Final Fantasy XIV: a realm reborn; is the latest MMO released from Square Enix and once public brought an end to their prior MMO of the same genre, hence the realm being reborn. In this Quick review we will look at some of the pluses and minuses regarding this title and aim to justify its 4/5 star score received from this examiner.
While some may have seen my previously published article found here; the fact that my brother sent this game my way for Christmas, has left me suspicious he may have read deeper into the message conveyed of the image from that article. Regardless of the substantiating cause behind his Santa-like gesture, with the gift of Final Fantasy XIV, not only was the realm found reborn but any potentially lost enjoyment was renewed as well. Ultimately after a little more than a week's worth of gaming, it seemed prudent to share a review of this game and what about it has helped make that renewed pleasure possible.
Before diving into the elements of extreme intrigue that have ultimately provisioned the review score given, it seems important to first look at the negative aspects that managed to stifle this score from a full five stars. Hopefully the pluses that follow will properly negate any sour tastes these negatives could apply.
Probably foremost in those minuses would be the fact that this is a classic style pay-to-play game. Not only do you have to purchase the game itself but also maintain a monthly subscription to keep playing. Granted the monthly fees are less than some other popular titles out there with the same duress, but the fact that there is no trial accounts nor any way to try the game without making a purchase to receive 30 days access prior to subscribing can definitely seem to inhibit how successful a title this MMO might be. Something to keep in mind however is also how much this can inhibit underage players, trolls, and an over-abundance of gold farmers or any other players that may be looking for a 'free' ride. Those that subscribe and keep playing Final Fantasy XIV, in most cases are doing so either because they truly enjoy the game itself or are truly dedicated Final Fantasy fans. Due to as much, it definitely shows in the overall community of the players and their attitudes. So while this may seem a stifling negation for some to even try this title out, it also manages to keep many of the obnoxiousness found in free titles to a minimum and could potentially be viewed as a plus.
Another fierce negation involved with this title would be the account creation process. Surprisingly enough it took more time and effort to get the account created and then get logged into the game than it had to actually learn the basics and start enjoying the game! For as troublesome as the whole ordeal had been however, once immersed in the game it became an easily forgotten frustration. Nonetheless it definitely didn't help with initial impressions other than giving some measure of assurance that those playing had overcome this IQ test of account creation themselves. So again like the prior negative, this too could be viewed potentially as a plus by some. If the cost and fees aren't enough to deter any undetermined gamer, the struggle to get their account created and logged in might do the trick.
Thirdly in these negative aspects would be the fact that there are countless load screens involved with transit and travel throughout the game, coupled with the travel system in general. Aside from sitting through load screens that can take any amount of unwanted wait-times; other than traveling by foot throughout the realm there are mounts and travel systems but these will all cost you hard earned game moneys to utilize or receive. Personal mounts become available through following the story-quest of the game, but can often be a long wait made only that much longer when suffering under the extremes enforced by what transit is available until. While the other two negative points could potentially be seen as positive, anyone running the minimal RAM requirements would agree that this definitely has nothing beneficial to add to the game.
The remainder of negative aspects include the limited and minimal PVP aspect of the game; granted this element was just added to the game, has never truly been a nature of its theme, and has yet to even have been encountered from what time I have put into playing, but if PVP is a major source of MMO pleasure for a player this aspect could be the lacking that keeps you from ever trying the game. Other than this the final and probably most commonly faced problem by any MMO within its first year; there are bugs that are still present and unresolved since the games release. Fore-running those being a very vague visual C++ error that can crash the entire client while playing, while not all players have suffered from this error those that have and do would definitely agree it merits mention.
Moving past what may seem hugely negative points against the title, now let's take some time to go over the pluses that this MMO has to negate those values. While maybe not all players would agree these are the only pluses the game has to offer, these are definitely some that have assured a continued experience of this gamer.
While the days of minimal graphics in a successful MMO are on an extreme decline, the spectacular cinematics, game play, and dialogue handling not only hold true to the title's genre and what fans have come to expect of it; but does so in such a way that retains that single-player console feel of Final Fantasy that gamers have come to know and love. While delivering it all in an MMO setting inclusive with all that has to offer. Though many games can boast the same of their graphic integrity, few can truly transport the gamer back into their childlike state of reminisce that this title manages to. Even if a gamer has never played a Final Fantasy title prior, this MMO has so adhered to the original feel of the single player titles that it easily can fool a new player into thinking it's geared for children, but paying any close attention to the dialogue involved or the content represented and you immediately recognize the T rating by ESRB definitely applies.
Graphics alone are nothing when compared to the Character jobs/classes and how they are handled within the game. Regardless of the choice a player makes during character creation for their class or role; at anytime, once progressed enough within the story quest, they can train and then change to any other job available. That means if you went in as a tank or warrior class and instead wanted to endeavor as a healer or casting class, it's simply a matter of time before you can. Couple that with the fact that it only takes changing your primary weapon to switch between the two, and you begin to see the minimal need for multiple characters. Crafting and gathering within the game work within the same realm. What this overall means is you can make one character and so long as you don't mind the constraints involved with leveling each class/job; you could! Further that extreme by making it as simple as changing equipment to change classes/jobs and you may even realize you could work several of your up and coming jobs at the same time. Simply changing initial class/job is a touch of the insanity this can create, further that with the needed combination of certain levels of specific jobs to unlock advanced jobs/classes and you begin to see how much time this game aims to absorb of its players.
Time loss is easy to do when having fun, so having fun is definitely an important part of the Final Fantasy recipe for success; to advance classes/jobs whether crafting or combat the game offers what it calls 'Leve Quests'. These quests are basically like repeatable daily quests available for a range of difficulty levels. Players can take and complete up to nine of these a day for payouts of experience and money within the game. Aside from these keys for the grinding of multiple jobs, there are side quests throughout the game offered by NPC's not to mention the main story quest which progresses players through familiarizing them with the realm and game mechanics. Not looking to grind, just wanting to run through dungeons for loot and experience? Fret not the game has a very simple and comprehensive queue system for getting into dungeons once unlocked through progression of the main story quest.
Although fairly recent to the game, along with PVP being added so too was player housing, an often overlooked aspect of great intrigue to many MMO players. While we can't all design the home of our dreams in real-life; the ability to within a virtual world can sometimes be almost as satisfying to enjoy especially when you can design and enjoy it from the ground up all in one sitting. While this aspect does require a fairly large sum of ingame funds to invest in to enjoy; it only serves as incentive to progress for those with the proper ambition and drive to see it through. Still with enough classes/jobs, quests, and dungeon queues under your belt it won't be long before those funds are acquired if not applied in that direction.
While the negatives may seem enough to outweigh any positives offered in this review for some, the fullest enjoyment simply cannot be conveyed in words. Square Enix may have fallen short of MMO player expectations with their prior Final Fantasy MMO offered, but the reborn realm of today is rewriting MMO history bringing back so many aspects of MMO entertainment that seem to have gone forgotten or overlooked by many of their competitors. Though subscription-based MMO's may have seemed a thing of the past in Final Fantasy XIV their relevance is reborn.