When I started playing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, I wasn’t expecting much. I had played the original XIV and was utterlyunimpressed by its plethora of performance issues and sluggish interface, A Realm Reborn sought to change all that,and it succeeded magnificently.
The story itself centers around the player, as he navigates the planet of Hydaelyn, which is separated into three large continents, one of which, called Eorzea, is where the story takes place. In the few hours I played, I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns of the main story which I never felt got repetitive or predictable, and I also loved how certain cinematics felt like an incentive for progressing in the story. The characters themselves were a mixed bag, I felt that some were extremely well written and fleshed out, while others were a bit hollow and left something to be desired, for example, I wish Brendt would have played a larger role, but it seemed like he just faded away.
The game-play was (almost) a perfect blend of combat, exploration, and player growth, unfortunately a few glaring issues stand in the way. Your combat in the beginning is rather limited, being able to only use a single attack, but later on you unlock more, and are able to make use of “Tactical Points” which unlock things like combos, critical strikes, different methods of attack, and so fourth. Exploration was scaled perfectly, with distance between objectives short enough to reach without being too time consuming, but just large enough to appreciate the stunningly gorgeous landscapes. The quests had enough variety to keep you entertained, but some felt uninspired such as the ones that employ the generic “Go to X collect Y” and “Go to X kill Y” formula.Others were plain repetitive and boring, such as the Fully Active Time Event. (FATES) are events that randomly pop-up in different zones that players can join for experience points, seals, and other rewards. Unfortunately, most of these “Events” turn out to be mini-battles, that are a chore after a few of them. Although I only played a few hours, I was amazed by the sheer amount of crafting opportunities there were. Seriously, its a mind blowing amount of options, each profession can make different types of items, all with different tiers that are unlocked in various ways. The crafting is a game in itself.
The combat is fast paced and fun, reminiscent of other MMORPG’S such as World of Warcraft and Guild Wars. With a tonne of spells, attacks, and maneuvers that makes almost every battle a tactical challenge. In certain parts, maneuvers are confined to split seconds in order to gain victory against a challenging foe. The classes have enough variety that they all feel different, and not just a re-skinned version of each other. Group battles could have disastrous effects if not properly coordinated, but when each class is balanced and playing the proper role, its like a well-oiled Chocobo Wagon equipped with a flamethrower: fast, fluid, and deadly.
Overall Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is leagues and bounds above its predecessor, creating a unique and wonderful experiences that will keep you satisfied for months (Albeit a few issues). Ultimately I rate the it at a 9.2/10 for an amazing story, beautiful visuals, (Mostly) interesting quests, sprawling map, an in depth and balanced combat system, loads of customization, and a huge library of crafting options. Certain aspects of the game hold itself back, such as: FATES, some hollow characters, and occasionally generic quests.