If anyone has been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the game to improve, you might find this story significant. Short version is that the improvements impressed me greatly. This is how it went down:
First I logged in and, of course, the patcher went to work. I've changed my router recently, not feeling like troubleshooting all the ports (this one won't forward the right ranges anyway.) So I just let it go overnight. Whatever. Total Score: -1
The next day I log in and start by checking out the new camera controls. Yes! Controller now can change the zoom distance with a combo of the auto-run + camera buttons. Beautiful! Total Score: ~0
Next, I check my friends list to see who is around. Surprise! A couple of my original LS mates are playing. Nice. I head to Horizon to join a Behest. No one? Not single player? Nope, my LS mates tell me there are a lot of other things to do now. Everyone is off NM hunting, doing dungeons, sidequests and SP parties. Behests are a thing of the past. Total Score: +1.
Ok, let's check out the dungeon. First gotta do the prerequisite quest. I tele to Gridania, join a Grand Company, and start the quest. But I get distracted by all the ! on the mini-map. I grab a handful of sidequests and find myself running around completing them, for a substantial SP reward! Fun. Total Score: +2.
I'm just about to complete the prereq quest (Imperial Devices) when I run into a NM mushroom, Queen Bolete, near Camp Tranquil. She predictable kills me and I call in reinforcements. With the help of my buddy we take her down with ease. No drop. But wait, my buddy reminds me that she will repop in 5 minutes. We are barely healed to full HP/MP when she appears again. We do this a few times and it's a blast. Get the drop even. Fun! 5 minute repop is brilliant. Total Score: +3
Now I'm a mage so the auto-attack is minor to negligable, but the increased MP Cure costs are not! Holy crap, this really changes the way you have to heal. And Curaga coming in at 112 MP! Strategy is needed, yes. But that cost is actually quite prohibitive. Total Score: +2
We gather a couple more friends and tele around Hunting other NMs. Namely Daddy Longlegs and Cactus Jack. Got the Axe from Daddy and the Fists from Jack. This is great!
Tomorrow, I tell myself, I will get to the dungeon. And I did. I even had the foresight to set my Homepoint at Camp Tranquil, allowing myself to Return there for free. This type of Return is on a cool down timer. Total Score: +3
So off we go to the dungeon, Toto-Rak, maps in hand, and this is where the party improvements really shine. First off, 4 people and Light Party flashes up on the screen. I've heard about this. An incentive for partying. Ask and ye shall receive. We start to get in the thick of battle and the shining moment occurs. I press down on the d-pad to scroll down the party member list, and their names are highlighted, telling me exactly who I am targeting! Eureka! Finally! It's even snappy and responsive. (In fact, targeting now has an entire sub-menu, allowing you to select Target A, B, C etc. without text commands.)
I can now reliably target specific party members to heal them! Total Score: +4.
We kill the final Boss, Shuala, and get 4 chests. Man that was fun. And there is a level 45 Dungeon too? What's that? You say there is a reason to level now? Total Score: +5
I have died quite a bit throught this. And my buddy is casting Raise II when available but I'm still slowly degrading my equip. Time to find the new Dark Matter NPC and repair my items. Tele to Grid. In Grid, he's the NPC just south of the midpoint of the market stalls, the Gathering supplier. Buy a number of Grade 3 Dark Matter and, Wala! fully repaired in minutes. Sweet. I even checked out the repair NPC who fixed my wand for significantly less gil than before. Then I simply NPC'ed all my repair mats, fent, cloth, planks, etc. freeing up a ton inventory space. Total Score: +6
I ask my LS mates, what do people do to Rank up now? They reply that people are shouting and creating SP parties in Ul'dah all the time now. It has become the best way to Rank up. Total Score: +7
I have a ton of Sidequests to finish up (from Gridania alone), as well as Main Story and Conjurer Quests, which all reward SP now. My friend said that the Rank 45(?) Storyline Quest awarded him 45,000 SP! Amazing. A reason to complete the storyline. Total Score: +8
I find myself very much looking forward to logging in tonight to join one of the SP parties. Imagine that. Looking forward to playing FFXIV.
Edited, Aug 11th 2011 3:33pm by SmashingtonWho