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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Criticism 3 - The Balance Between Fan Service And Too Much Japan

Think about the entire run of (soon) 15+ Final Fantasy games. Each of these has memorable moments, its own community of fans, and each comes from a very different time in the history of video games.

For example, DOOMTRAIN is the most amazing thing in all of Final Fantasy. I love DOOMTRAIN and I'm sure if you've played Final Fantasy 8, DOOMTRAIN was your favorite thing as well. No wait, I mean I loved the fight against X-Death. See what I mean?

One way that FF14: ARR plans to get more players is by offering classic and memorable fights against previous "famous" battles. I've already seen plenty of clamoring for the Battle on the Big Bridge from Final Fantasy 5.

Here is where a criticism comes in. Basically, the fan-service levels of this game nearly crushes anyone who isn't a fan of the Final Fantasy franchise. World of Warcraft appeals to the gamers in America because it matches a ton of cultural milieu present in the English speaking cultures of the world. You've got your Lord of the Rings references, your Chronicles of Narnia, your badass Nordic jokes, naughty goblins, and all sorts of culturally biased "in-jokes" that gamers react favorably to.

Final Fantasy 14: ARR has none of this. Instead, it relies on the busy style of the Japanese Culture and fans in America who enjoy the "quirkiness" of it. One look at this game and you can tell it is from Japan thanks to the numbers you're damaging or receiving, the enemies you're facing, the reasons you're fighting, what you're fighting, and what those battles ultimately mean for the narrative. No matter how great it looks or how amazing it is to play, there are a lot of people who will never touch the game because they don't enjoy Japanese RPGs.

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Square Enix, or Naoki Yoshida I suppose, seems to have thought about this and decided that instead of catering to an audience that probably wouldn't play their game anyway, that they needed to cram as much fan-service in as possible.

My case: The Subligar.

The Subligar is a holdover from FF11. Basically, it's a pair of underwear with a cod piece. These undies were so popular in FF11 that Yoshida and his team stuck them in without thinking. From the outside, this game then looks like a strange sort of sleepover party where people get together and slap crabs for fun.

Maybe this isn't a criticism.

Anyway, the fan service is appreciated from fanboys like me but the critical part of this is that it gives people another reason to complain and compare each other. I've already had several dungeon groups dissolve because no one could agree on FF8's superiority over FF7. Once this topic boiled over into personal insults, we were stuck with someone who logged out, mid-dungeon. I have a feeling this is the tip of the iceberg as player toxicity reaches more and more legendary levels.

The future hasn't been written so it would be nice if I am not correct.

Final-Fantasy-XIV-A-Realm-Reborn
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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