Press-Start covered Final Fantasy XIV – A Realm Reborn for the PC in some detail during John’s Progression that can be found here. This review will cover some of the same ground as John’s Progression but will focus more on the PS4 specific elements and the entire experience on the PS4 compared to the PC.
It is also important to note that as is typical of many MMORPGs the experience is likely to be vastly different as time passes. (Hopefully getting better and better.) This review reflects the experience since launch date up until the date of review.
Final Fantasy – A Realm Reborn is the fourteenth numbered game in the series and, like any Final Fantasy game, has a rich expanding storyline which has plenty of twists and
turns and being that this entry to the series is a MMORPG the game is pleasantly littered with hundreds of side quests which, on their own, often provide rich and meaningful stories. Of course, you are still presented
with the standard fetch quest here and there, but the way these are set up with creative and emotional writing make even the most mundane task involving and enjoyable.
In terms of the main story itself, it is long and to summarise the entire thing here would spoil any surprise and also not do any justice to it at all. The story is more complex than your standard MMO and definitely is as good, or better than many other single-player role-players, including other Final Fantasy games.
The PS4 story is identical to the PC and PS3 version with all of the same events and elements that make it up, which is definitely a great thing.
On the PC, A Realm Reborn is easily one of the best looking MMOs on the market. Unfortunately, to allow the game to run on the PS3 everything needed to be scaled back. Fortunately because of the beautiful art design even when everything was scaled right back it was still very playable and not a bad looking game at all. It was always going to be a test to see what Square Enix would do with the PS4 and how much like the PC version they could get it to look.
It is with much pleasure (and maybe a little surprise) to say that A Realm Reborn looks stunning on the PS4. The PS4 renders the game in full 1080p with ease and it honestly makes everything just “pop” off the screen. After spending many hours with this version, I started to notice things in the environment and on my avatar that I hadn’t noticed on the PC version before. What is even more impressive is that the game appears to run at 60fps a lot of the time and only dips when there is utter carnage on the screen. Although because everything looks so up to scratch, you simply will not care about the frame rate drops and these are inevitable on these sorts of games anyway.
One of the neat features of the PS4 version is the ability to remote play the game with your Vita console. Seeing the game being played on the Vita’s remarkable screen is a whole other level and will make you appreciate the amazing art design and the attention to detail in Final Fantasy XIV. In short, Final Fantasy XIV
– A Realm Reborn sets an incredibly high bar for future console MMORPGs, it will be very interesting to see how The Elder Scrolls Online on consoles stack up when it releases in June. Considering that this version looks a whole lot better than many PC MMOs, I think the crown might be safe with A Realm Reborn for a while to come.
The only unfortunate blemish with the presentation of Final Fantasy XIV on the PS4 is the games launcher. Instead of loading up like an ordinary game, A Realm Reborn initially loads up what appears to be the very same launcher as the PC, albeit in full screen. It feels odd to have this style launcher on a console game and the entire feel of the launch makes you feel instantly disconnected from the game, almost like opening a web browser up before your game starts up. I feel that this could have been implemented much better. Instead of having a separate launcher could we
had all sign-in integrated into the actual game? It is a small gripe but one all the same.
John’s Progression went into a lot of
detail in regards to the standard gameplay of Final Fantasy XIV – A Realm Reborn I am not going to repeat what was written there in order to keep this review at a reasonable length. Again, you can find John’s Progression here.
If have been playing A Realm Reborn on the PC you will be happy to know that you can play immediately where you left off in your PC game. If you are a PS3 player and are looking to upgrade to the PS4 the good news is you can also do this absolutely free! The only downside to this is you will need to deal with the Mog Station (Final Fantasy XIV’s account management system) to do this. The Mog Station is horrible to navigate and the less time you need to spend there the better. If you are a World of Warcraft player, or if you play another other MMO for that matter where you have needed to deal with account management, you might shake your head and wonder why after using the Mog Station. It is easily the worst feature of the game, but it isn’t even in the game.
Another great feature of Final Fantasy XIV – A Realm Reborn is that the servers are not platform specific. This means that you will be joining players cross-platform, which will surely help keep the game populated as time progresses.
Now for anyone familiar with the PC version of A Realm Reborn, or anyone who is familiar with other similar games, the thought of playing one of these games with a controller is both equal parts confusing and terrifying. Fortunately, Square Enix have realised this and provided two solutions. The first solution is a control scheme that feels perfect. I was amazed that everything felt so natural and intuitive. It is true that when you
first load a game up there is a lot happening on-screen, but after taking a moment you will rarely, if ever, feel overwhelmed with the control scheme. The second option Square Enix have given us is keyboard and mouse support, simply plug your USB peripherals in and play like any other player. The fact that Square Enix have put the effort in to this scheme speaks volumes and really just adds to the overall polish of the game.
The last and greatest point of difference between the PS4 and PC iterations is the ability to remote play with the PlayStation Vita. The experience has been a mixed bag with some games performing better than others, largely because developers have put very little time or effort into the feature. A new gold standard in remote play has now been set with Final Fantasy XIV, as the game runs lag free ninety-percent of the time. (I blame the remaining margin on my network connection and not the game itself.) Lag and connection problems plague other games when in remote play, but not A Realm Reborn. I tried my best to make it lag too by going into highly populated areas or just running continually but got nothing. What also makes the remote play feature such a joy is the thought that has gone into the control scheme. All aspects of the Vita have been used and it rarely feels clunky or incomplete. Finally, remote play is a viable option if you want to play the game and someone is using your TV. This is the closet experience to what the Wii U offers on another console and it has been done with an MMO. It is simply remarkable.