I’m happy to announce that just in time for the new Final Fantasy XIV expansion Stormblood, I have managed to put together a solid story summary for the story of Heavensward. While the “patch storylines” aren’t finished yet – namely because I haven’t played through those extensions to the Main Scenario yet – the main storyline of the expansion is now available to read here.
I don’t have a set date for when those remaining stories will be up mostly because I’m debating waiting until Stormblood is released to play through those patches since when Heavensward was released the 2.X patch story rewards were altered to give equipment to prevent having to grind item levels to progress to the next major step and since my current ilevel is sitting around 203 at the moment, and you need 230 to get through all the dungeons involved in the quests… Yeah, I might just wait and see if I can make this a bit easier on myself. If someone who is more active in the news for Final Fantasy XIV knows one way or the other if they plan on doing this again, do please let me know.
Otherwise, I’ll just keep on my current mission of “Get all Classes/Jobs to Level 30 then to Level 50” until Stormblood arrives.
EDIT: Upon further research, it seems that the Main Scenario Quests for Heavensward will have to be completed in order to access the Stormblood story, but you won’t need to do it to access the Samurai and Red Mage jobs. So I’m thinking it’s pretty likely for them to include “Catch Up Gear” with the quests like they did with ARR leading into Heavensward.
While I continue to work on my SWTOR class reviews proper, the summaries for all of the various class stories are pretty much done. I decided to tackle yet another project. With the launch of Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, I realized how many people were probably coming back to the game and that with as much space as there is between patches, some folks may not recall exactly what happened in the story leading up the expansion. Especially since Final Fantasy XIV significantly expanded the main scenario storyline with each patch. So I thought, how about a summary for that too?
Announcing the Realm Reborn Story Summary!
Unlike the SWTOR story summaries, this one is chock full of SPOILERS, so be warned before reading down the page. After all, the SWTOR page was mostly designed as a spoiler free way of seeing if the storyline would interest you before sinking 50 levels into the narrative but Final Fantasy it’s more of a catch up/reminder tool. It’s heavily summarized so don’t expect too much in the way of a point-by-point quest-by-quest breakdown. It also assumes you have some familiarity with names and places in the world of Final Fantasy XIV. Though some reoccuring elements such as Hydaelyn and the Primals are explained somewhat.
Anyway, I hope you Final Fantasy XIV fans get a kick out of it. It’s broken down by patch, so you can go and read just the parts you want. I plan to expand it into including stuff like the story for the raid content that is now kind of outdated with the expansion, so I don’t know if as many people will get a chance to see the AWESOME tribute raid to Final Fantasy III: The Crystal Tower or the lore filled bits of the Coils content.
Long time readers know that I regularly flip back and forth between 2+ different MMOs for the sake of preventing burn out. Lately it’s been going back and forth between Final Fantasy XIV and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Two games that – while not perfect – are damn good at satisfying different cravings I have in games.
Final Fantasy put me in a tight spot recently. I really REALLY wanted to see the conclusion of the Main Scenario before the 12x Experience boost went live in SWTOR, and finally climb over that damn Story Wall of Ishgard, but I ran into a block with what has clearly become the guardian of the story wall: The Steps of Faith.
‘Oh, Vry! The Steps of Faith isn’t hard if you know what to do!’ I hear the internet shout as a collective hive mind that I have somehow tapped into but retained my sentience from. Well, yes. It is a bit different, and all you really need is to know what to do, and guess what? I DO know what to do. I know exactly what to do. But apparently 5-6 other people in the Duty every time do not, and their struggle wears on other’s patience and it ends up with us standing in front of the dragon, unable to pull, because we are constantly in the queue trying to pull new members out of the magic hat. I REALLY want to finish that place, because I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want to see what happens to the Sultana!
So after a week of failed attempts, I just said screw it. I need some epic heroic time to cleanse the pallet of dying to this dragon over and over and came back to a galaxy far, far away. Mostly because I do have a job to finish there, and the 12x XP boost makes that job so much easier. I am kind of curious what the deal with Ziost is, as I have somehow managed to remain completely spoiler free on the plot there. To which I must say, kudos SWTOR community for actually keeping a lid on things. Others could learn from your example.
