One of the best things about the multitude of RPGFan editors who play Final Fantasy XIV is the amount of stories we all have to share. Everyone's experience in the game is filled with unique perspectives and outcomes, even if in terms of gameplay, we're all technically doing the same thing. Amongst the staff, we have both veteran and relative newcomers to Final Fantasy's second online outing, and we wanted to get together to share tales from both the viewpoints of those of us who play far too much, and those who are just now making their way through the fantastic world of Hydaelyn.
Since we have several podcasts as part of our Fabula Nova Anniversaris feature, we wanted to try something different here, so four of us got on Skype, one of the leading cross-platform video and voice chat apps... for a text-based roundtable chat. The intent was to leave this as raw as possible, so aside from a couple typo fixes, we largely left the text alone for this feature.
Each attendee also submitted screen shots of their characters, so every image in here is from our personal collections. It has been a very long time since we did a roundtable chat on RPGFan, so we welcome your feedback on this one. But first, grab yourself a Triple Cream Coffee, Ishgardian Tea, or perhaps a serving of Buttons in a Blanket, and please look forward to the read.
Mike Salbato: BAM
Marcos Gaspar: Heyo
Keegan Lee: New skype who dis
Marcos: cha boi
Mike: Your favorite goldsmith
Caitlin Argyros: This is Hydaelen, the mother crystal.
Keegan: Oh, THAT crystal!
Marcos: THE crystal
Keegan: I only run PotD, so I have no idea what you're talking about
Mike: That moment when you Google and learn Hydalen is a real place in Norway.
Mike: (Behind the Kyrkjebønnøse mountain, obviously)
Marcos: ah yes
Keegan: Ah, yes
Keegan: Those mountains
Keegan: Marcos did I just steal your joke
Mike: Now he's hurt.
Marcos: I have to leave
Marcos: I'm crushed
Keegan: I'M SORRY
Keegan: I'll be quiet from now on
Mike: This is off to a horrible start.
Marcos: by the weight of the world
Mike: Late but, how is everyone tonight?
Keegan: Good! Been binging on FE Warriors and FFX today
Mike: What is this "binge gaming" thing you speak of? *looks over longingly at Switch*
Keegan: My steam friend list says you're playing FF XIV
Keegan: Like, as we speak
Mike: I wanted to have the game open for this in case it came in handy, haha. (bonus: music)
Marcos: Haha, good things we aren't steam friends. *Sweats nervously and exits FFXIV*
Keegan: You PC playing weirdos
Mike: I mean I'm technically playing on my Mac but that's not really the point, I suppose.
Keegan: Ah, the true challenge mode!
Mike: It's fine now, haha. The initial Mac release was laughably horrific (see image), but they addressed it.
Keegan: So, how do we want to go about doing this whole shindig? I've never really participated in a roundtable before
Mike: An excellent question, Master Keegan!
Mike: I dunno, I figured we'd just talk about the game and see what happens. :D And we'll see if we all feel it should have been a podcast.
Mike: Before we start, did anyone have any particular topics they wanted to cover?
Marcos: Nothing in particular, haven't played in 3ish months, so I haven't had to deal with any patches :P ;)
Keegan: SO! I think it would be awesome to hear from Mike and Caitlin about how much the game has changed since they started playing! Were you guys pre-HW?
Caitlin: Yeah, I started with ARR and Mike has been playing since 1.0, right?
Mike: Thankfully, no 1.0 for me, even though in hindsight I'm strangely curious. I started with 2.0, during the beta, in summer '14.
Mike: Er, 2013
Keegan: I didn't know 2.0 had a beta!
Mike: Yeah, a few of my friends (former and current RPGFan editors, of course) convinced me to sign up for it after E3 that year.
Mike: As hilarious as the idea is now, I paid no mind to the game in terms of news until then. I knew 1.0 was a mess, so I had no interest, but the beta was free...
Caitlin: That same friend got me to try the game too, in December of 2013. Originally on PS3, and then I upgraded to PS4 when that became available.
Keegan: Oh, nice!
Mike: We call him "The Enabler"
Caitlin: Oh, wait. Maybe not the same friend, then. Haha
Caitlin: It was Liz for me.
Mike: Oh! It was Stephen and Derek for me, who couldn't convince me to even try the game at E3, haha
Keegan: Having only known you for the past year Mike, that's REALLY surprising to me!
