Final Fantasy XIV

Have been putting off writing the review for Final Fantasy XIV for quite a while after the disappointment with the initial release. Square Enix was determined to make it right so it restructured the development team and gave us a round two product with the subtitle “A Realm Reborn”. So did it manage to rebound?

FF XIV

For those who with whatever reason have not got on to this new realm personally I think it is time to pick up a copy and help saving Eorzea. The story of Final Fantasy XIV is very straightforward. A world trying to recover from the last Calamity with new threats looming. You as the adventurer who was chosen as the crystal bearer (come on it is Final Fantasy it has to be about crystals) is tasked with the duty to find out what is behind all these things.

Gameplay-wise if you are familiar with XI and XII of the series you will be right at home. There are changes here and there but Square Enix has developed a game that is easy to pick up while offering some fresh experience. Battles were carried out in a real time manner. You enter your command after setting your target the action will be carried out as appropriate. This means if you are a magic caster you will need to take into consideration your spells’ casting time. For those who are ready to jump on and criticise this mechanism I personally think this makes the game a lot more strategic than just a button smashing fest. All your available skills are laid out on your Hud. You can switch among different sets of skills according to your needs. Although the Hud Hotbar offers a lot of skill slots eventually you will need to be more diligent with what skills you deploy as you unlock some new and seemingly amazing skills. You unlock new skills as you level up. The skills you unlock depends of course on the class you are playing. While Square Enix offered quite a few initial classes to choose from it is the advanced classes you can unlock that would lock you inside Eorzea. Classic Final Fantasy classes such as Black Mage and White Mage are now advanced classes. So if you missed certain great skills such as Holy you will need to put your hard yards in. Also some other classes such as Scholar and Paladin are extremely encouraging too. You will find yourself spending hours just to level up the initial classes just to open up the advanced classes.

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The original world in first release was also given an overhaul making it a lot more appealing. For example Gridania is no longer an extended terrain of barren lands but a lush forest world. Strangely enough the music also now sound exceedingly Lord of the Rings with this change. That said I am not complaining. Other parts of Eorzea are equally impressive. I think this is what made Square Enix different from other RPG developers. The details they put in are jaw dropping. People said Skyrim is impressive, true, but Skyrim does not offer as lush a color palette as Square Enix did with Final Fantasy XIV. Each region in Final Fantasy XIV is different enough but at the same time informs you that it is the same overworld that we are in. From the seaside world to abandoned lands created by the Calamity Square Enix had created a coherent world with varieties for Final Fantasy XIV.

Final Fantasy XIV offers a huge number of options in terms of character creation and unlike most other games they are pretty. I know there are debates on how realistic characters should be in video games but for God’s love if I need to spend hours and hours in a game I want something eye candy-ish to look at instead of some hideous characters that offered me an illusion of “customisation”. You got a number of races to start with and each race has its own set of initial and development stats. This applies to variations within each race too. From what I saw in the game there are certainly some races being more popular than others. So if you want to develop your characters as a mage or a warrior you might want to choose a blue print that suits your style. That said, you can still make tweaks when you level up as you can assign additional attribute points to alter the course of development slightly. Once you passed the initial blue print screen it is where the fun of customization kicks in. The options available are so abundant that it is silly but fun. You can further change the look later in the game once you fulfilled certain requirements. Want the Lightning hairstyle in Final Fantasy XIII? That can be arranged.

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Final Fantasy XIV also has a strong focus on the social aspect of the game. After all it is an online game. Certain parts of the main quest requires teaming up with other players to proceed and to attract seasoned players to help out Square Enix offers bonuses to those who help. Found some players you get along with very well? You can add them as friends or even form Free Companies to attract similar players to your group. Collective efforts such as helping out in quest will earn you status for your Free Company and thus bonuses of various kinds. You can also leave and mail items to your mates in case they need certain pieces of items for their crafting. They can even craft weapons and armors for you that cannot be bought anywhere. Need level grinding? Join an instant Fate Party and all the collective efforts in the party count towards your experience. You can also get on to dungeon roulette to level up while helping new players to proceed with their story. Want to show other people what you got? Enter the arena in PvP death matches and may the best adventurer wins. Great rewards await them. Don’t want to be restricted by traditional party structures? Format you own party and determine how you want to play or em… die.

Final Fantasy XIV also offers a great soundtrack. Some of them are new tunes and some of them are upgrades from classic tunes in the series. The orchestral scores of some tunes are truly amazing. Sometimes you might want to redo a deadly fight just for the soundtrack – yes Titan I am looking at you.

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Personally I think the contents and experience offered by Final Fantasy XIV is truly addictive. You can spend hours in Eorzea just to best an enemy, to harvest something you need for an item, to craft a particular piece of equipment, to open up a class you die for etc. The game is engaging and interesting with a great main story and a ridiculous number of side quests (some of them were season based as in Halloween and Christmas). It is not your standard JRPG but something Square Enix truly offered to redeem itself from the original disaster. If you are into MMOs I would recommend to give Final Fantasy XIV a go. That said if you are playing on PS3 you could experience lags from time to time as compared to your PC counterparts. That is something to keep in mind.

About the Author

Level up freak. Level 99 is a norm not a goal. Love my JRPGs and RPGs in general. Also love my platformers and puzzle games. Was addicted to Zoo Keeper, Magnetica, Animal Crossing, Disgaea DS, Dragon Quest IX and White Knight Chronicles. Prefer to spend my time away from gaming as an actor although do have a full time job that keeps my mortgage going. But generally love anything creative. And if anyone tells you gaming is a waste of time, tell them you have great eye, hand and brain coordinations that they will never have!