Quest Hubs, Guildleves, and Guildhests
Given the spirit of battle and the way we interact with it through the user interface, what does FF14 have to offer the player? Is this simply another Asian grindfest? The simple answer to this question is that this game is a quest-hub driven game with solo content for battle classes and crafting classes called Guildleves and group content called Guildhests that send a party of adventures to an objective-based battleground.
FF14 is very much a game with quest hubs. You start first in the "bar" of your starter city. For me, I started in Ul'dah talking to Momodi as she sent me to various parts of the city. The last quest sent me to talk to a new quest hub nearby, I believe it was some sort of railway station (yes, there are trains in this game) named Black Forest. Here, the game taught me how to buy items from vendors, how to use potions, how to repair equipment, and then I was sent off to another quest hub where I reached level 10 and was sent to a quest hub that contained Guildleves.
Guildleves are solo quests. Much like the original FF14, players are allocated 4 possible quests per day that they can do. It is unclear if undone quest allocations carry over to new quests the next day. What I mean is, if I do 1 quest of 4 1 day, will I then have 7 quests I can do the next day? Originally, these slots carried over to a possible total of 99.
Guildleves are separated into Battlecraft and Fieldcraft quests. Battlecraft involves doing quests for your class. Here, you kill or collect items from monsters and are rewarded experience points for them. Fieldcraft are for professions like Alchemy, Tailoring, Smithing, and more. The real gem that I found was in one of the level 15 Guildhests.
Guildhests are group battlegrounds and unlike the limited Guildleves, players are welcome to engage in as many of these as they have time for - however, each time you do a Guildhest it decreases the experience points awarded. Still, the first bonus xp a player gets is amazing. At level 15, the xp to next level was somewhere around 30,000. Just one of the level 15 guildhests awarded me with around 8-10k xp for about 10 minutes of work but only 1k each attempt after that.
The Guildhests are very, very similar to Naja Salaheem's Assults from FF11. You gather a group of individuals and sign up to perform a task. At level 10, your tasks are simple, pull one group of monsters without linking the others, pull a group of monsters when the bigger boss isn't looking, or the always fun, "deal with adds" scenario in which the party is engaged with a large monsters that is constantly summoning what can only be referred to as "whelps" at this point in MMO history.
However, once you hit level 15, these Guildhests become extremely fun. The first involves fighting your way through a series of guarded doors. Some doors require you to defeat monsters before they open whereas others require you to pull a lever. My group traveled through these dungeons to the end level, a massive frog. Here, we had to dps the frog down fast enough before groups of monsters managed to work their way through boulders blocking their way. Since the beta doesn't contain every single class in the game, we had to do this without dedicated heal support and so it became a very violent fight against the clock.
We won, but not without a few deaths. The first time we did this was the most fun I've had in a game in a long time. The second Guildhest was against a massive turtle. This turtle was much larger and much more difficult than we could handle so we had to take turns kiting it around a large arena. While we kited it, waves of adds spawned that we had to dps down quickly. In the center of the arena was a bag of explosives that needed a trigger, a drop from a monster that would eventually spawn.
So, with this turtle chasing me while I punched it in the face, I saw the flame spirit spawn across the map and ran to attack it with a giant turtle chasing me. As I punched the flame spirit, my comrades managed to grab the turtle and kite it away. However, once the flame spirit died and the key item came into our possession, new waves of adds spawned and it made it very difficult to accomplish this task. I remember running across the arena and wildly clicking on the explosive as the turtle entered the area that would catch on fire. I died just as we completed the arena, respawned, and grabbed my reward. With healer support and more experience, that fight could become amazing and I really hope that the other missions are just as fun.