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.