Final Fantasy XIV: Realm Reborn Preliminary Review
After Final Fantasy’s release in August, players have been met with an abundance of problems in the game, it was almost a feat to be able to log in and play without having to subject yourself to nearly 10, 000 ping and latency on the Japanese servers just to play. The North American and European servers were constantly full, down, or just simply rejecting connections and Sony has even started giving refunds to players that bought the PS3 version because of the server issues. Combine that with the problems that broadcasters and popular youtubers faced with the NDA and material usage licenses and it was looking fairly dismal for Square Enix on the front of publicity and PR for FFXIV: RR.
As of two days ago, a ten hour maintenance was implemented and the game servers were brought offline so Square Enix could fix their servers that everyone seemed so eager to get into. Final Fantasy has apparently been more anticipated than Square Enix thought it would be, selling a total of almost 2 million copies in total across all platforms including pre-orders in closed beta. As I stated in my previous article on the game, I personally felt that these issues should have been anticipated prior to release and quite possibly if they had even a shred of an open beta testing phase they could have stress tested the servers, I stated that a simple oversight has cost players precious time and has caught them quite a bit of backlash.
After the ten hour maintenance subsided, so did the problems, at least for a little bit. Players including myself, were met with yet another error where the game wasn’t registering your character being logged out and was instead trapping you in the lobby of the game instead of letting you play, regardless if you weren’t logged in for a few days, everyone was getting this error and it seemed as if the problems were never going to end. Finally however, as of 2 PM Eastern, the error went away and the servers have been somewhat closer to a stable system and as it should be, everyone is able to log in and is able to actually play the game they paid for. Yoshi P, video game producer, director and designer, made an appearance at PAX Prime this weekend past and made a heartfelt apology to the North American fans of the video game, saying they understood the frustration and they were working on it. But now that the servers are stable and players are able to log in, how does the game play and what does it feel like?
I refuse to do a full review until I have seen the end of this game and actually experienced the end game content, I feel an MMORPG deserves your time and you should at least give everything in the game a chance, especially as a writer. While my time in this game has been sparse at best due to the log in problems and server problems, I was able to actually sit down for a few hours yesterday and continue my adventures in game with my Thaumaturge, there is nothing better than taking a sick day and jumping headfirst into an MMO for an entire day, I was thoroughly impressed.
In my solo questing I managed to run all over plenty of areas of the map, get out of the starting zone finally and really start to sink my teeth into the game. The game starts out very slowly, you spend almost your first two hours just learning the game in the city that you spawn in, you’re assigned a “caregiver” of sorts, and the classes are divided into 3 cities and grand companies, more like factions. Three classes per each of the main cities of the grand companies, and in each city there is one person that will be directing your progress overall until you are ready to leave your surroundings and start to explore more. I was lucky enough to actually be paying attention to the story a bit more as I hit level 15, and was definitely impressed with the way the story is told. You almost feel some sort of connection to this character that is guiding you through your adventures, and you grow somewhat close. As you progress further in your story you unlock some stories of others, telling you how this great and terrible calamity hit, and showing all of the backdrop story that surrounds these 3 great nations, the story is very well done and even tugs on your heartstrings at some points.
There is a slight issue with the amount of story there is, it is fairly new to me for an MMO to have such a presentable story. In most MMO’s you learn through research, it’s kind of looming in the background behind every quest you do, and every dungeon you accomplish. With Final Fantasy you learn as you play instead of having the option to look it up on your friendly wiki equivalent for FF, the story is presented in most main character quests that you do, you may choose to read the piles and piles of quest text that will eventually overwhelm you, or just simply skip it, I feel bad as I’m sure Square Enix spent a terribly long time on these things and I just spammed my spacebar button to skip through it, but once I actually started to read the quests and understand the story behind them, I was addicted and found myself reading everything.
While questing through the area of Drybone in Central Thanalan, I was extremely surprised when I stopped for a tiny minute to check on my two week kittens, as I came back to my surprise it had gotten DARK. I have never done a double take at a game’s graphics so quickly, here I was out in this massive field with a few other players killing these creatures, and on the Horizon it was filled with hundreds of stars on a DARK velvet background. I don’t know what it was but the combination of the skybox and the dimly lit ground I was standing on just made me stare at it for at least five or so minutes. The graphics in this game are truly really interesting, it seems the developers have put the time they had into the right places that needed and deserved it, the textures of the ground aren’t amazing, but the character models are superb. I am forever thoroughly impressed with the landscapes of this game, and the music goes along so well with it.
Final Fantasy XIV: RR has me hooked at the moment, but then again I’m hooked on cigarettes so my addictions may not be that credible. I will say however, as an experienced MMORGP player having played World of Warcraft since its early Alpha, and most of the bigger MMO’s that have come out in the past decade, this game is good. I have yet to hit level 50 and do the end game content, and will of course be releasing my thoughts on it when I do, but even if the game ends up lacking content at level 50, and even if they had a pretty terrible launch, this was a very enjoyable experience to play through. I’m glad to be enjoying and glad to see another MMORPG that isn’t World of Warcraft being well received, maybe it’s time for the king to hand over the crown.