Over the last few weeks, Smudge and I have worked our way through the 2.2 and 2.3 storylines, which keep the idea of being self-contained while continuing other plot-threads as part of the introduction of Heavensward.

“Through the Maelstrom” dealt with a ship full of refugees arriving from the far east, including a number of continuing NPCs, and one major one.

She’s part of the introduction of Rogue/Ninja (which hadn’t happened yet when we were playing four years ago), and… is obviously an Au Ra, which is a new race made available in the recent expansion, Stormblood. We’re really wondering just how much of all this Square Enix figured out in advance. They’re certainly staying on target of their original ideas far better than WoW did. The primary attraction for a lot of people though was the introduction of the new Leviathan trial. It was suitably epic, and we’ve still only seen it once.

We have seen a lot of Garuda, Titan, and Ifrit.

Each of those trials have a special horse mount that rarely drops from them, and one of the main hobbies of our FC leader is doing repeated runs through these to get everyone their ‘ponies’. There’s also an even rarer mount that can show up in any of them. Smudge and I are getting better about the dances involved, but we’re doing this with a small party, so a lot of it is carried by the vastly over-level/geared members. A little bit ago, we were doing a number of Titan runs for my copy of Aithon, the fire horse; I was dead at the end, so as I respawned the loot came up, everyone else looked at it, said, ‘Great, your horse! Congrats Rylea!’, and bailed out. Everything goes to me… and I’m staring at the whistle for Nightmare, the ultra-rare! So, without even needing to roll, I got one of the rarer (non-special event) mounts out there, even though we had another person in the party still looking, and at least two other FC members on-line who are still looking for it.

“Defenders of Eorzea” starts directly on the sub-plot of “Maelstrom”, with riots breaking out in Ul’Dah, which goes into investigations that lead… to Omega Weapon? O-kay. After that, there’s two more plot segments that deal Ramuh (where they walk the line of breaking the cycle of violence and giving you something to fight), and creating the Crystal Braves, which is effectively meant as a Grand Company common to the three nations of Eorzea. There’s a lot less running around in this patch, so the quests went by faster… until the end, when they went back to the ‘travel everywhere for this one task’ model.

We’ve also unlocked two less-serious quest lines, but are saving them for ‘later’; when that is, I’m not sure, as there’s lot of things to get through. Smudge has been going around getting various classes up to level 30 (where the plotline shifts for the Job transition), while I, with more limited time, have been getting Arcanist up to 30, so I can explore healing through Scholar. Ironically, the level-30 Arcanist quest sent me to the resort of Costa del Sol just after I finally remembered to turn in the Cascadier Uniform Vouchers, so Rylea had a new swimsuit… and the weather was storming! (Um, yes, the ‘uniform vouchers’ are for a swimsuit. I’m not going to ask.)

It eventually cleared up, and I enjoyed the beach. I had been wondering just how the undyable black swimsuit would do with Rylea’s dark grey fur/skin, but it looks pretty good. I was a little surprised to find K’lyhia (the focus character of the Arcanist quests) had the same idea to hit the beach as Rylea though. (She said it was ‘expedient’, but I’m sure she could have formed a plan that didn’t involve putting on a dancer’s outfit if she needed to.)

Smudge and I have also been two-manning a few of the lower dungeons and finding a pair of Arcanists work pretty well together. Haukke Manor was the highest dungeon I could do until yesterday, which we could handle, but a couple of the tougher groups we had to die our way through. After I hit 30, I got… well, I got both of my Jobs from Arcanist, Scholar and Summoner, but the main focus is on trying healing as a Scholar. We went back into Haukke as Scholar and Summoner, and it was noticeably easier despite us being level-synched down to exactly the same as before. There were a few places were I felt like I was just barely keeping up with the damage to Ifrit-Egi (the Summoner tanking pet), and I’m not so happy with Eos, the healing pet, but I think that’s more to do with the fact that all the damage was on Ifrit as opposed to a main party member, so she couldn’t really respond to it (there should at least be an option to put other people’s pets into the main party listing). Still, it was really empowering to see how much promoting to a Job helped out. Sadly, a two-man try at Brayflox’s Longstop (the next dungeon) didn’t go so well, and we stalled at the first boss. We’ll have to try again in a couple levels.

The transition to Job always come with a change in primary quest giver, and for Scholar it was unexpected: a Lalafel Marauder (tank-type) ended up being the new quest person:

And I’ve finally gotten all my crafting up to 50+. Leatherworker turned out to be the big one, as it had a lot of one-star items for all the crafting classes, so it’s aided both Thayrin and Rylea getting much more reliable with their crafting. In addition, Blacksmithing has almost all the secondary items for crafting and gathering, so we’re mostly in solid greens for those classes. We can just get into the two-star materials now, but there’s not a lot of worthwhile finished gear there for us to worry about right now. The worst part is that getting more advanced recipes means spending a lot of Grand Company seals, and those are drying up thanks to the supply missions going off into Heavensward content.

Mining was the one thing I already had up to level 50 four years ago. It’s gotten up to 52 now, and the crafting classes are starting to pass it. I imagine it’ll shoot up again once we finally unlock Heavensward, and I go mining for the new materials.

Finally, we are now in the “Little Ladies’ Day” celebration (basically, the Obon festival), which is mostly focusing around a trio of idol singers at the moment. Though there was also a sweet ghost story as the main thing to do outside the main celebration.