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I have played many popular MMORPGs, as well as participated in betas for the most obscure of games. I like to think I know a thing or two about the industry, and so I write about it.

Author: NotArkard

Contributor: NotBrandon

Darkfall - What it means to me.

Posted by NotBrandon Thursday January 1 2009 at 6:18PM
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I like to think of myself as a pretty hardcore MMO gamer, at least when my time permits with a full time job of course. I've played pretty much every MMO that's come around 2003 or so. Which means I never had a chance to try the likes of UO, AC, SWG pre-CU, etc.


Many people have disbelief in Darkfall as a whole. Is the game going to actually launch on the 22nd of January? If it does launch, is it going to be feature complete? Is the game actually going to be FUN? I'm one of those guys, kind of. But I believe overall everyone is feeling about the same about this game. I consider myself a skeptic, mainly because the past MMOs which have launched have been failures to me.While AoC and Warhammer have had their shares of ups and downs, they're just not games that hook you in, and put you into the world that the devs have created.

I haven't followed Darkfall as much as many people have. I basically started reading and hearing about it about 3 months ago or so. I never had the chance to play a "sandbox" MMO. But it excites me.

This genre needs something new, even though the concept may be old, it needs to be broken into. I'm tired of games where the world is stale, where around every corner you know what's there. Where when you reach a certain level the area becomes worthless to you. I'm tired of the same thing we've mostly all been playing for the past 5 years+.

Overall, Darkfall needs to be the game to change the genre. I'm both a skeptic and a believer, and come January 22nd I'm going to be glued to my PC much like most of you will be, just to see if what Aventurine has been touting will live up to not only the expectations of what they want, but the expectations of the players.

So I'll support Darkfall, if only for the hope that developers will think outside the box, and that finally I can enjoy and MMO again for what it's supposed to be.

Final Fantasy XI - What happened to Vana'diel?

Posted by NotBrandon Saturday December 27 2008 at 10:30AM
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I consider myself a somewhat hardcore MMO gamer. I've played them all. WoW, EQ2, LotRo, AoC, WAR, etc. Basically if it was an MMO, I've played it. I was first introduced to MMOs back in 2003 with the launch of FFXI. Since then games have come and gone, mainly as of late with the a few large titles missing their mark by a considerable amount. The only game other than FFXI that I've played religiously was of course WoW. But enough of that, let's get on to the real point... what happened to my beloved FFXI?!


Likely if you've played FFXI before, you know it's a very unique game. Despite it being a complete mob grind to capped level, it's all group based. Sure, you can occasionally solo here and there for a few XP, but the bulk of your leveling is going to be done in full groups, camping mobs for 2-4 hours each XP session. But you know, it's damn fun to me for some odd reason. Or.. at least it used to be. Back during the first 2 years of gameplay for myself I pretty much ate, slept, and drank the game. Back then skillchains and magic bursts were king. Where having a BLM in your party meant XP chains and large burst damage. Back then people had to work HARD for their AF, limit breaks, WSNM fights, Sky access.


Now after a few years and a 2 expansion packs, I find myself coming back to the game, and finding that the subscription base has held steady at 500,000 subs or so. But I also found alot of things have taken what was once FFXI, and turned it more casual. When I played years ago, I had a 75 Monk, and a 75 Ranger. Rangers used to be KINGS of DPS. We used to stack our Sky groups with Rangers. Now.. RNGs need to work very hard for their damage, which is subpar compared to some classes. But that's not really what gets my goat. I joined a group a few days ago on my Scholar (which is now 47 or so). We had a PLD, BRD, SCH, SAM, SAM, and a BLM. I came back to the game with 2 other people, one playing the Bard, and one playing the Paladin. We had suggested that 2 SAMs set up some skillchains for the BLM to burst. All we got was laughter! "ppl dont sc anymore lol". I was in shock! It was one of the greatest things about the game, where groups had to work together to pull together this great XP. A SAM and a THF throwing together a huge distortion SC with a big old burst on it.. nothing was as badass as that.


