Once again highlighting the fact that timing and dealings with money are NOT some of my strong points, earlier this week I find myself reinstalling and resubscribing to the MMO ‘Final Fantasy XIV‘ by Square-Enix, a game which I haven’t played or been subbed to since December 2010, despite the fact that it has been essentially running under the F2P model for the past year.
‘Final Fantasy XIV’, incase you are not aware, was panned critically by both reviewers and players alike when it was launched back in September 2010, and has been in a state of semi-limbo since. The universal negative feedback resulted in a major reshuffling the entire development team, with plans of a complete overhaul of the game systems. The backlash also resulted in a surprising temporary suspension of the subscription fees, meaning since launch. In fact, it wasn’t until a month or so ago that subscriptions for this game was resumed, returning the game to full P2P status.
I really enjoyed this game way back when it was launched, and I was perhaps one of the few people who actually liked the game for what it was, despite its many perceived flaws. I thought the world was imaginative and enchanting, and I loved the over-arcing storyline and the NPCs that were involved. I enjoyed the combat mechanics, the leveling, the crafting and gathering systems, the music, the graphics… To be honest I enjoyed pretty much everything that the game had to offer. For me the many flaws that other people complained about weren’t really flaws as such – for me they were just… different. The game was a pretty unique experience, which was a rare thing indeed in our overcrowded modern day MMO market.
However having said that, there were a few things which stopped me from fully loving the game. The inability to regen your mana without having to return to a town or a camp was one – this means I was unable to just roam around the maps and explore, which is one thing I enjoy doing with MMOs. Another thing was the focus on Guild Leves (which are basically generic repeatable timed quests – eg. 30 minutes to goto three map points and gather 6 ores), and the lack of NPC quests beyond the main quest. Combined with the lack of mana regen, this means the game pretty much forces you to hang around the camps and towns and grind leves, which I dislike.
There were other little technical issues which bugged the hell out of me too, things like the inability to alt-tab to Windows while in fullscreen mode, and the inability to run other things in the background which accesses the graphics card – trying to check the temperature of my card while playing the game for example would crash the game. Also whenever your game crashes or your connection drops, the leve you were on would automatically fail, even if you logged back into the game before the time limit ends. This was particularly frustrating for me since my net connection was very unstable at the time.
And finally, the thing which annoyed me the most was perhaps the people, the gamers who populated the worlds. Sadly it’s a common theme among MMOs – assholes who runs in and steal your mobs and your gathering nodes; not being able to find people to play and chat with; or finally finding a clan to hang out with, only to find that all the other players have formed their own little clicks and are out doing their own things. My time in the game was pretty frustating, me having to jump around three or four different servers before finally finding a friendly English speaking clan, only to find them all playing and chatting within their own little clicks; to find the server filled with rude assholes wherever I went; and to find that the only friendly players who understand the meaning of “teamwork” are all non-English-speaking Japanese players.
Anyways for better or worse, I’m planning on spending more time in ‘Final Fantasy XIV’ the next few weeks. I might spend some time in ‘Champions Online‘ too, and thinking about dropping into ‘Star Trek Online‘, which have just switched to F2P. Who knows, perhaps I might stop by here and tell you all a bit about my experiences – as usual though, only time will tell.