|I'm actually doing a FATE here not a quest but let's not quibble|
|Oh I don't know, don't you sometimes feel we're all just fish on the end of a line?|
Now and again the dialog dabbles with the post-modern, undercutting these well-worn tropes with self-referential irony, a trope that's becoming somewhat worn itself these days. I've been round the block on this and come back to meet myself where I started. I'm over being bored with traditional MMO questing. I embrace the Kill Ten Rats quest. I'll don the FedEx cap with pride. No need to apologize for offering them. A classic is a classic. Although a bit of post-modern irony always slips down smoothly with me as well so I'm winning either way.
|Hold on, isn't this Scarlet Desert?|
The quests themselves may be from stock but the dialog that accompanies them is fresh. Well, let me re-phrase that. It appears fresh. There's probably little about the dialog that isn't stock either if you take a step back and consider it critically but it's written with such elan and verve that any familiarity passes unnoticed in the flurry of conversation.
|Aye, 'appen as 'ow 'e will an' all.|
And that's another thing. No matter how familiar the content, quest dialog does tend to feel different when spattered with authentic, if archaic, regional British vernacular. Whoever wrote this stuff must have watched a lot of Coronation Street, that's all I'm saying. And it's really quite sweary too, in a broad, end-of-the-pier inoffensive style.
The last piece of the puzzle, the trick that's turning old rope into silk ribbon, is the quest UI itself. Again, there's nothing mold-breaking about it, just the opposite. A plain dialog panel along the bottom waits for you to click before turning. I just love that. Being left to take things at my own pace. Perfect. The quest summary, clear and often amusingly phrased, appears in a separate window at the end of the conversation, requirements and rewards clearly displayed.
|Did he really say that out loud?|
Less of a pleasure is the visual pollution common to all MMOs. Square have really gone to town on the overhead iconography for FFXIV and when you first log in and wander through one of the stunning cities the experience is spoiled by a forest canopy of hanging names and quest markers. Fortunately you can turn any and all of this off to tune things to your particular tastes. I left the unfeasibly large quest markers on for now but turned off all names, which lets me both know where I am going and see what I'm looking at at the same time.
|First Tony Warren, then Becket.|
One FedEx quest required me to deliver something for a merchant who'd just arrived from a long journey and was too exhausted to take a package across town. His well-written dialog did some of the persuading but the real emotional blackmail came from the way he was leaning against a railing, pretending to be too tired but clearly sizing me up for gullibility.
|Excuse me, is this 17th Century Holland?|
So far it's looking good. I have some concerns over the potential size of the world. It doesn't look very big. I went exploring last night and hit the furthest reaches of Northern Ul'Dah, where everything was in the mid-40s, in, well, not very long at all. Whether a smallish world is a problem depends on pacing, though and my feeling is that FFXIV: ARR will be relatively slow-paced, something akin to mid-period EQ2. I hope so.
|Thus far and no further|
Assuming next week is a beta weekend as well maybe I'll get back up to the giddy heights of double-figures that I reached in the last phase. If so I might have something to say about the relative pleasures or pains of playing a caster compared to an archer. Oh wait, no I can't. The first rule of Phase 2 is you don't talk about Phase 2. Never mind, I'm sure I'll think of something.
The bit I have to put in so I don't get in trouble
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