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Final Fantasy XIV Beta Chronicles

JAlbor June 24, 2013 User blog:JAlbor
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Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is almost out, and two beta weekends have come and gone! Wikia handed out a ton of beta codes to folks and invited you to send in your chronicles of the game. Check out the amazing responses below!

Thanks to everyone who participated! If you've played the FFXIV beta, let us know your thoughts on the game in the comments below!

Quinn

On A Realm Reborn, I can be concise: I love this game. Compared to Guild Wars 2, there are just so many things that Final Fantasy XIV does right for me.

Eorzea feels like home. I know I've said that before, but there's really no other way to put it and it's so incredibly important. As much as I hate to admit it, I basically ignore the world when it comes to roleplaying in Guild Wars 2 (as you might have noticed). Sure, I try to be lore-consistent, but I do that more out of obligation than anything else. I could write an essay on why I can't get into the lore and why I find many locations like Divinity's Reach to feel sort of icky and superficial, but I'm afraid I don't have time for that at the moment and I suspect none of you would want to read it anyway. In contrast, I find myself wanting to learn as much about Eorzea as I can. There are just so many little things they get right that make it feel real to me in a way that Tyria doesn't.

Combat is another big one. While I do like the combat system of Guild Wars 2, it's heavily biased towards providing a good PvP experience. This is pretty easy to see if you look at the control abilities: Things like dazes or stuns last for a second or two at most, and even an immobilize that last for four seconds is considered to be extremely long. Then there's the fact that once you you're in a difficult PvE battle, none of these things work anyway: Champions and bosses are nearly immune to control effects, they're often frenzied and can't be immobilized or crippled, blind is only 10% effective, weakness lasts for half-duration, et cetera. In contrast, PvE skills in Final Fantasy can do some serious things like sleep enemies for half a minute, cap incoming damage to 10% of your total health, and send monsters flying across battlefield. Most of this stuff works against bosses too making control incredibly useful.

This all sort of leads into my next point about combat which is that PvE in Guild Wars 2, especially in dungeons, is just a mess. I did Honor of the Waves with Garvak yesterday—one warrior, two elementalists, and two guardians—and it was chaos. Sure, we made it through and most of it was quite easy, but it was just everyone running around and hitting stuff without any real awareness of what anyone else was doing. I know this isn't a new complaint about Guild Wars 2, but I didn't realize how bad it was until I did some of the dungeons in FFXIV. Maybe this is just down to the fact that I'm hard-wired to love such things, but being able to play as a dedicated healer while knowing that our run would be over in seconds if I made just one mistake was unbelievably awesome. (I did eventually make one mistake too. Our run was over in seconds as expected. Oops.) That sort of role-based, teamwork-oriented play just doesn't exist in Guild Wars 2 and it's not clear to me that it ever well.

Just one more point on combat. I know some of you are apprehensive because the combat in FFXIV is largely traditional and starts off very simple. As I've posted elsewhere in this thread through, it definitely picks up. At least from the perspective of a conjurer, it's fun as can be in group fights. You're constantly thinking about what to do next at any given point while monitoring everyone's health, checking their debuffs, keeping an eye on the aggro meters to make sure you're not about to cause yourself trouble, making sure you're positioned such that you can hit everyone with AoE heals if need be, monitoring your mana pool, using potions, ethers, and other consumables during the fight, moving out of indicated AoE attacks, knocking back and interrupting monsters when they telegraph moves, using terrain to break line of sight so you can't be hit when you need to heal up, slapping one of the many available symbols on the heads of enemies so your teammates know you need help getting one of them off of you if you've inadvertently gotten its attention, working out ahead of time who is going to use the limit break and when, and on and on and on! I can't wait to try it at level fifty when I have dozens of skills to employ! I know it's new to me and hence it's really shiny and wonderful, but I really do think there's plenty here to keep people engaged. Once you reach max level, it's promised that things get /hard/ and you'll be working with eight and twenty-four person teams to make things happen. There's guaranteed to be far more in terms of a real endgame than Guild Wars 2 has.

There's also far more to do outside of combat than Guild Wars 2 offers. FFXIV has a total of eleven non-combat crafting and gathering classes, all of which can be leveled to fifty and have their own skills, quests, logs, and achievements. If it'll be anything like 1.X, there should be a real economy too where you can actually make money doing this stuff! In contrast, crafting in Guild Wars 2 is nearly a complete waste of time outside of the XP. It sucks. There's also the housing system which is going to be fantastic, the Golden Saucer where we can all go for some games and merriment, chocobo raising, and plenty more to come I'm sure. We can even get married! I'm going to marry someone!

