Ragar throws on his healing gear to test A Realm Reborn's new group-finding tool as well as the low-level dungeon content
Over the last couple of weekends the writers here at ZAM, myself included, have been trying out the remake of Square Enix’s second MMO, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Corey gave his early impressions of the game’s mechanics, questing, etc. I focused on crafting and gathering for that early weekend, but followed up later with my own impressions of the rest of the game that I’d experienced up to that point. While I covered most of the areas I was interested in during those first two weekends, there was a fairly glaring hole in my coverage; other than participating in the open world FATE events I ran across, I did not participate in any group content. With no grouping tools other than yelling in General chat and an apparent abundance of Gladiator and Marauder competition for tanking roles, I focused on solo content and story until I ran into a wall when my level 15 main story quest was “Go clear Sastasha, the first dungeon”. Sure I was still content to work on crafting/gathering and there were other classes to work on for my cross-class skill slots, but I like running dungeons so I was somewhat disappointed I couldn’t cover that content.
Thankfully that problem was rectified, as this weekend’s build included a new feature for FFXIV:ARR: the Duty Finder. With that major hurdle taken care of, the goal for this last weekend became clear: run everything I could with the Duty Finder, see what group content is available, and find out.
So What Exactly is the Dungeon Duty Finder For?
If you’ve played most recent MMOs, you’re probably familiar with the idea behind ARR’s Duty Finder. There’s a list of the various dungeons, guildhests (4-man repeatable quests), and Trials (I’ll talk about this later) available in the game. Pick the class you’d like to use, check the boxes for up to five of the various instances you’re interested in and hit the queue button. The game will look at everyone queued across multiple servers to form groups of one tank, one healer, and two DPS. If you’re just looking for a quick run or maybe you need a drop off the last boss or two in a dungeon, you can even check the box to tell the game you’re willing to join groups in progress.
While waiting for the queue to come up, you can run around town, continue questing out in the open world, or even switch to another job besides the one you queued as. When your queue pops, you’ll be prompted with the name of the instance you’ll be entering and given 40 seconds to accept/decline. Accepting the invitation will teleport you inside the instance along with the rest of your group. Complete the instance or leave for whatever reason, you’ll be returned to your previous location in Eorzea.
There are a few restrictions to the Duty Finder, so don’t plan on just instancing your way from 1 to level cap on your first class. To begin with, you can’t just immediately queue for the first dungeon, Sastasha, the moment you hit level 15 on your class. Even if you find the dungeon entrance, you’ll be told that you need to complete a specific quest to gain access to the dungeon. This is because the first three dungeons (Sastasha, The Tam-Tara Deepcroft and Copperbell Mines) all have tie-ins to the main story questline. If you’ve been keeping up with your main story quests, then at level 15 you’ll get a quest to go to Limsa Lominsa and speak with the head of their Adventurer’s Guild. That man will send you to talk to someone at the entrance of Sastasha; once you’ve talked to him, you’ll be granted access to the dungeon and the next portion of your main story quest will be to clear Sastasha. This pattern repeats for the next two dungeons as well as the first Trial you’ll encounter at level 20. While it’s possible that the following dungeons won’t have main story requirements, I would venture to guess they all require a certain amount of progress in the storyline given how your exploits in the dungeons are, to some extent, included in your story progress.
Once you’ve unlocked the dungeons, you’ll be free to queue for them as normal but now you have to choose which class you’ll be queuing as. In other MMOs with dungeon finder functions, we’re usually presented with multiple checkboxes for the various trinity roles: tank, healer and DPS. For those games you’d check the boxes for the roles you’re willing to play in the dungeon, then, when the dungeon queue would pop up, you’d change to the applicable role that you were assigned. For ARR, however, there are no multiple role checkboxes – whatever you queue as is the role you’re picking to play. This means that if you queue as a Conjurer, then you’re going to be healing as a Conjurer for that dungeon. It’s possible that you might be able to switch roles once you’re inside the instance, but neither I nor the other members of my parties tried testing this feature. While this isn’t a deal breaker, I do question the reasoning for such a restriction, particularly in a game that’s built so heavily on the idea that a player can learn any and all classes on his/her character. If I’m looking to tank for a dungeon, but I’d be willing to heal or DPS if necessary, I should be able to sign up for those other roles as well.
When it came time for me to start queuing for dungeons, I figured this role restriction wouldn’t be a big issue. I’m usually a tank in every other game I’ve played and they always have instant queues, so queuing up as a Gladiator tank seemed like a no-brainer. Ten minutes later, I’m still sitting in Ul-Dah, groupless. I was surprised to say the least. Sure, there’re two tanking classes (Gladiator and Marauder) compared to just the one healer class (Conjurer), but I’ve never played a game where there were more tanks available than healers. Even in those games where the numbers were close, I’d still only be looking at a minute or two wait maximum. Now I could have just kept waiting for a Gladiator queue to pop up, but then I remembered I had leveled Conjurer to 15 the weekend before to meet one of the requirements for Paladin. I switched over to that class, picked a couple of cross-class cooldowns for dungeon healing and survivability, queued for Sastasha and immediately had a group.