The report starts with a general warning to visitors of the site. Things in the alpha build have vastly improved from how they started. People had trouble just being able to log into the servers. Even if they got in, some had troubles doing anything due to lag. Then recently, video of in-game play was uploaded to the Internet by players breaking their NDAs. The reporter says that people need to keep in mind that FFXIV is just at the alpha stage and still not the quality we should expect from the final product.
The bulk of the report is about the Guildleve system. First, a review of what the Guildleve system is all about. 4Gamer summarizes it as a user friendly growth system. To begin a Guildleve, first, players must obtain something that looks similar to a tarot card. Then, they head out to an Aetheryte crystal to begin the quest related to that card. There is a wide range of Guildleves for players to choose from. Some are designed for people that wish to spend their time soloing. Some are designed for parties of different sizes. This system allows people to complete quests with a relatively light amount of preparation and time.
It is safe to say that the Guildleve system is the main system for game play in FFXIV. As proof, the 4Gamer reporter looks to what SE is doing with the alpha testing. First, they worked on the login problems and server stability. As soon as those issues were overcome, next up on their list was to start collecting feedback from the players as they completed Guildleves and began to test the system.
After a quick review, the reporter goes on to talk about his impression of the system after trying out a Guildleve himself. Guildleves are divided into two categories. Regional leves generally require a player to fight something or collect something. Local leves generally require a player to create something. The reporter settled on a Regional leve that starts from Camp Bearded Rock. In fact, all of the starter Regional leves for Limsa Lominsa start at that Aetheryte crystal. It is the closest camp to the city and only takes about 3 minutes for players to run there from the city’s gates.
Alpha testers are only allowed to play in the areas around Limsa Lominsa, so if you are looking to try out the Guildleve system, head to the Adventurers’ Guild located in “The Drowning Wench“. (The name of this fine establishment is different depending on the version of the game you are playing. Japanese players, like the reporter, know the place as “The Drowning Dolphin”.) The NPC in the Adventurers’ Guild will offer you a choice from 3 Guildleves that are suitable for your level. You can hold up to 8 cards at one time.
After obtaining your card, it’s time to visit the Aetheryte. From there, you can activate the quest or do a number of other things. Players can touch the crystal to restore their HP and MP. It is also possible to teleport to and from the crystals. Seeing how important the Aetheryte will become to players, the reporter believes it will become the place for players to gather the members needed for their quests as well as a busy market area for players who wish to peddle their wares.
Once you’ve started your quest, your progress will be shown in a separate window along with the amount of time you have remaining. Most quests have a 30 minute time limit. People familiar with other MMORPGs should have no trouble figuring out what to do after reading the quest information. However, should you need it, an arrow will appear on your mini map to guide you.
Worried that there won’t be enough monsters to complete your quest if everyone is doing the same thing? Fear not! The reporter says only you and your party members can see the monsters you need to defeat so no need to worry about other people coming in and stealing your prey. Once you complete the requirements for your quest, a warp point will appear to take you back to the Aetheryte crystal.
While the overall system may not seem terribly special, it will seem fresh to veterans of FFXI and be an easy system for people new to online gaming to get into. It’s the “service” built into the system (arrows on the map, free warp back, etc) that make it so appealing. The reporter also makes comparisons to the “Fields of Valor” system in Final Fantasy XI. People curious about that system can learn more about it by visiting our sister site, FFXIclopedia.
The 4Gamer reporter only tried a basic Guildleve for his report but he goes on to describe other possibilities born from the system. For example, while a single player is only allowed to carry 8 cards at one time, it is possible for people in a party to mix-and-match their cards to create a new type of quest. You can also set the difficulty level for the quest on a 5 point scale.
With such a high level of customization available, it’s easy to see how this is the main contents of a game that the FFXIV teams says will be friendly to the casual player but challenging enough for MMO veterans.
More pictures from the alpha build and the original Japanese text that served as the basis for this report can be found on 4Gamer’s website.