Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Review - a wonderful cross-platform MMO worthy of monthly subscription
- Posted September 7th, 2013 at 21:59 EDT by Timothy Nunes
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There are so many addictive and enjoyable gameplay elements in Final Fantasy XIV that WoW-schooled veterans and MMO rookies alike will love. It's been a long time coming, but A Realm Reborn is finally here, and Square Enix makes the most compelling case for subscription-based gaming in almost a decade.
- Vivacious, unparalleled soundtrack
- PC-grade, WoW-competitive MMO on a console
- Jobs, Materia, narrative, gameplay... Incredible
- Visual and technical compromises
- Bland voice acting taints otherwise-stellar audio
Job System - Classes and Professions
The Job system has seen equal retooling. My first MMO was World of Warcraft, so I was made jealous by my Final Fantasy XI-playing friends' talk of playing any class with a single character; Final Fantasy XIV takes XI's Job system and tunes for accessibility while still maintaining feelings of effort and satisfaction. With the switch of a weapon, your character can change from a Lancer to a Culinarian, to a Botanist, to a Goldsmith, or to whichever Job--from crafting professions to combat classes--you wish to represent.
That’s all well and good, but what about equipment switches? Well, when you change your weapon, your equipment that you were wearing comes off, since most classes cannot wear the same clothes. This could have been frustrating, but—remember the World of Warcraft add-on Outfitter?—Final Fantasy XIV has a wardrobe feature that can be set and updated right from the character menu, and, to top it all off, each new wardrobe is labeled according to the weapon that’s equipped, so there’s no need to label them; a wardrobe generated with a Pugilist fist weapon is automatically called Pugilist for easy organization, and more wardrobe slots unlock as you unlock more Jobs. The only negative is that updating your wardrobe sets has to be done manually; a choice between manual and automatic organization would have been appreciated, given the pros and cons of each. And you can't find all of the Job-granting masters in your starting main city, don't fret: they're scattered across the three main cities and they're clearly labeled on the map.
Now, each beginner class--including Pugilist, Gladiator, Archer, Thaumaturge, Conjurer, Arcanist, Marauder, and Lancer--is the progression base to deeper specializations: the Jobs. For example, a Paladin is a Gladiator with specialization in tanking, a Black Mage is a Thaumaturge with heavy offensive magic, etc. You'll reach class-specific quests when your given class (for me, Pugilist) hits level 30, and you can choose to specialize in one Job or another by utilizing a Soul Crystal. I didn't have near enough time to carefully scrutinize every class, but, if the rest of them are like the Pugilist class, you'll know what your options will mean by the time you reach level 30. Don't think that you're stuck as that specific Job, either, because you can also recede back to your original class (in my case, the Pugilist) and specialize in the other available Job. The best part is that your specialized Job and your starter class will level together, so you don't have to grind out the rest of your class levels first. You'll still have to grind out any other Job that you want to level on the side, but because associated Jobs and classes level alongside each other no matter what, the workload isn't as massive as it could be. The stagnant grind of leveling other combat Jobs is varied with the Hunting Log, which lists monsters that you can kill in order to gain experience; and each combat Job has its own list, so don't hold back.
The crafting Jobs, a separate set of Jobs entirely, is something that other MMOs could emulate. One particular MMO that stood out in this aspect is Guild Wars 2, in that as you craft more new items, the pace of crafting increases dramatically. In World of Warcraft, bulk items could be created with bulk materials, but unlike both World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2, Final Fantasy XIV slows down the pace and makes the effort more invigorating. The harvesting Jobs (Botanist and Miner, for instance) use their tools to find nodes, and each harvest nodes gives you a list of items to attempt to gather. As a Botanist, for example, you can choose between harvesting Maple Wood, Maple Sap, colored Crystals, or Maple Branch, and each one has a level that indicates its harvesting difficulty and an automatically calculated and displayed percentage of success that’s based on equipment stats and overall Job level; the higher both of the latter are, the better your chance of obtaining the items you want or need. The Job leveling experience as a whole is also made less tedious by the abilities you automatically learn; these increase success rates and make the crafting and gathering processes quicker and more efficient.