Despite being neck-deep in the Golden Weekend event over on The Secret World, and also trying to get together entries for a truly epic forum contest they have going on (blog incoming on that Soon ™), I’ve made just enough free time to start poking around in Final Fantasy XIV again.
Some folks might remember that I checked out the game on a free trial late last year, and my general impression was “almost, but not quite, good enough for me to sub to.” As I tried to make clear, I didn’t mean that as a slam on the game or to imply that there was anything glaringly awful in it; only that it didn’t quite impress me enough to jump in when I already have other games that take up a lot of my free time. There’s only so much time in a day, and I can’t spend all of it gaming, after all.
The nudge that got me going again was finding out a dear friend of mine I haven’t seen in ages also plays, plus his Free Company (guild) likes to go newbie hunting to offer help. Anyone who knows me or follows this blog knows how much I love that sort of thing. 😉 Related, in my first chunk of time playing solo without him, I actually had someone ingame ask if I wanted to join their FC. They were super pleasant when I declined, which is always nice. I know I tend to compare games to TSW, but I remember that being one of the first things that impressed me over there – that as a new player, I had someone I’d never met before decide to message me asking if I had any questions. (This is also where I mention the importance of word-of-mouth for folks making gaming choices, the importance of a good community to keep players in the game, and how much I love when games can bring people together. 🙂 )
Honestly, it had been in the back of my mind to pick up FFXIV again ever since I tried it out. I’m an odd duck when it comes to Final Fantasy games. The NES and SNES games were, no question, my favorite games growing up. They were responsible for me having any interest in RPG’s and, later, MMORPG’s. I stopped following the series after those early games, though. I didn’t own a Playstation when the series first made the jump, and by the time I did, I found myself unable to get into the newer incarnations. I’ve spent plenty of hours watching friends of mine play, but have very little personal experience with any of the games post-SNES.
I’m glad I wound up giving this one another shot, in any case. I won’t argue with the folks who say it’s heavy with nostalgia bombs, but there’s a charm in that I appreciate. It’s rather nice when I’ve been out of the series for so long to still be able to drop back into the world and feel comfortable there. I have my Chocobos and my victory music and my spells and my Potions. So far, the game is balancing the MMO part well with the feel of Final Fantasy games, which impresses me since their style of RPG could have mixed very poorly with an MMO experience.
One random thing I noticed, and absolutely love, is the use of gender-specific nouns and pronouns in cutscenes. I fully understand why many games, especially MMO’s, keep their dialogue gender-neutral; and that doesn’t bother me. But, not to belabor the point, there are only so many games where I can play a female character and hear, “…for this woman who has done so much for us.” It wasn’t something I noticed was lacking, but as soon as I started hitting those sections in this game it made my ears perk. I was subtly more in tune with the game and more invested in it with just that one small detail.
FFXIV also has at least one other very welcome thing going for it, and this one it has in common with TSW. It’s an MMO where your character can play any class, level any ability. I joke sometimes that TSW has spoiled me for other MMO’s, but it’s not entirely untrue. I get far more attached to my character and far more immersed in the world when I’m not constantly switching between my alts based on their abilities. Sure, I have alts in TSW and I likely will in FFXIV as well – but they’re characters with names rather than “my healer” or “my tank” or “my [power] alt.” I also find it’s better for me as a player to be able to focus on one character at a time. I’m more than a bit of a completionist, and that can get overwhelming when you’re juggling many characters at once. Games tend to feel more grindy to me when I’m running different characters through the same missions constantly.
I’m only up to level 15 at the moment, there’s a lot of the game I haven’t gotten to yet. But hey, that’s what real game reviews are for. It probably doesn’t surprise anyone that the graphics and music are gorgeous, though I notice it runs exceptionally well on my laptop. I haven’t had any situations with noticeable lag, even while in town on a crowded server. The quests have been enjoyable, and I’m having a lot fun exploring at the moment. 🙂
[Note: I got about halfway through typing this and my wrist started yelling at me, so apologies if it sounds rushed. I’d planned on going into more detail, but I’m guessing this means I really did hurt *exactly* the part of my wrist I need for typing. It’s fine with normal daily things, but I think I’m going to have to be careful about longer blogs for a bit yet. Sorry all, I thought it’d be good as new by now. Related, another plus about FFXIV is that it’s controller compatible. *This* right here is why I’m such a big fan of having that option – it’s not that I’m too clumsy for keyboard controls, it’s that sometimes my wrist(s) just can’t even.]