Monday, 20 January 2014

First Impressions: Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn

Spoilers: Not really, I don't talk about the story much in this post but if you want all aspects of gameplay and locations to remain a secret then just buy the game. :)

If you're interested in games and are still playing the Final Fantasy series, you probably heard that Final Fantasy XIV was a disaster. I did not play this disaster (the beta file was a bit too much for my parents usually capped 50GB a month internet I was using back then) but I definitely heard about it and felt the impression it left to fans of the Final Fantasy series. After Final Fantasy XIII, some fans were already moving on to other RPGs and it was looking like XIV may have been the nail in the coffin. Thankfully for loyal/stubborn fans like me, it wasn't.

Two years on and with a better now personal internet connection (don't worry, my parents improved their internet too. In case you were worried), I was lucky to get given Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn on PS3 a few short weeks ago. I was excited but also a little skeptical. I had never paid to subscribe to a game as the only other MMO's I've played were Neopets and Gaia Online YEARS ago (oh and that 10 minutes I spent trying Ragnorak Online about 3 months ago). Who pays for a disc AND a subscription?! Not usually poor people like me.

Well, once my free 30 day trial is up, I may become one of those people.

From the second I logged in, I couldn't but noticed that A Realm Reborn is beautiful. From the world to the character creation to the quests and story....it's visually stunning. I'm already itching for the PS4 version because I know it's going to ruin my social life just a little more while looking so good. It's already so pretty though, so after creating my character, I spent a good while just staring at her because she was (and still is) adorable. It's worth noting that the game does a good job at making it easy to get your character to look exactly how you want it without any major stuff-ups. And let's face it, Square Enix's games and characters always look stunning so it wasn't a surprise but I was impressed to see just how easy it was to make my own version of these pretty creatures! And I don't know whether it's because I'm a girl, but I'm an absolute sucker for a good character creation.

In the game, you will start in one of three cities based on what class you chose. I began in Gridania and it's still my favourite of the three. A lush forest with interesting, charming and slightly quirky characters that I thought compliment the story perfectly. And I love the different cities based on your classes. I'm an archer, so a lush forest environment was perfect for me but the other classes cities (I'll let you find those ones) compliment their classes perfectly. Instead of dumping everyone in the same place, I think it's great they put some thought into it.

If you're looking for a time sink, don't worry: the game is addictive. You can level up your character with the fun combat system, do quests that relate to the story or are just there to give you experience, participate in FATEs (random battles that share experience to whoever joins in), do guildhests or levemetes or complete your hunting log. A Realm Reborn makes it easy to find ways to get experience, but fun all the while and more challenging once you get above level 10. The little intricate parts of the game make it even more addictive with buying gear, upgrading it with materia (which I haven't got the hang of yet), Free Companys to get involved with, people constantly keen to hang out and do FATEs make A Realm Reborn so replayable and so easy just to go in and find something to do. They also give you a chance to try every single class in one gameplay so unless you want to look different, you can do everything in one playthrough which is a welcome change as I'm someone who will happily replay a game just to do everything if I'm addicted to a game/being a completionist.

The only negative I can really give at this point is I've been unable to log in due to maintenance about three seperate times/days during 14 days (give or take). But I do understand that maintenance is necessary and they are working to improve the game and they're preparing for a patch with lots of new goodies and game events which I'm sure will be more than worth it. But for mostly single/console game players like me, this may take some people by surprise like it did me so you have been warned.

This is probably more detail then I would normally go into for a 'First Impression', but I've had the game for a few weeks so I have lots to say. To wrap this up, I am finding A Realm Reborn being the first thing I do after making breakfast in the morning for at least two hours (but it's not the last thing I do before I fall asleep. That time is Persona time.). THERE'S SO MUCH TO DO IN THE GAME! It baffles me in the best way. No matter who I'm playing with (if anyone at all), Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn gives a completely non-linear gameplay with so many options and surprises thrown in that I am more than impressed and can't wait to continue playing after today's lot of maintenance is done.

This isn't a full review (I don't like doing that until I've at least finished the story) but I would give Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn a high 9/10 right now.

Thank you for reading, will post again soon while I'm still on holidays before work goes back!

Tara

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