Bethany Corcoran

Final Fantasy XV: Fixing the narrative

Final Fantasy XV came out a month ago today, and I've been playing it a lot. Like, a whole bunch. By which I mean, I've clocked up around 87 hours so far including beating the main story and doing much of the side content including the dungeons - I've got two of the 'sealed door' dungeons left and then I'm mostly done. So, it's fair to say that I like this game a lot. But it really wasn't what I was expecting - hoping - from a Final Fantasy game. I'm a big fan of the series primarily for the narrative so I was hoping a strong narrative from this, particularly after Kingsglaive, the tie-in film that is basically required watching for the game, sets the scene for the game so well.

Final Fantasy XV does a great job of making an enjoyable open-world experience. That's high praise from me - I generally don't enjoy open world games. And the combat, while it does have some flaws, generally feels great. But they could have done so much more with the story.

Warning: Full plot spoilers follow, for both Kingsglaive and Final Fantasy XV itself!

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On resolution scaling

I got in a mini-discussion last night just as I had gone to bed on Twitter on the topic of resolution ratios on LCD (and associated technology) monitors, but couldn't explain it very well in 140 character segments. So hopefully I can make more sense here!

LCD etc. monitors have a fixed grid of physical pixels, as we all know. As a result, the natural resolution is an important thing to stick to for aesthetic reasons. Let's say our monitor is a 27" or 30" 16:10 monitor with a natural resolution of 2560x1600, but we don't have a computer powerful enough to play games at that resolution or want to record our gameplay. But 1920x1200 or 1280x800 are both okay. Which should we choose?

In practice, whichever you prefer the look of! In theory, 1280x800 should look better most of the time - probably. Why? Read on for the nerdy explanation.

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SWTOR: Thoughts on levels 46-50

I reached level 50! Fneb the Commando healer made it all the way up. I also completed my class quest - chapter 3 is the last chapter - so now I'm mainly interested in party-level content which I'll write about soon. Here are my thoughts on levels 46-50 and my class quest.

  • My /played to level 50 was nearly 5 days on the dot (about 5 days 15 minutes). To complete my class quest took me about another 4 hours.
  • I left Voss at around level 49, and did the last little bit on Correlia. I quite enjoyed Voss, but do wish that mixed-faction towns were planned a bit better. To add to what I said last time, you don't get flagged for PvP if you've just landed on the planet and entered the zone, but if you've just come from elsewhere on the planet then anyone can attack you with no intervention from guard or the like. Given a few minutes of not being attacked you'll lose your PvP flag, but it's still not a great way of doing things.
  • Once I hit 50 I basically lost all interest in side quests. All I did was my class quest and the main planet quest. Side questing in this game is good but I tend to prefer big story lines. When I no longer needed the exp these quests pretty instantly felt like too much of a grind to bother with.
  • The class quest ending at chapter 3 - I thought that each story would be more chapters than this (I had heard of there being 5 or 6 chapters). If you include the prologue then there are 4 chapters per class quest. However, they have left it open to having more chapters, and I suspect that more may come in without extra expansions - perhaps later ones just weren't ready for release?
  • Overall impression of my Trooper's class quest: not too interesting. Much better than anything I've experienced in an MMORPG but still not as good as I would have hoped. The first chapter had a story I was engaged in, but the two other chapters introduced a completely new enemy or objective which meant I just didn't get too involved in them. I'm looking forward to the class quest of the Jedi Knight (which I have rolled, and have got up to level 8 with so far).
  • I leveled the whole way using just one companion, and now have him at 10000/10000 affection. I've started using one of the other companions instead who's a bit more designed for tanking. Means I have to do more healing though as he takes aggro from more mobs!

I've started leveling a Jedi Knight, I'll check in occasionally to comment on the differences. Now that I'm 50 I can start covering the end-game as it stands a bit more, so keep your eyes peeled for future updates!


SWTOR: Thoughts on levels 41-46

I've not updated for a while, but I'm back to playing after Christmas and I'm making my way towards level 50. I'm back at work though (counting down the days until I leave for a better job) so haven't played as much as I did before Christmas, so I decided not to do a thoughts post every day. So here are my thoughts from the last few days of gameplay.

  • The first flashpoint, The Esseles, paints a really nice picture for how flashpoints will play out in terms of interaction with the story versus killing a couple of bosses and collecting loot, but as I mentioned before, Hammer Station and Athiss go very much against this and feel much more like a bog-standard MMORPG dungeon. Fortunately, Taral V and Maelstrom Prison do not disappoint, and have far more story interaction within them. If you haven't played either of these instances but enjoy the stories this game contains, they're well worth playing.
  • I'm currently on Voss after finally having left Belsavis (hooray!). Voss is the first place I've come across with a city hub shared between factions, with each faction having it's own "wing" and all of the normal vendors found in a shared area. When I landed, I was warned against starting any fights with the Empire by an NPC, which lead me to presume that, like WoW, any fighting would result in any aggressors being attacked by lots of guards. Nope. I was ganked right by the commendations vendor in the centre of the city and not a thing happened to the person who attacked me. This... strikes me as being an incredibly stupid design choice, and I'm hoping it's a bug.
  • I'm still enjoying being a healer in this, which is good. Today I went to a Heroic 4 area with a couple of guild members and a random, and had a good time there. The challenge with the Trooper class is keeping things steady over a long time, due to the ammo mechanic - you want to keep your ammo at 8 or higher as much as possible so you can get the higher rate of ammo regeneration. Burn through your current reserve of ammo quickly and you'll not be able to regenerate quickly enough to maintain a good DPS output, maintain threat, or in my case, keep your team alive. We had some trouble with a boss in this area, but we did take him down. When the boss's damage output increased approaching the end, I had to cast more heals to keep up but then ran out of ammo, even though I had been more or less fine all the way through. This resulted in a couple of party members dying, but fortunately the boss died at about the same time as the second member died. It was good to see a fairly challenging boss fight even in just a Heroic phase - I had figured out much of the strategy by our first wipe, but one guild member mentioned on voice comms that he found it good practice for future challenges.
  • I've heard that the opening operation content is rather badly tuned, and is rather easy... It's worth bearing in mind that this game was only released just over 2 weeks ago! However, I do hope that this doesn't cause subscriber numbers to cut down, and that Bioware can tune the current content or bring out more soon.

Next stop: Level 50! Once I hit 50 and complete my class quest, I'll finally be able to take a look at some operation content for myself. A big thing that I want to do is to roll an alt though - I've been fairly disappointed by the Trooper's class storyline (though I've still not finished) and I'm hoping that the Jedi Knight story will appeal to me more.