John’s Progression: Final Fantasy 14

Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn is technically Square Enix’s third attempt into the MMORPG genre, and it seems to be getting attention for all the wrong reasons. Most of those being the constant server issues and the god awful account management system. Many people faced these issues, myself included and you could say that effected my enjoyment of the game. Well yes, and no. While it was incredibly frustrating, issues such as servers being full, some servers not showing up at all and even characters going missing where all issues I’ve had to suffer though these past few weeks. While this didn’t happen to everyone, I was just extremely unlucky. But now that things seemed to have stabilised, how do I think now. Well, I haven’t been able to get as far into the game I would have liked. I’m still having a great time. FF14:ARR has a lot going for it.

Since first impressions are important, we’ll start there. The game opens with CG cutscene that explains more or less whats happening throughout the world of Eorzea, but instead of just leaving you with what the CG explains, I’ll give you a quick synopsis. I would like to preface that I didn’t play a lot of the original FF14, so I’m not certain if it carries on the story from there. It seems like it does though. So here is your synopsis, as the result of a Great War between factions the great primal beast Bahamut was awakened and burst out of the moon in a rage, tearing the world asunder, thanks to a small group of nameless heroes Bahamut was subdued but it was too late, the world was forever changed. Eorzea is rebuilding slowly, and you’re a greenhorn adventurer looking to make your name known. You find out you are one the select few Crystal Bearers and it is your duty to prevent a calamity happening again.

After that the game throws you into a character creator much like other games of its genre do, and something I would like to mention is that, I never really feel these are done right. They are either too simplistic or too complicated, to the point where one wrong slider choice can bug me whenever I see my characters face. (Thank god for helmets) BUT, the character creator here seems to have the perfect balance of the both. Creating my character was quick simple and I felt like I had something unique each time. I even like the small detail that your character has to have a surname. I don’t know why, but I felt like with that system I had a lost more freedom with naming my characters rather then just getting “THIS NAME IS TAKEN HOMIE” over and over.

Once that is all said and done you’re treated to a few in-game cutscenes, and lemme tell you, I’m glad I have a decent enough gaming rig to run it at Maximum settings because this game is so gosh darn beautiful. It’s very bright and vibrant, and so far the environmental design is beautiful. Over the various new characters I had to start, I have had the pleasure of seeing all of the starting areas thus far except for Uldah. My favourite area is the starting area for my most recent character (A Level 13 Marauder) is the Ocean side city of Limsa Lominsa. Especially with the community being as lively as it is right now, it is a bussling city with multiple layers to it. It can be a bit confusing to navigate at first, but after the first 13 levels or so, you should have the hang of navigating the place. Right outside the city are a beautiful series of green open plains and farms, and it just looks gorgeous. One of the problems I’ve had with MMORPG’s of the past is that they tend to use some kind of fog or draw distance to block out a lock of the games beauty. This has a far draw distance, honestly I often get up to a high point just so I can see a large space of the area, and I just love it.

MMORPGs have been going through a rough Transition right now. While WoW still remains king, you have games like Tera and others trying to take a more action approach to the combat to slowly move away from the typical Hotkey based format. FF14:ARR doesn’t try to do that. This is typical Hotkey Based MMORPG, but but it does it really damn well. Veterans could easily see this as more of the same. It’s true that it shares a lot of the typical structures you see in this genre. You have all your active spells set to the num bar, (1- =) you have your Tanks, DPS and Healers. Fetch quests, public events called fates, Kill and collect quests and all the other things that make up a standard Hotkey Based MMORPG.

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However FF14:ARR does a lot of small things to help alleviate the grind. From the hunting journal which encourages you to go out of your way to kill certain monsters. Giving you bonus XP and other rewards, to being able to get bonus xp  from daily quests by adjusting the difficulty and completing them as fast as you can. There seems to be a lot of focus of giving you options on how to earn bonus XP along side your questing. They are so quick and easy to do that you will find it hard to not go and kill that monster with the hunting journal icon over it’s head.

I haven’t really gotten to experience the advanced class system to its fullest. As soon as you reach level 10 you gain the ability to pick up extra classes/jobs, and further down the track if you meet certain requirements (Getting one class to level 20, another class to level 15 for example) you can fuse those classes together to make an advanced powerful class. All I’ve been able to experience right now is the ability to pick up more classes and jobs. My favourite thing about this is that, the game makes it loud and clear how simple it is to switch between classes. All you need to do is once you go to the guild of the class you want to pick up, equip a new weapon or tool, Bam, you’re a new class. No complicated or convoluted process. It’s that simple.

They also make it simple to switch back to your original class without just equipping all your old gear again with gear sets. That specific feature is not really new. But hey, it’s appreciated. The one thing I like about the most in this whole class system, is that they make crafting jobs feel important. You gain levels just like any other class, you get skills, there is even specific armor and stats to upgrade as you level these classes up to make crafting easier the higher you get. Just so many things are done right to help make crafting feel important and not just another side thing you can pick up. It also has it’s own type of Hunting Journal known as the crafting Journal, which will challenge you to fill it out for bonus XP, and it’s nice seeing all those ticks and achievements go off. Matter of fact, I feel that I could just be a dedicated craftsmen on another character and not feel bad about it at all. It’s rather rewarding. Which is something big for me, considering that in most other MMORPGs I hate doing this sort of stuff.

The only other thing I have not been able to get too far into is the Dungeons/Raids/Fates, whatever you want to call them. That is partly because that I’m not really high enough level to get into the significant areas, as of yet. No doubt I’ll get there soon enough though.

The time I have spent with Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn has been a fantastic one. A love I once had for Hotkey based MMORPGs has returned due to this and I cannot wait to get further into it. Now that all the issues are being ironed out, the only issues I have encountered so far is that the map system can be a bit complicated to navigate a first and the god awful account management system. But these things don’t really have anything to do with the gameplay itself, it’s just a huge hurdle to get over to actually start playing. I know this question gets asked a lot, but is it a good alternative to WoW? I’ll say this is every sense of the term “Modern MMORPG” in the fact that it looks gosh darn gorgeous and it has a lot of the game design sensibilities of the past few years. It’s not a revolution on the genre but it does enough small things to keep your interest and give it its own flavour. Plus, the Final Fantasy Fanfare is always nice.  I’ll definitely be playing the upcoming weeks to see if this continues, but for now. It has a strong first impression.