Hello everyone, my name is DecoyEC and today I will be reviewing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, published by Square Enix. This game is available on the PS3, PS4, as well as the PC (can also be purchased through Steam). The game does require a subscription to play, but it is relatively cheap and you do have options ($12.99 for entry, which is really all you need). Additionally, Square Enix offers a free trial that allows you to play for 14 days, although you will be capped at level 20 and will be limited with your actions such as joining a Free Company (known as guilds in other MMOs), whispering, or using the market board among other things. However, you can still add friends so when you do make the move to buy the full game, you can instantly whisper them and join a Free Company (FC)! **Beware for Steam and PlayStation players, once you register your Square Enix account to either Steam or your PSN, you will have to register the full game under the same device (i.e. free trial on Steam will not be recognized for Windows PC, and PSN/SE account will be permanently linked so do not make up fake information. If you do, write it down).** I personally play on the PC, so my experiences will come from there.
Now, despite this being an MMO, you don’t need to sink hours upon hours every day into it. This is very story driven and is tailored towards people with full time jobs and then some. You can comfortably progress through the game with just 2 hours a day. Now, being story driven, there is of course a lot of cutscenes. Luckily for you, you can watch these at your own leisure in your inn room by accessing the handy dandy journal that magically records words and memories! You can also change the dialogue from English to other languages as well **coughJapanesecough** if you so choose.
Final Fantasy XIV’s main starts five years after the Battle of Carteneau where the Warriors of Light fought against the Garlean Empire and the elder Primal, Bahamut. The realm of Eorzea is still trying to recovery from the calamity when you, a new adventurer, arrive at her doorstep.
The game is very friendly towards new players, introducing all vital mechanics of the game at a steady pace along with the story which gives a real sense of progression and you can see your character grow stronger through various interactions. At the very beginning of the game, you will notice something called Tool Tips popping up with a “?” inside of a green circle. Always read these and never disable them. Even if you have extensive MMO background, this game is massive and it only serves to help you better understand mechanics.
Final Fantasy XIV is an MMORPG where you have one character, chosen from a number of different races (like the Miqo’te who are adorable cat people or the Lalafell who are the spawn of Satan) that can be ALL of the classes. Once you complete your starting classes’ quest to level 10, you unlock the ability to talk to other guild receptionists and their Guild Masters to learn a new class. Changing classes is as simple as equipping the main weapon for that class, and you will have a list of registered class gear you can then customize and swap on the fly. There’s plenty of customization so take your time here because you will be stuck with this character for a while and it costs roughly $10 to buy a vial of Fantasia to change your appearance including gender and race. You could create an alternate character, but by default you are only allowed one per server unless you pay for standard subscription but there’s really no point since leveling multiple characters is encouraged due to the cross-class system. It is beneficial, nay, a requirement to level multiple classes on the same character in this game.
Also the HUD customization is pretty insane. Organizing your HUD is a game in and of itself. After that, wait until you discover how you can change the colors for various texts among other settings.
The initial gameplay for Final Fantasy XIV is admittedly quite slow compared to most others. Your class will only have access to a few actions which share a global cooldown (GCD) timer of 2.5 seconds. If you are transitioning from an action MMO such as Dragon Nest, it will only enhance the sluggish feel. But fear not! Leveling is quick, easy, and before you know it, you will have your basic combo by your first dungeon at level 15. I started with the Rogue, a DPS class, which later became a Ninja. By the time I hit level 20, I had my basic 1-2-3 combo along with a few off global cooldown (oGCD) skills which you weave in between combos and make fighting feel very fluid. Tanks and healers will stance dance between a more offensive and defensive approach (yes, healers are expected to DPS when healing is not needed) so there is never a dull moment! In fact, healers have created many panic inducing moments where they forgot to switch back prior to healing so definitely cause for a good laugh or sometimes mildly rage inducing.
