This week saw the release of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the long awaited remake of the original Final Fantasy Online. (Or Final Fantasy XI). It seems to be doing relatively well, with Square Enix already halting online purchases to free up server space for newcomers, which sounds good for revenue, but for reputation, is a different story.
A couple of weeks ago, I took part in the Online Beta Test for the popular franchise’s MMO and I was extremely excited to play it, I have told you all God knows how many times that Final Fantasy is my favourite series and that I am a huge fan, and after a 2GB update install, I was able to finally spend my weekend, box-eyed, in front of my TV.
I spent a little while creating my character, deciding to go with the Zidane Tribal look from FFVIII. The character creation process had some nice details, with 4 or 5 races to choose from and the choice of Mage or Warrior class. Also available is a choice of Star Sign which affects your elemental properties. There are a few hairstyles and facial features to choose from also, but not as many as you would expect, however, maybe there is more in the full release.
So my characters heart is beating and my very own Frankenstein monster is ready to start his quest. You start off on a boat, on its journey to some huge city that all new adventurers go to. The first person you meet, is a stoned out looking Hulk Hogan, who advises you to talk to the bar tender (Who happens to be family). The bar tender provides a bunch of tutorial quests to get you on your way.
It took a while to get to this point. Character creation, opening cut-scenes and just generally running from place to place took me a good 2-3 hours of playtime and was still receiving tutorial message after tutorial message. To say the game starts off slow would be an understatement, the majority of quests I had completed were based around ‘bringing 5 of these’ and ‘killing 10 of these’, which for me, became tedious extremely quickly, especially as I only had a total of 2 abilities to attack with, one of which never seemed to do anything.
Another thing I found disappointing was the text based game dialogue. I found myself moving back in time to Pre- Final Fantasy X where you had to read EVERYTHING, and before I knew it, I was skipping most likely, important quest and storyline information. Maybe it would have been better for main characters to have a voice, but this was just too far for me, I didn’t want to spend my weekend skimming through pages and pages of pointless dialogue.
Before any one had even played the game, there was lots of speculation around whether the game would be console friendly. Very few MMO’s have made it to console because of their playability for PC, but once again, Final Fantasy will tackle this market. Squenix promised that the game would be and in some ways it is, but some ways it isn’t.
Walking around whilst using an analogue stick is always easier for 3rd Persons, but the compatability had to go a lot further than that. The games UI was something that confused me. Trying to select what you want to can be a challenge all in itself that demands an XP reward. With the other real world players, all doing the same as you (because they are all on the same quest) start to become a bit of an obstacle. Whilst trying to select a quest item or objective, The Others would get in my way, and I would constantly be bringing up [Insert Name Here]’s profile. The HUD itself has lots of screen shrinking information, none of which is an easy mini-map (unless you want even more space taken up?).
I will give an example of my gripes. One of the tutorial quests is where you have to demonstrate certain emotions, or ‘Emotes’ to an NPC. This took me forever. With other players in the same area as me, I ended up bowing, smiling and showing remorse to [Insert Name Here] and effectively, my selection processes were being trolled.
The chat function was also text based, another slow process should you be bothered to use it.
Maybe I am being a little too heavy with the criticism. Admittedly, I only managed around 5-6 hours total playing time, but I think that was mainly because I wasn’t captivated by it at all. As much as I love RPG’s, I think I struggle with the MMO concept. Having played games such as World Of Warcraft, Silk Road and DC Universe, it was the fetch quests and the numerical values to what I need to get that turns me off them. I thought Final Fantasy would be different. Playing the role of a normal Final Fantasy, but online. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time, but I’ve never played a game for that long and not have experienced enough of the game.
For an MMO, A Realm Reborn is overall, good in some areas and bad in others. I think the long text dialogue is a big hit for the Final Fantasy storyline as gamers want to just play sometimes, not endure a painstaking battle against the longest book ever written.
With the recession lapping at everyone’s heels, paying over £150 in total for the game and a years subscription in order to play would have to necessitate an awesome game. Of course, Realm Reborn looks good and plays slightly better than any of the other MMO’s I have played, but for me the MMO concept and quest-line is always a long, drawn out one.
Something is still pushing me to go out and buy this game, maybe it’s my hope of ‘something will turn up’, and maybe I will at some point, but we are all saving up for the amazing PS4 due in November, so priorities here are key 😉
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