From a roleplaying perspective, I really feel like FFXIV is the better game. While a lot of this is down to the world being more engaging as I've mentioned previously, there are lots of little details too. For example, you can sit in chairs and people can see who you're looking at! Imagine! I think the non-combat classes really add to this too. I can't wait for our first fishing trip! The armor designs are also wonderful and there are more than three or four things that look good on your character. (Once vanity slots get added in 2.2, this is going to be tons of fun to play with.) The linkshell system is also going to be great because you can chat with more than one group of people at a time: No more of this representation-shifting stuff in order to coordinate things and no worries about dealing with a few groups in case one or two happen to be quiet at a given time. There's also an IC explanation for how linkshells work so we won't have to make up our own nonsense. Finally, to top it all off, this game has the most adorable emotes I've ever seen.

In terms of story, FFXIV is infinitely better. Not only is the writing miles above that of Guild Wars 2, the presentation is everything you'd expect from a Final Fantasy game. Of course, the story and quests eventually end—at least until they add more of course—which is why something else the game does is incredibly important: It requires grouping to progress through the story and it requires it often. Even though the game is still in beta and our playtime has been very limited, I have already had lots of lovely experiences from doing these story dungeons and friend requests have been made and accepted. While people often complain Guild Wars 2 feels like a single-player game, FFXIV definitely doesn't. I think the friendships people make from this approach to content are going to keep people around for years to come.

There are tons of other things I've not even touched on: Being able to play every class on one character is amazing, the armory system and gear sets are wonderful, inventory management is the best I've seen (and is going to get better soon with the addition of sorting functionality), chatting with multiple people is easy because you can cycle through recent respondents, there's a real "looking for group" system, and just so much attention to detail and so much polish that I can't take it!

The big thing for me is this: I've been out of things to do besides RP in Guild Wars 2 for months now. Dungeons aren't fun, sPvP got old quickly, WvW is just taking camps over and over, and open-world PvE is completely trivial outside of two or three zones—and even then, I have no reason to do it besides to get gold to buy gems to buy one of the very few (frankly ugly) town clothes or armor skins that are available. In contrast, FFXIV already has enough to keep me busy for years—it'll take at least a couple to max out all the currently-available classes—and they're going to be adding content at a rate that looks to be ten times that of Guild Wars 2. The game isn't even out yet and they're already talking about /doubling/ the number of zones and adding several new classes. The amount of money they're able to throw at this due to the game's broader appeal, the subscription model, and the fact that Square-Enix doesn't have investors to pay off means this game is likely to grow far faster than anything else available. As someone who wants to pick one world and live there for the next 5–10 years, this is extremely important stuff.

Smog

First, I'd like to talk about the complexity of the game. Mechanically, the game pre-30 is very simple. "Rotations" or "Priorities" for every class that I tried consisted of 2 to 3 abilities with a couple cooldowns that required no thinking to use effectively. To an mmorpg veteran, this game comes off as /very/ simple on the combat and customization side of things. This may change at high levels, and will honestly need to if Square Enix plans on keeping the hardcore mmorpg community around for a prolonged period.

Speaking of character customization, I'll briefly mention the stat point allocation system. This is a completely unnecessary and worthless feature in its current form. It is a false concept at its very base. There is no "customization" in this feature; this is a mmo and therefore there will always be an optimal way to play. In this context that means that each job, in a raid setting, will have an optimal point allocation (typically as much as possible in your primary stat). This fact turns this stat point allocation system into nothing more than a trap for newer or less informed players to spend points in less-than-optimal ways and put themselves at an even higher play disadvantage.

Lastly, I'll talk about what the game does well. The game does a superb job on the graphical and musical side of things. FFXIV has created a vivid world that feels alive and is fun to play in. The design concept of the higher end armors are beautiful and sing true to the original FF jobs that they come from. This game does a good job of feeling like a Final Fantasy with all of the throwbacks to older titles: gunblades, magitek, moogles, espers, materia, chocobos, and I could go on and on. Finally, the small amount of content that I have gotten to do (Ifrit) was fun, interesting, and had good mechanics.

