After the not so good (read: bad) launch of its predecessor, Square-Enix is once again dipping its hand into the MMO genre with a re-release of Final Fantasy 14, with the added suffix A Realm Reborn. Coming off of the backlash that was FF14, I was very skeptical about plunging into the world of Eorzea again, especially considering that the game has a $13 monthly fee. However, seeing as Square-Enix is granting all original owners free entry to the game for 2 weeks, I decided to try it out and see for myself if the re-release was worth it. And you know what; they have earned themselves a subscriber.
Distancing themselves from the linear maps, slow gameplay and a lack of essential MMO features (in-game mail being the biggest) would be a huge task to undertake for any developer. Thankfully, rather than fix them one at a time, Square-Enix chose the right option in wiping the slate clean. See, ‘A Realm Reborn’ not only serves as a differentiating title; it explains the games motif. ARR takes place 5 years after the end of the original game, wherein the dragon Bahamut escaped from its prison to essentially kick start the apocalypse. Having been deemed worthy enough to save the peoples from a future threat, the gods teleport you into the future in order to prevent another war from starting as the nations repair the damage the war has wrought. Story sound a bit too farfetched and convoluted? Don’t worry, as it is wonderfully expanded upon in the dozen or so hours you spend doing story missions.
Aside from its story, I genuinely like how FF14 changes up the typical tank/healer/DPS formula of other MMOs. Instead of picking one archetype when you create your character, your role changes dependent on what weapon you have equipped. Now, if a cool sword drops and I happen to be a healer, I can still get and use it (so long as I am of proper level to equip it). Likewise, it severely shortens the amount of characters I have to create in order to have a ‘full-fledged’ experience from 3 to 1.
Now this would be wasted if the combat was dull and un-engaging but thankfully that is not the case. Gone is the point and click combat of its predecessor, as it is now replaced with a much more active based combat (think Final Fantasy 12). Once you engage an enemy you are actively clicking through spells and ability chains, all the while dodging their counter hits and area attacks. It is something new to the FF series and a welcome change, as it made me actually look for fights in order to pass the time instead of avoiding them like in many other MMO’s.
This class system also extends beyond combat roles and opens up a plethora of other jobs for you and your character to undertake. Say fighting enemies isn’t your thing and you just look to make as much money as possible. You can equip a hammer and take up blacksmithing in order to make weapons and armor that you can then sell to NPC characters or other players to use on their adventures. If that is not your thing, and you want something quieter, you can equip a fishing rod and catch some food to sell to characters to give them ability buffs on their journey. There are plenty things to do and almost and all of them reward you in some way. Bottom Line: This game has a lot to offer, including random zone-wide quests, dungeons, raids, mounts, pets and a host of others. Not to mention, this has to be the prettiest MMO I have ever played. The art and graphics have been reworked so that lower end rigs can better run the game, but those with more powerful machines are in for quite the treat. The biggest improvement however is that all of it is so much fun. While $13 a month is steep, I definitely recommend this to fans of the genre, as there is no way you won’t enjoy it.
Next Review: GTA 5 (duh)