I haven’t played an MMORPG since Ragnarok Online back in 2006. I haven’t played a Final Fantasy series title since….well ever actually. So what happens when a gamer with a lot of free time decides to get into an MMORPG? Well he chooses Final Fantasy XIV – A Realm Reborn because there’s nothing better than a stone that kills two birds.
I then decided to write down my thoughts of this game because I thought you might find it entertaining to read the impressions of one of the bigger online games currently out there (1.5 million accounts so far) and how an ardent anti-RPG/Final Fantasy/MMO newbie fares in this vastly big, digital world.
I don’t know why I never played a Final Fantasy game, but I’m willing to bet it has something to do with the fact that I’m just not big into JRPGs. The battle systems just don’t do much for me and I lack the grinding, collecting, evolving compulsion needed to drive these 100 hour quests. Actually, Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls are the only RPGs I’ve played and logged in well over 100 hours into for the very fact that I kept leveling, collecting, and crafting so it’s not that I’ve never fallen into that pitfall. It’s just not something I seek out. I get exhausted of games longer than 10 hours (unless it’s really good, like Dark Souls) and if there are too many objectives at any given time I’d rather call it quits than get that golden 100 percent completion.
Plus I’m mad at their false advertising. How can there be a 14th Final Fantasy hmmmmm?
Old jokes aside, it was simply the misfortune of the series or the unlucky coincidence of my birth that Matthew Kim and JRPGs don’t mix.
As for MMOs I just never saw the appeal. My friends didn’t play so there was no social aspect in them for me, and the friends who did play lost their lives in a mad scramble for “levels and gold”. I saw in their eyes, the empty shells of what was once human and I whispered to myself all those years ago “Not me, not me”.
The free-to-play model with advancement behind paywalls never did much either, and there was never a strong enough incentive for me to actually pay for subscription fee’d games when I probably wouldn’t even get my money’s worth.
So why now?
Why Final Fantasy XIV ARR? Well now because I wanted to see how far the latest MMOs have come since 2006. FF XIV ARR (HD REMIX 2COOl4SKOOL EDITION TURBO MAX)(TURBO MAX!) because I wanted to experience what the best had to offer given how many people tell me they’re loving A Realm Reborn. Also I have a really nice computer now so I wanted to give it a spin with a really nice MMO.
Also, also, I was genuinely interested in the game. Its controversies and (supposedly) glorious revival piqued my interests and I figured that since it is a proper entry into the series I could start with an unconventional numbered FF title. So after paying for the game and a free trial month’s subscription here’s how it went.
I wasted the first month.
I played about a total of 4 hours my first free month subscription of the game. I sorta knew something like this would happen to be honest, but it was pretty bad on my part. The game threw me into a rather interesting world and I made my character as best as I could (She looks great by the way) but when it came down to it I just couldn’t overcome the constant quest to quest playing. I realize it’s standard for RPGs but I’ve been out of the genre so long and was immediately reminded why I left.
So I paid 13 bucks for another month’s access with the determination not to waste more money…
And so far I’ve done much better. I’ve logged in about 30 hours so far (since the beginning of this month for perspective) and here’s why:
I began exploring the world.
I think it was on a routine quest when I came across an area filled with large towering windmills that I realized how beautiful my surroundings were. Real-time weather, day and night cycles, varied areas, this isn’t a cheap game. So while some were lured with a new adventure, a new character to master, new equipment, I was hooked with the promise of more areas to explore. But in order to reach some of the more interesting locations I needed my character to be stronger and in order to be stronger I needed to progress further in the game.
…And I began playing the quest game.
And after the first handful of tutorial quests, I began hitting every quest available to me simultaneously. Not only did it expedite the whole leveling process, but it advanced story in a way that I realized with each progressing quest, the further out the game sent me into new areas.
And so my thirst for world exploration and game progression became further linked.
