Monday, September 23, 2013

Final Fantasy XIV: Tanking

I decided I'd really had enough with being an arcanist and restarted as one of the base tanking classes: marauder. The great thing about a Final Fantasy job system is restarting as a new class doesn't force you to restart your whole character. So I have all my crafting skills and my inventory and my main story line progress. I also have all the low level quests in my area completed. I tried going to other areas to find quests but it seems I scooped up a lot of the 5-15 quests in all the other zones too. Perhaps most annoying is it let me pick up higher level quests, and I was able to grind a couple of them down, but I couldn't cash them in. I can understand why this restriction exists (they don't want me doing level 30 quests on my arcanist and cashing them on the level 8 marauder) but it's an annoying implementation. I think what I'd do is have the quest track which class killed the monsters and only let that class cash the quest. But even that has issues... What if the quest is to kill 3 of something and I kill them with 3 different classes? So I guess this is a reasonable solution, even though it meant I was going to have to gain 6 levels before I could turn in some of the quests I did.

Look! A female character in armour that
actually covers the whole body!
One of the things they did in this game is make all low level stuff available from vendors. This has the side effect of making low level monster grinding completely worthless. World of Warcraft at least had linen cloth and copper ore that a low level character could sell for reasonable money to a high level character. When the high level character can just go spend 4 gil at a vendor it's really hard for the low level character to make any money at all. So with no quests and nothing to farm up, there wasn't a lot of options. The 'hunting log' feature where each class gets a list of monsters to hunt down around the world for extra experience was definitely nice. Once I hit level 10 I got the ability to run the training 'dungeon' which was where I grinded a lot of levels. I ran it once on my arcanist when I first hit level 10 but it had a long queue timer and really wasn't worth running again. The marauder had an instant queue to get in and the experience was pretty decent...

The training dungeon is designed to teach new players how to pull groups of monsters in a dungeon. It starts with two packs of 3 monsters spread out and easy to pull separately. Then it spawns in 7 monsters in a fairly tight pile. A boss and the same two packs again. It is definitely possible to pull just a 3 pack at a time, and that's what the training dungeon is designed to do. But I quickly discovered that by channeling my inner Bung I could ramp up my experience gain... Just charge into the group of 7 monsters as they're spawning! They spawn in a tight enough pile that I could hit all 7 of them with my AE threat enmity ability. Pop a defensive cooldown (I added in a second one from another class) and burn them out. As long as the healer was paying attention it was no problem at all.

I must say, I've always hated the term threat. How do you explain why a monster is willing to attack the dude who does 15% of the damage of any
one else, and takes 25% of the damage anyone else would take, and has twice as much health as anyone else? Somehow they're more threatening? That just doesn't make any sense. We've always used the explanation that they're making fun of the enemy with their taunts and somehow that drives them to illogical decisions. It's the same mechanic here, but just by labeling it enmity instead of threat makes it feel better. I'm still heavily armoured, and do less damage, and have more health... But my abilities inspire hatred! I can throw an axe like a boomerang! I can shoot out a cone of force! Rawr!

Eventually I hit level 15, which unlocked the first real dungeons, but also unlocked my next class specific quest and happened to be where I had some quests saved up to cash in. I ended up hitting 18 before I got around to trying to enter a dungeon. I also stopped and made a full set of high quality gear before I went in. Smash! I don't have an actual taunt ability but just spamming my AE ability seems to be good enough to control enemies that get into my pile, and for the most part I was able to keep on top of things and make sure everything came into a pile at the start.

One thing that became clear in a real dungeon as opposed to the trainer is I have a serious resource limitation in the long run. I can spam my cone ability for an entire fight, but then I'm spent for the next fight. So I had to get into a rhythm of going full bore to start a fight, using about two thirds of my TP, and then just stand around for the rest of the fight wishing I could do more than auto attack. But I would still hold aggro and be tough, which is what they pay me for, so it's all good. I just wish I had a really cheap ability to spam after a fight was secure but not actually over.

Arcanists have a tanking pet, and I remember my first dungeon I used him because he's what I had out when I got in. I remember having my pet tank a boss while I used my pet healing abilities to keep him up and wondering why I even needed a team. Arcanists are tank, healer, and damage all in one! Well, I did the same fight as a tank, with an arcanist in my party, and got really bitter at the tank pet. I could hold aggro if I really worked at it, but it would keep my TP near empty. So when adds showed up I couldn't control them as well as I wanted to. The pet also did a terrible job of positioning the boss for his conal AE. And died later in the fight after I gave up on trying to hold the boss. Maybe that arcanist was worse at pumping heals into his pet than I was. Maybe the healer the first time was better than the healer the second time. But either way it's attempting to replace one of your two damage dealers with a second healer and it doesn't let the actual tank convert into something useful. So it sucks. (For the record, I'd started using the non-tank pet in dungeons after that first time so I could spam my terrible damage spell instead of my terrible healing spell.)


Sthenno said...

I kind of enjoyed playing this game back when it was a piece of garbage. I wonder if I should try it out again. The thing is, I don't really want to be in groups or whatever, I just want to fight some dudes. Does it have much solo play or do you get cut off and have to group at some point?

Nick Page said...

So far I've had to group a couple of times during the main storyline. Before you can get an airship pass (and therefore get to the other main cities and switch to all the classes) you need to run 3 different 4-man dungeons. But they were short dungeons, and there is a dungeon finder. Once that was out of the way I think it is solo friendly all the way to max level.

Nick Page said...

If that's a sticking point, I can duo queue with you on my tank and they'll get cleared out in no time.