Today we’re taking a trip down memory lane and looking at the progression of the Zodiac questline. And by progression, I mean progression of my personal rage as RNG abandoned me and my sanity slowly deteriorated. (Note: this post was drafted 4 months ago, and way before HW update to the questlines, so not everything is 100% accurate. Except for my rage. That is always accurate)
1. Atma Grinding (Atma weapon)
The good: Nothing
The bad: Everything
Oh, I guess I need to elaborate on “everything”. Buckle up, it’s time for a rant.
Basically everything about atma was terrible. The quest itself required you to repeatedly grind boring, low level content as a level 50 character, and the RNG factor plus low drop rates meant that one player could finish their weapon in 14 hours while you’ve been grinding away for the same amount of time and haven’t even seen your first atma yet. Lack of information (do you have to complete a fate? Can you get atma off of a bronze rating? etc) and mistakes in the quest text itself just added to the frustration.
Oh, and to add insult to injury, this entire grind was just for an empty ilvl increase and a cosmetic change to your weapon.
(ﾉಥ益ಥ）ﾉ ┻━┻ (ﾉಥ益ಥ）ﾉ ┻━┻ (ﾉಥ益ಥ）ﾉ ┻━┻
How this stage has changed: Atma drop rate has been drastically increased (to what it should have been at the start) so you can now collect atma at a relatively reasonable rate.
2. Books (Animus weapon)
The good: The concept for this stage was fantastic – individual books with a clear set of goals to complete, and a set reward at the end. This stage was a breath of fresh air after atma, and would have been my favorite stage if it wasn’t for…
The bad: …the @#$%ing myth grind component. When animus books were originally implemented, myth was uncapped but scarce, which resulted in more time spent speedrunning the first two bosses of Brayflox HM for that sweet, sweet 50 myth than actually completing books.
How this stage has changed: The books themselves haven’t been changed, but they are now bought with Soldiery which is much more abundant than myth was back when this stage was first introduced. Also, FATE respawn times/difficulty were adjusted to help people complete books (because you don’t know hell until you’ve had to complete Four Winds pre nerf).
3. Alexandrite & Materia (Novus weapon)
The good: The inclusion of a repeatable quest where you could earn one Alexandrite per day from expert roulette was a welcome change of pace. This meant you could progress your relic weapon at a casual rate if you didn’t feel like going out of your way to grind, while players who wanted to complete their Novus more quickly had several options to grind and earn additional Alexandrite, such as farming solidery or FATES.
The bad: The Alexandrite weren’t the actual bottleneck of the stage – the materia was. In order to maximize the potential of your relic, you either needed lots of time and god tier levels of RNG (spirit binding your own materia and then getting it to stick), or lots of money and still RNG dependent (buying materia from the auction house and then getting it to stick). I’m of the opinion that if something requires a large amount of time and/or money investment, RNG should not be a factor, because otherwise it gets too frustrating.
How this stage has changed: I’d actually argue that this step has become more difficult – Alexandrite is now easier to obtain thanks to being available via hunts and soldiery being more abundant, but materia (the real bottleneck) is now harder to get/more expensive thanks to the changes made to spiritbonding. When I worked on my Novus, I didn’t pay more than 15k for a TIER II materia and now they are easily 80k+ each. RIP wallets.
4. Light grind (Nexus weapon)
The good: Everything done on the class you were working on counted as progress. You could slowly complete this stage just from daily activities such as roulette, or you could grab a party of 8 and farm whatever the bonus light window was.
The bad: You were essentially locked into playing whatever class you were completing a nexus for – held prisoner by the allure of sweet, sweet lights and progress. The desire to play different classes eventually motivated me to grind out my remaining lights.
How this stage has changed: Light points were doubled so this stage is now two times faster to complete. I’ll be honest, I regret not waiting until the nerf, since I think I only finished mine about two weeks prior to it.
5. Dungeon grind (Zodiac weapon)
The good: Clear objectives
The bad: If you thought FATE grinding was painful, just wait until your 20th run of AV with no drop in sight.
How this stage has changed: No changes yet, this stage is still very recent. If I had to speculate on possible changes, I’d say increased drop rate for dungeon items is likely closer to expansion release, and possibly reducing the price of NPC bought items.
6. Victory lap light grind (Zeta Weapon)
The good: When Garuda is bright window
The bad: All other windows
How this stage has changed: Nothing needs changing everything about this step was awesome and a great, stress-free end to a grueling questline. Hey, hey atma stage. Yeah I’m talking to you. You should have been more like this.
@#$% you atma.
~ Eva ☕
(Yes, the fantasia count is now 3 if you’re keeping track)