It has been a long development road for Final Fantasy XIV. Initially released for PC in Sept. 2010, the game was met with harsh criticism, prompting Square Enix to issue a number of apologies and offer numerous free trial extensions. Examiner’s Bryan Edge-Salois reviewed Final Fantasy XIV Online in Oct. 2010 and lambasted the title – find his review here.
A year following the disastrous launch, Square Enix announced that the game would be relaunched as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn at a later date. A Realm Reborn would be completely rebuilt by a new development team with fresh content, improved visuals and interface, but feature the same setting and story as the original game.
Nearly three years have passed since Final Fantasy XIV saw release. After much patience, Square Enix used a Phoenix Down to revive Final Fantasy XIV into a game that the fans and company can be proud to play. A Realm Reborn may not redefine the MMO genre, but the title is one of the finest MMOs released in recent years and is excellent fun on the PlayStation 3.
The tale of A Realm Reborn is standard RPG fare in the sense that the game opens following a calamitous event impacting the world of Eorzea. Much like Final Fantasy XIV itself, the world is able to rebuild, but still faces ongoing struggles – ranging from wildlife, tribes, and the looming threat of a Garlean offensive. Those accustomed to the RPG genre will find the opening hours of A Realm Reborn highly familiar to a traditional RPG. The game eases you into its elements thru simple quests which, essentially, serve as tutorials to combat, magic use, accepting quests, collecting items, and so on and so forth.
By gradually introducing these game concepts, A Realm Reborn feels more player accessible when compared to other MMOs. Players are able to get a stable grasp on the game and how to make use of all the elements without feeling overwhelmed. This is especially imperative when playing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn on PS3 as the DualShock 3 isn’t as easy to use as a keyboard.
While the opening hours of A Realm Reborn are mostly centered on rudimentary quests and mission types, the game begins to spread its wings around the time you reach the Level 15 mark or so. At this point, the story is brought into a greater focus, and you’ll find yourself becoming entrenched in what the world of Eorzea has to offer.
Given the scope of A Realm Reborn and the amount of quests there are to do, we have not yet finished the game. However, based on what we have played, the story is captivating, the lore of Eorzea is interesting, and there is plenty to keep players interested.
There has long been a stigma that MMOs and home consoles don’t mix – mostly because of menus, button pre-sets, and other factors. Square Enix has done a fantastic job in making A Realm Reborn playable on the PS3 with a standard controller. Controlling as a typical third-person adventure title, exploration, character interaction, and combat all feel natural on the DualShock 3. Given that combat is an important component to Final Fantasy XIV, it is vital that cycling through attacks and spells can be done effortlessly.
Luckily, it is easy to assign skills to the face-buttons of the PS3 controller and everything is manageable.
Though A Realm Reborn feels like a regular RPG in many ways, the method in which combat is conducted is still very much like a traditional MMO. Players need to target the enemy, remain still when casting a spell, and have a brief cool down period between attacks. If you opt to, one could play the game entirely as one class type and learn the necessary skills to be successful in battle and complete quests.
For those looking to get more out of the game and are willing to experiment, there are select skills that can be learned dubbed cross-class skills – meaning other classes can use these abilities. If you find yourself often playing the game solo, it may be best advised to start as a Conjurer and learn skills like Cure and Protect as these are cross-class skills. If you then switch your class to a Gladiator or Archer, you will be able to use Cure and Protect on these characters while in battle and on quests.
Every character class can eventually be upgraded to a job title – think of it as an advanced class, of sorts. Upon reaching Level 30 with a class, you will be given the opportunity of advancing to a job and learning stronger abilities that are tied to the job for the character.
Square Enix has crafted an excellent MMO and entertaining game with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Those with a PS3 can enjoy the game in full with a DualShock 3; meanwhile those on PC have the convenience of a keyboard. As long as the game can fend off technical issues, like lag and server problems, A Realm Reborn will become a home to many online adventurers for years to come.
(Editor's Note: A PS3 code was provided by Square Enix for review purposes. Over 30hrs has been spent with the game to this point.)