Although the first thing I did when I got back was grab up a few cartel packs, including the Grand Nightlife Pack which gave me a Dathomir Rancor. Not having any desire to ride piggy back on a monster, I flipped on the GTN (Auction House for those who aren’t familiar with SWTOR) for a cool cold 15 million credits, and officially netting me the most cash I’ve EVER had in the game. Combine that with Amazon’s sale for 14,500 cartel coins for $80 and I could get started the grand process of unlocking and decorating my strongholds. Because if I’m going to be building a bigger legacy, I need a place for them to crash. I hope to share some photos of them here soon, I think folks’ll be impressed.
So what should you expect here on the Summer of the 12x XP? Well, hopefully to finish up all my class story summaries and reviews. That’d be my big goal. I’m looking forward to seeing some alternate character choices too. Especially the Imperial Agent. Finally, with my resurgence of interest in writing fan fiction in my spare time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some short or flash fiction bits about some of my characters appear now and then. I do have an idea for the three brothers (Vrykerion the Bounty Hunter, Vrykarion the Jedi Knight, and Vrykerius the Sith Warrior) have a family get together over some cards to catch up. That might be fun. Regardless, there will be more reviews coming soon.
As the date draws closer and closer like some mad sick wolf desperate for a lick of fetid flesh stuck to the bone of a leftover kill, so too do the players of Final Fantasy XIV seek word from on high of the Heavensward expansions looming arrival. What will be needed? What will it cost? What new shinies will be able to grasp in our pixelated and fleshy mitts that will allow us to lord it over our fellow players as a triumph of worth, value, and excessive disposable income? The answers fall in spurts, small sprinkles descending from the lips of gods that flow down to a drought ridden earth like sweet manna. Here! They say. Here is what you seek and what you crave! Here is the nectar from our brow that you will feast upon and then only once the blood-craze has stemmed will you try to analyze. The newest producers letter is upon you, let the days of milk and honey run wild until your aching bellies cry for retribution and the sour bile spills forth with distasteful criticisms, whining belches, and claims of incompetence.
I know I eagerly await that fated day foretold by the old gypsy woman that the fanbase turns from jubilation over the new pristine words that they have been gifted by developers into rampaging beasts who have been thrown a newborn babe and are unsure whether to devour the helpless creature or to tear it apart until blood coats the walls of their reinforced enclosure like fresh paint. And a helpless creature it is. There are no follow ups, revisions, or detractions that will spare the infantile man-thing’s fate once it has been cast out into the hellish home we once call the world wide web or the Information Superhighway in some bold faced and ultimately futile lie to ourselves pretending that information had anything to do with its true purpose.
Oh but what limb shall be the first sacrificed to the masses to ignite the first fires of this mob? The buff to GP in the Gold Saucer activities? The nerfing of difficulty with NPC Triple Triad matches? Nay, I have glimpsed a peek at the vile pits of prophetic darkness and seen what I believe to be the true battleground not only of this next expansion, but everything leading up to the release of the expansion: The requirement to complete all the Main Scenario quests to access the expansion areas. Yes, that is right casual perusers of gaming and core of steel ‘gamers’. It has been said that one must complete the entirety of the main scenario, from level 1 to 50 and for each of the patch 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, and 2.5 extensions of that story before you may walk through the gates into Ishgard’s welcome embrace.
What would that hive of excrement production, the World of Warcraft forums, think of such a bold idea? That they would have to complete Loremaster of Pandaria and the achievements for Landfall, Isle of Thunder, the Siege of Orgrimmar, and the Timeless Isle before being able to move on through the reddened Dark Portal into Draenor? Especially if those achievements had required dungeons to progress them like Final Fantasy XIV regularly does? I think we all know what would happened to those dreaded stomping grounds of fonts & fantasy – it wouldn’t exist. Burnt to the ground and rendered to fine ash only suitable for frolicking by the small rodentia that somehow survived the blazing inferno of rage-naros, elemental lord of pissed off MMO players. It would be a wall that would be blocking further content, and not one of those acceptable walls that can be justified by simply looking down from it at those poor souls struggling so scale the behemoth and uttering in contempt “Git Gud,” no this would be a wall of story, of plot, and of time. Like dailies of yester-expansion, this wall would be deemed an insult to the player base who have much better things to do in an role playing game than give two s***s about plot.
