MogTalk: Episode 238 Digest – Boosting, Skipping Story, & Gatekeeping

© SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.

Throughout the past couple of months, the Final Fantasy XIV community has seen a record-breaking number of new players starting their journey in Eorzea. While a majority of the game’s fanbase has been nothing but welcoming to these sprouts, a loud minority has attempted to gatekeep new players and streamers from enjoying FFXIV. This digest follows MogTalk: Episode 238, featuring content creators Zepla, Arthars, and Spofie as they join Frosty in discussing controversial topics such as level boosting and skipping the game’s story.

FrostyTV: How do we feel about people going full blast and saying “Hey, you shouldn’t play this game if you’re not going to do the story and use a boost?” [4:16]

Zepla: I think it’s okay to encourage people to do the story from level 1. Do the full story experience because that is the way the game is designed to be played. It is a story-based game. With that said, there’s a difference between encouraging someone to do that and being a dick about it. You have to respect that people might not want to play the same way. Ultimately, let people make their own decisions. [4:26]

Arthars: I agree to a certain degree. At the end of the day, how you want to start playing the game is totally up to you. Although Final Fantasy has always been a story-driven series, especially the single player games, an MMORPG story is usually only about 10-15% of the gameplay. There’s so much content in an MMORPG. Many people can play it for different reasons. Some people just play for the social aspect and some play to go out in the open and fight bosses. Not everybody has a circle of friends to play an MMO with, and some people play to make new friends. The story in FFXIV is like a single-player journey, which is easier to watch and easier for an individual to go through. [6:02]

Arthars also mentioned that it is possible for those who skip the story to go back and watch it later. After becoming captivated with the Shadowbringers storyline, he went back and enjoyed learning more about the previous plotlines throughout the game.

To the other guests’ surprise, Spofie skipped FFXIV’s story when first starting the game.

Spofie: When I started the game, I was playing WoW in 2015 and looking for another MMO. I wasn’t looking for a storybook, so when I started playing FFXIV, I skipped every cutscene and raided Coils. I had so much fun that I decided to go back and figure out the story on my alt. Even if you don’t start with the story, you can still find your way to the story. That’s the cool part about the game. [9:58]

Zepla: I have talked to a lot of people that had skipped through the story without even thinking about it and then later went back and enjoyed it. [10:32]

FrostyTV: When I first played the story, the only thing I did was watch the cutscenes. I didn’t read a lot of the dialogue when I was first leveling up. During the cutscenes, I could sit back and relax. I didn’t really understand what was going on, but I could make sense out of it. That was my experience, and I’ve only learned lore and story by watching other people go through it. [13:43]

Many streamers new to FFXIV have experienced backlash from players who believe the game shouldn’t be skipped in any capacity. Maximum, raid leader of Complexity Limit in WoW and recent guest of Mog Talk, is one streamer who has faced such criticism.

FrostyTV: If you’re streaming and doing something you don’t want to do, do you know how boring that is? “You can’t play this game unless you go through all the story and level up your character by doing stuff you don’t want to do. That’s how you play FFXIV.” [15:04]

Zepla: I think the motive to say things like this to others is coming from a good place because you want people to enjoy it and share that experience with them. Wanting to be able to chat and share something you like with others is a beautiful thing. It’s not a malicious thing that people are doing. [15:27]

Arthars: On the other hand, do they ever consider the feelings of those that don’t want to do the story? People may hope new players watch the story so they can relate, or they can watch someone play what he wants and enjoys. That’s the difference that these people never think about. [15:56]

FrostyTV: The issue is, even if this is coming from a good place, it turns into a toxic sludge of people thinking others aren’t a good person because they aren’t going through the game “right.” If someone who has skipped the story thinks it’s shit, don’t respect their opinion because they haven’t tried. Don’t automatically assume they’ll say that and demean them as a person. [16:41]

Spofie: I generally encourage people to do the story if they’re interested in it. For me, it wasn’t at the beginning of the game. When I reached Stormblood, I really liked the zone and started reading the side quests because I liked certain characters. FFXIV is such a massive game. As your interests peak, follow that line of interest. Don’t worry about whatever anybody else is interested in. [17:33]

To allow new players to easily catch up in the game, Square Enix created Tales of Adventure: One Hero’s Journey, an item available on Mog Station that instantly boosts a job of their choosing to level 70. Additionally, Tales of Adventure: A Realm Reborn, Heavensward, and Stormblood are available for purchase to skip the game’s story up to a desired point.

