Friday, February 20, 2015

Final Fantasy XIV ARR Review

Before I begin I'd like to mention that this was my 2nd time playing ARR as the first time I played this was about a year ago where my friends dragged me to try it out. The reason I first gave it a try was because I happened to own a copy of the collectors 1.0 that my friend gifted me awhile back. On my first 30 days I hit about level 40 and lost motivation to play due to the grind being incredibly boring so I really couldn't give it a fair review. So a year went by and this game started to cook up some hype so I decided to give it another 30 day go and this time, see what's new, and actually play it as far as I could within the 30 days to give it an honest review. So here is my review of FFXIV ARR as of right now.

FFXIV:ARR runs on a $15 monthly subscription or $12 a month if you only care about making a single character a server.

Character customization - 3/10 - Customization is a huge failure in FFXIV and it is sad and safe to say that there are free MMORPGs out there with more selection and customization than this.

You might be asking why character customization should matter or why this topic is first and that's because character customization is actually a big part of a MMORPG for many. Many players strive to look different from the millions of players and surprisingly for a game that charges you $15 a month, you really aren't getting what you're paying for. FFXIV is very limited on options for creating your character. You get to pick between 5 races with each having both genders and 2 sub races with minor differences which is nice but some of the races do come with marks and such that cannot be removed which can be very annoying for some. Once you pick your race and sub, you are pretty much given very limited options for hair, face, and etc. FFXIV does not have a detailed character customization with sliders that allow for you unlimited options for your face, eyes, and body, but they do have basic options which allow for 4-10 selections for each part except for about 4-6 options for the most important facial parts which make you very limited in how your character will look. There are some good features they allow such as body size, heterochromia (both eyes different color) for the eyes, and a variety of makeup options including tattoos but in the end you will still feel and even run into people (including in dungeons and such) that will almost make you feel like a clone. Some hair is race restricted also but FFXIV does allow you to change your makeup and hair whenever for free at the inn but major changes such as race and whatnot involve cash.

Armors, clothes, costumes and end game customization are very limited as well in FFXIV. Some armors will have the exact same design as lower level ones and you will find there is very little in variation. You can dye the clothes and armors itself but I need to mention that the dye only affect certain parts of what you are dyeing so there is still color limitations for what you want. Some armors can't be dyed as well which brings to my complaint about end game customization. A lot of end game armor will come "set" so that you cannot change the color and such but will allow for changes once you upgrade them. Some can be dyed but making you go through the extra effort just to dye something is a little tedious and some of the items they require aren't easy to get. At end game you'll find yourself matching with a lot of other players as there is very little to any customization that exist in this pay to play game.

Now some of you are asking about costumes and this is where the tears begin. For typical MMORPGs you'd just have a costume slot for each part, buying templates, or an NPC that would replace what you're wearing with whatever you'd like that you own but in FFXIV they make you go an extra mile just to get your customization on. The system they call "Glamour" consists of you owning the armor that you want to use as a costume and then using glamour prisms which you have to craft in order to obtain them. Each armor has a set grade level which involves higher crafting levels depending on the grade and this is just plain tedious since it should be simple enough to just apply what you want as a costume given you have it and the money.

I got my shine back... - Kei Shino 2015-2015 RIP IN PEACE

Story - 6/10 - Backtracking simulator 2014

So FFXIV does come with a storyline that you'll probably ignore at some point because it's just time consuming and tedious to sit around the hours of cut scenes while your friends are begging you to head on to the next area. Well in my case I was running the game solo but just found the storyline to be a very typical Final Fantasy story. Some people might like it but it just wasn't for me. Plus at some point when you hit the 8 man instances, people will be impatient to the point they won't wait for you to watch the cut scenes but good thing you can re-watch them at the inn. The story progression involves a lot of backtracking and by that I mean you getting pissed off every time you hear "the walking sands" and wishing the damn place actually "walked" to you. You will literally be sent somewhere and then back to report and so on, and it's not the average MMO where you go to one map, clean out all the NPC quests and kill every monster at least 10 times before moving on to the next. The game will actually send you to maps you've been through and all over the place to the point you just get real tired of having to use the teleport and return skill. Good on you if you're patient but it boggles my mind that they did not put a damn teleportation stone in such a crutial area that you'll be constantly going back to. On the flip side, the animations are very crisp and some cut scenes with npcs have voices which are done pretty well, other than that there wasn't much else I enjoyed.

