After two months of playing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, I have finally leveled my first character to the max level of 50. I had some good times, bad times, fun moments, and irritations. My hope is to give insight to potential players so you can decide if the game is right for you.
When first starting the game, I was presented with a very attractive looking character creation screen. The graphics are pretty good and the characters looked very pretty. The customization options for character appearance are good, but not the best. While some games are opting for a system which has sliders for every feature such as nose height, eye width, and hair length, FFXIV has gone in favor of a numbered selection. Nose type 1,2, 3, or 4, for example. There are a few sliders to determine things such as Character Height and the more important Breast Size though. There is also the option to change your character’s voice. While your character doesn’t have any lines of dialog, it gives your character a voice when performing attack sounds and emotes, such as laughing and cheering.
Above: The characters in FFXIV are very pretty.
After choosing your appearance, you get to choose your class. This section is pretty easy to understand. You have your Disciples of War, which are your physical attack classes, and Disciples of Magic, which are your magic using classes. One thing that I like was the fact that your starting area is determined by your class, not your race, as is the case in most games.
In the end, I was neither pleased nor displeased with the system. Although it had plenty of appearance options, I felt as though I was unable to make two characters look completely different. Also, all of the features, except for height and skin color, only customized the face, leaving the rest of the player’s bodies looking the same as everyone else.
Combat in FFXIV is your basic tab-targeting and auto attack system. If you’ve played games like World of Warcraft or Rift, then you know what I’m talking about. The melee classes all have a combo system to their attacks. For example, as a Lancer, I have three attacks that I can use at any time, but if I use them in the correct order, each attack does bonus damage.
Other than that, the combat is nothing special. They didn’t do anything new that other games haven’t done in the last ten years. While disappointing, it didn’t keep me away from the game. Since it was familiar to me, I had no issues jumping right into combat without having to learn some new system.
Let me say that I am a huge fan of questing. For one, it gives me a goal to achieve even if it’s just “Kill 10 goblins”. FFXIV has three types of quests: Main Scenario Quests, Side Quests, and Levequests. The side quests are your basic kill and gather quests, which are present in almost every MMO out today. The Main Quest is a quest line that will take your from level 1 to 50 and tells the complete story of your character. Depending on what city you start in, the main story guides your character to deal with the most pressing problems that city has to offer while teaching the player how to play the game.
The Main questline is full of rich story. Taking your character from a measly adventurer to experienced Scion of the Seventh Dawn. I will avoid spoilers by not telling you what the story has in store for you, but I will say that it is one of the best that I’ve experienced in any online game. The story will take the player through every zone, send them through almost all the dungeons and give the player access to a lot of game features.
Lastly there are Levequests. These are on-demand and repeatable quests that the player is able to accept from specific NPCs. They are short and sweet “kill and gather” quests that allow players to earn extra experience on the side. To prevent players from leveling up purely on levequests, they are limited to 5 per day, but they do accumulate if you don’t do them. I think I had 50 saved up last time I checked.
While the quests feature plenty of story and dialog, they don’t go without some technical restrictions. This was by far the most irritating issue I had with the game. I have no problem with leveling from one to max level purely on questing alone. FFXIV does not allow that. The main questline will often force the player into dungeons. While I do enjoy the casual dungeon run from time to time, I don’t like being forced into one to continue story progression. If you don’t have any friends to help you out, you are stuck waiting in the Duty Finder for a group to be put together for you, which can take up to an hour. Also, a lot of side quests are tied to the main quest, so when I can’t continue the main quest before I do said dungeon then the side quests won’t unlock either.
Above: Quest chain halted because I no longer meet the requirements.
The next technical issue is the fact that around level 30 or so the quests no longer give enough experience to meet the next quest’s level requirement. Too often was I enjoying a quest line only to be presented with a red quest marker telling me that I no longer meet the requirements to continue. This forced me to seek out other methods to gain experience until I was a high enough level again, such as doing dungeons, levequests, or FATES. Sometimes grinding for hours just so I can continue the story. Some players would argue that it’s a good thing to branch out and experience more aspects of the game. While I don’t disagree with that, I dislike being forced to.
Grouping up in FFXIV is no different than most modern MMOs. You can party up normally through invitation and do quests, dungeons, or FATES together, or you can use the Duty Finder, which automatically groups players up depending on their class’ role for dungeons. This is identical to most other MMO’s dungeon finder systems. The dungeons I experienced didn’t offer anything that I haven’t seen before in other MMOs. Mostly trash mobs followed by the occasional boss. The boss encounters themselves can be fun. Each one generally has some cool mechanic to it so players have to do more than just stab and fireball their way to victory. This goes double for the major boss fights such as Primal battles which involve a lot of target switching and positioning to avoid the stronger attacks.
Above: Joining a FATE while questing with my chocobo companion.
I’ve mentioned earlier of the term FATES. FATE stands for Full Active Time Event. What are they? They are random events that appear periodically in the world that often feature large numbers of monsters to be killed or a boss encounter. Anybody can run in and assist with the objectives and are rewarded proportionately with their level of participation. If you’ve ever played Warhammer Online or Rift then you will be familiar with the concept.
Final Fantasy XIV is a pretty fun MMO and worth trying out to see if you like it. The early levels flowed very nicely and the story kept me wanting to progress. After getting to the higher levels, the game started giving me a lot of grief, and I began to grow frustrated and eventually bored. While I don’t regret the time I spent experiencing game, I won’t be a long term subscriber.