The first time i ever played an MMO was back in 2006 when i discovered City of Heroes. The humongous, persistent world of colorful costumed superpowered individuals had me hooked with the non-linear gameplay, vast character customization options and if i’m honest, the super-jump power was worth the price of admission alone. i’d never experienced a video game quite like that, with hundreds (or thousands) or other characters running, jumping, flying and teleporting all over the place – all controlled by another human somewhere in the world. For that last reason, i believe i developed a case of alt-itis. In fact, it seems that City of Heroes is cited as a major contributor to the affliction. But for my money (paid for in monthly subscription fees) it lay more in the idea that the figure superjumping around was representing me in its digital way. Did i imagine myself shooting jets of flames from my hands? Hefting tractor trailers over my head? Controlling the minds of my enemies? As it turns out, i settled mostly on a sleek, cybernetic looking fella with a cowboy hat and samurai sword.
Since then, i’ve sampled quite an array of MMOs, immersing myself more heavily in some than others, and over the years i think i’ve got a pretty good grasp on what sort of characters i enjoy playing. Not an exhaustive list by any means, my MMO journeys have taken me to Dungeons and Dragons Online, Final Fantasy XI and XIV, City of Villains, Champions Online, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guild Wars (I & II), The Secret World, DC Universe Online, Maple Story, Neverwinter, Phantasy Star Online (which actually predates City of Heroes but at the time i didn’t really understand what i was playing), and a few random Korean games like Kal Online, Mabinogi and probably a few others i’ve since forgotten. The client server for The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is also sitting there inert on my taskbar.
Most recently, after considerable research as well as pelting a FB friend that i met through FFXI based on his spurt of FFXIV screenshot posts, i decided to give A Realm Reborn a shot. Technically, i suppose this isn’t entirely new for me, since i’d tried out the initial version of the game and withdrew before they shut it down based on bad press and player experiences. If i’m honest, i didn’t find it to be all that terrible. The game’s Armory system, which allowed you to switch jobs as easily as changing weapons, was really cool and i played a significant portion of the game as a goldsmith rather than any of the myriad jobs suited for battling monsters. Like it’s predecessor FFXI, players’ freedom to explore any of the games classes without creating an entirely new character was definitely my favorite feature. If i recall correct, i cancelled my sub for that game due to tightening down my finances, the death knell of many (and for an altoholic like me i mean many many) characters in lots of different games. FFXI was still around though, and i returned there once in the intervening years, but that game’s progression is just painfully slow. i wanted very badly to try out the beastmaster class – which is widely regarded as the best job for those who like to play solo, but after about two months of grinding i still wasn’t anywhere close to unlocking it and i threw in the towel on my tarutaru monk.
So, A Realm Reborn. The clincher for me was the elegantly simple crafting system, something i typically have every intention of getting into in the various MMOs i’ve played but never seem to progress really far. My interest in this standard game subsystem harkens back to FFXI actually, when i imagined my little fella traveling the land as a pizza delivery guy after a chance encounter with a high-level toon out in the wilderness who saved me from certain death and followed it up by handing out some homemade goodies. Crafting in that game was like a beta version of A Realm Reborn, except there was no Crafting Log to provide recipes and you had to largely stumble your way through it while pursuing other jobs. So in addition to my eventual goal of attaining that special pet-controlling beastmaster, i hoped to some day boast a complete collection of jobs and their accompanying relic gear, any of all of which would be just fine for a traveling culinarian.
Now, if you’ve noticed, i haven’t yet talked much about A Realm Reborn…because i haven’t yet had a chance to really sink my teeth into it yet. It’s been a while since i installed a new game, and my Sunday evening plan went awry when the d/l showed an estimated 6 hour installation time. That would have put the clock at around 8 p.m. that evening, except i’d forgotten about the time needed to update the client once the initial installation completed. And since i have to sleep sometime, it was not meant to be for the weekend. Follow that up with a 10 hour workday on Monday and some much-needed errand running put the kibosh on that plan, too.
Fortunately, today was a coveted day off! So after a healthy breakfast i got right down to it. My first instinct was to create a character of the lalafell race, basically an analog of FFXI’s tarutaru (pictured above). But by the time the intro cut scenes left me at the gates of Limsa Lominsa i was already over his portly stature. Next, i thought i’d model a toon on one of my favorite comic book characters, so another fledgling adventurer arrived at the seaside city-state – a Hyur highlander named Barda. But it bothered me that i planned to invest time into a character that was based on someone else’s originality so into the graveyard of alts she went.
Finally, i decided on an Elezen duskwight. To start off his career, i chose the lancer job and fancied him the closest i’d come to playing what i consider the greatest D&D character i’d ever made – an air genasi spear fighter. During one of the many times an honest-to-goodness play group formed, we planned to start a campaign based around a story of dragons’ return to the realm. Since we got to create characters who’d begin at level 9, with the standard starting wealth given in the DMG and authorized to equip them with basically whatever we could afford, i made this guy one bad-ass battler of great wyrms. It took quite some time of pouring through splatbooks to find the right combination of classes, feats and gear, and in the end he was a straight-up fighter that could leap great distances both vertically and horizontally, driving the deadly end of a spear before him.
Sound familiar? To anyone who’s played any of the Final Fantasy series starting with II, it should.
i named him Jindra Wolkstreit, a combination of a cool-sounding last name i came across through a customer database at my job IRL and a rough translation of “cloud fighter” in German. Incidentally, Wolkstreit is one of my go-to MMO names along with Ogdu and Longshotist – so if you ever run across me in one persistent world or another stop and /wave! In Eorzea, where A Realm Reborn takes place, there’s a new lancer arrived in Gridania named Wolkstreit Gold.
Thus far, i accomplished much in FFXIV other than the basic tutorial, but i’ve got a feeling i’ll be sticking around this one for a while. With all my various MMO experiences, i’ve got a sort of mental checklist of features that i look for, and while none of them have a complete package, this one has enough to keep me coming back for more. The best feature imo is the job system. Like FFXI and FFXIV 1.0, a single character can eventually reach level cap in all of the possible jobs and freely switch between them by simply equipping the proper gear. That is an absolute godsend for altoholics, who one day may feel like tanking and the next slinging arcane magick.
Once i figure out how to take screenshots and where they are stored once taken, i’ll be able to share Wolkstreit’s adventures visually as well.
The way things are shaping up, this summer looks to be a busy one for me, but part of that busyness is adding as much content as i can here at The Long Shot. In addition to narrative features and television commentary i plan to expand the Stuff i Played category with regular updates from Eorzea. There’s an awful lot to do in A Realm Reborn, and as i explore and learn about it myself i hope to do it justice by sharing my commentary here.
Thanks for reading!