However Final Fantasy XIV is not the World of Warcraft. Nor is it story ‘optional content.’ It’s the main event and routinely required to unlock instanced content like trials and dungeons. So the entire landscape shifts but the question still remains. This is uncharted waters. I can’t recall the last MMO that attempted to stand tall on its narrative and demand that its player base plunge head deep into the thick of it before getting to play the shiny new toy that they purchased. This is doubly unique in that I’ve never played an MMO with so much current endgame story content. Each patch extends the main scenario by a few hours of quests at max level. So it wouldn’t simply be the matter of doing the main story quests while leveling, but also stopping at level 50 to do 6 whole patches worth plot and dungeons (a minimum of 10 hours to be sure) before the expansions content opens up to you. With a bar like that being set, a precedent to be forged from mythril and planted firmly in the stone to declare that this shall be what is expected of you Final Fantasy XIV players, one must wonder as we stand on the edge of the yawning abyss, “What will they say? How will they react?”
This blogger knows where he stands however. Happily climbing that mountain to reach the promised land. The story of Final Fantasy XIV has been almost entirely enjoyable, and the idea that you will be required to play through and experience the entirety of the narrative before continuing the tale in the northern lands of Ishgard seems to signal that the tales will be linked, and not some separate new narrative that we deduce how it all pieces together like some jigsawed monstrosity – he mutters in contempt glancing over at the timeline fiasco wrought by the Cataclysm expansion. The story is why I play these games and for once it is a pleasant surprise to have a company put the emphasis on the story above all else. To build an unflinching wall out of it and to put the players to task on completing the tale and climbing the wall to reach the next tier of play.
Still one has to wonder what will happen when the wave meets the rock…
Greetings gentleman and ladies! The time has come, and the doors are open to Final Fantasy XIV’s very old Gold Saucer. A fantastic homage to the mini-game capital of RPGs. Honestly, its probably the most excited and most fearful for a patch I’ve been in quite a while. The entire ‘personal housing is just guild housing without needing a guild and that’s all’ thing from a few patches ago had me fuming due to the poor implementation and outlandishly high barriers of entry (Level 50, highest rank with your grand company, and anything from 4-20 million gil depending on limited lot availability). Not to mention the whole real estate war for limited numbers of spaces. I’m still saving up. Wait… wasn’t I talking about the Gold Saucer?
Yes, the Manderville Gold Saucer. Owned and controlled by Godbert Manderville himself. A statuesque man that you may know if you’ve done any of the Hildebrad quest chain at level 50 or from a disturbing series of quests at Camp Bronze Lake where you help attend to Godbert at the spa (*shivers*). The Gold Saucer boasts several mini games, events called GATEs, tons of prizes to earn, chocobo racing and what I looked forward to the most: Triple Triad.
Ah yes, the original card game in the Final Fantasy legacy. Triple Triad involves placing cards on a 3×3 grid and capturing your opponents cards by placing adjacent cards with higher values. The game originally appeared in Final Fantasy VIII and was one of the MANY heavily divisive features of the game. VIII even more than Final Fantasy VII was very much a ‘love it or hate it’ experience. There’s a LOT of hate for it out there, as noted by Noah ‘Spoony’ Antwiler’s scathing series of video reviews but there is also a ton of love for it too. I particularly enjoyed a good deal of the story and how much of the truth of the events being implied rather than directly stated. For instance, Squall & Rinoa’s romance ultimately being the culmination of the lost chance at love between Laguna – heavily implied to be Squall’s father – and Julia – Rinoa’s mother. Uh… I suppose spoilers for the 16 year old game? Wait. SIXTEEN? Yea. 1999. That’s right. FF8 is old enough to drive. Mind blown.
Triple Triad was however is where it got frustrating. At the beginning of the game, Triple Triad is a fun side activity to collect cards and have fun playing. However, as the game goes on more and more rules are added to Triple Triad turning it from fun side activity into a nightmarish mess that will more than likely cost you every card in your deck. Oh yes, did I forget to mention that winner takes one or more cards from the loser? Meaning a bad streak of luck can leave you without your most powerful cards with only a chance that you can maybe someday win them back from whomever you lost them to, cause hey, there’s only one of some of these cards IN THE WORLD.
