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Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Launch Review

Before I begin, I would like to note a few things. I understand that MMO’s are a constantly changing environment, and this review is based off the state of the game at release. Overall, I would like to thank Square Enix for the opportunity to review this game and I hope everyone will enjoy what I have to say on it.

This review is based off my experiences on the PlayStation 3 version.

I would also like to note that this is a very long review. This is mostly due in part to the large size of this game. While I’ll forgive you if you skim over certain parts, I highly encourage you to read through it all.

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A Realm Reborn

It is no secret that the original Final Fantasy XIV had a very rocky start. However, thanks to the amazing work of the Final Fantasy XIV team, you could truly say that the game is reborn. The game hasn’t completely changed from what it was, however what hasn’t changed is for the better.

A New Look

The story reason for the huge changes in geography and so forth are due to the events of five years prior. Compared to the original, I quite enjoy the new designs of the regions. They are easy to get around and actually feel populated – something that felt seriously missing in the original game.

Character Creation

I just want to start this section off with saying that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn features probably one of the best character creations I’ve ever seen in my time of playing MMORPG’s. There are a lot of options for creating your character, however it doesn’t feel overwhelming at all.1898dadc08b39721a80884af25ecc12c

  • All races finally have a male and female variant – something I found severely lacking in Final Fantasy XI and the original Fantasy Fantasy XIV.
  • For the people wishing to play a female character, you can adjust your bust size.
  • There is a height selection tool where you can customize it fairly well, however there is a limit on it based on the race you choose. Sorry, no Roegadyn’s the size of Lalafell’s or viceversa!
  • There are a large variety of hairstyles to choose from (and for those who wish to play Miqo’te’s, there’s a decent selection of tail designs which you can adjust the length on).
  • There is a HUGE variety of hair colors, and you can make it look as fancy or simply as you want. I was quite happy to be able to put in highlights for my Miqo’te’s hair, as I find it makes her look so much better than just having a “basic” hairstyle.
  • Beyond what I’ve listed, there’s still a large variety of things you can adjust such as eye color, tattoo’s, and so on.
  • Just for that small touch, you can even change the background while you are making your character. I found this quite nice, as it let me see how my character would look while wandering these various landscapes!

Starting off in Ul’dah

I began the game in Ul’dah as I decided to start as a Gladiator. I found it quite easy to move around in Ul’dah, as I had the storyline to guide me around to the various locations in town. As I moved outside, there was only a little bit of confusion when I hit a certain point in the story, but beyond that I found leveling in Ul’dah very intuitive.

Leveling in Gridania

As I began in Ul’dah, I didn’t quite have the storyline to guide me around to questing in Gridania so I had to do it myself. This made it feel a bit more disjointed and a bit less intuitive as to where to go. I leveled up my Lancer a bit out in Central Shroud as that is where the initial quests I got for the job, and just some around the city, led me to. This lead me to wondering what was over in the other parts of the Shroud as to what I could be doing there for questing.

Leveling in Limsa Lominsa

From the get-go, trying to get around Limsa Lominsa felt like a huge maze compared to the other two. Lots of exits with quests leading to lots of different parts of La Noscea. As I decided to take on Arcanist, I went for Lower La Noscea first. Compared to out in Central Shroud it felt much emptier, and quite honestly, that isn’t a bad thing. It meant I was actually able to find the enemies I needed for quests! However, things felt so disjointed – I had some quests in one part of La Noscea, other quests in other parts, and with an issue I’ll describe later in the quests this made actually figuring out what I need to do troublesome.

Teleportation and General Transportation

Back when Final Fantasy XIV first came out, teleportation was a huge hassle. You had to use a sort of credit that recharged very slowly, so if you wanted to do any decent amount of travelling you got limited to walking very quickly. This is completely gone in A Realm Reborn. While aetherytes still exist, the manner of getting between them is different.

