After two weekends with A Realm Reborn, Ragar gives his thoughts on the remade MMO
Pugilists, Thaumaturges and Gladiators As Far As The Eye Can See
After a cutscene introducing me to some of the world’s backstory (as well as the normal Final Fantasy moments of “who are all these people and what’s going on?”), my Hyur Gladiator began his journey through ARR in the city of Ul’Dah where I was introduced to the Adventurer’s Guild, the Gladiator’s Guild in the Coliseum, as well as the rest of the various landmarks I would need in my beta journey. The first thing that I noticed was that there were quests now! You may laugh and wonder what the big deal was, but if you played FFXIV v1.0, you’ll understand why this was important. In the original version of the game, you had two options for questing: story quests and guildleves. The story quests were separated by multiple levels, so you had to fill in the gaps with the pseudo-daily guildleves. If you got through eight guildleves, that was it for questing for the next 36 hours; any additional XP would have to be gained by grinding. Seeing that ARR had brought back actual questing was the first real indication I had that I might enjoy this game.
While I was in town I picked up a variety of side quests in addition to my class and story quests. Your class and story quests operate similarly to the side quests (e.g. kill these things, find these people, etc.), but these are the ones that usually have cutscenes and a connecting thread to motivate you to continue just to see what happens next. In addition these are the ones that generally have the better rewards since you only get them every five levels or so. Some of the class quests are also required to unlock certain class abilities like Shield Lob (think World of Warcraft’s Avenger’s Shield), so unless you don’t feel like playing Captain America and throwing your shield into someone’s face, you’ll have to knock out your class quests at some point. Well, that and you can’t switch jobs until you’ve done your level 10 class quests, but we’ve already covered that.
In addition you’ll also have to stay on top of doing your main story quests. While these won’t be unlocking any of your class-specific powers, they are necessary for unlocking some of the game’s features, such as your room at the inn (rest XP/storage/retainer access), the dye and Materia systems, as well as access to the airship and the other major cities. That last one’s particularly important – without completing those steps and getting the airship quest, I was unable to take the ferry over to Limsa Lominsa early in the game. This meant that even after having completed my level 10 class quest and unlocking the ability to change jobs, I was still restricted to what was available in Ul’Dah until I finished that level 15 quest. Not an insurmountable task by any means – you’re looking at something like four hours or so if you focus on just the one class, maybe less. The problem comes when you consider starting the game with friends.
I’ll use myself as an example here. I typically play a sword and board tank in MMOs, so I’d want to go Gladiator and start in Ul’Dah. My buddy that I usually duo with tends to go healer, which means he’d likely go Conjurer. The problem? The Conjurer’s Guild is in Gridania, which would have the two of us starting in separate areas and being unable to meet up until four or more hours later. The other option would be one of us picking a different class and leveling that until we’ve unlocked traveling, but then you have a new problem: one of you is now level 1 and the other is level 15. When you’re used to something like WoW or Rift where meeting up with a friend to start leveling is a relatively simple matter, this seems like an unnecessary annoyance. It’s also an issue for anyone looking to do guildhests (think guildleves for small groups) or who just wants to group up for regular questing. The entire time I was leveling around Ul’Dah, all I saw were other Gladiators, Pugilists, Thaumaturges and the occasional Miner. When your game’s built around all of these different classes and the options they provide, opening up with 15 levels of seeing fifty people with your same class feels a bit strange.
I’m hopeful that the developers will look at this problem and add in the ability to start as whatever class you want in a specific city. I’m all for having main offices for the guilds in separate cities (it adds flavor to the city as well as giving you a reason to visit the different cities later), but it seems like a relatively simple matter to have representatives in the other two for those first 15 levels. These NPCs could give similar quests to what the main guild offices do but tailored to the new zones, then add a level 15 breadcrumb quests to go see the main office. In the meantime though, let’s go back to the adventurers of the Hyur Gladiator in Ul’Dah.