Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn (or an MMORPG I didn't hate that much)



There's a lingering feeling of familiarity about the atmosphere of FFXIV, especially if you've played any of the other games in the series. There are certain creatures, like Mogs and Chocobos. And then there's musical cues, like the little victory tune you hear after a battle.

And then there's the other kind of familiarity, that comes with the MMORPG tropes, that every god damned MMORPG seems to be using no matter what. The quest structure, the combat system, the everlasting walkabout around the land. It makes me wonder why in the name of all that's holy the developers keep aping up similar systems? Why the battle is always similarly boring "select an enemy, then press the special moves buttons"-kind of a fare. I don't get it... do MMORPG players really uniformly feel that the kind of a press a button and wait for a skill to recharge combat is some kind masterpiece of combat design? (Though of what I've understood, the original release was widely criticised of being too different from the other games in the genre, so I guess there's no winners here.)

Chocobo taxi is the cheaper way to travel from one location to an another

It's really no wonder at all, that World of Warcraft is one of the few MMORPG's out there that manages to survive with subscription fees. While I guess FFXIV survives the same way as well, it is just like many others succumbed into lazy copying of design from an another game. It doesn't try to make the combat feel like a unique system, rather than it makes it feel far too familiar in a fashion, that if you won't be able to tell it apart from other games in the genre in comparison.

In some missions, you need to give stuff to people.

But in any case, besides the combat, I can't say that I dislike the game. It does, in a way, feel more like a proper game rather than just yet another MMORPG grind fest. Make no mistake, it is very similar to so many other MMORPG's around, grinding included, but FFXIV does have something about it. And by that, I guess I might be referring to that other kind of familiarity: it does feel like a Final Fantasy game. It also manages to feel like the story is far more overreaching and that even the side missions have some proper connection to the overreaching arc.

I also do like how they use cut scenes in the game. If you're a player like me, who does more of a solo run rather than enjoys engaging in the guild and other activities, it makes the game as a whole seem more like a game with an actual plot. And even plot wise FFXIV does feel like a Final Fantasy game. You have your familiar item names, and some familiar monsters. There's names and places seen in other games of the series and so on.

One of the many cut scenes of the game.

The world  map feels very reasonable sized. What I mean is, that it feels proportionally more pleasing to me than the world map in World of Warcraft for an example. In WoW the map feels like it was enlarged a couple of times in order to make the land area more sizable and when they did that, they also made the buildings and objects proportionally too big in contrast of the characters. At times it made the world feel like it was made for other kinds of characters, but it was in the end inhabited by much smaller beings. FFXIV on the other hand feels like it's sized just right. While there's a lot of area to cover, it also doesn't feel like moving from one location to an another is a task of its own. And the bigger cities are littered with teleportation points, which makes the moving around even snappier.

The world of FFXIV also feels a lot more reactive than  some other MMORPG's. Where as in other games locations seem to reset constantly to a state where it was when you start a missions, FFXIV is filled with little things, that feel unique to you and cease to exist after you've done a mission. People leave their locations, objects get moved and so on. In a word, it feels like the things you do matter, even if they matter in a small scale.

Airship is a way to travel from one world hub to an another.

The missions themselves are pretty much what you'd expect to see in an MMORPG. You kill stuff or go looking for stuff or get stuff from the mission givers in order to FedEx it for someone else. So nothing ground breaking there, but while it all does take some running around, here's where the proportionally nicely sized world map is a blessing: traveling around doesn't take ages, and if you've got enough Gil (Final Fantasy in game currency) you can easily teleport even between countries without needing to go to a zeppelin station or a boat.

I'm not a huge MMORPG fan. I do tend to get bored with them after a week or so. I got bored with WoW just as I got bored with with Lord of the Rings Online, Neverwinter and Age of Conan. FFXIV is probably the closest I've ever gotten in actually enjoying playing MMORPG. I'm not enjoying it so much that I'd subscribe to it in monthly basis, but I'm enjoying it enough to consider buying some game time on occasion.



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