sorry for the double post. I had to break up the text to make it fit into the blog feature on the lodestone.
I'm free! I'm no longer going to play a flawed incomplete game! So long, さようなら, adios! While I cannot remotely say that I've experienced all that FF14 has to offer I can definitively say that what I have experienced isn't worth paying a subscription fee for. Here is my take on the game.
The good (yes there is good):
The game is stunningly beautiful. The landscapes and cities are just gorgeous. A lot of thought was put into creating distinct separate areas with beautifully crafted themes for each area. The Black Shroud has the whole mystic forest bit down pat. Thanalan has a great scorched and parched look. La Noscea is chock full of beautiful meadows and fields. The cities are just amazing. It should come as no surprise why this game taxes high end systems.
The character graphics are similarly beautiful and it's easy to make a unique character and make almost any character you want. Okay while it's not possible to copy or create anything you want there are a wide range of options available to customize how your character looks. With a little time and effort (well honestly a lot of time and effort) it should be easy to make a unique character that you will enjoy playing.
The music is fantastic. I usually find RPG music to be boring and repetitive. FF14 music hasn't gotten on my nerves yet and the music also helps set the tone for each area. However is you are familiar with FF11 then this should come as no surprise.
Crafting and Gathering are much more engaging than any other MMORPG I've tried so far. Generally crafting is so simple in most games that it’s pretty easy to see how people can write bot programs to do crafting for them. It's just click and pray that it works. Maybe there is a short animation to watch (a la FF11) but ultimately the crafter is passive. The same holds true for gathering. You just find the right spot and click on the point. Maybe you watch a short labor oriented animation (again a la FF11) but that's it. With FF14 you have to be paying attention the whole time from start to finish. The Quality system for crafting also helps players to understand why they might or might not get a HQ synth (though I swear the system is bugged still). It also allows players to risk trying to get a HQ synth or just play it safe and focus on finishing the synth.
Retainers are a good thing. Instead of having mule characters, now I can stay on my main character and just hand stuff off to an NPC who can also sell stuff or even buy limited stuff (assuming that you already have at least one of what you want to buy).
Teleporting is nice. Instead of having to level up jobs just to get movement spells, everyone can teleport to certain locations they have visited before. As long as you are willing to spend the anima then movement is quick and simple.
Class changes are very easy and it's nice to be able to do them in the field. As long as you are willing to take up bag space you can change to any class you have the main item for as long as you are in passive move. You no longer need to run to town or specific locations to change jobs. If after you finish fighting a monster and you see a promising gathering location, no problem. Equip that tool and go to work. Equipment worn out in the field? As long as you have the right crafting tool and repair material, no problem. Change right there, repair the equipment, and get back to kicking ****.
Being able to see each piece of equipment is fun. If you really want to have a unique character look, you can mix and match equipment until you find the look you like. I've admittedly never cared about this kind of thing before, it's kind of neat being able to see the rings, earrings, and necklaces my character has equipped.
The same then holds true for actions then I guess. It's pretty easy to customize your characters actions since you can equip any action that you have learned from any job assuming that you have enough points available.
Anyone else glad to see their secondary stats? I like being able to see my accuracy and evasion as well as the attack value for my off hand weapon. I also like being able to see my magical accuracy, attack, and defense. If you ever played FF11, you know that not being able to see those was very annoying.
It’s quite easy to solo so if you don’t have the time for party play or don’t want to join a party then there is not problem really for you to go up in ranks and physical levels (at least as far as I have been able to determine so far).
I like having shards and crystals on a second page not taking up inventory space.
I also like that many of the materials for crafting stack to 99 instead of 12.
The Journal feature is also nice. It makes it easier to keep track of what guildleves you have opened and for the main scenario, what step you are on currently of the long main scenario quests.
Not having to buy maps is nice. I find this curious how you automatically know where everything in the world is, but it makes travel easier.
