Eorzea Examiner #6: Attunements & Content Gating

Want to run a dungeon? Hope you've done all the prerequisites.

Hello and welcome to the sixth edition of the Eorzea Examiner, ZAMs column on Square Enixs Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. For this weeks edition were going to talk about the way FFXIV handles its content gating. Now when I saw instance gating, most of you coming from other MMOs are probably just picturing raids since those are usually the only thing you have to earn your way into these days, be it through an attunement quest line, an item level requirement or something like that. FFXIV goes a bit further. Want to run dungeons with your friends? Hope youve been keeping up with your story quests.

Duty Finder and the Story

When you get to level 15 in your main story quest line, you'll be sent to the first of FFXIV's dungeons, Sastasha. This is actually the first of three dungeons in a row you'll be running for this stretch of your story: run to dungeon entrance, queue in Duty Finder, run instance, turn in quest, rinse/repeat. The dungeons themselves are fairly simple and each run will last somewhere between 15-25 minutes barring poor luck or some horrendous pulls, so doing this stretch of your main story isn't too time-consuming even with queue times. Once those three dungeons are finished, you're clear for a bit with a stretch of solo questing before the next Duty Finder fight with Ifrit, then another stretch before the next DF queue, etc. Starting to see a pattern?

Now some of you are probably wondering why I'm even bringing up the Duty Finder here - it's a modern MMO after all, so we've come to expect the ability to queue for dungeons from anywhere. While that's true, this is the first time in my recollection that a game has tied its core story quest line to the ability to queue for dungeons with random people. This means that anyone playing the game solo (e.g. trying the game out before friends join in, fans of the regular Final Fantasy series without MMO experience, etc.) will get to that level 15 main quest and be forced to group with others. That may not sound like a major deal to some of you out there, but I can relate; other than grouping with friends and guild mates, I tend to be a very solo player who rarely queues for anything solo. For those times when it's just me, I would prefer to work on tasks like knocking out my story quests in-between crafting and dailies, but in FFXIV that's not always an option. There will be times where you will simply be stuck either waiting for friends to come home or just biting the bullet and hoping for a good pickup group.

This problem doesn't improve over time either. While there are a handful of dungeons sprinkled through the game that are separate from the main story line (all these require is grabbing a breadcrumb quest and going to the dungeon door), the vast majority of instances in the game require you to be at a certain part of your main quest line and that can be a point of contention for some players. I'll use myself and my questing friends as an example. During our run to 50 there was quite a bit of solo playing due to conflicting schedules. I spent most of my solo-play time (that wasn't crafting) running FATEs and questing. My healer friend, who has far more patience for pugging than I do, continued through his main story while leveling. When the time came that our schedules finally lined back up, he asked about running some dungeons, but over half of the instances he wanted to run were unavailable to us because of my position in the story quest line. It didn't matter that I was a comparable level to him or that he was group leader and had earned access - everyone has to be there or it's a no-go. This problem would come up again and again, including when patch 2.1 was released with a new 4-man dungeon, Pharos Sirius. All the patch notes said about this instance was that it required level 50, but our healer was the only one with access to this instance as well. That meant this four-man dungeon required you to complete the original main story line, including the three eight-man dungeons at the end. Seems a little strange to gate a small dungeon behind raids, don't you think? Of course FFXIV also gates non-combat content behind Duty Finder instances, so that's not the strangest thing they've ever done.

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Balanced Examiner Please
# Jan 24 2014 at 10:17 PM Rating: Good
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Wow. You complain a LOT. Seriously, it's one thing to analyze the game, but all these articles are so negative. Maybe pause for a moment and try and consider WHY things have been implemented this way in the first place?

Like Caligulove describes, the beginning dungeons serve as extended tutorials to ease new players into more advanced aspects of MMOs. Locking these features behind storyline quests gets players to try out different aspects of the game. Maybe some of those people who prefer crafting will actually enjoy the combat aspects once they try them out and get deeper into the battle system (1-10 hardly scratches the surface). Even the crafting class quests specifically encourage you to spread out and level battle and gathering classes as a source of materials.

And this attitude of only wanting to progress solo until your friends log in seems completely bizarre to me. Storyline quests are a huge source of exp and significantly cut down on the grinding to level up, so NOT keeping up with them and FATE grinding instead just seems silly. Also, similar to how the early dungeons ease players into advanced battle mechanics, all the dungeons progressively ramp up the difficulty curve. Jumping from Copperbell to Aurum Vale would be a terribly rude awakening for anyone. FATEs are very poor at training people to effectively play their class, while dungeon progression does it rather smoothly for the most part. Besides, for someone who claims to prefer crafting and gathering, I'm not sure why you're so eager to blitz up through battle classes on your solo time instead of just crafting and gathering and doing battle classes when your friends are on.

Really, the increasing sense of entitlement and whining with each new article is really becoming a buzz-kill. And I'm not suggesting a complete 180 with nothing but fanboy praise, but something more balanced would be far more interesting to read.
Dungeons are necessary for some
# Jan 21 2014 at 11:49 AM Rating: Excellent
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17 posts
While your criticisms of the dungeon/story relationship are just and valid, there are reasons it SHOULD be like this as well.

For MANY people, more so in this game than most, this is their first MMO experience.

The first dungeons are crucial to teaching you the mechanics of MMOs. To teaching you aggro, tanking, healing, positioning.

For instance:

The first boss you'll fight is a mob that has simple AOE. This teaches you what red circles are, and how to move away from the boss during attacks. The second boss comes with two adds, this teaches your priority in targets (kill adds first, then kill boss). The third boss has the same two adds and boss combo, but at a certain % adds are spawned as well. This teaches you priority management with adds, and allows the tank to learn how to pick up aggro on new mobs. The last boss of that dungeon teaches you environmental triggers. Bubbles begin to come up on grates, and without clicking them adds spawn.

That's the first dungeon. These are CRUCIAL skills to learn for an MMO if you want any success.

The next dungeon teaches you new mechanics yet. The slime boss teaches you how to position mobs within AOE so they take their own damage. The last boss of that dungeon spawns strong adds that break walls, teaching you how to focus fire adds asap, then continue on boss.

So while your criticisms are understandable from someone who understands the basic mechanics of dungeons, they are necessary for a good amount of people that play FFXIV (first time MMO players).

This was more of a complaint before they added duty roulette. It's not hard to find other people to do dungeons now through Duty Finder, as most people are running roulette throughout the day making plenty of people available for dungeons.

It's an MMO, and while I realize there is room for solo play, most progression is based on group efforts.

***lets hope they bring back Hamlets so crafters/gatherers can get some good group action in!

Edited, Jan 21st 2014 12:51pm by Caligulove
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