editor’s note: these are impressions based upon the Final Fantasy IV: A Realm Reborn beta. It is not a review, anything and everything may be different about the title upon its final release.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is an upcoming MMORPG for the PS3 and PC. It is actually a sequel/reboot of Final Fantasy XIV. There is a deep, rich, and complex story to explore, more than I could address here, and I’m sure I only scratched the surface in my limited time beta play through. At the most basic level, there are a number of humanoid races living on a planet with mystic crystals, powerful Aeons, and the potential destruction of the planet hanging overhead.
The game looks beautiful. There are sweeping vistas, mammoth majestic structures, vivant & varied creatures, and multitudes of individualized player characters. It is a living, breathing world with a gorgeous landscape.
There is a ton to do in the title. If you like crafting, it has that; if you like quest farming, it has that; if you like customizing armor and weapons… whatever you like, it’s there. There are many quests, many skills to learn — and you aren’t locked into one player class. After you reach level 10 in whatever class you started, you can start training in another, reach 10 levels in that, pick another one or you could specialize in one class for the entirety of your time there. It is up to you.
Playing an MMO on a console is problematic. I think they do need to work on the controls some for PS3 players. Especially when it comes to communication. Now, if you have a microphone, it does support voice chat, but if you are a typist, it is not easy. There’s no easy way to switch between local and group and private. “/tell SomeUserNamewithCorrect Spacing-n-Capitalization” is not fun to do, especially with some of the crazy names people come up with (myself included).
After the initial “Let’s see where this is going” phase, the game does seem to loose a bit of urgency. There is not a huge push to keep moving the story forward. Perhaps for an open world MMO, that’s a good thing — you aren’t supposed to “finish” the game for a long time, (if ever) so pacing and spacing is different for an MMO and a single player RPG. My experience with Final Fantasy has always been the single player games, so it has a very different feel.
As far as I was able to get in the game during the beta period, there was really just one quest that really seemed to point to a bigger overall story. Other than that, most of the stuff seems pretty random and “if you feel like helping, please do, but otherwise, go kill random things or collect 15 of these items”.
There are some bugs that I hope will be fixed before launch. About 10% of the time when I was fighting, my character did not stay “focused” on the enemy that was attacking me. I had to manually pick it every time when I was attacking. I lost battles several times because of that.
I never played the original Final Fantasy XIV, so I can’t address what they’ve improved, but I can say from my experience in other Final Fantasy games, as well as other RPGs and MMOs, this is an enjoyable experience.
There are some things I would like to see them improve, the mini-map system isn’t the best — it is very easy to get lost. The descriptions of the various classes was not super clear to me. I picked what sounded like a pure DPS class, but it ended up being the Tank class. But, like I said, you aren’t locked into any given class for the whole game.
As stated, the place feels alive as well, virtually all the non-player characters have something to say, some backstory, something that makes them seem unique and like a real person — not just Door Guard #47. The environments looked “lived in” and functional – if a bit ornate. You could spend a lot of time learning about the people just in the first main hub.
Some say Final Fantasy has lost its way, forgotten what made it great as a series. I’m not sure if Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn will be enough to change people’s minds, but it if the full release is anything like the Beta, it has given me a great deal of hope for the franchise.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Language, Mild Blood, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, and Violence. Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PC.