Review by djinni204
"Just because I like the game doesn't mean its an automatic 10"
After having a very, very bad start that it didn't recover from with the original version of this game, I was actually a little bit leery purchasing this game when it was announced. The first version was, for the lack of politically correct word to describe it, atrocious. But after seeing some actually improvements in the Betas that I have participated, I decided to jump in and buy. All was well and good. Or was it? Almost a month of playing this version 2.0 of the revamped Final Fantasy 14, I think I might be able some sort of a "first month" impression type review of this game. I'm not going to bore you with some long-winded prologue so here we go.
Enter the first 2 weeks of the game, including the "Early Access". It was a crap shoot. A gong show to say the least. People are unable to log in, getting disconnected and a multitude of other errors preventing people from playing the game. And those lucky enough to get in, refuses to log out. You might be thinking, was the game that good that people don't even log out? Nope. Not necessarily. Because the moment they log out, they will be subjected as well to this ongoing crap that is the "world is full" situation on top of the errors previously mentioned. While that was such a jerk move thing to do I can't quite blame them.
You might be also wondering why not logging out is a big deal. Well the thing is, the servers and worlds only allow a certain number of people in at one time. And when that number is reached, no one will be able to go in unless someone leaves. Simple enough yes? But the problem lies in the fact that there is no Queue system. It's like going to a max capacity bar/club and having to check the bouncer every so often if there's a spot instead of the logical thing to do, which is to form a queue outside the establishment. So basically, people either have to be lucky to get in by spamming log ins, or they make use of a certain program that automates the log in process.
Now, let's talk about the game itself, when you were actually able to play. That is, before you get hit by an error in the system that kicks you out. Graphically, the game is quite amazing. The PC version however, can show more of this amazing world than its console counter part. The animations are solid and smooth, the setting of the three main city hubs are vastly different as well as the environment surrounding them. On top of that, you will also enjoy the weather system that's not very commonly used in MMOs.
While the graphics are fantastic, I find that the soundtrack is arguably one of the best part of the game. The soundtrack just fits the theme and brings you that nostalgic Final Fantasy feeling of old. The theme for the towns, quest hubs and even when you are riding your chocobo are fantastic. Normally, when I play MMOs I turn off the music and play my own music set instead. So far, I haven't really done that for this game.
Moving on to the control system, there's actually two ways you can do this. The classic mouse and keyboard setup, or using a controller. Purists might say a controller for an MMO? What kind of blasphemy is this? Well actually I did scoff a little on how plausible this endeavor is since I personally use Kb/m. But since it's an option I did decide to try a controller just to get a feel for it.
Now, I currently play a healer so I do like the quick targeting that the Kb/m gives me, as well as the quick access to hot-keys. With the controller, in order for me to heal, I have to cycle through allies using the D-pad then pressing the heal button.
Now this isn't too bad in itself, but I still personally prefer the quicker actions of Kb/m. However, that's not to say controller use is futile. because the game has a built in 2 seconds of global cool down delay(which I personally dislike) for skills to make up for it. So in the end, I do urge you to try both and see which you prefer.
As for the game play, this has been a mixed bag for me. Personally, I really liked the fact that you can level all classes, both gathering and combat; using the same avatar. No need for tedious leveling of several avatars just fill in a void in your needs, just like in Final Fantasy 11. The process of switching classes are fairly easy to do as well. All it takes is equipping a weapon synonymous to the class and voila, you've switched jobs. This is also made even easier by using the built in gear set, where you can save the gear you were wearing for a particular class. You can also edit them so there's not much problem in its functionality.
As you progress, your classes will be boosted into what they call jobs, which are the second tier of your base class. The quest line for them are stream lined, you won't miss them as long as you keep progressing through the game, the same with the ability to join other guilds to switch classes.
Speaking of progressing and leveling, therein lies the problem. While it's great that you can level all classes, there is but a finite amount of quests scattered about. Even if there are three main cities as well as their corresponding quest hubs, you will run out of quest before you level all your classes as the main quest and its ilk does not reset for each class you unlock. Now how did they combat this? With Full Time Active Event, or F.A.T.E for short. Fates are scattered events all over the world, and are practically on every map possible appearing as often as every 5-10 mins or so.