In summary, if Square Enix can continue producing interesting and unique content for raiders and also provide a complex playstyle and combat experience at high levels, I think this game is in a very good spot. As long as it stays true to its roots in the Final Fantasy franchise and merges that feeling with a serious raiding mmo, it should experience extended success on par with FFXI.

Odin Jones

First things first, the game is amazing. I noticed a few similarities in ffxiv and ffxi that really made the experience click for me. For instance, a lot of the chat functions are the same and chat commands, like when writing a macro designating your target as <t> and so on. I also really love the PS3 play better than the PC. I have both and a friend got a spare code for me to use so I could compare them. The PlayStation was easier to set up and much more fun with the controller than navigating the keyboard. Even though my PS3 is a better performing machine I like the option of being able to play on more than just the PC.

Some of my more memorable likes and dislikes:

  • Tutorials, I briefly played the first release of ffxiv and from what I remember the start up experience left me so confused it was irritating. ARR (A Relm Reborn) covered all the stops as you came to them and that was awesome. I made multiple characters to see how fast I could get used to the game play and I leveled up to 10 in a fraction of the time my second time around. The one down side to the beginner tips is the notifier; if I find myself in the middle of something when one pops up it shows up right on top of my character and whatever I'm doing. If it could be moved off to the side a bit that would have been a perfect aspect of the learning to play the game.
  • Another sleight hindrance are map labels. I love the smaller transparent map so I can navigate the world yet see where I'm going at the same time but the different labels on the map often blocked certain pathways and overlapped other labels. On a couple quests I was looking for a specific destination on my map and had to zoom in and out to make out a few labels. I also like the quest notifiers and objective points.
  • Another key point I found off putting was starting locations. Apparently the starting city depends on your class. I don't know if this was by design or what but I created a gladiator and a friend of mine made a conjuror and we had to make it to level 10 before we could group up and quest together. I didn't get to experience alot of group play this test but next beta I should get too.

All in all I would say Square Enix nailed it this time around. The game play was awesome and the graphics (for the PS3) were fluid and beautiful as only SE could deliver. played the FFXIV beta, let us know your thoughts on the game in the comments below!

Josh

So I played FF14:ARR Friday starting at 2am. Me and a group of three other friends created our characters and I jumped straight into Pugilist. I'm fond of the FFXI combat and come from a hardcore background of that game for 8-9 years of playing and finishing every expansion story line and original (minus the new one that just came out).

FF14 is gorgeous, though I'm sure everybody would agree and easily stated. I spent the first five minutes spamming all my emotes on a male Miqote and fell in love already between Miqote and Lalafell. I played my legacy character of Elezen and logged out after seeing the first bit of emotes going back to Miqote.

After doing the first maybe twenty minutes of Ul'Dah city quests we all went out to start our killing quests. We literally just ran out and murdered everything in sight finishing quests insanely quick and moving forward. We reached level 10 before taking a nap and getting back to it Friday afternoon. We spent the night just doing our own things such as gathering, crafting, and playing with other friends. Saturday we finished the story line completely and got chocobos.

The combat to me seems like they're trying for a more combo based fighting for every class including CNJ (Cure into Cure II etc) and Pug hitting from a flank going into many forms of fighting styles. At the moment auto-attacks seem lack luster and pointless though there are times I didn't want to take aggro from my tank so I sat there auto-attacking(there's a threat meter for every player in the party) for a few seconds with greased lightning to increase attack speed. I found a bunch of things wrong, none of which dealt with the combat and more small things in the game and reported most of them(Could only make 3 threads a day, 1 every hour, 1 comment every 15mins..).

The dungeons were pretty fun though they are just "Hey, I'm doing an ability move out of the way" until you get to Copperbell Mines in which you have to explode bombs onto a slime to win (Our tank died before we realized, instead of OH GOD A BOMB KILL IT, lol) The Ifrit fight was amazing and I hope it gets harder if not stay the same, our group wiped 3 times winning the 4th with full food buffs and repairs all around. The particles do not seem to match the damage done, as if you're in the range before casting is finished you will take damage instead of the particles hitting, you take damage(if that makes sense at all).

Joining a Grand Company for me was an easy choice being Limsa (pirates for life!), I see Gridania not being a popular choice like say Windurst was not a popular choice being how cool the cutscenes and motivation was to join each city. The chat and community (Gilgamesh) was decent, nothing too strong about it.

