Tag Archives: Final Fantasy

Skeptical Plays: Final Fantasy XIV – A Realm Reborn [PC]

Square-Enix’s somewhat archaic and unconventional feature designs, in my opinion, had actually made the original 1.0 release of Final Fantasy XIV one of the most unique and interesting experiences available at the time.  Sadly, the critics disagreed.  The game did not fare well with the mainstream audience, and it was considered widely to be a failure.

Fast forwarding now to 2013, after three long years of redevelopment with a brand new team, the game has been given a new lease on life with the recent 2.0 relaunch, aka A Realm Reborn.

The game is still very much Final Fantasy XIV at its core, retaining the original graphical and audio assets, as well as elements of the gameplay mechanics. However, great efforts have been put into bringing the game in line with the other existing MMOs on the market, with everything ingame having been streamlined and “modernized” to some degree.

While I am appreciative of their efforts, I find myself feeling somewhat let down by a lot of the changes that 2.0 had brought.

Take the addition of the hundreds of new NPC quests for example.  Instead of fleshing out the world and providing players with interesting new content, what we ended up with was a series of generic and forgettable quests, which only serve to lay down linear lines of progression, discouraging exploration, and at the same time giving the game a very closed theme park feel.

Adding to that theme park feel are the new fully open map zones.  While the new open map design does give the illusion of a larger, more persistent world, in my opinion it also gave us more generic map zones that are far less interesting to explore.  Worth mentioning too is that some of the more interesting areas have now been converted into timed instanced group dungeons, and are sadly no longer accessible by smaller groups, or the odd solitary explorers like myself.

ffxiv_18092013_193820

Despite my skepticism, the game is not without its strengths and charms.  Most gamers I’m sure would find the franchise’s signature creature designs, with your chocobos, moogles, cactuars and the like, to be a welcoming change from the often overused generic high fantasy bestiary.  The iconic Final Fantasy tunes and sounds are excellent as always, and I am happy to report that the unique crafting mini-game transitioned over largely unchanged, as has the excellent multi-class jobs system, which allows players to experience all of the games classes without having to create new characters.

Also, being designed with the subscription payment model in mind, it is sure to please the more traditional gamers, folks like myself who might be looking for a strong character-based non-restrictive gameplay experience – something away from your real-money Cash Shops and Locked Boxes, where you constantly feel like you are being punished simply for not paying extra.

At the end of the day, it pains me to say that A Realm Reborn now plays a lot more like your average generic MMO, with its industry standard hotbar control scheme; the mindless kill-ten-rats NPC quests; simplified one-click gathering; the grindy daily quests; and the focus on its number of generic loot grind dungeons.  While the Final Fantasy name is sure to attract fans of the franchise, I remain unconvinced that in the long run, the game as it stands with its traditional theme park gameplay, is enough to appease your average modern gamer – but, as always, only time will tell.

ffxiv_11092013_233417

ARR +

  • Subscription based – development focus is on story and gameplay, not on expansive cashshop items.
  • Stable client software.
  • Optimized UI and more accessible controls.
  • Fantastic Final Fantasy music and art designs.
  • Engrossing main and job storylines that carries on from 1.0.
  • Non-restrictive jobs system that allows players to level up multiple classes with a single character.
  • Unique crafting mini-game.
  • Intriguing world with strong lore and an unique sense of identity.
  • Mount/Combat Companion.

ARR –

  • Generic NPC quests.
  • Improved but still clunky gear management.
  • One-click materials gathering.
  • Some of the more interesting areas have been removed and converted into generic timed group dungeons.
  • Removal of Companion NPCs
  • Mindless XP grinding FATE parties seems to be a focus of the communities.
  • Multiple class job leveling can get repetitive and grindy.
  • Questionable long term appeal for casual social players.

ffxiv_13092013_212916ffxiv_24092013_225059ffxiv_10102013_170528ffxiv_14092013_225804ffxiv_19102013_203657ffxiv_23102013_214502


Final Fantasy XIV: Legacy Campaign

Earlier this year I found myself wondering back into Eorzea, the world of Final Fantasy XIV, after having been away from the game for over a year.  Of course, a multitude of fixes and extra content have been added since I left, and as a result the game had seemed unfamiliar and fresh.  And for a while, I found myself lost in the honeymoon bliss that one usually experience with a new MMO.

However, as beautiful as the game was, and as much as I love its world, with the small number of both players and NPCs around, it all felt pretty barren.  Plus, the game’s socialization options were still horrendous.  There was still next to no interaction between players outside of their linkshells (ie. FFXIV’s version of clans), and with the clunky chat UI and a lack of regional and zone chats, finding new people to chat and socialize with was pretty much impossible.  It might have been down to being on the wrong server at the wrong time, or just plain bad luck, but I was disappointed to find that even after weeks of yelling in the cities, I was still unable to find people to party with for group contents.

There were numerous other little issues as well, both from a gameplay and technical perspective – some of which, I might add, were the very same issues that had caused me to quit the game in the first place.  And that was why I had stopped logging on a few weeks ago, and why a couple of weeks ago I had actually cancelled my subscription.

However, having said all that, I must also say that somehow, this week Square-Enix has suckered me once again into re-subscribing with the announcement of their Legacy Campaign.

http://lodestone.finalfantasyxiv.com/pl/campaign/campaign.html

The Legacy Campaign introduces several benefits for those who have subscribed for at least 90 cumulative days since January 6th, 2012.

1. Legacy members will be able to play at a specially discounted subscription price post-launch of version 2.0.

2. Legacy members will receive an exclusive in-game Chocobo mount at the launch of version 2.0.

3. Legacy members can request that their name be displayed in the credits for version 2.0. One name per service account can be listed in the credits.

Version 2.0, by the way is stated to be due sometime between October and December of 2012 to early 2013.

For former players of Final Fantasy XIV I would also like to point out that there is an upcoming Welcome Back Campaign happening from May 9th to May 20th, where former players with inactive service accounts will be able to play for free during this ten-day period.

I must admit I have been rather down on MMOs lately, and I have become a rather jaded skeptical bastard in the past couple of years.  However, Final Fantasy is a strong brand with a large dedicated fanbase, and judging from Final Fantasy XI I would say Square-Enix have the expertise and the stamina to create a decent MMO with a strong stable playerbase and communities, so I do have rather high hopes for this franchise, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing what Final Fantasy XIV 2.0 will bring to the genre.


%d bloggers like this: