Sunday, September 12, 2010

Final Fantasy XIV Review…it is Awesome


Breaking this down into Buffs (things I love) and Debuffs (debunking a lot of misconceptions of the game that led me to believe I might not like it) and Curse (what sucks).

Buffs:
I’ll just start with the awesomesauceness of the game.
*The graphics. It has not been since Final Fantasy XI that I have encountered graphics that really impressed me and so it is quite appropriate that it’s FFXIV that trumps the last time I was truly wowed by a graphic engine. The renderings are just spectacular, the details are as crisp as I remembered the last time.

Did I mention the graphics are just awesome? I definitely would not recommend anyone try to play this game without the bare minimum system requirements for sure. You will lag, your screen will look like the original nintendo, and it won’t be worth your money to try to play this game unless you can fully appreciate it.

My system is a Intel Core Duo E8400 @ 3.00GHz, 8GB ram, Nvidia GeForce 260 and the game nearly eats up all my processing power. I’d love to upgrade but am gonna try to hold out but if I could, I definitely would for this game. Also, messing with the config file in the game folder really helped me toggle my graphic settings to match my computers capabilities…and it’s better to play in full screen mode anyhow.

* This game rewards you for exploring and figuring things out as you go. Spending the time to click on the NPCs and talking to everyone often yields really cool stuff you wouldn’t know about. The wiki for this game is still pretty small so I am finding the need for exploration a really fun change from having every zone and NPC memorized.

*Minimal questing. You only get like 8 quests per week and then the rest of your leveling is done through grinding mobs or crafting. I think I hated this in FFXI but now love it having been totally burnt out from quest grinding in WoW. It’s just nice to not have to worry about everyone being on the same quest etc.. just go out, explore, and kill shit that’s within your level. It’s nice because…

*The combat is a lot longer than in WoW for sure. You spend many minutes on one mob which might sound tedious if it weren’t for things like Battle Regimens which require group coordination to perform special debuff abilities on the mob when performed correctly. It’s not easy so far and that challenge alone makes game play not as boring as “spam spam spam spam kill.” The combat system also offers Tactical Points which let you set off special moves as well which break up the spammyness of your typical fights. And you know the game mobs are only gonna get more complex when a simple beginners mob dodo bird can blind, slow, and sleep you. lol.


*Crafting graphics are awesome (not just twisting your fingers around in the air while being hunched over). You actually see saw blades and spin wheels for tailoring etc. And so far I love the actual crafting mechanism too. I actually feel like I’m performing a skill when I’m fishing or doing botany (chopping down wood off trees). It’s like a mini game inside the game.




Debuff:
Problems I heard people have in FF that I didn’t think were bad at all.

*Controls. Movement controls are fine for me but I’ve always used the awsd keys in conjunction with my right mouse click to navigate in WoW. If you are used to the arrow keys, I can see how you might really have a hard time but the plus side is that once you learn to move with your mouse and keyboard, it’s way more fluid and nice…good habit for game play anyhow.

*XP Fatigue. This is the one I’ve heard people bitching about the most but I think it’s probably the most misunderstood mechanism of the game so far. In FFXIV, ONE character can be any class and a class is defined not only as say like a conjurer or lancer but also as a fisher or botanist or miner. You can be all of them if you want. To change classes, you only have to change out your weapon and bam, you are a new class.

XP Fatigue begins after 8 hours of ONE class and then diminishes to zero XP gain after 16 hours (per week). This means you can go to another class and level that up after those hours. They are encouraging people to not just be mono-classed and seriously, who the hell can do more that 16 hours of grinding a fuckin’ wharf rat or doing 16 hours of mining per week.

They did this so you wouldn’t feel guilty about leveling up another class during the week..time you would otherwise pour into perfecting your main class etc. I rather like this system a lot because it frees me up to do other things in the game rather than to level chase and encourages me to try other things in the game than grinding a mob.