Of course there will be trolls etc being you can just make new characters over and over, but seemingly less trolls then actual help being given. Not too much general conversation, I sort of wish there were actual chat channels to speak through in which you can turn off/on certain channels.

I can see myself playing this game a bunch, I'm dying to actually have a character to invest my time in. Though getting all of my friends and their friends to join the same server may be difficult.

Jeffrey

I am a veteran MMO player, starting with Everquest in 2001, and these are my first impressions of FF XIV: A Realm Reborn.

I was fortunate to get into the beta last weekend and it was an all-around fun experience. It was frustrating at times but not in a bad way. The game definitely had that Final Fantasy feel to it, from the aesthetics to the spell names and chains, and my favorite part; the music. They even threw in the limit break system.

The character creation process was fun. There are plenty of options included to customize your character’s looks; tattoos, hairstyles, height, and of course chest size. They also included a convenient system that allows you to save a character’s looks for future use in case you want your other characters to have a similar look. The character creation system was not as customizable as other games but I think it’s in a good place. When games let you do too much it tends to feel overwhelming and time consuming to get your character exactly how you want it.

After your character is created you go through a short cutscene that introduces your character to the world of Eorzea. The whole thing takes about 5-10 minutes or so until you are able to move freely in the starting town. They had a “skip” button for the cutscene but it did not work during this beta phase. Once you are able to explore the starting town, you are given a few quests to deliver items to NPCs in town and other tasks that would familiarize you with the area. These quests do take a bit of time to complete and end up getting you to almost level 4 before you even leave the town to kill monsters. I personally liked this style of starting out. It allows you to learn NPC locations and gives you a bit of background to everything instead of just throwing you into a pile of level 1 monsters to kill for no reason.

Questing is pretty much the same as any other MMO. The “quest available” and “quest complete” icons are not exclamation points and question marks for once, but the tasks are generally the same; kill X amount of monsters, gather Y amount of item. The only difference was the main story quest. It gave you a sense that you were playing a big part in the events that were taking place. Most story quests had cutscenes with your character alone and even small instanced events that could only be completed solo. It gave the game that classic Final Fantasy feeling where the main character (you) goes on their journey to become the hero.

One very pleasing aspect of the gameplay was the combat mechanics. Even while questing in the open world the enemies have abilities that are avoidable, interruptable and even ground targeted AoEs that you have to dodge. It teaches players from very early on how to deal with typical mechanics they would encounter in a dungeon or raid.

However, due to the extremely high latency to the server (being a US player with a ping of 500-3000) you could move out of the red circles for the ground AoEs and still get hit by them due to the server not registering that you had moved out until it was too late. There were times when I would run out to escape the AoE and I would run past my friend (healer) who was standing right on the edge of the circle and he would be fine and I would take the hit and die, with my corpse lying behind him. Hopefully they can fix the latency issues for NA players for launch.

Overall it was an enjoyable experience. I only wish I had more time to play it so that I could experience higher level gameplay. So far I am not regretting my collector’s edition pre-order.

David S.

I woke up early Friday morning (EST timezone) to play. Some friends were in Mumble with me and we all started the character creation process together. I decided upon a Miqot'e and also decided I wanted to be a conjurer. From past experiences in new games, you can never go wrong with being a healer.

I started in Gridania and the first thing I noticed is that the game is beautiful. The graphics looked amazing running at maximum and I almost shed a tear for the developer team who put this together. I also noticed there was about 12398042398423 quests to do starting at level 1. I picked these up, these taught me how to emote, visit the crystals for porting, etc. I finally got a couple kill quests and made my way outside to complete them.

Level 1 combat is the normal spam whatever nuke you have at your target, so this was nothing new. I participated in some FATEs, which I felt like were put together a little better than the dynamic events I participated in in Guild Wars 2. I also noticed a hunting log, which tracks you killing certain mobs and gives a reward when you meet certain criteria, it was very refreshing to get extra xp from these.

I quickly leveled up to 15 spamming stone and cure to keep myself up. Conjurer is really kind of boring because your dot (Aero) does basically 0 damage and isn't worth the GCD. This means you spam stone over and over until something is dead. I learned early on to carry some MP potions because the only difficulty in story line quests was me running out of MP. I came to the story line quest Duty, Honor, Country. This is the storyline quest everyone was having a really hard time on. I can understand why, the gargoyle you fight does a poison that hits extremely hard and I can see how those without even a little bit of healing ability can get stomped. I kited him around and it was easy for me (easy for conjurer in general really). From here I quickly moved on until I could do the dungeons.