Positioning in this game is huge, especially if you are playing as a tank class (Gladiator/Paladin, Marauder/Warrior) or the Monk whose skills and overall damage depends on positioning yourself properly among other factors. It’s probably a lot to take in, especially if this is your first MMO but the community is forgiving and cooperative and the game really does an excellent job of teaching the basics without spoon-feeding you completely so don’t be deterred to try out anything that appeals to you! I have never tanked before but once I got my Ninja to level 49, I decided to start over as a tank and went Paladin and it has been a complete blast. **Beware queue times for DPS in duty finder though. Really helps if you have a tank/healer buddy to queue with.**
Gear progression in this game is made very simple. I would strongly suggest you always take the allagan pieces as quest rewards when starting off or at least when they become 100 gill apiece because it will really help you start earning money so you can purchase equipment later. You will receive equipment naturally through completing dungeons and there is a dice system, so there really isn’t much reason to take quest equipment since they are only normal grade and dungeon equips provide better stats for the same level.
Honestly though, it really does get better and even if the combat feels too slow in the beginning, you level so quickly and get pulled in by the story that you hardly notice. At least I didn’t and got over it by the time I was level 5 on my first class. Again, don’t be afraid to test out every class. That is strongly encouraged and also somewhat mandatory as progression goes. I tried all the magic classes and found my calling with melee even though I hate melee classes in most other games.
Final Fantasy XIV’s pace is tailored very well for people with busy schedules. If you have a lot of free time, you may get burned out quickly but keep in mind there’s lots to do other than just leveling your battle classes! You can kill some time at the Gold Saucer, relax with some fishing, or look into PVP! Main story progresses at a very steady pace, giving a feeling of character growth and accomplishment unlike many others where you just faceroll through the content and arrive at end-game only to spend endless hours grinding for top tier equipment. The majority of the class quests, however, aren’t as fortunate. The Rogue class was by far my favorite (you’ll especially love this if you like characters such as Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean or Luffy from One Piece). Close seconds are Arcanist and Pugilist, while the others are rather bland and predictable or even somewhat disappointing (looking at you, Gladiator). Some side quests are also quite entertaining and actually helps provide further insight into the situation you’re in so also worth a quick read if it catches your attention. If not, you’re not really missing out on anything.
The music and the graphics in this game are also amazing. Well, graphics of course depends on your machine but the music is definitely what is expected of Final Fantasy games if you’re familiar. Melds very well with the environment and helps set the mood.
- Gameplay Score: 9/10 **Biggest complaint is that combat feels slow at first. Keep in mind, this game is tailored to an audience who is playing an MMO for the first time. End game raids are quite challenging though, so don’t worry. I promise it gets better.**
- Audio Score: 10/10 **Excellent music. What can I say?**
- Community Score: 9/10 **There’s no shortage of welcoming and helpful players in this game. Unfortunately, no 10/10 because it is an MMO, so you are bound to run into a few jerks here and there but that’s to be expected. You are playing with real people, after all. That being said, the community is very refreshing from lots of what I have experienced prior.**
- Graphics Score: 9/10 **Graphics look amazing and there’s also a day and night change along with weather that affects some aspects of the game. I do have everything set to max though, but even on low quality the game still fares above average. Water physics are stunning whereas foliage is lacking. Also, the Blackmage’s Fire IV wrecks your screen so beware of that.**
- Customer Service: 7/10 **Can’t comment too much on this as I haven’t had to use it yet. However, from what I have seen on the forums, customer support is quite lacking despite it being an amazing game. If you have licensing issues with the game, expect bugger all to happen. On the flipside, Square Enix listens to the players and patches accordingly which is awesome.**
- Emotes Score : o(≧▽≦)o♪ / 10
This game is definitely worth the investment. You can use the free trial to get a feel for it (North America/Europe), and even after buying you can always unsubscribe if you feel burned out and come back later to catch up! The game is balanced very well between all classes, making it very easy for players to play their favorite(s) without worrying about class discrimination (at least not until end game towards Heavensward, but even then it is minimal).
Try it out, put it on a wishlist or keep an eye out for sales, and enjoy the game!
See you in-game. -DecoyEC has logged off.