Has FFXIV Stopped Sucking Yet?

SquareEnix is launching a Welcome Back campaign for players with inactive accounts to give FFXIV another spin for a ten-day free-to-play period. But is it worth bothering?

Garuda

It’s no secret that Final Fantasy XIV experienced one of the most disastrous launches in the history of MMORPGs. SquareEnix has gone through extreme lengths to win back player loyalty: The entire staff was replaced, the game went free to play for a year while they got their shit together, and they’ve gone as far as remaking the game from the ground up for re-release later this year. Many of these changes have occurred live, and it’s already a drastically different game than when it was launched.

The last year has actually been a pretty exciting period for FFXIV. Patches have been frequent and massive, to the point of a practically new game being introduced every few months. The battle and crafting systems have been redone, and continue to be refined based on player feedback. Classic Final Fantasy jobs were introduced. Grand Companies replaced Levequests as the main source of content, bringing with them raids, beautiful cutscenes, and primal battles with series mainstays such as Ifrit and Garuda.

But who the fuck cares about what they’ve done, people want to know if it’s any good. Is this shit worth coming back for? Of course, I can’t answer for everyone, but what I can do is tell you what I really enjoy about FFXIV, and what I’m still disappointed with.

What’s Good:

  • Final Fantasy jobs

    FFXIV Jobs Concept Art


    With the class system, as you leveled more jobs and gained more abilities, each class became virtually indistinguishable. Anyone could be whoever they wanted to be, which inevitably made everyone exactly the same. This was especially problematic for mages or, more importantly, me. Being forced to main heal when all I want to do is blow shit up was not my idea of a fun time. I would pretty much rather help a constipated monkey pass a peanut with a rim job.

    Jobs slim down the abilities you have available, while compensating with specialized abilities to give each player a defined role in a party. There are clear tank, support, healing, and damage dealing roles, which is a godsend for players like me who prefer a particular play style. Plus, classic job gear looks awesome. What’s not to like?

  • New battle & crafting systems

    Natalan EXP Party

     

    Links make exp parties exciting and unpredictable, and it’s fun to see the exp pour in like Astral Flow parties during FFXI’s golden years. Fatigue and stamina were abolished. Changes were made to AoE abilities that took some… accepting… but overall, I think it’s for the best. Battle has become more about precise positioning and movement than button mashing, and I appreciate that.

    I’m particularly fond of the combo system. Executing attacks in a certain order yields various bonuses, like enhanced damage or additional effects. It’s especially nice for melee classes, since it doesn’t consume any TP to execute follow-up combo attacks. You can belt out up to three weaponskills in quick succession for the price of one.

    Craft recipes experienced some much needed simplification. I remember at launch, it took me a full week to gather and craft all the materials for a single shirt from scratch. Ridiculous! The multi-step recipes have been removed completely from low levels, and adjusted to be reasonable for high levels. They’ve sped up the entire process, and added various abilities and adjustments that make leveling a crafting class a much smoother experience.

  • Live events & ongoing lore

    Gridania Empire Attack (Live Event)

     

    Yoshida’s mantra upon taking over FFXIV was, “Fun! Live! Reboot! Rebuild!” We had no idea upon hearing this that they would literally combine all of these into one thing. The entire rebuild of the game is being incorporated into the lore and ongoing story with sporadic one-time, live events. As we come closer to 2.0’s launch, Eorzea becomes more dangerous. Empire attacks are occurring at camps and growing closer to cities, while a mysterious moon drifts dangerously near. Grand Company quests deal with these issues in greater detail, a detail that has me wondering how much of our current content will exist after relaunch.

    Even battle changes, the introduction of jobs, and small things like increasing mob sizes are incorporated into the ongoing story. It’s great attention to detail, and it gives players a reason to play regularly. Things like this make the world feel alive and real.

  • Naoki Yoshida

    The Year of the Dragon Has Yoshida Busy

     

    This guy is awesome, guys. Seriously. He has a vision for the game and, as an avid MMORPG player himself, has a firm grasp on the ins and outs of the genre. Above all, he’s absolutely devoted to fixing this game. Devoted to the point of literally working himself sick.