The thing about fates is that it gives massive experience compared to how easy and quick for them to do. You don't really need a party, and you get graded based on your participation. You can either get a bronze, silver or gold medal; and the experience it gives is obviously higher the higher your medal. And because of this massive experience people tend to make things called fate parties, wherein up to a maximum of 8 people can group to tackle fates, along side other fate parties(or individuals). This makes it so much more easier to gain experience because the effort your team does is added to yours and vice versa making it extremely easy to get gold medals.
Now why is this a problem? because people only do fates to level up. It's that good. It trumps over questing and even dungeon delving, and with how quick you can finish a fate(usually ends within 2-3 minutes, slightly longer for boss fates) before moving in to the next one on the same map, there's no competition. Basically, a person can use his starting gear from level 1 all the way to 50 just by fate grinding on different maps. Without questing or stepping into a dungeon. This is bad because it teaches you nothing of the class you play. Fates are practically nothing short of a mad rush to kill as quickly as possible, and no need for strategy. This usually results in inept people joining the dungeons(using the built in dungeon finder) to catch up on story modes or just to finally delve into dungeons for a change of pace.
This is saddening because the dungeons are mostly well designed and if you progress from lower level dungeons and up, it teaches you gradually how to do certain simple things like avoiding Area of effect on the ground. I've seen people in dungeons staying in bright red danger spots on the ground because they are not used to moving at all during fates. There are other nuances like crowd control skills, which people tend to break during a dungeon because they are so used to just attacking everything in their sight. Tanking is also in a crap-shoot because fate tanking is vastly different than dungeon tanking, you can't just stay in one place or just keep track of one enemy. Anyway, I'm not going to go into how bad this will turn out. All I know is, this leads to a sour experience for people involved. This however, is remedied by forming your own parties with friends or free company(guilds) but it feels a bit segregating.
What would be nice however, is for Square to fix experience for doing a dungeon at least. It usually takes much longer to finish a dungeon, even longer at higher levels while fates length of completion stays the same and its experience just keeps going up. With the lack of incentive, dungeons will remain a distant second option for leveling.
As far as end game goes, there are some in place. is it a lot? for people who likes to juggle classes/jobs, yes. For some people no. For a new MMO in its first month it has a solid amount of things to do. Personally I find the content plentiful for the time being. Of course my view is my own, I can't speak for other people. But with 19 classes in total to level up(at time of writing) I figured I'd be busy for awhile. Take that as you will.
Regarding the community, it's actually quite decent. While there are people who are refuses to follow simple directions on dungeons, there are also ones that will take the time to pay attention.
In the world/area chat, if it's not riddled with ludicrous amount of gil(in game currency) seller spam, most people are helpful when you ask them questions. The other MMO bashing is also kept at a very minimum from what I've noticed at least on my shard(server). There aren't also a lot of inane chatters about some certain individual's other world feats. In short, it's been a good experience. Will it keep up I hope so.
The only thing they need though for in game communication is some sort of moderator. The gil spam is out of hand everywhere. The ability to blacklist them is tedious, and the ability to report them, doubly so. But by and by, you learn to adapt. But this shouldn't be the case. here's hoping Square gets that issue fixed.
Overall, this game has been a solid replacement for the unbelievably bad first version. The story line is actually pretty good, the writing superb(some say wordy, but they are probably not used to final fantasy's way of writing). There aren't a lot of voice overs but that's not really game breaking so I think they get a free pass for that, one. The combat is slower compared to other MMOs but that's to be expected. However, compared to Final Fantasy 11 and Final Fantasy 14's first version this is faster.
There are some problems in the beginning, namely the errors and the lack of queue system but most of those problems have been fixed now. It did took a couple or so weeks though. At the time of writing there are still some lingering issues with regards to purchasing the game, it was actually put on hold to give them time to fix and adjust to support the influx of players. While I do understand the logic to it, I feel that they should have at least prepared for it during and after the betas as well as basing judgement on how well the pre-orders sold.
I'm just hoping they keep hammering away the problems in a timely manner and listen to some of the community's suggestions(well within reason that is). Is it worth a buy when it becomes available again? personally, I think so. It's priced very competitively, about half of what you will normally pay for a console game so I think there's no harm in trying it. The game play is solid, and there are numerous content to keep one's self busy for awhile. The world is fantastic, the weather system and soundtrack gives it bit more depth and the in game community isn't as bad as other MMOs. Not bad for a second release I suppose.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 09/18/13
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn (US, 08/27/13)
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