From what I can tell now, it's all about melee and "TP burn" parties in the newer areas for merits. I guess what works best is what people are going to do, right? I guess I'm living too much in the past when it comes to FFXI. I miss the days of the SCs, bursts, and painfully numb XP loss on death. Where you'd be camping against 8 other people to claim the Valkurm Emperor, and when you claim it, you get this rush throughout your body even if it doesn't drop. Forming groups for Sky access, and going through the amazing storylines with 10+ other people.


Those days are gone. But with the addition of the Maze Mongers, Level Sync, and a continued effort to add storylines.. it's still the best damn MMO on the market, and I wouldn't give that up for anything.

Lights out for Hellgate: London?

Posted by NotArkard Tuesday November 4 2008 at 7:33PM
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Cross-posted from

It's been a while since a major online game has been completely packed up and taken away from the public. Auto Assault? It wasn't really a major game, it was one of NCSoft's many "side" games. The Sims Online? I'll bet very few other than me knew the game even existed. Whether you experienced Hellgate: London for yourself or not, though, you knew it was out there. You weren't sure exactly what kind of game it was, and that's quite possibly largely in part to the fact that it couldn't decide on a specific genre. I'm writing about it now, since the general opinion was that this game was an "MMOG" at the very least. Hellgate: London won't leave any innovative gameplay features in its legacy, but it'll serve as yet another example of how to not make an online game.




I. Release Date - Ooh, scary!

Hellgate: London was released just in time for Halloween last year. No, the game wasn't ready, but it was Halloween! It fit the "gloomy feel" of the game, and so it had to be released on that date. I did buy this game as soon as it was released, and so I'll note some of its most redeeming features at the time of release(remember, it was Halloween, so it had to be scary!):

  •  An awful patching process that didn't really patch anything. When it launched, the patching process was absolute shit. I remember disconnecting a couple of times, and the patch would start over from 0%. Come on! This wouldn't have been so bad if the client itself didn't crash for no damn reason at all. Side note: I did try to play the game again recently. When I went to patch it, it asked me to manually download a multiplayer patch. I didn't see a reason to, but did it anyway. I eventually gave up once I realized the game couldn't decide on whether it wanted to be patched or not.
  •  An amazing introduction cinematic. Once you got to play the game, in-between crashes, you realized where they spent most of their budget. It wasn't on developing the actual game, it was on creating that cinematic. Everything about that cinematic was great, but I sort of wished there had been more things in the game itself than an intro.
  • A lot of crashes to the desktop for no reason whatsoever. Sometimes the patching process would halt randomly if you tabbed out, or failed to please the game client in some other way.

I realize most of the times the deadline isn't set by the development companies, but by the publisher, or the person putting all their money into the project. Either way, publishers and developers alike need to realize that if something isn't ready, it's sometimes better to spend a little bit more on it to ensure that the game has a healthy lifespan, than to release it two weeks early so that it will be shut down a year later.

II. You worked on Diablo, we get it.

The game itself wasn't as hyped as the people that were working on it. The first thing I ever learned about the game a couple of years back was not that it had guns, or that it took place in a post-apocalyptic world. The first thing I even saw on their website was "We made/worked on Diablo. You should buy our game." I'm paraphrasing, of course. Still, if the best thing you can come up with to hype your game is "we made a great game in the past" you're not showing a lot of promise for the game you're currently trying to hype.

Hellgate: London had the following things in common with Diablo:

  •  Zombies
  •  Items
  •  Wirt's Leg. Real original, guys.

Other than that, they were two completely different beasts, and should've been treated as such. This is another thing game companies need to stop doing. I'll even say this got Mythic into some trouble when hyping WAR, since a lot of players ended up thinking it would be DAoC2. I, as a gamer, don't really care about your game development resume. Even the often-hated-for-no-reason SOE has released really good games, despite their bloodied past. Likewise, if you made a really good game in the past, you could end up making a terrible game now.

Just stop. Work on your game, hype its features, do what you want. Just make sure you're always focusing on your current job, not on your past. Imagine you have a child, and it grows up to be a success. If you then have another child, would you ignore or skip certain parenting aspects just because you made "a really good one" before?

