Square is currently running a closed alpha test for Final Fantasy XIV. This version of the game is still at a stage of development where it should not be shown to the public, but in order to receive feedback on the game earlier, they are proceeding with alpha test sessions from one to three times a week.
Because of that gameplay is still far from perfect, but like the log-in issue we feel the lag solution is only a matter of time. Because we’re still in the alpha phase, the game has yet to achieve the caliber of a Square-Enix title. As such, we hope you, the readers, don’t pass hasty judgement based on the limited information available at this time.
Well then, this time around we’ll be talking all about guildleves, their content and the whole nine yards. Go ahead and sate your pre-E3 information cravings on these morsels.
Guildleves: Quests Quelled Quickly
Most of us are already somewhat familiar with guildleves and their capacity as the main source of quests in the game. Adventurers can use these gilded tarot-like cards at aetherytes crystals in each area to begin a whole bevy and bounty of quests.
Depending on the type of guildleve you take, quests can be handled solo, in a party and even, in some cases, a raid. They were designed to require little preparation or play time and allow you to focus on the task at hand. What’s more, you can enjoy things at your own pace without having to worry about people outside your group interfering.
The first goal of the alpha test was to clear up any log-in or server stability issues, a fundamental problem any MMO in the making must endure. Since that hurdle has been cleared, the next step is to gather feedback on guildleves, which are more or less the main content of the game.
Trying a Battle-type Guildleve on for Size
Let’s take a look at the actual process, from start to finish. Guildleves are divided into two main groups, battle-type and gathering-type Regional Leves and synthesis-type Local Leves. When you talk to the NPCs in charge of doling out duties, a list of quests tailored to your level of ability appears.
Upon talking to the NPC, I was shown three different leves. You can have up to eight in your possession at a time.
The details given tell you what the quest entails along with the reward and the aetheryte from whence it commences. Each adventurer will undoubtedly become very familiar with aetheryte, as it acts as the staging point for all leves. Many have already been spotted in alpha, but the first Regional Leves available all take place at the first camp, Bearded Rock.
Pay attention to the starting point listed on the leve information page. It will tell you where to start the quest.
Leaving Limsa Lominsa to head toward the first aetheryte. Since you don’t initially have access to the Teleport feature, you’ll have to hoof it.
Bearded Rock is the closest aetheryte to the city and is about a three minute run north-northeast. Keep an eye out for the giant floating crystal.
Aetheryte locations will be displayed on the map. The first is but a hair’s breadth from Limsa Lominsa.
Regardless of whether you have any leves or not, your HP and MP will be restored free of charge upon touching the crystal. Once you’ve visited an aetheryte crystal, you can revisit it in an instant via the Teleport option, definitely a handy tool for any adventurer. Sometimes you’ll find the immediate area around an aetheryte more lively than even Limsa Lominsa itself. It seems likely to become a haven for party-seekers and traders alike.
Upon approaching the aetheryte, the appropriate leve will start. A window in the upper-left will display quest progress along with the time limit, usually thirty minutes. Those who have played other MMO titles should have no problem with battle-type Regional Leve objectives such as “Kill 5 Plague Rats Within 30 Minutes”.
If you follow your map you should find a huge crystal, the aetheryte in question.
Touching the crystal starts a quest as well as the countdown.
The mini-map will display arrows and circles pointing you toward the location of your prey. FFXI didn’t really have anything quite like it, so this alone allows for quite a bit of comfort. Even better is the fact that only you and participating party members can see your prey. If that’s not enough, as in FFXI once you attack a beast it will become tagged, or not attackable by other players.
Keep an eye on the mini-map. Red arrows will lead you to your target and keep you from getting lost.
Target sighted! If you choose the lowest difficulty, even a level one character can get the job done.
As you continue along, the progress window will keep track of target enemies slain. The quest will be cleared once you reach the required amount, upon which a warp point back to the aetheryte will appear.
That is the general flow of things. If you just pay attention to the quest target and stick to your mini-map, nothing out of the ordinary should happen. The level of detail concerning quests provided in-game should be a breath of fresh air to FFXI veterans as well a good introduction for those of whom FFXIV is their first online game.
You can keep track of your progress in the upper-left window. Keep an eye on that time limit.
Your target monster will have a square-shaped icon to the left of its name. It seems like other players can’t see them.
A warp point appears upon finishing a quest. It looks like travel won’t take much effort.
The Unknown Possibilities of Guildleves
As touched on earlier, leves come in three separate genres: battle, gathering and synthesis. Even though the flow of the latter two might be different from that of a battle-type leve, the concept is the same. That is to say, even if you only have a little bit of time to play, you can still fully enjoy what the game has to offer.
You won’t find any hints on the mini-map during gathering-type quests. Just like normal gathering, you’ll find your goal via use of your abilities.
This play style might be likened to Fields of Valor (FoV) for you FFXI vets out there. Simply put, FoV was a system introduced in FFXI in December, 2008, that turned the game from mostly full-party focused to one that allowed for soloing or partying with only a few people. The incorporation of that kind of gameplay in FFXIV should be a great relief for many.
The Leve system draws a lot upon the knowhow gathered from FFXI, a la FoV, delivery quests and assaults.
Of course that isn’t to say guildleves are a direct copy of FoV. The entire system has been refined, adding comforts like aforementioned mini-map hints and teleportation have been added. Also, the battle leve we discussed was the most basic type, with a whole array of leves catering to a wide variety of play styles.
When starting a quest, there are five levels of difficulty to choose from. Even if a friend of yours just logged in and wants to join, you can adjust the difficulty accordingly.
In alpha, the leves offered are shuffled once every two hours. Rare ones are bound to show up!
I mentioned earlier that you can have up to eight leves at a time. If other party members come along with different leves in their possession, it can give birth to a whole new type of quest. Also, you can tailor the difficulty of the quest to your ability level or party size.
Currently, we don’t have a full grasp on the depth of the guildleve system, but the main point to carry home is that its designed to appease many different play styles and provide proper goals and rewards, or at least that’s the way I see it. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on how it fleshes out in the coming months.
Teleport takes you to aetheryte crystals you’ve visited before. Guildleves aside, it seems like quite a handy short cut.
With guildleves the need to return to a main city is lessened. This aetheryte seems to have become the focal point of a community all its own.
This post has been edited by Savalithos: 12 June 2010 - 01:04 PM