  • Within cities, you’ll have various aetheryte shards scattered that you can activate. Once you activate them, you can travel between them at no cost. In fact, if you activate all the shards within a single city you get access to being able to teleport to some of the gates to get outside.
  • For any larger aetheryte, you will still have to pay to travel between them, however now it is in the form of gil. Gil, from my experience, is easy to get just from doing quests, leves, and FATEs. They work the same – attune yourself to one by interacting with it and it will be added to your list. The further away it is, the more it will cost. You can set a “favored destination” which drastically reduces the cost to travel to that particular one. Take note, though, that you can only set three favored locations, so as to prevent abuse from trying to lower the cost everywhere. You can, however, change them as much as you want, so if you get a new favored location you are more than welcome to switch it to there via that location’s aetheryte!

0ecd3a611b221563c1c7c949992946a6General transportation wise, you of course still have your chocobo’s and your airships. Airships become available to you as you progress through the storyline, typically around level 15. You can start using chocoporters once you hit level 10, though you will have to go to each to activate them. Both of these systems work great I feel – it gives you time to explore around and see the world before you start just quickly teleporting and such everywhere.

 

From the start, however, you have access to a skill called “Sprint.” This skill allows you to get a temporary speed boost to move around. My biggest issue with this skill though, is the “temporary” part. Having to constantly activate it is somewhat annoying. Having it be a constant skill that just sets your TP to 0 or something until you deactivate it I feel would have been much better.

FATEs – Full Active Time Events

FATEs are a new element to the game which are random world events in which anyone can participate. There are FATEs for all levels after 5, happen quite frequently, and are everywhere. The type of FATEs you will encounter depend on where you are as they are tailored per-region. They can vary from killing a certain boss to gathering a certain amount of items to just slaughtering lots of enemies.

However, there comes an issue with this. At the start, everyone is in the same areas and around the same levels, there are mass amounts of people all doing one fate. This leads to issues with trying to get monsters to hit, or in the case of the turn in item FATEs, finding the NPC to turn in to – though in more recent fates I’ve actually managed to start noticing a small marker on the minimap indicating where the NPC is.

On the flipside though, once you start wandering into the higher level ones with less people, you hit the issue of “everyone for themselves” and you often get healers not trying to heal the person tanking something. This leads to the person tanking dying or simply trying to back off to let someone else take the aggro of the enemy, which can lead into a whole other mess. Now I understand this all comes down to the players, but in an online game, seeing people being willing to heal the person tanking is a huge benefit.

The UI does have a way to see who the enemy is targeting. This is very useful for those healing, however it’d be nice to see people use it more for healing those tanking within these FATEs.

One final note on Fate’s is that if one spawns on you, you are pretty much dead. I experienced this once myself while I was leveling my Pugilist up, and I saw others in chat comment on it. It would be nice if there was a way for the enemies to ignore anyone in the area for a certain amount of time so that anyone who does not wish to participate, or simply wishes to get more prepared for the fate, can.

Levequests

Levequests make their return in a very welcome way. Gone are the days of a daily limit, as it was in the original game. Now, Levequests regenerate over time and you can stockpile up to a certain amount of them. This is very welcome as it takes out the urge to have to log in daily just so you don’t waste any.

b4c25176a9ee7f88dc59079f96e03b96As for the actual levequests themselves, there are very welcome changes here. Previously you had to activate the leve at a camp and then run out to find it. Now, you can just pick up as many as you want at a time and then go to the actual place before you actually activate it.

There’s also sometimes a bounty wandering around for a bunch of the levequests, at least the ones I have done thus far. These give you an extra reward if you manage to defeat them.

Rewards for levequests are based off the difficulty level you chose – you can set the level of the leve and it auto defaults to your current level and you can adjust it from there, your completion time, and if you defeated a bounty. The levequests also sometimes randomly have an item reward.

However, as I will detail in the quest section below, there can come an issue where your levequests might not appear in your tracker and you’ll perhaps end up completely forgetting you have picked them up. Then when you finally go back to look in your journal you’ll see that levequest you’ve overleveled. You have two options here – do it overleveled or do it on another job. If you do decide to do it while overleveled, you’ll get a nice large warning saying you’ll receive an experience penalty if you continue – even if you’ve set the difficulty level up to max – and of course you get this warning after you’ve been told you may get lower xp if you change jobs! I decided to just go with it while leveling Lancer and didn’t notice the experience penalty too much, and heck, the enemies still tried to kick my butt!

