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I’m also quite fond of how FFXIV structures their dungeons, which for me hit something of a linearity sweet spot. Don’t get me wrong; you’re not going to find yourself getting lost in any of FFXIV’s instances, as they all are of the straightforward go-here-and-kill-this-boss variety, but the addition of sidepaths and optional rooms (and sometimes events) that can be cleared for additional loot adds a bit of variation to the usual sprint-to-the-end style of dungeon-running.

That being said, I’m decidedly a fan of FFXIV Powerleveling┬ádungeons. They start out relatively basic because after all, not everyone is a weathered MMO veteran, and gamers frown on games that thow players right into the fire, regardless of how delicious they may be. But let me assure you that, later down the line, FFXIV’s dungeons pull no punches, and even in the mid-level dungeons players will have to fight smart and hard to secure their victories. As someone who thrives on challenge and is quickly bored by a succession of tank-and-spank fights, I was delighted by the difficulty of many of the fights I encountered (and of course, the sense of satisfaction upon besting them).

The same goes for dungeons because the time investment to experience ratio is too low to justify running them more than is required by storyline quests. Sure, they drop gear, but everyone knows that any gear before endgame is going to be replaced pretty quickly anyway, so why bother waiting in 45+ minute queues (unless you’re a tank, in which case enjoy your instant pops) when you can just farm FATEs for exponentially more experience per hour plus the added bonus of Grand Company Seals?

Despite some hopefully soon-to-be-fixed issues, Disciple of War and Magic progression is delightfully smooth for the most part. Story quests take you to quest hubs, and sidequests combined with the occasional FATE, dungeon, and guildhest keep you moving briskly through the story and the world itself. The formula works remarkably well, with the engaging narrative keeping players’ attention throughout the decidedly themepark-style leveling process. Unfortunately, around level 40 the steady climb through the levels becomes something of a slow trudge, but that’s a tale for the next column.

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