FFXIV: Lessons

Having discovered professions, my next goal was to hit level 15 so I could catch an airship of some kind to Limsa Lominsa in order to train Fishing. If FFXIV is only going to be a month long project, fishing has to be part of it.

Levelling didn’t take long. Following the main storyline and the nearby side quests netted most of the required experience – and a taunt skill which will come in handy.

Everywhere you go there’s an amazing outfit or mount – or both – to admire

During the questing I answered my question about what happens if you’re equipped for a profession when you encounter an aggressive mob: you run away. I hadn’t worked out how to tell which mobs would attack when you passed through their aggro radius and accidentally drew the attention of three angry ants. Fighting them with my pick wasn’t going to work, and I couldn’t quickly change outfits, so I sprinted away. Luckily they are on rubber bands so I was soon safe, but I learnt the lesson. It does make gathering seem a little hard to do at low levels – it might have to wait until I’m a bit more powerful.

I discovered that my ‘shield bash’ ability is an interrupt for the telegraph abilities of mobs. Smacking them when the ground effect appears stuns them and cancels the special move. Very handy and easier than running out of range. I suspect that later mobs won’t be quite so easy to disrupt, but for now it’s a fun ability. I also polished off the first tier of the Hunting Log, which rewarded a good chunk of XP but disappointingly nothing much else other than a massive banner alert that things were about to get more difficult.

Not as exciting as they seem to think

The final discovery in this play session was that I’ve reached a level where things are starting to be dangerous. I wandered into a camp of small sentient creatures and started mindlessly slaughtering them. There was some kind of glowing purple circle around the quest objective which gave me pause, but so far glowing things hadn’t seemed to make much difference so I pressed on. Suddenly a mini-boss of some kind was summoned and started casting something nasty, at the same time as the remaining trash mobs all decided to finally notice me and start attacking en masse. Bravery and valour took a back seat as I employed the sprint button again to get out of there, barely making it alive. I went back with a more methodical approach and succeeded, though it was still a lot tougher than anything I’d previously encountered.

I also had some close scrapes with some particularly aggressive mantis like creatures and some giant poisonous toads. I was looking for colour cues as to what will aggro and what will let me walk straight through, but I think it’s a small icon next to their nameplate that is the tell. Clearly I’ve reached some kind of tipping point between friendly newbie zone and somewhere with more expectations, and I may well be doing something wrong (or non optimally) too. From now on a more cautious approach is called for – and I should pay more attention to the swirly coloured magical stuff.

When I reached 15 nothing actually happened. I think I was kind of expecting a quest to magically appear, similarly to how flying does in Warcraft. Not that this was flying, but FFXIV has been very good at introducing new concepts as they become available and the ability to take airships to new cities seems to warrant that kind of notice. My guess is this is locked behind a quest chain I haven’t quite completed, like learning Professions was.

So fishing will have to wait – but not for long.

#Blaugust20

FFXIV: She’s crafty

I’d forgotten that upon reaching level 10 I could start to train in the gathering and crafting professions – or Disciplines of the Land and Hand in game terms.

It wasn’t only level 10 that was required, it was that plus finishing the mandatory Gladiator introductory sequence. I almost felt guilty being tempted when my Guildmistress told me that much as she hated to say it, I was free to go and train in other Classes.

What I didn’t realise was that training the Hand/Land classes was the same as switching to an entirely different Combat Class. When I trained as a Miner I suddenly lost all my Gladiator skills, my action bars swapped, and I was suddenly near-naked in the middle of the Mining Guild.

Now I understand why so many people are semi-dressed when they are crafting

Working out how to dress more appropriately, I soon found the ‘Recommended Gear’ button on the UI, which very smartly worked out what gear I should equip for my current Class. And then I could save that as a Gear Set, and switch between Combat and Profession equipment with ease.

I was equipped with a Mining Pick and had a single action available called Prospect, which promised to reveal mining nodes on my minimap when active. This is very different to my experience in other MMOs where gathering and crafting are very much secondary skills, requiring only a tool or two in your inventory. Here you become a miner, or goldsmith, or tailor, etc.

