Game Mechanics and Events
There are an absolute multitude of activities and there is no way I could possibly cover them all. Below are some of the major events take one can take part of in Final Fantasy XI.
Leveling and Battle
You have to gain levels somehow, and most of a player’s initial experience will be grinding out experience points in order to gain levels for their jobs. Unfortunately, soloing is not a very viable part of Final Fantasy XI. While lower levels are easy to grind out on your own, after level 10, it is usually time to seek out a party of six to take down monsters and rack up the experience. Players will “put their flags up” in order to be found via the game’s search function for those wishing to build a party (and unfortunately, this can take up more time than actually participating in a party).
Battle is a variation on the Active Time Battle (ATB) system. When a player engages a monster, they automatically and continuously attack with the time between attacks being based on the weapon used, spells cast on the character and equipment being worn at the time. While attacking, the player can use various job abilities and spells. Most job abilities are instantly cast and have a certain cool-down period in which they cannot be recast. Spells on the other hand have both a set casting time and recast timer as well.
Battles also usually follow a common tactic. The “tank” will try to keep the monster’s attention through damage or various job abilities so only the monster attacks them. Other members of the party will either deal damage to the monster or help support the party with magic during the fight. Just about every fight and battle in this game will follow this exact same tactic in one way or another.
Whether a new adventure or endgame veteran, much time will be spent hunting down Notorious Monsters (NMs). Not only are these best significantly harder to kill, but they also usually drop rare equipment that is far and above other easily obtainable equipment for that level. HNMs are a subsection of NMs and are often hunted by groups of players at the level cap (which is now currently 75) and can drop some of the best equipment in the entire game.
With more and more NMs being released in version updates, there is a whole host of monsters to hunt and kill, as well as new equipment to obtain.
Missions and Quests
Missions and quests are the backbone for the story of Final Fantasy XI. Each of the three nations, as well as the games expansion packs and add-ons, contain the major pieces of the story and the history of Vana’diel. Quests will also have a bit of story attached to them here and there, but some can be as simple as a quick “get X of these and I give you Y.” Each quest will have a separate reward and missions tend to have stellar rewards after a player has completed an entire set.
While players can usually get through all the missions after a while, the shear number of quests in the game make it quite a daunting and near impossible task to fully complete.
A popular high level event, players enter in large groups of up to 64 people in order to clear entire areas of strong monsters. Monsters in these areas drop what is known as relic armor for each of the jobs as well as what seem to be worthless weapons. Adventures with quite a bit of patience (and deep pockets) can also take these seemingly worthless weapons and transform them into relic weapons by means of massive amounts of the ancient currency that drops in these areas. These weapons are easily the most powerful in the game and can also serve as a major status symbol for those that complete their weapons.
The the release of the Treasures of Aht Urhgan, a new large scale battle system was introduced. Unlike most of the cities in the game, the city of Aht Urhgan is constantly subject to attack from the surrounding Beastmen in the area. When the Beastmen breach the gates, all players that are in the city are called to battle in order to drive out the invading Beastmen. The battles are quite massive (and can lag the game to hell) and players are rewarded with experience points and Imperial Standing (which can be traded for items) for their efforts.
Also a part of the Treasures of Aht Urhgan expansion, players can group up in a party of 3-6 and take part in several quick missions that each have a 30 minute time limit. Assaults have a wide range of goals with killing everything that moves, collecting treasure, or even escorting NPCs out of harms way. Players are rewarded with Assault Points which can be used to purchase assault specific gear. Also, completing assaults is how a player can rise in mercenary rank.
Another use for Assault Points is entry into Salvage. This event is a blend between assault and dynamis. Players that enter, humorously find themselves naked and literally unable to equip anything or use any of their abilities. Various cells can be found throughout the event and these remove said restrictions. The goal of salvage is to obtain salvage armor. In order to get a piece of salvage armor, you must first get three separate armor pieces of a certain type, and trade those along with specific items. This can be a very long (and expensive) process, but the armor that can be obtained here is some of the very best in the game.
Campaign and Campaign Ops
With the Wings of the Goddess expansion, players can travel to the time of the Crystal War and take up arms against the Shadow Lord’s armies. With the world in a constant state of war, adventurers are able to defend and attack various strongholds (depending on who has control). While on a slightly smaller scale than Besieged, the idea is very much the same. Experience points, allied notes, and now, with the introduction of what is now known as unions, various treasures are now available for adventurers to claim as their reward for taking up arms against the Shadow Lord.
During the holidays, fun and quick events are often available in the cities. Events sync up with popular Western holidays like Halloween, Easter, and Christmas, but there is also a bit of Eastern flair with the Summerfest and Festival of Dolls events. Offering fun and unique seasonal items to collect, these events offer a fun diversion from the games usual fare.
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