To be reborn
Square Enix is a company unafraid to repeat itself, as long as their dedicated audience returns. We've seen this with Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XIII, and Kingdom Hearts amongst others. The original release of Final Fantasy XIV didnt really fit this mold, and gamers received something that even Square Enix was hesitant to completely back. As such, three years later we come to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
While this is considered a sequel, it's more akin to Square Enix using a Phoenix Down, then applying endgame artifact armor to the newly revived. In other words, a redo. The game takes place in the same realm with a storyline that feeds off of the original, but this is essentially a brand new game. Truly, a realm reborn.
Easy to learn...
One of the biggest complaints about Square's last online Final Fantasy title was that the game was made for the hardcore - hard to play and even harder to master. That has completely changed with A Realm Reborn.
Not only is the game easy to pick up and play, allowing you to feel productive even if you only put in an hour of play, but a lot of what made Final Fantasy XI feel so hardcore is gone. You no longer lose experience points when you die, every class has the ability to teleport (for a small price), travel throughout the world and even within each town is quick and easy, and there are a ton of quests to do that allows players to level up without the burden of grinding.
If you're unfamiliar with Final Fantasy online games, there are a few things you should know. Firstly, you do not need more than one character to experience everything the game has to offer. You can play every class and every job on the same character. Changing classes is as easy as changing weapons, and the game saves presets of your gear so you don't even need to worry about re-equipping everything when you change classes.
If you want to switch to an advanced job, you simply add an item to your character while on the classes that goes with the job. For instance, if you want to switch from a Gladiator class to a Lancer, swap out your short sword for a polearm. If you want to then switch from your Lancer to a Dragoon advanced job, add a special item that you received from completing the level 30 quest and youre done.
Leveling up has never been easier. With a ton of easily accessible quests, a hunting log to get bonus experience points from killing monsters, and additional bonuses from resting in specific areas and even from eating food, it will be fairly easy to get to level 15 on your first day. Once you reach 15, you can use the handy Duty Finder feature to select the dungeon you wish to run through (with a party), then you can go about your business as the game finds a party for you. It's even possible to change classes and do something else while you wait. The wait varies depending on your class (healers and tanks have the shortest wait), but even as a damage-dealing job, we never waited longer than 30 minutes. Of course you can also form your own party instead of waiting.
A deeper experience
While the early portion of the game is easy for new players to get into, the game becomes far more demanding once you get into the higher level content, eventually reaching the level 50 cap and endgame content. Some of the endgame dungeons are not accessible via the Duty Finder which means you'll need to join a linkshell or Free Company (player groups) to play with friends. These dungeons are challenging and will make you work for your gear drops.
You can get by with your basic dungeon gear, but if you want the really good stuff you'll have to go the extra mile. There isn't a lot of the 24-hour spawn camping that some MMO players may be accustomed to, but if you want to do battle with Odin, you won't find him in a dungeon. He roams the world in a FATE, which is a random battle that occurs throughout the world, catering to a wide variety of character levels. Early on, FATEs are a great way to level, but once you reach your cap they become something else entirely. Odin awaits you...
A calamity may have occurred, both in the game and in the real world, when Square released the original version of Final Fantasy XIV, but the revamped Realm Reborn has made things right. It's easy for beginners, challenging to acquire the top endgame gear, and a lot of fun in-between. You can even enjoy fishing or just exploring the beautiful world Square Enix has created. In fact, the worst part of A Realm Reborn is the monthly fee required to play the game, but after spending quite a few hours with the title it is well worth it.
- Easy to solo your way to 15, then easy access to multiplayer dungeons
- Multiple levels of fun from dungeon crawling to fishing to exploring the countryside
- Take the optional hard road and get rewarded with the best gear for your efforts
- PS3 load times can be a little longer than desired
- Controller functionality is great, but a mouse is generally preferred, and you'll want a keyboard to chat
- A monthly subscription fee