Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn PS4 Review: A role-playing triumph
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A Realm Reborn on PS4 is a visual and technical marvel of polished gameplay and a grand story true to the Final Fantasy tradition. Highly recommended and worth every penny.
- A mix of casual and hardcore post-game content
- Highly accessible
- Impressive visuals and presentation
- Bland voice-acting
- Framerate dips
Graphically, the game is a huge step up from the PlayStation 3 version, with so much extra detail, clarity, and vibrant color added for your viewing pleasure. It also runs at a full 1080p, though even this is a choice, as you can choose between 1080p (Full HD) and 720p (Normal HD) in the menu. If you deselect Full HD, you will find the HUD is pretty large, but for some TVs, this might be the best option. Again, this is all based on your preference; I play in Full HD and it looks stunning. To sweeten the deal, A Realm Reborn on PS4 keeps a fairly stable 60 fps, though it can dip during hectic situations like raids and FATEs. The amount of characters onscreen has also made a huge jump compared to its PS3 counterpart, with up to 200 characters on screen available in the next-generation release, making some FATEs look incredible. Finally, A Realm Reborn on PS4 loads a lot faster then its predecessor and the amount of lag I was getting from playing on a NA server also seems to have lessened, though the latter could be from server upgrades over time.
But for me, one of the best features with the PS4 release is the ability to play the game on your PS Vita via Remote Play. This allows you to experience the game no matter where you are, which makes an already addictive MMO even harder to put down. For example, you can log in while you're getting ready to go to bed and do some mining or fishing before you head to sleep. Though you can also tackle dungeons or quest content, I found communicating on PS Vita quite frustrating--your best bet is probably with PS Vita's Party app and a group of friends. With practice, it's possible to pull off quick communication using the on-screen keyboard and controls. Though I do recommend changing one option if you do play on PS Vita: swap the function of R2/R1 and L2/L1. As you won’t be switching hotbars often, having it on the back touchpad is a lot easier, freeing up the trigger for your combat moves. However, the game will save this control scheme separately, so you can play with the standard controls on your PS4 when you're using the DualShock 4 controller again.
One of my favorite parts of Final Fantasy XIV is character creation. A Realm Reborn has a robust selection of choices for your character, with the basic races being quite unique in and of themselves, from the tall and powerful Roegadyn to the small and jolly Lalafell. You also get to choose a sub race; for example, making a Lalafell from either the Dunesfolk--which are used to living in the desert--or the Plainsfolk, who are skilled farmers. Though these choices don’t add much to the character, they do open unique looks for each sub-race, with each race sporting two sub-races. The game also boasts a comprehensive character editor, allowing you to change your hair colour, add highlights, adjust your height--everything important can be tweaked with some variety. You can even modify the tail of your Mi'qote (a race of cat-like creatures), and once you have gone through the main choices, you get to give them a birthday and assign a god. Though this does affect stats, the amount is so small that it won’t hurt you at all if you pick an unconventional deity for your class. Furthermore, a recent patch ensures you can modify your character's hairstyle from your inn once you have finished a certain questline.
Pleasingly, the game's classes are quite varied, from Pugilist, who uses speed and back attacks to pummel targets down, to the Arcanist, who utilizes a summoned carbuncle to support the party and deal damage, to the mighty, heavily-armed Gladiator. Each class is also a lot more balanced than they were at launch back in August 2013, with Square taking community feedback to refine already polished combat roles. Eventually, you can upgrade from your chosen Class to a Job, which opens a new storyline and a set of highly specialized abilities. The aforementioned Pugilist becomes a Monk, for example, while the Arcanist is a unique class that can become both Summoner and Scholar depending on your playstyle. In addition, you are not restricted to any class forever; once you have completed the class storyline up through level 10, you can visit any other guild to unlock the full breadth of classes, swappable by merely changing your equipped weapon. Plus, while you start that new class at Level 1, you do not lose the levels on your other classes and Jobs, and as soon as you have one Job to level 50, all future classes gain a small experience points bonus.