At first I was sceptical that this was a good idea – having to swap entirely to a new load out and skill set just to mine some ore seemed quite cumbersome. And it means that you can’t just spot a node as you’re adventuring and gather it on the move. You need to set out specifically to gather, or craft, and abandon your combat role entirely.

I do worry what would happen if you set out with mining pick and sub-optimal armour equipped, only to encounter some aggressive mobs that needed your full kit to counter. I wonder if you can swap mid combat, or if it’s like other games where once you’re engaged you’re locked out.

Mining pick equipped, I ventured back out into Thanalan and soon found my first node. They are much prettier than Warcraft that’s for sure.

Tempting

I duly started picking away at it, and discovered that FFXIV has a much deeper crafting system than I expected. One you find a node, you can choose what you want to try and extract from it, and what the chance of recovering each possible reward is.

This kind of blew my mind, as this made gathering is a game in itself, with chance and gambling and decision making instead of just mindless clicking on shiny nodes. There’s a full list of levels and skills to be learnt, quests and objectives, and I presume you could play the game as solely a crafter if you were willing to forgo combat.

I’ve always been intrigued by Bhagpuss’s reports of the full crafting storyline in EQ2, and it looks like FFXIV has at least some semblance of that, though whether it goes quite as far as EQ2 does is yet to be seen:

It’s completely viable [in EQ2] to have characters who only craft and still have a well-developed, structured throughline from creation to cap that includes everything an Adventurer could expect. There are signature questlines at all levels, side-quests, storylines, upgradeable gear and tools, important NPCs to meet, titles to earn, achievements, you name it. There are even craft raids.

Training Mining also unlocked a Gathering Log full of lists of items to find while Mining. Similarly training Weaving created a Crafting Log, though it was more functional, containing recipes for how to make gear and accoutrements. Crafting an item involves chance, material wear, and action bar skills in order to make the object you desire. The animation is also pretty great, a full spindle or needlecraft pad appearing for weaving, and accompanying over the top excitement when you successfully make a ball of twine.

Exploring this has opened up a whole new world within FFXIV, and I found myself excited to start progressing the profession chains – perhaps even more than following the actual storyline. The fashion, armour, and weapons you see just wandering around Ul’dah continue to be astonishing, and I assume that much of it is created via crafting, no doubt at great expense. The bigger capitals and endgame hubs must be a sight to behold, and I can imagine setting up as a crafter of exclusive goods must be an excellent earner and satisfying game in and of itself.

Wonderful and beautiful design

My only regret is Fishing isn’t available in Ul’dah, for that I need to travel to somewhere called Limsa Lominsa – and to get there I need to get to Level 15 apparently. I’ll do that on my Gladiator given I’m 12 now, unless Gathering ore becomes more interesting!

#Blaugust18

FFXIV: Motivation

I dipped back in to FFXIV today, spending some time following the main story questline.

At my low level it doesn’t seem to be terribly different from the non main story quests, or at least the objectives aren’t. One had me handing out exactly four treats to starving children, another dealing with precisely three bad-guy Lancers. Meanwhile the side quests were more or less the same – collect eight ribs, investigate four bits of ore on the railway tracks.

The main difference was that there were occasional cut scenes (still unvoiced), and the reappearance of the Handsome Stranger. I faced down a gigantic animated clump of boulders, and a mysterious black robed figure marvelled at my apparent skill in defeating it. So there is the hint of something larger brewing, though it’s hard to follow exactly what that is.

Not so handsome now

I found it quite hard to stay motivated, though it’s hard to say whether that’s the game or I just wasn’t in the mood for MMO style gaming. While I enjoy the open world of an MMO, sometimes the tight confines of an on-rails single player game can be more absorbing, or at least more distracting.

The other thought I had was that it would be more fun to be doing this in a group. I found the same thing in GW2 and SWtoR, where I would have fun playing solo to a point but then drift away and never complete any characters.

In SWtoR it was often because it seems a waste missing out on the group conversation options, which is one of the underrated features of the game. Playing in a group allows you to independently choose the dialogue option you want, and then a random roll determines which choice ‘wins’. It makes questing much more interesting as you often get to see responses you wouldn’t otherwise have chosen.

