This was a pretty good weekend overall – Phil and I got to do some gaming together (it’s been ages) and we got to hang out with some good friends. However, none of this was attributable to Square Enix and the horrific FFXIV launch.
I started playing Vanilla WoW after launch so I wasn’t around for that, but from what I’ve been hearing, however, this launch is approaching that level of fail. Hard to imagine. The beta woes continued into headstart, and both Phil and I had our characters locked at one point (instanced quests would hang, leaving your character stuck in limbo until a server reboot. You couldn’t play that character, nor any other since the system thought you were still logged in.).
Mainly, though, you just couldn’t get on to play. There is no queue, you just get bounced with an error message about trying again later. Occasionally you’ll get in a faux queue with some random number basically pulled out of thin air – 12, 255, 900, it doesn’t matter, you’ll be in in a minute or so. Basically all players were spamming to be let in, bouncing around like bingo balls in some cosmic tombola, waiting to be one of a handful shaken out at random onto the server. Since so many systems were failing due to a misunderstanding of the levels of robustness needed in their system architecture, load balancing, whatever, they decided on just locking down the servers.
At one point when I was trying to log in there were no EU servers open for character creation. If you were an EU player who had just managed to get in and create a character, you couldn’t save it anywhere. Many people ended up playing on the Japanese servers, as they were sparsely populated in comparison with overloaded NA/EU servers. After levelling a conjurer/arcanist to 22/12 on one server I decided to re-roll on a new server and was unable to create a new character. I can only play one at a time, so this restriction seemed silly.
If you were one of the lucky ones who managed to actually get in and play, it was amazingly fun. We had a blast, even with the re-rolls and levelling through the same areas again. At lower levels dungeons are fun (especially for a new healer with no gear and limited skillz like myself) without any really difficult mechanics. Even when I was kiting a boss around in circles and trying to keep both myself and the group alive it was fun, hysterical in fact. Once things settle down, this game is going to be a keeper and I am really looking forward to being able to relax, explore, and get lost in this beautiful world.
Phil and I basically spent the entire weekend playing the newly rebooted FFXIV. Very, very impressive.
As someone said in chat, you have to give Squenix credit for taking it on the chin with the first version and going back to the drawing board to completely rework the entire game, and much applause to them for doing so. How good was it? After having played the first horrible, virtually unplayable version I downloaded the open beta client just for giggles, because I was bored. I didn’t expect a company who could have launched that first hot mess to actually get their shit in order and come up with something good…but I was wrong, and by Saturday afternoon I’d preordered the game.
I am very much looking forward to launch, and levelling my conjuror/white mage in training past 20. I love the class, although the archer was a second choice. I actually healed in pug groups. If you know me, you know that that is really saying something. I hate grouping with strangers, partially as I have the very WORST luck in pickup groups – if you’re an immature idiot, or an elitist jerk, or the GOGOGOGO guy, I’ll land in your group. I certainly would not want to heal a pug. However, we sailed through all the ones that we did, even one with a DPS (whichever the melee class is with the great axe) who queued as tank. He had no taunts and all the health of a sickly butterfly, but we made it through (the only death during that run was mine, having made a bad choice between healing him and getting out of the bad).
I had so much fun that I didn’t even take screenshots, which is a shame as the game is gorgeous. The three starting areas and capital cities are all very different, and the quests actually make you want to read. Unfortunately the PC version was missing most of the voice acting (although it was evidently in place for the PS3 version), but it didn’t detract too much from the experience. Combat is a bit limited and dull at low levels, possibly to cater to console players, but it is still not terrible. Crafting seems a bit tedious to me right now, but perhaps that gets better.
We chose the EU server Moogle, which the various English-language community sites had chosen as the unofficial RP server and also the unofficial English language server. Unfortunately the French players don’t read those sites and had chosen Moogle as the unofficial French server, so there was a certain amount of bad feeling over chat being flooded with people who only wanted to speak French and group with other French people.
All in all, a huge amount of fun. Will I play forever? Probably not. But for now, or at least until WildStar comes out, it’s a fun, immersive and very playable game.
Some of the screenies from the weekend: