Friday, May 04, 2007

In anticipation of things to come.

So, what do you do when there is a new option for something for your LS to do when you already have a full schedule. I suppose this is the conundrum that many LS's face when new options for end-game activities appear from SE. Versus does a variety of end-game activities now, including Sea, Sky, Limbus and popped NM's. We don't do land HNM's, which is about the only thing that we don't do right now. We attempted to do Salvage, but it appears from other people's success that we may in fact have been taking too many people for these runs, we often ran out of time and didn't get a chance to kill as many NM's or bosses as other groups that were going with lower numbers. Such a low number event appears to outside of the purview of a LS the size of Versus, as would any other event associated with Assault. The general trend that SE has been following in this expansion is to go a little bit smaller than previous events, but I think that Salvage can be seen as a mixed bag, as it is very difficult and requires players to sacrifice to help advance the group when most people don't like to do that, but those that do it have been rather successful in starting to get Salvage gear. So, what will become of the new Hazhalm Testing Grounds? Let's speculate.

Well, as it stands right now, there is no "end-game area" in the new expansion. No Sky or Sea or whatever, everything has been out in the open or has been small group oriented. It appears that the Hazhalm Testing Grounds will be instanced like the Assault zones, and here is the thing. I checked the old topics that are posted on the FFXI Offical Web Site and this is what they had to say about Salvage:

In this update, you can look forward to the introduction of a large-scale battle system called "Salvage"
While this is what they have said about the new area:
Players can look forward to a new, large-scale battle system
Now, you might ask me why I point this out, well the reason is that they used identical terms to describe both of these zones. This is probably a person flaw that I believe that the use of identical terms indicates identical situations as it would in a legal situation. What is likely the case though is that they just like to toss out that term for anything that is larger than an XP party situation. So that lends itself to likely a larger area of speculation, which allows my mind to wander. :)

So what do we already know about the Hazhalm Testing Grounds? Lets recap. It is a zone off of the Caedarva Mire, just outside of Nashmau. The zone is huge, really huge. It consists of a series of interconnected caves, spiraling down to a final larger and from many accounts, darker room at the bottom. Here are some pictures I had found before of the zone to give you an idea of its size and structure. These were already posted in January, and have been in the game since the expansion came out, and have already been posted on my blog and I will just repost them directly rather than rehashing.
I posted a link about Hazhalm Testing Grounds but I wanted to go into it a bit more. This place looks like a completely classic area of Final Fantasy lore, the great dungeon crawl! Now as a disclaimer, these shots were taken by other people, and I don't encourage the hacking that was needed to get these shots, but if you are going to be stupid enough to do it and take pics then I will talk about it. Now, this is an overhead view of the testing grounds. It is a downward spiral, but its hard to see in this picture. The highest point is the area at the bottom of the map and it the lowest point is the central room. The area looks very cave-like, with the final room being close to pitch black and a "purple ambiance" probably because it has a constant double dark weather in the area. Here is another shot to give you an idea of downward progression of the rooms in the area. And now I need to explain the massive expanse of this area. It is FREAKING HUGE, and when I say huge it is the size of a full outdoor zone if not larger, I don't know if it would be able to be to fit on an in-game map. That is a shot of one of the rooms, and if you look in the lower right hand corner of that room, that is Cerberus. Yeah, its that freaking big. I can't wait to see what they have planned for that area of the game. There are pretty large cages in each room that could hold mobs that are used in this area. There also appear to be test shields and other devices in the area, what these are for is anyone's guess. This area is the most intriguing to me right now, but there are other areas that are still left in the expansion that I will present more information on in the next couple of days (mostly as filler for real information, LOL).
Now, knowing what we know about the expected role of this zone, that it was designed by the Lamia for creating abomination creatures, like Mandragora, Puks and even Khimeria. Does this give us an idea of what kind of monsters we will be seeing in the zone? I think so, pretty clearly. There are many different mobs that are already in the game that could be included in a group of strange creatures that could have been made in the Hazhalm Testing Grounds. So the fauna of the zone will likely be mostly Aht Urhgan related monsters, but there are several that could easily fit into the storyline of the Testing Grounds from older zones. From the potential monsters, we will go to how they will arrive in the zone and thus the design of the zone.

Now, the delivery system for these mobs to arrive to oppose the players looks like an elevator system, in which one or two different elevators appear in each room of the zone. This also fits into the storyline and the name of the zone, as it is a "testing groud" for the new abominations of the true rulers of Hazhalm. The zone itself is, as a pictured above, a downward spiral of very large rooms, each connected by a tunnel with a gate and then a drop down. There are 10 "rooms" in total, and each is about the same size except for the last zone which is slightly larger than the rest.

What does all of this mean? Well, here is rampant speculation, but I believe we are looking at something larger than Limbus/Salvage and smaller than regular Dynamis. I would predict a 36 person cap, and I would like that, but I don't know if the instancing system that SE is using will allow more than 18 people at once, but then again, they have a system of entrance for Dynamis that lets many different people into the zone. Also, interestingly enough, this does not appear to be like an Assault zone, as it does not have the sell that is involved in every other Assault zone, or at least a point of entry, like the Ashu Talif Assault area. I have yet to go to the entrance to this zone, but I did send Omoikitte to take some pictures for me. This is what you see upon zoning in. Then you move down a dark tunnel lit by the same lights. Coming to the Entry Gate (targetable but non-operational). Now, this intrigues me, because it could be like an Assault but there is already a zone attached to this area, it is not like the entrance to the Assault areas which are just dead-ends like any other zone line. Omoi mentioned that it looked like the Lamia Fang key gate in Arrapago Reef. Very intriguing.

So, I am definitely looking forward to this update, hopefully this new zone will be rewarding and something of interest for Versus to do.

Speaking of Versus, we had Sky yesterday, relatively routine, did a Genbu and I wanted to try out my Evasion gear while tanking it, but since it is not fully developed I really didn't evade that much. I actually was evading more in my tanking gear than in my evasion gear. Slightly depressing, I know, but I have a lot of work I still need to put into my evasion gear before I can hope to get anything like this down for gods that are stronger than Genbu. After Sky we had Limbus and completed another Omega set, I don't know when we will be using it, but hopefully soon. I think that Iceblazek is out of commission for a little while with an operation, but I hope he is back soon. Get well, Ice! After Limbus, Omoi, Thaz and I did some rather unrewarding BCNM 40's, then I went to bed with a headache. >.< I am out of town until Sunday, so I don't know how large Monday's post will be, but hopefully SE will have posted more information for me to pour over.

No comments: