As with Rise of the Zilart and Chains of Promathia, getting a copy of the expansion pack for myself proved to be stressful. It's ironic really that being one of the first to play the core game by importing the Japanese version three years ago causes me get the expansions after the majority. The biggest problem this time was that Square decided to release Treasures of Aht Urghan in Japan two days after it "shipped" in America, which is something they didn't do for the previous two releases. I've always ordered my Japanese games from a small independent UK store called JPN Games and knowing that my copy wasn't likely to arrive till just shy of a week after the server activation, I decided to see how far my customer loyalty would get me. I sent him an email and asked him if he would be willing to open my copy when it arrived on the Monday and email me my registration code. Even though it only really meant a day extra of having it, a day can get a lot done in an MMORPG. However, his quality of service exceeded even my expectations when he took what I asked a step further by emailing his supplier and got them to open my copy and send him the activation code which he then forwarded to me! I was pretty chuffed that by installing an NA rip of the game and sticking my premature code into JP POL I was going to be able to experience the new stuff five days earlier than I'd set myself up to accept. I also got incredibly lucky when linking my code to my content ID on the trouble-ridden JP POL took only thirty minutes when others have reported spending twenty hours trying to do the same thing.
I've been incredibly impressed by the expansion pack thus far and I think it's a shame to see the usual iconoclasts spreading their same predictable crap that an expansion pack doesn't fix the entire game for them. Lord knows I've had my share of problems with FFXI over the past few months (hence the sporadic and occasional non-FFXI related entries) but it makes me want to actually play the game again; what more could I want than that? My problems with ToAU are insignificant ones that will no doubt be fixed in the future (27 minutes just to zone to Nashmau was fucking absurd) or completely understandable ones (no new lowbie zones to experience the new jobs in) in one way or another. They're not significant enough to dwell on so I won't.
The new jobs seem pretty good so far. My Corsair set started last night and went from level 11 to level 24 in just a few hours thanks to stuff like getting one fifth of a level in one kill. I've really enjoyed playing it so far and it feels so different to Bard, the job it's inevitably going to get compared to even if it is significantly dissimilar. It's nice that the rolls stay on for five minutes but having a one minute cool down on Phantom Roll and not being able to overwrite them is kinda irritating. I feel it's something I'll eventually get used to as things settle and the jobs of our set get higher and come into their own and I also feel that there will be equipment similar to Summoner's Austere set to lower it's cool down time but, yeah, right now it's mildly annoying. I also think the penalty for busting is too severe even if I know it is my fault for pushing the envelope with gambling. I'm still not sure just what penalty the Corsair suffers for busting (if any) but, even if it is nothing, having a roll locked out for an entire five minutes is ridiculous. My final problem with the job is how utterly pointless using a Gun at lower levels is. I know it will get better with more levels when better bullets, more damaging guns and the likes of Peacock Charm, Chiroptera Dagger, Trackers Earring and Nocturnal gear become available but I don't suggest anyone bother shooting till 22, perhaps even 27. I remembered the other day that I picked up a Beater's Mantle in Rolanberry for 30k nearly a year ago and it's only ever rotted on Takioni and my mule that entire time. I haven't given it much consideration but it seems the best mantle till Amemit +1 as long as I stick with Ranger sub. Sorry if it seems I'm ragging on Corsair, I'm not, I think the job is amazing but it needs some time before it starts coming into its own and the gimmick of firing a gun is realized. One last thing to note is that Wild Card is fucking awesome. I used it toward the end of our party and rolled a V which recharged the MP of the mages that needed it and gave the melee all their abilities back (yes, even two-hour abilities).
The zones I've been to thus far have been excellent and the new music is, on the whole, exceptional. Seeing as the new music files are encoded in damn ATRAC3 and the soundtrack isn't released for a few more weeks, if anyone can send me the Caedarva Mire and Arrapago Reef music's I will touch their no-no spot in the best way the internet allows. Speaking of Caedarva Mire, it has to be the most deceptively linear zone in the game so far and is real pleasant on the eyes. I haven't had the best of times in Assault yet but it really, really reminds me of PSO's Challenge Mode which is no bad thing! If only there's a nameable "occasionally attacks 2-3 times" weapon at the end of it...
It humours me when Square whine on about Paladin because you get the feeling it pains the devs so much that many players consider the job to be a joke when compared to Ninja, a job they didn't even want to tank in the first place. I know it had been mentioned in the past that they were thinking of giving Paladin Auto-Refresh but I never thought they would actually do it until I read it in the last patch notes. Shield Mastery seemed interesting too when combined with the news that proc rate was being increased along with the amount of damage blocked. This would mean that when I got hit I would received 3% of the damage back in MP while standing a better chance at cutting more damage with a 5TP bonus to boot. Sounds good. So pining about my lack of expansion pack while my entire linkshell was in Al Zhabi, I decided to gear up my Paladin in his shield skill up gear and head to Boyahda for one of my irregular skill up sessions. Now, I should note that this is hardly the most extensive proof in the world, but the fact I was able to solo three Crabs in a row without completely running out of MP whereas I would always need to zone at around 50-70% of it's HP in the past was a big realization to me just how much these changes have improved the job. I was pretty happy that a job I enjoy playing but recognize isn't optimal had been made less of a burden and preceded to use it for absolutely everything we've done in terms of exploration and questing in ToAU zones.
After reading Nsxtasy say that Ranger sub made a much bigger difference for Corsair than Ninja or Warrior did, I panicked and decided I needed to use the few days before our set started to level it. It had sat at level 11 for absolutely ages and had horribly undercapped Archery skill so I grabbed a Crossbow and a Bard powerlevel or two and began shooting the fuck out of worms. I managed to get to level 30 in three sessions doing it and had a hell of a lot of fun along the way. Though most of it was subdued, Abyss Worms under Shakrhami were a riot and I think even Paranoos and BTB enjoyed the challenge of keeping me alive with a billion undead around me. Level 30 was what I aimed for and was what I got so I'm pleased about that. My first Barrage on an IT worm in Atthowa did 697 damage taking 80% of it's HP away in "one shot". With Zamburak+1, Holy Bolts, Barrage and Berserk, my damage went through the roof and when this needs to be done again in the future the time spent doing so will decrease greatly. I'm still not entirely sure that Ranger sub will be the best after speaking to Akiito last night but I'm glad I at least now have the option to turn down. I had always intended to level Ranger up to a par sub but something always got in the way and then they finally nerfed it out of memory.
Alrighty then! Picture this if you will;
"Excuse me... doctor... could we have a moment?"
"A moment? What's the question?
"More of a situation... a gentleman I've examined..."
"What's the problem?"
"That is the problem; we're not sure[...]"
"Do you have the chart?"
"Hmm... not much here is there?"
"[No doctor, he has no] physical trauma, vitals are stable"
"Did someone drop him off? Maybe we can speak to them. Lets get some background on this fellow"
"No ID, nothing, and he won't speak to anyone"
"Well then, lets say 'hello'"
"Good morning, I'm Dr. Watson, how are you today?"
"HOW ARE YOU TODAY?"
"Look son, you're in a safe place, we wanna help you whatever way we can but you need to talk to us, we can't help you otherwise. What's happened? Tell me everything".