Another issue I’ve run into is when multiple leves all tend to occur at the same location you get a lot of people there all at once. This ends up causing a bunch of targeting issues along with just general lag from all the enemies and players appearing.

Instanced Dungeons and the Duty Finder

With my main character being a tank you always hear, oh tanks have it easy when it comes to finding group! While this should be true, there’s always other factors. While I detail most of this in the next section, I’ll detail some other things here.

The Duty Finder is a thing that players can use to get automatically matched into a group based off what you chose to do. It is also supposed to be a tool you can use so you don’t have to sit there trying to shout for certain classes or jobs for ages. Also, with this game featuring dungeons that are a part of the main storyline quest, this is a handy tool.

Now, other games have done something similar – the one I’m more familiar with being Lord of the Rings Online. Now, I hadn’t ever used it to find a group, but I did use that games instance finder to enter dungeons on my own or with a small group. Emphasis on “on my own.” That was something nice I’d like to see implemented – the ability for a player to go in solo to challenge themselves to a dungeon, rather than REQUIRING a group. I’ll detail more on this in the next section.

31a3f238a4055aa7cd07ec2b92ce6d7bAs for the instances themselves, as I said before they are tied to the storyline. Don’t progress the story, don’t get access. Get stuck in the story, can’t access higher level dungeons. It’s a lose-lose situation. This is where some of the issue comes with the “gated” method the game uses to unlock content. You are limited by your ability to access certain things, which are limited by your class, and then limited by how you choose to play.

When you actually get into one though, it was actually quite fun – despite my complaints below.

Forced Grouping

As odd as it might sound for someone playing an MMO, I despise the idea of forced grouping. Final Fantasy XI essentially did it, as you pretty much needed a party if you wanted to level past a certain point. Now it has made a return in Final Fantasy XIV.

Once you hit a certain point in the main storyline you are required to head into a dungeon with a party. Sure, sounds fine. Except for the fact you can only do this with a party. As someone who is typically shy and doesn’t want to completely fail at whatever class/job they are playing in a group, being forced into a group makes me even more scared of completely failing at my job. I know it helps you learn your job more for certain situations, but through my experience with other MMO’s, I’ve also found ways to do this without being forced into a group.

To me, being forced into a group for these actually turned into a slight turn-off of continuing on with the story, despite me playing a tank and having an easy-in for any of these. It would be nice if there was an alternative for those who would rather solo. Sure, “solo” and “playing a MMO” really shouldn’t go together, but it’s one of the realities of MMO’s these days – some people, myself included, just don’t like to be forced into a group. For me, part of this stems from bad experiences from Final Fantasy XI with people who simply didn’t know how to lead a party. For others I’m sure there’s a variety of reasons – real life distractions (kids, spouses, work, etc) for example.

Combat and Dying

While I’ll get more indepth on the combat during the specific class information section, I want to touch on it in general. Compared to the original game, combat is vastly improved and feels much more fluid.

15f6c9a3168329ec27995fb4f568f4fcAnother huge change from the original game – at least what was there at launch and what I have more experience with – is that the “weakened” state for dying and getting raised is extremely shortened and no where near as bad.Having to simply sit around waiting for the huge weakness to wear off after a death was not very fun. However, your equipment will get damaged as you die and can eventually break.

For those wishing to play a healer, you may want to take a look into your settings – especially if you play on a PS3. It seems that as soon as you engage an enemy, by default, you are forced into targeting only enemies – unless, of course, you know the key commands to change your target cycling. I was trying to heal someone during a FATE as an Arcanist and found myself unable to target them at first.

After some working I finally got to be able to target the player. After the FATE I went in and looked through my settings and discovered this. This is probably one of the biggest issues as a controller player for this game I’ve found so far, at least by default. Another thing that might be handy for this if there was some kind of skill target forwarding.

Equipment, Items, Inventory, Gear Lists, and Repairing

As I just mentioned, your equipment can get damage and eventually break. However, you can prevent your equipment breaking by getting it repaired. Now you can either use one of the various crafting jobs out there to do this, or you can visit a handy NPC who can repair it for you – at a price of course.You don’t have to worry about visiting these too often though – with multiple deaths, my equipment was in no danger of breaking. In my time leveling so far, I only visited the NPC to repair my equipment a few times.

Equipment seems fairly easy to get, at least at lower levels. The various quests in each region let you choose from a list of rewards tailored to the local classes. There are lots of vendors around where you can buy them. Then, of course, you can always craft the equipment.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn features an “Armory Chest” which automatically stores up to 25 pieces of equipment for each slot, though of course you can always choose to manually send equipment to your main inventory if you want to move stuff around in it. This system, however, makes it handy to quickly access equipment if you want.

Speaking of quickly accessing certain pieces of equipment, you can also set up “Gear Sets” – sets of gear that you wish to wear for certain classes or even certain situations. This makes it quite easy to change between classes on the fly and not have to worry about digging out the different gear for each class.

As I mentioned, you can move stuff from your Armory Chest to your Inventory as you will, however, as you probably guessed, the inventory is for much more. Unfortunately though, the inventory has a hard limit of 100 items. This includes food, crafting materials, crafted items, any excess equipment not in your armory chest, and so forth. Thankfully, though, there are retainers you can hire to hold onto these extra items. Then for any pieces of equipment you have that are from special events such as holidays, you also have your armoire where you can store those.

 

Storyline

While I don’t want to reveal too much as this is something everyone should experience themselves, I just want to say that the story within Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is absolutely fantastic. While yes, there are some slow points and points where it sort of feels like it’s dragging, the over all story as a whole is absolutely amazing and one definitely worth experiencing.

Quests

Quests are a huge staple of MMO’s. You see them in pretty much every MMO out there. So, of course, it stands to reason that they are present in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Unfortunately, it seems there has become a trend in these games to just have super basic quests – talk to NPC 1 here, go fight somewhere for certain items, and then return them – that sort of stuff. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn falls victim to this trend, and it’s quite unfortunate that it has. It makes all your regular little quests you do throughout your adventure start to feel like you are just doing the same thing over and over again.

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Another issue that comes up is that quests are a one-time thing – there’s sets of quests for each region that have rewards tailored to that specific region’s classes. However, once you do them, they are done. You can’t do them again for future classes. This leads to a sort of grinding fest for leveling anything in the future, though there are a few things in place to alleviate this, the grinding is still there.

There are, however, some quests in that still leave a fairly bad taste in mouth, and you find a lot of questions or general complaints coming up about them. One in particular that comes to mind is a quest near Ul’dah. You are requested to get orders from four different NPC’s. Sounds simple enough, right? It should be – however, the fourth NPC is no where near the rest of them. The minimap makes you think it is, however the fourth NPC for this quest is on top of a hill above the other three. This has lead to a mass amount of confusion for myself and many others.

There are also class quests that come up every 5 levels or so, so long as you remember to go back to your guild and speak with the guildmaster to pick it up. I’ll get into more details on these soon.

For those wanting to track quests on their map, it seems it only wishes to include a few quests – namely the ones currently in your tracker – on it. Unfortunately I have yet to find a way to actually manually place quests onto my tracker, something that is slightly disappointing. This means that unless I remember where the quest is I’m having to constantly open my journal to make sure I’m not missing any. This also happens with levequests, and it can be somewhat easy to forget you have them and then end up overleveling from the recommended level. I’ve detailed this more within the levequest section. I ran into this in both the Shroud and La Noscea. Thankfully I remembered that I had some quests in certain areas, but it definitely makes it a bit of an irritation.

There seems to be a slight catch on quests though. You can accept some quests before you can actually turn them in. I ran into a quest in Gridania like this. At level 9 I was able to accept it even though it was a level 10 quest. I went around and did it – it was a fairly simple quest, no killing involved. However, when I went back to turn the quest in, it told me “Level requirement not met.” So if I’m not able to meet the level requirement to turn in a quest that requires no killing, why was I able to accept it in the first place? Seems like a slight oversight – and a slightly annoying one at that.

Also, just as a small note, but when you are doing your starter class quests, especially in the crafting ones, you’ll end up with a lot of repeat gear. It would’ve been nice if there had been at least some slight variance in what you got, even if it was a cosmetic thing to signify that specific class.

Leveling

When you are starting on your first class, leveling is fairly easy. Pick up quests, go do them, turn them in, kill stuff along the way, and so on. Though once you get to leveling your second job, if it isn’t a crafting or gathering class, you get down to doing class quests, leves, your hunting log, FATEs, and then just general grinding.

For the gathering classes, you level just by harvesting your spots and doing your class quests. Crafting is the same, except change out harvesting spots for crafting items. You can also do levequests for all gathering and crafting classes.

Hunting Log

The hunting log is an amazing addition that gives you even more stuff to do. If you seem to be out of stuff to do as you are trying to level you can just look in your hunting log and find some enemies to kill that will give you some fairly decently sized experience boosts for your class. When you are first going through questing you’ll kill a bunch of the enemies you need naturally, however some of them you will have to go out and manually hunt.

There comes an issue here though. While the hunting log does give you a general location of the enemy, it’s just that – a general location. Some enemies are nowhere near the location marker on the map. There was one enemy I had to hunt as a gladiator that was actually halfway across the map from the marker! What would be nice is if for some enemies there was a closer describer on where the enemy is.

Something that might help with this is having an option in the hunting log to have it show up on the map – similar to how you can look up the locations for levequests, quests, and so on. Perhaps just have it so you can click on the specific enemy and choose “map” to have it pull up a map with the location.

Grinding – The ever present MMO issue

You see it everywhere – grinding for levels. After Early Access started, even at the low levels where there is a ton of stuff to do, I kept seeing people asking about “where do I grind” or “where can I go to grind at this level?” Now this brings up the question – is there not enough to do that you simply need to grind?

When you are leveling anything beyond your first class in a region, you shouldn’t really run into too many issues. There will be a slight bit of grinding, yes, but I feel that there is enough to do between levequests, hunting logs, and FATEs to not really need much “grinding.” Now, this doesn’t say it won’t be needed at higher levels, but if the lower levels are anything to go off of, there shouldn’t be as much of an issue.

So while there is “grinding,” I feel that some people just don’t actually take the time to look at what all they have available to do.

Classes – Starting out and Changing

When I started my adventure in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, I chose to start as a Gladiator. This did make some things a bit easier, however at the same point, some things felt harder while trying to learn how to play it. I’m going to try and do a basic coverage of some and how it goes. Before I start though, a little bit of information on how one actually goes about changing your current class.

I mentioned before that you can change by changing your current weapon. However, to actually be able to do this, you need to do a quick quest to unlock this. This quest simply involves going the guild for that class and talking to a couple NPCs. However, you cannot do this until the class you started the game with reaches level 10 and you complete the level 10 class quest for that class.

Overview of a few Classes

Gladiator: As I mentioned, this is the class I started the game as a Gladiator. As I progressed through the story in Ul’dah, it initially led me to my class quests, but then when I got to the point of needing to do my level 5 and 10 class quests, I had completely forgotten to go back because I didn’t even think about it.

For the level 10 quest, it actually took me two tries as you have to keep an NPC alive through three waves of enemies – the third wave having the “boss” as it may be – while keeping yourself alive. This proved extremely difficult, as if I pulled too much of their attention onto myself I would get hit too much and start dying. On the flipside, if I didn’t the NPC would die and the quest would fail. While it was a good test for tanking, it felt a little too soon to be trying to force this onto a new player.

When I went to do my level 20 class quest, it almost felt like I was getting punished for not having done my storyline quests since level 15 (due to stuff I previously detailed). The quest ended up taking me two tries, and on my second time I seemed to have got a buff that actually made it possible for me to finished the quest, and even then it was a bit rough.

For playing a Gladiator, I found it fairly easy to level, though part of this is due to it being my first class and having lots of options on where to go for quests, though I mainly followed where the main story took me.

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Pugilist: This was the second fighting job I decided to take out, mainly to see how it would be leveling a second job. For leveling any lower level jobs you do get an experience boost based off how high your highest job is, so despite the fact there’s still more grinding, that helped. For the first while I was just killing stuff for my Hunting Log and looking around for Fate’s I could do, along with just generally killing things I could successfully chain. Unfortunately, after doing Gladiator, I felt a lot squishier until I learned Second Wind. The other unfortunate thing is that a lot of Pugilist skills get a bonus if you use them from behind and so on, so while soloing I was seeing a lot lower damage.

72914c99ff7bd946f0e4263ced63fbedAs far as the quests go, they were fairly basic. This time around I remembered to actually visit my guildmaster for the quests. One of the quests had you searching around Ul’dah for “lost” pieces of gil, something that ended up proving more difficult than it should have as they were fairly well hidden. For both the level 5 and 10 quests, you were going around doing some stuff in Ul’dah and then finally going out to kill. The going around and doing stuff in Ul’dah part felt somewhat unneeded to me.

Lancer: When I finally decided to try this job out, it turned out that there was a million people leveling in the same area as I took it up when Early Access began. This caused some issues at the start for just finding some things to kill for the quests I had that asked me to go out and kill things. After that though, the job seemed fairly basic, much like Pugilist, to level.

The level 5 quest was slightly annoying – had to go in and out of Gridania a couple times to complete it. Go out, kill some things, return, and then go out AGAIN to kill more things.

For the level 10 quest you are yet again asked to head out, this time to grab something. However, it turns out you have to go somewhere else to actually get it. When I got there for the first time, I wrongfully thought that where the huge group of people was was where I was supposed to do the quest, as pretty much everyone I saw was a Lancer. As it turns out, where I needed to go was actually further away and I discovered this on a revisit when it was less populated there.

Conjurer: From speaking with friends, it is sounding like the class is a load of fun. Some nice new features I’ve heard is the auto recovering MP instead of having to rest for it constantly – something that applies across all classes and is indeed, very, very welcome.

Arcanist: Ah yes, the fabled Arcanist that caused a million Carbuncle’s to be in existence during open beta. When I finally got around to playing it, soon as I was out and about questing with it I was able to tell very quickly that this would be interesting… and not in the good way. When I went to join my first FATE as an Arcanist, being a controller user I started having targeting issues very quickly. Even after I messed with my settings some, targeting has still proven to be a pain.

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Then when I try and switch my cross hot bar settings there’s a whole other mess – there’s a specific hot bar for the pet that I’ve only been able to get over to it by hitting L1 once. Now of course, this is how I typically switch sets for easy access to my character sheet, journal, etc. This means I have to break a habit I’ve formed over every other class I’ve played to play this job.

While the job is great in concept, I personally feel like it’s just one of those jobs better suited for players on a keyboard. This is quite unfortunate given how much they were pushing for controller players to be equal with keyboard players.

Also, just as a note I found while trying to tank with an Arcanist in the party – amazing that I got a second healer in all technicalities, but Carbuncle kept knocking the enemies back and it was messing with my groove of keeping aggro on things. Minor complaint, but from what I can tell, the knock back is great solo, but in a group it seems to be a bit of an aggravator to the tank.

Miner: Ah yes, one of the gathering classes. The basic jist of mining is that you find various deposits and mine from them for different items that have varying degrees of success based on your level to the level of the item. To spot these deposits on the minimap you need to use a skill called “Prospect.” However, I found from when I was looking around Thanalan there seemed to not be very many one can find. They progressively get higher level the further in you went, but you can only see deposits within 4 levels of your current level. So, for example, you can only see level 5 deposits at the start. Once you hit level 6, you can start seeing level 10 deposits, level 11 for level 15 deposits, and so on. Unfortunately you cannot pull up the larger map to spot these – you can only see them on the minimap.

For obtaining items, you can increase your chance to trying to get a particular item by using skills which increase the chance by certain percentages. This is very helpful when you are going onto a higher level node for the first few levels you can see it and need to boost your chances of trying to get some items.

