Solo Leveling Paths
Regarding the ways to make XP in FFXIV:ARR
Note: This is a companion piece to my MMORPG article about Beta-3 Tidbits. Additionally, this article is based upon experiences in early Beta-3. Content will be tuned and changed as we progress through the beta, so some of the concerns and conclusions discussed herein may not accurately reflect the final product! Images in this post come from the FFXIV published media and is used in accordance with the Terms and Conditions.
With FFXIV Beta 3 up and running we have a new “soft drop” of the NDA. At this point, we can talk about game content and we can post images. What we can’t do is post video or audio about anything related to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. It is my belief that the banned content is part “preventing spoilers” and part “some things aren’t in final form.” Additionally, we can no longer talk about B1 and B2 content.
In general, the population wasn’t allowed to talk about B1 and B2, but some sites had been given permission to talk about those phases. Primarily those were large gaming media sites like MMORPG.com.
Eorzea Reborn will continue to respect the NDA. I’m planning on getting a load of imagery running. Additionally, we are going to start talking content with emphasis on description, evaluation and opinion. In this section, I want to talk about solo leveling paths in FFXIV.
The Hero’s Journey
One of the things that complicates the FF MMO’s relative to their competitors is the single character concept. In most MMO’s, you will have multiple characters, each bound to a single class (or in RIFT’s case a calling). Each character has full access to the leveling path for the game.
The Final Fantasy MMO’s focus on player identity first and foremost. You tend to play a single character and that character can occupy every role (be it class or job specific). This means the same character returns to the same leveling content multiple times. For a game like FFXI, this doesn’t create much of a problem, since all leveling content was grinding content more or less.
But Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is joining the world of quest hubs, for better or worse, and that adds a complication to the single character model. Quests which were part of one class leveling path have been completed and are no longer available for subsequent class leveling. FFXIV:ARR gets around this a couple of different ways. Through use of multiple leveling systems and starting hubs, you have lots of content to level lots of classes.
In the modern MMO, soloing is ubiquitous. Everyone can solo, all the time, nearly everywhere. I am not in total agreement with the desirability of that statement. I’m okay with soloing, I just think that much of the world, particularly mid to upper level outdoor zones, should be at least duo/trio design with mid to upper level soloing contained in “civilized” areas around cities (instances would do a great job of this). But this post isn’t about what I think it should be, it’s what I perceive it to be in FFXIV:ARR.
Your starting city is determined by your class selection. Each starting city has its own story quest, although these story quests do eventually intertwine into the larger Realm Reborn story. These are only available on a single playthrough and your character is likely to only have access to your city’s starting story.
The city storylines play a role in gating content as well. Certain unlocks require completion of specific steps of story quests. This may prove to be controversial since some of these story steps are pretty difficult, far more fail-prone than most solo content in modern MMO’s. While I am a fan of major conveniences like airships and chocobos being hidden behind tougher solo steps, there are a few necessary pieces of content gated behind tougher steps.
My fear is that the inaccessibility of some of these tougher story quests combined with the necessity of some of the blocked content will inevitably lead to nerfing the city quest difficulty. If that happens it will be a shame! I would much rather see necessary content access (leve’s, dungeons, etc.) gated behind easier stories with convenience items (chocobos, airships, etc.) gated behind tougher achievements. Let’s hope this plays out well.
Each class has a storyline too. While each of these are only available once, they are class specific. This means your Gladiator can progress the Gladiator class story and then you can hop over to Pugilist and run through the Pugilist story.
Thus, while the city story appears to be part of your initial job’s leveling, each class benefits from a unique story. I have played through opening segments of most of the classes. There are some thematic overlaps involving your growing skill and there appears to be an in-class adversary type character in each of the stories. However, each guild has its own flavor and there are definite idiosyncratic personalities to each of the guild NPC’s.
Every zone has its own quest hub with requisite breadcrumbs moving you from hub to hub. This is the WoW effect on MMO’s and the quests are what you expect to see in similar titles. The thing is, though, there are unlikely to be enough quest hubs to let you level every class to maximum level. Quest hubs appear to be single pass-through content. Once your character has done it, those quests are gone for that character’s other classes and jobs.
In practice you have a quest-hub leveling path for Ul’Dah, Gridania and Limsa Lominsa. The quest hubs will accelerate your leveling of three adventuring classes, but it will not be available for the other five adventuring classes.
Guildleve’s were to be the innovation of FFXIV 1.0. They are repeatable, disposable quests. You get an allotment of them over certain time periods, you take them out and complete them for XP and rewards. Their downfall in 1.0 lay in the fact that your allotment was far too small and the other content far too barren for leveling.
Leve’s work more or less the same in ARR. However, they are no longer the primary leveling path for your initial class and there is an abundance of other leveling content. In my experience, you can skip leve’s entirely on your initial class and save the allotment for other classes, such as the harvesting and crafting progression paths.
This is one of the neater innovations of FFXIV and one of my favorite additions to the game. Each class has a personal log and you are rewarded each time you initially complete an activity in the log.
For adventuring classes, this is the Hunting Log. Each class hunting log gives you a page of creatures to kill in your leveling tier (1-10, 11-20, etc.). You have to complete everything on a page to open up the next page. Each page includes at least one creature that may take a bit of searching and, we can hope, that higher tier pages include some really unique finds.
For gathering and crafting classes, the logs are based around discovery. When a harvester finds a new type of item (copper ore, zinc ore, bone chips, etc.) or when a crafter successfully completes their first attempt at an item (bronze spatha, bronze ingots, etc.) you check off a line in your journal.
Every time you check off a line (be it hunting, gathering or crafting) you get an XP payout. Completing entire pages gives another bonus. These logs provide a good method to accelerate your leveling and are particularly useful in providing direction for secondary (and later) class progression.
What About the Grind
It doesn’t look like old-school grinding (solo or group) is going to take a prominent part of this game. You certainly can grind and you do rack up xp-chains for doing so efficiently. However, in general, you are unlikely to choose grinding as a preferential way to level.
You very likely will, though, choose occasional grinding as a gathering path. FFXIV places a big emphasis on crafting and crafting needs materials. Not everything is easily gathered by a gathering class, leather in particular comes from living creatures and that’s the domain of adventuring classes. Finding a spawn point of hide dropping creatures and farming is a pretty effective way to gather certain materials.
I think FFXIV:ARR is going in a pretty good direction with its content. There’s a lot I like in the variety of solo leveling paths. In general, solo content is easy and ubiquitous, but that’s the status quo in the industry now. I think the one-time play through of quest hubs with multiple zone repeats as you swap classes will prove to be a reasonable balance for both older and newer fans.
I really like some of the directions for group content and quasi-group content like FATE too. That will be the subject for another post though. As it stands, FFXIV:ARR is shaping up nicely as a top-tier MMO. I’ll have more posts coming up talking about group content soon!