Venturing into a brave new world.
I have never been much of an MMO guy. Whether it was the ridiculous amount of fetch and kill quests or the arbitrary monthly fee, these games never hooked me. I tried Everquest, DC Universe, and even spent ample time with The Old Republic. The latter two are certainly because of my interest in those franchises. So when I decided to take the plunge into Final Fantasy XIV I expected to once again lose interest about ten levels in.
I came in fresh. No preparation, no research. I wanted to dive into the game from the perspective of someone who knew nothing about the world or how it worked. My first impression was positive. The game is stunning for an MMO. Most games of this type sacrifice so much to compensate for how many players are in the world. FFXIV does not. The character models and the worlds they explore are gorgeous. I am playing on PS4, and only in highly populated towns does the game even showcase any lag. I have loved every world I have explored so far, and every new area is an exciting adventure.
The second barrier to entry was the controls. MMOs are known for their excessive use of a keyboard and mouse. Mapping so much to a controller is always a challenge. Yes I know that FFXIV supports these on a console, but I am playing on a console, I want to use my controller. Thankfully the design team has mapped this game perfectly. It took me a few hours to learn all the complicated functions, but the design is superb.
The PS4 controller’s touchpad serves as a sort of key for the sections. Tapping it switches between the chat log, quest entries, and other items on screen. Moving my finger across simulates mouse movement, although it is not ideal. Everything is quickly within reach though. The L2 and R2 buttons open up the hot keys, which are represented by the four face buttons, and the directions on the d-pad. When not pressed I could tap R1 to switch between eight different hot key menus. Before long I was casting my spells and laying down attacks faster than most action games. Everything just works the way I expect it to.
The game does a fantastic job of teaching the basics of the game, as well as advanced items. As I said I went in fresh and played solo, so I had no direction where to go. The game led me by the hand at first, and continued to highlight key functions the further I dug into it. I still learn new things daily, and this is after dozens of hours of game time.
As of this writing my Archer is level 27. I still don’t have a mount (if someone knows the quickest way to get one, please email me), and I have yet to experiment with any other classes. One of the things I like about FFXIV is that I am not bound to any one class. I can switch simply by placing a different weapon or tool in my hand, granted I have visited the guild and leveled up far enough. This becomes crucial later in the game, but for now I am driving towards finishing the main story quests and leveling up to 50 so I can dive into the Heavensward content.
Quests are standard in the game, but there are other ways to level up. Fates are public events scattered around the world. XP and rewards are earned based on performance, and I can even sync to lower level Fates if need be. Duties are essentially instanced raids that I can queue up for. These involve four players taking on a level-specific dungeon and taking down a boss. This is where the better gear is found, and like any MMO players have to cast their lot and see who takes it home. Everyone I have played with so far has been super nice and giving when they did not need said gear.
There are also other types of quests called Levequests. These are based on levels and can be picked up over and over again. I used these to grind when I hit a wall around level 20. There are three types, and each one is dedicated to a specific class type. These are also useful when grinding other jobs and classes. I also like that they have to be initiated, so I can plan my attack before entering an area.
The biggest thing about FFXIV so far though is how it draws me into the world. Every stupid little thing is exciting. I have that “one more quest” mentality every time I play it. I want to play more, find more gear, and just explore the lush worlds. Enemies are fun to fight, combat is interesting, and it does a great job of leading the carrot on a stick approach of wanting me to just play more.
I will update again once I get further into the world. This series is meant to work all the way through Heavensward, as well as giving newer players an idea of what jumping in now is like. I have never been keen on MMOs, but Final Fantasy XIV has its hooks into me. I cannot recommend it enough; now if you will excuse me, I need to get back to grinding for better gear.