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Hands-On with FFXIV: A Realm Reborn

Updated Sat, Jul 20, 2013 by Arxkanite

Final Fantasy XIV initially had a rough go at things, to the point where I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover that there are so many people interested in A Realm Reborn. For all intents and purposes it’s an entirely new game, this time around feeling and playing more like a true MMO than a faithful franchise title that wasn’t quite sure what it wanted to be when it grew up.

For our show demo at E3 this year, Square Enix took a page directly out of the En Masse event playbook. Much like the way TERA was presented during events in years past, we were giving a lightning fast intro to the game, basic control overview, and class roles before being thrown directly into the deep end of the pool, pitted against a massive boss. A boss that just so happened to have the ability to wipe your group if you weren’t able to DPS it down fast enough.

FFXIV Marauder

This is the Marauder.

Overall we were given 10 minutes, which was just enough time to give the event a second try. And wipe a second time. The idea was that, had our group emerged victorious, we’d have walked away with some nifty shirts for our efforts. Instead, we walked away with little more than bruised egos while being herded out of the demo area like electric sheep.

That kind of game demo is actually par for the course for fan events like PAX, but always strikes me as the most bizarre way possible to leave any kind of positive impression on media. It barely afforded me the chance to read a single tooltip on my hotbar let alone get any kind of feel for how fun the game actually was to play. Instead, I had to constantly monitor my health bar in hopes that my Marauder wouldn’t take a dirt nap (it did) due to a lack of equally unprepared healers.

It’s kind of a shame that was my first hands-on experience with A Realm Reborn, otherwise I might have been able to report that the game does seem to be more of a standard MMO without the bizarre control schemes, learning cliff, copy / paste graphics of its previous incarnation. Or I might even be able to report that I legitimately had fun and am excited to see if the rest of the game holds up to the intensity of the show floor demo.

FFXIV Marauder

This is an Elezen. Characters should look more fluid in A Realm Reborn.

Unfortunately, however, I can’t really do those things. The best I can say is that – along with a group of total strangers and no proper chance for any of us to know what we were doing – I got my ass handed to me by a random boss in a random MMO that may or may not be any fun to play. It was pretty, sure, but that’s never been a question when it comes to the FFXIV series.

The real question I was left with is whether there’s true depth to the game. Much like some of our less-than-stellar TERA event demos before it, I’ll have to chalk this one up to being a less than optimal demo experience, and cross my fingers in hopes for a more meaningful hands-on experience sometime in the near future.

It wasn’t all dirt naps against angry bosses, mind you. Some of the other things I can report on at this point include:

  • Character movement and camera control fall much more in line with what you’d expect in a Western MMO experience.
  • The combat is of the standard 10-key hotbar variety, though it appeared as though some basic skill combos were present based on a simple lead attack / finisher paring, as indicated by certain skills being highlighted automatically on my hotbar during combat
  • As I was on the verge of death 98% of the time, it was hard to tell if that was due to lack of skilled healers in my group, or a less-than-resilient Marauder class. The character definitely looked and played very tankish though, wielding a giant 2-handed axe and doing mostly slow, brutal attacks, a few of which built up additional enmity (a fancy term for threat).  
  • The characters retained the distinctive look and feel of the original FFXIV races, but seemed to move a bit more gracefully and be more responsive in their A Realm Reborn counterparts

While that’s a short list, I was thankfully given the opportunity to speak to Naoki Yoshida to learn more about the actual MMO aspects of A Realm Reborn. While the Battle Challenge demo left me a bit underwhelmed, the interview gave me hope that this is one game that could very well be worth the second look. Speaking of second looks, be sure to check back with us early next week as our FFXIV: A Realm Reborn event coverage continues!

Final Fantasy Scholar

See you again soon!

I got in to the beta today! Can't wait to get home and try it out this weekend! :) so excited!

Everyone who ever played and paid for FF14 is now invited. Starting today.

Never paid or played it.

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