Work / Game Balance

One of the nicer things about Final Fantasy 14 is that you can log in and achieve something without having to block out several consecutive hours to an entire day to do it.

During the week I only get an hour or so each evening where I can play something, which didn’t work out for WoW… For example, in WoW’s “Shadowlands” you can spend the first 10-15 minutes of your game time just getting somewhere to do something. This is because the travel times are really long to make the play areas perceptually bigger.

WoW also has tons of tiny but ultimately useless quests randomly interspersed with the longer more thematically important ones. So you can ‘do something’ for an hour, sure, but the net result of doing it might be negligible at best because the thing you just did is only tied into the main storyline with location and art assets… It had no real bearing on anything.

FF14 on the other hand has one grand arc, and that arc has a linear line of hundreds of quests from beginning to end of each expansion. And interspersed along this line are simple fetch quests, single-player mini-boss encounters, party dungeon runs, and dialog heavy story pieces.

There are also hundreds of smaller side quests, but they actually have a different indicator and are only there for when you have spare time or if you want some extra backstory, extra experience points, or some extra cash.

The net effect of this design is that you can log in, do one quest, and it’ll further the main arc that you are invested in. And you therefore feel accomplished, because you moved your character’s football a tiny bit more towards the goalposts for the expansion with one fifteen minute quest.

So, since Monday I’ve been inching along this line of quests as I’ve had time — working my way toward the third major boss battle, or “trial” in FF14 parlance, and major plot point for “A Realm Reborn”.

And last night I finally made it to said battle…

As I mentioned yesterday, after dealing with “Titan” and the random pick-up group I was with getting curb-stomped repeatedly, I wasn’t looking forward to dealing with “Garuda” at all.

I’m happy to say though that my bad “Titan” experience was purely party-driven. My randomized “Garuda” party had at least read up on the fight mechanics, so no one needlessly stood in the fire or was off navel-gazing while everyone else did the hard part. So “Garuda” was felled on the first attempt — and no one died. 🙂

In the end I collected the final gem from the series of bosses I’d been fighting and then got a good ten minutes of cutscenes that introduced the next baddy, moved the overall arc forward, and explained a few mysteries I’d been trying to figure out since level 1.

Oh, and I hit level 45… Not bad for an hour or so of playing.

The remainder of my free time last evening was spent working on the final phase of a class quest, which gad me gallivanting all over the place on a pilgrimage… Which leads to another nice element of FF14 — instant travel.

In WoW you unlock flight points as you adventure, and can fly back there from any other flight point with a bit of travel time as you fly from point-A to point-D, flying over B and C in the process. Said travel time is still many times faster than on foot, so it’s a handy thing.

FF14 has a similar system, but you instantly teleport between discovered locations. You can also directly teleport to point-D from anywhere at any time. So if I’ve been sent to some jungle somewhere to do something for some NPC, once I do it, I can instantly teleport to somewhere within the vicinity of said NPC to move the story forward.

Due to this, FF14 isn’t shy about sending you to the far ends of the world at a moment’s notice, so there’s a lot of variation of location and ambiance as you progress… This again is different from WoW, where you might spend a week in one quest hub in the middle of a desert doing kill-10 quests over and over.

Over all though, I’m super happy with FF14. The story is keeping me engaged and I’ve not even touched things like gathering and crafting yet (I need to).