The Elegance of Final Fantasy
So Final Fantasy XIV has come to take a BIG part of my gaming time again. This game just cannot be shaken from the rotation. I’m going to make a list of things I love.
- The slower Global Cooldown. I do sometimes feel like I don’t have anything to do, there are times when it causes things to lag, but if you manage to lineup some cooldowns off the global cooldown you feel like a rock star, and it gives you a LOT of time to enjoy the battle environment, animations, music, everything.
- The visceral thrill that is Final Fantasy’s music and graphics. This game is stunningly beautiful and the music is amazing. Primal fights especially feature thematic music with a very “primal” theme. From the drums-pounding relentless beat of Titan to the melodic, paced Ramuh theme these songs add so much flavor to a rich game. The graphics are, if anything, better. The cities are huge and often inconvenient, but beautifully done and you feel like you’re exploring them. The world is even more so, not as sprawling as that of Everquest or FF XIs MASSIVE planets, but large and wide in a way that forces you to really dig into the world, the lack of flying mounts helps as well.
- The game design has a lot of thought going into it and it shows. I don’t agree with all the decisions. One day I will build an aetheryte plaza in Vesper Bay. However the integration of the games many dungeons, FATEs and sidequests makes the game a smooth ride once you get used to the system.
- The game teaches you to play. I may get the wife into this in a couple months. From the tutorials to the guildhests this game will spoon feed you lessons. Sometimes it’s patronizing, until you get into a group in a dungeon and think “wow… these guys should play the guildhests,”
- The community. Look I love EvE Online and it STILL has the best community out there. While simultaneously having the most dangerous community out there. But MAN these guys are usually fantastically accepting, willing to deal with the wipefests and help each other out through thick and thin. Sure there’s been some parties where people freak out, but not like I’ve dealt with in WoW or ANYTHING like the trailer park shit I’ve dealt with in EvE. Do they reach the same heights of brilliance as the best of EvE or WoW? No. But I’ll take the calm tyvm.
- A relentless focus on PvE. Look I like PvP. When I want it I can log into WoT, LoL, and ruin someones evening. They do that aspect well. Squenix doesn’t try to mix bubble gum into salsa, SWTOR has been wrecked by trying to balance the two, even WoW with resources that are practically limitless, can’t do it perfectly. FF XIV gives us a tacked on sort of PvP that I have a hard time remembering exists.
- Interesting classes. I know some people don’t find a ton of variety and I think I see what they are point, but it boils things down to such an abstract that we’re all pressing 1-= with modifiers for different skillbars. Summoners, Black Mages and Bards have WILDLY different playstyles and roles that go way deeper than “ranged DPS” White Mages and Scholars are very different, as are Paladins and Warriors. The melee DPS is the one place I see some blending, but even then the utility difference between Monks, Dragoons and Ninjas makes a huge difference. Each class has its own style, and its own partisans.
- Story. There’s a lot of story. It goes on and on. It’s classic Final Fantasy stuff chock full of JRPG drama and adds a lot to the experience.
Which is not to say the game is perfect. There’s things that do hurt it and make for sizeable humps in the road.
- Uninspiring Mechanics. Look some of these bosses just aren’t interesting. As a tank I more or less have to grab the boss, turn him, and keep him from AOEing the group and that’s about it for maybe 4/5 bosses. That’s not to say there aren’t individual challenges and/or cooldown rotations, but you could fall asleep as a tank at times and that takes doing.
- Crutches and Crutch Removal. Every AOE has a marker on the group. ALMOST. You get used to dodging out of them then that ONE boss comes up and WHAMMO everyone is eating boots to the head. No Bueno.
- Grindfests. You don’t even want to know. Look up some guides on relic weapons. Wow. I haven’t even really tried it.
- Story. Yeah it’s here too. First they give you what amounts to a cell phone. Which you mostly use by nodding your head to whatever is said because you’re a Final Fantasy Hero. Then every mission requires you to go back to the same start point anyway. Usually in Vesper Bay requiring a wasted 2-3 minutes of travel time. It also stifles a good bit of player creativity. It’s hard to blog about the story when it’s THAT cut and dry. Not that that will slow me down.
- Lag. My god the lag. It’s ridiculous and I know I’m not the only one to have screamed in frustration when Titan knocks me a mile off the platform WELL after I got clear of the landslide. Grumble grumble.
Look this is a really really good game. I’m not going to say it’s a great game. It’s fanboyish as hell. If you love Final Fantasy you owe it to yourself to play it because it is CHOCK FULL of callbacks to earlier games. From the enemies, to the music, the the bosses, to the allies there’s endless references to the enemies we’ve hated, the allies we’ve loved, the allies we’ve hated and the enemies we’ve loved. Chocobos are in, Biggs, Wedge and Cid are together as they should be, Malboros have bad breath, and you DO… NOT… FUCK… WITH… TONBERRIES. Seriously.