Final Fantasy Month: Final Fantasy XIV – A Realm Reborn
A plot? To an MMO? Surely you jest! No. Actually, FFXIV has a quite extensive plot tied to its ‘Main Scenario’ storyline that carries you from the first level all the way to the level cap and beyond. It often sees new chapters added with content patches every few months and in my opinion is one of the best aspects of this game that no other MMO can come close to in quality.
The story continues in the first expansion: Heavensward. Dealing with the tragic fallout of the events of the end of A Realm Reborn’s story, the Warrior of Light and his companions seek refuge in the northern lands of Ishgard. There they find themselves embroiled in the political schemings of noble houses and Ishgard’s theocratic government as they deal with the renewed onslaught of the dravarian (dragon) horde. The Warrior of Light takes it upon themselves to seek out the leaders of the dragons and see if a truce can be established as it was in years long past. Through the adventure, the Warrior of Light must face off with the Garlean Empire once more now bolstered by their new emperor and expose an ancient conspiracy that will shake the faith and people of Ishgard to its core.
I love Final Fantasy XIV. Rarely have I ever found such a rich story experience in an MMO. You grow to learn the NPCs and get to the point of caring about them and feel sad when tragic events happen to them. I can’t say that I’ve had that experience in SWTOR, and only occasionally in WoW. The world of Eorzea draws you in and feels alive as you explore it and become familiar with its history and people.
It’s a shame that the actual gameplay can feel like such a slog at times.
Not to say that it’s outright bad or even lousy. But it is slow, which is something that will come as a bit of a jarring change if you come from other MMOs. The global cooldowns are longer, the auto attack is slower, and the overall leveling experience is reminiscent of vanilla WoW in its pace. None of these things are inherently bad – but they can be draining after a while or even shocking to new players. On the other hand, these changes seem to produce a very different community than one would find in say WoW. The mellow pace almost seems infectious. I never see people screaming for faster and bigger pulls or growing impatient with newbie tanks or healers. I mean, there will always be assholes, but overall it seems that FFXIV has a little bit more… relaxed view on things.
The real thing that brought down the game for me was actually not any of those things, but doing them multiple times. See, unlike other games, you aren’t locked into a single ‘class’ or even limited in your professions in XIV. Instead, it uses a modified version of the Job System where each class and profession is a different Job that you can switch to and level independently. Which is awesome. Until it occurs to you that if you were a completionist that means leveling 15 or so jobs, and only the first one gets the bonus of having the Main Scenario quests. This is made up for with various repeatable mini-quests called Levequests that you can grind on over and over. But there’s usually only 3-4 per 5 levels and they can get repetitive easily. The other drawback to the Job System is equipment. Some jobs can only use certains weapons, or armor types and also prioritize different stats. So you end up needing a lot of equipment and crafting materials should you choose to pursue everything – and you have very VERY limited space to store things. It’s a constant juggling act of compromises to decide what to keep or drop if you want to keep stuff around for your other jobs.
Beyond that – at least to me – it’s a great MMO to play. There’s a ton of stuff to do and more constantly coming down the pipeline. If you ever need a break from your current MMO or want to try one out and really like story, I’d recommend this one. And if you ever wanna say ‘Hi’ you can find me on Faerie in the US servers. Just look up ‘Vrykerion’.
May the light of the Crystals guide your way!
Do you have any great memories from these classic Final Fantasy games? Feel free to share in the comments!