“Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn” is now available for the Playstation 4, making it the first non-free-to-play MMORPG to hit the next-gen console. The game has already been out for a year on the Playstation 3 and PC, which makes a load of content available to PS4 owners immediately. In this first part of an on-going review series, the beginning stages of the game are reviewed.
First, let’s provide some background. After an unhealthy deep dive into “Everquest”, I took a step away from MMORPGs. I dabbled in them occasionally because time commitments would only allow that much. Still, I’ve touched “World of Warcraft”, “DC Universe Online”, “Star Wars: The Old Republic” and “The Elder Scrolls Online” beta to give you a baseline in my experience. However, I never touched “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn” prior to the PS4 release even though I had beta access to the game for the PC and console versions. So, in that respect, I come in aware of the trappings of MMORPGs but unfamiliar with the world of FFXIV”.
“Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn” is a reboot of the game following a disastrous launch of the original version that was lambasted by critics and gamers alike. I never experienced any of the reported tediousness or clunky controls of the original so can only comment on what is available with the PS4 today as part of “A Realm Reborn”.
I did experience an oddity with logging into my account that delayed my adventuring and this review. I could log into my account on the official Mog Station website for the game as well as the Square Enix support site. I could not log into the game with the same username/password combination though. It wasn’t until I used the PS4 browser to reset my password that I was able to play the game. I think it was controller related but, whatever the reason, that was one of the most inexplicable experiences I’ve had just trying to start a game.
The opening cinematic explains that the world of Hydaelyn was devastated following the unleashing of Bahamut who laid waste to the warring nations of Eorzea. A group of Adventurers was able to help reseal the beast but disappeared. Five years later, the nations are rebuilding and the Adventurers have returned but missing their memories.
I chose a Roegadyn as my starting race with a Marauder class type because axes are cool. This race-based choice landed me in the ocean port city-state of Limsa Lominsa. This is one of three starting cities with Gridania and the desert-based Ul’dah being the other two. Comparatively speaking, Limsa Lominsa is a pretty nice place to start.
Like most MMORPGs, the start of the game is filled with familiarizing yourself with the controls and features. Square Enix smartly uses quests to help serve as tutorials but also level up a little faster. It beats doing nothing but beating on rats at the beginning stages but there is some of that too – along with ladybugs.
I was pretty happy running around with my Marauder, Hogarth, completing one quest after another and was able to level him up to 15 in a brief weekend. One feature that clearly shows how Square Enix was thinking of making “A Realm Reborn” less tedious for players is the placement of Aetheryte Crystals throughout the town. Once discovered and synched with, these allow for instantaneous transportation to the major locations in the city and saves an abundant amount of travel time.
What does the DualShock 4 bring?
The PS4 controls borrow somewhat from what was established in “DC Universe Online” by using the triggers to highlight a group of eight out of 16 hotbar commands that can be activated by either the face buttons or D-pad. Another set of commands can be brought up by pressing the R1 button on the controller.
It’s as elegant a way to issue commands as can be had with a console controller but getting to some of the non-hotbar actions like the chat window, quest log and map does get clunky at times. The touchpad on the DualShock 4 controller does help alleviate this somewhat but it’s not a good replacement for the good old mouse.
Fortunately, the PS4 does support the mouse and keyboard combo. If you have that available, I strongly suggest using that as a control scheme instead of the DualShock 4.
Every game has a hook
While the beginning stages did feel very grindy as I did move from quest to quest, I fortunately never lacked for content. By the time, I reached level 15 with my Marauder and began exploring more, I came to realize the amount of content that was still available either through quests, leves (repeatable quests) and FATEs (events that pop up in zones) will keep me busy deep into this review.
Then, I decided to try the one differentiating hook with “A Realm Reborn” – the ability to change a character’s class simply by switching weapons. As hooks go, this is an incredibly effective one as it allows you to keep the character you have and experiment with different classes. You won’t be able to wear the same equipment and you start your new class at level one but the payoff comes later from what I understand.
It was hear that I realized I shouldn't have sold off my starting clothing as Hogarth was forced to adventure only in his undies while a starting Arcanist. I chose the magic class to try and balance out Hogarth’s marauding tendencies with the ability to heal, summon a pet and cause some damage. Also, I really didn't know any better and just thought an Arcanist sounded cool. To my surprise, it kind of is!
Even after clearing out a large chunk of quests in Limsa Lominsa and the surrounding zones with my Marauder, I was still able to find plenty to keep me active. Still, I can see where I've drained the lower level quests just about dry and will have to move on soon.
Our journey so far
The visuals and production value of “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn” is evident in what I’ve been able to see so far. Square Enix should be commended by what they've been able to deliver in the form of a reboot. I have to admit that the lack of voice acting was a little jarring at first after playing “Star Wars: The Old Republic” and “The Elder Scrolls Online” but it wasn't an issue after a while. I look forward to seeing what I else I can find in time for my next review, hopefully when I hit level 30-ish.