So where am I going with all of this? Well, with the talk of losing cards to opponents, poor implementation of other promised features, and a heaping mess of confusing rules… can you blame me for being nervous about Triple Triad at the Gold Saucer? I mean, am I going to lose every card to some random person who has already grinded out the best cards in the game? Thankfully, I can say: NO. In fact, Triple Triad’s implementation is actually one of the most casual friendly, easy to get into, and enjoyably minimal risk side games I’ve seen in something bearing the Final Fantasy name.
First of all, you can’t lose your cards. At all. Once you’ve unlocked a card, it is yours. So how do you get more cards? Well, there are lots of ways. The first way you’ll encounter is to defeat NPCs at Triple Triad. Each NPC that you can challenge at the Gold Saucer will have 1 or 2 cards you can win off of them. There’s also a ton of NPCs out and about in the world that have cards you can win off of. The cards aren’t a 100% drop and really it’s all RNG. My first card took about 10 wins, the second came 2 wins after. There’s also a chance for cards to drop from dungeons and trials and this is where I was really happy with how this was done. The cards are personal loot. That means there is no rolling on cards, no ninja-ing cards, no arguing about cards – just a chance that when the boss dies you and anyone who participated have a chance to get a card placed in your inventory. Oh geeze, thank you. I mean, yea. It’s not a guaranteed drop that everyone rolls on and I’ve seen some people complain about that, but this is so much less stressful.
But Vry, I hear you ask, I heard you can only have 1 of each card unlocked. Wouldn’t that mean people would eventually not need to roll so everyone would get a card? No! I shout and bop you on the head. Because the final way to get new cards is to “sell” your duplicates at the Gold Saucer for points (Points being the universal currency of the Gold Saucer) so you can buy other cards you don’t have or trade in dupes to save up for that snazzy Setzer outfit (Btw, thank you FFXIV developers for all the awesome shout out love you give FFVI in this game. 6 is still my all time favorite and I eat up stuff like Ultros & Chupon appearing.) So yea, you pretty much ALWAYS have an excuse to want to roll on cards. Hence why personal loot is less problematic in my opinion.
What about the confusing rules? Yea. Some of those squeaked in. Things like ‘Same’ where if 2 or more sides of a card match the numbers on the adjacent cards’ sides, all of them are flipped and captured. That’s actually one of the more simple variations. Still, the game at least will tell you what the rules are and a brief explanation beyond the name when you challenge someone. The worst rules from FFVIII were the ones that dictated which cards the winner got. Like you keep all the cards you flipped so even if you win, you still might lose a rare card or you just win your opponents entire hand of cards. But since you can’t take an opponents card, these rules don’t exist. The others, while annoying, are just about trial and error until you get the hang of them and learn to keep an eye out for your opponent trying to lure you into a trap.
So without winning cards, what do you win? Well, you win gold saucer points. Also a chance for a card to drop. You also win half as many points if you draw, and a paltry sum even if you lose. This seems to be some consolidation for the fact that you have to pay points to play. There’s an ‘ante’ of sorts. If you lose you’ll get a portion of that ante back, but not the whole thing. My limited observation is about 75-80% of the ante is what you get on a loss.
There’s also a nice system in place so you can’t just screw newcomers with overpowered decks. You are limited to how many high level cards you can place in your deck based on the total number of cards you have unlocked. Like at less than 30, you can only use one card of two-star rank or higher, and the rest must be 1-star rank cards. Between 30 and 59, you can use as many one or two-star rank cards, but only one of three-star rank and finally if you have over 60 of the total 80 cards unlocked, you can have as many 1,2 or 3 star cards as you want but only one card of 4 or 5 star rank. So you can’t just make an ultimate I-Win deck out of all 5 star cards.
So is Triple Triad a success? Well, time will tell. The first tournament doesn’t begin until next week, and it’s only been around for a day but thus far I love it. I love that I don’t have to live in fear of losing my rare cards, so all I have to do is play and have fun with it. I played several dozen matches last night while watching YouTube videos (Shameless plug: Yes my YouTube channel is still up and running with more still coming in the render queue! Subscribe now!) and it was completely and unabashedly enjoyable. I highly recommend trying it out as a downtime activity while your chilling on your computer or waiting for the DPS queue to pop.