Mike: "Because you are a certified addict today!"
Keegan: Fair, haha. It was when they changed up the free trial period that I decided to give it a shot. And after some, "prodding" from center staffers, I bought my sub before I even ended my trial!
Caitlin: I really think the biggest change from 2.0 to HW to SB, IMHO, is the quality of the storytelling.
Caitlin: Really, I think the main story of 2.0 is very rote and boring. The 2.X patches are an improvement, but it's really Heavensward where I feel like the story comes into its own.
Keegan: As someone who's just recently gotten to the 2.x patches, I strongly agree!
Mike: At the time, I enjoyed parts of 2.0's story. I think there's a lot of good stuff to experience, but there sure was a lot of filler in between.
Keegan: My experience with MMO's beforehand was Burning Crusade-era WoW, so the amount of story in XIV really shocked me
Mike: Though I'm certain the need to rebuild and relaunch the game in a shorter timeframe than the initial game took to build was a major factor.
Mike: Ha, yeah, my only MMO before this was WoW as well, and big story moments in that game were few and far between.
Marcos: Same here, FFXIV was a real treat after playing many free MMOs, so it was a pleasant surprise.
Marcos: Great atmosphere and the servers are always bustling
Caitlin: I really haven't had any previous MMO experience prior to FFXIV. I played around with Silkroad Online once, for all of about two hours, and that was it. Haha.
Mike: Well that would be quite a change of pace, heh.
Marcos: The last MMO before FFXIV I played was Neo-Steam.
Mike: But yes, as much as things have changed over the years - UI, functionality, abilities - the improvements in storytelling are one of the biggest highlights for me too.
Mike: I try not to overhype it to you guys while you're in 2.x, but from 3.0 onwards, there's a drastic difference in the quality and pacing of the story, and it's well worth experiencing.
Keegan: Awesome! If only I could stop creating alts...
Mike: In both expansions, for story content, you're often traveling with your companions like Alphinaud and co. It changes the feel, since it's more akin to a traditional Final Fantasy, since your character isn't always going solo.
Caitlin: Now if only they'd let us redo missions...
Keegan: I do enjoy how easy it is to run through older content now, especially since they added the alliance roulette
Keegan: I've actually spent time looking up guides for the Crystal Tower, lol
Keegan: That being said, however, I am so sick of constantly running through the Tam-Tara Deepcroft in roulettes
Mike: Like, the original version?
Keegan: Yes, lol. When I was getting up to 50 on Yara, it was every other day
Mike: Surprising, given how many dungeons there are that could come up...
Marcos: It was Dzemael Darkhold for me.
Keegan: I know, right? It just constantly comes up!
Mike: It's kinda funny, because I don't recall having that, but... I don't remember exactly when roulettes were added to the game.
Mike: oh, 2.1!
Keegan: Oh, so you used to have to select each dungeon manually?
Mike: Yeah, though back in 2.0 there wasn't much reason to redo dungeons, unless someone needed help.
Mike: The roulettes were added with incentives to encourage people at 50 to re-run older content, that way people still leveling up could find parties.
Keegan: What was the end game content like back then? It was a few patches before the Crystal Tower and Coils were added, right?
Mike: Crystal Tower came in 2.1 as well... I believe Binding Coil part 1 was already there, but my Free Company back then was not in a position to go in there, heh. I didn't get to Coil until much later.
Caitlin: Aww man, I still remember going into T1 for the first time.
Caitlin: And finally killing Twintania in T5. Good times.
Keegan: I'll get there one day >.>
Mike: Those victories sure feel good when you reach them, that's a fact.
Caitlin: Once you get up to level 60-70, you can probably solo that content easily.
Mike: Wait, didn't we get you through T5, Keegan?
Keegan: Oh, was that Twintania? I know we finished all of the first part
Mike: It's surprisingly still dangerous in parts, but we made quick work of her with 3 (?) people.
Caitlin: If divebombs ring a bell, then yes.
Caitlin: F#&*ing divebombs
Keegan: It was 4 of us, and yes Caitlin, the nightmares are coming back now
Caitlin: The gift that keeps on wiping parties.
Caitlin: Even today in Stormblood.
