About 6 weeks ago, my oldest son started playing Final Fantasy 14 with me. He isn’t new to the MMO genre at all; he was wrecking parties as a warrior on World of Warcraft back when he was 6 years old and couldn’t tell the difference between DPS and the classes that for some reason weren’t DPS. As an adult watching my son, who is now 14, game it was easy to be concerned at first. However, most of the concerns about meeting sordid people and spending too much time on the game were quickly outweighed by the fact he was DOING BETTER THAN ME. THIS WAS NOT OKAY. IN SIX WEEKS HE MANAGED TO DO FAR MORE OF THE MAIN STORYLINE THAN I HAD DONE IN TWO MONTHS. IT IS NONSENSE.
There’s a lot of difference in how the two of us handle this style of game, and I thought it would be fun to spend some time with him discussing the decisions he makes vs how I handle those same decisions. So, without further ado:
When creating a character, my son choose a character thusly: “I just picked a race that looked cool. I just wanted a character that looked nice, that I wouldn’t get bored looking at. Also, she was a dragon [editor’s note: he chose the race Au Ra] and she’s a Dragoon, so.”
By comparison, I created a character that would be something of an avatar for myself. To this end, I created a catboy (Miqo’te) that very vaguely represented a fantasy take on me. Later, I made some adjustment to fit some of the cool hairstyles I unlocked, but I still preferred a tall male avatar.
2.) Quest Text and Storylines.
When asked how much my son pays attention to the text and storylines, he answered “I don’t like reading too much, but I do pay attention to the voice acting. If I miss something, I just go with it. It’s Final Fantasy, it’s not too confusing. It’s not as bad as Kingdom Hearts.”
By comparison, I try to read all the lore and story that I can. Sometimes, the cutscenes get to be a bit weighty, in which case I’ll cheat and go to a fansite or a wiki and read up on the lore a bit. I am definitely guilty of reading further ahead than I am in a story.
Which asked what went behind the class that he chose, my son answered “I really liked the Dragoon on the Final Fantasy Explorers and wanted to give it a try here. They jump, which is really cool, and they use spears which is something you don’t see anyone else doing. I mean, I know in this game each class uses one weapon but still, you don’t see a lot of spears in other games. I feel like spears are pretty slept on. What else do you need to play other than a dragoon? They can do anything. Not particularly well, I suppose, but all you need to do is get the boss’s HP bar down to zero. Bonus, sometimes I get to nap when I die because the healer can’t keep me up, claiming it’s not my job to tank. If Square Enix didn’t want me to tank they wouldn’t have given me awesome abilities like Jump, Spine Split, or Dive to get to the bosses before the stupid Warrior does.”
By comparison, in most games I prefer to play a healer role, but decided to go the tank route in this one so I could be useful to a party while also able to solo without too much difficulty. There’s few things I love more than when the Dragoon dies and then blames me for not holding enmity; buddy you’re a backline job, start acting like it. That said, I also play around with other jobs a bit. I’ve been enjoying Gunbreaker quite a bit, and there’s a little fun to be had in sneaking around as a rogue or working on my crafting jobs. I also played Bard for a while; there’s some neat utility there but I hated not putting out the damage I’d like.
When asked about how he approaches strategy, my son thought about it for a moment. “As a DPS, I usually just wing it and hope the tank or healer knows what they are doing. The game is pretty simple for the most part – don’t stand in the red, occasionally don’t stand in the blue, and try to stand away from the tank. Unless I’m tanking, of course. There’s been a few times I’ve looked up fight strategies, but that’s usually after we’ve wiped a bit.”
Not going to lie, I get where my son is coming from here. Sometimes I’ll have the wiki article up and be reading up on boss fights literally as I’m doing them, but I’m at a point right now where I just listen to the more experienced players coach me on what to do and work from there. As a tank, sometimes I have to stand in the red (and occasionally the blue) but not often, and there’s more of a focus on keeping the boss away from the other players and grabbing adds as appropriate.
When asked about what my son doesn’t like about the game, he answered “I get tired of quests where you gotta talk to a person, and then go talk to another person, and then go to a zone and talk to another person. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a person who had talked to these three people before I had to run around? It seems like a lazy way to get me to check out new zones.”
I understand where my son is coming from through this. Square-Enix does too, which is why in the 5.3 patch coming in a few months, a lot of those mandatory quests will be streamlined.
Both my son and I have an intense hatred for the instanced dungeon The Aurum Vale. It’s a level that caps at 47, which means some key abilities are unavailable, and while not particularly difficult by strategy is confined with a lot of really god awful status ailments. It doesn’t help that the zone lowers the IQ of every player that goes there by like, 100. And for what? The gear that drops isn’t particularly good in stats or looks, and there is a pet that drops but only rarely.
My son has collected, as of this writing, 83 god damned minions. (“Pets,” he points out, “are what arcanists summon.” These minions follow a character around and have unique looks and sometimes unique emotes, but they don’t really add anything other than that. My son LOVES collecting them. Some of his favorites includes Wind-Up Yugiri, Toy Alexander, and Wind-up Garuda. He likes Alexander and Garuda because they dropped from bosses he fought and there’s a sense of pride and accomplishment there. He likes Yugiri because, and I quote, “Even the tool tip says one Yugiri is never enough.” (Sadly, he does not have the Dress-up Yugiri yet. He is working towards it.)
By comparison, I alternate between two minions. The first is the Wind-up Shantotto, which reminds me of the years I invested in Final Fantasy 11. The second would be Cerberpup, a really cut minion I got as part of our Free Company meet-and-greet.
My son is really partial to Yugiri, who he as informed me is “his waifu.” I look forward to embarrassing him about that when he’s older. Other characters he likes includes Raubahn Aldynn (or as he is affectionately referred to in our household, “Stubby”) and Ser Aymeric (“He’s really dedicated to his cause and I respect that. The dude gets stabbed.”)
By comparison, he does not like Minfilia (“she’s the most useless of Scions”) and Malboro. Especially the ones in Aurum Vale. As I write this, he’s complaining about all the status afflictions they give at once. Clearly he is not a fan of freaky plant life.
By comparison, there’s a few characters I’ve come across that I felt were well written. I appreciated Lolorito, who is kind of an interesting antagonist – he actions at some point actually interfere with the mechanization of Teledji Adeledji (a fun name to say, a horrible one to remember how to spell) and yet it’s clear that he is out for his own gain, not for the world’s. I also like Urianger, and not just because of his chill Gamer Twitter ( @epicurianger , which currently is suspended but I imagine will be back.) There’s also something to be said about running into fan favorites from older games, such as Ultros. Bonus points go to Haurchefant for his solid leadership and sacrifice, and I’m personally looking forward to fighting Lakshmi.
Characters I grow tired of include Alphinaud, who really should just die in a fire already (I get that he’s well written, I’m just tired of him), Curious Gorge (I sure love babysitting people!) and Lyse, who will never be as good as her sister.
And with that, it’s time for the two of us to quite talking about what we like about the game and go back to playing it. My son is currently farming extremes to “get all the ponies” while I have been looking at fishing. I can’t wait to explore the story behind the Fisherman class, I say only half sardonically.