In GW2 I think it was more the same kind of problem I’m feeling in FFXIV, namely uncertainty about exactly why I’m doing all this if I’m not playing with friends, or heading to an endgame where I could.

The thing that makes me question that theory is WoW, where I will more often quite happily play completely solo, working on alts or grinding out reps and rewards on my main. The difference being that there’s a group of us that noodle about every so often, and with who I had a brief and vaguely glorious period of raiding, and one day might do so again.

He should be able to wear those bunny pants too

I wonder if were I a GW or FFXIV veteran instead of a Warcraft one I would find WoW had the same issue. Or, more likely, I’m just having an off day and I’ll be back in the chocobo saddle tomorrow.

#Blaugust17

FFXIV: Unlocked

Last night I reached level 10 and unlocked a swathe of features, most of which I missed as the screen alerts and pop-ups flew by.

The main one was that I am now officially a Gladiator tank. While I’d unlocked my first clear tanking ability at level 8 with Rampart (reduces incoming damage temporarily), at level 10 several new abilities appeared. The main one is something called Iron Will which increases the enmity enemy mobs feel toward me. This looks like it’s a permanent taunt, making me much more attractive to mobs when fighting in a group. It’s tied to an ‘Oath Gauge’ which is a on screen icon that’s either on of off as far as I can tell – so less of a gauge than a switch.

The armour design continues to be beautiful

A passive Tank Mastery trait also unlocked, which has the standard reduce damage + increase HP buffs based on my vitality and strength attributes respectively. One thing the game hasn’t done a great job of explaining – unlike many things which are explained very well – is the stats I should be aiming for on gear. Many of the quest rewards make me choose between Strength (leather) and Intelligence (cloth) upgrades, so I’ve been gravitating to Strength. But I did seem to see somewhere, though I can’t find it now, that Intelligence is important for tanking, so I’m not sure what to choose here. Given I won’t be tanking – or at least not yet – I think Strength is still going to be preferable, especially with the Tank Mastery trait bonus.

I’m enjoying the Gladiator, feeling like you can take a few hits and being well armoured and armed is always satisfying to me in a game. I should probably start thinking about starting a new Class now that I can, but for the moment I will stay true to the Gladiator way. One of the rewards for reaching this milestone was a piece of unique untradable body armour (though I suspect every other Gladiator is also wearing it), which had the unfortunate effect of exposing my less than ideal pants.

At least my leggings are long

I was a little surprised to find there wasn’t much song and dance about reaching level 10 back in Ul’dah at the Gladiator Guild – just another clean up mission – but I suppose that’s the Gladiator way: all business. Level 10 should also mean professions are available, and given you can do all of them at once I should probably be a bit cautious that crafting doesn’t take over the gameplay for me. Fishing is guaranteed though.

I had been assuming the Gladiator missions were the main quest line, but there is a ‘Main Scenario Quest’ which must be the core story – I’d just been chugging through all the quests as I moved around the map so wasn’t following closely which was associated with what. Thinking back the core story did seem to involve a lot of courier deliveries and kill five thing quests, so maybe that’s why it hadn’t grabbed my focus. Time to pay attention.

Out in the adventuring world I have started to get a better handle on my survivability too. Handling multiple mobs seems to be ok, as long as you’re careful, though having only one AoE ability so far is a bit limiting. The FATES have become easy but I think I’m outlevelling most of those in the first zone now. They are a bit repetitive after a while, with most being a variation of defeat the waves of mobs and collect all of the things. I’m not sure that I’ll continue with them unless they sound interesting or different – I think GW2’s public events might be better designed on the whole.

Quite an ensemble

The GCD feels a bit slow still, but I’m starting to enjoy the pacing of the attack sequences. It feels almost like a rhythm game, albeit a slightly ponderous one. It’s fun working it out without referring to guides, though I suspect I’m being less than efficient. The ability options are starting to grow too, so getting some kind of optimum rotation going will take some study.

And I need to find some pants.

#Blaugust12

FFXIV: Settling in

I’m now level 7 and starting to settle into the gameplay. I made a few new discoveries, including the confirmation that there is indeed a telegraph warning when fighting, which will mean movement is going to become increasingly important.

