This Labour Day I got to spend the entire day on the FFXIV Beta.
First, some back-story. I played FF11 for a good LONG time… long enough for me not to remember how long. I stopped playing 11 about 2 years ago. A major project was underway at work, one that I had been preparing for over the course of 2 or more years, and the time demands of said project were extreme. I was working 7 days a week, some nights I’d go home long enough to sleep and shower before coming back into work. This project went on at this rate for the better part of 4 months. In those months I stopped playing FF11 all together and by the time I started to have weekends again I couldn’t handle the extra feelings of stress and responsibilities I had to various LS and group activities. I got through my cold turkey and the DT’s of not playing 11 and by the time I could play again, I just didn’t want to. The nail in the coffin came when I finally decided to cancel my account. I had previously left the account running just in case. However, when I attempted to access my account I couldn’t. I had been hacked. I called support and got the account back. All my characters has been stripped, world shifted, and renamed. The vandalism was too great and I just didn’t have it in me to try and have it fixed. I closed the account.
Since quitting FF11, I’ve played a lot of games trying to keep myself busy but the lure of a new MMO was always there. I tried WoW simply because I have a lot of friends who played it and I wanted that sense of community again. Sadly WoW didn’t have what I wanted. The cartoon look always bothered me and I never felt that sense of togetherness that FF11 force-fed you through having to party to do… everything. Who would have thought that I’d miss forced grouping SO MUCH. I played WoW long enough to level a Prot-Pal to 80, join a raiding guild, and go so far as to do a couple NAX25 runs. I quit WoW soon after. All I could see in my WoW future was the same raid after raid like my last few days of 11.
It’s been about a year or so that I’ve been MMO-less. I’ve been checking in on FF14 as often as possible. I applied to the Alpha and had no luck (I blame checking YES under the question “Do you work for the media”… damnit). I was however lucky enough to catch the second round of the Beta.
So what do I think of FF14? Well first off it looks AMAZING. The races are all too familiar to FF11 but everything has a brand new look. I remember back when Square-Enix released “The Last Remnant” saying to myself “God ****… I hope 14 looks as good as this”. FF14 did not disappoint when it came to looks. The world is beautiful even when I have as many of the settings turned down so I can improve performance on my slightly less than adequate PC.
Game play is interesting. You can grind like in any MMO, I soloed to level 10 in the course of a day even in a highly populated starting area. There are also guild leves (quests) that you can take with customizable difficulty for solo or group play of various sizes. The quests are vary similar to most WoW quests; go here, kill 6 of these, get XP, gil, and sometimes a nifty piece of gear. Now if you are like me, a huge fan of the cutscene, be rest assured that all your quests are not just a page of text. All the story-arch quests are animated and voiced! So if you’re doing guild leves and missing the classic SE cuts, don’t worry, they’re still out there with likely more to come as the months pass.
Combat has a very WoW feel. Unlike FF11, where you select attack from the menu and your character proceeds to swing away on their own as you watch and occasionally trigger a special attack or spell, 14 requires you to trigger every attack. As a direct comparison to 11… while I feel like I’m more involved in combat in 14, I kind of miss the laid back attack –> get sandwich –> weaponskill –> fold laundry simplicity of FF11 (okay it wasn’t that bad). I foresee a future of the WoW classic 3,6,9 rotations and the MANY debates over which combination of attacks produce the highest DPS. So far I haven’t had the chance to try out group play in 14 but I’m hoping that once September 22 rolls around, I will.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned from FF14 so far. Conjurer isn’t a whitemage; it is a blackmage with Cure. DO NOT start crafting until you’ve killed a PILE of stuff and collected a lot of crystals shards. I absolutely do NOT recommend starting as a crafting job since it is next to impossible to get what you need to level. Gathering jobs are actually quite fun and really worth doing especially if you like to explore, you’ll be doing a lot of walking to find all the resource points you need but you’ll be rewarded with stuff to sell AND XP for every successful find. Limsa Lominsa (one of the starting cities) is a bigger, ugly Bastok that is way too hard to navigate. I also recommend that while each city at least has a satellite office for each craft, they do NOT have these guild outposts for the melee or magic jobs. You may want to pick the region that has the main office for your profession of choice.
Where does FF14 need to improve? First thing that needs to be fixed is an issue with guild leves. If you accept a quest and disconnect, it is an automatic failure. Second is the rate at which you can do leves. From what I’ve read, it can take up to 2 real days to be able to re-attempt a failed quest.
A new feature introduced in 14 that wasn’t in 11, equipment wear, really needs to have a second look. Equipment wears out way too fast and it’s a pain to get it fixed. Also, certain gear, like your underwear (no I’m totally serious), cannot be removed so you can fix it. Only an NPC can repair your undergarments and only up to 50%. Either SE needs to let me go commando or remove gear wear from irremovable equipment.
Finally, and this may just be me, but 90% of my time playing was with a yellow connection status. I’ve never has issue with my ISP connection speeds playing FF11 over my LAN network (wired is the only way to game) nor have I had issues playing any other game via Steam or Battle.net. I’m hoping that when the game goes live, server performance will improve and less lead to less quest failing disconnects…
All in all, I’m really enjoying FF14. There is lots of room for both solo and group play with the rewards to match. I just hope that the sense of community I had playing FF11 returns in FF14.