Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Preview
The world has been destroyed, broken and reshaped. The remains of civilization gather together to rebuild, without any memory of who their heroes were or how the final moments actually played out. Entering this broken world, you are one of many adventurers. But, of course, YOU are special!
FFXIV is a beautifully polished and designed, typical MMORGP. If you have played WoW, you will have no problem slipping into the combat and structure of FFXIV. After you build your character, you find quests, complete said quests, and return to the exclamation mark on your screen to hand in the quest. Rewards and new quests ensue.
As far as MMORPGs go, FFXIV is not particularly unique. In many ways, it feels like the end of the MMORPG era – this game seems to be the peak of the genre with beautiful graphics, polished mechanics and well constructed quest patterns. It doesn’t bring anything completely original to the experience, but that experience is still pretty well done. That isn’t to say that FFXIV doesn’t do anything original.
There are randomized public quests that take place in given areas. These can pop up at any time, and are generally met with a rush of players who all work together and take part. Such quests yield a much higher EXP and gold return, and encourage players to work together.
Then there are the Final Fantasy elements. Those who love the franchise will be happy to see Moogles and Chocobos playing important roles in the game. They are integral to the plot and part of the game play, making sure that you know this is a Final Fantasy MMORPG. There are also numerous cut scenes to advance the story. These feel like they would fit right in with any of the Final Fantasy games – beautifully designed, voice acted and put together.
In general, FFXIV feels like a stunning, open world adventure, one that I wish the more recent Final Fantasies had been like. I was able to run around, hunting achievements for killing all kinds of creatures (yes, there is a hunting log), gain crafting skills, and get that specific joy from completing quests. Oh, and I even did a few dungeons.
This brings me to something really important in any MMORPG – the community. In many games, the community is the downfall of the game. I won’t even touch WoW these days because it seems that the average age is 12 with players acting with the maturity of 5-year-olds. FFXIV is very different in that regard. People are polite, helpful and go out of their way for each other. Oh, and they actually write in proper sentences with correct spelling and grammar! It is normal in FFXIV to see people asking questions about where to go, how to play, etc., and receiving honest, kind and helpful answers from others. I was stuck at one point, didn’t know how to enter a dungeon – I didn’t know that I had to form a party with others. The next thing I knew, we were all in a party, playing well together. Yup, I actually played with other people and enjoyed myself. They were nice, told me about shortcuts, and we all had a good time together. Who would have thought it was possible?
There is however, a downside. Square Enix has, quite possibly, the worst account management system, ever. It end up feeling like a mission just to get your account registered, the game linked to the account, the account linked to your PlayStation (the platform I played on), the launcher installed and the game downloaded. Each step ends up having about five unexpected extra steps. Add to that the poor communication from Square Enix – I received an email entirely in Japanese one day, only to be sent an apology email in English the next with a link to a forum. Unfortunately, that forum was entirely in Japanese, or gave me error messages in German.
At the moment, the beta is offline. I haven’t received information about when it will be back up and running, showing the Square Enix is not exactly communicating about this thing clearly. However, they obviously are doing something right – I keep checking my launcher to see if the game is ready. They have certainly left me wanting more – I can’t wait to reunite with my character and carry on where I left off.
Sure, I wish I had more communication when I can’t get into the game, but that’s because I WANT to get into the game. At no point did it feel like a chore, a grind or a frustration – the game moves quickly and keeps the challenges coming. I ended up feeling like an adventurer, going off to explore new areas, attempt new quests, and work with different types of players towards a common goal. I could be wrong, but I think that’s the point of an MMORPG.