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Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Review

Updated Mon, Sep 09, 2013 by Xerin

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is the envisioning of the original FFXIV after a less than spectacular launch. In this review we’ll be taking a look at FFXIV: ARR with a fresh perspective and letting go of any stigma or opinions from the original. Additionally, this review does take into considering the server issues that plagued the game at launch, but since they seem to be resolved, we will not be penalizing the game as severely for them.

With that aside, let’s see if FFXIV: ARR is summer’s MMO blockbuster or yet another ship in the sea of mediocre MMO games.

Cautions

FFXIV: ARR is rated Teen for Language, Mild Blood, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, and Violence.

Gameplay

82Good

FFXIV’s gameplay is fantastic and well-polished, but it’s an iteration of what the industry has already seen. I’m not going to lie when I say that I have a blast while playing FFXIV and quite enjoy every second of casting spells and hitting things furiously with my axe, but it is what we’ve seen before and in copious amounts. This is where the game has its greatest strength and its biggest weakness.

The difficulty in even rating gameplay comes down to this – playing the game is fun, but it’s not new. It’s not fresh. There are very few, if any, unique ideas present throughout the series, whether it comes from past Final Fantasy games or from the MMO genre itself. FATEs are ultimately another derivative of public quests, so much so that the icons look almost exactly like those out of Warhammer Online. The game worships the holy trinity and isn’t shy about going as far as locking specific classes into unique roles (pick a class and that’s your role). The class changing ability is sort of different, but we had job changing in FFX, so nothing new here.

I tried as hard as I could to think of something new and different and came to a simple fact: FFXIV : ARR isn’t new, it is polished. It is the same dish we’ve been served countless times, but perfected. Think, if you will, of the finest steak dinner, cooked to perfection, served with a baked potato. While it may be the best steak you’ve ever eaten, it isn’t the first and surely won’t be the last steak that you encounter. With FFXIV: ARR we’re looking at one of the best “WoW clones” to ever exist, but at the end of the day it’s just that.

Don’t let my pessimistic rambling hide the fact that the gameplay is fantastic, just not new. It is satisfying, but not challenging to the mind. There isn’t something to explore and find, there isn’t some new system introduced. It is just what we know and love from an MMO highly polished.

Others may look at the gameplay and go on about how polished it is or perhaps they don’t like it. Me? I love it, I’m just realistic in the sense that we’ve been there and done that, and that is where the score here suffers. If we had this same amount of polish, this same amount of near perfection on the system, but with something different, you’d see a 100 instead of an 80, but 20 points from Gryffindor for the lack of originality.

Oh, and as a footnote, the gameplay is indeed fantastic, as previously mentioned. One of the best takes on the MMO experience I’ve ever seen. Character models are fluid, the quests, while repetitive, are simple and easy to complete providing that instant gratification that we all crave. The story is engrossing enough to provide interest, but is a bit of the standard Final Fantasy “there are bad guys and you’re the good guy and it gets muddled around somewhere.”

The biggest awesome part of the gameplay is that you can login, do something, and advance something by just moving around and having fun. You can level other classes, work on crafting, or do whatever and you move forward. You can do it solo, with friends, or just sit around and chat on your linkshell. It’s all awesome and great stuff.

The only negatives, outside of the lack of originality, are the endgame like many MMOs has been fully fleshed out and comes in patch 1.1.

Graphics

90Great

The entire graphics engine was reworked for A Realm Reborn and let’s just say they did a wonderful job. I would give this game a perfect score if there were a bit more variety in textures and enemies. As it stands, a lot of textures are reused and the enemy selection, while vast, isn’t that great at the end of the day since enemies you fight at lower levels will constantly reappear with a palette swap. The visuals in the game are breathtaking and it is absolutely gorgeous. The only thing that remained from the original FFXIV were the character models, which in themselves were wonderful, but they’ve taken the game to a new level with some of the visuals that you can see.

The cutscenes are a nice touch and actually work really well with the game. They’re not jarring and there isn’t anything to necessarily ruin your immersion like with some MMOs. The details are appropriate and the spell graphics / skill graphics look professionally implemented.

Sound

100Superb

A perfect score for the sound because I have nothing negative to say. I would be hard to pressed to come up with something to call Nobuo Uematsu out, one of the industries greatest composers, and the source for the vast majority of the music. FFXIV:ARR has some new songs in it from composers who worked on previous Final Fantasy games like Naoshi Mizuta and then a little lesser known composers like Masayoshi Soken. The soundtrack is beautiful and is such a great homage to the franchise.