The dungeons were nice, I was able to quickly find a party because I'm a healer and we basically stomped the different places. The first dungeon was Sastasha, which consists of mostly pirates, aquatic life, and some lizard guys at the end. Healing was easy and we had no issues cutting through this dungeon like butter. I also got to experience my first limit break. The limit break is a bar at the top of your screen that fills up as you fight. When it gets to full you are able to use it and it does something different based on which role you are. I used it a couple times as a group heal and our tank used it once as a group defensive cool down.

The next dungeon was Tam Tara Deepcroft. This was fully of mites, undead, cultists, and the end boss looked like Cthulhu's son. Overall this was the same as before, I liked the atmosphere a little better though. The end boss was cool with Point Blank AOE spells and also randomly summoned a group of monsters. I liked mostly that these first few dungeons werent hour long adventures and we mostly completed them in 25-30min.

After that dungeon was Copperbell Mines. This introduced some cool mechanics like blowing up a boss with the adds around him and the final boss would tunnel through the wall to let loose more adds during the fight. Very original ideas and that alone made this dungeon fun. Other classes looked like they had some cool abilities, as for me it was cure ad nauseum until the dungeon was over.

Now here comes the end of my beta experience. I was able to get to the Lord of the Inferno story line quest and OH MY GOD IT WAS AMAZING. Whoever put together the Ifrit fight deserves a raise. The graphics were out of this world, the fight had some difficulty to it, and damn I felt accomplished when we killed it. Basically we realized we really needed the tank limit break during his Inferno to survive it, then after that mitigate as much damage as possible to win. This was a well put together encounter and really sold me on this game. I immediately alt-tabbed out and preordered. I was completely blown away by this encounter. They really captured the perfect difficulty for an encounter to still be fun with some pugs who have no idea whats going on. Right on Square Enix.

I spent the rest of my beta time working on professions, mostly Botany and Alchemy. They were interesting because they are their own classes, with their own gear, and they really had some depth to them. I can see myself spending a ludicrous amount of time with these during release because it was relaxing as well as satisfying to do.

All in all, the beta weekend ended just at the right time for me, I did not want to put too much into my character because it was going to be deleted, but I felt like I experienced some amazing things even in my first 20 levels. I look forward to release.

Rojiel

After a long and arduous journey by carriage, I finally set foot at my destination: Ul'dah. My name is Valens Animi and I am an adventurer. What follows are my first impressions of the land of Eoreza and the denizens within.

I was greeted by a shady man named Wymond as I entered Ul'dah. He seemed the helpful sort, though perhaps a bit too forceful. I wasn't sure if he decided to point me towards the Adventurers' Guild out of kindness or if he had an ulterior motive but it sounded like good advice all the same.

Upon entering a tavern called The Quicksand, I was greeted by a boisterous crowd. It appeared that I was not the only new adventurer in town. From battle-hardened warriors to newcomers fresh off the wagon, The Quicksand was the place to be for an adventurer in Ul'dah. I worked my way through the sea of bodies to find the proprietress Wymond informed me of: a woman by the name of Momodi.

I was greeted by a winning smile as Momodi introduced herself. She quickly caught me up on the ruinous events of five years ago, a tale well known the world over, and the enigmatic band of heroes known only as the “Warriors of Light”. She explained that every survivor of the Calamity had missing memories and the actual events that transpired were hazy at best. I could hardly blame them. Had I been caught up in the Calamity, I've no doubt that I'd have lost more than my memory. The resolve to find glory burning within me welled up with new found vigor. Someday I wished to be counted among the land's heroes. Maybe not today, but someday. I signed on with the guild as fast as I could move my quill.

Momodi wasted no time showing me how to get started adventuring. She pointed me towards the city's vital facilities and told me I should pay them each a visit to accustom myself to the realm. On the way to my first point of interest, I encountered Wymond once more. He asked me to provide a favor to him. I should have known he wanted something like this from the moment I laid eyes on him. However, I decided to accept on behalf of the aid he gave me when I had first arrived. The job was simple enough: deliver a letter to a man by the name of Josias. As I moved throughout the city, it quickly became apparent that Wymond was not the only one seeking the assistance of adventurers. Soon I had more work than I knew what to do with.