III. We have guns, swords, and everything you didn't ask for.

Hellgate: London stuck to its vision from the beginning. They didn't want you to be able to "respec" your mastery trees in the game, just like you couldn't do it in Diablo. I, for one, was behind this one hundred percent. The problem in this particular case, was that you didn't need any damn points in anything. You could go the whole game without spending a single point into anything. This was especially true for Hunter classes. Your survival depended on how well you could aim in FPS mode and how powerful your gun was. That was it. You had points to spend on things, but they weren't any useful in helping you shoot things down better or faster. It's cool that you wanted us to think carefully about what to specialize in, but when nothing was useful, it didn't matter if you offered the option to "respec" or not.

This game had everything: rocket launchers, sniper rifles, automatic weapons, and...swords?! I didn't get this bit. It makes sense in steampunk-type games: not every soldier wants to spend an eternity reloading a rifle manually after each shot, and as such some will favour melee weapons. In this setting, it didn't make much sense, though. You had automatic weapons. There's absolutely no incentive or benefit to using a sword, or a shield against zombies when you could be gunning down or blowing up the masses with little effort. I guess templars felt the need to be "stylish" and using rocket launchers was beneath them. The game doesn't give you the impression that a catastrophe has occurred and everyone is doing their best to survive when you have assholes running around hunting zombies with a longsword for sport.

Another thing a lot of people were pissed off about was the lack of a LAN option for the game. I'm sure they're even more pissed off now that the servers are shutting down and they're going to be stuck with a single-player game they can't return to the store. It seems Flagship wasn't really interested in letting players play their games with friends unless it was on their server. They had reasons for this, and they were posted all over the official forums for time to time, but damn if I remember them. I don't even remember what I had for breakfast.

IV. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Rumors are going around that the game will live on. People still aren't sure of the game's fate in the US or EU, but for Asia, at least there has been an announcement that they will try to keep the game alive. You can read about it here. The servers for US, and EU, currently hosted by NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. will issue their final breath on Jan 31st, 2009 at midnight.

Though we should never celebrate people losing their jobs, or someone's dream shattering before them, we should at least try to learn from it. Game development companies need to learn to take the right steps in hyping their product, preparing it for release, and take feedback from their communities. At the same time, publishers should realize that if something isn't ready, it isn't ready. Waiting a couple of months without income can net you a lot more in the long run.

Witching Night: A blessing in disguise?

Posted by NotArkard Monday November 3 2008 at 1:12PM
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Cross posted from

Happy Halloween, everybody! Yes, yes, I realize it's a couple of days late, but better late than never, right? On that note, I wanted to take this opportunity to properly introduce myself. My name is Malcom, and I'm one of the newest writers here at If you've read some of my previous posts here, you'll know that I mostly write about the world of Warhammer: Online, as well as some free-to-play MMORPGs that I happen to come by every now and then. Other than that, there's very little about me to share, and since you're here to read about MMORPGs, let's move on! Today, I will be describing my experience with the Witching Night event added to the world of Warhammer: Online on October 29th to honor the real-life celebrations of Halloween. Not only are we going to look into the event itself, and the obtainable rewards, but Mythic's ulterior motive behind this event. Was Witching Night Mythic's way of pushing people to the open RvR areas? Was it the miraculous kick-start that we've all been hoping RvR would get, or simply yet another item-driven and soon forgotten event?

I. Content Additions

I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking "oh god, here comes another holiday event," but much to my surprise Mythic didn't simply add two or three items, a quest in Altdorf/Inevitable City and called it a day. Witching Night included one important addition: the Live Events tab to the Tome of Knowledge. We could spend a lot of time speculating what it will be used for in the very distant future, but it does show promise. Mythic has already announced that they will have more live events during the Heavy Metal content update set to take place starting November 17th. The potential for this tool shouldn't be underestimated in the right hands. For instance, if you were to have a team of people working on live events constantly, you could add a lot of flavour to the game. You could have daily, or weekly events to try to get people away from the daily scenario grind.

II. Influence and PvE

The main event included goals and rewards for both PvE and PvP. When accessing your Live Events tab on your Tome of Knowledge, you would see an influence bar and a "quest" showing your progress on the PvE aspect of the event. In order to complete the PvE side of the live event, you needed to kill: 50 Restless Spirits, 25 Withered Crones, and 10(?) Witching Lords. You would also get basic, advanced, and elite influence rewards as you would obtain from any regular PQ. To obtain influence during the event, you either had to kill the monsters listed on the live events tab, or players. Players seemed to give a minimal amount of influence, and from my experience they were not the best way to go about obtaining it. If anyone had a different experience, I'd love to hear how it worked for you. I would've preferred obtaining full influence by killing players than grinding mobs.

