When last I touched upon a typical MMO experience, when I was not losing my mind over making alt characters, it was about playing the role of healer in a party for any kind of endgame content.
With Patch 3.3 for FFXIV about to drop (meaning I have a good 24 hours free from that game), I thought I would touch more on the experience of raiding in general. For the most part, raiding can be a fun and rewarding experience — this content can be difficult to clear, so learning to do it is no easy feat. A lot of games also give rich in-game rewards for doing so to boot, to make it enticing. But understandably, it can be intimidating to delve into that part of any MMO. It, along with PvP (player vs. player) tend to be the corners of an MMO environment that attract the gamers who inhabit the worst stereotypes; impatient, abrasive, and if you fail likely to begin abusing their party members. I might also argue that in my personal opinion and experiences, these guys can easily wipe a party when they start trying to ignore basic mechanics. But we can save that for later! For now, what I want to focus on instead is giving you some advice on what to look for in group members if you do want to try out raiding.
#1: Be Patient (with Yourself)
This is probably the most straightforward piece of advice, but it is also the hardest to adhere to. Everybody learns things at different rates. That includes you. You can only learn a raid as fast as you can learn it. If that is slower than someone else you know and play with, that is okay! I also confess this is something I still have a problem with because given other commitments in my life I play a lot less than other people do. I probably will never be clear on content when the most ‘elite’ players say it really counts (during the patch it comes out). Short of winning the lottery and thus retiring early this will always be the case. Still, if someone tries to tell you your clear does not count because of something so trivial, then they are belittling the fact you still put in the work to learn a fight, get it right, and improve your skills for it. Which is rude and a tad egotistical at best, at worst that person is just being a snob and needs to chill out for five minutes. Some of us call these video games games for a reason.
#2: Find Like-Minded Individuals
Whether they are all your guild mates or a mix of them and other friends, going to these kinds of stressful situations are much better with people with the same attitudes, levels of patience, and general mindset. So it helps a lot to have people who you can communicate with about the fight but also still enjoy learning the content as well.
Friends are more likely to forgive mistakes or provide helpful tips without belittling your efforts, and when you start slowly losing your marbles over the course of the repeated wipes (you will wipe, a lot) they usually laugh and join in eventually. They may also groan if the joke is that bad. But they will still love you. Maybe. Hopefully. If they did not drop from the party in response you are probably still in good standing.
Finding your own crew also lessens the likelihood you will end up in a party with people with lesser patience and an inclination to be passive aggressive towards you. Because like you, these folks often attract and congregate with one another. Even better, should you find yourself with an abundance of time and a full party, these can often be the folks who form your static (these are teams of players who routinely raid together in dedicated or ‘static’ roles.)
#3: Pick a Role You Feel Comfortable with
When learning endgame content, you are going to be nervous. So before you charge in blindly to a 24 man raid or a new boss battle, think about what you want to play as for this kind of content. Would you feel the best mitigating damage, or do you want to deal damage? Do you prefer to do this from a distance or up close? This will help you think about what role you want to pick from the trinity (Tank/Healer/DPS) to focus on, as well as what sub-types for each one. For instance, while I do typically heal in raids, I do have Black Mage geared up as my go-to DPS. I like the class because it affords me a few features that make me comfortable — namely, that I can attack and do it from a greater distance than many other DPS classes. I generally prefer to see as much of an arena as I can in a fight so I can run to safety. The sacrifice I make for this is I have on average, the least amount of health next to the healers (I am a delicate flower of carnage), but considering the odds I’m clipped by a physical attack are much lower than a melee DPS, the trade-off makes sense.
#4: Be Patient Period
Everybody remembers clearing content. Nobody remembers the wipes. But you are going to wipe. You are going to wipe a lot. Some will be more unfortunate than others. But dying is part of this learning process, so just be prepared to have that happen to you. As I said in step 1, you must be patient. Not only with yourself, but also with your party members. Because they are not you, and they will make mistakes and learn things at a different pace than you. So cut them a little slack if they seem stuck on something or still get a caught off-guard by something you have done. They will get there eventually, or else you likely would not enjoy cleaning the floor with them anyway.
#5: Have Fun
Seriously. Please have fun. Please do not turn this into a joyless grind fest for you. By all means learn the fights but have fun experiencing it, friends. Or even very nice strangers! But I implore you to not let it consume your existence like some kind of eldritch abomination. Nobody really likes those very much, and it runs the risk of burnout. Burnout lessens your enjoyment and ups your anxiety, which also… lessens your enjoyment. So try not to let it get the best of you.
I understand by some people’s standards online I am a ‘filthy casual’ as far as MMOs go. I accept that. I really am okay with it. Because anybody calling me a filthy casual likely also puts in triple a number of hours I do into a game with less of the overall enjoyment. And if that is the hefty price I have to pay, so be it. I, at least, feel like I am getting my money’s worth, and at the end of the day, that is what really matters.
In the end, true friends are happy to die with you in Sephirot EX for 3 hours. And they laugh when you both die simultaneously to adds because of ill-timed healing.