FrostyTV: Why is there such a negative perception of people doing this and buying that service? [21:10]

Zepla: Have you ever been to Disney World and stood in a really long line for a ride but saw people paying money to get to the front of the line? Part of you is thinking to yourself “Look at those people. They disgust me.” It’s natural for people to get upset when they see someone bust out the credit card to get something or reach a level that they worked hard to get. Again, just because you’re upset about something doesn’t give you the right to be a dick. [21:19]

FrostyTV: If I had absolutely no interest in FFXIV’s story and only wanted to get to the end game to play with friends, I’d compare saving hundreds of hours to $25 and probably think I’m getting an amazing deal. [24:11]

Zepla: Time is money. If you’re not interested at all in the story and just want to raid, I think that’s totally justified. [24:43]

In addition to providing new players with these options, FFXIV developers recently cut some of A Realm Reborn’s content and implemented a New Game+ feature to allow sprouts an easier time with the leveling process or the option to go back and play through any cutscenes they’ve skipped.

Arthars: If Square Enix didn’t take all of these measures, I would be worried that they didn’t realize their story had become tedious and that they don’t care about the player experience. The fact they did this makes me realize that they know this is a problem, and they’re addressing it. [28:28]

Zepla: Now that boosts are in the game, the ship has sailed. Because they’re in the game, people who only care about raiding have a viable option. Does that cheapen an achievement? For example, what if they let you buy a boost for the Necromancer title instead of making you go through 200 floors of Palace of the Dead? Obviously, that would cheapen the achievement for people that did it. There’s an issue at the core of what a boost provides. [29:42]

FrostyTV: I think it used to be an achievement to get to a certain level and do certain things, but in today’s age, leveling up a character to max level is not an achievement. [30:52]

Zepla: It’s good that in this game, you can only boost up to 70. You can’t boost all the way. [31:24]

Spofie: Over time, they’re always going to add ways to reduce the time needed to do things, whether it’s something you buy or something in the game. They’re constantly adding catch-up mechanics because otherwise people might stop before they get to the good part. The game has been consistently improving. I don’t really prescribe to this, but I see a lot of people say A Realm Reborn sucks. I think ARR sets things up, but at the same time, I also see the thought process that the game does get better over time. If we’re putting people into this long grind, there’s going to be many players that don’t want to do it. It’s okay to be able to make that decision. My biggest problem with boosting is how the game handles it. When you boost your class, that’s it. There’s nothing in the game that teaches you how to play the job. I feel like they could really improve that. [31:29]

The guests noted that even players who level up on their own sometimes don’t know how to play their main class. Zepla admitted to not reading her tooltips when she first started the game, which is a common issue seen throughout players in Duty Finder.

FrostyTV: You don’t have to have someone hold your hand, read your tooltips, and tell you the ins and outs of your rotation. The information is there, and you can look it up if you put in a little effort to do so. I don’t think the game has to tell you how to be good at the game. It’s exciting for me to do the research and actually feel good about playing the game because I put in extra effort. If I could be the best in the game by what the game told me to do, everyone would be good at the game. It’d be boring to me. [39:06]

Spofie: There are also people who don’t care. I’m not placing an opinion on it, but when it comes to dungeons, I personally don’t go in with too many expectations. There are people who want to play the story that love the Final Fantasy series and just want to get through it. You can’t really stop them if that’s what they want to do. [40:02]

Zepla: It really depends on the content. You can absolutely faceroll your way to level 60 through all the story, but once you decide you want to do an extreme trial or try savage, you might end up wasting people’s time if you don’t know how bad you are. A lot of these times, people will get quite angry because these players are putting zero effort into learning how to play. That’s frustrating because all these people are gathered, and one person doesn’t care while the others are highly motivated to do well. [40:46]

FrostyTV: I agree with that completely. Extreme and savage modes are there for those who are trying to challenge themselves with some sort of difficulty. If you’re a player just wanting to experience all the story, the hardest content you have to go through is probably the 24-man raids. [41:32]

Not all of streamers new to FFXIV are skipping the game’s story and boosting their characters. Asmongold is a prime example of a streamer taking his time to enjoy all the game has to offer. Since July, he has spent countless hours on stream going through the story, playing games at the Gold Saucer, and attempting savage raids.

FrostyTV: Asmongold streaming the game was a huge deal for FFXIV. No one can deny that. He’s going through the story and hitting every single thing in the game while enjoying himself and trying to experience it all. Everyone looking at him wants other streamers to experience it the same way. That doesn’t fit everybody. [44:49]

Zepla: That is something that has always been around on Twitch. There’s always been a problem with people coming into your stream and telling you what they want you to do and how they want you to play. That’s never gone away. They were also doing this to Asmongold before he started to play and said things like “He shouldn’t play. He’s not going to like it, and he’s going to be toxic.” [45:38]

Another point of controversy the streamers brought up is the Cruise Chaser mount that was added to Mog Station in August. Cruise Chaser is an iconic FFXIV raid boss that was introduced to the game during Alexander: The Creator in Heavensward. Many players believe this mount was too epic to be a cash shop item and wished that Square Enix had used it as an in-game achievement instead.

Zepla: The problem with the cash shop is that it incentivizes Square Enix to put stuff up for sale for real money that otherwise might have been a cool in-game achievement. The very existence of the cash shop is a problem, but now that it’s here, that ship has sailed. You shouldn’t shit on people for buying a store mount. People let their affection for FFXIV make them forget that Square Enix is a company. [47:34]

FrostyTV: You know what happens with cash shop mounts? You buy it, think it’s cool, then add it to mount roulette. It’s not going to change your life for more than a day or two, but you’ll enjoy it. [49:28]

Arthars: First, why is that thing on Mog Station? Why does it have such a steep price tag? Why is the Mog Station getting bolder and bolder and selling more and more stuff? It initially started off by selling a few dyes. Now, they’re to the point where they sell mounts exclusive to Mog Station and things people like, such as Cruise Chaser. How do they start from something so trivial and get to this point? They are selling something pretty iconic, even for endgamers, and that’s where the problem comes out. Even though I have so much hate for Mog Station, when they put up Cruise Chaser, I bought it. Then, I started to realize that it’s no big deal. It is what it is, right? Would I be happy if they put it in the game? Absolutely. If they put it in for 99 tokens, I would get it. I probably already have 99 tokens anyways. If they put it in for PVP, I will do it. If they put it in Triple Triad, I will spend the next six months doing it, but they put it in the Mog Station. [53:32]

Zepla: That’s what everyone thinks. How can you resist? It’s cool! My credit card flies out of my pocket, and I can’t control myself and type in the numbers. [54:24]

FrostyTV: I think the cash shop has done enough positive things to keep FFXIV going forward and for the Final Fantasy franchise overall. I can’t be too upset with Square Enix for wanting to do this because of how much it’s funding the company in general. [1:03:03]

Arthars: That’s just games in general these days. Even single-player games need to find a way to monetize other than just selling the game. They have DLCs, cosmetics, and loot boxes. A lot of games do battle passes. FFXIV is not going to be the first or the last to do it. I understand it, and I think many people don’t mind, but it’s all about what type of things they put up for sale. [1:03:21]

FrostyTV: Maybe the cash shop should only have things that are purely out of imagination and not be related to things we have attachment to from the game. [1:04:51]

Arthars: Moving forward, do you think we’ll see more mounts or costumes with the magnitude of Cruise Chaser? That makes me scared. What if the Titan savage ATV is in there? I would buy that, but I’d be so pissed off. [1:07:24]

FrostyTV: I want to know how much money they make off the cash shop versus how much money they make off subscriptions. I bet that there’s a few thousand players that could fund this game through the cash shop alone. [1:08:00]

Arthars: Fantasias themselves probably sell more than subscriptions. [1:08:58]

Zepla: It could be worse. I would hate to see something like the WoW token to be added to FFXIV. That messed up WoW so much. Because of the WoW token, everything you can buy on the Auction House has an associated real money value based on the cost of the token. It’s awful. [1:09:08]

Spofie: It makes the economy worse, too. Getting Gil would be a lot harder if people had the incentive to pay their sub with it. The most important thing for me is that there’s never a direct way to purchase Mog Station items for Gil. That would significantly take away from my enjoyment of the trading economy in this game. [1:13:48]

Although the streamers had varying opinions on how you should play through the game’s story, all of them agreed that FFXIV is a game that allows players to take their time and enjoy a vast variety of content. New players shouldn’t be shamed on how they want to experience it.

