Saturday, September 25, 2010

Final Fantasy XIV - The Next Chapter

I’ve been away because I have been playing this game. A lot. Probably too much. But a week headstart above the others is worth investing time into. There have been some changes from the beta, closed and open, and some things that make it stand out from the traditional MMO.

It’s FF11 + FF12. Which makes it a good evolution for Final Fantasy games online. Cities are much more in-depth in design, visual details, and NPC story lines. And the layout reminds me a lot of some areas in FF12. Which makes it really, really, really pretty to look at. An MMO for those with only an hour to kill. The way the experience points, armory/crafting system works, it’s quite easy to jump from one job to another with little to no time wasted. There is a questing system called Levequests, which allow you to battle, farm, or craft within a time limit (30 minutes for battles and farming, 24+ hours for crafting). A leve provides you with bonus experience, gil, and items in comparison to normal leveling/crafting. Which if you only have an hour to kill, it’s just enough time to get a few of these done and feel like you have really accomplished something. Simplicity is key. Menus are slimmed down. Macros are easy to plug and go. Abilities from multiple jobs can be coordinated. The goal with FF14 was to make things simple. And they achieved it.  

Retainers. It’s the “new” form of a Bazaar/Auction House system. Basically you dump your items onto an NPC that you hire, throw him/her into the market ward, and wish them luck in selling your stuff. As such, there is no central auction house. You have to use your judgment and sprawl across the thousands of retainers (your first one is free, but you can have up to 4 that you pay a monthly real world fee for) to determine a price point for the items that you are selling. Which sucks. A lot. This is the part of the gaming experience that kills me. Today I spent 2 hours going through every retainer in one city to figure out what to sell a pair of pants for. There are 3 major cities in the game. It’s just not feasible to search through every Retainer and every Bazaar for 6-8 hours each day.

No new races. As much as SE wants to put out that the races in the game are different from FF11, they’re really not. Just a more polished version of the same races. Now I don’t have a problem being an elf in FF14, but I really wish they would have pushed the envelope and provided some new looks and made the character creation system more detailed. SE, you can’t use the PS2 limitations excuse anymore. Still can’t program your keyboard! Why? We’re at the time and age where everyone allows you to program your macros the way that works for you. Just let me put my camera on my arrow keys.

Only 2 mage jobs. Another one of those why questions. I’m a mage person. I like to see multiple jobs. There are 8 crafting jobs. Disproportionate, me thinks. Overall, not a bad addition to the FF series. It needs some improvement with joining parties, talking to people, and allowing key binds. But it was just released. It’ll take time to get use to.

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