The Collector’s Edition of Final Fantasy XIV arrived last Wednesday and I’ve been dabbling in it since. I’ve had a few people ask me what I thought of it. Figured it was time to dust off the blog to talk about it.
Caveats first. I played Closed and Open Beta, but in both cases very lightly. In the case of Closed I got in via winning a Fileplanet key on the last weekend Closed Beta was running, but I didn’t realize it was the last weekend so I didn’t play as heavily as I might have. By the time Open Beta arrived, launch was close enough that I didn’t want to be bored with early game content from having to re-roll, so again I didn’t play it much.
Second, FF XIV arrived the same week that Civ 5 did, and just a few days after the Sony Move, so my interests have certainly been divided lately.
So am I liking FF XIV? Yes, but conditionally. When I talked about the beta I said that it was like playing a single player RPG in a lot of ways. I no longer feel that way, really. This is more a sandbox game with some really engaging newbie quests, or so it seems. Maybe I’ll find more rich story-telling later but for now I’m in a sandbox game, for sure.
The only quests on my plate right now are the levequests, which you may as well read as leveling quests, in my limited experience. They kind of focus your sandboxing. Imagine if some said “Make a castle like this one!” and showed you a model (while you were playing in your sandbox). That’s what a levequest is. It has you doing the same things you were already doing, only with a specific goal.
I like this sandbox feel of “Go out and do whatever you feel like doing” but you have to make your own goals a lot of the time. I like that my one character can change to any class by changing tools. I like the look of the world. The graphics are beautiful to me, but that’s certainly subjective. I like that the game is so different that, for the first time in a while, I feel like I’m learning a new game, not a riff on all the games that came before it. There’s a lot of trial and error and/or web research. For me, as a change of pace, this is fun. I do wish the game had come with a thick manual though.
Sitting at the top of the list of things I don’t like: the payment system. First, the pricing. You pay $9.99 just to have an account, and then you pay $3/month per character, and that includes your first character. So an account with 1 character is $12.99/month. If you want two characters, it’s $15.99/month and so on. You can save if you sign up for 3 or 6 months at a time. Of course the good news is that you don’t really need more than 1 character and if you stick to just one then FF XIV is cheaper than most sub-based MMOs.
Worse is how you pay for your sub. You can’t just give them a credit card. Nope, you can either sign up for some third party service called ClickandBuy, register you credit card with them, and then use that account to pay, or you can buy Crysta, which are basically FF XIV points. These you can buy via PayPal or “Ultimate Gamer Cards” that you can pick up at Wal-Marts or certain drugstores or Gamestop. 1 Crysta = 1 cent. So a 1 month sub can be paid for with 1,299 Crysta. But guess what? You can purchase Crysta 500, 1000 or 2000 at a time. You can’t buy 1,299 Crysta so you’re going to have to have left-overs.
Remember Chronicles of Spellborn? We saw how well janky payment options worked for them.
Anyway enough ranting about the payment system. Let’s talk UI & controls. A lot of people hate the controls and the UI. They aren’t that much of an issue for me but if you expect to translate your WoW or Warhammer or EQ2 controls to FF XIV you’re going to be very disappointed. The good news is that they’ve improved the mouse cursor response rate in the launch version, but I still tend to jump from Gamepad to all-keyboard and don’t use the mouse much at all.
FFXIV supports macros and lots of / commands and you’re going to want to use both of these at certain times.
I guess this is long enough for now. If you jumped over the tl;dr stuff I’ll recap. I like the game, but I tend to play it for an hour here, an hour there. I don’t get sucked in and play it for hours straight. It’s a very casual game for me. I’m still dinking around with low-level jobs, seeing what they all feel like and getting a sense for what I’m going to want to do.
It has a player-driven economy from what I’ve seen, but sadly no housing. Somehow to me a sandbox game needs housing to feel complete. Housing gives crafters a lot of stuff to build, after all.
My guess is that I’ll keep playing for a month or two and then probably let it go and give it another try when it hits the PS3. It feels like a game that’ll be perfect to play when stretched out on a couch with a controller in my hand. The generally slow pace of the game just whispers “relax” in your ear every time you sit down to play. This is a game that’s going to drive power-leveling types mad since the pacing is so mellow in everything.
If you have specific questions feel free to ask them but keep in mind I’m playing at my own pace and Civ V keeps sucking up entire evenings of my playtime.
Update: Werit asks for more examples of how FF XIV is sandboxy. Hmm, maybe this is a definition thing. To me a game being a sandbox indicates more a lack of features than anything. There isn’t a lot of structure here. You can be whatever you want to be (well, once you buy the level 1 tool for that class) and from what I’ve read most of the good gear comes from crafters, so there’s a good amount of buying and selling raw materials and finished goods (though no central Auction House, which is a problem). At the moment I have 0 quests in my quest log. I don’t have NPC’s telling me where to go or what to do. I just have the ability to practice at any of the available jobs to get good enough to do whatever I feel like doing.
Hopefully that makes sense?
Update #2: One important point that I realized I left out of this post. While I’m liking FF XIV I wouldn’t recommend it in general terms to MMO players. I think some players will really love it but even more will really hate it, so I suggest doing a lot of research before buying.