Square Enix's New MMO Gets Off to a Smooth Start
The launch of Final Fantasy XIV has come and gone. Now that the dust has settled, all I have to say is this:
So far, so good.
Before I go any further, I feel obligated to say this was my first time playing an MMO on the day of its launch. As closed beta moved into open beta and launch day approached, I read and heard from many sources how tumultuous a MMO's debut can be. I braced myself for the worst on Wednesday. Even when I ducked out of work to pick up my collector's edition from the Gamestop across the street, I tried not to get too excited. I figured I'd probably be spending my night struggling with installation problems and slow-downloading patches.
Discuss this in the ZAM forums.
Turns out I couldn't have been more wrong. My installation was finished in about an hour, about the duration of the DVD (Eorzea - The Making of a Realm) that came with the collector's edition. During my installation there were no hiccups, glitches or restarts required. Setting up my payment method wasn't too complicated, though I know many others found the payment options to be somewhat cumbersome. The only issue I had with setting up my character was I failed to enter the code for my onion helmet prior to creating my character. By the time I realized my error, I was already doing guildleves and on my way to Eorzean stardom.
Clearly, Final Fantasy XIV has some weaknesses. The game still lags too much, and the UI seems like it could be much simpler (although it is much better with a gamepad). I also haven't seen many references to the greater conflict that will anchor this game's storyline, although I have faith in Square Enix to deliver a strong story. There are a few little things that bother me, too. Designating sackholders in your linkshell should be easier (why do you really need to be standing right next to each other), and I miss being able to expand the chat window to read my backlog.
Other than that, the graphics are beautiful and the gameplay is already fun. I love the possibilities offered by the job and crafting systems, and I'm thrilled that my productivity will seldom be dependent on finding others to party with me. While this may result in an in-game culture different than what was experienced in Final Fantasy XI, a focus on solo play and smaller parties will make it easier to have fun within linkshells with friends who matter most.
The power of a first impression is a time-tested fact of life, and Final Fantasy XIV scored a great first impression with me. My first day in Eorzea wasn't spent yelling obscenities at my monitor while mashing my keyboard to bits; instead, it was spent racing from Ul'dah to Gridania with my old FFXI friends, completing various guild leves in between.
Today was Day 2, and it was equally satisfying. Here's to hoping for a successful Day 3, 4, 5 and so on, for months and years to come.