My girlfriend is a GameStop employee so she was able to snag a beta code last week and I had the chance to toy around with the beta for two days before it went down. There was a fair amount of content to see, and I didn’t get too far, but I tried to experience a little bit of everything so I could talk about it on forums and with other testers. Here’s a few of my first impressions:
Battle / XP (solo)
My favorite activity hands down. In general, the battle system is clunky. It can take a few seconds for you to switch from active to passive mode and back. I found it easier to have weapon drawn before using the action bar too. Mobs are spread out fairly well, so the availability itself isn’t bad but resetting all the levels made from some crowded areas. Once you get past 11 or 12 it seems to be less congested. Also, between battles, be sure to use passive mode. Not only do you run faster, but you don’t regen HP in active mode! How clever SE. There is no MP regen so mages must have it rough.
You utilize your combat abilities (light slash, weapon skills, buffs) from your action bar. You set these abilities on your action bar from the menu. Unfortunately the bar resets every time you switch classes. That is likely to get fixed today though.
Combat itself is, as I said before, clunky. Lock-on is the same as it was in FFXI, but your movement is more fluid, so it seems forced to have it. It is necessary sometimes though. Occasionally, it will say you cannot see your target or target is too far but it really is right in front of you. Beta bugs I guess. I can see combat being very strategic as time goes on due to the stamina bar. For those that aren’t aware, everything you do in combat uses a portion of the stamina bar, which gradually refills itself. You build TP like in FFXi, but the numbers are on a scale 1000 this time, and it caps out at 3000 TP (there’s no % tacked on either). At 1000 TP, you can use weapon skills (I got circle blade, red lotus). Magic based ones also use MP, like red lotus which used 3. I had like 180 MP so it wasn’t so bad, but if you don’t manage it well while grinding, you’ll run out!
You get a class “rank” and then a physical level. The latter seems to increase much faster as the EXP you earn goes towards it. Your rank improves by utilizing your weapon during combat. I hit Rank 11 Gladiator / 12 Physical. So I imagine those Physical levels will make it easier to level up Pugilist and Marauder next time I get on, assuming they don’t wipe levels again!
Well, like they said, you switch your weapon, you change your class. Indeed! It’s pretty cool, but it isn’t as seamless as it will (hopefully) be at release and can take a few moments. There’s a shop where you can buy all sorts of Rank 1 weapons for the other classes, which makes it easy to get started there once you finish a leve or two for some gil. The shield was removed in this phase though, which pisses me off since I am a gladiator main. I’ve been getting my ass kicked out there! I need some protection. This also rendered my Phalanx counter useless, but that probably belonged in the previous section.
Anyway, most of the gear your get either comes from doing local/regional leves, which can have a reward. You start out with the basic 5 or 6 slots covered so you’re not naked and you can obtain pieces of the “Hemp” set from starter leves.Gear wears down on a durability scale. it seems really slow though, which is great! This is definitely a nice system for that, and I appreciate the effort put in here, being an oldschool MUD player where gear repair was a standard feature in medieval fantasy themed games.
Oh, you can also purchase guild “weapons” in the respective guilds. I haven’t given this too much of a try so I’ll cover this next.
So i got Armorer to Rank 3 and could not figure out how to fish, or why my Blacksmithing just wanted to keep breaking synths. I wasted about 4k gil thus far crafting. That is a lot of money when you can only do 8 quests every 2 days and the rewards are like 1k each. The array of available crafts are great. There’s something for everyone in this category, and you can try out as much as you like! The cool thing about this is being able to repair your own stuff as well. They included a few things in the GUI that allow you to facilitate repairs–either by doing it yourself, looking for services, or providing services to others. A very good idea, as it is basically the party-seeking equivalent of the battlefield classes.
The game also lags like you would not believe when you enter into the synthesis menu. It takes almost two minutes to perform the setup fora synth and another minute to actually craft the item.The way it works is supposedly like EQ2. You enter the synthesis menu, select either a requested item (from a leve) or manually put items in the crafting boxes. You then select main or offhand crafting tool and begin the synth. Once in the synthesis action, you have about 10 seconds to make a selection each phase of the craft. You can choose from a Standard synthesis, Quick synthesis (forget the exact word now), or Bold (HQ?) synthesis option. When you make a selection, a certain amount of progress is made toward the completion of the final product. There are two factors you must weigh–durability and quality. If the durability of the item reaches 0 while crafting, you botch the synthesis. If the quality is high at the end of the synthesis, you make a HQ item (I believe, never pulled it off).Each time you select a synthesis type, the item’s %complete increases some, the durability goes down, and the quality goes up (can go down too maybe? didn’t pay that much attention to quality). It then prompts you to make another selection and you keep going in that fashion until you either complete the item or you bust it.
What I gleam from it is it’s very in-depth and time-consuming, but that means there’s a lot of variety in items coming from crafting. Unfortunately I do not have much to say about any of the other crafts (the above is how armorer/blacksmith worked–maybe it’s the same for all the others san fishing). If anyone knows how the fuck you fish, please let me know. I couldn’t reel in a god damn thing…
Yes, I really wanna be a fisher again!
Leves / Behests
OK the first problem here is the utter lack of information available on how these work. It’s very word-of-mouth/trial-and-error in my mind. You approach a counter in town and get leves, which are quests by another name. A cute little stained-glass card pops up that gives you a full description of what the leve entails, including rewards, location, issuers of the leve, required class/rank to complete it, and all that jazz. The problem is you can grab all of them at once in any categories you want (Local, Regional, Battlefield, Fieldwork, Faction leves), but once you’ve done eight of them, you’re done for two days. Also you can’t cancel any of the ones you’ve taken so you’re stuck with a leve until it is done. The idea behind it is kinda like assault tags that only refresh every 48h instead of every 24h. It’s a real pain in the ass, and the way it’s setup is that if you’re doing them solo, you’re wasting your leve basically. The idea here is to leap-frog your leves in parties, attempting them at higher difficulties to get the most out of them xp/skill/reward(?)-wise. So you’re going to want to find a party to do these with, since if I flag a leve with you in my party, everyone gets it active, and then you can activate the same one too for the party, essentially doing the same level 6 times instead of just once. At least, this is how it seems to work–I could be wrong!
They say that leves are going to be the backbone of the game, but unless you are a party-whore, you’re not going to make the most out of this timespent. As far as behests go, I am not high enough rank to grab any just yet (or I haven’t found any…), but the whole idea sounds awesome. It’s precisely what you did in XII and XIII with mark hunting. There can conditions you need to fulfill to make mobs spawn sometimes I believe. These are party-oriented methinks, and will definitely add a nice touch to this game, which you could not mistake for any other system than Crystal Tools to the max.
Beta bugs aside, the game runs fairly smooth. This the biggest complaint that people–but come on, it’s a beta. The mechanics are good, even if they seem a little ancient. I’d like to see some more nuevo ideas like an interactive map, smoother combat, and an improved GUI (although what I see so far is very cool). Everything seems to work well as a whole. Piece by piece, stuff doesn’t seem to fit but together, it all works really well. My recommendation is to try everything if you get in the beta. That will give you a great idea of how the game works.