Mike: haha, every time they're a mechanic in a fight, I worry.
Keegan: So I'm curious, since you two are farther than Marcos and I, would you say that these battles are becoming significantly harder, even after being properly geared? I've heard some horror stories from other staffers.
Caitlin: I would say yes.
Mike: As in, raid battles?
Mike: Or just in general?
Keegan: Most of what I've heard concerns Raids and Dungeons
Caitlin: I think the skill ceiling gets higher the further you get into content. And the expectations from players are also for more complicated, challenging content.
Mike: I'm behind in the extreme/savage fights, so I can't say much on those, sadly.
Caitlin: So Square Enix responds with increasingly difficult fights, at least when attempted at release with current gear.
Caitlin: That's not to say that absolutely everything is harder than what came before. There are ebbs and flows.
Mike: Though since Heavensward, I do think they've been increasing the difficulty in some "regular" stuff like dungeons too. Sometimes when a new dungeon comes out, I'm surprised at its difficulty. Or at least, that it isn't overly easy, after months of running familiar ones, heh.
Caitlin: Sophia EX from HW is pretty noticeably easier than Sephirot EX, at least when the fights were both current (respectively).
Caitlin: (as an example)
Mike: I think we need to ask you (comparative) newbies stuff now. ;)
Mike: Though this is kinda for everyone: What drew you to your main class/job(s) in the game?
Keegan: Hmmm, I've got two different answers for my Characters, haha. For Yara, while I enjoyed playing a bard, I hit 50 around the time Stormblood came out, so getting into dungeons was a nightmare. So I decided to become a Paladin, and Once I discovered how fun Tanking can be, I stuck with it!
Keegan: For my second character, Tini Gwynblaid, I chose to go as a monk, more because I liked the idea from a story perspective. A Lalafell traveling the world with only her fists to help her was a cool idea!
Marcos: Haha, that's cool! I didn't even know you made a monk.
Mike: And named her Tini. :D
Marcos: Pronounced tiny or teenee? :)
Keegan: Fun fact, I actually named her after a Comic book artist I met, Tini Howard, who currently works on the Rick and Morty comics!
Mike: Ha, nice.
Marcos: Man, I like the story element with Tini. I only made a white mage so I could steal aggro from Tank.
Keegan: Ugghhh, you're the worst Marcos!
Keegan: (You're still my friend though!)
Marcos: (It's okay. ;))
Marcos: My character, D'eirdre Gil, is a level 61 White Mage. But in all seriousness, I always enjoy playing a healer.
Keegan: See, that's one class I haven't touched on. It makes me nervous to heal
Marcos: Haha, well the trick: It's not keeping them alive you need to worry about. It's keeping yourself alive. ;)
Caitlin: I actually started with Bard and Black Mage. Stuck with that through most of 2.X. I leveled up White Mage, but I was nervous running it in higher level things until I had an opportunity to join a static where I had to run healer. That was ultimately a great opportunity for me, because it got me used to the class. And the rest, as they say, is history. I've been healer main ever since, and I've mained all three healers at various different times. First White Mage, then Scholar, then Astrologian, and now I'm back to running on White Mage.
Keegan: That actually leads to my next question! So, now that we know how we started, what would you guys say is your favorite class?
Mike: Part of your shift away from Bard was because they changed it during 3.x and it became less mobile, right, Caitlin?
Mike: Not that it's the ONLY thing that defines Bard, but it was a real bummer that they lost that unique aspect as a job.
Caitlin: Actually, I had mostly moved away from it before that. I was BRD on my first static, and when that fell apart, it kind of soured me on the job. But then the 3.0 changes to BRD (which Square Enix has since gone back and thought better of) kind of made me not want to keep up with the job.
Mike: Ah, right, yeah. I can't see ever playing it seriously, but I'm glad they changed that back.
Keegan: I mean, I like it on Yara! The changes they made when SB came out worked out really well!
Mike: Paladin is still my favorite. For better or worse, I don't really play based on "gameplay" reasons so much. My paladin love was cemented back with Final Fantasy IV, and the holy knight/protector thing has always really resonated with me. Like, that's a thing I'd aspire to be.
Mike: So it was never really a "let me see what abilities each job has," with FFXIV or anything else. It's "Is there a paladin in this game?" :D
Mike: White Mage is my second choice, for similar "looking out for my friends" reasons. Then Dragoon cause... dragoon.