Some of my work was honest, such as procuring hides from monsters for a craftsman. Others a mite more dubious, such as threatening a man behind on his debt repayments. Either way, it seemed the path to greatness began with keeping both ears open and taking work wherever it came from. As I journeyed through the city completing my menial tasks, I was amazed at the sheer number of people bustling about. Race, gender, creed, none of that seemed to matter here. Ul'dah was truly a land of opportunity where anyone could make their fortune, long as they were willing to put their backbone into it of course.

By the time I returned to the Quicksand, night had fallen and rain clouds had moved in. The weight and audible jingle of my coinpurse made the long hours of finding odd jobs worthwhile. Reporting back to Momodi was the last of my in-town requests. The ones I had left required me to journey out into the wilderness and slay monsters. I decided to rest for the night and wait until daylight to venture outside. Momodi was kind enough to give me a room at a discount rate. Seeing as how she has a business to run and she has helped me more than anyone else since my arrival, I didn't hold it against her.

Morning came entirely too quickly. I had a difficult time calming my nerves but managed to get to sleep after a bit of restless tossing. True, there are other ways for adventurers to make their name and fortune but combating monsters and thieves seemed to be the quickest and most common. I had received some sword training from Mylla, leader of the Gladiators' Guild, the previous day during all my running about and was eager to put it to practice. However, I found the creatures dwelling outside Ul'dah's gates put up more resistance than I had suspected. Even the weakest of foes managed to land a few good hits before I was able to fell them. Well, no one said adventuring life would be easy. The more I fought, the handier I became with a blade. I'll just have to give it my all.

The next few days continued something like that. I whiled away the hours running about town looking for work or combating foes outside. I mainly worked alone during this time but there were instances when I joined by my fellow adventurers. From stalwart champions to soothing healers, I felt a sort of solidarity with these wandering souls. When necessity demanded, we'd fall into a rhythm of fighting alongside each other. Protecting those with lesser constitution, healing the wounded, and coordinating strikes felt like second nature. I must admit, I was always a bit saddened when we'd part ways after finishing whatever task we had set out to accomplish.

What companions I lacked outside Ul'dah's walls, I made up for within. As I took on more and more work, I found that my face had become familiar to many of the residents of the city. A smile and nod here, a wave there, the cheerful greetings never failed to put a spring in my step as I went about my business.

As fate would have it, tonight I received a request to look for a misplaced noble. I quite literally leapt at the opportunity. Just think! If I had a noble in my debt, bright things would surely come my way. Locating the estranged dignitary was easy enough, what I didn't anticipate were the foul abominations known as the voidsent. The time for combat had come once again. I was faced with a difficult foe but I was joined by a mysterious man who seemed to know the noble I was sent to find. We made quick work of the beast with our flawless teamwork. The fight itself didn't leave much of an impression on me. What did, however, was what transpired next.

The felled beast dropped a crystal of sorts. As I knelt down to pick it up, I was struck by a vision. I saw a massive crystal that spoke to me and told me that I held the power to banish the Darkness that plagues Eorzea. It was hard to fathom. Sure I wanted to be a hero, but save the entire realm? I was unsure if I was up to the task or not. Still, the voice told me to believe in myself and that is exactly what I will do.

-excerpts taken from a journal belonging to Valens Animi

Bill

First, I’d like to point out that while I did play FFXI extensively, I only played during the beta portion of the original FFXIV. I found the mechanics of the original FFXIV to be clunky and difficult to manage, and research at the time suggested that the release version had done little to resolve those concerns.

I started a Pugilist and set out questing in Ul’Dah. I found the environment detail and ambiance incredible, and the game handled my older PC just fine. I was defaulted to the “High” graphics settings and found no need to tweak them lower. The questing experience was fairly easy – I was guided just enough to reach each quest hub, and the story telling was exactly what I had expected from a Final Fantasy MMO.

Combat was pretty active. Sure, at lower levels, I was enacting the same few abilities continuously until the target fell over dead, but as I progressed through the games I started using a bit more strategy. Pugilist is a class built on combos, and it really shines in a party. At level 15, I found myself in the main storyline quests that made the first instances available. It was here that I finally had a chance to test the positioning of the Pugilist abilities.

