Final Fantasy has long been one of the most recognized and beloved names in the JRPG genre. Some of the most loved elements of the series include it’s characters, and it’s story. So naturally i was skeptical to try it out as an MMO, even when it had a previous successful MMO with Final Fantasy XI. I shouldn’t have worried however as Final Fantasy XIV has been one of the best games i have played in a while, and definitely the biggest time sink.
I should also state that i have never had much MMO experience and what little i have had has been mostly free ones that I never stayed in longer than a couple weeks at most. So i was fairly new to most MMO mechanics and experiences, especially the End Game content. However if you already have some friends playing or you meet the right people, you can easily learn these ingame while making a lot of new friends.
Naturally at the start of the MMO you get to make your character, and the character creator for 14 is fantastic. There is a plethora of hairstyles and facial options as well as a decent number of body options as well. Lets face it though, one of the best options are the character races, and this game has Five of them; Hyur (human), Elezen (Elf), Miqo’te (cat-people), Lalafell (elf-like things), and the Roegadyn (tall muscular people). Each race looks fairly nice and each race is distinctive enough that one will stick out to the players fancy and they can run with it. Also don’t fret if you can’t decide, There is and item called a Fantasia potion that you can use to completely change your characters race and gender should you feel the need. It’s also worth mention that each race has their own unique stats, but since they only differ by 1 to 2 points, they don’t play a major role at all in determining which class to play as.
The range of classes is also very good. In total, there are 8 different classes available upon character creation and 1 more available once you hit level 10. Why level 10 you ask? Well one of the great things about FF14 is that you can change your class whenever. So if you start out as a Lancer and decide you want to be a healer instead then just take the quest to pick up the Conjurer class. The only requirement is that you need a class to be at level 10 or higher before you can switch. So from making you character you can pick from Gladiator and Marader (tanks) or the Conjurer (Healer). Then we have Pugilist, Lancer, Archer, Thaumaturge, and Arcanist which are all the DPS. Then at level 10 you can choose to switch to the Rogue (DPS). These however are the base classes. Once you hit level 30 they evolve into Paladin, Warrior, White Mage, Monk, Dragoon, Bard, Black Mage, Summoner or Scholar (Arcanist becomes 2), and Ninja. Each has a different playstyle and its definitely worth trying out a handful of the classes to see which one fits you best.
Also, those are just the battle classes, we haven’t even hit on the crafting or gathering classes yet. There are 8 crafting classes and 3 Gathering classes. I personally find these to be some of my favorite in the whole game, since the crafting and gathering systems are implemented very well. You craft and gather similar to how you battle enemies. You have different skills and you use said skills to successfully craft an item. Also gathering you have skills to increase your gathering rate, or to increase the odds of a high quality item. These classes have even more skills and get more indepth as they level and can be a fantastic break from running dungeons and mindlessly killing things. Also, Myself and some of my FC (guild) friends find gathering to be extremely relaxing after a day at work.
As for the actual fighting, it’s pretty much standard MMO fare. You have a weapon and an auto attack with a wide range of skills to use. Skills range from damage dealing to healing to support and so on. It really just depends on your class and what it’s role is in the party. Fairly simple and easy to figure out. If you have trouble figuring out your class, the community has put out many guides on how to efficiently play the classes and they can be very helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed. Dungeons are also fairly standard. You get in a party and kill enemies until you get to the end. Most of them are fairly well designed and they each have mechanic or two that is unique to them to make them all feel varied and different.
Another unique feature of FF14 is the FATE system. FATEs are scenarios that randomly appear on the field maps. They all have an objective that needs to be completed by the end of the timer. Some are killing a certain number or enemies, taking down a boss, or gathering a certain amount of items to deliver to an npc. They are a good way to level up as they give fairly good exp and they also are available to everyone in the area, making them fun to enjoy in a party or with random players.
The end game content is also very abundant in this game. You have harder versions of the story bosses, several raids (all of which have their own unique story), harder end game dungeons, new side story questlines, and the zodiac weapons. A zodiac weapon is a weapon that is constantly evolving. They’ve added tiers which most of the updates to level up this weapon. It is noted that they are incredibly tedious to level up. There will be a ton of grinding involved if you want to keep the Zodiac weapon up to date, or especially if you fell behind and need to catch up. All in all though the post game is a ton of fun and a definite time sink, if you don’t mind with some the tedium of grinding.
Though, i did mention earlier that the story and character where what made a Final Fantasy and this one doesn’t disappoint. Both areas aren’t the best the series has ever had to offer but they both are solid enough to be entertaining and keep you focused on whats happening. The story is a bit generic at times, and some of the characters are expendable or rather useless at times, but they mesh together well enough to make the experience enjoyable. Well, if you can get over that lackluster voice acting for some characters. The lore is the most interesting part of this section though. Eorzea is a fully fleshed out world with a ton of backstory. It makes it feel like a real place that you want to explore and help out.
The latest update introduced the Golden Saucer. If you aren’t familiar with it, it was a location in Final Fantasy VII where there were several minigames to distract you from progressing the story, and thats exactly what it’s for in 14. It has things like Chocobo Racing, an addicting card game called Triple Triad, GATES a gold saucer version of Fates, and a good number of games you’d find at a carnival or the like. It is by far one of the biggest ways to kill time in this game.
There is so much more i could talk about in this game, but to be concious of the length I won’t over them as i don’t feel they are as essential to the experience as the ones above. Some of these features though are Hunts, Beast Quests, and Sightseeing. Overall I feel that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a great game that you can spend hundreds if not thousands of hours into. I definitely reccomend that you do, unless of course you can’t afford the monthly fee or if you can’t stand a major grind post game.