Should I play Final Fantasy XIV? That question gets thrown around all the time. In this video, Josh Strife Hayes gives you a brief impression of what you can expect with FFXIV: A Realm Reborn and his thoughts about if it’s worth your time or a waste of money.
FFXIV Offers Cross-Platform Play
Final Fantasy XIV is an interesting game. Originally released in 2010, it was shut down because it was awful. Square Enix rebuilt it from the ground up and rebranded it as A Realm Reborn, and now, it's really good. It's available on PC, Mac, PS3, and PS4, although the PS3 version is being slowly phased out.
The amazing thing about the game is it's fully cross-platform, meaning all players from all platforms play together on the same servers. Playstation 4 players, Mac players, and PC players are all gaming together in the same world as long as you're in the same realm.
Half of FFXIV Is Free to Play
As for the cost, this is where things get a bit more complex. Final Fantasy XIV was a monthly subscription game. But due to recent generous changes, you can now create a free trial account. This free trial account can experience a massive amount of the game, including the entire core main game and the whole first expansion – Heavensward for free from level 1 up to 60 in all jobs. But there are restrictions to this trial. These restrictions include no trading with other players, no more than one character per world, and no using the player to player Market Board.
Unfortunately, if you have an old character that used to be a paid monthly sub, you can’t convert it to a free trial character. You need to start a new character to get the Free Trial. Once you've played through the good 500 hour core game and Heavensward expansions, the monthly subscription is around 9 pounds or 13 dollars, which is super reasonable given the quality of the game.
Final Fantasy XIV is set in the Magical land of Eorzea. New players to the Final Fantasy Franchise will be happy to know that the games are not a single chronological adventure despite sharing the Final Fantasy name. Each one is an independent experience with a few superficial similarities, meaning you can start with FFXIV and not be missing out on anything.
FFXIV Is a High-Quality Game
The land of Eorzea itself is vast, covering multiple environments and biomes from secluded treetop canopies to murky swamps or dry, arid desert mesas. Your starting class will determine the city you start in, but it will look gorgeous no matter where you start.
The lighting effects, character models, combat animations, and music are stunningly high quality. In fact, one of the reasons the original FFXIV didn't do too well was the graphics were too good. Even tiny insignificant objects had a massive amount of polygons. There was an interview with the creator a while ago where he said a background flower pot had ten thousand polygons, which was the same count as the character models. If you want to see what your PC can really do or what the Playstation 4 is really capable of, Final Fantasy 14 on max graphics will put it through its paces.
The attention to detail and high quality is obvious from the very start with the Character Creation. When creating a character, you'll first be able to choose your race. You've got the human-like nomadic Hyur, the sleek and graceful elfin-like Elezen, the adorable and insufferable Lalafell, the cat-like Miqo’te, the super-buff Roegadyn, and the scaly AU RA. Each race is visually different, and the variety gives the whole game a seriously fantastical feel.
Each race can play as any class, so this is purely an aesthetic choice. Pick what you think looks cool. Character Creation is ridiculously detailed, letting you customize not only your hair and height but the very whites of your eyes or the color around them.
FFXIV Has a Unique Class System
As for classes, Final Fantasy XIV does’t restrict you. While you may start the game as one thing, you are not limited to it. FFXIV calls its classes “Disciples of War” for the fighter classes, “Disciples of Magic” for the spellcasters, and Crafting is broken down into “Disciples of the Land” for Gathering and “Disciples of the Hand” for making stuff.
You may begin the game as an Archer, a Gladiator, or a Conjurer, but that's not what you will stay as. Leveling through your individual jobs, storyline will unlock new abilities for that job, but to switch jobs or classes, all you need to do is switch weapons. This means you only need one character to experience absolutely everything the game has to offer. If you're fighting an enemy that's weak against a certain combat style, you can come back geared up with that style. This also means if you're playing with a group of friends, and one of you gets bored of tanking, you can switch whenever you need to. I absolutely love the freedom of this system.
Once you reach the basic version of a class to a certain level, you can complete a special quest and evolve it into a better version. The Archer becomes a Bard, and the Lancer becomes a Dragoon. It's a new name and a slightly different set of abilities, showing you are a more elite version of that class.
FFXIV’s Combat Does Not Start Good
As for the Combat System, Final Fantasy XIV has great Combat, EVENTUALLY. The end game dungeons and harder bosses will see you in a large team of players pulling off amazing feats of combat skill, using many special attacks and chaining together abilities to form massive damage, dodging, healing, defending, and attacking within dynamic and exciting fights. It's super enjoyable AT THE END GAME.
