So I got Final Fantasy XIV recently and have been playing it quite a bit this last week. Firstly the intro animation is amazing, I watched it on youtube before, but seeing it in HD is so much better. Square Enix sure does know how make exhilarating animation sequences.
Anyway, the character creation process is quite extensive, but when choosing your class you are to an extent overwhelmed, well I was because I no idea how the classes weighed up against each other as I didn’t know what exactly each class does, even after I read the summaries given. I chose Alchemist, expecting something like from Fullmetal Alchemist, well not really, I was hoping though it would be similar =P. But the FFXIV Alchemist isn’t a combat class role =(. It was probably a wrong move by myself to choose a profession-type class as my starting character class. As it is explained early on, you can change classes based on the weapon you wield. But me, being quite slow didn’t realise that the Alchemist was a profession class and couldn’t (and actually wasn’t meant to) fight. Expecting abilities to help my character fend for themselves against level one monsters, I was shocked to find out that all I had available was this “Stone Throw” ability that did 1 damage a throw and no auto-attack…..
…only hours later did I realise just how Final Fantasy XIV functions…after finding a store to buy a weapon and earning some Gil from quests I bought a melee weapon which when equipped changed my class to Pugilist. And how sweet it was to mow down level one monsters, which I found shockingly hard before when I was an Alchemist. It seems so obvious now, but when you are ignorant of how a system works, you are ignorant…
I’m sure this was explained in the NPC’s dialog, but it’s harder to get when you don’t know what is being talked about then when you do. So being slow on the uptake of how the game functions, I caused myself quite some frustration at the start, which was a long start. It doesn’t really matter what class you choose at the start, you can level any class when you equip the main hand weapon/tool of the class. It probably would be better to choose a battle class as you start-up class if you are new, so you don’t have to wonder just how to combat a monster when you are a profession class. The class-system is pretty cool, but it can become annoying when you can have to change weapons/tools to change your characters class role. Lag(?) causing the change in weapons to take like 5-10s to load your character doesn’t help in easing the frustration as you want to do something.
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but Final Fantasy XIV is a complicated game. I know I found FFXII complicated – it took me 20 hours to get used to the game and I only really got the game near the very end, but FFXIV seems even more complicated. This is the reason why I love FFXIII so much, it’s easy and simple to get/understand and play. Combat is simple and fun and so is everything else. A person slow in comprehending things like myself, likes to have a guiding hand when being thought new things. And boy are there a lot of new things in FFXIV. It teaches you some basics, for the most part, it just leaves you to figure out what to do.
I find it annoying having to access the journal to get the location of quest targets or givers…it really should have been integrated in the normal map which is tons of times easier to access. A lot of times you will find yourself having to access menu’s and sub-menu’s and sub-sub-menu’s and so on and so on to get to the menu you need and when you want to get back to the game, you have to close each individual window – they really should make all the menu-windows disappear when you click on the background game screen when you want to get back into the game.
Gathering is fun in the start (kind of), but you notice how long it takes, and eventually it just becomes tedious. It’s the same thing with the crafting skills, you have to sit there through each item you make to click what type of crafting approach you use (standard, rapid or careful) and eventually all that becomes annoying. Gathering is just sad, you have to put so much effort into succeeding in one gathering attempt and you are not always guaranteed a successful attempt. In my opinion, they should really just make the gathering function automated and when you start, the game automatically gathers the resource for you without you needing to be active with the game. With the crafting skills, Square Enix should give the player the option of what crafting approach they want to use and make it automated from there – for example after 10 seconds (or however long) of crafting, the item is crafted. It becomes so pointless and annoying having to click each time. The game would be so much more fun if such a function was done away with. I understand, Square Enix is trying to make these skills more active and creative, but this is the just the wrong way. After a while, you just lose any interest in wanting to level those skills, it just takes too much effort to actually care about it…
Combat is pretty fun, but I wish there was more quest to make leveling and fighting that much more fun. There are levequest (you get levepoints every few hours which accumulates over time – you need those points to take on levequests), but those quest just repeat themselves. FFXIV needs some more sub-plot quest, a lot more. I want to spent my time leveling through questing and follow quest-chains, rather than spending it grinding so I can reach the required level to do the next quest in the storyline or for the small amount of general quest available.
I can’t help but compare FFXIV to World of Warcraft, because I had so much fun in WoW when I used to play it (2004-2007). World of Warcraft was user-friendly and knew how to make leveling/gathering/crafting fun. FFXIV just doesn’t seem user-friendly and zaps the fun out of things by making it too complicated and bothersome. WoW beckoned you to want to play more of it and it was seriously addicting, FFXIV not so much.
There is a lot good about FFXIV, but the complex nature of the game function, the few quests and the tedious nature of leveling gathering/crafting skills snuffs the fun out of all that is good about FFXIV. It would be nice if the game came with a game manual that explained just how things work in FFXIV, a shame there is none (well the game I purchased didn’t have one beyond the general info on the game and the “how-to-install and set-up” instructions). Still the game looks fantastic, the cities, characters and environments look very nice and Final Fantasy design flare does come through strongly especially in the character outfits and gear.
If I had to sum up FFXIV in one word, I would describe it as rigid. Everything just needs to be made easier and more flexible. A game is meant to be something you play to have fun, not something that ends up feeling like a chore.
Well FFXIV will resume its paid service late next month or end of December, so it will be interesting to see what other changes Square Enix will make to FFXIV. There is a lot of potential in FFXIV, but right now, you just have to have A LOT of patience when playing the game.
Anyway I created a Miqo’te race character on the Selbina server and chose Gridania as my start-up city-state. So far I enjoyed the cinematics that plays after the intro-movie which kick-starts the events that unfold as you quest more. The problems with the Woods and the mystery of the Elementals does intrigue me a lot and this strange ability which your character has =D.
Well I have to admit, the Halloween Pumpkin Hat is very awesome, but here is a proper image:
I like how the animation sequences include your individual character in them. Sure your character doesn’t have a voice in those animations, but it’s still cool in creating an experience, hopefully the rest of the game functions become more fun when Square Enix starts to roll out more changes for FFXIV.