There are 18 classes in the game and 18x16 = more hours than in a week…so it’s not like you have to turn off the game at any point for you crazy mmorpg addicts *looks at self*

*No Epic Loot Drops. I guess I actually like that there is no looting in the game. Random crap just goes directly into your inventory and you don’t have to waste time pick up crap off the mob. Gear and weapons are pretty much crafted although some crappy stuff occasionally drops off mobs or are received through quests. The majority of loot you will want though will be from other players in the game who spend the time to gather and craft etc. THIS is what makes crafting in a game actually useful…demand. When awesome crap falls off of mobs, who the heck wants to five days crafting a shield? Not me.

*No Auction House at game launch. This one I can see why people are going nuts but at the same time I still applaud SE for trying something bold with the market wards. Yes, they are laggy and horribly time consuming but at the same time they generate a community that is normally vacant. Secondary class systems have previously just been useless and interaction for trade systems in WoW was rather annoying because of the amount of spamming you had to do. I get the feeling they will bring in an AH system later but for now, they want people active in the market wards. And quite frankly, the awful truth is that if you find yourself saying “I don’t have time for this” then this game is probably not for you..stay far far away. (I spent thirty minutes just looking for the fishing guild on three different levels of an area cursing in frustration the whole way but being so excited when I finally found it…that’s FFXIV)

Curse:
So the stuff about the game that just plain sucks!

*TABing to another window while running FFXIV will crash the game. I’m not sure if that’s just beta or if that will be the case in the title release.

*(my BIGGEST gripe of FFXIV) Software Mouse sucks but hopefully someone will make a mod so we can use the hardware mouse instead.

*/tell Firstname Lastname to talk to friends sucks! there is no /r yet which makes chatting in the game a pain. Maybe they are trying to encourage people to get in a linkshell ASAP.

*Party invite only seems possible when you are physically near each other and can click on the player..seems cumbersome.

-----------TIPS------------
Gonna go ahead an list a few things I learned that might make game play easier for anyone just going in:


*Shortcuts I love:
[Home] = open and close main menu
[C] = Target Lock
[F] = Toggle Active/Passive Mode
[B]= Open/Close Emote
The rest here:


*Talk to everyone more than once…sometimes they have more to give you…ie.. I got my extra spell by talking to the main barkeep in town a second time.

*Macro Guide: http://www.ffxivcore.com/wiki/Macro_Guide

*Like @Ejji says: put everything you know and love about WoW on the shelf before playing.

I set up a bindpoint channel for FFXIV to spam random crap about things we've figured out:
Channel Information
FFXIV
Room: ffxiv
Server: games.bindpoint.net
Handle: Yourname


Sign up here at bindpoint.im

Instructions for Aidum (mac) and Pidgin (pc) here

11 comments:

Starman said...

I don't think I'd like the XP debuff. It's silly. One rainy weekend and I can't do what *I* want. Maybe I don't want to work on another class or something. I just don't like it when games force me to do things their way.

Some say it's because they want people to not level too fast, or that they don't have enough content in the game. I don't know.

Still, these things bug the shit out of me. It's my time, and I'm paying THEM to play.

As for crafting, you're dead on with that. EQ2 has the best crafting system in any MMORPG to date. I challenge anyone to refute that. The supply/demand from toon crafting is the best solution to gear drops.

As for the lack of an AH, EQ1 suffered from that, and I mean SUFFERED. This won't bode well for FF XIV.

radiochu said...

the mouse is the sole thing keeping me from trying out FF XIV. it looks like a game I'd really love to play, but I just can't get past it - it's that big of an annoyance to me. seriously, it takes me twice as long to complete a single action as it should - I have to kind of poke around and hope I hit the menu when I want to log out, for example,a dn that thing is TINY. people keep saying it's because it's meant to be played with a controller, but honestly, if my controller crept along like that too, I'd be super-pissed.

I love the game otherwise. the graphics are delicious. and my freaking lalafell is so cute! I can definitely see myself playing this game if I have the money someday... so long as I don't have to put up with that freaking mouse.

Starman said...

One last thing before bed...

