really care anymore what they do with the character, but let’s see how it happens.
FFXIV: Alt Jobs and Progress
Most of my FFXIV gameplay today is shared among two directions: first, Lolo the lalafell is catching up with the story (Zodiark just down, about to meet rabbits), second, I’m actively leveling non-DPS jobs: warrior, white mage and astrologian. All are now 50+, so their spell kits finally took shape, and I can judge the jobs.
Warrior is a great tank experience. Simple, comprehensible DPS rotation (although: why AoE spells don’t fuel Inner Beast gauge, when we have an Inner beast AoE spell?), a very satisfying feeling of swaying a big ass axe (and being a lalafell adds another 100 points of satisfaction to that), and a straightforward mitigation kit. I put all def spells in line on my hotbar, in power progression, so I can easily pick the one according to situation without thinking: for example, 10% -> 20% -> 30%. By level 50, I already don’t struggle with survival as before, although I still avoid doing too big pulls – 2 packs tops.
White Mage is not too inspiring, and it’s – for want of a better word – clumsy. It has the almost the same healing toolkit as astrologian, and yet every dungeon with it is a struggle. For some reason (not gear, I checked), spells heal for a less amount, I’m challenged with maintaining tank afloat and saving party members that rip aggro. AoE is a special pain – when the whole party gets an AoE damage, you cast an AoE spell, and it just won’t work: as party members are scattered across the field, so it just doesn’t have range to cover even two! More often than not, I would target tank, and even melee dps don’t get healed! To say nothing about ranged which don’t tend to stack. So basically I waste an expensive AoE heal to get only one dude healed, and have to top up the others with single target casts.
Speaking of expensive, White Mage also often finds herself out of mana, even if I’m extremely careful, do not spam expensive spells when not absolutely necessary, and aim for smaller heals as a bulk of my rotation. Cherry on top, my previous concern about shaman vibe did not vanish: it’s still stones and wind for DPS, and healing casts do no flowers and stuff. All in all, White Mage is playable, viable, but severely lacks in terms of pleasure and class fantasy that I expected.
Astrologian – on the other hand, this job is simply amazing. Every new spell that I get makes perfect sense and takes its rightful place in my rotation and spell kit. Switching to Astrologian after White Mage is an immense relief, dungeons are played through a lot smoother and my spells feel powerful enough not to panic, and I managed to pull my group from insanely tight spots a couple of times – stressful, yet quite satisying. Not to tell anything about buffs – it’s an extra depth that is not obligatory (for example, during trash fights I don’t have time for this), but makes you feel important and useful during boss encounters. Class gear and cast animations are also so cool and engaging. Enjoying it a lot!
That all said, playing a non-DPS is still not exactly my piece of cake. I’m always playing games to relax, and playing a tank or moreover, a healer, is far from it – you need to always be on your toes, ready to react, and just one second of distraction would lead to a group wipe. Playing these jobs – or classes in other games – is still fun, it provides a perspective of how the whole group operates, why tanks or healers would not always save you, what to rely on, and in general makes your DPS gameplay a lot more responsible :) I don’t know whether I’ll be playing them in full scale after level cap, but at the very least Trust system since Endwalker would let me to sate the desire to play these classes without extreme pressure :)
I continue to drag my lalafell through the Endwalker story, and the attitude is mixed. The drawback is of course that I lost some sense of novelty, the big reveals and stuff – but it’s a plus too. Now I foresee what I’m up for, I know beforehand what awaits me, and pay attention to little details and crumbs in dialogues that make a lot more sense now that I know the story till the end.
Still, some parts that were fresh first time now lost this advantage and don’t feel that great – for example, I dragged through Garlemald with my eyes rolled, with the dread of a vehicle quest in the end. Today, I only like the zone’s brilliant intro and the zone’s ending, from kidnapping to uncanning Zodiark. By the way, the hated In From the Cold quest has received a seriously nerfed Very Easy option, so this time I failed just once there (my mi’qote needed about 8 attempts!). Mark you, Endwalker story is nowhere worse, it’s still the best narrative in game and beyond, it’s just I wouldn’t replay some quests if I could.
I am surprised how easy were the first two dungeons and Zodiark. During my first walkthrough, we struggled a lot, and Zodiark took about 10 attempts to kill. This time, I walked through with Trust, did not wipe once, and Zodiark – albeit required to do with players – was down on second pull without any challenge. Everyone survived, even me – even if I killed him just once, back in December. Practice makes perfect? Anyways, now I’m looking forward to the remaining dungeons.
The plan remains the same – to cover the story, to cross out side quests of the latest expansion, and to level all my alt jobs to level cap, including healers, tank and all DPS – on both alts. It’s a long term goal, I’m super engaged in every FFXIV activity – even re-running Praetorium main scenario for a zillionth time, and all in all, having lots of fun.
If only I was certain that gaming stays in my life in the wake of IRL Final Days :) Well, no one can tell, and surely not me.