Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Most gamers are familiar with Final Fantasy. Arguably one of the biggest JRPG franchises in the world, it is a part of gaming history and one that I feel is vital to experiencing some of the best stories told in entertainment. I myself have played and finished almost every Final Fantasy there is, and even bought a Gamecube and four Gameboy Advances so I could play Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles with my friends when it was released.
Square Enix’s first Final Fantasy MMORPG was Final Fantasy XI. Released in 2002, it proved that Final Fantasy could work as an MMO. Despite being released on the PC, PS2 and Xbox 360, it never truly gained the attention it deserved in Western territories, though thankfully Square Enix did not give up on their idea of a Final Fantasy MMO. Now, we have ‘Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn‘, a fresh Final Fantasy MMO previously released on PC and PS3. Now FFXIV:ARR has made its way to the PlayStation 4, with some sexy new graphics and a couple of nifty new features. Is FFXIV:ARR a decent title? Is it worth picking up on PlayStation 4? Read on, kupo…
As with any MMORPG, there’s a staggering amount of content to mention in a review, so I’ll do my best to mention the game’s story, setting, gameplay and new features. Being a Final Fantasy MMO, players can expect all the things that make Final Fantasy one of the world’s most favoured RPG franchises, including airships, Chocobos, Moogles, magic, weapons and more.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn takes place on the world of Hydaelyn. Hydaelyn is made up of three continents, with the game taking place on the continent of Eorzea. Eorzea is said to be the land where the Twelve (Hydaelyn’s deities) lived, and created all life from the Mothercrystal, a sentient crystal entity. The crystal beckons you (the player) to save the world from an eternity of darkness.
There are over 180 quests in the main storyline, and unlike other story-driven MMORPGs, it doesn’t take long before you get an understanding of the world and your role in it. Your character is a silent protagonist, even more so than Link from The Legend of Zelda. Where Link made noises when he was in combat or jumping around, your character in FFXIV does not. I was even knocked to the ground in a boss fight, and even then I still didn’t omit a noise. It would have been nice to have some sort of input or reaction during story cut scenes, but the game delivers its story adequately. Fans of dialogue, decision and consequence heavy MMORPG storylines like those seen in Star Wars: the Old Republic may be slightly disappointed.
Throughout your adventure(s) in the land of Eorzea, you will encounter a great number of things from previous Final Fantasy games. At level 15 I unlocked airship travel, and from the beginning of the game there are plenty of players running around with different companions (like Moogles and Tonberries) and mounts, such as Chocobos. After the poor response from the original Final Fantasy XIV (not FFXIV: ARR), I had my doubts that Square Enix really could deliver a game that fuses the best parts of an MMO with the best parts of Final Fantasy. Thankfully, all doubts were allayed, as Final Fantasy XIV: ARR really is the MMO Final Fantasy fans are looking for.
One of the most important parts of any MMO, is one’s character. It’s a tough balancing act, as players like to feel like individuals as well as important members of a team or clan. There are also the bragging rights and impressive weapons and armour that come from completing difficult quests and spending many hours in the game. FFXIV: ARR doesn’t disappoint in this regard, as there a ton of option to cater to every type of gamer.
At the start of the game, you’ll choose which race, which clan (a subcategory of the race) and gender you want to be, as well as which deity you worship. You will also choose your class, which determines what type of role you will play both on your own and in a team.
The races in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn are mainly a cosmetic feature, but some races are better suited to some classes and abilities than others. Here is a brief rundown on the races:
- The Hyur – Bascially Hydaelyn’s version of humans, the Hyur have well-rounded stats and are able to handle a wide variety of classes and roles within FFXIV.
- The Elezen – Tall and graceful, the Elezen could be called the elves of Final Fantasy. With high dexterity, these forest dwellers make great Archers.
- The Lalafell – Small and child-like in appearance, the Lalafell came to Eorzea through the burgeoning trade routes. They’re highly intelligent, and make great magic casters.
