This past weekend Square Enix had an open beta for FFXIV Online A Realm Reborn. I jumped onto the revamped MMO and played all day Saturday and most of Sunday. I played for close to eight total hours leveling up my female Miqo’te (cat person) Arcanist to level 12. Never having played the original version I enjoyed my time with the beta, but it wasn’t without its flaws. Here are my impressions and takeaways from the FFXIV open beta.
Final Fantasy XIV’s combat was a lot of fun. I never grouped with other players or ran any dungeons, meaning I never got to experience group combat, but from a solo stand point I enjoyed doing battle against enemy NPCs. For the beginning levels of the Arcanist class the combat mainly consisted of casting one spell over and over again, but soon I was able to apply some damage over time spells as well as summon Carbuncle, an emerald squirrel, to fight alongside me.
No fight felt unfair and the only times I died or was in trouble was my own fault. The game does a great job of broadcasting that the enemy is about to cast a spell or ability by displaying the effect area in red on the ground, if I didn’t move fast enough and got hit that was my fault.
Understandably the enemies I was fighting were rather easy as I never ventured far beyond the beginning area, but they still were enjoyable to fight. The game did a good job of not making killing monsters feel like a chore and the variety of enemies just within the beginning zone was impressive. With so much variety in enemies it was a joy to see what kind of enemy was just around the corner.
All of my eight hours playing I used a wireless Xbox 360 controller which worked surprisingly well. Targeting was rather difficult at times especially when there were a lot of enemies and player characters on the screen. A few times when I was in an event with a lot of other players it was almost impossible to attack an enemy before they died because of the amount of targets I had to scroll through with the d-pad just to get to an enemy. Spell casting with the controller was fine at the low level, but I worry how it will handle having much more spells at a higher level and using a controller to heal a group may be challenging. Players that decide to play on a console will be a definite disadvantage.
I was taken back at how in depth and engrossing the world of FFXIV is more than once I proclaimed this was a world I could get lost in out loud to my uninterested girlfriend. I only explored one main city and a very small part of the surrounding zones, but was already blown away with the world.
My character was based in Limsa Lominsa, which is a pirate city that has multiple levels and is built by connecting bridges. The first two to three hours were spent within the city walls and I was perfectly fine with that. Exploring the city was a joy, from the hall where the shops were to just admiring the towers and water below, and when I finally ventured out beyond the city to La Noscea the world got even better.
Even though I was just running through fields and doing simple quests the world drew me in. The detail was outstanding from the rivers to the cliffs and even the mines the beauty of this world is outstanding. No other MMO world that I have experienced grabbed my attention as much as Final Fantasy XIV did, but even in its beauty I couldn’t fully invest myself into the story.
Unfortunately after about five hours of really forcing myself to read every quest I came across I started to give up. The texts were so long and uninteresting I fell right back into bad habits of just hitting the A button to try and skip through the text as fast as possible, and although the cut scenes were interesting I only ran into one that had actual voice acting.
Sure the amount of work that would have been needed to voice act everything would have been astronomical, but I couldn’t help but wish Square Enix had taken on that challenge. I wanted to be invested in this world, but when it took me five to ten minutes to read a quest I had to give up and just level. Square Enix definitely missed out on a grand opportunity if they would have had their characters voiced.
I was surprised at how fast I progressed in my two days of playing FFXIV. Leveling never quite felt like a drag or a grind there was always something to do and the game did a good job of changing it up and making everything feel new. Of course there were the classic MMO quests but they never consisted of killing more than five enemies. The drop rate was always 100% for quest items off enemies and this made doing quests a lot more enjoyable.
Even when playing WoW when I was tasked with killing 10 to 15 enemies or getting that many drops for a quest it felt like a chore. When I am tasked with killing three enemies and rewarded with gear and a good amount of experience like FFXIV does it doesn’t feel like such a chore; this what kept me playing for so long in FFXIV, quests never took more than a few minute and no quest ever felt like it gave me a miniscule reward, and when I got bored of questing there were other ways of leveling.
It was impressive the amount of ways to level I was introduced to in just a short period of time. From maintaining a hunting log where you must kill a certain amount of enemies on the list and rewarded with experience that would rival any quest and to the multitude of events such as Guild Wars 2 that are scattered around the map. You will always have something to do and if you are lost FFXIV provides you with a recommendation list.
The recommendation list provides you with a suggestion of quests or events that would be suitable for your level. FFXIV does a great job of making it easy for you to find something to do. Quests are displayed on the map no matter where you are in a zone, any enemy you need to kill to update your “Hunting Log” has an indicator over its name and any enemy you need to kill for a quest has a big Q over their head. I just wish they had a little better guidance with quests, more than once I got lost and had no clue where to go with my quest if it was out of the zone. All in all I had a lot of fun leveling in FFXIV, but it would be interesting to see what the later levels have to offer.
I was very impressed with FFXIV, it was definitely a game that I could see myself losing a lot of hours to. The world is a world I could lose myself in and there was just so much to do, unfortunately the game doesn’t bring anything remarkably new to the genre and I wouldn’t be willing to buy the game and pay a monthly subscription. The best way I could describe the game was if you mashed World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 together you would get FFXIV.
Fans of FFXI will not be disappointed and as an old FFXI gamer I can say this game is much better, but with games like EverQuest Next, Elder Scrolls Online and WildStar on the way I can’t see myself investing the time and money needed into experiencing FFXIV. Although after playing the beta it seems as though the amount of work done in revamping the game has paid off and both Square Enix and the developers should be applauded for the results.