There’s an excellent Help system in the early levels, that leads you through the concepts you’re going to need to be familiar with in order to play. It’s thorough and sensible, talking about BOP items, rarity, how experience is earned, FATES, and everything in between. It’s all pretty standard stuff, but excellent for the new-to-MMOs player.

Strangely I still hadn’t seen any general chat though, so no way to ask for help or hints. As I was despairing on how to find it I did finally see something come up in the chat panel (I guess it was a /say so not strictly chat): gold-seller spam. Ha. Sigh. Eventually I decided to research it online. Turns out there is no general chat channel – no wonder it was quiet. There are things called a ‘Linkshell’, which sound like custom chat channels with friends, but you need to be invited to those.

Luckily Nogamara had tipped me off to the existence of something called the Novice Network, which is a dedicated chat channel for new players. The trick is that you can only be invited to participate in it by players who’ve qualified as a Mentor – and you can only find them by the icon on their nameplate (just as new players have a sapling on theirs). It’s quite a few hurdles to get over to join, and I spent a fruitless time trying to find a Mentor in Ul’dah until today. A kind Lion-person invited me to the Novice group, and suddenly there was plenty of chatter – most of it unfortunately about the relative merits of early FF RPGs, but it was better than the silence! I think the idea of Mentors and Novices is great, and something I’ve thought about for a long time, but it’s quite odd putting it behind a few tricky mechanisms, things that I think would definitely trip up a player with no MMO experience.

At least they didn’t call it the noob-network

I was excited to come across my first instanced FATE, which turned out to also have the first example of voice acting in the game. One was a squeaky voiced female Lalafell, the other a ‘Handsome Stranger’ with a deep and confidently male approach – both seemed appropriate to their model, though I’m not sure I could stand too much Lalafell if they all sound like this one.
Brooding: check. Good hair: check. Handsome: check.

The FATE itself was a mini-boss fight, with the stranger doing the tanking and me providing assistance and handling the adds – though I’m sure my good looking friend didn’t need the help. At the end I picked up a crystal which started a dream sequence of some kind. The lore is no clearer than it was at the start, but there’s something big brewing involving these Crystals of Light and pleas for me to ‘shine my light on all creation’ – I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that responsibility.
Edited for clarity

I also participated in an open world FATE, starting an on-level fight that I would certainly have lost had not a few other players joined in shortly after it started. That was fun too, though I couldn’t work out how to play the Tank role – I suspect I’m too low level just yet, not having any taunt abilities. In fact one hilarious Gladiator training quest back in Ul’dah had me finding some city brutes and drawing their attention from the citizens they were bullying – aka taunting them. The command to do that was /me, as in, ‘look at me’. Hardly threatening! I did in fact try /me during the FATE just in case that was somehow an actual taunt, but (thankfully) it didn’t work.

Combat remains interesting and looks better with each new ability you get. I’m looking forward to getting finishers and other specials that will no doubt have some spectacular effects.

My Gladiator Guildmistress also gave me something called a Hunting Log, which has a series of seek/slay quests within it to earn extra experience. It’s a grind checklist really, but in a new game it sounds like a lot of fun rather than a chore. The mobs you are hunting for are handily marked with an icon when you’re out in the world, which is a nice touch and saves having to refer to the Log constantly. There’s a series of other Logs that will become available, and I was super excited to see one called the Fishing Log – I can see myself spending way too long completing that book.

#Blaugust11

FFXIV: Combative

Ahh, freedom.


As soon as I left Ul’dah the game started to come alive. There were fantastic beasts, far horizons, and plenty to explore.

Unfortunately the weather went downhill rapidly, and my screenshots suffered accordingly – please excuse the dim light. As posited yesterday, I think it would be better design to start players in one of the small settlements outside the city (there’s even a cute one called Stonesthrow which is within…well, you get it) and work your way to the more established locales.

Naturally, we also get our first taste of combat: it seems pretty fun and looks nicer than your average MMO. There are great lighting animations to show sword sweeps and special moves, which I’m sure must be spectacular in mass group combat. The global cool down seems pretty mellow, so it’s a lazy style of attack. Having said that, I soon discovered that you can have weapon combos, which is a fun mechanic – time your second ability that has combo potential right and you deal more damage. I wonder how complex that gets, it could be quite a dance.

