Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn opened up into open beta yesterday. Check it out your self by signing up here, the beta is only open from the 17th – 19th so jump on quickly.
With its open beta launch, many new players were ushered into the world of Hydaelyn by the hundreds of thousands.
This was my first time with XIV, I’ve heard many people complement the new version saying they’ve improved upon the base game considerably. From my point of view, I was approaching the game from an outsiders prospective with little knowledge on the original game but considerably experience with many other MMO’s.
So what are my first impressions of this new entry into the world of MMORPG’s? Well I can give you a hint, it isn’t good.
The game currently is very unstable which most people are putting down to the “Unexpected” amount of players logging on. The same thing I said with Sim City, why have an online game if your unprepared for players to log on. Disappointing indeed for another company’s under-sight.
I’ve been a Final Fantasy fan from the very beginning, since the games first hit the original PlayStation back in the late 90′s. I’m even a true fan who hates XIII so you know I’m true to my word.
I’m gonna jump straight in with my impressions for the first couple hours.
You first create your character with a decent selection of races and professions to choose from. I will point out that I thought the choice of things like scars and tattoos were very limited, as was the choice of beards.
Other wise the attention to detail was good and allowed a variable amount of different looks so no one should worry too much about everybody looking exactly the same.
Once your character has been finished your can save the design as a template and use it on other servers or for other characters which can save plenty of time. After creating your finished player you’ll get the choice of several servers to play on with the separation of EU, US and JP servers along with the ability to give your player a first and second name after choosing a server.
After pushing past the initial set up you’ll get the basics of the story laid out for you. The voice over during certain story moments is the only voice you’ll hear within the game, all quests and information are relayed via the old-fashioned way of text on your screen. It can often be tedious to read through everything while understanding what they’re all talking about. Some people may complain that I’m expecting too much from a new game, well I would say you’ve answered your own comment. This is a new game, I expect it to meet or exceed the standards set my many other new MMO’s. The original game was taken offline due to many issues players had, with this redesign they had a chance to fix and improve upon the game again. For no voices to be added and long strings of text to be used instead, the game often feels like a very dated MMO. Something I would have thought Square Enix would have wanted to avoid.
The problem with the game feeling dated from the beginning runs far deeper than you think at first. The entire game so far feels old and creaky, even when you login on to the PlayStation version and you have to use an archaic login system that reminds me of what little I’ve seen of XI.
It almost feels as if the developers don’t care what gamers want or for the many enhancements other MMO’s have made since XI. They may have improved upon the original XIV but from a gamers point of view the game doesn’t feel new. For all the players to than be asked to pay for a monthly subscription on the game for when it comes out, for what I feel is an out dated MMO with little to excite me at the early stages of the game is rather silly. To confound my gameplay and this first impressions, the game will not let me in this morning due to thinking I’m still logged in from last night. Unfortunately this means I can’t give you a massively in-depth preview but what I can give you is the basics from the beginning and hopefully that will help you decide if you want to give the game a try while you can for free.
After you’ve gotten past all the issues from the beginning you’ll enter your first major town. This will be different depending on what class you pick. When creating your character, during the class picking section you’ll see a city name and description on the left hand side. With different classes the starting city seems to change, though I’m unsure if this changes also on race, it could do.
Quests are the same as most MMO’s, you’ll go up to someone, chat a bit and accept the quest. You’ll know when someone has a quest as they’ll have a special symbol above their head. This is the exact same when it comes to returning from a finished quest.
You do have a semi useful teleport system. I say semi useful as when trying to go somewhere, it can’t show you a map, instead gives you a selection of names for each teleport. Not the most useful when you’ve just stared or have several activated teleporters on the list. Again the feeling of an archaic system is felt here amongst the fact you have to activate each teleport manually rather than just by your passing.
Combat is a massive focus for me. Nothing beats taking down some mighty squirrels or giant lady bugs. However combat isn’t all it should be, fighting is often delayed and sluggish. The only system in the past that I can relate it too is XII combat system, though even slower. You have abilities that will unlock as you level up for your class giving you more chances to strike your opponents but it still feels odd.
May I also add that I played this on the PS3 to see how well it works with the controller. Well lets say it wasn’t the best experience from a FF game. The controls were not only convoluted but also often didn’t work. You’d have to go through the several button clicks a couple of times to get something to work correctly. Talking is the prime example. You have a dozen players around a NPC, to talk to the NPC you need to select it, however you end up selecting each and every player before getting to the NPC. Sometimes this system works but often it lets you down. The problems extend to pretty much every level of the control scheme, maybe barring the ease of combat, other than aiming.
