The almost final conclusion
The September Update at Final Fantasy XI brought the penultimate chapter of the Wings of the Goddess expansion and story arc to players in North America. The level cap was raised to 85 and with it came the usual upgrades to spells, armor and equipment, with not only drool-worthy stat upgrades but the pretty, pretty armor eye-candy that Final Fantasy is known for.
As usual, I had to get a controls refresher, especially since I had been playing FFXIV with it’s very different controls, then I was treated to the opening movie cut scene which took me and my cat companion, the Regal Feline, Cait Sith – a talking cat which walks on its hind legs – into the alternate time line that Wings of the Goddess is set in. Lilisette has vanished and instead we meet the Lady Lilith who in a convolution of a parallel world, is actually an evil Lilisette twin. With the help of Cait Sith, players are tasked to gather the pieces of Lilisette’s memories to bring her back. If Lilisette is brought back in this timeline, then the Lady Lilith and her evil minions and doings will be no more.
With the September update also comes the Scars of Abyssea Battle area add-on (it’s a $9.99 mini-expansion) and the aforementioned drool-worthy job specific Empyrean armor. Also known as Artifact 3 armor, each armor set has its own specific graphics and bonuses for job abilities.
We toured through one of the areas and I was introduced to a new feature, Atma. Atma is a raw ingredient that drops as quest rewards and from mobs in the new areas. Together with a Lunar Abyssite (again a quest reward) which acts as a catalyst, when activated by an Atma Fabricator NPC, it yields unique and powerful buffs. Fortunately, synthetic Atma (although less potent) can be purchased with cold hard cruor (FFXI gold) as can a Lunar Abyssite. As a Samurai, I selected Atma of the Sellsword which provided a boost in strength and defense, and we were off with the Paladin in the group luring the new creatures to the group for me to see and assist in killing. First he drew a Murex – a conical, spiky, floating, thing – then we moved on to the gelatinous Amoebans and finally, Iron Giants – magically animated robots – which was to prove a challenge even to our buffed group, with massive knock-backs, though it did telegraph intent and the attentive player will be able to mitigate or avoid some of its attacks.
Mobs in Scars of Abyssea also have a specific weakness which if exploited, will drop Atma as well as increase the loot drop rate. Players have already figured out that weaknesses change with the in-game day of the week. Since it was fire day, we tried fire based magic. There are also “Notorious” versions of the Iron Giants which are rare zone spawns and yield the “impossible to gauge” message when checked. So that was the quick tour of the September update. The December update will bring the conclusion of the Wings of the Goddess story arc; Heroes of Abyssea and level 99 and yet more goodies to chase after for the loyal and avid FFXI player. In closing, I was reminded that players with subscriptions to both FFXIV and FFXI get a subscription perk – a lowered rate on the FFXI sub to $7, Hermes Shoes (they are actually winged) which provide a speed boost for a player character, and the ability to carry over the FFXI character name. Will FFXI players eventually move over to FFXIV? With EverQuest still going strong six years after the launch of EverQuest 2, we can only wonder.