I’m not sure yet if there are telegraphs and dodging required from enemy attacks, so far it’s simple hotkey abilities and timing – my preferred style, I think, though I’ve not been exposed to much else. There also appears to be auto loot, I haven’t had to manually pick up anything from a defeated foe yet.

This was a mob, not a plant

The minimap and map are very informative, though I was led slightly astray by what looked like a path to another zone along a railroad. Turns out it was a no through tunnel – the real zone links come from the larger red arrows on the map. Again a little surprised at how small the zones are before you need to load the next set of assets.

I’m beginning to understand these glyphs

There are public quests or FATES in FFXIV terminology (the rather uncomfortable acronym Full Active Time Events), which appear as icons on the minimap. I was too low level to join any, but look forward to seeing how they work when compared to GW2. I was expecting to see people advertising for assistance in chat, but so far I haven’t seen a single chat message, whether in the city or the wilds of Thanalan where I’ve been exploring. I suspect that means I’m doing something wrong, though I haven’t changed any settings.

One final observation for the day is that the inventory system is very generous. I seem to have four storage bags with 140 slots total, plus a ‘Key Items’ bag for quest items, and an ‘Armoury Chest’ with 20ish spots for each gear slot. It even has a neat UI data visualisation of the spaces in your bags, and which slots are taken.

Quite a change from the normal MMO experience of eeking out precious space – it’s certainly a boost for the ‘one character’ philosophy!

#Blaugust07

FFXIV: Citybound

After earning my freedom from the tutorial, I’ve been wandering around the city of Ul’dah and following the breadcrumb quests. Which do a good job of introducing you to the various facilities and zones of the city.

So far I’ve seen the merchants, Class guilds, and many a well dressed resident. The quests lead you sequentially from one thing to the next, all with inconsequential results. After a while I started to get an itch to get out of the city, but I have a bit of a completionist personality so continued picking up every quest I saw and dutifully fulfilling the requests tasks. During all the back and forthing I naturally started jumping about, but unfortunately the jump animation leaves a bit to be desired, you kind of hop straight up and down just like a GW2 character – none of the playful fun of a Blood Elf’s occasional spin for joy.

The city itself is quite unlike most fantasy worlds I’ve encountered. The people are preoccupied with fairly regular concerns – fashion being a large one. There is a lot of fashion on display, from NPCs to other players, and many of the quests were concerned with things like finding the ‘in’ colour for the season, or acquiring gems for a spectacular dress.

From the sublime…
Also unusual was being tasked with performing some unsavoury jobs. During the tutorial you witness some thugs beating up a gambling debtor, and one of the early quests has you heavy a citizen quivering with fear – who then hands over her mother’s wedding ring for you to hock to repay the debt. You don’t get any choices in this, so there’s no consequence (I don’t think?), and nor does the game judge you in any way. I think I prefer the SWtOR light/dark model, where you at least get ‘rewarded’ for being bad, or good.

…to the ridiculous
During all this running about the UI and how it works started to be exposed. I was very surprised to find loading screens happening within the city. It’s big, but it’s not that big – reminding me most of Ironforge with avenues and streets running off semi-circular hubs. Some of the UI is obviously carried over from the single player games, from massive QUEST ACCEPTED overlays to the old fashioned need to drag (or right click and select from a menu) an item from your bag to the quest window in order to hand it in.

So the Viera can dress. Phew. The little guy seemed to be her pet?
I’m intrigued by the depth of some of information panels – there are a lot of stats and things to learn about and min-max, if that’s your cup of tea. Hotbars and controls are intuitive and seem to be very customisable, with good mouse and movement controls. And there are many nice conveniences like clicking on subquests and having the map open to where you need to go. The UI also confirmed and tempted the magic possibility of one character who can do anything.

Time to start filling in the blanks

A nice discovery is the ability to teleport to other Worlds (aka Servers) in order to be able to join up with friends. That makes the World choice less crucial, though there did appear to be some limits on what you could do when teleported.