The PvE rewards included:

* Mask 4/4 - Obtained as the elite influence reward.
* Mask 3/4 - Obtained as drops from Restless Spirits, and Withered Crones.
* Gift of Dark Tidings - 4 cloaks in total you could choose from, one for each archetype. Each one had different bonuses: one for melee, one for ranged, one for healing, and one for offensive casting.
* Witching Potion - Obtained as the basic influence reward. This gives you an aura for 10 minutes and has a 60 minute cooldown. I don't know if this was intended or not, but my charges kept resetting at random intervals allowing me to always be at 5/5. You could also obtain a title from using this potion.
* Witch King* Title - Obtained by killing all the required mobs on the Live Events tab.

*To obtain the Witch King title, you actually had to do some or keep track of the RvR PQ. The Witching Lords you needed to complete the "quest" appeared only after one side killed 100 players of the opposing faction. I don't know if I was the only one this happened to, but whenever I killed a Witching Lord, it gave me credit for five. Not sure exactly how that was intended to work, or if Mythic originally intended for players to only have to kill two and the live events tab displayed ten.

As far as the PvE event, it wasn't anything spectacular. You had to grind mobs to get items. The rewards weren't really "rare" or difficult to obtain. It took me an hour and a half of grinding restless spirits to get full influence, and the result shown to the right. Man, I wish I was good enough to edit or manipulate pictures. That's actually how many masks I ended up with in my quest to full influence. Anyone who did the same can tell you it's a pretty accurate depiction of the drop rate for the gobbo masks. Now, I'm not going to complain; I plan to make a killing once the initial appeal of this holiday has passed and most everyone has sold their masks on the auction house. Still, it made me feel weird equipping this mask when I knew that everyone else on the planet was also wearing it. The mask model was actually my favourite out of the four, so you can imagine how disappointed I was when I realized how easy they were to obtain.

III. Get thee to the RvR area!

The RvR PQ was actually fun, and it looked like it could've been even more fun if it had been planned a little bit better. I'm on a medium population server, and the amount of people that showed up to the RvR areas for the event was absolutely staggering. I had to tinker with my settings for a few minutes to make sure that I wouldn't miss a second of the plentiful action. It reminded me of why I wanted to play Warhammer: Online in the first place; this bloodshed is what I signed up for.

I sharpened my waraxe, polished my armour, and set myself on the path to combat. Leaving behind the makeshift defenses of the Troll Country warcamp, I steeled my nerve and prepared myself for battle. The land itself had been scarred by tools of war, and the marching of hundreds of heavily-armored soldiers. Bodies lay scattered across the war-torn field where each faction had planted their own seeds of enmity, in preparation for their harvest of death. In the distance, the fighting screams of elf and greenskin alike could be heard, many silenced half-way by arrow or blade. Ready for the coming bloodbath, I rushed to aid my fellow soldiers in battle. Arriving closer to the battle cries, I could now see the fight more clearly, and that's when I witnessed the most horrifying event of my life.

Now that you get the basic idea, let me tell you what I witnessed without role-playing. What I saw in the coming minutes were the forces of Destruction sitting safely at the border to (in this case) Ostland/Troll Country shooting arrows or spells at our dim-witted melee classes who could not understand that we needed them to back up so we could get credit for the kills. Here's the deal: The event consisted of both factions fighting to see which one could obtain 100 kills first, so that a Witching Lord could spawn. That sounds easy, right? There were, after all, at least one hundred people constantly respawning and showing up to the RvR area on my server. The problem was that most of the kills we got were outside of the designated PQ area. As such, about three quarters of the kills we got didn't count towards our overall progress. This meant that we had to spend close to four hours completing stage I, constantly telling people to back up, so that one person could walk away with a gold bag, and the rest of us with suicidal thoughts. I'll be honest, though. I didn't really much care for the PQ itself. In my mind, I was happy that there were that many people in the open RvR areas, and that I was getting so much experience and enjoyment from doing open RvR. Early one morning, I was able to get 4140 experience for killing a single chosen solo. It made my day. Okay, that wasn't in the RvR area, and it was a 1 on 1...but, still!

