Final Fantasy has taken players on journeys throughout multipleworlds and realms. From saving princesses, killing bad guys and saving the world, the games have created an illustrious franchise. When Final Fantasy XIV was released not a lot of people got on board. But after a change in the direction of the game, Final Fantasy XIV underwent a serious make over and thus became A Realm Reborn. Is it the adventure we’ve all been waiting for or is it one we can easily forget? Let us mount our chocobos and find out.
One of the driving forces behind any Massively Multiplayer Online Game is a narrative you can get behind. The story carries on from the last event to occur in the original Final Fantasy XIV. A huge collection of heroes, known as the Warriors of Light, go into battle against the Garlean Empire. As steel meets steel and magitek armour collides with chocobos, a giant star above the battle field opens up to reveal the mightiest of all the primals, Bahamut. The king of the dragons ravages the land killing a number of heroes and garleans in the process. Five years after these events, the three major realms of Eorzea must team up with one another to stop the revival of the primals, investigate the mystery behind these strange people in black and stop the Garlean Empire from rising up yet again.
With plenty of story to go around, you will get immersed into everything the game throws at you. Although there is one big issue in comparison to other modern MMOG’s, voice acting. When voice acting is used it is well done but there seems to be a big lack of polish. Lip synching does not exist as you will see characters jibber jabber between each sentence. Secondly you will notice that a lot of the game has no voice acting what so ever and it mainly centres on the main story driven quest line. This works with putting more emphasis on the main quests but it would have been great to see this in play with class quests, job quests and other important moments of the game not driven by the story. With this in mind the immersion can drop time and again, especially if you are used to being talked to rather than read to.
Character customisation is good with a great array of different things to put into consideration. This is where you must ask yourself a question; do you want to have great base stats or are you not bothered? If you want to put stats into concern then you can choose the optimal race to go with what you want to do. For example, if you decide to go with a Hyur Highlander then you will have starting stats optimised for a Lancer/Dragoon. If you are not bothered when it comes to early game stats then do not fret. These slight difference in numbers do not make you overpowered off the bat and will still give you the opportunity to run with anything you want to. The downside is that where you have a good array of customising options, you notice when you enter the game that you will bump into people that look like you with slight differences. This does not bode well for the game as being able to stand out helps you look and feel different to everyone else. When you start looking at people like you, you just feel as if your one of many which is shame for immersion.
The gameplay is styled like a classic MMOG like WoW. Simply pressing a button from 1 to = will allow you to use one of your various abilities, items or emotes. The game does require you to keep a sharp eye out on enemies however as you will need to dodge certain attacks, that will reveal themselves as red boxes or circles, to keep yourself from receiving fatal damage. Whilst not as prominent as it is in Guild Wars 2, it is important to move around with your attacks when the time comes. Quest lines can supply you with updated gear and potions on a regular basis. But if you want to optimise your gear in the best way possible it is recommended that you choose one of the classes that helps with building your appropriate armours. You can level up the class at the same time as helping yourself out which is a simple win-win situation.
The class system for some players can be a bit confusing but you just have to think of it in blocks. You have the main classes branching off of the disciplines of War, Magic, Land and Hand. Then you have job classes that come into play once you have obtained a certain level in two specific classes. These jobs include: Dragoon, Monk, Bard, Paladin, Warrior, Black Mage, White Mage, Scholars and Summoners. With all these possible choices players can be anyone they want to be. The added benefit as well is that you can be every single class in the game. This allows you to make the decision as to whether you want to be a jack of all trades or fill a specific role. This gives you full control over your character and allows you to immerse yourself as much as you wish to.
Level progression is nicely balanced, at least from level one to thirty. Once you start on the ladder towards level fifty, be prepared for it to take a long time. Simply picking up every quest in an area at your appropriate level and handing them in will give you a sizeable amount of XP. Sadly you will discover that it will not always give you a level up and instead leave you with a small amount left to obtain. In the games defence however, every class has a set of monsters you can hunt to acquire nice packs of experience. These allow you to simply run across the world and murder specific numbers of specific enemies to help with your progression. You may have to work hard to reach the high levels, but you get a great pay off with cooler looking armour and the more extravagant special attacks.
One problem that can be found in the game that is mostly dependant on players are the times needed to enter a dungeon. Dungeons are plentiful in the game ranging from level fifteen entry dungeons to the epic and tough level fifty dungeons. The problem with the time it takes to enter a dungeon is that it is heavily dependent on your class and whether you are in a party or not. Queuing for a DPS class can take on average thirty minutes plus, the longest time I waited was two hours. However if you’re playing as a healing class you can almost guarantee getting into a dungeon faster because everyone looks for a good medic. With this unbalanced system in place, it is tough for a majority of players to carry on with other activities whilst the queue timer runs down.
With this being a shot of new life to Final Fantasy XIV, A Realm Reborn is a great addition to the game that adds new purpose and a new drive. With an updated storyline, epic confrontations with iconic enemies and gameplay that feels both classic and new, the MMOG is looking to be stronger than ever before. With a lack of polish here and there, areas that need improvement are obvious. Queue times are an issue especially for story driven dungeons and a lack of immersive story telling at times can hinder the game’s performance. But if you are willing to take time with the game, experience it to the full and join in with some friends on some heroic adventures, then this is definitely a game to try out.
So what do you think of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn? Is it as great as Bahamut or is it as powerless as a Cockatrice? Let us know what you think in the comments below and share with us your moments roaming Eorzea in the VGU Forums.