Sunday, February 23, 2014

Final Fantasy XIV - A new start

So many moons ago, I had given the beta of Final Fantasy XIV a shot.  To put it rather bluntly, the game then was horrible.  The races were merely re-skins of Final Fantasy XI races, the classes were not much better, and quests were so horrible to even attempt to get that after playing for only 30 minutes, I uninstalled the game and never looked back.  I did see it pop up once in awhile about how it had gone through a few dev teams, that they were trying to remake the game, and how eventually they scrapped the whole thing and started over.  This caught my attention, as it's rare for a game developer to do this for any title, let alone an entire MMO.  So i followed the new dev cycle, tried the beta, and have actually been playing the game since it came out.  Since I'm known among my friends as someone who will play almost anything, I believe I should explain whats new and improved.

So the aesthetics of the game seem much improved.  The maps and towns are bustling and full of various npcs and monsters going about their business.  The races have also been redone a bit.  They are still similar to Final Fantasy XI's races, but with new genders added, model changes and the introduction of multiple variants.  These variants give you more height and appearance options, along with different starting stats for each subset of a race.   The classes have also been redone, moving into four sets of classes.  You have disciples of the Land, Disciples of the Hand, Disciples of War and Disciples of Magic.  These break down into gathering classes, crafting classes, combat classes and magic classes (a marauder is a war discipline, while a summoner is one of magic).  Every character can be any class, and you can switch them at anytime just by changing your main weapon.  So you can be walking around with an axe, happily it about as a marauder, and notice someone is in need of healing.  Swap out a staff and suddenly your a healer.  Throw on a sword and shield and then your tanking as a gladiator.  Along with these, you can eventually earns jobs, which are like advanced classes.  They offer more options and sit atop of other classes, enhancing key features of those classes.  So a marauder is an axe wielding tank, while the job of warrior improves your abilities and offers new features to help tank and absorb damage.  You also have an armory to store 25 of each kind of equipment (helm, armor, main off etc) so you can carry various sets of gear with you.  You also have a room which allows you to store more items, sell them and hold special gear you earn from quests and events.

Now onto the meat and potatoes.  For PvP, there is not much there yet.  The last content patch added in a 4v4 arena style combat, and so far that is all there is in terms of PvP.  So if you want a rich PvP centric game, this is not going to be for you.  If you want a good PvE experience though, you'll find things to like in Final Fantasy XIV.  You have your basic quests you find scattered throughout the world, along with a main storyline quest which will reward you with decent gear, and makes sure you travel along the world.  Along the way you can also do dungeons, guildhests, fates and levequests.  Dungeons are common place, and range from quick and easy to challenging and drawn out.  The game has a built in duty finder for these, which means you can select multiple dungeons to queue for, and it will assemble a team for you.  The bosses range from simple mechanics (tank and spank) to more complex (protect pillars in the room so you can use them to hide from the bosses attacks).  Guildhests are like mini dungeons or challenges.  They usually center around a certain theme, and seem geared towards preparing you for more advanced mechanics coming in the dungeons ahead.  Fates are like Guild Wars 2 events around the world.  They will spawn on maps, and require you to defend a location, kill a big enemy, escort someone etc.  These will give you gold, exp and seals for your company.  At a certain level you join a grand company, and the seals you earn during the game allow you to buy gear, mounts and other items from the company vendors.  Levequests are the last bit of leveling you can use.  You find levequest vendors around the world, and can opt to perform quests for them.  They offer a variety of them to do, usually 6 or more per area, and you can repeat them as much as you want.  You can also get these quests for the various crafting and gathering jobs, to help you level those faster.

I will say I've been enjoying what they have done so far.  They just added in guild houses and are working on player housing next.  The dungeons I've done have been fun, and I just hit max level, so now I can begin to do hard mode dungeons and raids.  The next big patch is coming, and they seem to be keeping pace with content coming out.  So unless WildStar or ESO blows me out of the water, I may have found a home in Final Fantasy XIV for the time being.

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