300 hours in Eorzea (FF14 review)

Final Fantasy XIV : A Realm Reborn

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The Final Fantasy series has always been a personal favourite of ours here at G4me0ver and even though the franchise has fallen on hard times as of late, our dedication to it has not waned. So, when it was announced, back in late 2013, that Final Fantasy XIV was receiving a new overhaul, I was immediately intrigued, despite the fact that I vowed to never delve into the vast world of MMOs in fear that it would rob me of the time I normally spend playing single player, story-driven experiences.
That ended up becoming the case, but I was happy to make that trade.
It is now two years and 300+ hours later and I have a love letter to the game on behalf of the community.

What is this game you speak of? – Story & Gameplay

A Realm Reborn is a MMO created by Square Enix set in the world of Eorzea.
The story is a very tried and true formula for the Final Fantasy franchise; you are a warrior of light…again, and you have been tasked with saving something or other from some big bad, so some pretty bog standard R.P.G. story tropes, but the game is so much more than its core story.
At no point during my 300+ hours spent exploring the abundant world of Eorzea did I ever run out of playable content; there was always another job class I wanted to master, or a dungeon I felt I could run better, or even a change in styles, from tank to healer, there was no end to the things that I found interesting.

A Realm Reborn‘s classes are all part of a job system which is similar to that used in Final Fantasy V and, to a lesser extent, the garment grid implemented in X-2. This allows your character to switch freely between all classes (outside of battle), making him/her a jack of all trades without the hassle of creating a separate character account or resetting all of your character skills; all you have to do is simply equip a different main hand weapon to your character and, almost like magic, you are now whatever the situation needs you to be.

I only managed to max level (level 60) 13 of ARR’s job classes and didn’t even get round to tackling the higher end-game dungeons including Alexander (Savage) and some of the level 50 primal battles which are XIV’s versions of Aeons (or Espers), these are particularly taxing on your mastery of your job class; it punishes any mistake and demands that you work in a team whilst juggling the battle mechanics.

Eorzea is filled to the skies with all the things you have come adore about the Final Fantasy series; the friendly feathered chocobos that can be recruited as a mount and later trained as a party member, the endless array of mini games from the Gold Saucer, including the classic Triple Triad, every FF fans favourite card game.
Even the deadly marlboros and their bad breath will have you on a nostalgia filled trip as you go about your adventures.

The biggest thing that pulled me towards the (Warriors of) Light was the cross-accessibility, being available to access the game across PS3 and 4 was a dream come true, I was instantly surrounded by friends.
I was totally blown away by the sheer variety of things to do in ARR, from fishing to archery and even a dash of black magic, everything is available from the get go and I loved it.

Look the part be the part mother f*&ker (Graphics)  

The vast and ever expanding world of ARR is one filled with beauty and a detailed world filled with inspiring cities and larger than life characters and enemies. When I first booted up 14 (the luminous engine) after suffering through the inevitable install procedure I was immediately impressed by the overall look, from the attention to detail/the overall number of customization choices used in the character creation screen to the first time you are teleported to one of Eorzea three major cities each one with there own sense of purpose, the Luminous engine truly lets you appreciate FF14 in all of its wonder.

Square have always been known for their graphics engines and Luminous is definitely something to be proud of and is definitely one of the major draws to FF14.

You’ve got a friend in me, kupo! (the community)

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The make or break for many MMOs is the game’s community, this is where A Realm Reborn really shines. As the months went by, I found I was making more and more time to play ARR and falling deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of Eorzea.
After a solid 60 hours of gameplay, I finally completed the core story and had a half competent level 50 Warrior tank class. The only way to go from here was to join a Free Company, A Realm Reborn‘s version of a guild, in order to reap the benefits that I knew they could supply my character with, such as xp boosts and increased gathering chances.

After spending time in a range of Free Companies, from large, fully-functioning raid groups to little groups of friends, I eventually settled down in a little house in The Mist, a district of the server called Shiver. I was then a member of SKY, a constantly active Euro-American FC, all of whom were very helpful and talkative.

An FC should be active, friendly and, above all else, have the goal as a group to help the heart of the game grow,  SKY is and was those things for the better part of my play time.

 

It’s all about that grind, baby (Late Game)

One of my main concerns when playing throughout the main scenario was the inevitable grind fest in the later parts of the game. Levelling turned out to be reasonable and not the slow endlessly repetitive bore that I had anticipated. You quickly found yourself in an endless repetition of attacking the main scenario till it required you to be a higher level, at which point you can choose from a shedload of side quests and a game full of FATES (public events) to farm. If all else fails there is always the duty finder to fall back on, a system that registers you for a dungeon or event of your choice and teams you up with a random group of players from all of ARR’s servers to… mixed results. It’s best to run dungeons with players on your friends list to avoid unwanted misunderstandings. Do all of this and you will be back on track and getting on with the story in no time.

The real grind doesn’t start till the mid forties and what a slog it is. It never becomes unbearable, you just have to get in the mindset of  running the same couple of FATES and dungeons again and again. So what do you do? You get your three favourite albums, hit that play button and don’t stop grindin’ until you hear the soothing sound of silence. Hopefully you have finally reached the pre-stages level of 50!

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Welcome To The Real Realm Reborn (End Game)

As with most MMOs, the real game starts when you reach max level. From there A.R.R. gives you access to a plethora of added content including the first three 24-man raids that will undoubtedly be your main focus for the first 40 hours of the end-game. All of that just to get your hands on the perfect suit of armour that will please you for all of two minutes until there is a new armour set, and so it begins again.

The abundance of new content after completing the first leg of the main scenario is overwhelming at first, but every new dungeon, primal and quest is truly unique, even the Hard Mode versions of old dungeons are re-jigged just enough to make them feel fresh and new.
All of this stops A Realm Reborn from falling into the deathgrip of the lacklustre endgame.
Final Fantasy XIV is still an active and constantly updated MMO and shows no signs of slowing down, with its first expansion well under way and bringing with it even more content and 3 new classes.
This is a game that will keep you occupied for months to come and is trying it best to live up to that subscription fee.

Is this the MMO you’re looking for? (The Verdict)

Final Fantasy A Realm Reborn is a long but completely immersive experience that will make most RPG fans fall madly in love with the vast and beautiful world of Eorzea. Other, more casual, gamers might be overwhelmed by the amount of player freedom, the sheer number of quest and a lack of emphasis on completing the main scenario, but if you march on and really get into your job role, you will become a necessary cog in an ever expanding machine of ARR.
The original (predictable) storyline later develops into a mad remix of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and the death count almost rivals that of Game of Thrones.

Pros

  • It never ends, as all MMOs should ARR is fill to the brim with an endless array of quest, story mission and dungeons for you to occupy your time with.
  • An extensive selection of classes, whatever your play style whatever your preference ARR has your back covered with an ever expanding lineup of DPS,Tanks and Healers.
  • The constant feeling that you are being challenged, throughout my time with FF14 i always felt like i was being challenges and even though that feeling waned at times, with every new expansion the challenges returned ten fold.
  • To say an MMOs community are a friendly and welcoming is a statement I can’t make likely but for my time spent playing I can say I encountered no trolls.

Cons

  • A Realm Reborn is not a free to play MMO and as such there is a monthly subscription fee, but you get your fees worth.
  • Very time consuming experience and there is no easy level systems no shortcuts.

Final fantasy 14 A Realm Reborn (core game/ no add ons)

score – 8.1/10

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