One offputting thing is that the quest text is heavily heavily male skewed. Everything refers to men/man/he/him, no matter that I’m standing there as a woman wanting to learn how to Gladiator. I’m getting the feeling there will be a fair amount of sexism on display. As with any videogame, it’s a real shame when you encounter tired stereotypes such as the nagging wife and disobedient husband, given the scope for unlimited social creativity. Maybe it’s because these zones are old, and things improve once you start getting to expansion material, but I don’t recall experiencing the same blatantly one-sided dialogue in Warcraft, SWtOR, or GW2. Having said that many of leading NPCs I’ve encountered are women, including the leader of my Gladiator’s Guild (though she was wearing a chainmail skirt – maybe it’s a nod to the Roman Gladiator’s armor skirt). Like the Viera, benefit of the doubt for now.

Yes you are indeed handsome
I think perhaps starting in a city is a bad idea. While it allows FFXIV to do a good job establishing the mechanics of trading, crafting, fast travel, etc, it also limits the actual fantasy a fair amount. I felt like I was basically a courier travelling in a largish city, not too removed from real life.

There’s also no sense of beginning a heroic story, or not yet. The concept of the big-bang (or even small-bang) start is not on show here. Starting a Tauren in Warcraft has you defending the village from attack. In SWtOR you’re thrown into some local conflict or another almost immediately. In FFXIV I had to sign a charter to become an adventurer, then deliver some envelopes to stern looking administrative types. It’s quite amusing if not exactly compelling.

Apologies if this all seems fairly critical – I’m still very interested in finding out what makes this game tick. What I really want to experience is the wide open lands and strange wondrous creatures FFXIV is famous for. And the epic storylines. Fancily dressed citybound humans of various heights are still just humans. Thankfully I eventually started collecting the requisite ‘kill 10 rats’ missions, which will take me outside the city gates – into the real world.

#Blaugust06

FFXIV: Arrival

After days of planning and character tuning, I finally logged into FFXIV today. Well, after waiting for the 13 player queue to clear I did. That was a novelty – a logon queue! Haven’t seen one of them in a long time – even Warcraft expansion launches don’t have queues these days. A healthy sign for popularity.

My immediate thought was that the engine looks very much like that of GW2 – very high fidelity graphics, with beautiful colours and landscapes. Very different to Warcraft and SWtOR with their cartoony style and simpler palettes, both of which I enjoy despite the detractors.

I suspect those bird ‘horses’ are going to be a very common sight
Interestingly it starts like more of an RPG, like the Witcher or Skyrim, setting the tone via cut scenes and slow story telling. We start in a wagon, moving across a desert landscape, being given gentle world cues by an elderly trader. The journey is interrupted by some brutish border guards, who in turn are attacked by our first sight of world mobs, before eventually we arrive in the starting city of Ul’dah.

Again reminiscent of GW2 in scale and grandeur, though the city itself is rather empty when I arrive – even the NPCs seem scarce. I wonder if the intro is phased? I was quickly beckoned by my first true NPC, someone decidedly different to your regular fantasy stereotype.

Then why are you hiding yours?
I decided I’d ignore him for the moment and go exploring, but the game refused to allow me to do that – I hit some kind of invisible wall within a few metres and was forced to turn back to my sunglassed friend. That was unexpected. My new friend advised that I needed to be registered with the Adventurer’s Guild in order to… adventure. Makes a kind of sense. My freedom of movement grew slightly larger, but I still couldn’t wander to my heart’s content, so I went with the flow – I guess it’s a tutorial of sorts, which seems sensible.

More cut scenes followed, complete with facial talking animations but no actual voices. It is kind of jolting not hearing what is being said while being forced to watch (SWtOR spoils us there), but it also allows quicker progress through the conversations. I was witness to a gambler being beaten by local heavies, and strangely wasn’t called upon to do anything about it. Welcome to Ul’dah indeed.

And with that I was free! Suddenly other players appeared, and quests, and the world was waiting. Time to explore.

Here we go

#Blaugust05

FFXIV: Once more, with thinking

Thanks to some invaluable tips from Nogamara from Battle Stance, I’m having to rethink how to start out in FFXIV. This post is basically a liveblog of me figuring out how this all works.

