August 2013 – It’s been a turbulent week since the official release of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, let alone the 3-day early access for those who pre-ordered this much awaited PC/PS3 MMORPG. But despite the dreaded error 1017 and 90000 that plagued the world- server overload errors brought by underestimating the number of players to buy the game (they really didn’t expect it to boom like this), I can vouch that the pros in the starting overall experience drastically outweigh the cons. On that note, producer Yoshida and his team are taking full responsibility and are working 24/7 to fix these technical issues. Quite the birth pains, eh?
I first played the game in closed beta phase 3 when I randomly stumbled on their site last June- it seemed interesting, and it’s free, so why the hell not try it? Since then, I’ve been on the grid waiting for updates, until I finally pre-ordered the game online. I’m currently a very happy level 32 Miqo’te Paladin, about a third in the game’s main storyline, and I’d like to share to you how I came to like and love the game in fourteen points:
- Story-driven Gameplay
- Graphics and Music
- Cross-platform Capability
- Monthly Subscription Fees
- Character Aesthetics
- Class and Job System
- Massive Open-world Maps
- Main Story, Class and Side Story Quests
- Grand Companies, Free Companies and Linkshells
- Duty Finder, Dungeons and Parties
- Leveling System
- Mounts and Minions
- Upcoming Content
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Being a Final Fantasy franchise, it is imperative that XIV must have a great and unique storyline- and it definitely doesn’t fall short in having one. Unlike most MMORPGs with a general backstory that just focuses mainly on the multiplayer and socializing aspect, there is a long yet eventful main scenario your character will follow (which by the way varies with which class you choose) that will lead you to the endgame with tons of more content to play. The numerous NPCs shown in the awesome movie sequences aren’t just for show- they play crucial roles in the story whom your character will get to know and form inseparable bonds with. Basically, we’ll still get that Final Fantasy feel even in this type of game.
Here’s a video portraying the game’s backstory:
Graphics and Music
The ‘flopped’ v1.0 was of the Crystal Tools Engine, which was also used in the Final Fantasy XIII line of games. But A Realm Reborn now utilizes the brand new Square Enix-boasted Luminous Engine, with which is also the genius graphic architecture behind the E3 2012 Tech Demo and the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. Square Enix made the game in a way that even older computers can run it as it only has a minimum requirement of a Core2 Duo processor and an NVidia GeForce 8800 video card!
And for the Music? THE Nobuo Uematsu did the main theme. He is, after all, only the musical wizard-virtuoso-sage-master-prodigy-god behind Final Fantasy music up to Final Fantasy XI. If you’ve got a knack for his musical prowess, or only played Final Fantasy mostly because of the music, then you shouldn’t sit this one out.
Lighting and glare are as real as they can get
Players on both the PC, PS3, PS4 and iOS can play together. Peace. And. Unity!
Monthly Subscription Fees
Although most people view this as a negative, in retrospect, it ‘s been quite a good thing. A popular saying goes: ‘nothing of significant value in this logical and fair world is free.‘ and of course, ‘you get what you pay for‘. An interesting fact I found out in my few MMO escapades is that most players in the free-to-play segment tend to be profane, bashful, selfish and uneducated. All the trash talk ruined one’s gaming experience. Whereas in this world of paid subscription, I found the world community very welcoming, helpful and communicative. I don’t want to stereotype, but the monthly $12 subscription actually serves as a gate to filter certain types of people- the unruly ones. The game costs P1,300 and the first 30 days are free.
There are also issues involving real world money, which FFXIV:ARR doesn’t have. In my previous experience with Diablo III, the RMAH (Real Money Auction House) broke the game’s economy, and in pay-to-win games, well, that’s the point: the only ones winning in the game are mostly the ones paying, leaving the non-payers in the dust. I like the idea that everyone should start out equally and make their own money in-game. Real money should only be for aesthetics that won’t affect a player’s in-game progress.
With over twenty-one parameters, each having more than a dozen of options to customize your character, I don’t know how we’ll not be able to make one that doesn’t suit anyone’s taste. There are five races: Hyur, Miqo’te, Lalafell, Roegadyn and Elezen) with two sub-clans each, so that makes a total of ten. Each has their own specific parameters as well so that definitely adds to the uniqueness of the character designs- over hundreds of thousands of different looks possible! What’s more are the countless battle and field gears your characters have to wear, again, each with their own design shown when you equip them, and you can dye them too!
Height, muscle tone, bust size, skin color, hairstyle, face, eyes, nose, voice, what have you!
