So I thought that I would keep everyone who did not get a beta key in on the loop.
First I will start out by saying that the over all fundamentals and game play design i'm thoroughly happy with. I also happen to be in gaming QA for a living, so I have an idea of timelines and how this alpha/beta stuff works. I have been not only testing non-stop, but also having a window open to the forums reading up on everyone's gripes about the game and then testing to see how valid their points are. Below I will post both my own opinions and the opinions of current beta testers on issues that are currently in phase 3.
- CPU and GFX card optimization. The game is going to be launched on PC only first. While I agree the PC should not have that much (if any) advantage over the PS3 users in terms of usability and playability, PC users not being able to use their full PC's power is unacceptable. This has nothing to do with how the UI works, or how the character controls are managed, this simply means that if my CPU has 8 cores, I expect to be able to use all 8 when running this game (which it currently does not support), Likewise I have heard that SLI gfx cards are also not supported yet.
- No hardware mouse. I've played WoW since release, and I have played FFXI since release (still have active accounts on both). Currently I beta test FFXIV with a game pad so technically this doesn't effect me at all, and personally I can live with or without mouse support in general. However, looking at the bigger picture and wanting this game to grow to epic proportions, the implementation of hardware mouse needs to happen. Currently mouse control is near unplayable, especially if you come from a game like WoW.
- UI needs to be held client side. Currently I am told that the UI is all held server side. What's this mean? It means every time you want to interact with your UI it has to feed to the server and then back to you. Now I wasn't a strong believer in this as being a major flaw, in fact I thought it was nice to have that stuff server side to avoid 3rd party garbage. However, after experiencing it first hand, the UI lag is nearly unbearable. It can take 1-3 seconds for your UI to update, and sometimes longer during specific actions.
- Casters and healers need more love. Currently casters and healers in general will level slower. This is more true when it comes to grouping up with others. The reason for this is that skill ups for your class occur (or can occur) every time you attack the enemy. This leaves pure healers and casters who get less attacks in in general to get far less EXP per mob. A possible fix for this that has been roaming around the forums is to just accumulate all the EXP earned in a single fight from every one, then distribute it equally once the mob dies. For example, Pugilist A gets 1,000 EXP worth of hits in, Pugilist B gets 1,500 EXP worth of hits in, and Thaumaturge A gets 500 EXP worth of hits in. Once that fight is over all 3 characters would split the total of 2,000 EXP evenly umongts themselves. If a player is not holding their own weight, kick them from the group.
- Party selection and Mob selection needs improvement. It's not unplayable by any means, but when you get more than 2 people in a party it is really hard at times to assist others on a specific mob or to select a specific teammate to heal. To my knowledge there is no f1-f6 or what ever to select a specific party member. Also there is no macro out yet to /ma "Cure" <stpc> or anything similar to that. (That macro would allow you to cast a Cure spell and then select only amongst your party members.)
- AoE spells need to be more friendly. Currently AoE buffs are insanely small on the AoE side of things. If a Conjurer casts Stoneskin on themselves it really only reaches people about 5 feet away from them. Also the duration of the spells are not nearly long enough considering how difficult it is right now to manage MP. (there is no means to refresh MP aside from aetherite and some very small TP moves). The buffs need to last I would say at least 10 minutes.
- Mana regen needs to be tweaked. I love that square has removed the resting aspect of the game nearly entirely. The way they seem to want MP regen to occur is to have the players build some TP and use TP moves (that cost no mp). An example of one of these moves is Damnation for the Thaumaturge. You build 1,000 tp (roughly 3 normal attacks) then cast it for a pretty solid 200~ damage. The only issue is that it only gives you back a very very small portion of the damage as mana. Currently with 200-250 damage Damnations, my Thaumaturge was gaining back 10-12 MP. With an MP pool of 250~ this would cause me to have to spam normal attacks and Damnation after every 3-4 spells. TLDR the abilities need to either regen more MP so we don't have to waste our time using the abilities for most of the fight, or give some form of MP regen.
- Clarify how class changes will work. Currently you can change classes at any time, just swap your weapon(s). However, you cannot change your stats when ever you want. In fact thus far you cannot change all of your stats ever to my knowledge. The most you can change seems to be 15-20% of your stats every 2~ hours. This means if you want to level say Gladiator and Thaumaturge side by side, you will have to gimp one of them on stats. Now I'm not sure if this is just for Beta or what, but there needs to be away to change all of your stats at some point so you can swap jobs and not be gimped completely on stats. For those who need an example of why this is a problem: You level Gladiator to level cap, and you have been dumping attribute points into Strength, Dex, Vit and Piety. Now you decide you want to level Thaumaturge to get some spells to use on your Gladiator. You're SOL because you can only move over 20% of your total attributed points to the stats that matter for Thaumaturge. Hello, i'm a Tank speced Thaumaturge..... Problem.
Now I know I know it may seem like a lot right now, but knowing SE's past record they like to make their Beta's very Alpha'ish. The amount of change we have seen from Alpha, to beta phase 1, 2, and 3 has been enormous. Normally I would agree with people who say "Beta is just a clean up phase, and not much will change", however this is not the case, SE seems very adamant about giving the players what they want, and this Beta is a time to find all that information out and implement it. No idea how they do it, but they seem to be doing it. Have faith, and understand this is not a DEMO, it's a BETA. We are supposed to see the ugly stuff, and report it.
As things are fixed or new things arise I will try and put them here. If you have any questions then ask away.