Nobody's mentioned this, but what's the tension in this game? In EQ2 and WoW there were two sides (Horde/Alliance, Qeynos/Freeport). Is there one in XIV? What's the culture of the game? Not sure I can play a game where I say "yeah, lovin' my Lalafel".

Chris said...

Any fraps/video of your gameplay available? Would love to see/hear what it "feels" like!

Chris/Hoof

Alachia said...

@starman I think the point of the game is that it's moving away from experience points and level-based progression. It wants to shift the paradigm into skill-based progression which is far more horizontal than what most WoW players are used to. It takes a lot of pressure off of XP grinding and allows me to just sorta do what I want in the game without the pressure of trying to "keep up"..
As you see in the game, they don't even put an XP bar in the UI..and physical XP is separated from class based XP.

There is no faction tension in the game as there was in WoW (horde vs alliance) but more of a common enemy known as the Garlean Empire (you can kinda think of it as the ominous danger from Mordor). In addition to this, is the more casual tension of keeping their civilization together and functioning. I think that's why the service classes will actually have a strong showing in this game which is a really cool change.

@radiochu yup.. software mouse is crap. Luckily most commands have a shortcut through the keyboard...including crafting. you can just hit the enter button instead of trying to time the mouse correctly. My friend Ejji is using a game controller, he says it runs super smooth with it.

@chris I'll see what I can do about a video...although it won't be too exciting.. maybe me chopping wood. lol.

Strumpet said...

I think I would really miss the lack of quests. I don't find WoW to be a quest grind at all. I find quests give a purpose to what you're up to and creates a sense of story.

And I have to agree with Starman. Surely it's up to me whether I would want to level one class or another at any given time?

I'm still keen to give it a try at release, but mainly because I'm in limbo waiting for Cataclysm

francois said...

@ Alachia:

Damn, I decided not to buy the game after reading some bad reviews out there. You convinced me otherwise. I'll probably try it a month, at least for the artistic experience. I'm also very pleased by the idea of the XP fatigue system.

@ Starman:

I believe controlled XP/levels of some kind will become standard. If game makers don't do it, i think governments will enforce it when they finally understand the programed Pavlovian mechanisms in place for leveling and customer retention. It is wrong to reward *so much* a player based on the time he makes to play versus the skills he succeed to improve and master. It is unprecedented in history of human gaming and education. It rewards gamers/kids for just being there as much as they can physically handle. Succeeding in being mostly incompetent for a very long time is not the kind of *hardcore* we should value.

@ Stumpet:

For me story telling through quests is not yet implemented correctly in MMORPG. When i first played i rushed like everyone to the next level, unable to enjoy the lore. On my second toon I actively *forced* myself to slow down and read all texts to attempt to immerse myself in quests lines. The experience is so far behind a real book. You are constantly interrupted by things happening around, at least when you're not dying for reading. No wonder so few people actually read quests. I had to buy the WoW novels to actually enjoy the lore.

Chris said...

ouch... I need to find a video configuration FAQ or something - initial boots of the open beta on my macbook pro and desktop PC both remind me of trying EQ2 the first time: Sexy graphics, but not enough power to push them :'( - and I have fair amount of power here!

Chris said...

Well - I fiddled w/settings for a while tonight - no luck gaining much speed. If they get things running smoother (like WoW) by launch I'll give it another shot. So sad - I really wanted to explore the BETA a bit... but just to sluggish. :(

Alachia said...

@Chris did you go to the config file and lower down the settings? It is a pretty intensive game for hardware. It's definitely a game worth upgrading for though. :)

Chris said...

No I didn't fiddle w/the config - haven't had time to find guides on what to tweak in there yet. Usually though (like w/EQ2) if you have to tweak the config files it's pretty much a given that game performance will never be acceptable (let alone enjoyable) - for me at least.
However - I just realized this morning though that all hope is not lost... rather than fiddling w/video settings and/or upgrading computer hardware - I can simply play on my PS3! I'd forgotten until this AM that FFXIV will be a simultaneous Windows *and* PS3 release!

So now I'm anxiously waiting news on what the PS3 beta period will start! :)

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