If you’re anything like me, you’ve had your “Perfect MMO” in the past, and for one reason or another you’re no longer playing it and it’s left a massive game-shaped hole somewhere inside. Melodramatic? Perhaps. True? At least for me, it certainly is!
For me, it was a combination of World of Warcraft, which I played for about a year after release, and Final Fantasy XI, which had always been the game I looked at from afar without playing, wishing I could join in, but only jumped on the bandwagon many years into its lifespan. After quitting both of these games, no MMO filled the gap, so I turned to Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 and was nothing but horribly disappointed. Unsurprisingly, I closed the game 20 minutes in and never looked back.
Until the relaunch, known as A Realm Reborn, was announced that is. Where 1.0 had taken all of the bad things about XI and somehow managed to amplify them (what do you mean, I can’t receive XP after I’ve played for “too long”?!), Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has taken all of the Bad Stuff and thrown them out. Death is no longer such a terrifying concept because the game isn’t so punishing. Grinding? Well, yeah, if you want, but there’s plenty of quests, storyline missions and dungeons – that’s right, actual dungeons – to keep you entertained and levelling up.
Where the 1.0 release class system seemed a bit confusing, 2.0 has kept the same flexibility as FFXI but much easier to understand. You can level all classes on one character, by simply unlocking them through a simple quest and switching weapons out of combat. Crafting and gathering are both separated into actual classes, themselves. Each “Disciple of War” or “Disciple of Magic” – the names for combat classes – has an advanced class called a Job which they can unlock at level 30.
Advanced classes such as Paladin or Summoner are extremely focused, making them great for dungeons and end-game. However, when levelling up or playing solo, it’s often better to unequip your advanced class crystal. Regular classes are much more versatile, with extra cross-class abilities to use.
This all comes together to make an engaging and varied gameplay experience, meaning when you do inevitably get bored of casting Cure repeatedly, you can switch out to a different class and go punch monsters in the face instead.
Unfortunately, the actual launch of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was pretty poor, much like its 1.0 release. Many game review sites have looked on this very negatively, with comments such as, “FFXIV extends free game time (again) after rocky launch (again)” and it’d be wrong for me to ignore it. The launch was incredibly frustrating – not only were there massive queues, but often players didn’t get placed in a queue at all, and were simply told, “The world is currently full. Please wait for an empty slot and try again.” This makes no sense at all; how can you know there’s an empty slot when you’re not in a queue? Many players experienced disconnects also, and perhaps worst of all, almost all servers had character creation disabled, meaning most people didn’t get onto the same server as all of their friends.
These issues seem to be mostly resolved now, though, thankfully!
So to summarise this plainly, the game is beautiful, and the characters have really emotive faces. The animations are a bit wooden though, which can make the cutscenes entertaining for the wrong reasons! I was a big fan of the FFXI music and I think the game could’ve done with some nostalgia factor in that regard, but overall the music is thematic and fits the Final Fantasy series.
Pretty cookie cutter as far as MMOs go when it comes to combat, but the class system really makes the game. It’s great to be able to play all classes on one character, meaning when you get bored you don’t have to go and make a new character just to mess around on a completely different class.
Since this is the only mode there is, being an MMO, it’d better be good, right? A lot of the features that emphasise playing with others are great, such as the Duty Finder which acts as a dungeon finder system. The pick-up groups are as bad as they often are in MMOs, but the dungeons and FATE events are a lot of fun and encourage a bit of collaborative play.
While a lot of the features in the game are a lot of fun, I feel like crafting is a little lacking, particularly the gathering professions which feel a little slow. Fishing has lost the fun of a mini-game, and has become very point-and-click.
I’d honestly recommend the game to anyone who enjoyed Final Fantasy XI, especially in its later years. It’s beautiful, it’s fresh, and there’s a lot of variety to keep people like me entertained for long hours of play.
[easyreview title=”The Arcade Verdict” cat1title=”Presentation” cat1detail=”Beautiful scenes” cat1rating=”8″ cat2title=”Music” cat2detail=”It works but a nod to past games would have been nice!” cat2rating=”7″ cat3title=”Gameplay” cat3detail=”Interesting and diverse class system” cat3rating=”8″ cat4title=”Multiplayer” cat4detail=”It’s an MMO…it does it’s job!” cat4rating=”9″ cat5title=”Other Features” cat5detail=”Crafting, an integral part of an MMO is lacking” cat5rating=”6″ overall=”true”]
[Words, Kirsty Mawhinney]