Finally, there’s already an awesome site up and running called A Realm Reborn: Triple Triad that has all the cards listed and where you can find them as well as a breakdown of the rules with a quick tutorial on how to play. You can find that site here.
So, Vrykerion (the character, not me. I’m the Vrykerion that controls that Vrykerion. Got it?) has finally gotten his first relic weapon in Final Fantasy XIV. The Gae Bolg and ultimately the Gae Bolg Zenith is now in my possession and I finally have a spear that goes with my wicked looking dragoon drachen mail outfit. I’d like to say that it was quite the accomplishment if it wasn’t for the fact that every step along the path was full of face faults, walking into doors, and the occasional “OH GOD NO!”
For those who don’t play Final Fantasy XIV, at level 50 each class can begin a quest chain to unlock an upgradable weapon unique to your job. Dragoons for instance get Gae Bolg which matches their outfits general aesthetic. The quest chain is a mix of random tasks totaling up to some twelve (okay it’s actually 10) labors that you must perform to resurrect a long lost weapon back to its true power. Some of these tasks involve attacking beast men strongholds to find items or kill a certain number of various monsters. The first big stumbling block is really creating a base weapon for the relic and then attaching two specific materia to it. Materia are kind of like enchantments that occupy slots in weapons. They are really complicated and I haven’t the slightest clue how their various limits work (Like if you have two +10 crit materia in it, but it has a hidden limit of 12 crit or something, your second materia will only give you +2 instead of the full +10… I think?) But that means finding a crafter with max level to craft and meld the materia, or level it yourself, or just do what I did and shell out several hundred thousand gil for one with the materia already attached.
The real thing that was just a slog for me to do was the trials and dungeons. To complete your weapon, you need to do one max level dungeon, and five trials (trials being essentially one room, one boss mini-dungeons) including three hard mode versions of the earlier primal fights and two fights that are unique to the quest chain – the Chimera and the Hydra. This is my personal hell. I don’t know how many of my readers have done max level content in Final Fantasy XIV but it was very much a pan to the face, no joking around, do the dance or die kind of experience. Lag will kill you. Not knowing exactly where to stand can kill you. Standing in bad will naturally kill you but sometimes the ‘bad’ is 90% of the area and you only have seconds to GTFO. Oh, I died. I died A LOT. And I studied the mechanics. Not one fight did I go into blind. But damn is it another thing to actually see these fights up close versus reading a strat. I am so glad I’m doing this at the end of 2.0’s lifespan and just before an expansion dropped. If it weren’t the copious amounts of people overgeared for this stuff I don’t think I’d ever finish.
Again, it’s not that I’m bad. Far from it. There’s just a lot of crap going on everywhere, and if you aren’t quick or have a bit of lag, it can kill you quick. But I was usually dead from either insta-kills or because we were strained from a healer death and took too much unavoidable area damage. I did the dance, and still would die. Granted, sometimes I was dumb. I got smacked by the Primal Titan and went flying off the platform and spent the last third of the fight at the bottom of a hole (still not bad compared to the bard to ended up there in the first minute every single attempt to make many of us wonder if it were intentional).
The whole thing was kind of an eye opener for how the end game of FF14 works. As far as I know there is some ‘easier’ content, namely the Crystal Tower raids. But damn if I am not in a rush to try Titan (Extreme) or even Leviathan (Hard) for a bit. I got my Gae Bolg. I’m happy with that. With the expansion dropping in only a few months, I think the rest of my time will be more so spent working on quests. The main scenario, the Hildebrad and Moogle Delivery quests – fun stuff. Also leveling all my other classes and jobs up. Then there’s triple triad coming… oooooo…
I guess really I should say that while it was a good crash course in the difficulty to expect (WoW Raid expectations: know the fights roughly, try hard, do the dance. Also that people are really nice in this game and as long as you are trying to darnedest and not just blatantly dying on purpose, they seem willing to work with ya.) but I’m also grateful that I’m sitting at end game with a wide spread of alternate stuff to do. Maybe not necessarily progression based, but fun nonetheless. Now if you excuse me, Gae Bolg and I have to get us a cactuar mini-pet! *runs off to adventure!*