Marcos: Haha. Yes! White Mage all the way for me. I like multi-tasking, so it's fun running it. I also enjoy helping people in MMOs anyways, so I figured to stick with it as well. My next favorite is Dragoon, because it's the polar oposite of a White Mage. :)
Keegan: I remember I picked Bard first for their party buffs. Yay helping people!
Caitlin: It's a tough choice for me between White Mage and Astrologian, but I think Astrologian wins out. Not just because of the utility that it brings to the party (that White Mage can't match), but also because of its flexibility (you can do both regen healing and shield healing). And its spells (particularly LB3) are just so damn pretty.
Keegan: How do you feel about Scholar? People seem pretty mixed on the class recently
Mike: AST does seem like the "best" healer with that flexibility... I've always described it as a "prettier white mage," with a few key differences. I need to spend more time with it to get a handle on those cards.
Caitlin: I don't particularly like Scholar. I had to main it for a while for raid, but I never felt totally comfortable playing it, in large part because its main heals are so wimpy compared to WHM and AST. Of course, you've got the fairy, but pet management is another whole thing about Scholar that never sat 100% right with me, being a PS4 player. Maybe I'd feel differently about it if I played on PC, but I just know that it's considerably harder for me to keep people healthy on SCH than on either WHM or AST.
Caitlin: Which is part of the reason why I started maining AST.
Caitlin: Because AST can shield just as well (even better in a few ways) than SCH, but its base heals are like WHM's in that they pack quite a punch. Esepcially with the sect bonuses thrown in.
Mike: (I just have no interest in pet classes... I don't feel like dealing with the mental juggling of ANOTHER bar)
Caitlin: Having said that, I've seen videos of people solo healing current raid content on SCH while also putting out massive DPS (for a healer). So you can definitely excel on the class. It's just hard.
Keegan: I've dabbled a bit in summoner, and I agree, juggling the pet hotbar on PS4 is not easy
Marcos: Yeaa, I did my arcanist leveling for White Mage and then peeled out as soon as I hit the required level.
Caitlin: You really need to turn it off on PS4, and move the pet skills to your own hotbar.
Caitlin: That's the only way I was ever able to take SCH into raid.
Keegan: Yea, I'll probably save Summoner and Scholar for last when it comes to leveling, haha
Mike: Good idea, haha
Mike: Do we all have 1-2 favorite moments from the game? I know there's a lot...
Marcos: Oh yeah
Keegan: Oh! I have one!
Mike: Story moments, or even "wow, didn't expect this classic villain to be a boss here!" moments
Keegan: How spoilery are we allowed to get here?
Caitlin: Everything with Aymeric.
Mike: Say what you want, and we can edit in post if needed. ;)
Mike: Caitlin and I will probably have to be vague, for your guys' sake.
Keegan: For me, the events at the Waking Sands after the Titan fight was a big shock to me
Caitlin: Umm, the main story for the Vault dungeon in 3.0. The buildup to and final story instance for 3.1. The conclusion of 3.3. Just, literally everything Aymeric.
Caitlin: And more recently, the alliance raid in 4.0. Doing a good job of hitting me right in my FFT and FFXII feels.
Mike: Heh, the "most recent" story-wise, that we get to see Aymeric, I was really happy to see him. And was also thinking "oh man, Caitlin is gonna be happy here"
Caitlin: HE WASN'T VOICED THOUGH
Caitlin: I WAS SO PISSED
Caitlin: LET ME HEAR HIS SILKY SMOOTH VOICE, SE!
Keegan: He's voiced by Gideon Emery, isn't he?
Mike: Everything in and around The Vault is kinda just great. It's the first major difficulty spike in the dungeons, and the special mission there that you always want to replay... I also always want to replay.
Caitlin: No, Blake Ritson.
Caitlin: Gideon Emery voices Urianger in 2.0.
Keegan: Oh yea! I just knew you liked his voice, haha
Mike: Yeah, can we get like, a lot more voiced scenes with Urianger please?
Caitlin: Blake Ritson also voiced Alvis in Xenoblade.
Mike: It's not that I exactly MIND re-watching the 3.4 cutscenes whenever I need his lovely voice in my ears but
Caitlin: Going a little PG-13 here for a minute, but he could read me the phone book and I'd probably get turned on.