Class and Job System
Square Enix has done a pretty good job making the class and job system very complex yet equally interesting. That is, after having learned the difficult ropes SE has set for us, it makes the battles all the more worthwhile- all in the name for a satisfying MMO experience, dungeons, raids and PvPs included.
One thing to take note here is that unlike other MMOs, your character will not be locked in just one or two classes. He or she will have complete access in the full leveling system of all classes and jobs.
At the beginning, you are to choose one of the eight battle classes available: Disciples of War’s Gladiator, Marauder, Lancer, Archer and Pugilist and Disciples of Magic’s Conjurer, Thaumaturge and Arcanist- each having seventeen unique skills and eleven traits. Whatever you choose will then be considered as your main class. Secondary classes will be available upon reaching level 10 where the other class guilds will be open for recruitment. This brings the possibilities of Jobs: a higher version of classes where you’ll need your main to be level 30, and a prerequisite secondary at level 15. The ff. are the available jobs and needed class combinations:
Paladin – Lvl. 30 Gladiator / Lvl. 15 Conjurer
Warrior – Lvl. 30 Marauder / Lvl. 15 Gladiator
Dragoon – Lvl. 30 Lancer / Lvl. 15 Marauder
Black Mage – Lvl. 30 Thaumaturge / Lvl. 15 Arcanist
White Mage – Lvl. 30 Conjurer / Lvl. 15 Arcanist
Bard – Lvl. 30 Archer / Lvl. 15 Pugilist
Monk – Lvl. 30 Pugilist / Lvl. 15 Lancer
Scholar – Lvl. 30 Arcanist / Lvl. 15 Thaumaturge
Summoner – Lvl. 30 Arcanist / Lvl. 15 Conjurer
Jobs grant additional skills and traits specific to your character’s role in battle. For example, Paladin and Warriors serve as tanks so they have damage reduction and threat generating skills, respectively, whereas Dragoons and Black Mages are damage-dealing, and White Mages are healers. Your job determines your crucial role when in party dungeons and raids. Also, did I mention Cross-Class Skills? You’re gonna want to level other classes because there are certain skills from them that can be added to your main class’s skill set. All is so so you will only need to play one character.
Amidst all the hack and slashing, there are other more peaceful field classes to choose from- Disciples of Hand’s Carpenter, Blacksmith, Armorer, Goldsmith, Leatherworker, Weaver, Alchemist and Culinarian and Disciples of the Land’s Miner, Botanist and Fisher. These are special classes where you gather materials, level them and create items related to those classes. These are the ways to go if you want to earn tons of gil in the game, not to mention they also have skills and cross-class skills of their own.
Massive Open-world Maps
Three grand cities lie before us in Eorzea with the Gladiators, Pugilists, and Thaumaturges residing at the deserts of Ul’Dah, the Lancers, Conjurers and Archers at the forests of Gridania, and Marauders and Arcanists at the docks of Limsa Lominsa. From your respective city, you shall travel in the surrounding vast lands doing various main story, class and side quests, dungeon sieges and more! Hundreds of hours of gameplay await!
See the mountains at the back? You can literally take a long walk towards there!
Main Story, Class and Side Story Quests
Quests can be generalized into three types: first are the main story quests you need to do to progress the game, then the class quests which you need to finish to unlock character jobs, and the side story quests– optional unrelated quests that have branching mini-side stories of their own, which also packs a lot of experience points needed to level up. Things to do to complete them include gathering and delivering materials, hunting both monsters and evil people, assisting VIPs to their target location, portraying certain types of emotions while in battle, a combination of any of them, pretty much anything under the Eorzean sun!
Grand Companies, Free Companies and Linkshells
When you reach around level 20, you will be asked to join a Grand Company– in-game guilds that are based on the three cities of Eorzea: Immortal Flames of Ul’Dah, Twin Addlers of Gridania and the Maelstrom of Limsa Lominsa. You have the choice of selecting any one of them and are not restricted to your home city. Joining a Grand Company will grant you company rights such as to purchase items and privileges only available in said GC via their unique currency called Company Seals (which can be acquired in certain battles). Getting your very own company-issued chocobo and high-level job-specific battle gear are included.
Free Companies, on the other hand, are sub-companies under Grand Companies created by the players themselves, and have their own set of privileges e.g. additional EXP Points, depending on the rank of the free company. To further heighten the MMO experience, Linkshells are used. They are player-created real-time chat channels where anyone and everyone can talk once the admin lets them join the channel.
