Real Talk By: The Wizard
In 2010 Square Enix released a plague of explosive diarrhea death upon the world in the format of video game. This game came to be known as Final Fantasy XIV Online. After FFXIV’s original release gamer’s protested, demanded their money back, and made threats to quit purchasing Square Enix products altogether. To call FFXIV a game is a bit of an over-statement. The game was considered by many, including myself to be broken, incomplete, boring, and undeniably wretched all around. The developers even lacked the ability to create a working map. With that being said i’m not going to even get into everything that was wrong with the game. I could write a novel on how awful FFXIV was. Square Enix owned up to how bad FFXIV was and in turn completely dropped the subscription fee to play, apologized numerous times, and vowed to completely change their development direction of the game in attempt to turn FFIV into an enjoyable game. Fast forward to the end of August 2013, and finally Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is here!
Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn (FFARR) is basically a complete re-work of the original Final Fantasy XIV for PC. FFARR for the most part is very similar to the original, but with lots of differences. Also, the game is now available for Playstation 3 with cross-platform play. So PS3 and PC users can be on the same servers and play together. Which is always a good thing in my opinion. There is a subscription fee after the first month, but it is said this may be extended. Most people out there reading this are probably curious if this game is worth the purchase, because if you purchased the original FFXIV you have probably already downloaded the game for free. So I am going to review this game as an all new game. I will not be comparing it to the previous FFXIV.
I have mixed feelings when it comes to the graphics in FFARR. From one perspective I feel the game as a whole, and especially the world look great; and on another token I feel like the character models, and a good amount of the enemies look very unappealing. There is also a great lack of tools to create a unique looking character. I personally feel like all the males in a specific race look the same, as do the females. The only way to really stand out is your armor choices, but even in the armor department you will not find many options to make your character stand out. One of the races are these giant looking guys that are this pale lime green color. They remind me of rotted the bags of chicken gizzards I use to throw away in my younger days when I worked at Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken. My main character looks to put it as simply as possible, dorky. All the human models look like typical JRPG characters. They either look like cutesy little characters, or beautiful young males complete with spiky hair or flowing locks. But I suppose the game is a JRPG so this is to be expected, so I will overlook it. One huge issue I do have though is that some of the cut scenes look like there is a background and the characters are pasted in. This is really annoying and unacceptable. I feel a lot of people will not mind these things, and to be fair, for the most part have nothing to do with how fun the game is.
As for the music Square Enix never really disappoints in that department. If you’ve ever heard a Final Fantasy soundtrack you have a good idea what to expect. I must say though that even though the soundtrack is good, it is not amazing. I don’t feel the soundtrack has really made that much of an impression on me yet. To this day I still have fond memories of the FFXI soundtrack, most notably the track in the Play Online viewer options where there was a portrait of a moogle. I loved that track. The music in FFARR is neither memorable, or terrible. It is simply there, never really sticking with me through the day, or annoying me while I play.
I have been playing on the PC using a mouse and keyboard, but mostly using a XBOX 360 controller. And I must say that the XBOX controller works really well. You assign actions to the A,B,X, and Y buttons, and also the D-Pad directions. You can assign a total of 16 actions because in order to use the actions you simply hold L or R and press the corresponding button or direction. You can easily switch between action bars using the bumper button. So you can switch to a totally new set of 16 actions really fast. The only downside is of course typing. You really need a keyboard to type well. As for the Keyboard and mouse controls they are as you would expect. They work much better, but if you are sitting on your couch a keyboard and mouse is uncomfortable and annoying.
FFARR has traditional MMO gameplay. You will spend your days questing, and running around grinding your way through levels. And there will be a serious amount grinding once you hit the late 20’s. Thankfully, there are ways to help level up faster. There is a duty finder which will automatically match you up with other players for raids. There are also hunting logs which award you extra experience for killing a certain amount of an enemy type in a specific region. Another way to level is a system called FATE. If you have played Guild Wars 2 this is basically the same thing. You run up and are automatically enlisted with all the other players in that location to fight a huge boss, or large wave of enemies. Finding the best FATE locations and hopping between them will be what you will be doing most to level quickly. Finally, there are also Leve Quests, which are quests you can take from a receptionist to level any of your classes, like your main combat character, or crafting, or job class. These are helpful but you are only allowed a few per day, but they can be saved. So you could save up 99 of them and do 99 quests in one day. Or you could do a few a day, everyday. I personally only use these for leveling crafting, and jobs. They are great for that when you run out of crafting quests.
As for the combat it is easily one of the games strong points. it’s quite different from some of the older MMO games where you just stand still and take turns trading blows. You can actually run around and avoid enemy attacks which are represented by red lines. It reminds me a lot of Quest64 on Nintendo 64 if you have ever played that. Other than that though it is almost identical to every other MMO style combat.
Thankfully the crafting in FFARR is pretty good. The crafting system is basically the same as every other MMO. Find some items, combine them, make something new, gain experience. Repeat 10,000 times. except instead of just hitting a button and either making the item or blowing the items up, you play a mini game that involves a small amount of skill. You can choose to try to complete your item, or make it a higher quality. It is all based on a magic point system called Craft Points (CP), and when those run out you can no longer perform special actions to make a higher quality item. If you can make a high quality item it will sell for more, but you can also fail and lose your items.
The thing about the crafting though is that it all relies on job classes. Like mining, fishing, botany etc to get the items you need. So if you want to be a armorsmith you probably want to pick up mining as well to get the items you need for free to craft with, or sink thousands and thousands of gill into the market. I kind of like this system, but it can be annoying at times. The main reason is that you can not equip your heavy armor to go out mining, and you can’t craft in it either. So you will need 3 sets of gear every 5-10 levels for all 3 classes. This is incredibly expensive. Then it is not till later in the game that you get the option to save gear sets. So you will have to equip all your gear every time you want to go out mining or crafting, until you unlock the ability to save gear sets. As far as gathering and crafting goes it is better than any other MMO I have played, but that doesn’t make it exciting, it’s just not quite as boring.
I’m not going to give the story away. I will just tell you it’s boring. I don’t care who lives or dies. I find myself trying to not nod off during cut scenes, and try really hard to not skip it if it ever gets good. Square Enix obviously has the skills to tell a great story. Where are the people who wrote the scripts for the previous Final Fantasy games? Vacation for the past 4 years?
I have mixed thoughts when deciding whether I would recommend this game to people. I feel that if what I said here does not bother you, and you are a MMO fan looking for a change, then you might really like FFARR. Just be warned that the game is not really similar to FFXI if you were a fan of that. For example this game is much easier. The thing that made FFXI a great game (even for me who does not like MMO’s, but for some reason plays them all), is that it was more adult oriented. It didn’t hold your hand, and you really had to work hard to get anywhere. This is not the case in FFARR. You will literally be breezing through the game compared to FFXI.
If you are looking for something different in the MMO department because like me you are bored with the same old grindfest then FFARR is not for you. There is nothing new or creative here to see. It is the same old tried and true system. I managed to make it to level 38 before I started to feel the dementia and alzheimer’s setting in from lack of flexing a brain muscles. You will be better off holding out hoping Elder Scrolls Online has something new to offer, or sticking with FFXI. In the mean time I always recommend Eve Online for its depth and originality. It is by far the most complex game I have ever played, with excellent PVP, a rock solid and stable market, and awesome social aspects.
I personally feel FFARR is a decent MMO if you like the genre, but it is still barely making par. Furthermore the game doesn’t even feel like Final Fantasy except for a few very minute details. I really wish I could lead a development on these games and just tell these people what to do. I really don’t feel like i’m in a world that pertains to Final Fantasy, and I feel like the title is misleading. What would have been awesome is if the game actually took place in a Final Fantasy world. What if you could start in Midgar, or Mysidia? Or maybe if I could start as an Onion Kid and pick my path from there? With classes like Time Mage, Geomancer, Gambler, Ninja, Blue Mage, Paladin, Sage, Mime, Dark Knight, and Onion Knight? It would have been cool to have a story I actually cared about involving the crystals instead of some pirates that I care nothing about. I would have liked to fight Kefka, Sephiroth, Chaos, or the Magus Sisters. A raid in the Cave of Mist, Mount Ordeals, or the Shinra building would have been fun. Anything to make the game feel like Final Fantasy. Those are just my opinions though, maybe people prefer all new content that is not reminiscent of anything Final Fantasy.
The game plays pretty well, but lack of customization, boring story, and massive grindfest hold it back. The crafting although different and more exciting, is still boring and hard for every profession to make money. This seems to be the problem in most MMO’s. Give people the ability to make products they can sell, and let the people fuel the economy! Eve Online can do this why can’t Square Enix? The lack of innovation shows that the genre needs to move forward. Japan can’t expect to keep churning out the same old games until the end of time and keep their fan base. It’s time to move forward and turn the wheel a little bit and do something different! For those reasons the game receives an average score. The only thing keeping it from a lower score is the combat, and graphics.
Final Fantasy XIV Online Gets
Out of Five
-Customization Lacks Depth