So, I came to the “welcome back” promotion without a lot of expectations. However, these were the expectations I had, and how the game measured up.
I want to say off the top, that I actually really would like to see this game succeed. I really would. I was a big defender of it in the beginning, and unfortunately on issues such as abilities and combat, I think that the dev team has taken the game backwards. I’m hopeful that they will revisit some of these decisions for version 2.0, which is why I keep tabs on the game, and continue to offer my feedback.
There was a lot broken at launch, and a lot continues to be broken. It is just sad to me that the one thing I truly believed wasn’t broken – which was all the neat abilities and spells we had – has been lost in the process, while a lot of other things are STILL broken that we can all universally agree need to be fixed.
So that is something to keep in mind about this feedback. I have been outspoken about my unhappiness with changes to mages and to MP. I’ve never bought into the idea that playing mages has to be all about standing still doing nothing and waiting for MP. So I have a bit of an axe to grind here and I hope you can forgive me that.
Abilities and combat: I was devastated when the devs took almost all the spells away from mages, and gave them a boring palette of repeats that I stopped playing at that point even though the game was still free. I was expecting to be missing a lot of key abilities that I loved when I logged back into Coerthas, so I wasn’t really disappointed to see it for reals, but I was sad to see my worst fears about the generic and boring spells that were left confirmed. Some abilities were even worse than I had imagined (a 15 second buff on a 1 minute timer? Really? That’s pathetic). My thm is not nearly as much fun to play in combat as it used to be. Does it kill stuff quickly with nukes? Sure, but I am once again playing “Final wait on MP fantasy” and the combat itself is no where near as fun as it was when I got to play with DoTs, Absorb spells and other nifty tricks. Thunder thunder fire fire is boring. I’ve been playing a Warden in EQ2 so the contrast between the engaging, frenetic pace of combat and quick MP/power regeneration and the “kill a couple mobs, wait on MP” of XIV is just astounding in a way that makes XIV look bad.
For the record, I really miss stuff like “initiation” which while it might not have been the most useful crap in the world, it was fun to take stats from enemies and pass them on as a buff to friends. I wish instead of making everything boring and generic, they would have made abilities like that more useful.
Ease and speed of leveling: From everyone complaining about how fast leveling is, I expected leveling to be faster. Unfortunately, the TNLs are still depressingly large, although mobs seem to drop more exp than they used to, which is nice, I would rather they chop the TNLs and slightly reduce exp per monster, cause having tens of thousand of exp TNL is just depressing. Also given that there are no real exp parties for people under level 40, and leves are still boring, something needs to be done to make solo leveling less horrific. It is just too depressing.
Responsiveness, and graphical issues: I have my computer on medium settings and out in the middle of nowhere the graphics seem to be just fine, but as soon as I enter a city, even a nearly empty one like gridania, I have to wait on npcs to load and I get a lot of stuttering. Worse, I had to repeatedly hit the button to transfer stuff between myself and my retainers in Uldah. Unfortunate, but I wasn’t really very hopeful that the game was better tuned than last time I played, so I wasn’t as disappointed as I might have been if my expectations were higher.
Crafting: I had reservations about changes to make crafting simpler, but I was hopeful that culinarian would get a bit of relief from it. Uh, yeah, not so much. Did they change CUL at all? It took me like 1.5 hours to make some orobon stew, and I already had a lot of ingredients on hand. I was very thankful to see NPCs carrying some more reasonably priced stuff such as black pepper, thereby bringing down the cost of dishes somewhat, but the continuation of the whole “need 6-8 ingredients, some of them with 6-8 ingredients” thing was a real shock an disappointment. Also, we do not need so many types of water. Really, why do we need a muddy water, a distilled water, a mineral water and does that fizzy water still exist? If so, ACK. I mean really. I think they should just have muddy water and distilled water. I was pleasantly surprised to get an exp bonus for higher quality. (I’d like to see some sort of similar exp bonus for gatherers for having more left on their gathering bar on a sucessful harvest, since they just get no relief.) I was also happy to see that crafting abilities are no longer on the “random pop up system.” I was annoyed by how hard it is to find up to date recipes and am left wondering why there isn’t some sort of in game system for them yet. Also, it is just too annoying finding ingredients in my inventory and in the inventory of my retainer. I just about went bonkers.
Gathering: (Really, fishing) Well, this hasn’t changed really at all. I still enjoy doing it, but that is because I am cracked in the head, and I am doubtful that any normal person feels the same way. The TNLs are, as usual, depressingly large, especially given how long it takes to even catch 1 fish. Leves help with that a bit but, they are repetitive. That said, so is gathering in general, so given the fact they have given up on DoL actually being fully fleshed out classes, there isn’t much to be done about that. I like fishing in XIV better than in any other MMO so far. So there is that. It does have a lot going for it, but really, there needs to be more fish to catch and more things to do for them. A lot of the baits have felt pretty broken for a long time (some baits have really high bite rates, others seem to never get bites) – regardless of whether you are using them correctly or not (spoon lures, rat tails and baskets are all high performers – while all flies seem to suck). I’d like this to be improved on or the reasoning to be made more obvious. (AKA this lure has a lower bite rate but has a higher chance to catch HQ fish etc)
EDIT for one more positive:
It's nice to see that food is more useful and the effects are listed! YAY! Improvement.
Buying stuff: I thought there was going to be an interface to buy stuff directly? I am so confused. If there is one it is too hard to figure out, and so not intuitive. This was disappointing, but it might be my fault for misunderstanding where things are at. What is the point of the mercantile houses? It just makes no sense to me.
Overall, it seems like the most noticable changes are the ones I wish they hadn’t made. Other than taking my spells away, the only real difference I noticed was the positive changes of making crafting abilities controllable and giving exp bonuses for quality.
I am not sure why they did this campaign, honestly. I don’t see it really giving anyone much reason to keep this game top of mind.
Edited, May 11th 2012 11:14am by Olorinus