Final Fantasy XIV

Players of the first version weren’t happy. Critics weren’t happy. Square Enix themselves  weren’t happy. And today, I’m sitting here after playing a reboot of FFXIV, now tagged with “A Realm Reborn”.

Due to the partial NDA, I am unable to provide video/audio of the game until further notice. The screenshots on this article are taken as part of my run through unless stated otherwise.
Let’s begin.
Welcome to the FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn Beta Test!Here is your registration code:

XXXX 2GEC 9GZG XXXX XXXX

Once bitten, twice shy?

That might be the case for players of the first FFXIV. I haven’t played the first game, but I’ve seen how horrendous it played. When I received this message, I didn’t know what I was expecting.
Whilst the original development team of FFXIV have been scraped and replaced with a new handpicked team at Square Enix, how much could be done to resurrect a fallen game?
What could they possibly do to win back the hearts of their long lost fans?

Square Enix seems to be fully aware of this:

Director Nobuaki Komoto and producer Hiromichi Tanaka are being taken off the game and replaced by Naoki Yoshida. In an official statement, Square Enix honcho Yoichi Wada describes Yoshida as “a passionate individual for whom customer satisfaction has always taken top priority.
-You can also view the new team HERE-

Looking pretty awesome already.
Looking pretty awesome already.

So anyway, I went ahead and started designing my own hero to tread the World of Eorzea. You get a wide variety of choices, and while you pick and chose your character traits (including his/her voice), you also get to preview your character in different areas. Here’s my Conjurer in a forest, presumably Gridania.  The character creation options are without a doubt incredibly detailed. Which other game allows you to add a tint to your base hair color?

Dat metrosexual emo hair.
Dat metrosexual emo hair.

I picked a Miqo’te, a cat-like humanoid complete with tails. And yes, of course the game lets you choose one out of 8 different tails. His racial stats and alignment as Keeper of the Moon gives him the highest base MND stat for healing. He also happens to have high base DEX stats, which I don’t think would come into play. Ultimately, these stats do not play much of a difference. I’m not exactly sure whether I’m comfortable with that. Then again, the game has a rather complicated open class system that is praise-worthy.

A lot of research is required to build a OCD character with the best cross-class skills and stats. With the guide above, I found out that Keepers are the best choice if I want to maximize MND and PIE(MP pool). I haven’t played too much of the game yet, but I think it is safe to assume that your gear would have the greatest effect over all this fancy calculation.

A quest teaching you basic game mechanics of interaction.
A quest teaching you basic game mechanics of interaction.

As I booted into the game world and is greeted with fancy cut scenes, which looked pretty cool. They are your generic FF pre-rendered stuff, which I immediately felt a sense of dread. You know, what if this game has Auto-Battle? Oh god, I don’t even want to think about it. The cut scenes introduces me to Bremondt who seems to be fairly important. He also manages to get his booze stolen by moogles and almost got hit by a wayward arrow.

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So, when I finally arrive at Gridania and bid farewell to Bremondt, I embark on quests! Great quests that will teach me the basics of the game. Thankfully, they weren’t too immersion breaking. Although they made it a point to have quite a number of quests based around interaction with NPCs and quest objects to further drill in the lessons, they were spaced out regularly and not once did I think I was being force fed information.

Just look at the lighting.
Just look at the lighting.

The UI is relatively okay, easy to understand and intuitive as long as you’ve played at least 1 MMO before. Graphics wise, the game is looking good and is well optimized. The game does shadows and lighting really well, though I think the textures could do with a little bit more detail and work. Though with that being said, it is still in beta. What you see at the top right hand corner of my screenshot is the current time and connection strength based on my computer settings, and not the time zone of Eorzea. And yes, there are weather effects.

There have been quite a few interesting quests, mostly short stories that adds atmosphere to the world of Eorzea. Here, you can see me being sent by a female denizen to reject her secret admirer. 

Doing all this while sporting the medival Ronald Macdonald outfit.
Doing all this while sporting the Medival Ronald Macdonald outfit.
And then the story twists and you realize the poorly understood letters of affection was actually written by her-woopsspoiler-.

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Conclusion

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Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn presents itself to me as an adventure that picks up slowly and does not intend to throw you right into epic battles. The “fantasy” feeling is definitely there. As the tension slowly builds up from small local town quests to investigating rumors, and then moving to engage even stronger enemies that threatens the very safety of Gridania, you’d feel that the adventure is rightly paced and you might even start to like the NPCs. Although the MMO still have a bit to go when it comes to injecting life into its NPCs, FFXIV: ARR is on the right track.
To Yoshida and his team: keep doing the good stuff!
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This is an article written by PP1MT.
The author blogs at PP1MT.com
All screenshots are from my own playthrough.
Feel free to reblog, share and comment.
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