This will be the first of many entries about my adventure in Eorzia, the world of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Trying to cram everything into a single post not only would be a novel to read, it would be a disservice to the game itself as I have barely scratched the surface of all the content. I do wholeheartedly recommend the game, especially if you enjoy MMOs or Final Fantasy games. What follows are the major points of which I think allow this game to stand out on its own.
When FFXIV first came out, it was a disaster. While I did not participate in the original launch, it was not difficult to find articles panning the game. Square Enix then did something that no one expected; they apologized, took the game offline, and went back to the drawing board to address all the issues the players had with the initial release. The results of their labor have now come to fruition, and thus far this game has blown me away on how a tried and true MMO experience can still feel fresh, especially amongst the sea of free-to-play options out there.
Despite having invested over 100 hours in FFXIV: ARR across the PS3 and PC, I have not even hit the half way point with my starting class. Now, that isn’t a detriment as to how slow the levelling is. Far from it. I could have easily hit the level 50 cap in that time had I actually stuck to levelling my initial class. Instead, I spent a good majority of those hours levelling my other classes alongside my main one, since I was already in the areas where it would make sense to do so.
This has got to be my favorite portion of the game by a long shot. This is one of the few games that truly lets you do everything with one class. Start as an Archer and want to switch to an Arcanist? Go right ahead. Want to be a self-sustaining crafter by gathering and making everything you need? If you got the time, by all means go for it. No longer is a character bound to the class chosen at the beginning. A simple weapon switch will change to the class associated with the weapon. Each class’s levelling is independent from the others, but a boost in XP is given when the level disparity between the starter class and any other class is big enough, so it does help for those who want to grind through the other classes quicker.
With this setup, there practically is no need for making another character on a single server, except to have a different looking character. SquareEnix actively discourages alts in a couple of ways. Characters on the same account aren’t allowed to mail items to each other, nor do they have a shared storage. Also, a small discount in the monthly sub is granted for players who only create 1 character per server, up to 8 different servers.
Alongside this all encompassing class system is the inclusion that each craft and gathering is an actual class with abilities to assist in the respective fields. In most MMOs, the gathering and crafting aspect is pretty rudimentary. There’s no depth beyond gathering the needed material and then combining them together to create an item. FFXIV:ARR sets itself apart with the addition of High Quality materials and items. Every material that is used and the resulting craft can be of High Quality. For the material, using HQ items allow for either synthesizing when creating the product; for the product, an HQ version means an increased in stats.
This is where the class abilities given to gathering and crafting comes into play. For gathering, certain abilities will increase the chance of acquiring rarer materials while other abilities will increase the odds of gathering HQ materials. While this still seems basic, this is a nice step above other games as there is a feeling of more control over gathering better materials for use.
Crafting, on the other hand, contains a well constructed mini-game revolved around creating every single item. In the early stages, the mechanics heavily focus on just completing items. Once the class has reached level 5, the system opens up nicely with the ability to create HQ items. Each recipe has three numbers: durability, progress, and quality. The goal is to complete the progress and increase quality before the durability runs out. Each ability will help in one of the three areas. It’s up to the user to utilize each ability wisely as there’s a limited number of craft points to use per synthesis. More intricacies continue to unlock as level increases, adding layers of skill to the crafting. This was the first time in an MMO where I spent as much time crafting and gathering as I did completing the story missions, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Both of these items results in making FFXIV:ARR feel unique despite a good portion of the game building off of the cornerstones of the past decade of MMOs. In my next post, I will dive into the questing itself, providing insight on the early levels of this game.