The rewards for the PvP side of the event were the following:

* Mask 2/4 - Obtained as random drops from players.
* Mask 1/4 - Obtained as a reward from a gold bag after the PQ ended.
* A large amount of satisfaction.

I had a lot of fun. Whether we were completing the PQ objective or not, it encouraged people to actually get to the RvR areas, and that was enough for me. If the PQ wasn't happening, people would still show up, and we would take the area's objectives, or a keep. I loved every minute of it.

IV. Conclusion - Success or flop?

Having witnessed the event first-hand, and spent many hours participating in both aspects(PvE and PvP) of the event, it made me wonder: Did Mythic really give a damn about Halloween, or were they just using that as an excuse to add a couple of items to convince people to get out to the RvR areas? If the event's ultimate goal was to get people to do open RvR, then it's safe to consider it a success. Who cares if you got a gold bag from the ORvR PQ or not? As mentioned previously, even when the PQ wasn't happening, people would still show up, and we would then take objectives and keeps. It made organizing warbands a lot easier, since you knew where to find the people you needed. Normally, if you want to take a keep, you have to spend a staggering amount of time organizing a warband, and trying to find people in the right areas. With the event, you knew where people were, all the time. Even if you didn't want to do the PQ, you could go poach people there, and off to another area you go!

If you are to judge the event's organization, the way the PQ was laid out, and the originality and effort put forth to create a holiday event, then I would call it a flop. The ORvR PQ was poorly laid out, with people usually sitting away from the designated area shooting arrows or spells, or one faction chasing another one away from the area and refusing to back down resulting in hours and hours of lack of progress.

What did you guys think? Was the event entertaining or not? Are you looking at it from the PQ-completing perspective, or simply for the fun factor? I, for one, am looking forward to the Heavy Metal content update, and the events that it will bring.

Tier 1 and World of Warcraft

Posted by NotArkard Wednesday October 8 2008 at 2:29PM
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I know the title's a bit confusing, so I'll clear up what I'm trying to get at here: if you PvP in Warhammer: Online the same way you do in World of Warcraft, you're an idiot. Plain and simple. "Where is all this arbitrary hate coming from?" No doubt, you ask, and I will explain. My friends and I have been on the search for the right server to play in ever since release, we've tried full servers with medium order playing as order, as destruction, high/high servers as destruction about a million times. Queues were popping too slowly, queues were popping too quickly, it took too long to get into the server, whatever. We've been in Tier 1 ever since launch, and that means a ton of Nordenwatching. My highest level character is a tier-3-ready marauder, so I have seen things outside of Nordenwatch, but what annoys me the most is this specific scenario, and not just that. People are playing these scenarios as if they were WoW battlegrounds.


Fight on the flag:

I'm not here to tell you to fight on the flag. I'm here to tell you not to fight on the damn flag. Every scenario, it's the same thing. Some random moron will start yelling "fight on the flag, fight on the flag!" and for what? I understand it in Khaine's Embrace, you want to prevent people from taking the flag, and I understood it in Arathi Basin: same concept. Nordenwatch? You don't have to click on the flag, you have to be near it to start capturing it. That's great if you're fighting on the flag, but guess what? THE ENEMY HEALERS ARE ON THE DAMN BRIDGE OR DOWN THE HILL.

All these flag-fighting master tacticians spend their entire health bar at the fort fighting swordmasters or black orcs that are being healed by people standing away from the flag. Guess who's going to take the fort at the end? It's not going to be the people fighting at the flag, it's going to be the people who run up to the healers and either scare them back to their starting node, or kill them. You can run back to the flag to help capture it later, but fighting on it is as useful in capturing it as whispering sweet nothings in its ear.

Normally, I'm not one to complain to my team, although every now and then they drive me insane. It's tier 1, after all. A lot of people are still discovering the game. Newbies don't bug me; let them make mistakes, so they can learn. Who cares if the newbie Warrior Priests and Disciples only heal themselves? I'm cool with all of that in tier 1. What I don't care for, are the people who rushed to 40, made an alt and are now harassing everyone to fight on the flag as if they had any possible idea of what they were talking about.

