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
Where Rift has rifting and Guild Wars 2 has dynamic world events, Final Fantasy XIV has FATEs, or Full Active Time Events, which are epic side quests that randomly appear all over the vast map. Players can jump in and take part in clearing out massive amounts of enemies, or one particularly impressive enemy, which is a great way to level up your less-used combat Jobs. Simply joining a FATE isn’t good enough, either: meaningful participation is required to reap meaningful reward. Participation is ranked on a traditional bronze, silver, and gold system, and your personal rewards of XP and Gil reflect those ranks. Really, earning a gold rating isn't hard; all you have to do is hit your targets, or turn in several dropped items to the NPC in need, and you’re golden. If your level is above the FATE's level, you can sync to it, bringing your stats down to appropriate numbers while allowing you to take part and receive compensation. As expected, XP and Gil rewards will decrease, but it's an appropriate price for easier-than-normal FATEs.
In a nod to past series installments, Final Fantasy XIV revolves around crystals, but it does so in a way beyond story association: crystal serve as transportation. Alongside an airship that goes between the three major cities and the option to ride Chocobos wherever you go, you can also spend a little Gil and teleport to and from Aethereytes to which you've attuned yourself. After you acclimate to the teleportation system, you may never want to look at another game's Hearthstone equivalent again.
Materia offer another nostalgic turn. These elements, while utilized in the much-maligned Version 1.0, have a special place in A Realm Reborn with a very interesting customization angle. Materia can be equipped to your gear to increase stats, much like socketing in World of Warcraft, but the best part about materia is that they're created by using your gear in battle. That's right; your old gear now has a purpose outside of resale or vending. As indicated in the character stat menu, a bar next to each piece of equipped gear indicates how in-tune with that gear your character is. When the bar fills from extended use, you can turn your gear into materia. The ability to do this comes from a quest outside of the main story chain, but, if you're like me and you can't let a quest go untouched, you won't have any trouble finding it. The quest isn't too far off the beaten story path, either, so most everyone will discover this interesting and nostalgic twist to gear upgrades in short order.
Meanwhile, Levequests are Final Fantasy XIV's equivalent to repeatable quests, an MMO staple: pick up the quest, run to the quest area, and start the familiar action. When you initiate them from the quest menu, mobs and events related to Levequests will appear and stay in place until you complete the quest or die. What’s different from most MMOs in regards to repeatable quests is that Levequests can have customizable difficulty on a scale of zero to four. Generally, if the Levequest is the same level as your Job, having the difficulty at 1 makes the quest pretty challenging. So, you can complete Levequests with a lower level than your Job level and increase their difficulty for Gil and XP bonuses that matter, or you can take on higher-level Levequests and decrease their difficulty.