Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a subscription MMORPG built on the ashes of original FFXIV. This so-called “rebirth” has a completely new vision for the title, with a focus on the traditional MMORPG that many modern games have moved away from in order to facilitate action-based combat or extreme accessibility. FFXIV:ARR offers high accessibility but retains many of the challenges and nuances of more traditional MMO fare blended with one of Square Enix’s strongest IPs. What we have as of launch is a little bit of the old, a little bit of the new, and some serious server issues for North American and European players.
*These first impressions are based on approximately 40 levels of gameplay at the time of early access and launch. We believe a MMORPG review requires endgame analysis and a full review will follow after endgame experience has been acquired.
Early access, or the period over the last weekend rolling into launch today, has been a mess. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, servers were up and down constantly and even when they were up there was no guarantee of gameplay. Servers go into lockdown mode without offering queues and leave players to set up automated systems to attempt continual logins hoping that they beat the ubiquitous 1017 error. New players seeking to join up with friends are out of luck – Some of the more popular worlds have entered an emergency state of complete character lockout, meaning no new characters can be created.
These issues rolling into today’s launch can be viewed with multiple lenses. One of these lenses has a rose-colored tint and comes with standard MMORPG and online game releases, and manifests itself along the lines of “It’s launch, you should know there will be issues. Look at<insert any major MMPORPG launch, Diablo 3, etc>. This is an inevitable part of a big launch; it’s just going to happen. It will get fixed.” These statements are mostly true – Many MMORPG launches are not smooth endeavors, and it’s likely that these issues will be solved.
The other lens isn’t so bright. This is the second dance at the ball for one of Square Enix’s major titles, and with some of the once grandiose glamour fading from what was once one of the most lauded RPG franchises in history, continual server launch problems and players not being able to connect may not be something the title can afford. MMORPGs are notoriously expensive to create, and rebuilding the failed FFXIV is a must-win situation for Square Enix.
Outside of connectivity woes, the time I’ve had with the title thus far shows a solid understanding of the elements that make a “traditional” tab-target MMORPG great. While things start slowly, options begin to unlock for players and the class system allows for a great deal of variety for players to try new things. I don’t want to get into a lot of these elements now as they’ll be covered in the full review, but for seasoned MMORPG players finding that the difficulty level is tailored towards beginners, things pick up considerably around level 35. This title has its roots in FFXI and “vanilla” World of Warcraft. It also incorporates many modern features that are now MMORPG staples – Dungeon group finder, daily quests, and public quests in the form of FATES. It’s highly accessible, incredible on the eyes and ears, and looks like a solid choice for MMORPG players looking to avoid the next generation of free-to-play action-oriented MMORPGs. We’ll have lots more to say on these aspects in the upcoming official review.
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