You have all blue gear you bought at the auction house? Great, congratulations. Use it to kill the healers, not to spend ten minutes at the fort bunny-hopping and circle-strafing around tank classes like some ADD-ridden ten year old.

"I have the highest damage" or "My damage isn't the highest because I'm too busy helping us win."

This is a two parter.

1) People who boast they are better than you, and have contributed more during a loss simply because they have outdamaged the rank 2 marauders and squig herders. These guys will sit there talking about how much better than you they are because of all the damage they dealt. Unfortunately, there aren't many arguments to counter this. Damage dealt varies widely depending on the conditions. For example, we were winning a game the other day, and we had Order fighting at the bottom of the hill to the Lighthouse(we had all 3 nodes and were just killing them there). They had almost 20k damage more than we did overall, but only 17 kills, compared to our 50 something.

It's easy to have highest damage dealt depending on your class. On my marauder, for example, I can switch to gift of monstrosity and simply spam AoE. Yep, I didn't kill anybody but I have 30k damage dealt. I was a real asset to my team, I was! That brings me to part two, which is the most common counter to the "I have the highest damage" boast.

2) Like I stated previously, I don't care if you're a rank 4 sorceress dealing 30k damage, or a rank 11 sorceress dealing 3k damage at the end of a game. Your damage varies on how well your team is doing. You could also be a newbie, which is okay, it's tier 1, right? But when someone says "I have the highest damage, I'm better than you" and you counter with "Sorry, I was actually busy contributing to our team, instead of looking at the damage meters" I feel like punching them. Now you're trying to sound like you're better than the person that's bragging about their damage.


A) You're a sorceress.


B) Your contribution to the team is your damage, so if it's lower than the squig herder that's lording his damage over you, then no, you are not contributing more than he is.

Seriously, what the hell other kind of contribution could you possibly be performing for the team in Nordenwatch? Are you harvesting tiberium to fund tesla coils for the barracks? Let's face it, it's only DPS classes that will even bother with this argument, because they somehow feel their damage output is being attacked, and they feel the need to defend it. Healers won't care, because they don't care who has the highest damage, and they know they're not being attacked on their performance because they're usually, well, healing.

In the end, it doesn't even matter.

It's obvious that most of us know that Warhammer: Online, although similar, is not World of Warcraft. We need to stop playing scenarios like they are WoW battlegrounds, though. There are no severe punishments for losing. Sometimes a few people will start cursing everyone out because we lost the game by 3 points. So? We got all the XP from gathering 497 points. In fact, in losses like these I've sometimes ended up with more XP than several players from the opposite faction. What's the use in swearing at everybody over a difference of 100XP or in some cases, no difference at all?

I hate the principle of losing as much as the next guy, but the only thing I get from a scenario win or lose is XP. Until some changes are made where losers get their XP gain cut in half, or are punished in some form for losing, then why should you care?

FFXI Level Sync Feature

Posted by NotArkard Thursday September 11 2008 at 1:53PM
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I had heard about this feature from a friend of mine, but didn't entirely understand how it was supposed to work or what benefits the level sync system was suppossed to bring. Now, some light has been shed on the matter as I read the newsletter sent to my e-mail inbox by Square Enix. First off, I am no longer playing the game. The last time I played the game was about a year ago; I experienced a lot of resistance from Square Enix to help me retrieve the account I made back when the game was released, and was forced to buy a new copy of the game. I later cancelled after the staggering realization that I'd have to spend so much time of my life working on re-gaining what I had lost, and only then could I begin working on what I hadn't finished. That's another story, altogether, though.

 The level sync system appears to be in place to allow people with higher level jobs to group with people of lower level jobs by down-ranking their own level(similar to Age of Conan's mentor system, except you make your friends higher in level). This, apparently, allows players in your linkshell to down-level their higher level jobs and assist you in the, usually, extremely excruciating process that is leveling in FFXI. I decided to further study how the level sync system reads, by actually following some of the links on the newsletter. Just think, I'm one of the most pessimistic people I know, and I was excited about Square Enix getting something right. As I continued to read about the level sync feature, it became clear that my excitement was not misplaced.