Unfortunately, mining gets very repetitive. I found myself getting very distracted by little things while trying to do it. I would just go between a few deposits in a loop mining for the highest xp giving item.

For the class quests, they were fairly basic – bring a certain amount of a type of item you could mine.

Compared to the original Final Fantasy XIV though, the gathering UI has been vastly improved and is much easier to use. The old gathering UI was very confusing and not very fun to use.

Botanist: Compared to Miner, I’ll keep this short, as I already explained most of what I needed to three. Botanist is basically the same – go around various trees and harvest things. However, at least for where I started, it felt like the success rates were slightly lower than they were on Miner, but that might just be due to the break I took between the two.

Goldsmithing: Wanting to also try out the crafting, I decided to give Goldsmithing a shot mainly as it was nearby in Ul’dah and because I had just come of doing a lot of mining. The new crafting UI is vastly improved over the UI in the original Final Fantasy XIV. You simply select the item you want to make, and so long as you have the materials, you just say Synthesize. This brings up the UI to make the item, and you need to completely fill the top bar in a certain amount of tries which varies on the item you are making.

Once you hit level 5 you receive a skill that you can use to increase the quality of an item, and the higher this is the more experience you will receive for you craft. I found this to be a nice touch to the crafting and actually found the crafting to be quite fun. When I played the original version, it constantly felt like I was on some sort of time limit and would always have to remember what each synth needed for items and so on.

The level 5 quest for crafting seem to require an item that takes a material from another craft to make. You can either level up the craft yourself or ask someone else to make it for you. The level 1 quest, however, was simple enough in what it asked of you.

Culinarian: Culinarian is still your same basic crafting class, however it has more materials required for each synthesis. This makes sense though – it is, after all, cooking.

I don’t really have much to comment on here that I haven’t said already – except on the level 5 quest. The level 5 quest is different from every other level 5 craft class quest – it requires something you can’t just grab at the supplier nearby. So hopefully you either have leveled fishing (which is conveniently has it’s guild in the same city) or you have a friend who is in it. Of course, you could just take a walk on over to the market board and hope that the item you need is up there, and that it isn’t insanely overpriced.

Weather Effects

While this might feel like something very minor, it is something that I really like to take note of and really appreciate when developers do this well. Out of what I’ve seen so far – lightning and rain – they are both very impressive. Though at first when I entered the Shroud while there was a thunderstorm going on, I thought my graphics were glitching out because suddenly all the trees were going flashy. After awhile though, I did get used to it and have come to like it.

Overall the weather effects, while something that in the big grand scheme of things is something minor, are impressive and done well.

Fanservice – What is the limit, and what does it truly mean?

Ah, fanservice. The on-going fight in video games to include nods to the past, especially in a large video game series like Final Fantasy XIV. However, is there a limit to this?

As people who have been following the game know, Lightning was announced to make an appearance within Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. With this announcement we got a look at some outfits that would be appearing in the game which just so happen to be Lightning outfits for females and Snow outfits for males. There will also be weapons from the cast of Final Fantasy XIII. Is this too much? Possibly. I understand that Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is coming out early next year (late this year in Japan), but these outfits feel so far removed from anything else within Final Fantasy XIV.

lightning_snow_gear

In later patches we’ll also be seeing the addition of the Crystal Tower, a prominent location from Final Fantasy III. While FFIII is definitely not as huge in North America/Europe as it is in Japan, this still screams some fanservice to me.

This isn’t all though – there’s tons more in the game including Magitek armor, bosses from previous games, and some characters from previous games.

Now for the original question – is it too much? While the Lightning/Snow outfits are pushing it some, I’ll come to live with it and it will likely die off after awhile (well, once people find out how to get them of course). I won’t lie though, it will be odd seeing a Snow or Lightning walk around the world.

Overall though, so long as the fanservice is done tastefully, it’s fine. Which so far it looks like the Final Fantasy XIV team is working hard to make sure it is tasteful.