The bad (and boy is there a lot):
NOTHING is explained to you. How to move, how to communicate, how fight (well that is briefly covered in the incredibly lame tutorial), how to get guildleves, how to change classes, how to equip items, how to equip actions, how to craft, how to gather, how to teleport, how to repair items, how to distribute points when you level up, how you acquire actions as your class rank goes up, how to get a retainer, how to buy things from NPCs, how to sell things to NPCs, how to use the bazaar fuction, how to teleport, how to make macros, what guilds are in what city, what your guardian deity means, what faction points mean, how you can get faction points, how you can use faction points, why you should even care about faction points in the first place, how to get guild tokens, when you can start getting guild tokens, what godsends are, why you want to equip them, what traits are, how to get traits, what stats are, what stats mean in terms of game mechanics, what elemental affinities are, how elemental affinities affect the game, why you should care about elemental affinities, how to equip actions from classes other than the one you have active currently, how to use the inventory page, how to use your journal, how to form a party, how to form a Linkshell, how to use the friend/blacklist, how to use retainers, how to open and close the map screen, how and when to use NPC linkshells, what the difference between teleport and return is, nothing is said about the “fatigue” system, nothing is displayed for the fatigue system, how to use items, how to eat food, what effects food has on characters. Quite simply this is THE worst officially documented game I have every played. The manual is completely worthless. If I had not been buying every Japanese magazine I could get my hands on with articles about 14 and even the official starting guide book, I would have been completely lost and bewildered for the first week or so and as it was I’m still working out quite a lot. I know that SqEx likes for the players to figure out aspects of the games for themselves, and I respect that. We don’t need to be told every single aspect and mechanic of the game from the start. Players do need to be informed of how to do basic and important aspects of the game so they are not fighting with the game mechanics. This is a new MMORPG, new games do things differently, so quite a lot needs to be explained to the new players. I know that many of the things I listed can be figured out by any reasonably intelligent person with half a brain, but when you are in an entirely new environment and you have no idea what is going on it is difficult learn anything. And for those who point out that there are multiple fan sites with guide available, starting players should be given everything they need to explore within the world with the starting tutorial. Having to switch back from game to wiki repeatedly is a pain and distracts from my immersion into the game world. SqEx has FINALLY started explaining some things on the official page, but it means that before I even start playing I need to go to the web page and read though the press releases and developers notes. These things should be explained at least in brief from the start so players can make intelligent choices.
Buying and Selling things from other players is absolutely atrocious. Every single player and retainer must be checked manually. There is no Auction House like in FF11, there is no bazaar search function like in Everquest. You have no idea who has what you want, if in fact anyone has what you want, you have no idea what a fair price is for anything. And there are thousands of players to check and each player has at least one retainer. It would be like going to a flea market the size of Tokyo and trying to find what you want. SqEx recently implemented specific market wards for certain classes of items. It helped a little. How much help? It was like putting a band-aid on cancer. Most players don’t bother parking their characters in the market wards because they know very few people go there (though that might change now). So while going through retainers is slightly easier, you still have no idea if what you want is for sale, who is selling it, how much it is selling for, and if the price is fair or not. For player bazaars you are still out of luck checking every single one for what you are hoping to find. Considering that this is supposed be a relatively complete version of the game (yes of course MMORPG are never finished because they are evolving creations), I don’t know how this escaped attention in alpha and beta testing. For a game supposedly targeting the casual market to miss that casual players don’t like or have the time to spend endlessly checking each player or retainer, is pretty inexcusable.
The lag is quite simply horrendous. I don’t think SqEx devoted enough resources to have the FF14 servers run smoothly with the amount of players who joined at start up, which would indicate a clear lack of foresight and learning from past experience. New MMORPG get a lot of attention, lots of people join to try. Since SqEx has already launched a MMORPG you would think they would have learned this. Guess not. Lag is to bad that in combat or in the field that actions are ready to be used, but when activated display the “this action is not ready to be used yet.” Even more fun is that in cities in heavily populated areas (like the adventurer’s guild or crafting guilds) doors will not open because of lag. As there is no way to manually open doors anymore. Players must keep running back and forth praying that the server finally recognizes that someone is near a door or, as I had to after waiting for 15 minutes for a door to open, log out and log back in. Ummm…. Casual players don’t have time for that.
