Not many games, let alone MMOs, get another chance after failing, but Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is the second iteration of Square Enix’s second entry into the world of MMORPGs. The first release, or 1.0, saw the world come to an end by a meteor after the game received a poor reception due to its inherent flaws and design. This Calamity, shown in the video below, wiped the slate clean for Square Enix to reinvent the title with the assistance of Naoki Yoshida, acting as the game’s Director and Producer. Yoshida and his team have crafted a title worthy of the Final Fantasy franchise.
Once you’ve downloaded and installed the game, you’ll be treated to an extensive character creation screen that could devour hours of your future game-time. With five unique races and two variations within each race, you’ll find it hard to run into a carbon copy of your character while exploring Eorzea. The ability to customize your character’s features, including hair color, height and eye color (with the option of heterochromia) ensures that each player may immerse themselves into the game to their utmost satisfaction.
Variety is a major aspect of FFXIV’s appeal, as players aren’t pigeon-holed into a single job. While other MMOs force a player to choose one-two jobs as their specialization, FFXIV allows players to change into any job the game offers by equipped the job’s respective weapon. Players can choose to go into battle as four melee classes (Pugilist, Gladiator, Archer, Lancer and Marauder) or three mage classes (Conjurer, Thaumaturge and Arcanist).
While classes share similarities, and certain abilities can be shared across classes, each is unique and focuses on a different aspect of battle. Playing as a Lancer has you focus on dealing as much damage as you can while flanking your enemies, while playing as a Thaumaturge has you cycle through your spells to ensure a healthy supply of damage is wreaked upon your enemies.
After choosing your first class you’re locked into it until you reach level 10, which will happen in no time at all. After completing your first class quest, you will be able to unlock every other class in the game. These classes will eventually become a job at level 30, with the help of a Soul Crystal, opening up more opportunity for variety.
Classes aren’t just limited to battle, as the game also totes another 11 classes in the gathering and crafting categories. Fishing, Mining and Botany round out the gathering classes that you can spend countless hours devoted to and, with enough time, they can become a profitable interest. Focusing on any of the eight crafting classes (Alchemist, Armorer, Blacksmith, Carpenter, Culinarian, Goldsmith, Leatherworker and Weaver) will allow you to meld materia, gems with additional stats, to your weapons and armor. If you don’t wish to spend your time leveling these classes yourself, you can find another player who has to request melding from them, though it will likely come at a price.
Square Enix’s first MMO, Final Fantasy XI, was a game that required dedication; leveling was almost exclusively a team effort as not much content was directed at soloist players. This, however, is not the case in FF14:ARR.
Casual play is the main idea behind the first few hours of the game as the main story serves as an easy way to gain experience quickly on your first class. In fact, it’s not impossible to reach level 10 within the first hour or so of play. This allows you to begin unlocking various quests, including your class story quest, which serve to increase the ease in leveling. Be wary, though, as once you complete a quest it cannot be repeated. A wise player would allow their first class to complete the story quests for experience and leave the side quests for the various classes they may play as time goes on.
While the quests at the start of your adventure are quite easy, the difficulty will ramp up as you continue into the mid-to-upper level content of the game. This provides you with a gentle learning curve that some MMOs lack, never leaving you unsure of what you can or cannot do within the confines of the game.
Whether you’re new to MMO’s in general or a grizzled veteran, the game includes a helpful “active tutorial.” Anytime a new term or asset is unlocked for your character, a pop-up will appear on the screen and walk you through what it means exactly to you and how you can best take advantage of it.
Exploring the world of Eorzea by yourself is possible, but to fully experience the game you’ll need to work together with other players. While most of the main storyline can be accomplished by yourself, you’ll find that certain instances require you to use the “Duty Finder” system.
This system allows you to queue up with your current job for Dungeons and Boss instances to group you with other players that are currently looking to accomplish them as well. You’ll be able to queue into this system with your friends, eliminating the need to look for additional players or lessening the amount of players you need, but the system will always be used, as it reserves that particular instance for you. All instances in-game do not take place on your native server, which allows the Duty Finder to search for players not only on one server. After collecting the group of players that will be involved it takes you to a separate server which is a brilliant idea when it works, but, problems do arise.
The first two weeks of FFXIV saw a handful issues that have since been addressed. Initially, Square Enix struggled to cope with the server stress from the record breaking 230,000 users connecting to the game at once. This caused the game to become rife with error codes, such as the dreaded 90000 code which booted you from the server and the 1017 “World is currently full” error, and caused problems connecting with the Duty Finder.
Many users complained of spending anywhere from under an hour to an entire day being unable to log into the game due to the 1017 error and the servers that seem to be affected the most are those of the NA/EU players. The worst I experienced during this period was a two hour period I was unable to log in, but this did allow me to focus on more pertinent real life issues. While many players were dissatisfied with this occurrence, it goes to show the popularity the game quickly achieved.
Players were understandably frustrated at this time but it is to be expected that there would be hiccups during the first week a MMORPG goes live. Square Enix could have better prepared for this with a longer Beta Phase 4 period but, at the very least, they extended the free trial period of the game for all those that have been affected.
The current end-game situation for FFXIV is expansive, so players should find themselves preoccupied for a long time. Hard Mode fights for Story Bosses that drop high-level equipment, a handful of high-level dungeons and Bahamut’s Coil, the hardest content currently in the game, should tide over hardcore players before the Crystal Tower, a 24-man instance, is released in the coming updates.
If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy, MMOs or if you’re looking for an incredibly lush world with a rich history, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn won’t disappoint.