Gameplay - 3/10 - Combat that will put you to sleep 
In my opinion, the combat in this game is out dated. It runs on the classic skill spam system while your character auto attacks at intervals so it's pretty much a game where you run entirely on skill rotations and timing. It is not a real time action combat so you will be spending a lot of time mashing 2 to 4 buttons all the way up to about level 40 before shit even begins. On a positive side, the combat is very simple and easy so it makes for a more carefree grind as you progress but I played Ninja which involved having the right rotation so you had to pay attention if you cared about your DPS. There is not much to say other than it being a very boring combat system as even end game you will be doing rotations consisting of 8 skill loops with other skills being thrown in between when available but since the game is all that, it'll almost become a habit of just pressing everything in order or having the right positioning. Some classes involve positioning such as monks who do extra damage and such depending if they hit from the front, flank, behind, etc., which make the game a little more interesting but it's still messed up because the enemies hit boxes are badly set and you have to be on point for it to work. Other than that, it's a very skill-less combat system. When dealing with enemies, you just have to avoid their cone, circle, and line indicators to avoid getting hit for big damage. FFXIV also is heavily team dependent when running instances/dungeons so it can be annoying having to rely heavily on tank and healers to do their job regardless how good or geared you are. for DPS it's pretty much just chase the tank and get the enemies off his ass so long as he can keep aggro. No skill shots or aiming required so feel free to play in your sleep. Lower level Instances are incredibly boring and even when you hit end game you will be finding yourself returning to them for the daily roulette. There is a huge level and stat scaling when you run the lower level dungeons as a higher level, so you'll find yourself spamming 2 attacks while doing only 5% more damage than the newbie next to you forcing you to run that dungeon for a good 15-30 minutes. As a currently maxed level player, I don't see any reason why I should be gimped that hard when going back in lower level dungeons as exp means nothing to me, and the drops are garbage to me considering you can rarely even sell gear you find. If they wanted to prevent noobs from being power leveled then just simply scale exp but I guess they didn't think hard enough.
Game content - 2/10 - Boring grind, shitty PvP, limited gameplay, and an end game that you sleep on.

Patience simulator 2014

So this is going to be where I pretty much bash the game and explain why everything about this game is poorly made. For starters, you'll find in FFXIV that the queues will take forever. Depending on your class, you can wait from 10 minutes all the way up to 3 hours or even more. Take note that this implies to every dungeon, trial, and even PvP. If you are playing DPS then your average wait times on queues are about 30 minutes and this is sad considering that the queues itself are server wide so even for PvP it can take a good hour or two to get in when they have about 6 different servers into account. This can be fixed if you have friends and such to party with or if you are a tank or healer but in the end there is still a disgustingly long queue to take account for a majority of the players and that you are paying on a monthly basis. People might say "just be patient", "do other things while you wait" or "this is why you play other classes as well" but...

People don't queue to wait, they queue because they want to play and nobody should have to wait that long just to run a dungeon. Some people aren't given options either as even for Relic weapon quests or other specific quests, you will be asked to run the dungeons and such as said class or beat the bosses as that set class so in the end, people will still need to wait in queues in that specific class to get what they want. This is coming for someone who managed to grind Yoshimitsu Animus in about 6 days which involved queuing for a total of 30 dungeons as a DPS. In the end, I shouldn't need to play another class that I don't want to, to get faster queue times. It also doesn't help the fact that I can't summon my chocobo as a party member while I'm queuing because that long wait would be the perfect time and likely only time to grind my chocobo. So how can we fix this issue? Well make more healer classes to promote more players to play or better yet, make healers a less boring class but then again the combat in FFXIV is boring in general.

The grinding is really tedious and boring, especially for those that give zero fuks for the storyline and just want to get through everything. There gets to a point where you start doing 8 man instances and it gets somewhat fun but then you realize these become your dailies and you're stuck running this nightmare of a speed run just for some tomestones. The first time you hit 50 will be the fastest due to quests giving you decent amounts of exp. After that, you're pretty much looking at grinding FATEs which involve you running to whatever purple flashy dot on the map and hoping others wait on your ass or that there isn't some high level dude that's atma grinding. Other options include doing levequests which take up a daily allowance, or grinding dungeons which it just a bad idea unless you don't mind waiting on the queue. Even after you complete the general storyline and see the credits roll, you'll end up doing more story quests while sitting on max level. This is a complete waste of time considering that you can no longer gain exp and you're still backtracking here and there just to unlock a few other dungeons that drop crappy gear that's item level 90 or below. Luckily npcs in mor dhona will unlock separate quests to allow for more harder end game instances but for the extreme trials and such, you will be required to unlock them in order which is tedious for those that just want to get straight to it once they hit end game. 