Mike: "Aaron Aarington, 555-555-1212" "MORE PLEASE"
Keegan: Perfect, lol
Keegan: I did have one player related moment that stood out to me, rather than a story moment
Mike: Actually, how did we fail to mention that, Caitlin?
Marcos: Haha, I have two of those, Keegan.
Mike: We mentioned how far the storytelling has improved, but we left out the "the entire voice cast was replaced in Heavensward and the game was 100% better for it" thing.
Keegan: Oh yea, hit us with those deets first!
Caitlin: ALMOST the entire cast.
Caitlin: Aymeric is one of the few that stayed the same.
Caitlin: Thank the Twelve.
Mike: Right. But everyone else, so much better now. Some of the 2.0 cast was fine, most were stilted, many were bad. Really glad they changed things up.
Caitlin: Actually, he may have been the only one. I'm not sure. He's the only one that stands out to me right now, but I'm very Aymeric biased.
Mike: Anyway, let's hear those moments before Caitlin and I fall too in love with voice actors.
Caitlin: BRB daydreaming about Aymeric. Talk amongst yourselves.
Keegan: Haha, Marcos, you wanna go first?
Marcos: One of my favorite moments was running The Praetorium during a roulette. After enough runs, I knew the motions in and out, what to do and not to do. Well, I got a little bored during one of the runs (and mind you, I mostly play with strangers), I decided to shake things up towards the end. When we finally hit Ultima Weapon, I thought to myself, "I could take this," so I stole Tank's aggro before he could get in their move and ran and kept aggro for a good chunk of the fight. It was really fun and good change up, especially when I'm used to tanking in lower level dungeons where the Tank doesn't know how to pull.
Keegan: Haha, nice! Did you manage to stay alive for most of the fight?
Keegan: I'm so proud of you
Marcos: Haha. ;) I ran it enough that I knew what to throw out when. Now, Titan on the other hand. Woooo, no thanks for stealing that aggro.
Keegan: Ugh, Titan EX is no fun
Marcos: I'll admit it, I ringed out.
Marcos: the first time.
Mike: Everyone does. ;)
Keegan: Haha, my story actually has to deal with my first EX-perience ;)
Keegan: Ya like that pun?
Keegan: 'cause I did
Mike: I thought you were always trying to NOT get fired?
Keegan: I like to toe the line
Keegan: So, going up against Garuda EX, I experienced something I didn't expect at this point in the game's life. Absolutely everyone in my party was new to the fight. None of us knew the mechanics, or what would happen in the fight, so we rushed in. For 70 minutes, we threw ourselves at Garuda constantly, learning all of her moves and phases. Not ONCE did anyone in that party want to quit. We worked together as a genuine team. Unfortunately, we timed out and were unable to kill her. Immediately, I started searching again, and who shows up in my next party? Half of the original group! We took down Garuda easily this time, and the bonds I created with these 7 strangers is something I'll never forget
Mike: Ah, I love that! It's surprising for it to happen in 2017, for an older fight like that, for sure. I think that's the "ideal" MMO experience when it comes to playing with strangers. You always want to find a group like that, who all want to work together.
Keegan: Also, it was the first time I ever played as the main tank in an 8-man party, so it was like a, "coming of age" moment for me, haha
Mike: Aww, they watched you grow up as a paladin!
Keegan: I went in as a Tank Boy and came out a Tank Man
Mike: Wait, did you Fantasia AGAIN?
Keegan: NO! Yara is still a Cat!
Keegan: My Fantasia addiction has died down for now
[Editor's Note: A few weeks after our chat, we did character photoshoots, and Keegan proved his previous statement wrong, using another Fantasia to become an Au Ra.]
Mike: okay, good to hear. For the sake of your wallet.
Keegan: I thought it was a fun game for you! Everytime I log in, it's, "What does Yara look like now?" time!
Mike: It is entertaining. ;)
Mike: One of my favorite player moments was when a bunch of us got together to clear the final battle in Binding Coil. I was really wanting to clear it... and I'm not one of those "need a clear" players, but I was invested in the story and wanted to see it through. It was literally the night before I left for E3, which meant it was the last time I'd be able to play for the week. Plus, Heavensward was coming soon, so everyone would be doing new stuff.