SqEx has created crafting recipes and tiers that required a complex interaction of higher and lower level crafters. While this will be fine once the game has matured enough for there to be higher and lower level crafters, at launch very few people have the time to power-grind their way to higher crafter levels yet. And since buying and selling materials is such a pain currently, good luck buying what you need or selling off what you have made. In time I guess SqEx will get it sorted out, but as this game is supposed to be out of Beta phase, this is pretty stupid. You would think that someone would have pointed out this earlier. I have wanted to make my own weapons for my characters (the weapons they can use after the level 1 weapons) only to discover that some of the components require 15 to 30 crafter levels even if the difficult of making the weapon itself is only 5 to 10. Many of the materials can only be found in one region and not others. There is no way to buy and sell from other areas unless you go there yourself. For example Rat Fur comes from Rat Pelts that seem to be available only from La Noscea. Players from Grindia or Ul’dah must either go to Limsa Lominsa and fight rats to get it or check the bazaars in Limsa Lominsa or pray that some individual is selling it in Grindia or Ul’dah (the probability of that is so small as to be practically zero).
NPCS sell very little that is valuable. While FF11 had a wealth of NPC vendors that sold a wide variety of weapons, armor, medicine, and materials for synthesis. FF14 has take a gigantic step backwards and made very little available from NPCs. Only rarely will NPCs offer anything aside from starting weapons. The amount of armor or accessories available is also strictly limited. The amount of crafting materials sold is pathetic. Clearly SqEx wanted to force players to buy from other players. However with no clear and easy method for doing this, they have made yet another stumbling block for enjoyment of the game.
Equipping weapons, armor, and action is tedious requiring navigating multiple pop up menus and scrolling down lists. FF11 was much more streamlined in that is only listed available items for that slot. Why 14 did not take advantage of such a simple and beautiful idea is beyond me. I often think that none of the people who worked on 11 were on the 14 team as none of the lessons learned from 11 appear to be applied to 14.
Crafting and gathering similarly require navigating multiple pop up menus and scrolling down lists. While gathering is not too bad, crafting requires navigating a wealth of menus and lists that quite frankly seems excessive.
Crafting and gathering take too much time. While it is good that crafting and gathering are more complex and engaging, they are not activities that casual players want to spend a majority of their time doing. Casual players are defined as players with limited amounts of time to play a game with. Most casual players would rather spend time going up in ranks of Discipline of War (DoW) or Discipline of Magic (DoM) classes. While they will be willing to try crafting and gathering, if it takes too long or is too tedious, they will quit because it is not worth their time. SqEx clearly want the Discipline of Land (DoL) and Discipline of Hand (DoH) to be a major part of players experience because those classes out number the fighting ones. There are 7 DoW and DoM classes combined while DoH and DoL have 11 combined.
There is no reason to talk to NPCs aside from quest or guildleve NPCs. Since no quests are given by “non-main scenario” NPCs, players have no reason to click on NPCs. They are just background like boxes. They might as well not exist. In FF11, quests were given out by a variety of NPCs and so it was in the player’s interest to talk to different NPCs to see if they opened quests or not. Since some quests in FF11 had a fame requirement some NPCs would not offer quests until later, making it necessary to check NPCs every now and again to see if new quests were available. Putting guildleves on a 36 hour timer means that players have no reason to talk to even guildleve NPCs aside from every 36 hours. This makes the cities feel less real and less engaging. They are just so much background and might as well be like the Field areas for most intents and purposes.
There is also very little reason for interacting with other PCs. Since it is so easy to solo fight in the fields, that is precisely what most players are doing. Why spend the time making a party if you don’t need to? My Rank 6 archer could solo battlecraft rank 1 guildleves for a Legion level difficulty (5 difficulty out of 5). Why did I do that? Because guildleves are only given out at certain difficulties and the next set is available at 10.
