Getting an account going is confusing and complicated. Play Online for FFXI was bad enough, this is a new step in the wrong direction in that category. For those of you that remember the patch problems players had when using the Blizzard Updater from WoW, your concerns about patches are reaffirmed in this game. Patching is time consuming and buggy. There are third party sites you can download from and at least for the next coming months that may be the avenue you go down to get your game client up to date.
Like XI or any other Final Fantasy title, the opening sequence almost makes you want to cry it’s so gorgeous and inspiring. The graphics both in game and cinematic are some of the best I’ve ever seen and way ahead of XI, in fact there really isn’t any reason to compare they are that far apart. The bummer is that you need a system that pretty much is top of the line to run this game.
So far game play is painful. Questing is extremely limited and with so much time in between quests or quest hubs, you have to spend a lot of time trying to entertain yourself. Some examples of this could be trying to figure out how to craft or farm items or maybe your cup of tea is to grind experience for the next 6 hours. Bottom line is the most simple aspect of early game experience and progression is terrible and slow. If it wasn’t for my past experience with FFXI and every other title Square has released I probably would have given up on this already.
Going back to crafting, you might think it is easy or just a matter of time. I hate to burst your bubble but that is not the case. Crafting is so much a part of this game you can’t help but get into it as early as possible. Great, that sounds awesome.. wait till I tell you that there is no auction house. What? you ask. Yes, exactly, there is a limited economy in Final 14. Instead of an auction house, you get NPC’s, similar to the ones used in Final 11, that sell items you have to other players. Even that is confusing as there is no way at least at this point to tell what an NPC carries. So if your sitting in town, looking for something to do and crafting is your choice, you might as well farm what you need and occasionally look through shops to see if you get lucky and find some easy affordable mats to further your craft.
Crafting is important because unless you grind quests, which are limited in the first place, the only sure-fire way to get gear that is appropriate to your class,level and budget is to craft them. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite parts of online games and player interaction is an auction house system. Your NPC or “retainer” is just a “mule” type character you equip with your items to sale, what a joke.
The UI is similar to that of 11, but worse in every way. All your options are tucked away into menus and require you to dig to find them. Yes you can save yourself some time by setting up some macros, but wouldn’t it have been easier to just hot key something? The answer to this question and countless others you will face when playing this game is yes, there are simpler ways, sorry deal with it. Clearly you can see this was designed for a console. At this point the release on PS3 is slated for March 2011, hopefully game play improves a lot before that time.
I mentioned earlier the pain of leveling up, due to well, game play, but the main culprit here is questing. I will be the first to tell you I do not care for repetition in game play, quests or environmental details. Unfortunately, Final Fantasy XIV is full of repetition in all those areas. As for questing, you get quests from a crystal you interact with. You may recognize this as being similar to a quest board from previous titles like FFXII. The problem with this is the quests are disconnected from the game, not relevant to the story and in no way even shed light on anything to do with the world, characters or history of Eorzea. You are limited to eight(8), quests every 36 hours!!!! WHAT? Yes the quests are on cool down, holy crap what is gaming coming to? I never thought grinding with the other three thousand people on my server would be more fun, but it is, sadly.
Final Fantasy XIV did nothing new in its attempt at a great game. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the visuals and character models are top notch, but the attractive nature of those aspects is shallow at best and when you get into the game and experience more environments, you will see that the design is too few and more substance would have taken this visual monstrosity a great distance in the right direction. Character races are designed the same, just given different names and the class system, although different from the job system of 11, is basically the same thing presented in a new way with different names. So in reality, there isn’t anything cutting-edge design wise about the world, story or your avatar and with such a demanding list of requirements and boring monotonous game play with quest cool downs and a bad UI, it makes you wonder what they were thinking or yourself for spending all this money?
I can’t answer that for you but i can tell you that you can’t deny the success of this franchise and MMORPG’s are sensitive and vulnerable to high expectations, millions of people, large budgets, big competition and timing as well as other industry cares and concerns. It’s difficult and while this game falls flat on it’s fragile face right now, the good news is that the game has potential for greatness and the past success of this franchise along with our recent comments and demands as gamers, should spark some feverish effort to fix those loose ends and improve the experience. My thoughts are to wait, listen, read and watch more reviews and videos of game play. Wait till at least the months closing into the port to PS3 and give yourself some time for the servers to calm down and take a new look at this game. By that time there will undoubtedly be some hot-fixes and at least a minor content patch and hopefully some game play changes. As of right now, it’d be better to save your money and not waste your time with a game that wasn’t ready for release and is far from entertaining. It’s a sad day in my world right now but I have to be honest when I say, this may be the worst Final Fantasy experience of my entire life.