Having come from a different MMORPG that’s well-known for having a toxic player community, I can honestly say that doing dungeons with random people in Final Fantasy 14 has been a refreshing breath of air since I started playing it over a year ago. I can recall only a few somewhat unpleasant experiences with random dungeon groups in FFXIV, and even those were very mild compared to what was “common” in random groups in the game I used to play. Now and then a healer and a tank may have a small tiff or people get tired of wiping due to mechanics, but I really haven’t experienced any outright nastiness such as being sworn at, called unkind names, made fun of, etc. That’s a lovely thing for someone like me who pretty much always dies during at least one boss fight per dungeon due to me just not moving fast enough, dealing with lag, or just playing how I play.
Even so, when I got into Shadowbringers and did my first “trust” dungeon with the NPCs I was so happy! The NPCs weren’t running way ahead while I lagged, they weren’t pulling the entire dungeon before I could get there, and they weren’t missing chests for the sake of getting the dungeon done. I was in control, I had to get close enough before the tank would pull or I’d pull a mob first to get things started.
Now, unfortunately, my tendency to die during boss fights proved a problem with trusts because the NPC healer won’t resurrect me. So we’d all be sent back and have to run through sections again. I think I really only managed to do one Shadowbringers dungeon as a trust, but I still loved the concept of it! And let me just apologize here to all the random groups who have been stuck with me and the poor healers who had to resurrect me when I’d die several times to boss mechanics. Insert sheepish grin here.
So when the developers of FFXIV announced they were introducing the duty support system, which was basically trusts but for lower-level dungeons and with “generic” NPCs, I was thrilled! Finally, I could level my DPS jobs without having to wait in a half-hour queue! Finally, I could level my tank jobs without worrying that I wasn’t pulling enough or that my lag would get everyone killed! Finally, I could level my healers without worrying that people would get mad at me if/when I messed up and everyone died! I was so excited!
The first character I used the duty support system on was my ElezAuRa girl, Fleuralies. I wanted to level her as arcanist/summoner via dungeons, but when I queued, it said 15 minutes. As I like to make the most of my time and these were lower-level dungeons, I decided to try out the duty support system. And wow was I happy I did! I was and still am figuring out summoner since they changed the class so drastically and playing the class on Fleur in dungeons with NPCs was exactly what I needed to help me get my carbuncles/Pikachus/squirrels straight.
One of the many nice things about the duty support system is that it’s always the same group of NPCs playing with you. One will sit out depending on your role, but I’ve grown fond of the Roegadyn marauder/warrior tank, Hyur conjurer/white mage, Lalafell black mage, and Elezen lancer/dragoon. They even have little things they say in chat bubbles sometimes and I find it very endearing! Plus, they always know the mechanics and know how to stay out of the way so I follow them for the most part. And they’re always so happy at the end of the dungeon too and don’t mind if I want to stick around and gpose for five minutes.
Thanks to the duty support system, I was finally able to level my Miqo’te boy Kehda’to from conjurer to white mage!
And I’m happy to say the NPC group only died once so far because I got distracted by something in Haukke Manor, got too close to mobs, pulled more than the tank could handle, and didn’t heal in time. I felt bad about letting the NPCs (and myself) die, but it was less stressful since it wasn’t other players I was letting down with my inadequate healing skills.
Will I ever heal with a full random dungeon group? Somewhat unlikely just because of my anxiety issues. I have done some tanking with random groups and they were all very patient and nice, but it’s just less nerve-wracking for me to do it with the duty support system. People play games to have fun and I don’t want to put a damper on that fun by being an inadequate tank or healer. I am a less than fabulous DPS but I try my best and use all the mitigation I have and self-heals and pots to try and be less of a burden to the group.
The duty support system has opened up so many possibilities for me on my multitude of characters. I still have to get new classes to 15 before I can do dungeons, but I’ve figured out efficient ways to do that for the most part. And once I hit magic level 15, I hit the dungeons! This brings me to another nice thing they implemented with the duty support system, updating older dungeons!
I know some people aren’t happy with the changes and that the dungeons are too “easy” now, but I actually like them. Plus, some of the boss mechanics they’ve added really help players prepare for those same mechanics they’ll see in higher-level dungeons, just in harder iterations. Plus the concept of going back and updating old content to make it different and interesting is refreshing and proves to me that the developers truly care about their game and don’t just leave all sorts of things broken and outdated because they’ve “moved on.”
The duty support system in FFXIV is just another way that the game makes sure that I’m never wanting for something different to do. I mean, sure, I may do the same low-level dungeons repeatedly, and progress to higher ones, but I’ll be doing so in different classes and in different roles. I can take my time and figure out what works so that when I have to play with actual, real people, I can be better at what I do and know where I’m going. I truly appreciate this new way that FFXIV has made a game I love even more enjoyable and accessible for a semi-introverted person like myself.