Final Fantasy XIV PS4 Beta Impressions – I’ll Take Some WoW With My FF Please

Initially launched in September 2010, Final Fantasy XIV was rife with bugs and glitches, awful UI, an inadequate amount of quests, and an economic system that made trading and crafting wares an absolute nightmare.

With the game universally panned by critics and gamers from all corners of the globe, Square Enix shut down servers in late 2012 in an attempt to rework the existing game into an enjoyable experience. This is how A Realm Reborn came to be and in August 2013, the game was relaunched. Addressing many of the critics concerns, FFXIV: A Realm Reborn received a much more favorable reception offering players an improved graphics engine, a new UI, public quests (or FATE), and the return of the Auction House (now known as the Market Board). Despite these additions and changes, the MMO landscape has changed drastically since FFXI and FFXIV launched with the F2P model now coming to rise. This begs the question: can A Realm Reborn, with a traditional monthly fee, rise to the top in a F2P era? Read on to find out.

Questing

The first sin A Realm Reborn had to repent for was the absolute dearth of questing found in the original FFXIV. A Realm Reborn has definitely made up for its past transgressions by offering players a ton of quests to partake in. Currently residing as a level 16 Lancer, I’ve done dozens of quests during my time in Eorzea. In this regard, A Realm Reborn bears more resemblance to the questing structure of World of Warcraft than it does with FFXI or FFXIV. This represents a fundamental shift for seasoned Final Fantasy MMO players since leveling typically involves partying with others and grinding, as opposed to completing quests. Despite offering a reprieve from the traditional grind, the quests often fall into the traditional MMO mold of “Retrieve ‘X’ Item” or “Kill ‘X’ amount of ‘Y’ enemies”. Any player who has played — or even seen an MMO be played — will get a heavy dose of déjà vu. As I progressed further into the game, more often than not I found myself mashing the X button and not reading a bit of dialog from my questgivers. In a genre that emphasizes escapism, its hard to be immersed when you realize almost every NPC is basically saying, ‘Long story short, if you kill a few of these things, I’ll reward you handsomely’.

A Realm Reborn does a few things to keep things fresh with the newly implemented FATE System. FATE — otherwise known as Full Active Time Event — is a term that essentially means public quests. These are quests that any player can partake in as long as they are in the highlighted area on the map at a given time. All players in the area are tasked with taking down an infinitely respawning group of enemies until the timer runs out or taking down a massive enemy who has a vast amount of health. Regardless of the FATE being completed, XP and rewards are doled out based upon participation. If you only fire one shot at the enemy during an entire FATE, your reward will be decidedly unimpressive. Participating in a FATE requires players to be within a certain level range in order to participate. If you leveled up too fast and missed out on killing the giant slug, fret not. A Realm Reborn allows players to temporarily lower their level if they wish to complete FATE’s they may have missed out on.

Final_Fantasy_XIV_FATE

This FATE tasks players with taking down all the Imps before they can escape the keep.

The remaining quest types are Leves, Guildhests, and Story. Leves are similar to FATE’s in that a player must be in a specified area to complete them, but they can only be completed solo with other players unable to provide assistance. Guildhests are similar to Leves, but require a party to complete. If you are not in a party before hand, A Realm Reborn will automatically party up players looking to complete the same Guildhest. Story quests usually feature cutscenes, and involve a player teleporting to a unique instance to complete the quest. The dialog for story quests are a bit more unique than your typical quest, but they tend to have some quirks I find a bit irksome. For one, voice acting is not featured in all cutscenes. There may be a moment where an important character has voice acting in one scene, but the next time you run into that character they may be relegated to text boxes. While I’ve never found the English voice acting to be a strong trait of the FF series (and this entry is no different), it would be nice if the game would pick one or the other. However, my main issue is the focus of the dialog being how important and unique your character is. Despite the fact there are thousands of other players reading the exact same thing and completing the exact same quests, A Realm Reborn reuses story themes seen in almost every fantasy MMO to date. For example: references to being the one (“Are you?…no…couldn’t be…”), but then eventually — SURPRISE — you are the one! Or, the repeated reminders that mundane tasks, such as retrieving eggs a stone throw away or picking flowers in an adjacent field, would not be possible without your assistance. All the more reason to just mash the X button during dialog, accept the quest, and be done with it.

