Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn -- Three Criticisms About Eventual Grinds, Loneliness, And Too Much Fan Service

| 10 Jul 2013 14:00
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The greatest complaint about FF14: ARR is that it doesn't have nine years of polish.

The Wind Up

The Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn Beta Phase 3 ends on July 15th at 2AM PST. All our characters and all our fun will be erased, and for a week or two, and we'll have no FF14. Sometime after the 15th of July, Phase 4 begins! Phase 4 is an open beta, and should be closer to a launch copy. It should have more people, more narrative, and more jobs. The anticipation for FF14's August 27 launch is about as high as it can be at the moment.

I thought, after all my comments about this game on Warcry, in my extensive three part preview (part 1, part 2, part 3.), that I'd offer a few criticisms. It is important to keep in mind that this is some criticism from the beta and while I've tried to keep my criticisms to the "nature" of the game as opposed to the content, these things are always subject to change.

I've also tried to keep my, "First Game Syndrome" to a minimum. This concept has been something of a revelation to many players I've talked to over the course of beta. It comes from a quote from a letter writter by Naoki Yoshida, Producer of Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. In it, he says,

Another common phenomenon among MMO players is something I like to call "first love syndrome." A new game comes out and you play from beta through to the free trial, and although there are a lot of things you like, you always go back to your first MMO. You feel the updates were always so much better in your first MMO, focusing on the things you can no longer do in the other games you try. This is just how people are after playing a particular game for a long time, getting stuck in their old ways.

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And it's true. If you stand in any of the larger zones in FF14: ARR you will see many people shouting at each other about how this game isn't as good as the game they've played for a little under a decade. Or, you'll see a lot of comparison to FF11 and how this game is baby shoes compared to that one.

Gamers and game design has changed a lot since FF11 gave console gamers an MMO to play with. Hell, game design has changed a lot in the past three years as we all struggle with the concept of casual play, equitable representation, and difficulty. So, a new game has a lot to answer for before "the gamer" even grants it a chance to exist.

With that in mind, I wanted to see what FF14: ARR had to offer, and after getting Phase 3 access, I tried to play every weekend of the third Phase. I played as much of those weekends as I could manage. I've leveled one job to about 24, another two to 20 and a few more to 15. I've tried crafting, duty finders, and everything else I could think of.

In total, I've written around 10,000 words or so about FF14: ARR with most of those words praising the game for not only its turnaround, but how it surpassed expectation. For my previous preview pieces click one of the following:

(Preview Part 1 - Reigniting a Fanboy, Preview Part 2 - The Bees Punch Back, Preview Part 3 - Attacking the Dungeons.)

Now it's time to talk about what isn't so great.

Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn

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I find it hard to attribute these criticisms to anything actually involving the game. The server issue isn't much of a 'design' decision, as it is a technical decision. It seems a little unfair to criticize something that might have been technically driven, and not a "deliberate choice."

Additionally, WoW is actually one of the last ones to the party when it comes to next-gen server architecture. GW2 has the guesting feature, Anarchy Online used a single server, Eve still uses a single server -- Neverwinter uses several servers now, but will be merging those in the future. WoW has been pretty behind the times when it comes to server tech. In fact, they are likely to remain so as server transfers are likely a fair substantial source of income for them.

As for the Japanese feel of the game, I didn't get that at all. I'm not a huge final fantasy fan because I'm not a fan of the JRPGs (not that they aren't great games, just not for me) but I definitely didn't get a JRPG feel from the hours I've played the game.

Additionally, I don't see the fan-service as 'driving people away.' A battle is a battle. That's like saying the Caverns of Time in WoW drove players away because it was fan service to long-term players of the franchise. It just seems silly. People don't stop playing because of cool encounters / boss battles.

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