I don’t play MMOs. It’s a combination of things, mainly my being a cheapo and solitairy gamer. But, I’ve always been intrigued by the Final Fantasy MMORPGs, due to my love of the series, and couldn’t help but be intrigued by the Final Fantasy XIV beta. I guess you could think of it as forbidden fruit. I’d played the PC version of the game, briefly, but that was back when it first launched, troublesome issues abounded and even Square Enix realized things were so wrong, that it had to make it free for a while.
That isn’t the case anymore. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn marked the return of a Final Fantasy MMO that would be worth paying to play. Fresh start, wipe the slate clean, do-over. So, I had to try again, and thus began my experience with the MMORPG on my PS3.
Setting up was a bit of an experience. I assumed that since I was playing on my PS3, it’d mean no extraneous log-ins and passwords to remember. No endless, daily patches. To make it easy, I thought that I’d be able to just click the icon and play. It didn’t work like that. To start, I had to make a Square Enix account. A new account actually, since for some reason my old Square Enix account and log-in wasn’t working. Then, I realized I could only actually install the game during the alloted beta time, which meant no getting everything set up ahead of time, then enjoying the whole weekend with Final Fantasy XIV.
Okay, I’m being petty, and that shouldn’t be what this preview is about. Especially since I had fun with Final Fantasy XIV.
When I began the beta, I chose the Diablos server, because fellow GamerTell editor Jeremy Hill was playing on there. It didn’t really matter, in the long run, because we were never online at the same time, in the first place. Besides, I ended up doing what I do in most MMORPGs that I decide to play – I invariably ended up spending most of my time journeying alone.
Oddly enough, that was okay with the Final Fantasy XIV beta. My Seeker of the Sun Miqo’te Archer was actually capable of facing most enemies alone, even though she was a ranged class. There were plenty of special skills to take advantage of, with skill points regenerating quickly, and she was also quite quick on her feet. Not to mention, she was also adorable. I did team up a few times with people, wishing all the while that I had a keyboard peripheral to use with my PS3, but I never felt like I had to work with others on ordinary tasks, if I didn’t want to. I felt safest tackling “boss” type monsters in groups, but standard chores could be completed alone.
I don’t want my want of a keyboard to confuse people though. I was pleasantly surprised by how capable the PS3 controller was while playing the Final Fantasy XIV beta. The hotkeys were perfectly mapped to the action buttons, it was easy to toggle between and open up various windows and I never felt like I was overwhelmed. I always knew exactly which buttons to push and I have to say, after playing the PC version of Final Fantasy XIV back in the day and the PS3 beta now, I preferred the beta control scheme. I’m thinking it’s because I’ve always played my RPGs on my consoles, and the preview build seemed to understand and cater to that. Actually, now that I think about it, the controls almost reminded me a little of White Knight Chronicles.
What also helped was how good Final Fantasy XIV looked during the beta. There was background music, but no NPC voice acting. However, the character models and environments all looked perfect. My Miqo’te’s journey began in Gridania, a gorgeous town in the woods. Everything was lush, green and natural. Even the buildings seemed to blend in with their surroundings. Since it’s been so long since I played on the PC and this was only a beta, I can’t really make an accurate comparison as to whether it was prettier on one platform or another. I can say that I thought Gridania had a very distinct look and I enjoyed roaming around the town and its nearby woods. I never actually ventured to the other nations, however, as I had too many introductory quests around the immediate area.
The most interesting thing I noticed was when I was able to participate in a FATE. It’s a random Full Active Time Event that can occur when roaming around an area. I was going through the forests of Gridania when my Miqo’te sensed a FATE. I checked my map, saw it was nearby, so I joined up. It had been going on for a while, there was about 10 minutes left, and I had to quick help recover stolen items from bandits. Other people had run in to join as well, so even though we weren’t official a party working together, we were still all part of this same event and working towards a common goal. With about seven of us working together, we dispatched the bandits and each received some money and materials after it was done.
Actually, I have to admit that I had a bit of a lament as I played through each Final Fantasy XIV beta weekend. Sometimes, it would happen when a friend or family member was stopping by. We’d talk about what I was doing, they’d ask what I thought of the beta so far, I’d find a good stopping point and move on to other times. During each conversation, however, I’d eventually say how I wished it didn’t require a subscription. I suppose that’s a good way to tell how engaging a beta is. I, someone who has never actually played an MMO with a monthly fee, was left wondering if I should after my time with the preview.
Of course, this was just a preview, beta session of Final Fantasy XIV. Things can change. If this beta period is any indication though, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has a promising future. If you want in, it launches August 27, 2013, with the the PC version costing $29.99 and the PS3 $39.99. More expensive collector’s editions are also available. Subscriptions start at $14.99 for a 30 day period with 8 characters per server and 40 characters total, but there are other subscription options that drop the monthly price to $13.99 and $12.99, but then also lock people into 3 and 6 month contracts.
Site [Final Fantasy XIV]