Ragar talks about FFXIV's crossover event with the heroine from Square Enix's upcoming console RPG
Enough Lore Stuff - Where's the Loot?
Now for some players, lore is enough reason for a quest line, but let's be honest: most of us are probably wondering what loot you're getting for doing this. For completing all four chapters of the Lightning Strikes world event, you'll have four pieces of armor and a weapon for physical rewards; a complete list of these rewards is on the official event page. In addition, anyone who completed the first chapter will receive a new hairstyle choice once the aesthetician is available in patch 2.1. All of these rewards are themed around Lightning and her FFXIII compatriots.
The weapons you pick up are all modeled from or inspired by weapons from FFXIII (pretty sure I don't remember any two-handed axes in that game). As for the armor, that depends on whether your character is male or female. Female characters will receive armor to make themselves look like Lightning herself. Male characters will, instead, receive armor based on Snow from the same series. The hairstyles you unlock go along with these armor options, giving you the chance to have a full Lightning/Snow RP set to wear while in town. Even better, these pieces all have stats on them (physical/magic user stats only - sorry crafters and gatherers). This makes them not only RP gear but also potential leveling equipment regardless of combat class. In theory this all sounds great, so where's the problem? That loot I just mentioned is all so low-level it may as well just be RP gear.
All four pieces of armor, as well as all of the weapon choices, are level 13 items. They're reasonably good for level 13, but they're still fairly low-level. This wouldn't be as big an issue if you could get all of these rewards in that first chapter when it unlocks at level 12, but that chapter only gives you the gloves and a single weapon. If you want the rest, you'll need a much higher level character: 26 for Chapter 2, 38 for Chapter 3 and 45 for Chapter 4. To get this full set of level 13 gear requires a player to have a nearly level-capped character. At this point you could try to justify this by saying, "It's gear for your other classes! Don't look at it for your main!" I might buy that, except for two things: 1) you'll likely have equivalent or better leveling gear in your Armoury Chest from questing or doing guildleves, and 2) anyone that high level will have run through the starting three story dungeons and probably has pink/green gear they won on a greed roll waiting for them to level that class. There's the possibility you sold all of that gear, but if you did that, you probably weren't likely to level those alt classes soon anyway.
This leaves those event rewards with an extremely limited window of use. The weapons will last until you do your level 15 class quest and get your reward. The armor might go a bit longer since it takes a few quests/dungeons to replace a full set. For some people this might be long enough, but to me, if a world event item has stats, it should serve a little more purpose than "this will hold me for the two hours it takes to go from 13 to 15". I may be a little harsh on this, but considering what I went through to get my loot, I think it's understandable.
FATE Grinding: Because You Weren't Doing Enough of That from 30 to 50
Remember all of that flowery description from the beginning of the article for the epic storyline of this world event? In reality it boils down to this: go to a zone (choice of two zones for the first two) and look for a FATE with Lightning's name at the front or with her character standing in the middle. Do you see one? If not, go grind the others to clear them out and hope it's the next one that spawns. Rinse and repeat for all four chapters. There are some unique models here and you get to fight alongside Lightning, but that only adds so much. When I did Chapter 1's FATE, I couldn't even find Lightning among the swarm of FATE groups sitting on top of her, spamming spells and any AoEs they had access to. Other than the FATE name, my only clue she was there were text bubbles popping up during the fight. I was still ecstatic to see that text bubble though after waiting 40 minutes for the right FATE to show up. That's not exaggeration or hyperbole - it took me 40 minutes of waiting in La Noscea for her FATE to finally show up. I managed to get the others faster, but that was sheer luck; while I was grinding FATEs for XP in Mor Dhona later, I was there long enough that I saw a roughly 30-60 minute window between the Lightning FATEs. Want your RP gear? Hope you have time to kill.
I realize how silly it can appear to complain about something taking too long in an MMO - these games are designed to make hours vanish after all. We even have examples of world events in other MMOs with timers built in, like the Direbrew invasion during Brewfest in World of Warcraft or the holiday-themed rifts in Rift. The difference with those, however, is that they are not the entirety of the event. If I log into WoW and there's no invasion, I can do my ram racing or the other daily stuff. If Rift isn't giving me the holiday rifts I want, I can go do all of the other holiday quests and dailies that are available. Yes these are holiday events, but they serve as examples of something many players want from a world event: something to do when they log on. With the Lightning Strikes event, if I want my armor or the rest of my weapons, I'm looking at a pretty sizable time investment to get those, assuming I get a high enough ranking for the parcel reward during the FATEs. Oh yeah, did I neglect to mention those parcels aren't guaranteed?
FATE credit is actually something I need to cover in more detail in another column, but for now I'll keep it simple: fighting and healing during a FATE builds up credit for the event. You start at Bronze and work your way toward Silver and finally Gold; the better the medal, the greater the reward. The current implementation of the system has a major drawback in that it pretty much requires you to be in a group. If it's a single large boss and you're solo, you have a decent chance at getting Gold. Lots of small monsters? Unless you have a spammable AoE, treat Silver as your goal. This gets far more annoying when you consider that some rewards are gated behind medal tiers, including some of these parcels in the later chapters. If you want to guarantee you get your parcels and Lightnjng gear on the first try, you pretty much have to spam chat and get into one of the roaming FATE groups combing the countryside for blue circles. All told, it took me probably four hours to finish all four chapters, the vast majority of which was waiting for the right FATEs to show up.