Mike: Granted, the other 7 people had cleared it, so it was less a victory for them, aside from showing me the ropes, but clearing that fight at the 11th hour was pretty damn thrilling.
Mike: (So was going back later at level 60 for an evening of 15 clears in a row, until we all got the gear drops we wanted :D)
Mike: (It may have been more than 15, we were there for awhile)
Keegan: If there's one good thing about coming in to the game late, it's not having to grind for gear
Keegan: Just gotta make it to Mor Dhona and you're good!
Mike: Yeah, they've made 2.0-3.0 progression WAY easier now. Which is good. It was fine at the time, but new players shouldn't have to grind at 50, and again at 60, just to get to grinding phase at 70. haha
Caitlin: No more moogle quests to level up! Those fluffy bastards can go pick their own kupo nuts.
Keegan: I do like delivering their mail though!
Mike: yes! I'm a bit sad those quests stopped at 2.x actually. I love how they did those.
Mike: It was a really cool ongoing side quest series, learning the backstory of townsfolk you'd never know otherwise.
Mike: And you best believe I wore that Postmoogle's Cap when I cleared Binding Coil.
Keegan: (off topic, should we get pics of our characters for this feature?)
Keegan: (Now I gotta figure out how to transfer Screenshots from my PS4)
Caitlin: flash drive
Keegan: that makes sense.
Keegan: I'm ashamed
Mike: We've probably kept everyone long enough at this point... there's really no end to how long we could potentially talk about this game, but for the sake of you central time and east coast folks, we should probably wrap up with a compelling final topic.
Mike: ...what color did you dye your chocobo?
Mike: Kidding, we should probably discuss what we're looking forward to in the game, at our varying positions. :)
Mike: (but mine is snow white)
Marcos: (mines Butt Naked....j/k, it's classic Wark)
Keegan: Haha, same
Keegan: Content wise, I'm really looking forward to all the changes coming in 3.0 and beyond. Also, with all the nods to Ivalice in the latest patch, I'm hoping we see a lot more from tactics and XII in the coming months!
Mike: I am SO excited for you to start 3.0.
Caitlin: I'm really looking forward to taking the fight to Garlemald at some point. The way things go in Stormblood, I really can't imagine a future expansion that doesn't take us to the Garleans doorstep (hopefully knocking it down in the process). I'd also love to see Meracydia at some point, after reading about its role during the time of the Allagan Empire. Finally, I can't wait to see the inevitable climax in the conflict between the servants of Hydaelyn (the Warriors of Light & Scions) and the servants of Zodiark (the Ascians and their allies). The part of patch 3.4 where they started to explain the bigger picture of FFXIV's universe and foreshadowed what I'm certain will be the ultimate climax of the game was really interesting, and I can only imagine how epic it will be when it finally comes to pass.
Mike: I just want more cute outfits.
Caitlin: Glamour: the true endgame.
Mike: ...I really want to close with that, but realistically, I should say that I'm looking forward to those things too. Getting an expanded view of the world in Stormblood, that central continent is HUGE, so that is going to be an interesting time going there one day.
Mike: In the more immediate future, I am really fascinated with how the post-4.0 story will progress, because a WHOLE LOT OF SHIT went down this expansion that really changes the world of the game.
Caitlin: Needs moar Aymeric, though.
Mike: Plus, I really like that 2.x and 3.x had a hub area that gradually grew and changed over time, so I'm looking forward to seeing how the areas change in Ala Mhigo over the next year+.
Marcos: Man, all I want in the future is the Blue Mage Job. That's it.
Keegan: Nah man, Calculators.
Marcos: I can live the lie of it possibly happening.
Mike: Yes you can. Keep hope alive, Marcos.
Keegan: Just bring back Dresspheres
Keegan: X-2 deserved better
Mike: Okay, this proved to be a fun discussion! I sure hope our readers feel the same, so to you, dear readers: Let us know what you think of this feature! We haven't done a roundtable chat in the cutting edge format of "text" in awhile, so this was a bit of a throwback. My thanks to Caitlin, Keegan, and Marcos for sitting on Skype for so long to make this happen.
Keegan: Always happy to talk about RPGs!
Caitlin: May you walk ever in the light of the crystal, dear readers!