Instead of fumbling around trying to find my way from Ul’dah to Limsa Lominsa, I rolled up a new Marauder to simultaneously try a new city and a new Class, and be ready to fish the moment it was available.
Turns out that was probably quite a lot slower than researching how to fly or sail from Ul’dah, but it was also much more informative. The Marauder is another Tank Class, which was a bit unfortunate but it was the only melee choice for Limsa Lominsa. I had wanted to try a Rogue, but strangely you can’t choose that Class until you’ve already levelled to 10 in another - it seems to be the only base Class with that kind of restriction. Maybe it was added slightly later?
Still, it was interesting comparing the Gladiator and Marauder. The latter wields a big axe, and seems to be more about punishment and fury than the more classical stance of the Gladiator. In many ways they are very similar though, and the action unlock sequence was the same - combo skills, AOE skill, defence buff. One small difference was a guaranteed crit buff which was fun to use despite a appropriately short uptime.
Limsa Lominsa itself was much more alive than Ul’dah, though it was more confusing to navigate with multiple levels and layers - if Ul’dah was Ironforge, this is more like Undercity.
There was dozens of incredibly dressed PCs standing around the main Aether teleporter, mostly just posing and looking cool. I get the feeling it’s a bit of a runway for showing off your new outfits, and I spent quite a long time just standing around there and taking screenshots.
Eventually I drew myself away and went about the business of levelling. The story was better than the Ul’dah mire of politics, with pirates and an identified ‘bad’ guy in someone called Sevrin. There was still an awful lot of courier and delivery quests though, so it still wasn’t particularly compelling. From Kaylriene’s comments it appears that it is well understood that the original ‘Realm Reborn’ questing leaves something to be desired:
For those who haven’t had the…”pleasure”…of playing the base 2.0 and 2.x quests of FFXIV, let me paint a word picture. The game is fun and charming, and has a clear sense of Final Fantasy about it, but questing in FFXIV is not really a gameplay exercise as much as it is a story one. Quests are often simply relaying a message from NPC A to NPC B, or killing no more than 4 enemies, or going to a spot in the world, clicking the interact-able spot, and watching the cutscene that unfolds. That’s not to say they are bad – I like FFXIV’s storytelling overall – but it is definitely not the gameplay-driven questing you might be used to from WoW and the like, where the game simply uses quests as connective tissue to make the gameplay have some degree of reason to it.
As a result apparently the devs are considering a reboot of the early game questing, though hopefully it’s not as world-changing as the Cataclysm event was in Warcraft, which steamlined everything but also permanently changed the environment of a lot of the earlier zones for the worse (Thousand Needles comes to mind).
Until then, I think Bhagpuss’s approach makes the most sense: ignore the MSQ and just enjoy the world, which is pretty spectacular.
So I churned through the MSQ chores in pretty good time, skim reading the text this time (having realised just how trivial most of it is from the Gladiator run) and taking advantage of the Aethernet teleports whenever they were on offer (something I avoided on the Gladiator in order to experience the world better). And finally at level 12 I was finished with the Marauder initiation questline and permitted to choose new Classes.
I made a beeline for the Fishing Guild, and before long was the proud owner of a primitive rod and a can of smelly bait. The Lalafell seem to run the Fishing Guild by trying to out-pun each other, which doesn’t have the same appeal as the inimitable Nat Pagle, but at least they do take their fishing seriously.
My first job was to fish up some anchovies to learn the ropes. It’s a much more sophisticated system than Warcraft, like the other crafting and gathering I’d seen in FFXIV. You equip bait, then cast, then wait for the telltale bend of the rod to reel in your catch. You don’t seem to be able to see the bobber in the water, which is a nice touch in Warcraft, but the animation on the whole is much more fishing.
Once you start catching, you start revealing entries in your Fishing Log (I love the Log system in FFXIV, nothing quite beats an endless checklist). Again it’s far more detailed than Warcraft, and more compelling as a result. There are day/night cycles, weather, different baits for different fish, advice not to just stand in one place and fish as they’ll stop biting, etc.
There’s also a wealth of skills to be learnt over time - including ‘stealth’ that allows you to sneak past enemy mobs when you just want to Fish. And you can upgrade not only your rod, but a full set of fishing gear too which has bonuses to gathering and looks entirely the part - it’s fishing gear not just gathering gear, and that attention to detail is lovely.
If FFXIV were my main MMO, crafting would get a lot of attention, with fishing top of the list. For now, with my subscription about to expire, I’m going to enjoy pottering about and filling my bags with fish.