FFXIV: The Palace of the Dead

Final Fantasy XIV finally launched a dungeon system I was very excited about, so when my friends invited me to partake in it with them I jumped on the chance. The new dungeon was called “The Palace of the Dead”. What made it unique compared to any other dungeon was that it had you progress through randomly generated mazes, and it was divided into floors. Each time you completed one, you progressed to the next floor. To go along with this, it also assigned you back to level 1 and had you level up within the maze. It also replaced your gear and you would improve that while in the dungeon itself.

Upon logging back into the game I had to complete a very short quest that just consisted of “talk to this person, then this person, and then you’re good”. We then all met up in town and prepared for our journey.

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They had done this before, but for me it was my first time. A new window displayed prominently on the left hand side of my screen in a retro format. I enjoyed the little sprite that represented my Paladin class. I also noted fields for a weapon and armor. My sword and shield were not representing by a blue glow, as were my comrades weapons. I was a bit disappointed with this. I was expecting to enter Terminator style, coming through a worm-hole in nothing but my undies and having to acquire gear from within. This was not the case as the armor you had on remains on display. As you open chests they simply have a chance to increase the level of your weapon or armor, but aside from that don’t seem to do anything significant. There are apparently rewards for hitting +30/+30 and higher tiers, but I was far from that.

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The floors themselves were a bit of a yawn to be honest. The early ones are quite small, and the enemies are your standard fair. I’m not sure if it was me tired of the playstyle or the dungeon itself. FFXIV does have a slightly slower than normal combat style. The cooldowns are just fractions of a second longer than most other MMOs, which gives it a monotonous feel after only a short while. I was expecting to have to scavenge for gear, evaluate upgrades, and ration potions. Instead, we were able to steamroll the first set of floors (they are cut up into section of 10) within 20 minutes. It was in a maze format, and you had to first activate a totem like device before going back to the teleportation, but again I was expecting something a bit more significant here. It was arranged in blocks, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as they are interesting. Cruma Tower from Lineage 2 was largely based around a grid, but it was grand and large and each floor felt like an adventure. Palace of the Dead just set you on a race to get through it, as spurred on by the 60 minute time limit.

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On the 10th floor of each tier (floor 10, 20, 30 are the 3 stages we completed) there was a boss. Wonderfully animated and interesting, bosses are a fun aspect of FFXIV. These also were just the lower level bosses, so I won’t be too critical here. There also seems to be a little story with the Palace of the Dead, as each time you enter, and then finish a section, there appears to be a witch like character watching you.

All in all, I was disappointed… It was not the experience I was expecting. Perhaps I misunderstood the articles describing the upcoming system. Or maybe my expectations were just too high. I was looking for a fun and unique dungeon, and what was delivered was the same old “run through as quickly as possible and bash the boss” formula. Bummer.

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Revisit: Lineage 2

I recently began a project where I am printing off 13×19 posters of all of the avatars I’ve had within the various virtual worlds I’ve participated in for at least a couple months. A lot of these I was able to simply log back in and take a screenshot, however this was not the case for Lineage 2. Lineage 2, as I have revealed, I played largely on private servers. Those servers no longer exist. I had the option to setup my own private server just for screenshots (which is what I did for screenshots for that game in those articles), but I decided it would be an interesting experience to simply create a character on the official servers and see if I could get the same gear I had on the private servers.

While leveling up, I used the situation to see how the game is going. It continues to have free expansions released, and to be honest, I always have a certain weakness for it and consider playing from time to time. I especially became interested when I heard Europe has launched “classic Lineage 2” servers, before all the new content for free to play was added. It requires a subscription, but I’m willing to pay for nostalgia. Sadly, after leveling up through the game to the level I needed (only 60ish) after a few hours, I decided the game was never worth actually playing. It is full of bots, and the few players that can speak English admit the game is purely pay-to-win.

It was very disheartening to see dozens of characters being controlled by AI programs to level up and collect items. They may as well be unresponsive NPCs, except they kill the mobs you want, so it becomes an irritation. That, and for some reason many of them had pet wolves that were left dead at the spawn in points… Not sure why they’d have a pet just to let it die, unless the botting program failed to account for it, which they often run into hiccups like this.

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The game holds your hand in leveling up, guiding you from quest to quest (it was nothing like this originally). It also hands you all of the gear you need at each level bracket as far as I got. This means any adena (currency) you get is worthless, because such minuscule amounts aren’t needed as you don’t need to actually buy any gear. You are given top grade gear as you level up, automatically. To have a top grade set was nearly pointless unless you had an alt because it was just that hard to get. It was more of a status symbol or collectors item. Me being a collector, I had many of the sets. Now, they have no point.

Me wearing a full brigandine set
Me wearing a full brigandine set

I was able to get my full Doom Plate Armor handed to me by the game. The Damascus sword was an issue since the game didn’t provide that, but I found a friendly player who simply bought me one. This was enough to take a screenshot of my character for the poster, however it wasn’t quite a match. I had a Damascus Sword +16, which was extremely hard to get and featured a bright red glow to reflect its level of enchantment. That would be all but impossible to try for without investing dozens of hours into the game at this state (hundreds in the old setup). So, I decided to call it a day as soon as I got that screenshot.

Me in Cruma Tower, one of my favorite locations in the game.
Me in Cruma Tower, one of my favorite locations in the game.

All in all, the game simply isn’t worth playing at all anymore. The community is rampant with bots. The leveling system is stream-lined. All the mystery and fun has been taken out of the journey. It all revolves around an end-game that is apparently heavily pay-to-win. All in all, I’m afraid Lineage 2 is dead to me. But that’s ok, it left me with a lot of great memories and experiences.

Me in front of the Castle I at one time ruled in Hiene.
Me in front of the Castle I at one time ruled in Hiene.