Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – Review


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Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn box art Final Fanrasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Developer Square Enix

Publisher Square Enix

Platforms PC and PS3 available now. PS4 in 2014.

Released: August 27, 2013

Verdict: I need to take more time off work. . .

Score: 8/10

 
It’s been 3 years since the original release of Final Fantasy XIV Version 1.0. It was plagued with immense server lag, poor pacing, and it lacked standard MMO features like Auction Houses and jumping. FFXIV Version 1.0 was deemed nearly unplayable by fans the world over. However, this was the first introduction into the world of Haydealen and Eorzea. It featured the unique ability for characters to change classes on the fly. It boasted a deep and engaging story for players to take part in. Unfortunately this wasn’t enough to save the game. Capping out at around 30,000 players Square Enix made the highly controversial announcement to remake Final Fantasy XIV in it’s entirety. They planned to rebuild the game from the ground up to give the players a proper entry in the numerical Final Fantasy saga.
 
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Here we are 3 years later. Naoki Yoshida(Yoshi-P), the director of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, has worked tirelessly with the developers, designers, and fans to craft the ultimate Final Fantasy MMO. Did he succeed? I’d have to say, without a shadow of a doubt, that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is everything that was promised and more. It’s finely tuned, fun, and beautiful! Best of all, it’s available on PC and PS3, with a PS4 version coming in 2014. It’s also fully cross platform.
 

 
From the moment you turn on the game you can tell the team at Square Enix poured their blood, sweat, and tears into this release. No area of the game is, in anyway, half assed. From character creation, to end game, there’s nothing short of quality.
 
After the mandatory cutscene that explains, in general, the events of Version 1.0, players begin their journey by creating a character. Choose from 5 different races, all of which can be male or female, and all are broken down into 2 further “sub races” or backgrounds. Are you a massive Roegadyn Sea Wolf, descending from the great pirates of old? Or are you a Hyur Midlander, focusing on studies for the betterment of all Eorzea. Whatever you decide upon is mostly a cosmetic option. There are differences in stats across all races, but the general difference is about 4 points from highest to lowest. Customization doesn’t just end at race, sex, and background. You can fully customize the appearance of your hero from height, musculature, bust size(females only), hair, eyes, and more. Your hero truly feels like your own, especially when you run alongside other heroes of the same race. You can clearly pick yourself out of a crowd based on these options.
 
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Once you have your basic appearance down it’s time to choose your starting class. The class you choose also determines your starting zone and the beginning of the main story quest line. It seems like a huge decision, but in all actuality it’s not. By level 10 you can change to any other class you want, provided you undertake a very short quest to join that classes guild. And at level 15 you will be traveling around the world on the same story quests as everyone else. This information will help the early decisions seem a little less daunting, and will help you get right into the action.
 

 
There are 8 classes to choose from. They all fill the basic 3 rolls found in any MMO. Your tanks, or the guy taking all the hits, are Marauders and Gladiators. DPS, or the guys dealing the punishment, are Pugilists, Lancers, Archers, Thaumaturges, and Arcanists. There is only one starting healer and that’s the Conjurer. You pick one of these classes and move on from a series of quests, which range from “Kill x of these” to “Go here, then here”, dungeons, and random FATE or Full Active Time Events. Most of your quests are fairly standard MMO fare, but when coupled with additional filler like FATEs, the Hunting Log, and Levequests, it all seems less mundane and far more interesting that many other MMOs.
 
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Imagine the scenario when your lancer is tasked with taking out a few menacing plant monsters. As you lower the enemies ranks one by one a warning pops up informing you that a FATE is nearby. You head over to the targeted area and spot a massive plant monster floating by itself. Then a few more heroes run up beside you. One of you attacks the ferocious beast and thus begins a FATE battle. You can’t just mindlessly press buttons here, you have to be careful not to pull the enemies attention away from the tank. Someone also needs to make sure the tank doesn’t KO or else the monster will seek someone else to suffer it’s wrath. Upon successfully downing the foe all participants are rewarded based on their contribution. You’ll receive EXP, Gil, and Grand Company tickets(which can be exchanged to your faction for equipment and other items). Some FATEs also reward players with minions, or non combat pets, and specialty currency used to purchase specialty gear. The latter currently only occurs with the FATE battles against Behemoth and Odin. It’s a great system that really breaks up the monotony of performing standard fetch quests.
 