The combat was considerably more active than what I had expected; it was very enjoyable. The entire instance experience really felt great, but I did find that the Limit Break system could use some polish. It doesn’t need to be quite as complicated as the skill chain system from FFXI, but currently it feels almost like an afterthought tacked onto the combat system. It’s a minor concern, really, since I enjoyed the group combat system overall.

After the instances, I decided to swap to another class, Lancer, and try out some skill equipping. Since I was still low level, there were not many options. Still, though, it feels like a solid system. I took a hand at crafting (Goldsmith) and gathering (Miner) as well and found that the crafting system has been greatly improved over the original.

Ryan

I played the 1.0 launch and was severely disappointed at the lack of everything that there was in the game. It was so bad that I swore I would never touch 14 again. Even after I had friends tell me that it was completely different and that I needed to try it out I told them it wouldn't have content and that it would just let everyone down again. I can safely now after a weekend of playing that I was wrong.

There were many things that impressed me about this beta, the first is obviously the stunning visuals and fluid movement, something that was clearly lacking in the original game. I think the biggest thing for me that stood out to show that this game was something to take seriously was the fact that the class abilities and traits worked so well together that it allowed combat to feel engaging and important. It was just a bunch of random moves obtained every few levels but moves that strung together and worked with one another. I spent the majority of the weekend grouped with 3 friends as we quested and leveled together. There was always something to do, whether it was leves, guildhests, quests, filling out hunter logs, there were many options to explore and level with. For me however the most impressive thing were the dungeons and the fights inside of them. I was able to complete 5 different dungeons and each boss was a completely different fight that involved some unique strategy in order to kill, my person favorite was the slime in copperbell mines that required you to detonate bombs on top of him to defeat him. The Ifrit fight was amazing and the combination of that and the dungeon fights shows me that my biggest fear, lack of engaging end game content, is something I dont need to worry about.

David S. #2

I’m use to playing WoW, Guild Wars 2, and DC Universe Online on the computer, so it was a huge learning curve for me to be playing it on the PS3 without a mouse. At times, I thought it was difficult to select my targets, I found it rather a slow process. During FATEs, the creatures would die faster than I could target the right mob, since I have to filter through the other mobs that normally live in the area. So I always had to use the quick casting spell just to tag them. The UI is very sensory overload for me, it took some time to figure out what was what, and I remember I accidentally pressed the tilda key, and started typing in Japanese. Had to do a forum search to figure out the problem.

Being a role player, it was no bueno for me to not see any chat bubbles. I noticed that some npc had them. Also during the battles with mobs, it doesn’t seem like there’s much strategy to pushing one or two buttons. I’ve even tried to cast then run, but it just doesn’t seem so fluid having to be stationary in order to cast a spell. I know this is pretty standard to FF games, but I’d hope they would at least develop it a bit more. I can see this being a more leisure type of game, I don’t have to put much thought into it since it’s rather a simple battle mechanic.

I’d like there to be some voice acting, there was a lot of reading involved and sometimes, I just don’t want to read, scrolls and scrolls of text. It hurts my eyes. I like the character creation process, it’s not overwhelming, I thought it was a good amount of customization. I like that if I attack mobs that have been attacked, that doing enough damage I get credit for the quest. I do like that I don’t have to be different characters to play different jobs.

I thought it was a lovely game, am looking forward to getting into the dungeons and trying out the different jobs. See how the synergy works with that and if I can get my targeting to do better, especially if I’m healing. I’m new to the FF online games, and I come from a community of role players who are looking for a new game to move to, since Guild Wars 2 is no longer holding our interests. So far, the majority are enjoying the beta and it looks like potentially the group will be moving to the game when it goes live.

David D.

The game is simply stunning and beautiful. The story and the intro really hooks you to the game which feels immersive within the game world. You'll really feel part of the story than you would in any other mmo's besides star wars the old republic. Music within the game is astonishing, I can't simply define how it syncs will with the game's atmosphere and drawn into the world. Battle system is interesting as well, it's a lot more fast pace than it use to be from the original. Still slower compared to most mmo's, which is okay. The battle's are quite flashy almost like a light show, I would suggest a toner on how strong the battle animations can be. Dungeons within the game are long and pure fun. I enjoyed them a lot, and would do them over and over again.

