Final Fantasy XIV MMO Log Two: Hammering Out The Rough Edges

In the first Final Fantasy XIV MMO Log, I wondered what my motivation for playing the game was. This week I decided to make my own quest.

Kotaku's MMO reviews are a multi-part process. Rather than deliver day one reviews based on beta gameplay, we play the game for four weeks before issuing our final verdict. Once a week we deliver a log detailing when and how we played the game. We believe this gives readers a frame of reference for the final review. Since MMO titles support many different types of play, readers can compare our experiences to theirs to determine what the review means to them.

Without further ado, here's part two.

Monday, September 27, 10pm Eastern - Worst Shopping Mall Ever

The night after I posted the first Final Fantasy XIV MMO Log I was still lost. I logged in to do some Levequests. Goblins, bugs, marmots and moles died, and experience was received, but I still didn't feel fulfilled.

I thought to myself, "What do I do when feeling unfulfilled in real life?" The first answer, baking cookies, really didn't apply here. I mean, I could bake in the game, but the payoff is lacking. I decided to go with answer two: Shopping.

Final Fantasy does not want you shopping from non-player character vendors. Picking up your initial crafting equipment is inexpensive enough, but anything beyond those simple supplies is priced to make the player-made alternatives much more attractive. Even if I did have the money the NPC vendors were asking, finding one in the sprawling city of Ul'dah is a real pain in the arse.

Not that shopping from players is much easier.

It's not that there aren't plenty of players selling their wares. You'll see them bunched together in front of the adventurer's guild, little bag icons over their heads to indicate that they've got something to sell. There's just no telling what they are selling without clicking on them to browse.

Final Fantasy XIV is a game in desperate need of an auction system. As it stands, I could find no way to search for items being sold. I had to click on a character, click browse, wait until their list populated, see if there was anything worth buying, and then move on to the next.

After about an hour of shopping for a new weapon and finding nothing but crafting components, I decided to give up. Surely there was a better way than this!

Of course there was! I might be an axe-wielding Marauder in battle, but I was also a crafter. I was already a level six blacksmith. How long could it possibly take to make my own axe?

It was already one in the morning. I'd check into that first thing tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 28, 9pm - This Is Going To Take A Long Time

First thing first, I needed a recipe for a bronze war axe, the next level up from my crappy starter axe. After a bit of internet searching, I found one over at Zam' Final Fantasy XIV site, which is an extremely useful place.

Bam! There was the axe I wanted to make. All I needed to do was find the materials and put it together, right?

Not quite.

The crafting system in Final Fantasy XIV is an intricate beast. In order to make the axe I wanted, I required materials produced by several different professions. With my blacksmithing skill I where it was I could easily convert the copper and tin I mined into bronze nuggets, and then bronze ingots, but I lacked the skills necessary to turn the ingots into the axe head.

I would also need a buffalo leather strap, the product of a leatherworker; an elm axe haft from a carpenter; and a bronze axe butt, which can be crafted by a blacksmith but requires metal sheets produced by an armourer.

If I was going to do this myself, it would take ages.

Oh screw it, it's not like I had anything better to do.

I decided to focus on getting my blacksmithing level up to at least be able to make the axe head. I grabbed some blacksmithing Levequests and began levelling up.

I spent several hours running around to different camps, grabbing the materials I needed, and attempting to fill the orders I was given. Luckily for me crafting is very exciting.

Exciting, isn't it?

After several hours of running around hammering things I got my blacksmithing level up to eight. I would need at least a 10 to create the axe head, and even then the chances were slim I wouldn't botch it. Still, I had motivation and drive. I had a quest, and I wouldn't sleep until I completed it!

Filled with a tremendous sense of purpose, I turned off the game and went to sleep.

Wednesday, September 29, 7pm - Definitely Not Hammer Time

I logged in Wednesday night, hammered away at a few blacksmithing Levequests and felt the desperate urge to kill something.

Equipping my axe immediately shifts me into level eight Marauder mode, ready to kill anything at a moment's notice. Well, anything that didn't kill me first.

Until now I'd been sticking around the first of many camps you visit when starting off in Ul'dah, Camp Black Brush. It's more or less a starter area, and by now the monsters were falling far too fast for my liking. I was only a level eight Marauder, but it was time to move on to Camp Drybone's level 10 battlecraft Levequests.

Moving around in Final Fantasy XIV is pretty easy, as long as you have the Anima points to teleport. Once you visit a location, you can teleport there instantly, a fact I didn't realise until I was a week into playing.

Having stumbled upon Drybone earlier in my wanderings, I already had the location, so I just popped right in.

Then my PC crashed, and I took it as a sign. Bedtime.

Thursday, September 30, 8pm - Welcome to Final Fantasy XIV

Welcome to launch day! The early start for Collector's Edition purchasers ended today, and the game was flooded with players who opted to wait for the normal release. Apparently a lot of CE customers were taking refuge at Camp Drybone, which was extremely crowded when I logged in.

Not so crowded that I couldn't get my kill on, of course.

After spending far too long fighting at Camp Black Bush, the more difficult monsters of the Drybone area are a welcome change. They don't go down quite as fast. During certain quests they'll run away, leading you to the area where the next group of creatures you need to kill will spawn. After getting used to picking and choosing my targets, not having the downtime between fights I'd normally have to heal up gets me killed several times.

Still, the rewards matched the challenge, and soon I'd amassed enough money to start picking up the odd piece of armour to help toughen me up while I worked on my axe. I picked up some bronze gloves, a bronze helm with cute little ear pieces, and a rather fetching harness. All I needed were pants and boots to complete the look.

But clothing could wait.

After reaching Marauder level nine (yes, I know they are called ranks, but old habits die hard) I head back to town to level up my blacksmithing a bit more. Ul'dah is pretty crowded, but thanks to the game's habit of fading out people who aren't in your immediate vicinity, I barely notice.

Before the night ends I reach blacksmithing rank (happy?) 10. I try crafting my axe head. It explodes. Rechecking the recipe I see that it suggests rank 11. Almost there.

Friday, October 1, 6pm - Just Another Crafting Call

I spend an hour hammering things before I needed to run out to the store. Tomorrow is my fiancée's birthday, so I'll be spending the morning making cake and the evening celebrating. Be back on Sunday!

Sunday, October 3, 8pm - A Wardrobe Malfunction

I'm staying over my parents' house this week to watch their animals, so I spend several hours upgrading my laptop to Windows Vista service pack 2 and installing the game. I was a little worried that the laptop wouldn't run it, but it gets the job done with just a little bit of slowdown.

I'm falling into a rut. I log in, I kill some monsters, I craft, and I go to bed. It's shopping time.

I'd already purchased replacement gloves, a replacement hat, and chest piece. All I needed now was pants. After wandering around randomly checking players' vendor inventory for an hour, I came across a little sheepskin number that provided much more protection than what I had been wearing.

With a level of excitement completely out of proportion with what I was doing, I tried them on.

Oh. Well now.

This is what I looked like before buying the new pants:

And this is me wearing the new, more defensive garment:

I couldn't stop laughing. Instead, I went to bed.

The Story So Far

I'm still not playing Final Fantasy XIV to its fullest.

Last week I told myself I was going to be trying to explore the more social aspects of the game. This week I've spent my time doing things alone again. I'm having a lot more fun than I did before, and my newfound purpose drives me forward, but I'm half-afraid I'm going to stumble upon my axe in some vendor's inventory, buy it, and then lose all sense of purpose again.

What I need to do is get social. To do that, I might need some of our readers' help.

If you happen to know someone with a linkshell on the Rabanastre server, tell them to give Fritti Tailchaser a poke. I could use the company.

It's either that, or I while away the final two weeks hammering away like an ol' hammer dog.

See you next week for part three!


    I'm finding the game design very strange compared to most other MMOs;
    - There's (very) little in the way of tutorials
    - I had to research/ask how to do many things I would normally take for granted in other games
    - Most of the professions require other professions to create decent items
    - Having to check each players for sale
    - On the server I'm on, very few people communicate so it doesn't feel like much of a community
    - Latency (Tassie player) makes actions very awkward and slow, I die to monsters that are a fair distance away, buying/selling/storing screens take 5-6 seconds to open and close (I can't even find a latency display)
    - The interface is horrible, no way to order items (?)
    - I still have no idea what player stats really do, I have read theories but nothing concrete
    - I die more often than not to the stupid facing the wrong way message while spamming attacks (I'm facing the monster!), which becomes even more painful when trying to fight more than one monster.

    All that said, I find the story quests (yeh I said quests!) more engaging than WoW, I've actually bothered to read what was going on (not sure why).

    Rank 14 Marauder, 9 Blacksmith, 9 Armorer, 4 gladiator, 18 physical.

    End rant.

      I too got this feeling from FXI (not sure how true to life it is for the sequel). The game just seems grind-y, and designed for masochists. Perhaps it's designed for a very different market, but it's not very user-friendly, is complicated where it shouldn't be and not as polished as the other, bigger, much more obvious competitor.

      TL DR
      -WoW: 'My First MMO', easy to play, hard to master. You can play it at any level you want, and it has a large community with great support.

      -FFXIV: If you enjoy 18 hour raid boss fights, grinding, a pretty world. See also: BDSM

    Instead of running around and searching players, you could always take a look in the vendor instances. Players send their retainers in to sell gear for them. I've found the first three of these zones are really crowded but with enough patience you can find what you need. Im a rank 11 Lancer, man no-one makes lancer gear ever...

    Have you been to Limsa or Gridania yet?

    Outside of the interface and auction house issues, the game is really tailored to the casual market. I'm unsure if this is somewhat to keep people playing FFXI as well since you actually get bonuses for linking your accounts. The interface lag should be fixed down the road, sad that it's in place on launch, and I'm sure they'll improve the bazaar system.

    You can easily hop on for an hour a night and do some local leves (reset every day) or regional leves (every 36hrs).

    The other thing I recommend is to level up Pugilist as you can equip the abilities of other jobs. Pug gets an ability that uses 250 TP to replenish health. You could also level Conjurer to get yourself Cure, Stoneskin or Shock Spikes.

    Also, there's a level 10 axe in Limsa for 43k :P

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