Community

FFXI was a very community centric game mainly because any form of progression at later levels required a player to party up. While I hold out hope the community will be more vocal at some point, as it stands the chat box remains alarmingly quiet. Part of the issue is many players do not have a USB or Bluetooth keyboard in order to communicate easily. While the PlayStation 4′s on-screen keyboard is somewhat easy to use, it certainly isn’t as quick or as effective as using a physical keyboard. Even if PS4 players don’t embrace the chat box, I’m sure there will be plenty of experienced PC and PS3 players who will make use of it once the PS4 version launches.

What the community lacks in text communication, they certainly make up for with creative uses of emotes to depict acts that are sexual in nature.

Gameplay

A Realm Reborn makes good use of the PS4 controller and the hotbar system. Players can assign items, actions, emotes, abilities, spells, etc. to any position on the hotbar. Once assigned to a position, players can make use of the assigned space using a clever combination of triggers, the D-Pad, and the face buttons. Currently, because I’m a low enough level and I don’t have to juggle dozens of abilities, I have my non-combat abilities and items assigned to L2 + D-Pad / Face Buttons and all my combat pertinent abilities assigned to R2 + D-Pad / Face Buttons. Traditionally, players had to highlight the ability they wished to use on the hotbar using the D-Pad. It wasn’t the most intuitive layout when you begin talking about cycling through 4 hotbars and horizontally scrolling through 8 icons to cast a healing spell during the heat of battle. The L2+R2 system makes it easy for players to instantly cast the abilities and spells they need without needing multiple buttons presses.

Final_Fantasy_XIV_Armor

Such….intimidating armor…for a warrior…

In nearly every MMO I’ve played, there typically comes a point where you have to make a lengthy travel to complete a quest that just makes you groan at the thought of it. A Realm Reborn does a fantastic job of letting players spend more time on quests, in battles, and crafting than traveling. First off, there is sprint. Most MMO’s traditionally require a spell to be cast for temporary Sprint or a Bard to play a song to make players run faster. In A Realm Reborn, the sprint skill is available to all players starting from level 1 (protip: USE THIS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!). While sprint will drain your TP bar fully, sprint doesn’t require a full bar to be cast. This means 15 seconds after sprint wears off, you can sprint again. Sprint can be used to help you run away from an overpowering enemy, but I have found its greatest use in cutting down traveling time around town and from quest to quest. Then there’s the Aethernet system. Crystalline in appearance, these nodes serve as instant transportation around multiple area in a city. Want to finish off a quest at the Lancer’s Guild? Find a node, select Lancer’s Guild, and you’re there. Using the Aethernet typically shaves off no more than a couple minutes versus sprinting, but when you have multiple quests to retrieve rewards for, the time really starts to add up. If it’s areas outside of town you wish to access, players can make use of Chocobos or Teleportation (both at a nominal fee) by Level 10.

No crazy level requirement, no insane quests to get a Chocobo or Teleportation license, all you have to do is hit Level 10. I wish all MMO’s were that lenient.

Final_Fantasy_XIV_Chocobo

Fast travel, including Chocobos, will be available to players early on in their adventures.

The beta is currently available to all, and can be downloaded through the PSN Store here. While there are elements I certainly enjoy — in particular the combat system and the almost non-existent travel — I don’t think A Realm Reborn does enough to justify the $40 price tag + $12.99/month fee. It’s great to see a stronger emphasis on quests akin to World of Warcraft and a story driven approach, but for someone who has played his fair share of MMO’s, A Realm Reborn more often than not stumbles into all too familiar territory.

What do you guys make of the beta? Excited to pick it up when it launches on PS4 or not? Do you already own it? Let us know in the comments below.

Tom Gregorio
Editor - News / Reviews
Editor for MP1st. Eradicating Comic Sans from the internet one day at a time.
  • Nighthawk_0430

    If it was just the 40$ and then no subscription fee, this would be a day one buy for me. I just can’t justify spending that much a month just to be able to keep playing it. It’s a great game IMO, loving the beta, just not in my price budget right now :(

    • Spencer

      $13 a month is nothing.. Like.. Literally nothing. That’s like, less than 50 cents a day

      • http://mp1st.com/ David Veselka

        That’s still $156/year if you’re subbed the whole time, plus the $40 you spent on the game. That’s nearly $200 for one game :S

  • Mike

    Holy crap 40 bucks upfront then 12.99 a month? Thats expensive!

  • SubXero

    I just canceled my sub last week. And to think I played (read: suffered) from alpha 1.0 up until then…

    • KritixChoyce

      i HIGHLY doubt you played that long. First of all, IF you were that loyal of a player you wouldn’t be so immature to come here and post such a ridiculous comment.with no explanation at all.