PvP is the biggest joke that FFXIV ARR has to offer. You can tell PvP is a joke when it takes more than 2-3 people minimum to kill a single healer and when they have to add separate PvP skills just to create some sort of balance. It's a shame since PvP is such a huge factor especially for end game. I get that PvP isn't for everyone but when you're sitting on the best gear and the game is strictly PvE then what else is there to do until new content? It's especially nice when they add PvP specific gear for those that want to be rewarded for their PvP skills but in FFXIV, there is no skill in PvP. What determines who wins is whichever team has more healers, more crowd control (stuns, slows, silences) and more ranged DPS. This is because they didn't take into account for gap closers, speed differences, and crowd control skills to deal with specific classes. It does not matter how much damage you can burst since the scaling is done horribly to the point that even the strongest of melee DPS won't even wipe off half of a healers HP just to watch them heal it back up in a single click. Sleep is your greatest nightmare in PvP as it forces you to sit there for 10 minutes and watch as everyone fight it out while leaving you snoozing. Doesn't help the fact they thought it was a good idea to give them an aoe (area of effect) sleep. Not to mention when a healer uses sprint, it's just like ok w.e just kill me already. PvP is badly optimized and nothing more awesome than chasing a bard as a melee where hes running away from you while shooting arrows from his back. Oh what's that, use the PvP tackle attack and stun him? Oh yeah, forgot he has a cleanse and an escape also. PvP is possible but nowhere near balanced, it strongly follows a grind system where the higher level you are in PvP Rank, the better advantage you have over everyone. It's hilarious considering that a majority of the PvP is item synced yet higher level players have stat and skill benefits. Basically the longer you PvP and rank up, the better you are, so there is hardly any skill involved or incentive for being skilled. The objectives modes are complete shit as it is 100% team dependent since the most important node is won by overall damage and not by last strike. This puts a tear in my eye because being able to steal objectives last minute is what creates clutch opportunities and if your team is being steam rolled by another, then what makes you think you have a better chance at out damaging the node than them? I'd stay away from the PvP if possible, despite it being a good idea to grind tomestones from.

PvP is possible but just remember that you are waiting 30 minutes minimum to play shitty PvP

A huge issue I see with FFXIV is that it tries to take advantage of its subscription based system to have the players stay longer to feel more rewarded. What I mean by that is that the game itself limits you on content and re-playability on a weekly basis. There are raids that can be run unlimited number of times that drop rare gear only to be able to obtain a single piece of gear a week. This only allows you to grind for 4 pieces of gear out of 12 in total on a monthly basis which means that if you were willing to grind an entire set from that raid then you'd have to sub for at least 3 months in total which limits players on what they can do. Another example they have is the Allagan Tomestone of Poetics weekly cap which is set at 450 poetics per week. For those that don't know what these poetic tomes are, they are basically points you can accumulate through running dungeons, trials, etc at end game that can be traded in for item level 120 gear which is really good. 450 isn't a lot considering the accessories cost about 400, hats/gloves/boots about 500 poetics, and armor and pant at 875. This is to make it so that you'd have to continually play on a weekly and monthly basis to obtain the entire set of gear thus forcing you to opt in for the next month if you want to obtain more pieces. Some might argue that players can choose to grind other gears via dungeons and such in the meantime but a majority of early released dungeons are irrelevant considering the advantages of tomestones of soldiery as you can easily achieve full item level 100 gear just by grinding off of dailies, front lines and quick dungeons where as harder dungeons require a minimum item level, which is exactly what you are trying to work on getting in the first place. I get that they are trying to have a limit as to how much someone can grind since they want to keep the game as casual as possible and prevent people who have the time and effort to obtain full sets of gear in less than a week but why are players being limited on what they can do when they are paying 15 dollars on a monthly basis? People don't pay to wait, they pay to play and that's what annoys the hell out of me when i realize i have to sleep on the game until my limit is reset when every minute is costing me money. Some other games run on similar restrictions but I'd much rather have a dungeon that's a one time run a day and hope to god you get lucky rather than an unlimited run and get 1 rare gear a week, that way you will be motivated to try again on a daily basis rather than having to sleep on your account for a week. A pay to play game should have benefits for the monthly subscription but sadly I only see this as a huge set back compared to free games which offer more freedom.

What I liked about FFXIV

One of the things I liked about FFXIV is that it is a really casual friendly game in the way that it is really easy to achieve what you want whether you are a hardcore mmo player or someone who wants to take it easy. FFXIV provides easy access to a lot of decent gear and even relic weapons are something that I'd like to consider as a freebie endgame weapon that can be improved with just time and determination. You simply do a quest that involves running a couple of dungeons, trials, and fetching low cost items and you got yourself a weapon with an aura that's pretty decent. You can further upgrade that weapon by farming for atma which can take a day or two and then upgrade the weapon even more into animus which just takes a couple days of pretty much playing the game. It is convenient for players who want to obtain strong weapons but don't want to do the whole try hard route of going from a crap set of end game gear, to decent set, to best set. The relic weapons can be done easily by anyone at a very low cost. Considering that and the gear obtained by tomestones, it's a very easy and quick way to achieve end game gear.