- The Miqo’te – The Miqo’te are easily distinguishable, with their large, furry ears and their long tails. The males of the Miqo’te are loners, with very few living amongst the other races in Eorzea.
- The Roegadyn – The Roegadyn are huge, beast like people that came to Eorzea from across the seas.
Despite a few differences between starting stats, any race is able to pursue any class or job they wish. Gender makes no difference to statistics, so both male and female characters are on even ground when starting out as an adventurer.
The different deities you worship in the game (passively) offer different resistances to the elements.
Classes are what will determine the weapons, armour and skills you will use throughout your adventures. Here’s a quick introduction:
- The Gladiator – A warrior who specialises in combat with a sword and shield, which functions as a tank class (tanks take most of the damage/attention of enemies when in groups).
- The Marauder – The Marauder is a warrior class that favours all-out offense with large, two handed axes. Also a tank class.
- The Pugilist – The Pugilist specialises in swift, hand to hand combat, and is a DPS class (high damage-per-second).
- The Lancer – Lancers are a DPS class that specialise in combat using polearms ie spears.
- The Archer – Archers are a DPS class that specialise in ranged combat using bows. IF you prefer attacking and supporting your team from a distance, this may be the class for you.
- The Conjurer – A magic-user who specialises in Wind, Earth and Healing magic. The Conjurer is a healing class.
- The Thaumaturge – The Thaumaturge specialises in Fire, Blizzard and Thunder magic. A DPS class, the Thaumaturge is the offensive magic caster.
- The Arcanist – The Arcanist can summon monsters to aid them in battle.
In addition to combat classes, there are also crafting classes that the player unlocks once they hit level 10. These classes allow the player to gather resources and crafting items and craft them into weapons, armour, food and potions.
What’s great about the combat classes and crafting classes is that you can take on as many as you’d like after you reach level 10. Feel like taking on carpentry and mining? You can do that. Feel like learning how to use a bow and a great axe? You can do that too, and the best part is, your stats will slightly alter in your favour to accommodate your wide interests.
Gameplay is pretty standard MMO fare, and that’s not a bad thing. Players are able to adventure on their own, as well as in various groups. You begin in a city relative to your starting weapon class. Archers, Lancers and Conjurers begin in Gridania, the city in the woods for example.
When you first arrive in your starting city, you will be introduced to several key characters who will get you started on your adventures. There are guilds, factions, characters and numerous side quests and activities to complete, which will reward the player with loot and experience.
I’ve played the PlayStation 3 version of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, and as great as it is, the PlayStation 4 has a few nifty features that I now couldn’t live without. For one thing, it uses the touch pad on the controller similarly to a touch pad on a PC. This allows the player to manually click on anything on the HUD for more information, which is extremely handy. I frequently click on the names of quests to read a more detailed description, and then click again to an objective’s location on the map. There’s also remote play via the PlayStation Vita, which is handy for more relaxing activities such as fishing and wood chopping.
The PlayStation 4 version of the game has seen a significant graphical upgrade. Because of this, FFXIV: ARR really is a breathtaking game. The game’s environments in particular are jaw-dropping, and I frequently found myself stopping to take all the scenery in. The power of the PlayStation 4 allows for hundreds of players on screen at once, and the large group quests (F.A.T.E.s) are no longer laggy glitch-fests that they used to be.
- Everything you loved in previous Final Fantasy games, melded with the social aspects of an MMO.
- Gorgeous graphics.
- A Staggering amount of fun content. Excellent value for money.
- Learning the classes, quests and controls can take some time if on your own. Thankfully, there’s other players and online communities!
There are times with reviewing games where words simply can’t do a game justice. As a Final Fantasy fan, I can’t sing the praises of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn enough. It has a fantastic amount of depth and gameplay, without any boring quests or losing that Final Fantasy charm. If you love Final Fantasy games, want an MMORPG on your PlayStation 4 or are after a different kind of RPG to play, then check out Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.