Grand Companies: Immortal Flames, Twin Adder, The Maelstrom
Duty Finder, Dungeons and Parties
Duty Finder is basically the FFXIV term for online matchmaking in multiplayer dungeons, guildhests and trials. Each dungeon and trial is first accessed by progressing through the main story, and can be revisited anytime, anywhere via the Duty Finder menu. Online matchmaking is not world-restricted, meaning it runs across all the servers so there won’t be any problems on missing a teammate or two. Groups can be formed as Light Party comprising of four people- usually one tank, one healer and two damage-dealers, and Full Party comprising of eight people. There are news about the upcoming Alliance having a 24-man raid, and the 72-man royal rumble called Frontlines.
That dreaded primal battle with Ifrit was intense
FATEs, or Full Active Time Events, are special battle instances that occur at random while exploring the maps of Eorzea. It lets players in the surrounding area participate anytime until the event ends- they just have to go to an active FATE which can be identified as little violet pentagons on the map- go there and you’ll be automatically joined in. Experience acquired will depend on how much your character has contributed in the instance.
FATEs are also level-sensitive– if you’re not in the FATE level indicated, your contribution won’t be weighed much, and the experience you will get will might as well be insignificant.
Lightning joins us in a future F.A.T.E., granting our characters her wardrobe after the battle
To make the leveling more exciting and less repetitive, grinding experience points to level up your characters is branched out to a number of methods:
1.) Main Scenario Quests – Non-repeatable quests needed to be finished to progress the game
2.) Side Quests – Non-repeatable quests not related to the main scenario and are optional to do
3.) Class Quests – Non-repeatable quests needed to do to unlock classes and jobs
4.) Guildleves – Battlecraft, fieldcraft and tradescraft solo quests found in each town that can be repeated
5.) Guildhests – Similar to guildleves, but are only co-operative group quests that require Light or Full Parties
6.) Trials – Beating the Primals themselves (Ifrit, Garuda, Titan, etc.) grants a certain amount of EXP
7.) F.A.T.E. – Grinding Full Active Time Events, as stated above
8.) Dungeons – Finishing level-specific dungeons with a Light Party of four or Full Party of eight
9.) Logs – Killing specific monsters in your hunting log, gathering materials on your fishing, culinary logs, etc.
10.) PvP – Not sure about the player vs. player feature, but there must be a form of EXP reward in this
11.) Chain Killing – Kill monsters of the same kind of the same level as you and there will be added EXP
12.) Free Companies – Higher-ranked Free Companies can grant its members added EXP
13.) Items – Certain items, when consumed, grant additional % EXP for a certain amount of time
14.) Rested Bonus – Retiring and logging out at an inn grants added EXP when you log in again after a time
Mounts and Minions
Mounts will be your main mode of transportation besides the usual and expensive chocobo rental, chocobo porters, boats and airships. You will first get one upon reaching 20 and joining a Grand Company, where in you will have to earn 2000 Company Seals to buy your very own company-issued chocobo. Other mounts will then be available once you acquire them. Mounts include chocobo, coeurl, magitek armor, unicorn and more!
You can also train your chocobo to fight alongside you- you can make it perform the roles of a tank, damage dealer or healer!
Minions are those cute little summoned companions that follow your character around. They’re pretty much useless in battle, but they’ll always be there to relieve some stress off you and your character’s back. Each is acquired differently so you have to check first if you’ve eyed on a new minion favorite. Here’s the list:
The next patches have been announced to include the Wolves’ Den and Frontlines events. As FFXInfo puts it:
“The Wolves’ Den is located off Moraby Docks via a ferry in the La Noscea region. To get there you need to speak to the ferry skipper. The area is the result of a geographic anomaly created during the end of the Sixth Astral Era.
The inside has been converted to an arena and it is accessed via a ship as the arena is actually floating on the sea. It is a more relaxed form of PvP and is more akin to sport than the player killing you would normally find in a PvP system. The type of battles you can expect in here are in small groups, IE 4 players vs. 4 opponents. It is not known whether individual battles can take place here but it is likely. The arena will not just be a flat area; it will contain stairs, pillars and other obstacles that can be used to your advantage.”
Concept art for the Wolves’ Den
“Frontlines is designed for large scale PvP battles and will feature epic battles between the three city-states of Gridania, Limsa Lominsa and Ul’dah as they battle for control over some newly discovered ancient ruins and the secrets within. Unlike The Wolves’ Den you will be open to attack as long as you are in the zone.”
Concept art for the Frontlines
So there you have it! Fourteen reasons to play Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. I could go on, but that will take forever. Might as well try the game out yourself if these reasons piqued your gaming interest. For now, I shall go back to my toon Asteria Edelfelt in Cactuar to max out her Paladin and Conjurer levels, and finally reach the endgame where the real stuff begins. If you have further questions, you can comment down below or join our local FFXIV-dedicated Facebook page at FFXIV Philippines. Cheers!