Patch and Raid Prep Is My Happy Place, Apparently

A lot of my Blaugust momentum this year, after a rainbow award last year, has been derailed.

Some of it is due to working through real life things, like starting school, but a big time sink that has been happening without intention has been prepping for the new raid tier in FFXIV.

In WoW, to an extent, you can’t really tier prep in the same way. Sure, you can get materials from current content for flasks and potions and the like, and you can make sure your gear is where you want it to be, but a lot of the stuff you need is on the other side of new content. Since crafted gear isn’t intended to be that strong (a thing which Dragonflight seems to be looking to correct), there’s not really a path forward you can take with actionable steps. Sure, in Shadowlands, you could farm up Torghast currencies for legendary upgrades and be ready that way, but it’s been a long time since a new raid tier in WoW gave you any sort of preparatory gameplay you could do. You just show up on patch day and start the new story, and on raid opening day, you go and do the content.

In FFXIV, though, something that has caught me by surprise is how into patch preparation I have been. You see, 6.2 is going to be my first fully proper raid tier. Sure, I did Savage for the most recent tier, but I couldn’t claim to have been in any state of actual preparedness. I kind of just played like I was used to and then had to bring up my game to match, with some painful side effects – messed-up Materia melds, multiple jobs for progression through the tier, a complete lack of preparedness on the crafting and gathering side, and a fear of Party Finder groups for prog that led to my progress on P3S and especially P4S stalling out until I got through the roadblocks – on P3S through persistence and newfound confidence and on P4S through a lifeline from my FC static.

I’m most excited for the Abyssos Savage tier because it feels like the first time in FFXIV that I’m actually ready, though. More than ready, even! My main has a stockpile of mats bigger than most players I know, I have scrip counts for Master recipes meticulously counted out including collectables ready for turn-in (thanks to Dara for pointing out the fatal flaw in my original logic!), and I even have a raid alt! A lot of my time in-game these last few weeks has been guided prep time – gathering materials I suspect will be useful, building stockpiles before patch news caused price spikes, growing an enviable stash of Endwalker Materia for pentamelding, leveling jobs on my raid alt with a focus on being able to flex to any role (I now have one job in each role to 90!) while also doing a round of profession leveling again so that at a minimum, my raid alt can repair her own gear mid-raid, and getting more level 90 Reaper practice in for my main static. I’ve looked at how things roll out and I have a high degree of confidence in my planning, and that feels really rewarding.

Long-time readers will know that my MMO philosophy is that I am at my happiest when a game has clearly-outlined goals I can reach on multiple routes, so there is a bit of structure guiding me towards the content I enjoy and stuff I want to play. Patch prep has that – I don’t know the recipes in advance but there are trends to guide gathering and crafting of intermediate materials, I don’t need a raid alt but having one lets me play more and do the leveling experience again with the accumulated experience I have from my main, leveling all roles to 90 was a challenge but it let me stay ahead of my semi-static PF team who is (somewhat frustratingly) non-committal on the roles people will play short of knowing that healing is covered, leveling crafting and gathering feels excessive but at the same time is a powerplay to make the raiding go easier on that alt while being able to perhaps even craft her own gear instead of needing to mule over a pentamelded set or 5 from my main, and it addresses the ennui that can sometimes exist in FFXIV’s between-patch eras – farming Savage gear feels meaningless right now (and there has been a lack of farm parties in PF even when I’ve wanted to run) and with my main fully-leveled and with most of what I want done there, having a raid alt and patch prep I can do gives me something new to focus on.

I wasn’t even really aware of how much I wanted that kind of focus in the game until the patch got close enough to prepare for, and now I am just running through with aplomb, doing as much as I can to make a smooth transition into patch content and to get right into raiding, gearing, and skilling up. Even now, my first day priorities are a mix – I’m unsure if I should hold on MSQ until I can gather enough mats to make my 610 sets and wear them through the whole run of content, or if I should even make 610 weapons knowing I’m likely to farm the new trial on Extreme for 615 weapons, and while I’ve thought about only pentamelding my raiding main role sets (so Maiming for my main and TBD for my raid alt), I feel myself also likely to setup a pentamelded Sage set on my main, and maybe I’ll just give in and pentameld everything on both characters, even if that might overextend my Materia stash. I’ve been indecisive to the point of alternating glams on my raid main between the Archfiend set from PvP (it looks absolutely perfect for Reaper), the Late Allagan set (I am a technofetishist sometimes), and something funny like this year or last year’s Summer sets from the Moonfire Faire (so either bikini with shirt or bikini top with straw hat and skirt).

Basically, I love patch prep because it is the most Zen I ever feel in an MMO – a series of goals, loosely defined and with multiple paths I can take to get there, and how hard I go is basically up to me – I need to gear my raid main’s main job for sure, but outside of that, the world is my oyster and the options are nice to have.

And having that focus makes it easy to melt into the game for hours at a time, like crafting until 4 AM (a thing I have done multiple times just this week alone) or running full content slates to level jobs (my raid alt has gotten more Irregular Tomestones than my main by a factor of like 3). It feels good to have the game be a genuine pastime, to me at least.

5 thoughts on “Patch and Raid Prep Is My Happy Place, Apparently

  1. Long-time readers will know that my MMO philosophy is that I am at my happiest when a game has clearly-outlined goals I can reach on multiple routes…

    Yes. Agree. Multiple routes to the goal state in an MMO make me very happy as well and this one line, perhaps more than anything else, might be enough to rekindle my almost-annual ‘Lets go back to FFXIV and catch-up another expansion’ kick. 😉

    Although honestly speaking, the last thing my life needs right now is an MMO I am actually enjoying. Hah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re correct on that assessment, mostly!

      You have two options that don’t involve the full 200-ish hours of a full MSQ replay – you can replay while skipping all (or most) cutscenes, as the vast majority of the MSQ’s length is contained in them and they are all skippable (save for a few “event” quests that involve real-time waiting for NPCs to talk to). I’d estimate, no joke, that you can cut around 60% or more of a playthrough’s length just by doing that.

      The second and more simple option is to boost a character. FFXIV splits their boost into “story skips” and job level-ups, and you can purchase a pair for around $50 to push a character into Endwalker leveling with a content-appropriate job and gear. You still have to do the Endwalker MSQ after the skip, but if you then also skip cutscenes, you cut the length down substantially. My first playthrough of Endwalker’s MSQ was around 50 hours to go from 80-90 and experience the whole story fresh, but it only took about 10 hours skipping most of the cutscenes and with the knowledge of the first playthrough. This is what I ended up doing for my raid alt.

      I might decide to do a full replay of the MSQ at some point, cutscenes and all, but that would probably be a whole separate thing and not intended for raiding or anything where I have even a slight time pressure!

      Like

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