However, the first 20 or 30 hours of combat are, in my opinion, super dull. You've got your basic auto attack and a single activated ability, which you'll spam until you get a second. But, most abilities, especially in the early game, use the global cooldown timer, meaning activating one places all of them onto a short cooldown. Usually, this means you have to choose which ability to use in a given situation. But at the start, it means you'll be slowly cycling through two or three buttons for several hours. To be clear, Final Fantasy XIV's Combat is graphically beautiful and mechanically solid. It does get good, but it does not start good.
Once you get into the meat of the game though, you've got a vast amount of content available from randomized boss battle Roulettes to organized dungeons, or even join in the localized Fate Battles, which are reoccurring battle challenges out in the open world.
FFXIV Has Too Many Cutscenes
Final Fantasy XIV has a lot to offer. It just takes its sweet time getting to the good bit. Despite being one of the most played MMORPGs in history, Final Fantasy 14 takes itself extremely seriously as a solo story. If you're after a game that encourages you to rush to the high-level content and join your friends doing mindless dungeon run after dungeon run, then don't even consider playing this game.
It can help to look at this game as more of a solo classic single player Final Fantasy with heavy multiplayer elements. FFXIV has an insane amount of cutscenes, and some of them are quite long. This game rivals Metal Gear Solid for extremely long cutscenes. This is a deep involved RPG with a deep involved story that needs you to get involved with it.
If you spam-click through all the text and just follow the quest descriptions then wonder why the game feels so shallow, it's because the story is a primary factor of Final Fantasy XIV. If you don't engage with the story, you'll be missing a massive chunk of the experience.
The story itself also isn't bad. It's very good and extremely well written once it gets going. But again, this suffers the same flaw as combat. It takes a while to get going. The first few hours, potentially days, if you're playing casually, will see you performing busy work in the starting city, picking up dropped rubbish, passing messages back and forth between people, performing emotes at local NPCs … doing all the things we consider non-heroic.
The early game quests are very simple. Talk to A, go and talk to B, deliver item C, or kill three low-level enemies. Brand new players to the MMORPG genre will appreciate the ease of access, but veteran players will feel somewhat coddled.
To the game's credit, it does have a top-notch in-game tutorial system with every single new mechanic explained and fully documented. You'll never be unsure of what does what. It's just a remarkably slow start.
FFXIV Has One Of The Best MMO Communities
While it can be played as a high-quality single player adventure, it's also one of the most successful RPGs of all time with MMO population putting it as the 5th most popular MMO with about 2 million daily active players. The Final Fantasy 14 community is thriving with in-game Guilds or Free Companies constantly recruiting and adventuring together, extremely active subreddit, YouTube, Twitch communities, and even a real-life restaurant – the Eorzea Cafe in Japan.
FFXIV Is a Long-Term Game Aimed at Long-Term Players
Final Fantasy XIV has become a major success both financially and culturally. The game's main cities are always super populated, and when I logged in, I had to join a queue. You know a game is doing well when there's a queue to log in.
FFXIV is a long-term game aimed at long-term players. There's thousands of hours of content, and it's dished out to you very slowly, but if you take your time and appreciate the journey more than the destination, you'll find a brilliant game here.
The Main Story Quest or MSQ will take a long time to finish. Even though they've recently streamlined the whole process, it's not a quick experience, and the expansions will see you dedicating a good few weeks of solid to casual play to beat them.
There are three major expansions: Heavensward, Stormblood, and Shadowbringers. Each expansion brings new classes, new items, new armor, and a massive amount of new enemies and areas to explore, as well as pushing the central storyline forward. Even though you can buy a level boost and get yourself straight to the end immediately, that is not and never has been the point of the game. The adventure is the draw. Starting from the beginning and getting to the end is the fun bit. Jumping to the end will not give you anywhere near a fair experience of this game.
The game has a slow start from the tedious fetch quest to the monotonous early game combat, or the immense amount of very plot-heavy cutscenes and long conversations thrown at you. But once you reach the mid to end game, there is a lot of fun, and you start to understand your place in the world, and the Combat opens up and shows its true strengths.
If you're going to play Final Fantasy XIV in 2021, you should try the very generous Free Trial and even consider the relatively affordable monthly subscription. But also keep in mind that the early game experience is weak and not representative of the height of quality it eventually reaches.
So, give it a go and give it your best shot to get invested in the story and adventure through Eorzea. Be willing to give this game a few weeks to click because it does get better. It just doesn't have the best start.
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