      I played from beta 1.0 all the way until now. I did cancel my account two months ago, but I recently reactivated it because I thoroughly enjoy what the game offers. I think this game caters to a certain audience, but should it really be faulted for that?

      Variety, that is what this game strives to bring but even in that its not always going to fit everyone. That does not mean that the game sucks. However, you are entitled to your opinion, or lack their of.

      • SubXero

        I didn’t know stating that I canceled my sub needed an explanation as to why. Could I have elaborated? Sure, but I certainly didn’t have to. As for “And to think I played (read: suffered) from alpha 1.0 up until then…)”; that was mostly a joke. The suffered part was a joke not the duration of my playing.

        I’m sorry. What information do you need from me to make you feel better about my comment? I suppose you want hard proof that I played as long as I said followed by a detailed reason as to why I quit and my feelings about the game past and present? Is your mind going to be blown if I actually prove that I played from the alpha of 1.0 up until two weeks ago?

        I realize some people feel the need to lie about things on the internet to seem cool but I’m not one of them. You can take that for what it’s worth. Which may be nothing since you obviously already think I’m some immature liar that posts ridiculous comments.

  • Jordan

    “What the community lacks in text communication”

    That is because people are mostly talking in LinkShell / Free Company. And the PS4 beta only contain PS4 players and not all existing players. If you are on Live server they are actually pretty active. On top of that most of the things you can either just use Duty Finder and one thing that people use a lot instead of shouting on chat is the Party Finder. Shouting on chat for activities is old stuffs. It still happen a lot in the past during the start of the game. However since they improve the DF system and added the PF, it is a far more effective and user friendly interface to look for your end game goodies.

    Lastly the game is very much different from WOW. So please stop comparing it against that game. I am a WOW player myself too. There are completely different game especially once you get further into the game. There is nothing really familiar about. Majority of your WOW theories just wont work in this game. End of story

    • Sgt. Mofo

      If you read two sentences past my first mentioning of the quiet text box, you would’ve seen that I’m holding out hope when the PS3/PS4/PC players all come together. The questing does share a lot of similarities with WoW in that there are plenty of them to do and they are required if you want to level up at a decent pace. Traditionally, quests are secondary and partying/grinding is the primary choice of leveling. Since WoW is the most successful MMO that incorporated leveling through questing, it was referenced.

      (P.S. Adding ‘end of story’ to any statement, much less your own, does nothing to add validity to it. If anything, it takes away from it.)

      • Jordan

        1st wow does not do questing with a story telling approach that is done in this game. And you get the more complex deal of it later into the game. The first 20 level in the game is design with extreme basic in mind to let specially new comers of mmo to adapt themselves into the mmo genre. And this is not made up while you can look up on that yourself. Those who played from the actual launch of the game would know this. 2nd you actually have multiple choice of leveling in the game. So it does not actually only quest leveling as a primary choice. In fact if you want the truth partying in huge FATE later in the game actually yield you more exp than you get from your quests. But regardless people will not do that for their primary job because they want to see the story and also it’s another way to let you open up more contents in the game. End of the day you can’t just rely on questing because you would need to be doing secondary classes / jobs. FATE partying Guildhest and daily dungeon run from the roulette system is your best friend after Leveling your primary job alone still leads you no where. I think this part alone is already very different from the way WOW works. There is nothing wrong with having certain similarity as long as the whole package actually comes as a different thing. But the way you put it is like saying COD and BF4 are the same game simply because both are military first person shooter. You have a primary weapon and a secondary weapon plus you can throw grenades. Take away the conquest go play TDM and they are the exact same game because end of the day your objective is to shoot more opposition team and climb the leadboard to win the game. But the fact is that is not the case. Look same does not means play same. And same rules apply here. There are other games that you can really say they are kind of a wow clone because everything in the game from mechanic, questing and even up till the way the classes are being played felt the same only with a different skin overlay. But if we do an actual comparison between WOW and FFXIV that is not the case here actually. They have some similarity yet vastly different.

        (PS: I do not see anything wrong putting “end of story” in my words since it is just another term. It makes no difference if I am going to say the word “period!” but just a different way of phrasing it.)

  • TheBusterMan

    Why don’t they just charge,say £90 odd for the game,then give the subscription free? I know it’s a lot to pay,but I’d prefer something like that.

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