The npcs within the game are the best, I have never enjoyed running back to an npc just to go and enjoy reading the story unlike other mmos. I was also excited about the chocobos and moogles, love them. Character customization is average, well enough to make your own unique character with all the races. I am going to play the game when it comes out for sure. I'm leaving for two months for work and won't be able to test further, can't wait for fisherman class to try. Thank you JAlbor for the awesome trail!

Jamie

I played a decent amount while the beta was up, and I managed to get to the level 17-18 main quests. The game is a super solid experience for those looking for the more traditional quest based MMO game. I couldn't find any outstanding flaws in the core mechanics of the game. The graphic overhaul of the game also had splendid results. The game is absolutely gorgeous in almost every respect. The environments, the buildings, the overall atmosphere, character looks, spell effects... It all was top notch, and is probably the prettiest MMO I've seen. The sounds are also well done. This is probably the only MMO to date I have played where I didn't dull down the sound and play my own music in the background. While I didn't get too deep into the main story of the game, once you hit level 13-14 it really starts to take off. Up until then, you're doing relatively small stuff to gain everyone elses trust, while being involved in a couple of big events in the region. However, once you get towards the end of your starting area's story, you get dragged into bigger and bigger things, and you start getting a sense of whats going on in the world and where your destiny is going to take you.

Overall, I rate FF14 in it's current state, and the beginning of the game, a really good game. It doesn't do much new, but instead focuses on polishing and doing everything that is standard in MMOs nowadays to a near perfect state. The first 10 levels may be slow to MMO veterans, but those levels are designed for new MMO players to get a grasp of the game before sending you into the deep end of depth. I would recommend it to anyone who has interest in playing an MMO, and I will probably be playing a fair amount of it once it gets released.

Raylan

Like some of you, I'm lucky enough to be given access to the beta; unlike most of you, this is my first foray into the whole Final Fantasy universe. I've played World of Warcraft for almost the past decade without touching anything else --

-- hey, I see the ropes and torches. Give me just a second... --

I'm writing this from a fresh-faced, wide-eyed perspective, which may prove to be helpful for those who, like me, have never stepped foot into the game. Why, you might ask? Probably because my first and only impression of the series was my friend standing around for two hours trying to sell something without showing me the rest of the world (BORRRRRING).

So what can I say about my first experience? Well, I need to warn you I will be comparing it to WoW - not because WoW is the end-all, be-all, but because it's what I'm used to.

XIV Character Creation Screen

Right off the bat I'm overwhelmed with the sheer amount of customization one can do to their character. The color pallets are rich and varied, the options for each category are enormous, and there's a distinct feeling that your character is alive. Besides that, there's also the option to customize your character's emote vocalizations which range from "O.M.G, I'm such a cute widdle schoowlguwl" to "HULK SMASH!!!" I absolutely love it.

The classes I chose had a small cut scene to draw you in (which were well done) and then I was thrust into the same longish introductory scene at the beginning. This can mercifully be skipped if you've already seen it, but I suggest letting it run its course at least once (though it's nice to play around with the dialogue a bit). Once you're through that, an extremely short introduction begins in the city that acquaints you with basic controls and whatnot, and then you're off.

I ran through most of the quests within the city, and they weren't far removed from what I was already used to. Talk to this person, gather this, etc. The quest interface is familiar, though the map took a bit of messing around with to understand just what I was looking at and how to find specific things. Once I did get into combat, it was very intuitive - of course, those beginning level fights aren't going to be extremely difficult anyway. Graphics-wise, everything looked well done, though the characters took home the prize more than anything else.

I'm more than pleased with the experience thus far and can't wait to get back into the game. Until next time!

Alex

Playing FF14 - ARR last weekend was great. To me it's a near perfect combination of an MMO and a Final Fantasy. The music is great and the graphics really pull you into the world. I even got time to do the main quest dungeon at level 15 and while it took me around 15 minutes to find a group as a DPS Thaumaturge once we got going I had a blast, my group was awesome and we finished without too much trouble.

I know this game is a keeper when I'm sitting at my computer at 1 AM, mining and suddenly realizing this will all be wiped anyway so I should go to bed. :)

Poll

After reading these thoughts, are you more or less likely to buy Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn?
 
75
 
39
 
13
 
4
 

The poll was created at 16:44 on July 1, 2013, and so far 131 people voted.

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