But there was also something about the interaction that held my attention better than previous MMOs. Final Fantasy XIV ARR is strictly subscription based game and it shows. I’m getting my money’s worth each month just to have a game that actually looks like a Triple A title and it’s something I’ve come to value. I can’t say you won’t get the same experience anywhere else because beneath its gorgeous exterior is a fairly traditional MMO, but the difference in paid and free to play is the quality of the experience, not the amount.
Which brings me to my next point. The game isn’t really revolutionary. It’s almost like picking up any other MMO, but it’s very beginner-friendly. Classes are straightforward and interchangeable, quests don’t rely too much on fetching and boss fights and cutscenes are thrown in regularly to keep player’s interest.
As for the story it’s pretty alright actually. Story quests are highlighted and linear so there’s a constant sense of narrative cohesiveness that I really began investing in. Warring states, conquests, things like that is the overall narrative of the game, and one could probably do a single playthrough of just the story missions.
I’m apparently one of 1.5 million chosen heroes and it’s my duty to stop some Germany stand-ins but for the most part it’s a pretty expansive story that works well for the adventurers spirit I’m gunning for in my pro-exploration playthrough of the game. I forget sometimes that this is a proper Final Fantasy game with a proper Final Fantasy story. Though not having played the other games, I can’t compare this story to the others. Could be better, could be worse. The important thing is I can tell people I’ve played a Final Fantasy game.
Controller support for my heart.
I’ve been playing with a controller since the beginning and though it’s not the optimal way of playing this game (a mouse and keyboard holds many advantages) it really drives combat and movement home from the point-and-click monotony to the intuitive mind, hand, screen meld that the controller support offered. It may not be the conventional praise for an MMO, but then again this isn’t really a conventional playthrough of one.
She’s great. I decided on a female character because I thought the models were more interesting (read: attractive). If I’m going to spend hours and hours in a game, might as well be with a character I’d want to look at.
Unfortunately, others shared the same feeling.
I was playing one day and this one male character first began following me everywhere, then initiated conversation by complimenting my character model and asking if this was my first time playing. Rookie mistake guy, you should know that’s not how gender works in MMORPGs, is this YOUR first MMO? It took every ounce of my will to not tell him “Man, you are giving me such a boner right now” and leave it at that, but I found it too uncouth for a pirate-lady of my stature.
The one take away? I’m great at customizing attractive characters apparently. Get all that digital booty.
Tank, Healer, Support, What?
I didn’t understand any MMO lingo that was thrown out when I was still looking up different MMORPGs to play. They all mentioned something or another about DPS, tank, aggro, blah blah blah what even? Like ohmaghad, I could play as an actual tank? Vroom, vroom motherfuckers I’mma blow up Tidus lol.
I made a Marauder because I thought it would be a strong tough, straightforward class.
But combat is essentially chaining special moves while keeping track of your various meters. Level progression is at a nice, almost regular pace with grinding replaced in favor of quest completion. So what I’m saying is combat is essentially real-time but you wouldn’t need to spend hours in a field killing whatever was in it because quests and little objectives such as exp for discovering new areas and completing hunting logs are much better for leveling and drive the game further.
So am I having a good time?
I honestly am. There’s nothing here that’s new for RPGs or MMOs yet I’m constantly playing and I think it has something to do with the world itself rather than the game. If you’re tired of playing the same MMOs over and over again, then I’d say there are probably freer options available. But I forget this is still a numbered FF title and the story is at the quality of narrative focused games, while the fact that it is a vast, online world makes exploration and travel that much more expansive. Additionally, you pay for what you get so the fee for maintaining this extremely beautiful game is well worth the asking price as long as you’re willing to get your own money’s worth out of it.
This game captures that sense of adventure, and it’s an adventure that’s more alive simply because it’s an MMO. The people at Square may not be able to tell stories like they used to (or so I’m told), but they can damn sure build worlds bigger than most other developers, and if you’re willing to play by traditional rules I can guarantee a non-traditional experience.