There's more than grinding on crabs in FF14.
This weekend was the second block of time for phase 3 in the continuing Final Fantasy 14 beta. It was pretty fun and I got to experience a lot more content than I did as a Pugilist in my previous articles: Re-igniting a Fanboy and The Bees Punch Back. I managed to get past level 15's instanced battle so I was able to head off on my world tour which includes the first 3 dungeons and the eventual Ifrit battle that introduces players to the questline for Free Companies.
My reward for finishing the level 15 instanced battle was a voice-acted cut scene that introduces the nation of Garland - the villains of FF14. The scene was pretty breathtaking and I was surprised to see Sting reprise his role from Dune. Ok, it's not really Sting but this guy seems to be one of the main villains in the narrative for FF14. Overall, the lack of voice acting answered a criticism I had about Star Wars: The Old Republic. There, I felt that the voice acting took too much budget away from the design department. I've heard a few complaints about the lack of voice acting in FF14 and the requirement of text bubble reading but for me, I'd rather have a well-designed game without voice acting than an under-designed game with it.
In any case, this beta accompanied a letter from Naoki Yoshida which outlined the philosophy behind FF14. It was interesting to see if what he was saying was what I was playing. According to his letters, he felt that,
"For the first 15 levels, when players are still adjusting to online gameplay, there are no elements in the game that force you into playing in a party. This way, as players are still learning the ropes, there's no worry of strangers in a party yelling at them or trying to order them around while trying to play."
Yoshida also stated that his goals with the battle system were to go slightly against the current trend of "action-rpg" in that he wanted a traditional rpg battle system with actions taken every 2.5 seconds. He also wanted to include more conscious battle tactics like:
- Visually noticeable AoE attacks that you can avoid by moving
- A system where you can boost damage by attacking from certain positions
- Freedom to put things together by executing skills that follow a specific route
- Being able to fixate on dealing the most damage while giving consideration to TP/MP costs in the end-game
- Jump not being essential for clearing content
The bulk of this article revolves around the first 3 dungeons in FF14. Specifically, we are talking about a new player's first foray into the party systems (made up of 4 people). I will go over each battle and along the way, briefly discuss the things these dungeons were teaching me.
First, we'll talk about the La Noscea Sastasha. For FFXI players, this is Sea Serpent Grotto and Norg, complete with pirates and mermen. Next, we'll head into the Tam Tara Deepcroft or the FF14 equivalent to Garlaige Citadel. This dungeon has everything you would expect: beetles, bats, skeletons, and mind flayers. Finally, we'll head to the Copperbell Mines or the FFXI Palborough Mines. Instead of Quadav, we get giants, slimes, and bombs. Overall, Naoki Yoshida is delivering on his desire to hook MMO players.