Review: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Originally, when Final Fantasy XIV launched on September 30, 2010, it was met with a largely negative response all around. Many panned the game for its poor gameplay, terrible interface and all around awfulness that made playing the game a pain. This thread here, covers just about everything that was wrong with the game when it first went live. All this ultimately killed version 1.0, as the servers were shut down on November 11, 2012. Those who stuck around till the end, were treated with one of the best cinematics to ever grace this earth. What a way to shut a server down, I must say. Never before has a cinematic left me so breathless, and it was truly an honor to have been there when it all went down. But not before Naoki Yoshida took the reigns and began making changes to the game before it shut down, while simultaneously developing what would become A Realm Reborn. He is credited with rescuing Final Fantasy XIV after it’s disastrous launch.

Which brings us to the present day, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn which went live on August 27, 2013. It is bar none one of the funnest MMOs I have ever played in recent years. It takes place in the land of Eorza, 5 years after the cataclysmic events that happened on that final cinematic that I mentioned previously. The primal Bahamut escapes from its imprisonment to bring forth the Seventh Umbral Calamity, an apocalyptic event that nearly destroyed all of Eorza. Your player character, through some great miracle and time traveling is transported 5 years after the events to a time where Eorzans are working hard to rebuild and recover, but all is not well in the world. Up north, lies the Garlean Empire, a largely militaristic nation who threatens to invade Eorza. Players can choose to play as one of 6 races ( one of the races is only available if you have the Heavensward expansion) and each race has two tribes. Each with their own distinct look and attribute differences. I for one chose to play as a Duskwight Elezen for my black mage build. The character creator for the most part is pretty good, it offers enough variety, but I wish it had a little more to offer. If only  Square Enix considered adding some face sliders, but instead you’re given a set number of presets. I’m a sucker for customization and that’s just not available here.

There are many jobs/classes to choose from, when first creating your character, you are given the choice to be a disciple of war or a disciple of magic. As a disciple of war, you can choose one of 5 classes – Archer, Gladiator, Pugilist, Lancer and Marauder. While becoming a disciple of magic allows you to choose to become an Arcanist, Thaumaturge or a Conjurer. Like in most mmorpgs, the class you choose determines your starting location, and there are three main hubs. Each housing its own Grand Company that you can join later on after making enough progress in the game. Each of the starting cities is just as breathtaking and picturesque as the last. I was particularly fond of the coastal city of Limsa Lominsa and ended up joining the Grand Company there.

Once you’ve got your character made and your class has been chosen. You can finally get started on your journey. You’ll be doing the standard hunting, gathering and fetch quests that you would find in just about any mmorpg. Which is pretty much a standard at this point, and I hope this is changed some day. But no matter, the real shining light here is the story. Most of which is relayed to you via text, so expect to do a lot of reading. Thankfully the text is engaging enough, so you don’t just end up clicking through it. Doing so would mean that you’ll end up missing key information about what is happening in the world.

There are some cutscenes that are fully voiced, though not too many, so you’ll only ever get to see them when critical moments occur. I’ve heard some people complain about the voice acting and I honestly don’t understand them. The voice acting to me seemed perfectly fine from what I heard. It would have made more sense to complain about there not being more voice acted lines in the game for those with short attention spans who can’t bring themselves to read all the text. Another thing worth mentioning is the soundtrack, I am absolutely in love with it. Masayoshi Soken primarily composed the score on A Realm Reborn.  you can also expect music from other composers like Nobuo Uematsu to be found within the game.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is just so full of things for you to do apart from focusing on the main story line. For starters, you can join one of the many free companies, or if you’d like, you can form your own when you meet the requirements. Together, you can tackle dungeons and boss raids, but it’s not mandatory to join a company. Unlike in Final Fantasy XI, you’re not entirely dependent on joining a party from the get go. For the most part, you can pretty much make it through the game solo if you choose to do so. That’s entirely up to you, but most would recommend that you join up with someone. Most players I’ve met online are very friendly and helpful. The first company I chose to join welcomed me by giving me a new equipment set for my character and assisted me with the dungeons. Which saved me from the trouble of having to wait 20 minutes looking for a party on the duty finder.  So, unless you don’t mind having to wait 20 minutes, I’d highly recommend you party up.

PlayStation 4 Version

I went ahead and gave the PlayStation 4 version a go to see how it fared. From what i saw, it’s pretty much the same game through and through. I didn’t really detect any real differences between the PC and PS4 version, apart from faster load times on the PC. On both versions, you can pretty much choose to play using a controller or mouse and keyboard. I’d like to point out that the PS3 version is the only version where playing with a controller is your only available option. Another nice thing about playing on the PS4 is that you don’t have to deal with the PC versions launcher. More often than not, I ran into problems with it that resulted in the launcher showing up as a black unresponsive window. I do not know how often people ran into this issue, but I for one dealt with it on a regular basis each time I tried to play. I’m aware of all the troubleshooting methods, but they did not always work. I would love nothing more than for Square Enix to remedy it. Anyway, there’s no real downside to purchasing it on the PS4, it’s the same game and PC players can play with those playing on a PS4. So I would recommend either of them to you, so if you don’t have a PC, the PS4 version is more than sufficient.

I have already spent well over 100 hours on FFXIV and that’s on the base game alone. I have yet to even scratch the surface on Heavensward and we still have Stormblood to look forward to on June 20, 2017. Last time I had this much fun with an mmo was back when I was still in high school playing vanilla WoW. It feels good to be be able to experience that yet again. Going in to this, I didn’t know what to expect. I have always been a big fan of Final Fantasy games, but I never knew what to make of the mmos.

After having played of course, I can safely say that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is my absolute favorite mmo. I had a blast working up my character into a hard hitting Black Mage, and the great thing is that you can change your class anytime. All you have to do is equip your character with the classes respective weapon or tool. I love how quick and painless it is. If you are in the mood for an mmo and have plenty of time on your hands, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a worthy investment. With an abundance of new players always joining the game, you’re sure to find people who can help you out, which makes this game easily accessible. Stay tuned for Heavensward and ultimately my coverage of Stormblood.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Platforms - PC (reviewed), PS4

Release Date - August 27, 2013
Fantastic score
Massive amounts of content
Great story
Huge community
Post-game content varies depending on server population