Ahh, it feels good to be back, yes? There's big news from the land of Vana'diel, and I'm here to bring it to you! Okay, so the news isn't really big. It's actually kind of goofy, considering it's the fact that I finally hooked up my Logitech USB dualshock controller, and it works like a charm in-game. Final Fantasy XI is many things, I'm finding, and 'user friendly' is not one of them. If you don't believe me, feel free to watch the 'Video' section of the site, and laugh as I get stuck on trees/buildings/people/various types of grass.
Our good friend Shawarma and I have had some great experiences lately, namely because I've been leveling up like a champion. Not only that, but I'm finally getting a feel for playing the Monk, which is oddly rewarding, in the 'hit these buttons in this order, and get rewarded with honey dew or something to sell to a vendor' way.
In all honesty, though, I really AM enjoying myself in Vana'diel, even if the game is much more 'slow burn' than its contemporaries. Yes, it's taking longer to level up, and it takes FOREVER to get where you're going, but it's adding to the overall sense of adventure and discovery. If you've been following the video livestream, you've noticed that the extent of our 'discoveries' has been a single town, a forest, and a crypt, but goddammit, aren't they enchanting?
In a pretty cool turn of events, though, Shawarma and I started making friends: friends that were willing to coach us along in our stories, both in-game and out. At the Nitrobeard Livestream site, in the chat area, we had some fantastic help from users (shoutout to MarcoStryder and Feliksbot, for sure) for basic advice, builds, and spell rotations. Hell, how else was I going to know to buy some brass knuckles? I did feel sort of silly, realizing I was nearly Level 10, and had yet to equip a single weapon on my character. You'll probably notice that Shawarma has a less 'tiny panda bear' and more 'tall hawt elvaan lady' look, which apparently is a good class for the build/type of character Shawarma wants to roll with. I mean, I'm all for variety, but me and my somewhat metrosexual choice of color coordinating my robes and hat will serve me just fine, thank you very much.
In game, we stumbled on a nice group of people who invited us to something that every Final Fantasy XI player is well-versed in: An experience party.
For those not in the know, or those who aren't familiar with MMOs, 'Experience Parties' are a group of people who get together to farm certain areas of the gameworld, usually rich with things to kill. These areas, being so condensed with baddies, usually give a great source of XP per game session, meaning that in any given hour, with a good 'experience party', your experience point tally will SKYROCKET, leading to leveling up many, many times. It's a normal venture in MMOs of all shapes and sizes, but in Final Fantasy XI, they're literally a necessity.
Shawarma and I ventured for a solid 15-20 minutes to an area we had never seen before: A coastline which housed trolls, crabs, and other mobs. These trolls could kill us in two or three hits, meaning we couldn't put a dent on them. What two of us couldn't do, however, six of us could handle with ease.
Our party rocked that island area for a solid four hours, each ranking up an average of 3-4 levels. An hour per level in FFXI is cruising right along, from my understanding, so it was a fantastic opportunity to be invited to the group. These happen quite often in the world of Vana'diel, but there's a rush to being invited to one. You can prove yourself to your fellow gamer, aid in a consistent, ongoing "mission" of sorts, focused on helping each other out. This is literally what an 'MMO' is all about, and in this regard, FFXI shines.
Knowing we could die at any moment from a crab (HURRR MASSIVE DAMAGE), or a sneaky troll who decides to make us into mincemeant, was definitely eye-opening, and made us work as a tighter-knit unit. We were flying through our enemies, enjoying good conversation, and overall appreciating each other's company. You know what? In regards to this 'Moogle Stole My Bike' series:
That's exactly what I signed up for.