Crystals, Giant monsters, Dragoons (and Dragons!), Chocobos, Cat girls in bikinis and yes, Error 1017 - it's been quite a first week for A Realm Reborn. Here's a little update on how Rikhi'to has been doing since I first sojourned into the Open Beta Weekend.

Admittedly, I've not really had the login problems that it seems like everyone else is currently having. There have been queues on Odin to get in sometimes, but even then they're only about 10 people long, and that's at the busiest times like late afternoons and this past weekend. I presumably missed the craziest part of it by skipping early access, but still, I've faced bigger monsters than the likes of Error 1017, Error 2002 and Error 90000. My only real technical issue has been the game crashing every time Alt+Tab out of it, something that wasn't happening until a few days ago. It's kind of annoying, especially when you just want to go and check out the location of a hunting log target or something!

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Anyhoo, since we last photodumped I've been quite busy. First and foremost, I went and boffed Ifrit on the nose, because he was being a big ol' mean primal and threatening to set fire to everything. It was awesome! So far FFXIV has been really good at making you feelike you're doing epic things along the levelling progress, rather than just waiting for endgame to feel like a badass. I never thought I'd be one for mandatory group content in an MMO - especially with the cripplingly long group finder times for a DPS - but all of the party encounters so far have been an absolute delight.

I looked quite mean in Ifrit's ring of fire thingie. Rawr!

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Vanquishing Ifrit allowed me to join one of Eorzea's Grand Companies, the 3 organisations tasked with defending their respective city-states. Hailing from Gridania, I decided to join their Company, the Order of the Twin Adders, and was rewarded with a personal Chocobo! I named him Kwehtzal, a chocobo-related pun on Quetzalcoatl, the Mesoamerican Serpent God (also part time Guardian Force summon in Final Fantasy VIII).

Although I'm a Gridanian through and through, the Pirate state of Limsa Lominsa might just be my favourite of the 3 capitals, aesthetically. Mmm, get a whiff of that fresh sea air!

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CHERRY BOMB PET! I love all the pets in this game, and I'm not really a pet collector in MMOs. I saw someone wandering around with a wee little Cactuar minion, and I don't know where to get it. I need it.

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I've now also become a Dragoon, the Job class for Lancers. It allows me to use Jump abilities, like the Dragoons in past games. What I found ridiculously fanservicey is that the animation for your Jump attack isn't a full jump arc. You see your character leap up and hammer back down with their lance, but there's no middle - just like in the old games, you literally jump off screen, disappear for a bit, and strike back down! Brilliant.

Meanwhile, in the story I'm about to face off against Titan, the next big primal. But before that, dungeoning! This is the most recent one, the level 32 Brayflox's Longstop, one of the most unique looking dungeons I've ever traipsed around in an MMO - and distractingly pretty. It even had a day/night cycle!

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The Dungeons in this game are fantastic. I suppose I'm used to the tight narrow and bland looking corridors of dungeons in other MMOs, but here everything is so lush and wide open, and not necessarily so straight forward, with little nooks and crannies to explore off the beaten path. Each one I've done so far (about 8 in total) has been a blast. Also, whenever you beat the final boss of an instance you get a little cinematic where the Party strikes a victory pose, as the Victory Fanfare blasts out. It. is. AWESOME.

That's pretty much it so far. Final Fantasy XIV doesn't really do much new - it just happens to be a very pretty cobbling together of the best ideas from other successful MMOs, but with the vital, classic Final Fantasy touch that elevates it into something that's more than the sum of its pilfered parts, and I'm really enjoying it.

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I promised Cat Girls in Bikinis above the cut, so have at it: Here are some Cat Girls in Bikinis!

I was on a quest to shoo away people who were perving on them. Seriously!