Captain Decker Reviews… Final Fantasy XIV

Gather ’round mates, there be no spoilers on this voyage! Listen to the tale of the Captain and his stalwart roommate ConspiroAgnew as they valiantly attempt to play Final Fantasy XIV Online

Final Fantasy XIV Online

Final Fantasy XIV Online is a classic modern MMORPG brought to us by Square Enix, the combined creators of the truly excellent Final Fantasy series. Now, granted, I haven’t played FF since these guys were new so take this review for what you will.

final-fantasy-VII-wallpaper
FFVII from 1997, and we’re STILL not over Aerith’s death scene TYVM.

FFXIV is currently one of the largest and most popular MMORPG games on the market. It’s not hard to see why, the game borrows liberally from the quirky style that made the previous FF games so amusing. Wacky non-verbal humor, funny little creatures with amusing sound effects, and pretty girls with panty shots–it’s your classic Japanese RPG game.

Boozy Sprites, why not?
Boozy Sprites, why not?

Thanks to a Steam sale I gave it a try, so once again my intrepid character Yanna Tarassi takes a trip through time and space to a new MMORPG world. This is her journey:

The Good:

Character creation, as one would expect for the Final Fantasy series, is very good. I loved the thousand different tweaks you can do to personalize your character’s face and general body type. They kept the body mods pretty minimal, but the faces were done extremely well.

Yanna's back
The Sith Bitch is back and ready to party.

The game itself was your pretty standard MMORPG: races, starting classes, level xp, quests, etc. It was a familiar layout, which made getting into the game nice and easy. Everything was where you expected it to be, with a slight change to separate the Inventory into Combat and Non-Combat inventories. That took a bit to get used to, but made sorting things significantly easier.

Mini-maps, quickslots, chat box, quest log, and scantily-clad cat girls. Everything seems to be in order here.
Mini-maps, quickslots, chat box, quest log, and scantily-clad cat girls. Everything seems to be in order here.

Generally speaking, the feel was correct for a FF game. The cutscenes oozed old school Final Fantasy and the game was designed from the start to be ported to a number of languages. The camera work on the cutscenes is done very nicely as well, a number of good POV shots and scene-setting pans.

The Bad:

Let’s start with the small number of servers. If your friends (shoutout to Asrai) were on a specific server, good fraking luck actually getting into that server. I tried over the course of several days to get into their server, eventually giving up and picking one of the few actually open ones.

Click the refresh every three minutes for never-ending disappointment.
Click the refresh every three minutes for never-ending disappointment.

Once you get in to the game, prepare for an intro sequence that makes Skyrim’s look speedy and to the point.  It took so long to get to a place where I could actually click something or even move that I was giddy when it finally happened. Only for me to run up a hill to chat with an innkeeper and get sucked into a few more minutes of doing nothing.  UGH.

There is barely any voice acting. Owing, at a guess, to the desirability to port the game to other languages. So get ready to read walls of text for every single quest and npc interaction. I love story and background literature but even I quickly started ignoring everything and clicking until I got to the part where they updated my quest log.

These, however, are words to live by--especially for those of us who wear wet-paper for armour in these games. Took several paragraphs of reading to find this gem, and that was just 1/10th of this particular cutscene.
These, however, are words to live by–especially for those of us who wear wet-paper for armour in these games. Took several paragraphs of reading to find this gem, and that was just 1/10th of this particular cutscene.
 The Ugly:

The game has some issues, not going to lie. Conspiro’s machine would BSOD every 3 to 150 minutes playing the game.  Nothing fixed it. Nothing. Yes, we adjusted the graphics settings. Yes, we tried new drivers. Yes, we re-flashed the BIOS. Yes, we under-clocked the processor and GPU. Yes, we called up friends at nVidia and had the guys who wrote the drivers look at the coredump files. Bottom line, the game just does not like some video cards. My crashes were less Blue Screeny, and happened significantly less often, but they were extremely annoying nevertheless.

The third time I saw this happen, followed by game crash, I was done.
The third time I saw this happen, followed by game crash, I was done.

Still, when asked if he would continue playing the game, Conspiro replied “Yes… when I buy a new computer.”

The Beautiful:

If you like attractive avatars, amusing quests, grinding that actually nets good xp, world events that anyone in the area can jump into, hunting logs to tick off whacking 3 of everything in the world (oddly fun), and the best multi-classing system since RIFTS, then this is the game for you.

Seriously, when you make level 10 in your starting class and complete your handful of guild quests you can then join any other guild and train in that class. Switching classes is as easy as replacing the main weapon type, made even easier by saving up to 9 outfits and storing them on the quickslot bars.

As an example, my fire-mage Alyssasaria got tired of getting her ass kicked at short range and hung out with the Gladiators for a bit.

Not sure why an eyepatch provides armour and attack bonuses... but this is Final Fantasy, just roll with it.
Not sure why an eyepatch provides armour and attack bonuses… but this is Final Fantasy, just roll with it.

Sadly, only later did I realize that you can’t swap character classes (jobs) mid-combat. That was a painful death. The system is designed to make it so you never have to level up Alts on any character so that with a few seconds warning you can play any type for a raid or world-event. It was, honestly, the best feature in the game.

Overall:

The transition from successful single-player RPG into a successful MMORPG is an extremely difficult thing to pull off. Star Wars: The Old Republic failed miserably, and if I were to be generous I could say that the jury on Elder Scrolls Online is still out. Final Fantasy XIV Online, by its very name, knows that it is part of a single-player lineage but did a very good job making the leap to multi-player. If not for the maddening crashes, this would be a fun game to play. Western MMO enough to function as a framework and JRPG enough to have a good time playing it. They even acknowledged that some people (I’m looking at you Hobbes Stuffedtiger) make some terrible character names.

You haven't heard of me? We're wanted men, I have the death sentence on twelve systems.
You haven’t heard of me? We’re wanted men, I have the death sentence on twelve systems.

The bottom line? The Captain says grab a free-trial and give it a try. If the game doesn’t repeatedly and horribly crash on you then you’re probably going to have a really fun time with it! Until next time, good luck and good sailing.

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