Review by Providence53
"Better start fantasizing, you'll need to do a lot of it to play this game"
Better start fantasizing, you'll need to do a lot of it to play this game
When I decided to quit World of Warcraft, it wasn't because I was tired of MMO's, it wasn't because I disagreed with the direction the game content was going, it wasn't because of the direction Blizzard was going with its RealID system. I simply had, personally, played the game out and gotten what I wanted to from it, and was ready for a change of scenery. When I first saw Final Fantasy 14 I thought, Hey I like Final Fantasy. I like MMO's. This might be worth trying. I read more into the game and liked what information I read about the game. While anxiously waiting for open beta I tried Final Fantasy 11 for a month, and I absolutely hated it. The controls were backwards, the quest system was annoying, the chat logs were abysmal, the interface was even worse, and the combat wasn't really that great either to me. I'm disappointed to say that none of that has changed in Final Fantasy 14, except for possibly the combat. Let's delve deeper.
The graphics, I must say, are probably the single great thing about this game. Simply put, it's freaking gorgeous. Having recently built a new PC and being able to max out all settings and play in the world of Eorzea is just breath taking. Characters are very well rendered, cities are full of life and detail, monsters look phenomenal, the geography outside the city is amazing, and one of the nice touches I immediately noticed was when you exit from a building or cave into the bright outside, the screen is very bright as if you had just done so in real life. But there is one big problem with the graphics, hence the 8/10 score. Combat visuals are severely lacking and spells and weapon attacks are barely rendered at all. What visuals that do exist in combat are bland and uninspired, bringing the graphical experience down a notch.
Final Fantasy games in general pride themselves with engaging stories and characters, but in in Final Fantasy 14, there really is not much story offered to you initially. Unless you have been reading online or talking to others, you will know almost nothing about the world of Eorzea. The story in a nutshell is like this, there is a neighboring country that is being aggressive and people are afraid that they will invade. That's all that I remember after playing the full open beta and a week of retail play. Story is very neglected in the game, and there are no quests supporting it aside from the quest chain you get when you first make your character. There are three starting towns, and the storyline progression is basically the same for all three. But once you do this handful of quests, which are fun and aside from a ridiculous and monotonous segment where you have to emote at NPCs, are good and engaging. But there is a problem: there is no spoken dialogue. That's right, in 2010 there is no spoken dialogue, which in my opinion (And this is my opinion) is absolutely unacceptable. I'm not saying minor off to the side NPC's should be fully voiced, but at least your major characters and perhaps the characters in the various guilds and shopkeepers should be voiced.
Absolutely awful. Let me sum up the game play experience. Make your character, there's a cool opening scene, you end up in the local Adventurer's Guild, talk to someone there, then you are on your way on the beginner quest chain, and then it's ????. It's fun, it's great, except for the segment with the emoting of course, it gives you Gil (Currency) and helps familiarize you with the basic game elements. Then it's over, and you are on your own. So what is there to do? Gather items so you can craft, craft, and do horribly repetitive levequests. If you have played any conventional MMO, or really just about any game in general, then you have seen this quest elsewhere. Levequests are incredibly repetitive quests that reward you with experience and Gil. Combat quests involve you going and killing a couple of monsters, crafting quests have you craft and deliver items to someone (Often you are not told how to get to this person), and there are also gathering quests which have you mine a node for example (I did very little of these). Crafting is a MAJOR component of Final Fantasy 14. I cannot stress this point enough, this crafting feature levels you up, grants you skills over time, and can create a way of generating income. What is interesting is that there is no recipe book in-game. The only way to learn of recipes is to be social and talk to other players who may tell you, or complete a leve quest which will have you make an item. The materials for the quests are provided and are essentially free experience/skill ups, so you will learn what you need to make the item for the quest, and after successfully completing it you will learn how to make another item. The biggest problem this poses is that you have to actually write this down, because somewhere along the way no one considered (Or cared to add) a feature to automatically record this for you, you know, like in many conventional MMO's and video games in general. Also, you have no idea what skill requirement is necessary for you to have a chance at successfully making the craftable item. So you have your recipe, your resources, it's time to sit down and craft. You get to play this mini game where you have durability #, a progress %, and quality #. If durability reaches zero because you pick the wrong way to synthesize too many times (Normal, Rapid, Bold, or Wait) then the synthesis fails and you lose all the materials that went into it, if you do well then (High Quality) you get bonus items. Let me say there is nothing more irritating than losing a synthesis, especially when you get it up to about 80% completion, and then suddenly have a string of fail attempts back to back to back and you lose the whole thing.
So you know about the crafting aspect, now I'm sure you would like to know about combat. Combat is actually very fun, and is fairly well tuned. You can jump between combat professions at any time by switching your weapon, for example. I started out as a Pugilist, got it to level 12 with a level 16 physical level (Physical level is where your attributes/elemental resistances are derived from), decided I wanted to try Marauder, so I went and bought an axe and became a Marauder at level 1. I retain my Pugilist skills up to level 12 and can use them in my Marauder skill bar, each skill costs a certain number of points and the max number of skills you can have increases as you level up more. Combat is very fun, you have a basic standard attack that generates TP, and after you gain enough TP you can use a skill provided you have enough of it. Cool stuff, combat is pretty fluid, problem is, and there is not nearly enough of it. Besides the fact that there are some monsters who roam the terrains that are literally 5-10 levels above other monsters that can instantly kill you twice over, there are not enough monsters in general and the variety is horribly, horribly lacking. In one zone if you are leveling you can pick between killing a small marmot, or a small marlboro looking thing called a coblyn. There are also a few big monsters that will kill you in one hit if you attack them. Combat is far too infrequent, sure you can go out and fight and level, but you need new gear and you must either make it yourself (Taking you away from combat) or buy it from players (Very costly, considering you are limited in your daily levequests and must either grind mobs or attempt to sell the materials you come across). On some occassions a levequest may offer a piece of armor for completing it, but in a weeks worth of quests I only had two of these. That is seriously all that there is to do in this game. Get materials for crafting, craft items, do boring levequests. A few other generalized complaints I have that are not worth devoting whole sections to: Lack of in-game mailing system, the fact that you have to target someone to invite them to your Linkshell (Guild), poor implementation dungeons or any equivalent feature, party menus often bug out and fail to show party member HP/MP levels, and a lack of an auction house or any good way of selling items. Currently you have to either spam time or hire a retainer which is an NPC who stands in a separate ward of town and is a private bazaar for the goods you give him, problem is you have NO WAY OF KNOWING what a retainer has unless you open up trade with them, which can be a very tedious and an inefficient way of finding goods that you need to buy. My final complaint is in regard to the lack of a solid transportation system. You can teleport between areas, which is fantastic, but it uses up anima. You have up to 100 anima, it regenerates at a rate of 1 per 4 hours. It costs 4 anima to teleport to camps and the main town in your area, 6 to go to a farther away town or camp. You will very quickly run through your anima if you play frequently, leaving you running to all of your destinations.
The interface can be sluggish, menus are hidden within menus, and there is little help offered in navigating the various menus. The only good way to survive the chaos of the interface is to setup macros, and you'll probably need to visit a fan site to get a good idea of how to set them up and use them. The interface tells you NOTHING about what the various attributes do, for a melee class they aren't that hard to figure out. Another complaint here comes in the way you repair your gear. The interface doesn't tell you much about how to do it. Intuitively, you can reason that you need to be a leatherworker to be able to repair gear that requires leather items to repair. But for some Hora's (Pugilist weapon) for example, you need to be a Goldsmith and not a Blacksmith, interestingly enough. In addition, you must unequip an item, then open up the abysmal synthesis interface, put in the item that repairs your gear, then the process will automate and repair your gear. Even more ridiculous is that you cannot repair undergarments, because you cannot remove them, and you must remove an item to repair it which is insane. There is a NPC who you can pay to repair your gear, but good luck finding him without asking players in town, and he doesn't repair gear to 100% durability.
I've played a lot of games in my day, I've played a lot of MMOs. I have played Anarchy Online, Everyquest (Briefly), Guild Wars, World of Warcraft, and Allods. Final Fantasy 14 in its current state is behind the current MMO trend. Sure it's a Japanese MMO, sure its recently released, and maybe it is a little too early to be giving such a harsh review. But look at it this way: This game has had several launch dates which were all pushed back, Square Enix has released a retail product that costs real money, and are taking subscription fees for this game. Generally you pay for a product for what it is, not what it will be, unless maybe you are a gardener or farmer. The game is, simply put, just not fun to play. There is almost no content and the crafting system is incredibly boring after your first few times of doing it. The game should really have never been released when it was, and if I could get my $75 back for the collector's edition I purchased, I would do so. Maybe this game will be more playable in a few months, but I will more than likely not be around to play that game
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 10/01/10
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIV Online (US, 09/30/10)
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