From the first cutscene that plays as you log into the game, Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn (FFXIV) grabs onto you. Tons of MMOs have this same hype early on, but what makes FFXIV different from many other games in its genre is its ability to keep you invested.
I was first introduced to FFXIV a while back, and I refused to play it. A buddy of mine would talk about how fun it was, but I had my reservations about many key aspects in FFXIV. I didn’t want to pay a monthly subscription, I didn’t want to play with tab targeting, but most importantly I felt like I was coming in way too late.
Now that I’ve played it, I regret not playing it sooner. Of course, it has its problems, but its easily the most whole MMO I’ve played in recent memory.
Graphically the game doesn’t stand out at first. Its visuals are simple to look at, and they look a little dated compared to the glamour of MMOs like Black Desert Online. After a while though, the style grew on me. It’s simple, but it’s extremely clean. Areas in the world feel unique, but the game’s style makes them feel connected in a subtle way.
And even though the game has this simple anime-ish style it has its moments where its stunning to look at. Crystals glow in the distance, towers loom over the mountains, and small village lights populate empty deserts.
On top of this, the game performs like a dream.
Coming from Black Desert Online and Tera I was ready for FPS drops and pop in galore, but what I got was a game that looked simply beautiful at times and ran without a hitch.
What makes FFXIV different is that it promises to be an MMO with the Final Fantasy style quirks, and it delivers on that and more.
FFXIV has its own class system which allows characters to be every single class at once. Instead of switching characters you simply switch your weapon. Each class has its own weapon that defines it and switching weapons will switch your class and pull up the hotkeys you have saved for that class.
Class loadouts can be saved in a list, and loadouts can be easily update with the press of the “Update Gear Set” button.
Each class does have its own level, so you must level up each class individually, but the game has many systems in place to allow you to level up all the classes and jobs effectively.
Of course, you can always make more than 1 character if you prefer.
Once you level up your class high enough it becomes a Job. Jobs are more advanced versions of classes with more abilities and more power. What makes Jobs special is the individual leveling for each one.
Past level 30, each job has its own set of quests to level up. It adds for a lot of fun with the little bit of story it adds to your character.
Fighting in FFXIV is sadly tab targeting but considering this it’s fairly fast paced and fun. I mainly played as an Arcanist/Summoner, but I leveled up some of the other classes quite a bit. After playing for so long as a caster style class it felt nice to be able to switch to a tankier class like Marauder and get closer to the action.
The game’s story is a fun time. While I don’t think it’s the best story ever told its quite fun, especially for an MMO story. Along the way of competing the main story you meet a cast of colorful, and rememberable, characters, and you complete a long series of quests (of course). Most are forgettable, but there are plenty of amazing moments in the campaign that are worth remembering.
But the side quests are where I feel the game’s quests shine the most.
FFXIV has some of the most memorable, wacky, and rewarding side quests I’ve ever experience in this type of game. One moment you think you’re doing a normal fetch quest, the next you’re watching a psycho hair stylist cut hair in the most over the top way I’ve ever seen.
There are points in FFXIV where I laughed out loud at just how hilarious some of the side quests were, and on top of this many of them are super rewarding.
Most side quests not only reward the player with money and XP, but emotes, gear, pets, etc. It’s all great fun to actually be rewarded for doing the side quests. This along with the fun many of them end up being makes the level up process feel like an experience rather than a grind.
But the thing is, there never really is a level grind during the base game. All players have a double XP boost all the way up to level 60, and because of this the game’s level system is fast and works perfectly with the quest line.
I ended up being exactly level 50 at the end of story level 50 quests without grinding for a level up a single time.
Moreover, FFXIV comes packed with minigames that are close to being full games within themselves.
There’s an RTS that uses the pets you’ve collected in game, there’s a grid-based card strategy game that uses cards you can buy in-game or win off NPCs, chocobo breeding and racing, and a full-fledged casino with minigames and a lottery.
If you get bored of playing the main game, you can simply teleport to the casino and bet your money away.
And here’s where my fears came into play.
As you step into casino (I’ll call it by its name, The Golden Saucer, from here on out) you are introduced to a new currency, MGP. You are also told that MGP can be bought with Gil (the normal in-game currency). This is where I was ready for the pay-to-win to start, but I was shocked to find out there was 0 way to buy MGP with real cash.
FFXIV’s monetization system is almost purely the monthly subscription. While there are some mounts and pets that can only be bought with real money, almost every mount in the game is earnable. The best mounts in game aren’t the purchasable ones either as the best mounts and pets are earnable with enough hard questing and dungeon grinding.
Dungeons in FFXIV are quite fun. They all have elaborate themes and bosses, and all dungeons in the game aren’t locked to the normal layout. The game has what’s called “Deep Dungeons” where in the dungeon your character has separate progression and weapons.
The dungeon is procedurally generated with a depth of 100 floors. Every time you complete 10 floors you are rewarded a couple random drops. Progress can be reset at any time with these dungeons, and they are a great mix up from the normal dungeon formula.
Normal dungeons, like I said earlier, are all themed. There’s dragon filled castles buried in snow, monster filled ancient ruins, and ghoul filled haunted mansions. All usually contain a journey through tight halls filled with creatures to fight, a few mini bosses along the way, and a main moss to end the dungeon. Nothing special comes with this formula, but it’s all pretty fun.
What makes some of the dungeons really stand out along with many portions of the game is the great soundtrack.
Often times the games soundtrack is just a calming background score, but every now and again it would give me glimpses of amazing music. It doesn’t just keep it confined to one genre either, but instead you have orchestral pieces, rock music, electronic, etc. It branches out at times, and it catches you off guard when it does.
Some points have really memorable pieces of music that are heard often too. The problem is that some pieces, one in particular, is played a little too often. The happy chocobo music is played every time you mount your chocobo, and while for a while its good fun it begins to slowly drain the life out of you as you continue to play.
On the subject of mounts and repetitive things, backtracking is an issue in this game just as in every other MMO ever. It isn’t too annoying ever because of the very fair teleporting system (which requires a small fee to teleport to designated areas), but at times you get a little bored of running around in a small village for a little while.
When it comes to the end game of FFXIV there are heaps of things to do. I’m not going to try to name every single thing, but there are two full story expansions with level cap increases, tons of repeatable dungeons, endlessly repeatable deep dungeons, tons of classes and jobs to level up, deep quests for certain rare rewards, gambling in the casino for unique rewards, purchasable player housing, seasonal events, and tons of other stuff.
It’s quite hard to run out of things to do here, and the one thing this game does so well is its all fun to do.
Not to mention FFXIV’s playerbase is one of the strangest experiences I’ve had playing a game in a long time.
Everyone is really really REALLY nice.
I was bewildered by just how friendly every single person I met was. People asked me if I needed help, they laughed with me when I made mistakes, they had conversations with me, they taught me things I didn’t know, and they all had fun just hanging out with everyone playing.
People would play harp while other people danced and clapped and if you waved at someone they would. It was hard to understand after playing tons of salty multiplayer games just how nice people could be, and just the community in itself could be a reason to buy the game for some.
FFXIV’s rich history could be the reason it has this strong community. If you haven’t heard the story of this game’s creation I really recommend you watch this extremely well-done documentary. LINK HERE.
Sure, the game’s not perfect, but I’ve come to love this game. The gameplay is fun, the graphics have their moments, the music shines from time to time, the end game is a good time, and the people surrounding this game hold it up on a pedestal. It’s easily worth trying out for at least month to see if you like it.