FrostyTV: I log into the game to do what I want to do. If I don’t want to do my dailies, I don’t do my dailies. If I don’t want to PVP, I won’t PVP, although I usually do some PVP matches when I log in. If I don’t want to do any of this, I won’t log in. [1:37:22]

Zepla: That’s one of the strengths of the game. You don’t get punished for doing that. [1:37:53]

FrostyTV: No, not at all. If a new raid tier comes out, I buy crafting gear and get into it without having a bunch of stress beforehand. I keep up on the story, which is something I want to do anyway. That’s the only backbone. You have to click on quests and complete the story, but you can do it pretty fast. [1:37:56]

Zepla: Or you could read it….. [1:38:21]

FrostyTV: I am reading it! By the way, many streamers new to the game are currently experiencing the story, and I’ve been watching them and thinking “Is that what happened?!” I’m now remembering and piecing all of the story together because I didn’t pay as much attention when I went through it the first time. I’m almost encouraged to make a new character and go through it from level 1. [1:38:24]

Arthars: It’s not bad. You just have to be prepared to set a lot of time aside. These new players do it differently and take it as a time to chill. One good thing about starting from level 1 is that you can relax while doing fetch quests, aside from the few dungeons and trials. [1:39:05]

FrostyTV: It’s relaxing and almost like reading a book. I’ve been playing this game for 7 years now and have forgotten so much. [1:39:57]

Spofie: I always tell people that I usually skip through most of the cutscenes during the expansion. At the end of it, I like to go through it all as one cohesive experience. Otherwise, I forget. I have a terrible memory and forget every single patch. [1:40:23]

While back on the topic of boosting, Arthars noted that while leveling Black Mage, he noticed the differences in the job’s rotation at level 60, 70, and 80. If anything, the show’s guests would like to see a feature like Hall of the Novice implemented to teach players how to play specific classes after hitting max level or using a boost.

Arthars: If you draw two graphs and have boosting and not boosting versus learning and not learning your job versus whether you’re a good or bad player, there is no intersection. Whether they boost or don’t, I don’t think there’s any core relation. [1:44:48]

Zepla: I really like what WoW does. Whenever you make a new character, you can go in and test the abilities to see what job you want to play. That would be super helpful in FFXIV. [1:45:35]

Spofie: In Guild Wars 2, you get a free boost with every expansion. Generally, everyone has the experience of boosting a class at some point. When you use it, they throw you into a zone where you can practice the rotation and confirm how you feel about it. [1:45:48]

FrostyTV: That is definitely worthwhile, especially with all the new players coming in. They need to put energy into investing in new players, and I think they’ve already done some work by cleaning up the ARR questline and giving an option for skips. That’s the reason why boosts exist. If you advertise Shadowbringers and someone comes in having to do hundreds of hours of something else, that’s a shitty situation. They want to play the game shown in the commercial. [1:46:12]

Zepla: For someone like me, I love the story so much that it breaks my heart a little when someone shows no interest in what I love. Being a mature person means that you have to accept that not everyone might love what you do. Overall, boosts are better for the game because we have more players. [1:46:55]

Spofie: I’ve had people come to me and basically say they are going to quit the game because they don’t want to pray to the Waking Sands again. If someone is going to quit the game over the story but still has friends they want to play with at the end, I tell them to boost. That’s within their power. [1:48:45]

Arthars: I was so afraid to talk about this because the three of us have very different communities, but we all have a common agreement that boosts are okay. Sometimes I’m afraid to tell others to just boost because people say “No, that’s wrong. That’s a shitty take. How dare you say that as a veteran player?” Because we are veteran players, we know how sensitive this is and try not to say it. We know this game inside and out, and it can be hard to go through this process. [1:49:15]

FrostyTV: We believe that people shouldn’t be shitty. We all came to the conclusion to respect each other’s experiences. We can’t force people to do anything that they’re not going to have fun doing. If someone asks if they should boost, it all comes down to what they care about in the game. [1:50:30]

Click here to enjoy the entire conversation.MogTalk is a weekly podcast airing every Saturday at 5PM ET on twitch.tv/Frosty_TV. The show is entirely focused on bringing the community together to discuss topics of interest regarding FFXIV, including patch notes, game mechanics, and raid insights. Mogtalk Digests are now available thanks to Patreon supporters! If you are interested in supporting all of the content MogTalk has to offer, please visit our Patreon page.

All images used in this article belong to SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.

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