Final Fantasy XIV - Impressions so far.

Final Fantasy XIV came out back in release date. I was a Final Fantasy XI player so I was in the alpha I believe it was a while ago so some details escape me at this point. I had a pretty expensive computer at the time and my first experience with the game was that it was a sluggish mess.   the User interface was very ugly. Unintuitive. And apparently all filtered through the server an incredible lag fest.  A mouse and keyboard were unusable at the time, combat was confusing, the game barely ran, and overall I was incredibly disappointed. I quickly uninstalled the game and when it came out to lackluster reviews I wrote it off as a mess that could never be fixed.

A couple years later when the game relaunched. I assumed that there was nothing that could have possibly been done to save this epic disaster of a game. I of course knowing that it was a trash heap promptly ignored it.  I'm sure I was neck deep in some other MMO at the time though I bounce between them so much it is tough to say which one.  So returning to Eorzea was low on my priorities. 

A few months back I was watching a friend of mine stream FFXIV and I was very interested in what I saw. The game looked great, it always had. And the UI was. Very much improved. Combat looked really fun. I had noticed that there were an inordinate number of abilities in the hotbar and that was enough to keep my wallet at bay for now. I also didn't like the idea of paying a subscription fee again so I waited.  About three times a week I would find a twitch stream of the game. Ask the streamer a few questions. And feel the barrier between my wallet and the game weaken. Then of course a steam sale happened and the last straw broke. The contents of my wallet rushed forward and I was now the proud owner of a FFXIV account. It was finally time to give this turkey another chance.   At least I thought it was. 

It turns out that I was afflicted with a fairly common patching bug that prevented me from downloading the game files. After a bunch of troubleshooting and many days passing I finally had the game installed. I proceeded to make my character.  I got into the game and played a lot for about a week. Then something distracted me and I stopped. I jumped back into World of Warcraft for a bit.  I tried playing Wildstar Elder Scrolls. Pretty much any MMO I could get my hands on. None of the. Were holding my attention. 

I decided to try out FFXIV again in hopes that it would draw me in, and it did.  I've re-subbed for a second month and I have been having a blast.  The game is very well made and Yoshi P has done an amazing job turning the game around.  When they said that they were rebuilding the game from the ground up, they weren't kidding.  The combat is great, the graphics were as beautiful as they always were, but now that I'm on even better hardware the game runs like a dream.  I may not lock in 60FPS when I'm streaming, but if I'm just playing the game I do.  Let's talk a bit about the pros and cons of the game.  

  • Pros
    • One character any job - This is one of my favorite features of the game.  My main character is my only character, I can switch between any job I want at any time with a click of the button.  While I'm still leveling and I only have one job unlocked, I can see how this can really make for some flexible game-play.
    • The Cutscenes are very well done.  
    • Classes feel unique  - Nuff said.
  • Cons
    • The dialogue - There is just so much talking.  I will say that the localization team did a great job and the dialogue is filled with many references to pop culture 
    • DPS queues - Square has to do something about the inordinate queue times when waiting to do instanced content on a DPS class.  I usually have to wait 20+ minutes for them.  On my tank or healer character from when I first started playing my queue times were instant.  I think the best way they could combat this is to dynamically increase the difficulty of the combat based on the number of DPS characters in the instance, then increase the number of DPS characters per party from 2 to 3.  It isn't ever going to go away because less people want to tank / heal.  In fact it is only going to get worse because the Stormblood expansion is introducing two new DPS classes.  I guess start crafting or working on your sightseeing log while you're waiting for queues to pop.
    • Subscription - I have to pay every month for this.  I very much prefer the GW2 method of monetezation, but if the game is worth it, I'm willing.
    • Getting a character on a populated server is a huge pain - I was on a very popular server with some friends.  But my son couldn't get a character on that server.  This meant I couldn't play with him, which was very frustrating as we game together often.  We tried for days to get him a new character on the server, but it was constantly locked.  So I switched servers, I left my 30PAL/30WHM behind and started fresh on a server he could make a character on.  This isn't the ideal way to do things.  But I'll stomach it for a good game.

Overall I'm unabashedly impressed with what the new dev team has done with FFXIV:ARR and I can't wait to get to Heavensward content.  With the next expansion fast approaching I've got my work cut out for me.