Back in 2010, a game was released called Final Fantasy XIV (which is fourteen, for those who can’t instantly translate Roman numerals.) The reception it received? Unanimously and critically panned: the game was accused of feeling unfinished when it came to gameplay and user interface, although praised for graphics and music. The lead development team for the game was replaced, subscription fees were suspended forthwith and the planned PS3 version never saw release. In November of 2012, the game’s active servers were shut down.
Thankfully, we aren’t talking about that Final Fantasy XIV! No, we’re talking about the game that came afterwards: the aptly named Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
With development starting in April 2011, and development continuing alongside the tweaks to the original FFXIV, FFXIV:ARR was the replacement to the first version that was built from the ground-
With a new engine, FFXIV:ARR looked even better than it did in its first incarnation. It was a graphically impressive game that had good atmospheric music to match, making each different area of the in-
I should mention at this point, however, that there’s often a lot going on on the HUD at any given point in time, and that can take some adjustment to getting used to. This also means that on lower resolutions, your screen can be overtaken with UI elements and leave little space for the game itself; hell, I play on a 1920x1200 resolution and I would wager a third or more of my screen is actually UI elements during fights in particular. Here, I’ll show you: this is a screenshot I took yesterday during a “Trial” -
As you can see, there’s… a lot going on. For players of games like World of Warcraft or TERA even, where the UI dominates your screen or where there are hotbars everywhere, this might not seem out of place. But for other people, this could seem extremely busy, and I wouldn’t accuse any of those people of being wrong. Of course, I could scale some of my UI elements, but I actually quite like my set up and don’t find it all that distracting. There is something to be said for this game’s combat, however: you might spend more of your time looking at your hotbars than at your game. And on that segue, let’s talk about the combat in a bit more detail.
All classes, be them tank, healer or DPS, have specific rotations that they can and should follow to optimise their role in the party. Tank rotations help them generate their enmity and let them hold aggro, healer rotations often sprinkle in some damage spells and healing spells can be chained to trigger instant-
Some players make a case that the game doesn’t require you to be good at your rotations to play it casually and they would be right, for the most part. However, the later raids are particularly unforgiving and not only require DPS to play as optimally as possible to pass the DPS checks that bosses have (and avoid enrage timers, where a boss’ “enrage” is effectively a raid wipe) but also require good mechanical play, too. While the elite of the elite likely don’t think the coming changes are necessary, as a more casual player, I’m looking forward to seeing the changes. Naturally, I’ll have to re-
Combat isn’t the only thing available in the game, though naturally it’ll be the focus as with any MMORPG. Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn has a pretty fantastic main story with a wide variety of characters, some of whom are more bearable than others. Each expansion expands upon the story told and takes you into new lands, but the main cast of characters doesn’t change or get forgotten about and instead they often follow you and make repeat appearances, if not play a vital part themselves. It makes the world a believable sort of place, bringing a smile to your face when your favourite character reappears for a moment in the story or conversely bringing a tear to your eye when a plot twist does something to your favourite character that you immediately regret. The struggles of the world in the main story are certainly larger than life, but they feel believable enough to make the story engaging, and in turn they help build up some serious hype for the big bads that you face throughout your journey in Eorzea. It also helps that several characters have some damn good voice acting -
The game has a housing system, though housing prices are extortionate and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get one for yourself unless you craft your way to millions of gil in order to purchase a plot. The housing system itself is actually pretty cool; you can decorate both the plot around your house and the inside of your house, including kitting it out with NPCs like Menders to fix your gear or Junkmongers you can sell your unneeded crap to. Floor and walls can be decorated with all manner of wallpapers and floor tiles and there are hundreds of decorations in the game ranging from your basic tables and chairs, to decorative mounted heads of your enemies. (I’m really not kidding; you can get a mounted Ifrit head decoration to place on a wall.) Sadly, housing plots are very rarely free and there are always fights to snap up plots as fast as housing gets released. And, as said earlier on, it’s a horribly expensive system that requires millions of gil in order to get a house of your own, or for your guild (called Free Companies in this game.) To alleviate some of this, the developers did introduce Apartments, which cost a fixed amount and let you buy a little room of your own to try and decorate as you see fit. But an apartment really isn’t comparable to a house, right?
There’s also all manner of crafting classes in the game, through which if you are patient and willing to grind out all the materials you need by effectively levelling several crafting classes at once you can make some pretty mad cash. To add to this, crafting classes often require materials obtained from gathering classes, so strap in and get ready to equip fishing rods and logging tools if you’re really dedicated to not spending a dime on getting materials from the game’s auction house. To the game’s credit, gathering is pretty relaxing to do and it lets you play the game fairly casually if you don’t feel like battling your way through the normal hell and high water. The game also provides extra activities to engage in that have nothing to do with the rest of the game at all: the Manderville Gold Saucer is an emporium of mini-
OVERALL SCORING: 9/10 -
While some could accuse Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn as being expensive given the requirement to purchase the game and then remain subscribed, I find that it has more than enough content to justify the price tag it sells at and the subscription fee to be nominally small in comparison to other subscription based games. Expansions also offer completely free updates until the time of the next expansion, which include new dungeons, trials, raids and story quests in each small update, which means that you get ostensibly more content than you feel like you’re paying for by the time a year has passed. The game is graphically beautiful and has a wonderful musical score to really bring it to life, with an engaging main story and some amazing cutscenes (which shouldn’t be surprising, really) and the wealth of content accessible to you even in just the core game gives you hundreds of hours of playtime to enjoy. There’s always something to do, from levelling alt classes to racing your chocobo to running dungeons to everything in between, and honestly I have more fun on this game than I have on almost any other MMORPG I’ve played to date.