Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – Phase 3 Test 1 Reflections – Part 2

Crystal Bearer

Crystal Bearer Cutscene

Continuing on with my latest adventure into Eorzea! If you missed it, read part one here. I had not planned to be gung ho in Phase 3 Test 1(herein known as P3.1 due to extreme laziness). On the contrary, I wanted to explore, look at new things and watch other people play. But the from the get go, this plan was a complete bust. What can I say, the FF staple of rushing after the main story is completely present in this game.

I could not wait to see what happened next! I did not want to spoil the journey for launch so I sped through the text where applicable but could not for the life of me click the ‘skip’ button for the cutscenes, so I watched them all! I’m pretty sure I’ll be just as excited for the cutscenes come launch and I’ve given myself enough voids in the story that I will want to read every single line of text in retail as well.

Since it was a Friday and therefore a work day, I did not pay full attention to the game. Even so, between work and poking around on ARR, the day sped by like nobody’s business! I started my day at 8am and when I looked up it was already 5pm… where did the time go? It’s a testament to the lore and story of the game that I have tested the same area since Alpha and I still became lost and invested in a character scheduled for wipe! A number of LS mates had already reached level 15+ by the time I started. I wanted to catch up and experience the dungeons together so thankfully some of them had to work as well booyah!

All in game screenshot Copyright (C) 2010 – 2013 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.

Mother Crystal

The Mother Crystal Calls

Battle System
Battle system in P3.1 is much improved. They did little balancing here and there for casting speed, recast speed and also placing abilities on separate timers, and the flow of battle feels more fluid now. Loving the speed of each battle! I realize that a number of players, probably more used to old school FF games and FFXI who may disagree as the pace was much slower in those games. However, for an MMO today, the speed in ARR is  nicely balanced. The dev team is still tweaking and is receiving feedback for all changes made so far.

Ouchies

Ouch! That Burns!

From a caster view point my initial reservation for the first 10 levels has been alleviated. The main story mission so far consists of solo instances against mini bosses and it’s been an absolute pleasure challenging them all as a Conjurer. I find myself managing mp, hp, running out of aoe range, dodging attacks and best of all, feeling like I’m a clothy kicking ass and chewing names! Or some such…

Ass Kickin

I’m totally absolute.. getting my butt kicked ; ;

This was the first real ‘challenging’ fight I had to solo. I waltzed into the instance kung fu fighting and ended up a pile of rubble back at home point ; ; It’s battles like this which I find totally fun! I don’t want to roll in and bulldoze everything in one go, I want to be challenged, think of what to do next and why I need to do it, or think of better ways!

Morale Boost

Rhys cheering me on by randomly standing around playing clown… MORALE BOOSTO!

Rhys Moraler

Once More… With FEELING!

So back I went to re-challenge it again, this time with an actual strategy instead of face rolling it /nods.  First up, let’s take down the adds while cure spamming through the main guy’s attacked. I had noticed that in the first run nice Mr. Moogle-chan would give me warnings if the main guy was about to do something super nasty. I assume he’s warning me because it can be dodged (WoW habit there!). I also noticed that unless his buddies are dead, he’d never do his special. In the end, both buddies were down, I still had a nice amount of MP, but popped an ether in case, during which Mr. Moogle-chan informed me that something really bad is coming, so I started keeping my distance, saw him powering up his move and was able to strafe to avoid being hit. The rest of the battle was a breeze as long as I avoided this.

Elementary no? And I know Vid and Scin are reading this going “uh….duh?” lol You’d be surprised! This type of game play does not exist in  games such as FFXI so a lot of players may find it frustrating the first time. I read a number of beta test feedback asking for re-balancing of these fights to lower ‘difficulty’. I pray it never happens 😦 Let’s teach them how to fish, instead of spoon feeding em eh?

Dodging

Uh oh, I think that means RUNNNNNN

Rock Stabbing

That’s right Mr Bandit-chan, you keep stabbing that rock wall yep

I think that was a safe enough encounter to talk about in a bit more detail, pretty easy and straight forward but also containing some elements that XI players may not be used to. The other encounters… I’m not going to spoil! They’re pretty awesome so if you should go try it out /wink wink

Music
IN LOVE. Get the OST NAO! The end.

Non Combat Systems
I did not do any non combat gameplay this phase other than exploring, which I will save for another post since it will be screenshot heavy. However, I have previously tested the new crafting and gathering system. As an avid crafter and gatherer in 1.0, I feel that the system may have been dumbed down a bit too much perhaps? But then again… the old system was fun for like the first 5 mins… But having to do it sometimes for hours at a time to get what I needed, it became more than a little tedious.

So though the more unrealistic side of me liked the old mini games, the other half prefers the no nonsense features of the new system. I know how many hours to put into it, how much materials I need and what output I will get. BAM! If you’re busy with end game, RL and everything else in between… you will probably appreciate it. It still requires more thought than clicking X over and over (on gamepad) but not so much that every craft felt like doom when it broke. I remember going into fits of nerd rage when I went 1 +1 on a Vanya robe then went on to break the remaining two synths…. that’s so not awesome lol

Edit: adding in clarification that although I do not think the new crafting system is a mini game at all, there are still abilities, skills etc to use with it. You have the same hotbars as a DOW or DOM class for instance. So its not a simple click to craft type deal found in most MMOs, which is still cool, because the more HQ points you try for, the more exp you get etc.

I will not touch much more on this portion of the game until Phase 4 for sure. I plan on spending this weekend’s testing time exploring my 1.0 character import and as many end game events as we can manage. Which brings me to…

End Game
1.0 end game was pretty fun. Fortunately I was able to join DM for the final few months of 1.0 and they were kind enough to include me in a large portion of their Garuda and Dungeon speed runs for achievements as well get started on the relic quest. I am very much looking forward to what has changed in 2.0 for end game content. From the little we have seen of the Primal fight via trailers, it looks similar but obviously with improved battle mechanics and not more crappy latency. Nothing worse than seeing something appear beneath you, react immediately… but still die… because the server is clueless. Very much looking forward to this weekend, and hoping that they keep to their original schedule to allow us our 1.0 char usage!

Ifrit Battle

Rawrr let’s tango flamey!

Party Play
You may have noticed I talked a lot about soloing… don’t be mistaken, there are still party play elements in this game and will continue on later as we encounter 4 man, 8 man and 24 man dungeons. Due to Level Sync finally being implemented, the dungeons will always be viable at any level to gain experience points with new friends, or old friends rejoining the ARR launch. Guildhest is a new party play system where you team up in fours and enter into a battle instance to complete objectives.

What I would like to see and will write a feedback regarding this on the beta forums soon, is the ability to ad hoc Level Sync. If I want to run around with my lowbie friends while they adventure and sync down to their level, I should be able to click a button and do it, a la FFXI. It’s a great system and would make a lot of sense in this environment. Part of the reason is, although they are trying to discourage grinding, sometimes it’s just plain fun to get into a party, sync down to the lowest level member and run around poking things, especially when trying to do Leves together.

Shantoto
WHERE IS SHE BRING HER BACK!

What… Anyways, in conclusion, I enjoyed the beta tremendously. I did more dungeons on Friday night and most of Saturday, then spent quite some time exploring yet still not managing to see it all. It was after all only a 2 day beta. I’ll be posting screenshots from my exploring sessions shortly and refrain from posting much more spoilerific storyline details!

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