[PODCAST Episode 273] Compared to Destiny, It's Weirdly Easy to Start Playing 'Final Fantasy XIV'

Player onboarding can be a tricky business regardless of genre, but games in the MMO space have it particularly hard. How do you ease players into a system that has years of iteration and layers upon layers of new systems being stacked on top of each other? Do you explain everything upfront and risk overwhelming players, or throw them in with the bare minimum and hope the reason they're checking out your game is because they'll be playing with friends anyways? Do you do a soft story re-introduction at each expansion in case it's someone's first, or keep the narrative moving forward and bar an easy entrance for new players? We discuss the differences in approach between Final Fantasy XIV and Destiny 2, and more on this episode of Waypoint Radio. You can listen to the full episode and read an excerpt below.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xwekqn/compared-to-destiny-its-weirdly-easy-to-start-playing-final-fantasy-xiv

Haven’t gotten a chance to listen to the pod yet, only read the article, but each time I hear another Waypoint member /Friend of Waypoint has hopped on the FFXIV there’s a voice in my head that just goes WOO, WE GOT ANOTHER ONE

That said it always bums me out a bit when I hear people buy boosts. I’m not telling folks not to, because 2.0-2.5 is mostly miserable and people know if a boost will work for them better than I do, but there’s so much great stuff between 3.0 and 5.0 that I can’t help but feel sad that folks are missing that stuff. I hope Cado revists that stuff when new game + comes out or at the very least tried to find a lore video.

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I know Giant Bomb used to have Michael Pachter on their shows and maybe he came off like a good dude in person but Patrick was way too kind to that guy. Has the dude ever put a quote out there that hasn’t made him sound like a dunce? He’s never really added anything of value to games discussion but he sure knows how to barf out an ire-catching comment for a writer looking for one. Just another financial Genius living the dream.

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I think Austin’s story about his one meeting with Pachter that consisted of Pachter contemplating on what boat to buy perfectly sums up who he is.

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I think Austin made the right choice in getting the job skip. For one thing, as someone who adores playing White Mage, the White Mage job quests are very not great and can be skipped without any worry of missing much (they’re not necessarily ‘bad’, but consistently dull/mediocre). Also now that he can play Red Mage, he can have a taste of what the post 2.X writing is like, which I imagine makes the mountain of bullshit ARR puts you through more bearable. Plus RDM as a job is just a lot of fun even from the early levels.

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Cheetah Men (Waypoint edition) EP dropping when?

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love the “Well 30 hours in and i finally did a thing where it was kinda neat but mostly tedious bullcrap” Really talking up that MMO life. sounds super appealing :stuck_out_tongue:

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Ironically, I went full completionist on all the FFXIV 2.0 - 2.5 content, absolutely loved all of it, was just getting into what is largely seen as “the good stuff” in Heavensward, and then my son was born and I haven’t touched the game since. I would really like to go back and keep playing; I adore the game, I think I just needed a break (I put in 250+ hours just in A Realm Reborn). I’m thinking I might try to jump back in over Winter Break and keep pushing forward; I really should, considering that I own everything through Shadowbringers and have a character with a rather absurd number of classes at level 50+. (My current favorite is Machinist.)

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The sad thing is, Austin is playing ARR content at probably the worst possible time. While 2.0 content has plenty of inherent problems that make it objectively inferior to later content and definitely need to be fixed, it’s also arguably worse now than at launch, because with the changes and simplifications they made to all the classes for late game content it seriously diminished what little those classes had going for them early game. Plus you get drastically more experience than you did at launch, which is both good and bad. On the one hand you can pretty much skip all the mundane fetch quests and avoid the long end game grind that was originally in place, but it also means there is literally no challenge anywhere and none of the rewards you get from quests are even worth using. At launch at least the bosses put up a pretty good fight and could be pretty fun because of that.

And of course he’s doing all this on the cusp of all this getting reworked into something presumably much more tolerable and concise. But I understand why he doesn’t want to wait, as he’ll probably be able to finish this well before those changes happen.