Another thing I liked about FFXIV is that it's very accurate to its Final Fantasy theme and the music itself is of really high quality. You don't really hear all the good shit until you reach the later level instances but all in all, I kept my BGM on for the most part. I liked also how depending on your mount, you'd get a different tune. The cities itself looked amazingly detailed, sized, and have an FF feel to them in one way or another.

Controller support is great, I played up to about level 40 using an xbox controller and i found no problem at all and it being a lot easier than playing on keyboard and mouse. After 45+ I switched to keyboard and mouse due to there not being enough hot key slots since controller only allows for up to 16 hot keys, and any more would require you to switch hot bars on the controller which would take additional unnecessary inputs versus having it all at once on a keyboard which can support up to an unlimited amount of keys.

Dynamic weather and the night and day system is phenomenal. You don't get many games that have this but FFXIV manages to pull it off nicely. Rain and shallow waters affect your clothes which is a nice and realistic feature.

Things I didn't like about FFXIV that I would consider a huge factor

The economy, which doesn't exist in FFXIV. This might surprise you as the game literally doesn't have an economy of the sort. Currency in FFXIV is almost used for nothing other than buying gyashl greens, dyes, or buying a house and furniture. There is nothing really to sell or buy since a lot of end game gear is non tradable and crafted gear is nowhere near as good as those that are found in dungeons and raids. The only difference with crafted gear is that they come with sockets for materia, but low and behold certain dungeons, trials and pvp will sync gear to which they prevent you from using materia.

Crafting itself is almost useless in regards to almost everything since all end game crafted gear is overly expensive and no where near as good as gears found. Early crafted gears will have its benefits but players can make hardly any money off of it. Consumables are pretty much the only decent way of making money but other than that crafting is almost only needed for specific end game quests which is completely unnecessary considering how crafting has almost no other worth while purpose. They will probably fix this later but for now this is where i stand. I'm saying this from an end game player's perspective so I might be missing out on a few thing that life skill players would understand. You would think though that the very best gear would require a recipe found from a dungeon that needed rare materials and such but supposedly the best crafted gear is just that of the "green" rarity. The "blue" rarity items normally can be upgraded via NPCs which brings me to my point of saying crafting is useless.

Things I didn't like about FFXIV that I wouldn't consider a huge factor

The variety of monsters were somewhat lacking and the amount of monsters per area were limited. I felt like they could've added a lot more final fantasy themed monsters to prevent seeing clones of enemies such as puddings, slyphs, and reskins/recolors. Fate bosses or the open world bosses could be unique in design rather than large scales of smaller monsters with slight color differences or minor reskins. Also some of the boss names and such could be made as jokes for days but I guess they intended for some humor in the game considering a lot of Fate names are based on actual memes and such. Seeing a crab wearing a helmet called Dark Helmet and watching hundreds of players kill this thing made me question if my character is just that sad or the helmet made that much of a difference cause those bosses looked nowhere near as good as the ones from the instance. Besides dark helmet, who the hell came up with the idea of calling the bee boss "stinging sophie", like seriously why?

Cash shop is completely empty, it's been a solid year now and all they have are seasonal costumes that can be unlocked via seasonal events, a single mount, 3 minions, marriage stuff and gender change potions. It's a shame they have zero to no costumes to make up for their lack of customization but the only good thing is that the shop is purely aesthetics and nothing pay to win.

Conclusion - 3/10 - An MMORPG that you sleep on while subbing monthly

FFXIV is definitely a game that isn't worth paying for and honestly, I don't think it's even a game worth playing if it was free. You are restricted on a lot you can do as well as having to deal with the horrible queue times which just make for a painful overall experience. PvP is terrible, customization is ass, and there isn't really anything good about this game to make it worth overcoming all of that. There are free MMORPG games out there that provide a lot more than this and it's sad to say that this game is a huge disappointment considering it is backed by a company such as square enix. I can only hope that this game will improve down the line but as of right now, this game is nowhere near as decent and honestly should not have people paying monthly for this garbage. There is a good chance I will not return unless my sub is being paid for, a hot gril is baiting me and booty is on the line, or new content that is just way too good to pass on (which i highly doubt this game will offer in a very long time and assuming before black desert online releases and slaughters everything). Anyways I'm not too worried because even If i decided to come back, the game is just that ez modo to the point I can probably catch up in like a good day or two. So there you have it guys, the roas.... I mean review of FFXIV ARR.

TL;DR: Final Fantasy XIV ARR in a nutshell