It turns out that your starting Class does in fact impact what roles you can play as you advance through the game – or at least the first role you play. By choosing Gladiator, I was choosing to be a tank, and a tanking Paladin at level 30. That was surprising given the text describing the Gladiator certainly makes it sound like it could quite easily be a dual-wielding DPS type:

Gladiators specialize in the handling of all manner of one-handed blades, from daggers to longswords, be they single- or double-edged, straight or curved. Tracing their roots to the Coliseum, where the roar of the crowd reigns supreme, these melee combatants have learned to seamlessly flow between attack and defense in a dance that delights the eye. Making use of their skill with the shield, gladiators can also draw the attention and attacks of an enemy upon themselves, thereby protecting their comrades from harm.

Closer reading does reveal that you have a shield, which I thought must be optional but I guess is required, and does point toward tanking. Nogamara pointed me to this excellent wiki which proves the point, and lays out what can be expected of you based on your initial Class choice.

It’s complicated

All of which means you can’t be quite as casual about picking your first Class as I had thought. For example I probably don’t want to be tanking on my first sight of dungeons at level 16 without first getting to know the game.

Some of the Jobs don’t require base Classes but aren’t available until level 30+, so I can rule them out immediately. I don’t like magic roles, so that narrows it down further – to a ‘Disciple of War’ (instead of Magic)1 in FFXIV terms. And if I don’t want to tank – and being a new player it’s definitely advisable not to, despite how much I enjoy the role – then it’s down to the melee and ranged physical DPS roles: Lancer/Dragoon, Pugilist/Monk, Rogue/Ninja, and Archer/Bard.

Hm but wait a moment. Nogamara also levelled a “Bard + Marauder + Conjurer at the same time“. Now two of those are base Classes (the Marauder and Conjurer), which means you must be able to swap Classes as well as Jobs as you level?

According to Wikipedia, players can ‘change their class at will by changing weapons’. That sounds too easy. But apparently it’s (almost) correct. While I can’t find an official reference, Reddit and various forums seem to say that once you complete your core Class quest at level 10, you can go to other Class trainers and ask to be trained. Then you can switch Class entirely just by equipping that Class’s weapon.

That’s kind of amazing. In Warcraft you’re locked in to your Class at Level 1, though you do have some flexibility later with swapping Specialisations within that Class. Even worse is SWtOR where your Specialisation, or Advanced Class in SWtOR-speak, is also locked – I’ve stopped entire characters when paralysed by that choice. FFXIV on the other hands lets a single character do everything. Something the Class wiki entry confirms: “Important: You can level all classes and jobs on one character.”

The full implications of this are kind of staggering, and the inventory management must be a real challenge! I love alts, but having one character who can do literally anything, including all the non-combat professions is certainly tempting. I’ve often wanted to be able to have multiple crafting and gathering professions on a Warcraft character, or to be able to play both Paladin and Warrior tanks on the same character. I do wonder how you’d manage to keep it all in your head, and keep track of who exactly you are in role-play terms. In fact role-play or head-canon is probably the main reason to maintain alts in most games.

In any case, all of this makes it sound like I can comfortably start off on my Gladiator to get a feel for the game – and I assume being a tank it means they have good survivability early game. Then, when the time comes, I can branch out and start looking at the DPS Classes in order to explore group dungeons. Nogamara also pointed out that there is a buff called an Armoury Bonus that means you get “+100% additional experience for secondary classes that are lower level than your highest level class”. So levelling the second Class will be faster – very nice.


It’s strange to be on day four of this endeavour and still not actually playing. But one of the interesting things about MMOs, above all over games, is that the out-of-game research component is often just as valuable as the in-game. The prime example of that in my experience is probably Secret World Legends, which more-or-less required extensive internet research in things as like as Latin translations and obscure geek-lore in order to progress the game.

This FFXIV research is different to that – it’s learning how the mechanics work and ensuring you’re not starting off on the wrong path. I enjoy it, and am kind of glad to have the excuse to delve into the intricacies of Classes and Jobs before setting foot in game.

#Blaugust04


  1. Oh oh, there also appear to be two profession Disciplines – of the Land (gathering), and of the Hand (crafting). Can of worms officially opened – but not until Level 10 thankfully. 