Honestly really enjoying Austin’s regular FFXIV reports, even when it’s 90% just(ifiably) dragging the game. The good news is, the stuff that he’s finding noteworthy now is, indeed, more indicative of where the later game goes, both in terms of writing and mechanical engagement.

Some additional notes:

  • “At least they’re not making me run around preparing a feast for myself again” was a recurring joke with one of my friends when she was catching up on MSQ stuff.
  • I’ll be interested to hear how Cado fares with Shadowbringers. He’s totally right - in a lot of ways, the storyline is a distinct, clean entry point. On the other hand, it has a surprising amount of callbacks, bringing back old characters and answering long-term plot mysteries, in a way that will probably not be quite as satisfying. (For comparison, imagine trying to engage with Destiny 2’s latest stuff about the Darkness, and Eris Morn’s activities, etc. without the past few years of buildup and context.)
  • (spoilers, but if you listened to the podcast there’s nothing newly spoiled) A “fun” detail during the quest Austin described where you pick up the various dead Scions to bring them to the cart: like most actions in the game, picking up a body fills up a short “cast” bar as you perform the action. Noraxia, the little “asparagus” sylph Austin mentioned, has a much shorter cast bar than the others. She’s just not very big. :frowning:
  • My personal favorite part of the questline to fight Titan is when the conversation essentially turns to “well, the kobolds have a city underground, so obviously they must have a magical teleportation network that we can hijack our way into, because who in their right mind would build a city without a magical teleportation network? Obviously.” I’m not even poking fun, I just like it when a setting pays attention to its own rules and implications.
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Before starting Shadowbringers (which will still be a while because the previous expansions comprise a lot of play time), I’d recommend watching a story briefer video on the Crystal Tower and then just knocking out the quests for it real quick, since it actually has some significance with the events of the recent story.

I’m jealous of people who got invested in that side-plot early on, because it’s paid off in a major way that only a long-running story could pull off.

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I jumped on the Final Fantasy XIV train right around the same time Austin did, and have been moving through the main story at a similar pace–it’s been fun to hear his thoughts on events and complaints about the annoying fetch quests right as I’m experiencing them as well.

Completely agree with his reaction to that story event (spoilers for what Austin gets into on the podcast in case anyone skipped over it):

Although annoying to travel to, I’d been really enjoying how The Waking Sands had become a hub between missions, with a steadily-building cast of background characters to talk to each time you returned: Someone nervous to go out on missions finds their confidence, old friends are reunited, and a refugee born from the invading empire is promoted to bodyguard of the Sylph. (My personal favorite is there are two dudes you can’t even talk to just engaged in an intense finger-pointing argument, and when you come back the next time, there’s now a third person drawn into the argument.)

They’re all pretty short and one-note, but it made it fun to check back in and see what was new in their own little adventures. Then you get back after the place has been attacked, and all of them are dead.

Reminds me of how early on in the first few dungeons, you keep running into the same party of rival adventurers, who vow to match your deeds. Then a couple dungeons later, you find out their entire party was killed because they jumped in without enough preparation. There’s these dark moments around the edges of an otherwise pretty typical fantasy mmo story, and it has me really interested to see where things go as the writers get more confident with the later content and expansions.

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Fun, but incredibly spoiler heavy story about Shadowbringers & Crystal Tower. My friend who got into FFXIV last year has a hell brain that makes him do all the content he can get his hands on, so he did crystal tower. What he didn’t realize going into it was that accidentally he had basically made his character a near carbon copy of g’raha tia.

Fast forward months until August 2019, this friend is finally nearing the end of Shadowbringers. My other friends and I are so excited because he’s the only one of us who has done Crystal Tower, and we really wanna know how well G’raha tia’s reveal works if you actually know who he is.

My friend gets to the cutscene, we ask him how well the reveal worked, and all he can tell us is “Oh, I don’t know cause I thought it was like an alternate version of me for a good bit since we look the same”.