 
Upon reaching level 30 with any class all heroes open the option to specialize that class into an advanced version or Job. Lancers become Dragoons, Thaumaturges become Black Mages, Conjurers become White Mages, Pugilists become Monks, Gladiators become Paladins, Marauders become Warriors, Archers become Bards, and Arcanists become Summoners or Scholars. Many players feel that there is an imbalance by giving the Arcanist multiple specializations, but Square Enix has defended this by stating that all classes will have access to 2 different Jobs in later patches. It can also be stated that both Summoner and Scholar take on severely different rolls taking bonuses from 2 different sets of equipment thus making it difficult for a player to consider dual speccing beyond level 50. Jobs provide all heroes with a bonus to stats, better gear, and new abilities. These advanced classes are built primarily for group combat, since they lack the ability to use cross class skills from nearly every class. You won’t see a Warrior running around healing anybody, much like you won’t see a White Mage running around hitting enemies with a flurry of staff strikes.
 
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New dungeons, quest hubs, and zones keep the game from feeling stale well into the beginning stages of the late game. Once a player hits level 37-38 you will start to notice an increasingly high amount of grinding needed to advance your character. While players have a vast array of options available to them to grind out these later levels, it quickly becomes tedious. FATEs can be fun, but when you’ve battled the same boss for the umpteenth time in the Coerthas Highlands just so you can get that last bit of EXP to open up the next story quest, they start to lose their luster.
 

 
The plot starts out strong from the get go. Letting players know that they are entering the world 5 years after the events that closed out version 1.0. The strange thing is, nobody remembers what happened. All they know is that 8 heroes, whose faces cannot be remembered, were seen on the battlefield defending all of Eorzea from the Garlean Empire. It’s very entertaining, and really picks up around level 40 as it sets up the endgame content. I’ve never been as pumped as I am to enter a dungeon in any MMO as I am in Final Fantasy XIV. The desire to see what’s coming next is insatiable, but the grinding required to move on can sometimes obliterate your motivation.
 
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So far endgame seems to be entertaining. There are a series of high level dungeons to run at level 50 offering players a chance to acquire Tomestones used to trade in for better gear. Players can also take on Hard Mode versions of the 3 Primal battles fought throughout the main questline. There’s also the Binding Coil of Bahamut, the first part of a multi section raid dungeon available to high geared players. Square Enix has also announced that another dungeon, the Crystal Tower, will be released in a future patch. Besides more dungeons players have the option to take on a profession in the form of crafting, or level up other classes to gain new crossover skills or just to try something different. It seems like there is an endless amount of content available to those willing to invest the time into Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborns many side options, and still just as much content available for those just seeking out battle with the biggest and meanest Eorzea as to offer.
 

 
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has been a massive undertaking for Square Enix. Taking one of the biggest jokes of 2010 and turning it into this glorious game is nothing short of outstanding. FFXIV: A Realm Reborn offers players an almost overwhelming amount of content to take on. You’ll often find yourself standing around trying to decided if you want to enter a dungeon, run some side quests, swap classes for a bit, or work on making that new pair of boots. When you do move on through the story you’ll be greeted with a wonderful plot, infrequent and charming voice acting, and a great cast of characters. The simplified controls from version 1.0 ensure that anyone can jump in and have a great time, while offering a wealth of depth for those striving to be the very best.
 
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Many questioned Square Enix when they announced their efforts to remake Final Fantasy XIV. While their conservative player estimate may have lead to a slew of login issues for the first week of the games release, it also goes to show that there are many players interested in visiting Eorzea. It’s clearly evident that Yoshi-P and his team take this game, and it’s fans, seriously. Despite the late game grind that can become somewhat of a drag, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn shines in every aspect. It promotes player interaction through crafting and gathering. It creates a quick(sometimes) way to access content without the need to sit around spamming LFG in the chat. And it boasts one of, if not the, best story I have ever experienced in an MMO. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is absolutely worth all of the time that Square Enix put into it, and it’s easily worth the $30 out of your pocket and $15 monthly price tag.

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