For sounds such as skills, spells, and character noises, the game gets a giant thumbs up. At no point did I turn them off and they’ve never bothered me. The voice acting, while not perfect in any way, was appropriate.

I'm waiting for the FRONTLINE expansion to decide about the game.I really want more than a pve game if I pay a subscription.

Thank you for the review. I played a tiny bit of Beta but probably not enough to make an opinion about it. EQN seems ages away so I need something until then...

About invisible walls ... I guess most complains in general on forums go to exactly this issue. Ever really tried to jump to sea? Or over some wall to exterior of compound? Usually inside is possible to jump, but not to out. Or instead going around and around some stairs because you can not just jump? Not sure also how can you skip npc dialog with esc key, on my default settings is for sure not working. Must or click with mouse or press Num0. And the worst part ... even this allow you to skip in best case CURRENT dialog cloud ... out of 10 or so usually compounding dialog untill quest is accepted.

However note I do not hate FF, I'm just disappointed a lot. At least as much i was impressed with PS2 FF games. At least ARR it is not for my taste. Can't remember any game - and purchased nearly all - that I have quit so fast. If you count for a week was nearly impossible to login at evening or night ... I have played maybe 3 days but aprox 3 to 6 hours per day.

I'm happy for those that are not disturbed by things that disturbs me and which enjoy game.

Khm, I disagree completely with OP after played ARR for few days. And this is coming from FF lover from PS2 times. And as few friends we have purchased ARR despite we had 1.0. Love is blind. :-)

I can not speak for friends, but largerly agree with me: ARR is a mess, total mess. Only thing worth is great graphic environments with day/night cycles, one of best weather conditions ever, .... sound is absolutely superb as was always in FF games. Also client as client is very stable. And can not believe how lagless is all even with 50 players around in combat.

But the rest .... I'm sorry I have played at all. At least would keep my good memories on FF series.

I can even swallow zillion of problems at start when i was barely able to play for nearly a week. CAN happen of course. But will happen 100% if you desing game WITHOUT AUTOLOGOFF FOR BEING IDLE!!! How could any1 design in such manner I will never understand.

Have all alts, but before lv. 20 I have run out of normal questing (except forced dungeon when I had to quit after being in queue for nearly 1 hour). All that is left is to blindly search for all fates, guildleaves, ... which are total grind, not fun at all.

Along with above complains, here also my no-no list, which makes this game one of the worst mmo's I have ever played:

- game world is full of invisible walls ... just terrible experience, never seen something like this; there will be many caves you will never explore, bridges from which you will never jump to sea, ... because some magic invisible walls are protecting all

- incredibly boring and slow accepting of quests and with absolutely no choices from player side; npc is just babbling with itself pretending you have responded him; and - hey - no way to CANCEL ONCE INITIATED QUEST until end (can of course abort later)

- incredibly boring combat thanks to CD of terrible 2.5 secs; never seen something like that in MMO world; somebody forgot they tried to create mmo.

- virtually no voice acting with very few exceptions of narrative (ok, been spoiled by lush of voice acting in SWTOR, but they could at least do something like Aoc did long ago)

- forced grouping if you want to continue main quest chain (I do not play mmo with FORCED grouping, have to many things to do in real live besides playing and play mainly at evening and night time permitting when not enough players; I really hate forced group content BEFORE end game)

- interface was made for PS environment and then somehow adapted to kbd/mouse

- nearly all layout choices are separate for every single alt! (very bad for altholics as I am; ok, possible with manually copy certain files, but a lot of work and knowledge)

- .....

Stoped I think 3rd day after they have finally fixed majority of login problems. I simply can not find any joy playing it, any fun.

Howdy,

Some excellent points, but overall I was never bothered by the vast majority of them. The cooldown is for certain active skills, there are many, many skills off the global cooldown. The invisible wall thing I've only ran into once, and that was for a very specific quest where you had to find three artifacts. You can skip quest NPC dialog with the ESC key.

If you run out of quests odds are you need to continue the story quest, it'll keep taking you to quest hubs. I do touch on the forced grouping, but it's for a handful of dungeons realistically and considering I was able to get into a dungeon and complete it in less than half an hour, it really wasn't like I had to sit around and beg for a group forever.

We're all entitled to our opinion and I can definitely see how some of the things can be bothersome, but on a whole for me they were mostly non-issues for me.

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