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There are a couple other interesting things:

  1. Linkshells and Crossworld link shells are invite-only chat channels. One character can be in 8 of each, and you can use this for coordination. I’ve seen similar systems in other MMO’s, but really only FFXI and FFXIV have done it this way, and it’s really nice compared to, say, EverQuest’s custom channels.

  2. In your Inn Room or some player housing / FC housing, there is a device that will let you play most completed cut scenes - and so you can go to it, and play cut scenes to better understand what the heck is going on. This is useful if you skip jobs, but it’s also useful if you just want to see the Hildebrandt quests, for example, and don’t want to level an alt to 50+. :wink:

  3. Do you see the sprout next to your name? Congratulations, you’re a new player! There’s a more planty sprout for people that return. Some players who have achieved certain milestones can talk to the Smith that does the new player training, and they’ll receive a crown next to their name. There’s a feature called Novice Network that’s available - but you have to be invited by a crown. The crown might have a sword overlay - indicating a combat mentor. The crown might have a hammer overlay - indicating that person can make pretty much anything you’d ever want crafted. Or the crown might have the white flag of surrender, indicating someone who has killed more than a couple of players in PVP.

  4. Filmstrip by their name means the user is watching a cut-scene. If your healer has a film-strip icon, it is probably not an ideal time to pull a lot of mobs, or to charge that named.

  5. Chair indicates AFK and, again, if someone important has a chair up, you might want to take it easy for a minute or two. :wink:

The level sync thing is interesting, but I prefer the way other games have done it where they scale back all the abilities rather than disabling some of the abilities. It is significantly less annoying with Shadowbringers than before, though, for most of the classes I play in that when they did the adjustments to the classes, they typically made upgrade actually use the same button (as many other games do).

As a side note, I really like most of the changes that we see in Destiny 2 versus older as well - one thing that bugged me in Destiny from the get go is that if you were away from the game for any period of time, you would have a significant power gap - and when they put in the expansions (in Destiny 1 and 2) there was usually a gap that required farming to close. That annoyed me significantly, because I’d hop on and want to do something - and wouldn’t be able to see any of the more recent content, because I was a hundred light levels low or something.

This is different from most MMOs where traditionally raids are optional, and so generally the next tier’s commons picks up right after the current tier’s, and then the first quests in the expansion get you the stuff you need to start on the next tier of raids, maybe last tier’s raid stuff gets you mid season, maybe even early end game - but you’re going to replace all your stuff with an expansion.

Destiny just said “meh, you’ve done the raid, you have the high gear.” I was really happy to see them fix that in the Shadowkeep expansion, and also it was nice to see my exotics that I’d hung on to in order to eventually upgrade become usable again.

But it does, literally, just dump you into the story and it’s like “here, have at it!” I liked a bit of the old Destiny 2 storyline better, in that even if you hadn’t played Destiny 1 and had a strong connection to the characters, it tried a little to build that connection. However, I never liked the split home zones and some of the other things that they did, also the incremental changes to looting and upgrades over time have largely been welcome, in my mind anyway.

Have fun, stay safe, and whichever game you play - have some fun.

My god. I forgot him.

… I’m gonna go rewatch those cutscenes, yep. I remember going through those quests and just letting out more and more incredulous cries of “exCUSE me?!” as they went on. Ten out of ten.

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On the question of sandwiches in 2009 and the hellworld decade to pass, I would advise my past self to 1) learn the cook much earlier because its a lot of fun, and 2) don’t eat that grilled cheese from the cafeteria in college because they hid a tomato in there and the bread was made from the end-pieces of the loaf. It was the worst sandwich of my life.

I’m really disappointed, given the name of the pod, that there was NO mention of Kickle Cubicle.

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Well, of course not. The game is titled “迷宮島” (Meikyuujima) which translates as “labyrinth island” in Japanese.

(jokes aside Kickle Cubicle unironically kicks ass and I thought the exact same thing)

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Maaaan Kickle Cubickle was the shit. Forgot about that game.

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Forgot to mention: I’m surprised Patrick forgot about the Cheetah Men tune. I figured the last time he heard it would have left a lasting impression.

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