Music

I’ll try and keep this short and simple. So far my overall impressions with the music are good with one exception. It seems that the music just goes quiet for awhile and then suddenly starts again with no rhyme or reason. This tends to catch me by surprise when I’m just wandering around for awhile with no music and then it suddenly just starts up.

Overall though, the music in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is quite good and worth a listen.

Monthly Fee

In this day and age it is no secret that free to play games are huge. So the fact that a MMO game in 2013 is coming out with a monthly fee included seems quite odd. Not just that, the fact that the monthly fee is sitting at $13 a month to start. Now I do understand that there’s server costs and what not, but that’s where the free to play games have their microtransactions. I also understand that games like World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XI are still going strong with a monthly fee, however they are also older games and thus have a highly established fanbase behind them.

I personally feel like the fact Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is coming out with a monthly fee may end up being a high hinderance to some people’s decision to actually play the game, especially in this day and age.

UI – User Interface

One thing that the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn team worked very hard at was to make sure that any controller user, especially with there being a PlayStation 3 (and eventual PlayStation 4) version, would be able to play as well as a keyboard user. They did this in the method of making a unique hotbar layout that works very well with a controller.

50e0dfdc67fe198c9cbba0beba4396b4For the general UI, you can adjust almost all the windows to wherever you want in a variety of sizes on the PS3 version. This is very nice as not everyone likes having to deal with the same UI, myself included. Being able to move all the important stuff to a much easier place to see makes it more intuitive for me to play at my best.

As I wasn’t really sure where to put this, I suppose this is the most appropriate place. One amazing change from the original release is that now instead of colored dots that you have no clue what they actually mean, you can now see what level the enemy is. So, for example, previously you would have “(Red Dot) Wild Dodo,” and now you will have “Lv. 15 Wild Dodo.” While, like many things, this is something very minor, it is something that is very welcome to help with making the game easier to understand.

Voice Acting

One things that has been introduced is voice acting. While I would normally welcome this with open arms, the way it seems to be handled in a good portion of the game seems quite… odd. There’s your regular voice acted cutscenes where you can just sit back and enjoy it, but then there’s the cutscenes where you are still have to manually advance the text. This makes it feel a lot less fluid, and quite honestly, it makes it feel somewhat dated, as this is how some older games handled voice acted cutscenes.

Also, some of the voice actor choices don’t really feel quite right. They aren’t bad, they just don’t seem to quite fit their character.

There is a good side to this though: You can, in fact, choose the voice language in settings on either PC or PS3.

What the near future promises to bring

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is already a vast world with countless things to do, however that doesn’t mean it is said and done for content. In the future of Final Fantasy XIV we are already seeing a wide variety of very promising content that should appeal to players of all kinds:

  • The Crystal Tower: A massive, 24-person raid dungeon
  • PVP: PVP has become a huge draw to many players in MMORPG’s. While I personally am not a fan of PVP, I know many people are and will be highly looking forward to this.
  • Chocobo Raising: Final Fantasy XI did it, so it only makes sense that Final Fantasy XIV will do it as well. Should be good fun for those Chocobo enthusiasts out there!
  • Player Housing: Player Housing is another thing that has become huge. I mean, who doesn’t want to own their own house, even if it is virtual?

Looking into the distant future – The PlayStation 4 Version

The PlayStation 4 version is very promising as it shows Square Enix’s continued support for the game. The PS4 version should be highly based on the PS3 version, but stay tuned as we go into the future and get closer to the launch of the PS4 version!

Overall Thoughts

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Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn already shows great promise. It’s an amazing overhaul from the original version with lots to do for both hardcore and casual players. However, as I have stated in the review, the game is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.

I hope that everyone will at least give A Realm Reborn a chance, even if you had played the original, so that you can experience the changes within Eorzea for yourself.

Overall Score for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn at Launch

4.5/5

(Now go read the review if you just skipped ahead to the score.)

I would like to thank Square Enix for providing me with a copy of the game to use for this review.

I would also like to take this time to give my thanks to the amazing team who helped bring Final Fantasy XIV from where it was to where A Realm Reborn is now. Thank you, Naoki Yoshida, and everyone else as well.