Back in 2010, Square-Enix (SE) launched its much hyped MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV). Fans of the series, as well as SE’s last MMORPG offering eagerly awaited to explore this game’s depths. Much to their dismay, however, the game was nearly devoid of any content, had a server-side heavy UI that required sub-menus within sub-menus to do the most basic of tasks, and in general just wasn’t fun.
FFXIV’s poor reception spread over the internet like wildfire, resulting in drastic actions taken. The main staff was changed, including the main director, and a relaunch named “A Realm Reborn” was quickly planned. In August 27, 2013, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (FFXIV:ARR) was launched to the masses, and it’s now time once again to adventure into Eorzea.
While I had played FFXIV through its harsh first two years, I wanted to experience the relaunch through fresh eyes, so I made new character. Valkairi Soryu was born on Ragnarok, the legacy server most of my friends and Linkshell (LS) mates decided to migrate to. This will be the first in a series of posts regarding this reborn MMORPG, and my adventures within.
Upon creating a character, the game decides where you start based on the chosen class. This also determines your main story line, as you will be moving through that city’s events. The purpose for the game choosing your start location is so your chosen class also has access to its guild right away. In the original game, players could choose where they started, but if they chose the wrong city, a nigh impossible trek across five maps to the next city was needed to access a class’s guild to advance further at times.
At the start, the game gave me immediate direction through a series of quests. The first few introduced me to the various UI features and how to get around the game, including a very handy new Aetheryte travel system within cities that allows me to move from crystal to crystal after attuning to them. Players of the original game will remember this same system, except that game only allowed travel to large crystals that were in the open world, and one in each city for the cost of QT points. Small crystals have been added through each city in FFXIV:AAR, and travel is free through their network. The same large crystals still exist, but QT point travel to them has been replaced with gil fees.
Once I got my bearings, it was time to venture forth. Of all the regions of Eorzea, Gridania, and its surrounding forest was criticized the most, and thus has the most drastic changes. Gone are the thin maze like halls, replaced by wide open terrain. Travel through the open world is also much easier, thanks to the ability to jump over obstacles and a sprint feature. Journeys around a cliff or rock formation that would have taken five minutes in FFXIV can be done in one minute in FFXIV:AAR thanks to well placed jumps. Just don’t be too daring, as the game does kill you for jumping from great heights.
While the game has many new systems in place to help its players along, the core combat is what I was most interested in. After all, if a game isn’t fun, it won’t have legs to carry it for years. FFXIV suffered through many different combat systems, some better than others. FFXIV:AAR settles on a traditional timer system, combined with its altered TP system. Actions cost TP, which refills through auto-attacking, or use of skills. Most of these actions run on a universal 3 second timer, while others have longer timers of their own. This results in a much faster paced combat system than the original’s stamina system, but also one that is less unique from other MMORPGs.
To make things more interesting, moves have added effects, combos, and bonuses for attacking from certain positions. Most of these won’t come into play when playing alone, but when taking on tougher challenges in a party, it will greatly increase damage output. These systems were all introduced in the final phase of FFXIV’s existence. At the time, they were too complicated for their own good, making the combos impractical to do in most situations.This new system is more basic, and lenient, allowing for combos to be easier to pull off effectively.
Through my first few hours, FFXIVARR was already a lot of fun. Combat was faster, and there were no long waits to refill stamina. Health regened outside of combat quickly, and even slowly within combat. Along with a lot of open world content available to players of all levels, and a robust quest system to guide players along, FFXIVARR looks to be a successful relaunch of a promising game.