Final Fantasy XIV Online Review
Final Fantasy XIV is an MMO made by Square Enix and takes place in the Final Fantasy universe. It launched on September 30th 2010 and was a commercial failure with many bugs and poor servers. But in 2013 they released Version 2.0 of the game that was directed by Naoki Yoshida who is now credited with saving it. After his fixes and new content that was added to the game had incredibly strong sales and consistent subscribers, eventually reaching 20 million registered players in 2020.
I have always had issues with my enjoyment of final fantasy games mainly to the weird blend of real time strategy and turn based that made the games feel stiff. So when I was approaching Final Fantasy XIV I was Apprehensive towards it. I was frankly expecting another interesting universe with unpleasant controls that would move me away from the games. They aren’t bad games but the gameplay never meshed well with me.
Starting Final Fantasy XIV
When you start up the game you begin with character creation. And assuming you don’t have the Shadowbringers expansion, you have 6 races to choose from. The Hyur, a race that serve as humans in this universe. They are pretty balanced and overall pretty solid. The Elezen which are basically elves, tall and slender, with an aptitude as archers. The Roegadyn, a race of tall and sturdy beings, closest thing in this universe to giants. The miniature Lalafell, a people as tiny as they are prosperous with a lot of them as traders. And the animalistic Miqo’te, if you’re a weeb then these cat eared people will spark your interest. And lastly the Au Ra, a race of part dragon people. They are pretty easy to spot with their scales occasionally visible, and their dragon tails.
Choosing a race can help you do your class’ job better, but it will not drastically change how effective you are. Each race has starting stats in Final Fantasy XIV. This makes a level 1 Elezen a better archer than a level 1 Roegadyn. But like they say, experience is better than talent. As you go higher in levels that difference almost completely disappears. So play whichever race in whichever class, have fun with it.
The classes in Final Fantasy XIV are as fun as they are varied. And you have the ability to swap between them on the fly. Because of this you can experiment with each of them to find out which one fits for you. The way to swap classes is to swap weapons. But be warned, each class is leveled up individually. If you are a level 30 Arcanist, you will be a level 1 Marauder when you grab that class. So you have to level up each class and have gear appropriate to the class and level. I personally always carry my level 1 starting gear from the start of the game for any new classes I decide to pick up.
Classes are divided into two groups, Disciples of War and Disciples of Magic. Disciples of war are your front line units and physical damage, these are heavy and medium armor units but can use any type of armor they get. Disciples of Magic obviously are magic based. They tend to be supporting units and magic damage and of course only use light armor. So in combat keep them alive and they will keep you alive.
The Disciples of War
There are 5 starting classes in the disciples of war which dwarfs the disciples of magic 3 starting classes. They are unique and each serve a role in combat. Once you level up you can specialize into more specific things called Jobs. Things like Paladins, Bards, and Summoners are jobs, advanced version of base classes with more complexity. But that is something to experience yourself in Final Fantasy XIV, for now let’s focus on basics.
The gladiator is your standard fighter, wielding a one handed sword and sometimes a shield. This makes them a quick tank/damage hybrid allowing them to deal damage and when mages are in harms way, pull attention to the gladiator instead. The Marauders are slow, heavy, and tanky battleaxe wielding berserkers. They use brute force to break enemies down and can pull enemies attention to them. And lastly for our tankier fighters is the Lancer. The Lancer is a mobile tank, able to leap around the battlefield acrobatically when leveled up. Like the Gladiator it is a damage/tank hybrid but the Lancer leans a little more into damage than tank compared to the gladiator.
Our lighter disciples of war start with the Pugilist. The Pugilist is a fast unarmed combatant who can navigate the battlefield with ease, and is centered on combos to build damage. Functioning like the first assassin type character, you move around eliminating the weaker units like archers and Disciples of Magic. The only ranged disciple of was starting class is next, the archer. The archer is like the Pugilist and unlike the other Disciples of War, you are fairly squishy. Except where the Pugilist is about moving in to eliminate, you keep your distance, pelting enemies with arrows.
What is good in FFXIV?
One of my particular favorite things was the map design, compared to other big MMO’s like World of Warcraft. Creating a large world but never letting it feel empty and using space well. Not to mention how unique and interesting some of the landscapes are. When exploring the world, no matter which starting city I was in, it was fun to experience.
Another enjoyable aspect was the combat. After playing other MMO’s for so long it became pretty routine to hop into the game and engage in lackluster combat and I was used to it. But with Final Fantasy XIV, that issue didn’t really exist. So many cool and interesting abilities, moving felt rewarding and fast characters could dodge attacks. It felt like a fight, not just watching numbers tick down. Compared that to world of warcraft where there was this disconnect between an attack and the damage, like my character swings but my blade obviously isn’t even close to them but they take the full force of the hit. In Final Fantasy I didn’t have that hollow feeling about the combat, I felt like the damage was from my attack, not because my time to swing just passed.
One of my pet peeves for a game is paying a monthly fee, I’m not a fan of subscriptions. I find it hard to justify a game having a subscription, especially when I spent the same amount for one month of play as I spent for 5 years of play on one game. The only way I could rationalize this is if there are constant, free updates for the game. But as of right now I don’t know if the expansions for Final Fantasy XIV become free after a while like other subscription based MMO’s.
Another gripe I have, while small, is how the game gives you directions sometimes. Especially in cities, it can be a little difficult to decipher where the marker really is pointing on the map. If a mission is in the next area, it will display a marker next to the name of the area. The issue is these names can be quite long and take up a hefty part of the map at times. But this means the marker is displayed further away from where you need to go, sometimes sending me the opposite direction. Luckily if you zoom in, the names scales down. So you can tell more precisely where you need to go but the issue still gets me occasionally.
I also felt the quests you could take part in were pretty limited and not very diverse. Most of the time you go somewhere, kill somethings, and leave. I’d like if they added some variety in regular quests and the public events as well. Luckily the game’s combat makes this repetitiveness not bother me as much but I still think the game would benefit from quest diversity.
My Conclusion Final Fantasy XIV
After playing World of Warcraft for 3 months I fell into the hole of MMO’s, so naturally I found Final Fantasy XIV. With it’s checkered past and fervent fans, I was naturally interested to see how it was since the recreation. I also came into the game expecting to not enjoy it due to my past with final fantasy games and how the combat never meshed with me.
But what I found in Final Fantasy XIV was a beautifully well designed world with exciting and fun combat. I found an amazing universe that I could get into. And even found a nice and engaging community who helped me get a grasp of the game and guided me through the start.
There are issues with Final Fantasy XIV, every game has issues. For this game it needs some quest diversity, some better directions. I also don’t like subscriptions but that is a personal issue. But what this game gets right, it really gets right. The fluid and entertaining combat, the diversity of the classes, the amazing world design, and the fantastic lore. There is a lot this MMO can offer and I can firmly say that it is one of the strongest MMO’s I have played to date.
If you want the game for yourself
Final Fantasy XIV’s starter edition includes the 2 expansions “A Realm Reborn” and “Heavensward” and comes with 30 days of game time for all new players. It’s being sold for $19.99 on Steam and I think it is very worth grabbing to try.