I'm a big fan of MMORPGs, I like the idea behind them, the sense of immersion, the interactivity with other players and so on. The only MMORPG that sucked me in deep was Final Fantasy XI and I played that game exclusively for about four years before leaving it completely. Although, it's wasn't a health choice, it was fun for awhile. With the release of FFXIV coming really soon I just wanted to share a few thoughts and opinions about how the game looks so far and how FFXIV more or less, sets itself apart from other games. Note: I'm not a beta tester. These are just my thoughts after looking at videos from the beta, Square-Enix's official news and such.
Read the wrap up at the bottom if you don't have time to read this stupidly big post. Sorry it's a massive wall of text. I just had to get my opinions out lol.
So far I think that the overall graphics on this game are probably the best MMORPG graphics the majority of us have ever seen. Not to mention the cinematics are top notch with nice voice-acting. Not only are the voices nice but the music, as with all games in the series is fantastic thanks to Mr. Nobuo Uematsu for that! There are a few beta videos showing that first cut scene with "Sea monster" thing. It looks really nice. The animations seem to flow really well also. The overall look of FFXIV and massive production values are probably the number one thing that sets this game apart from others in the genre. That's good news and the bad news.
It's difficult not to compare FFXIV to its predecessor, FFXI when you talk about combat. During combat in FFXI you sat there, engaged an enemy, and occasionally pressed a few buttons to fire off spells, or weapon skills. I would say about 10 of the 20 jobs in FFXI were really active, the others were kind of meh. Playing as a melee character, was particularly boring as usually you only had to press a few buttons the entire fight. The battle system was pretty advanced however, there were skillchains that linked multiple skills together for more damage, and then the magic users can add a spell on top of a skillchain to create a Magic burst. FFXI also used a pretty nice positioning system where some abilities were affected by the player's position relative to the party or the enemy. From what I understand, all of these things will be in FFXIV. Skillchains and Magic bursts seem pretty fun right? In reality no one really used them often enough, instead players spammed their skills as quickly as possible kind of drying out the strategy element of combat. Now I hope in FFXIV things will be different and creating these chains are actually a little more rewarding. Until we play the game ourselves we don't know how these features will work out with the community. But moving from chains, and positioning, let's talk about that time bar! Or "gauge." From what I've seen so far the beta combat system is way faster than the alpha however it still seems awfully slow and boring. Most likely when a character reaches higher levels, combat may open up a bit more with access to more skills, fighting enemies just has to be more exciting but even then, the combat just seems too stale right now I don't know if it will be any different by the time we reach "endgame." I read somewhere that the goal of every Final Fantasy game is to be the Best Final Fantasy game of the series. With that being said, this is Final Fantasy 14! How come the combat system in this game isn't as quick and flashy and exciting as Final Fantasy 13? I guess the beta videos just don't do the game justice, but we'll see when the retail is out. The combat system is pretty technical and advanced I think, but I don't know about you but there is just no "wow, that's exciting" factor. It looks just like you engage a target and then do damage.
Guildleves are probably one of the most talked about features of FFXIV. Numerous times, developers stated that this system really sets the game apart from other MMOs. It's nice that players can scale them to a higher or lower difficulty and even finish these quests in short periods of time. But seriously? From what I can tell, Guildleves are just a questing system seen in practically all MMOs.
Personally I don't know much about how leveling up goes. But from what I can tell it looks like players are going to have to grind themselves towards the level cap. Which pretty much sucks. Endless hours of goblin genocide gets old. I really hope there are other forms of EXP gain other than combat when it comes to a non-crafting class. I like the idea of setting your own stats as you level up but again, we've seen that before in other games.
Crafting and other Activities
One particular aspect of FFXIV is that crafters are not just an activity a player can participate in but an actual Class with its own abilities and traits and skill sets. This is awesome. I haven't seen any other MMORPGs that have done this, maybe there are some out there but I haven't heard of them. This to me, adds another dimension to the MMORPG genre. Usually when you play a fantasy MMORPG, the classes you get to choose are based on combat ability, what a player can do during a fight. Whether it be healing, tanking or damage or what have you, that's usually how MMORPGs have worked. And now we have another side of the spectrum, no longer do players have to choose some form of fighter or magic user, players can just sit in the city selling armor for the fighters as a Blacksmith!
Aside from fighting crap and crafting what else is there to do??? I think SE needs to lighten up a bit and add more minigames or something outside of the norm to this game. I recall FF7 had a ton of minigames. Chocobo racing, snowboarding, odd stuff like that really makes a game exceed all expectations and adds just so much. Yes there will most likely be the ability to ride chocobos in FFXIV, they also said chocobos will be used in a new way never seen before so let's hope that's fun. Personally I think a game has to have a variety of content. Not just the usual fighting and crafting but something extra.
My opinions are based on the numerous beta videos out there and interviews and official news from Square Enix. I know beta testers are generally low level and are not able to progress very far into the game but to me a video game, whether it be MMO or not should be fun and exciting from the start. The official release is a month away and I just don't think the developers can do anything to change the core mechanics before Sept. 30. FFXIV looks to be a visually stunning game. Amazing sound, presentation, most likely an epic story as well. Although there are some advanced systems in place, combat just seems dull and outdated. But if you're not into fighting crap all the time, there is the ability to switch to a crafting class which I think is a real nice change to most games of the genre. But besides crafting and fighting, there doesn't seem like there is much to do. I want the game to succeed but right now, honestly it does not look fun to me. From what I can tell so far, Final Fantasy XIV has nothing new that sets it apart and the majority of this game looks like Final Fantasy XI in HD. Nice graphics only go so far.
What are your thoughts on the game so far? Why are you excited for it? Or not excited for it?