Now, Final Fantasy XI has always been one of the most time-consuming games on the market. Whether you're an avid lover of the game, or simply hate it for your own reasons, you can't dispute this fact: the game was simply designed to eat up half of your life. Now, I had a couple of classes at level 75, and every other class at random levels ranging anywhere from 10 to 56, so I originally thought: Why not just use one of your alts to help your linkshell friends level? What's the use in bringing your higher level guy when you could be leveling another job?


First of all, the system will benefit both the higher level jobbers, and the lower level jobbers. If you thought there was nothing in place to benefit veteran players, and that this is one of those features to attract new players, then you are absolutely wrong. Quoting from their article: "When Level Sync is in effect, players will gain 100% of the experience and limit points possible to gain at their reduced level." Just imagine! Being able to obtain limit points on your level 75 warrior while helping someone level an alt job! This is great for people who don't have the patience to level alts themselves, and instead want to focus on one character. Rather than ignoring everyone else for self-benefit(one of the oldest features in FFXI), you can now benefit yourself and others by partying with them at lower levels!


Before I continue my analysis, let's post a few more facts about the system:

- The system works in a way where the party leader designates a "target player." Everyone in the party will become the level of the target player. When the target player levels, everyone will be bumped up a notch, granted they have already completed that level previously. For example, let's say you have four level 75 characters, a level 22 character, and a level 23 character. The leader designates the level 23 character to be the target level. Everyone will be level 23, but the level 22 character will remain level 22. If the level 23 levels before the level 22, everyone but the level 22 will become level 24.

-Square Enix is usually for preventing problems before they begin. Unless you count their customer service, but we'll make my blood boil later. For now, let's discuss the restrictions. Firstly, the player must be at least level 10; you can not designate a player below that level to be your target player. The party leader and the target player must be in the same area, and finally, there will be what they call a "buffer period" for 30 seconds once the feature has been deactivated.

-Lastly, the system introduces a way to down-rank your gear when you down-level. Finally, something extremely useful for people who were used to carrying thousands of sets of gear, or paying an extra $10 to have enough alts to hold that gear. Now you can join BCNMs, mission scenarios, Ballista, and other level-capped events without having to bring level 40, or level 50 gear, or whatever the level cap happens to be. Instead, your level 75 gear will be down-ranked so that it has stats appropriate for the level you're being capped to.


Let's consider the benefits. You can now level an alt with an army of level 75s with downranked gear, that will still be incredibly amazing since there are many stats that end-game gear has that leveling gear does not. Using a stupid example, enmity. Enmity- is not seen until the 70s on caster gear, and even if it is downranked, it is unlike any other stat found on gear for level 40, let's say. Now the characters are incredibly overpowered, right? Wrong! I comically misled you, sorry. According to SE, a lot of the stats found on higher armor will be negated entirely. Things like enmity will be downranked to match the level you are downranking to. So, if you're downranking to level 40, it's obvious that your gear will lose its enmity bonus.


Now let's talk about the negatives. As far as I read, there aren't any. Sorry, I misled you again, there are in fact some negatives. This appears to be in place mainly for people who are leveling alternate jobs in the game, and want a quick way to get up to 75, or any target level they might be shooting for. New players, who may not know about the feature, or may not have joined a linkshell will completely miss out on the benefits of the system. Let's face it, none of us want pugs in a group, and that's why the system was introduced. What reason do linkshells, or even a small group of 75s partying with a friend have to invite a complete and inexperienced stranger into their fold? The truth is, they have no reason to do so, and they probably won't.


Then again, the FFXI community is a relatively small community where most people who play now have played the game before. There are very few players who have had no previous experience with the game lining up to join the virtual world of Vana'diel. Whether they heard from me that it was an incredible time-sink, or they simply don't even know the game exists, it's just not a heavily marketed game in most places of the world(except maybe Japan?).

Regardless, the level sync feature even had me excited to give the game another chance. Unfortunately, I later remembered that I destroyed the latest copy of the game I bought in a fit of rage. The only thing that remains is my user ID for my old account that SE kept so they can use it to play themselves. But, uh...if you're still playing, I guess this feature is cool and all. Enjoy it!