    His involvement with the community is second to none. Nearly every major issue is responded to. It’s because of this guy that I am completely faithful that FFXIV will be among the top contenders in the genre after 2.0 launches.

What Sucks:

  • Market Wards

    The Retainer Army

     

    Yes, these stupid things still exist. Don’t get me wrong, bandages have been applied over the course of the reform that have helped. A search function allows you to either type or browse for what you need without ever entering the markets, and you can purchase directly. No retainer searching required. They’ve even linked the market wards of all three cities via mercantile houses. Buying shit is not the problem.

    Selling is the problem. You’re still tied to a retainer, and shit out of luck if the ward you want is at capacity. You still need to run back and forth from your retainer to the door to search and check prices for what you’re selling. It’s cumbersome and stupid.

    Luckily, it sounds like they’re finally just going to give us Auction Houses in 2.0. Until then, I’ll keep whining.

  • Party search function & Ul’dah congestion

    FFXIV Search Function

     

    Another thing they’ve applied fixes to that haven’t been enough. To be fair, this isn’t entirely the fault of the developers. Players simply refuse to use it, and for whatever retarded reason prefer to stand around in Ul’dah shouting for EXP parties. I will be flagged as LFG and standing right next to somebody shouting for a group that matches what I’m looking for exactly. It’s stupid.

    This has resulted in Ul’dah being miserably overcrowded. A huge majority of your server’s population will be crowded into one area of the city at all times, which creates lag on even the most powerful machines, and crashed the actual servers when they introduced Inns to this area.

    I don’t particularly like Ul’dah, and as someone who started in Gridania and joined a Grand Company in Limsa Lominsa, I find it incredibly inconvenient.

  • Lack of community built information

    Good luck finding one place for guides on anything. There is nothing as convenient as ffxiclopedia was. The game is fairly self-explanatory, so the need doesn’t arise all that often, but it’s awfully irritating to dig through a list of websites and forums just to prep for a battle.

  • It’s… pretty much beta.

    FFXIV copy pasted terrain

    You guys, I swear to GOD I was just here!

    We’re still playing on Tanaka’s poorly optimized system that is preventing a large number of fixes from happening. The environments are still huge, beautiful, and utterly boring fields of copy-pasta terrain. The UI still lags when selling items to an NPC, or accessing your retainer. New content is on the back burner, consisting of a new raid or primal battle here and there. Ishgard is still teasing me, making me cry. We will not truly be playing a polished, ready for release MMORPG until 2.0 is released during late Fall, and can’t really expect content to bloom until well afterward.

That said, there are two wild cards that throw this entire thing off kilter. The first being the live events I mentioned above. If you’re a completionist or a lore buff, you probably don’t want to miss out on them, and there’s no telling what other content will be blown up with the rest of Eorzea.

FFXIV Legacy Campaign

The second being the Legacy campaign they’re launching alongside Welcome Back. Essentially, paying for 90-days pre-2.0 beta nets you discounted subscription fees for life. That’s $9.99/month for up to 40 characters. Those 90-days of “beta” will pay itself off within six months, and save you $60 a year thereon. That’s a damn good deal.

Bottom Line

Even three or four months ago, FFXIV was pretty enjoyable and a thousand times more playable than launch. Still, every update manages to drastically improve the game in one way or another. I am in complete confidence that 99% of the players who quit at launch will enjoy the game by the time 2.0 hits. However, I don’t know that everyone has the patience to deal with the ghost of Tanaka lurking in the current client, and I doubt Welcome Back will be enough to change that.

If this is absolutely the last chance you’re going to give FFXIV, wait until 2.0. The game will not be a fully “release worthy” MMO until then.

If you have any reason to believe you will play FFXIV at length in the future, get in there! If you really think you’ll play it seriously in the future, the savings for Legacy members is well worth putting up with this phase of FFXIV a few more months.

The Welcome Back campaign begins May 9th (today), and ends May 20th. For more information on both promotions, click here for details.

1 Response

  1. Final Fantasy went terminal after Nine. It was on an iron lung for ten but it didn’t make it.




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