At the time of writing this post we have eleven days until the head start. As a whole it seems like the player base is taking a much needed break from the game before preparing to push our way to sixty. As a result all of the player hubs are a little bit thinner than they normally are. On the server I play on we only saw 93 tickets sold to the weekly cactpot drawing, which is a certain sign that players are taking a bit of a break before the madness hits in less than two weeks. Players in my Free Company seem to be in one of two different modes. Either they are grinding like mad to try and catch up on the content, or they are taking a moment to stop and smell the roses. Personally I exist somewhere between the two extremes, with progress still being made, but a realization that in truth I am not going to get much more done before the head start begins.
I thought today might be a good time to reflect upon where we have come in game since the launch of “A Realm Reborn”. Final Fantasy XIV has one of the more charming Reddit communities devoted to a game that I have seen, and they regular come up with interesting diversions. Reddit User AegisArmor posted an interesting Bingo card to help us track the things we have completed in this expansion. I thought it would be interesting if I took the time to share my own personal card. There are a lot of things I simply did not have the time or devotion to do, but I was pleased at just how much of the card I was able to turn green. Sure I would have loved to have finished the Final Coil of Bahamut, and if we continue to make progress on Shiva I might be able to mark the Extreme primals off before release. That said I am extremely pleased with everything that I have managed to accomplish.
Final Fantasy XIV is a game filled with an overwhelming amount of content. Since the games re-launch in August of 2013 we have seen a total of five major content patches, thirteen minor content patches and roughly fifty hotfixes. Each time a major content patch went into the game it added with it a significant amount of storyline as well as three new dungeons, making the total count of fifteen dungeons added in the expansion. Additionally they continued to add additional trials and primal fight encounters expanding the total number of different modes by seventeen. Finally over the course of the expansions Square added three tiers of both casual Crystal Tower raid content and extremely serious Binding Coil content. The result of all of this content is rather imposing to brand new players trying to figure out exactly what they should be focusing on. While in theory if you were extremely focused you could push through the content, the more likely result is like me you end up with several things that you have not had time complete.
As we turn our heads to look at Heavensward, I have to say my personal expectations are pretty high. On June 18th, the day before the headstart begins, Square Enix is going to be doing a complete reading of the patch notes during their E3 presentation. At this point we will know exactly how deep this new rabbit hole goes, as we get the final numbers for dungeons and trials that the game is launching with. At this moment we only know of the first dungeon that is called Dusk Vigil, and seems to be the one shown in the benchmark footage. On top of that we know the first raid will be the mechanical colossus Alexander. With each phase of the raid leading us to fight our way up through the moving fortress. Finally it has been announced that the first two primal trials will be the sky whale Bismarck and the insect-like Ravana. It is going to be interesting to see as they read the patch notes to hear what additional content we will be dealing with at launch.
One of the big issues I have been struggling with personally is what exactly I would be playing first when the head start begins. The launch of a new expansion presents the ideal time to shift focus and change your main class. In the past I have used the gear reset that happens with an expansion to change between roles in games, but to be honest I cannot really see that happening in Final Fantasy XIV. I love the way tanking feels in this game, so my only challenge has been to decide between staying with the Warrior or to shift focus and switch to playing the Dark Knight. When my friends first tried to entice me to play this game, my first question was if they had the Dark Knight. I have loved that class since Final Fantasy IV and was extremely disappointed when Cecil turned from Dark Knight to Paladin in the end of that game. Ultimately the decision comes down to, either play the Warrior and get to experience the new content now, or push my Dark Knight from thirty to fifty before finally getting to set foot inside Ishgard.
Over the last few weeks I have come to the realization that I am perfectly happy with the way Warriors play currently. In fact the more tanking of lower level content that I have done for my free company of late, as folks struggle to catch up, the more I realize how much I truly love that job. While I reserve the right to change my mind after seeing how the Dark Knight plays, for the time being my plan is to work on the Warrior first. More than anything I want to be ready to tackle the new content with my free company. There are few experiences more enjoyable than running a new dungeon for the first time with your friends, and not knowing any of the mechanics. There is a rush of having to figure out things on the fly and adjust to encounters as they are unfolding in front of you. I don’t want to miss those opportunities, so as a result I will be pushing up my Warrior so that I can tank all of the new and exciting things for my friends, before checking out any of the new classes.
I’ve personally taken some time off from work for the head start given that it is taking place the day after my birthday. Yesterday we finally received the official time that the head start will begin, and we can expect to be able to step foot into Ishgard on June 19th at 2 am PDT. For me personally this translates to 5 am, which honestly is not too bad of a start time. I can simply get a good night’s sleep the night before, and wake up early instead of staying up all night. My current plan is to stream my travels into the new content, and hopefully the servers stay up and are stable for most of the day. Generally speaking a game “head start” isn’t too stressful a period of time, but instead when the game officially launches on the 26th, that is when the real server crunch will begin. It is my hope that Square is prepared for the onslaught their servers will face. They underestimated the demand when “A Realm Reborn” launched. and the result was a frustrating month of issues. Square has shown that they can learn from their mistakes as far as content goes, so it is my hope that this will also be the case on the server infrastructure side. It is going to be an interesting month either way, and hopefully you are all looking forward to stepping into Heavensward as much as I am.Related: Column, E3, Eorzean Evening Post, Expansion, Final Fantasy XIV, Heavensward