The only really good system that I can say adds something unique to FF XIV is the class system. Changing class is as simple as changing armour and weapons. This means you’ll never have to create multiplayer characters just to try out other classes or level them all up. At the end of the day, MMO characters are often a persona for the user, allowing you to do pretty much everything with one character would be pretty amazing. Unfortunately, the rest of the game doesn’t help.
This is pretty difficult for me to say as a FF fan but XIV is just dreadful in my view. The whole game feels as if it’s been created in the early years of 2000 and touched up with barely HD graphics. For Square Enix to demand all players to pay monthly for this sort of service when you have plenty of new Free to Play games on the horizon that are far more advanced on top of the current market leaders of WOW and GW2, is pretty disgusting. As with an interview with the Online Director of XIV from VentureBeat, you can see why he has implemented the subscription service but if the game isn’t enjoyable or is way behind the competition than I don’t see how he has a leg to stand on. Content means nothing if gamers can’t enjoy the game.
My advice is get into the beta now. Don’t waste your money later on just to find out what I’ve talked about above is more annoying when experienced compared to being told it. Some of you may say that it is still in beta, well it is, but as the game is coming in about a weeks time I would say you’re defending a game with little hope. The game is as up to date as it will be with many of the niggles somehow missed during earlier testing. The game will not be much different when it finally comes out. You may have lots of extra content but what you can play now is the final product of a developer who seems more interested in their own silly ideals then listening to fans who enjoy their games. Square Enix is reminding me of Nintendo more and more nowadays and that’s not a good thing.
I can understand that I’ve only played a small portion of the game but from what I’ve played I really can’t recommend it. If the game sucks so much early on with many flaws in the general gameplay I don’t see how getting further in to the game will help that. Your welcome to share your experiences below in the comments.
Thanks to Square Enix resetting the servers this morning and extending the uptime of the beta for everybody in the US and EU, due to players having issues playing the game I’ve managed to get a few more hours in. The new end time for the beta is now 3pm GMT.
So what have those few extra hours taught me?
Well the game is slightly more enjoyable with a party of people, though the party system is rather difficult to manage. Going into other menus just to leave a party seem rather odd compared to having a button on the party layout down the side or a right click option for leaving. Though this is a small issue it is worsened by the fact that story quests will not allow you to undertake the mission while in a party, no options of just doing the mission with no party help are available meaning you’ll have to keep jumping in and out of parties to complete certain missions.
I do have some good news though, the game does indeed have some level of voice acting within the story missions, though not from where you pick-up or return them.
While playing this morning I decided to try the game on the PC to see the difference in control scheme. The game is certainly more manageable using PC controls, things do still often get in the way and I found targeting during battles in fates or with party members even worse on the PC compared to the console.
Another good point about the game is the auto loot mechanic. You kill a couple creatures and you automatically pick anything up that would have dropped to the ground. This allows you to focus on killing rather than loot grabbing. The longer you battle also helps build up your chain meter. As the chain builds more you get a certain percentage of extra EXP on top of what you’d usually get.
The game has slightly grown on me but no where near enough to warrant the expense people are going to be laying down to enjoy the game. I have spotted something odd though while looking up info on FF XIV. I noticed the original XI is still going and what shocked me the most is the fact that it still requires a subscription.
This is something that has dashed my small hopes of FF XIV going free to play or any other method payment. If Square Enix are still happy to take peoples money on a ten year old game that has aged incredibly badly than they won’t give two fucks about taking money from gamers with little in the way of unique or enjoyable content supplied in its stead.
Some of you probably think I’m being unfairly harsh on the remake, I think I relayed what I honestly think without too much of my bios for something like Guild Wars 2 getting in the way. Yes, my current preferred MMO at the moment is GW 2, that is probably part of my issue with FF XIV. The game just doesn’t play as smooth or as fun as many other games and I would not have tried it if it weren’t for the free beta weekend. GW 2 in my mind is a gem, it plays brilliantly, fast and most of all is easy to get into. Not that’s its perfect, no game is but what GW 2 did has made me look at many other MMO’s and wonder why they can’t do what it does so well.
I am however intrigued to find out what other gamers think of FF XIV.
As requested by some readers they pointed out that I never gave an update on the graphics for the PC version. I didn’t because frankly they failed to WOW. They also are not the most important part of a game. Surely the enjoyability of a game should come before pretty images. I added graphics in the original article to simply state that the PS3 version is far worse than it should have been. I’m sure your all aware of what the PS3 can do on a lot of games yet it feels very ignored in the visual department for that particular version.
So yes PC is better looking, whoopie! Can we know talk about FF XIV flaws so Square Enix can fix them or is everybody simply happy to ignore them as they get pinched every month in the wallet department?