FFXIV: Option paralysis

46 hair styles.
12 voices.
4 tails.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I logged into FFXIV ready for the challenge of character creation, but first had to decide on a few things. The first was choosing a Data Centre aka regional server. The choices were US, EU, and JP. While Japan makes the most sense geographically – and hence maybe a better ping – I chose US mainly for the (assumed) language barrier the JP servers might present.

Next I had to choose a Server, which seemed random. They were bunched into subzones, so I chose Primal, then Hyperion (Legacy). A quick lookup told me that the servers tagged Legacy were from the original launch, so I figured they might have a bit more player history to them. As it turned out I ended up on another legacy server (Excalibur – some kind of genre crime happening there maybe?) as Hyperion was full, which made it strange that it was ever presented as an option.

I do wonder at the wisdom of MMOs making this kind of choice before anything else, as you really don’t know what to choose or why. I guess if you have friends you’re joining it’s easy, but if not they may be better served just assigning you to an appropriately populated world. The ‘onboarding’ isn’t as smooth as you might wish for, but we’re all used to it I guess. And the era of a single virtual server for all players can’t be far off.

After choosing the server, I finally arrived at the character creation. There were eight races on offer, and it was mildly disappointing to find that they followed the SWtOR model: basically humans. Human humans, tall humans, (very) short humans, cat humans, ogre humans, and dragon humans.

The final two races – Hrothgar and Viera – were locked down to Shadowbringers expansion owners. Which was unfortunate as a web search revealed that the Hrothgar were the only non-human race by the looks, being male-only lionlike felines. Strange how the first definitely non-human race in SWtOR (the Cathar) were also feline – what is it about cats?

One of these is not like the other

The Viera on the other hand: ick. Basically nearly naked female-only rabbit eared humans? It’s a little unforgivable that they are only women (even if it’s lore-sound), that they are pretty much undressed, and that it sure seems to be pandering to a particular fan. Maybe it’s just the screenshots – I couldn’t see the real thing in game. I’ll give Square-Enix the benefit of the doubt, barely.

For the other races, there are both sexes, and at least the men are as handsome as the women, albeit in far stronger poses for the most part. The Au Ra male at least was nicely fey (something Warcraft tried and abandoned with the Blood Elf males, from memory).

There’s a muscle slider from smooth to chiselled

I settled on an Au Ra female, as they seemed at least a little non-human (part dragon, if the myths are to be believed). And then came the options. The many, many, many options.

Women have bust size, alas men don’t have an equivalent

If you’re like me, creating the right look for a character is very important to feeling a kinship with them. I’ve deleted countless character builds in SWtOR, Warcraft, and GW2 due to a slight miscalculation at creation – wrong horns, skin tone not right, tattoo misplaced – which only shows up once you see the character in motion, so I have to admit to a slight panic when faced with the FFXIV setup.

Then I remembered that this is a one month project, and if I decided I liked the game enough to pay for a sub after that, I could spend as long as I needed to get the character just right. Though I suspect I will bond with my first character pretty fast.

Buoyed by this plan, I worked my way through the options until I had something satisfactory. I even quite liked her by the end of the process, so I either got lucky or the options are clever enough to make most things look good.

Amazingly there was still more to come. I had to choose a birth month from an astral calendar, then a deity (who unfortunately you couldn’t see a visual of), and finally my class.

Class is normally a fundamental choice you face at the start of any game. It informs everything that comes after, and can have a huge impact on whether you enjoy the game or not. Accordingly I’d normally heavily research this choice before starting a game.

Whilst I haven’t played or researched FFXIV in any depth, I had read many blog posts from people like Aywren and Blessing of Kings, and updates on the more general gaming news sites, and from those I think I gleaned that in FFXIV you can basically play all of the classes (or is it ‘jobs’?) on a single character, swapping between them freely. I’m not sure if that’s quite accurate, but it’s enough to make the initial choice far less weighty.

So I chose a Gladiator, because nice armour and shining outlandishly-sized swords are usually a fun place to start. It was either that or a ranged Archer type (pets are usually good company for a solo player), but I’ll start with swift slaying and reckless attack and see how that plays.

Interestingly the class choice, rather than race, seemed to determine starting city, so I’m off to the desert city of Ul’Dah to start my adventuring.

#Blaugust03