The number of guildleves is pretty limited for Fieldcraft and Battlecraft leves. Pretty much you can accept up to 4 rank 1 guildleves and 3 rank 10 guildleves. What if you classes are all 10 and higher but not 20 yet? Well you are SOL. You can go to other starting cities if you have the anima to burn, but good luck with that. Considering that guildleves were supposed to be the main driving mechanism for going up in rank and level this seems pretty limited.
Anima regenerates way too slowly. 1 Anima point is gained every 4 hours. This means that is you wait 24 hours you get 6 points. It costs 2 points to go back to your “home point.” It costs 4 points to teleport to any location in your current zone. It costs 6 points to teleport outside of your current zone. You can see that it’s quite easy to burn though your supply of anima and 6 points every 24 hours isn’t going to cut it unless SqEx wants to force you to run everywhere.
There is too much distance from point to point. Yes, SqEx wanted to create a large immersive world. Unfortunately it takes several minutes to run to the first camp and even longer to run to others. Just watching my character run is not fun. You can only joke so many times about “See ****. See **** run. Run **** run!” or “Run Forrest run!” before it gets old.
There is too much dead space between points. There are vast tracts of land (She’s got huge….. <possibly obscene hand gesture> tracts of land!) with nothing there. No monsters, no gathering points, nothing. They exists for no other reason than to waste your time making you run through them.
There are not enough monsters in starting zones. Again this might only apply to now when the game has just launched and there are tons of new players at the same time, but you would think that a game developer would realize that about launch. As the monsters that starting players can attack are non-aggressive, there should be no problem with having a lot of them so that players don’t have to compete with other players to level and rank up. I have gone through starting areas where I didn’t see a monster for a good 5 to 10 minutes because there were so many players and they were waiting for monsters to pop. I have had to find very out of the way areas to level up because there were just too many people all trying to fight the same monsters.
Bag space is extremely limited. Before anyone goes off about how you START with 80 spaces, let’s take a look at that shall we? There are 8 main armor slots, 2 weapon slots, 3 ranged/ammo weapon slots, 9 accessory slots. Now it would be impossible to use all of them at once, but main armor is important, weapons are a given, accessories are listed as limited to 12 points (That’s another thing not explained). Let’s say 16 slots are taken up by just actively used equipment. If you want to separate DoW/DoM and DoH/DoL equipment, that would be twice as much space required. All classes have main and secondary weapons. There are 18 classes, if you are willing to carry all those at the same time so that you can take advantage of the armory system that would be another 36 spaces. Then there’s the ammo you need for Archer and bait needed for Fisher. Even if you store the other class items on your retainer they are still taking up space. If you actually try and save items for synthesis you will find that your bag fills up pretty rapidly especially if you do more than on craft at once (as SqEx seems to want you to do since they have the fatigue sytem).
Macros make even less sense than they do in FF11. Players are given no support in how to make macros and must look at fan sights. Why would I want to make macros? Well I use them to quickly equip weapons and armor as well as actions I want for specific classes. I was given no support for this. Not only that SqEx has decided that it is bad for you to own items with the same name. If you have 2 copper rings, you cannot equip both with a macro command. I don’t know why. I could do that in FF11. Given that SqEx owns the code for FF11 you would think they could do something similar. I guess not.
Fighting feels like I’m in some click-fest a la Diablo or maybe Monster Hunter (not sure about that one since I haven’t played Monster Hunter yet). You have to press a key or button for every single attack. Coming from FF11, I’m used to the auto-attack system where my basic attacks are done automatically. Only special actions and spells need to be triggered manually. Maybe other MMORPG players won’t care, but I’m pretty sure most FF11 players will feel that this is a step backwards. It certainly feels like an invitation to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
I know there is a lot more I want to talk about, but I’m tired. I’m tired of putting up with an incomplete and unplanned game. I’m tired of fighting a system that doesn’t make sense, and I’m tired to putting up with vicious, rabid fanboy defenders of this ramshackle of a game on forums and boards.
So goodbye Eorzea!
Edited, Oct 15th 2010 10:33pm by Wint Lock Thread: