Sakura Kumanoko 01_19_2014 12_42_36

Cid the garlean and a mini-Magitek

So, I’m going to be candidly honest here. I don’t like MMO’s. I don’t. I have a hard time getting motivated to play something with no real story to speak of. I don’t care how rich the background may be. If the game itself doesn’t really have a story, I check out quickly. I admit that I love stories in my game.

My first experience with an MMO-type of game was Elder Scrolls 2: Morrowind. It wasn’t online as video game systems weren’t there yet. All my Everquest playing friends would tell me how much this reminds them of Everquest.

Moogles in the Shroud

Moogles in the Shroud

As I started to play the game, there really wasn’t much of a story to speak of. I played the game for five minutes including character creation. Nothing about it grabbed me. I’ve tried playing various MMO’s and each time they would bore me fairly easily. I even played Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine Online. I love the Shin Megami Tensei universe and their games generally have good stories. Not even that game could get me to play for more than an hour or two before giving up.

That’s pretty much history with MMO’s. So, you kind of get an idea of what the tenure of this review would be… an MMO review written by someone who doesn’t like MMOs.

We were walking around the dealer’s room at Comic Con last year. We decided to out the game demos

An Elezen lancer fighting. The cross-bar set-up is for the PS3, all in-game images are from the PS3.

My Elezen lancer fighting. The cross-bar set-up is for the PS3, All in-game images are from the PS3.

at the Square Enix booth. While we were there, they asked if we would like to try the beta test for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. I hadn’t realized that Final Fantasy XIV had been out in the first place, with good reason. Since MMO’s aren’t my thing, it wouldn’t have mattered to me if had come out or not. We both debated it because neither of us are MMO players. Since it was a free demo, we figured that it wouldn’t hurt to check it out. If we didn’t like it, we didn’t lose anything by playing for free.

So, we signed up and started playing during the beta test.

When we started playing, I didn’t think that I would like the game. After all, I have yet to find an MMO that spoke to me. That kept my attention for long periods of time. I didn’t expect much from this game.

The character window

The character window

When I had started creating my character, I had no idea how to feel about it. It looked like fairly standard MMO character creation. You get to choose from 5 different races: Hyur, Elezen, Miqo’te, Roegadyn and Lalafell. While there are plenty of choices to choose from, there are only a certain amount per race. Part of the character creation will also let you know what natural elemental resistance you will have (my character has a natural resistance to water). This is fairly in-depth, but not nearly as much as some other games that look like they gave you the character designer to play with.

That being said, I was pleased to see that the story wasn’t just going on in this world that I happened to be a part of. I wasn’t just there to help move a story that I felt no connection to or even really didn’t care about. Instead of that, you are instantly engaged in a story that makes it’s clear that you are integral to the world, very similar to every other Final Fantasy game.

What crafting looks like.

What crafting looks like.

The story is engaging and interesting. It managed to keep me interested the entire time. Like most Final Fantasies (with the exception of XII, which was more political intrigue and not about how some megalomaniac that’s trying to destroy the world) it’s about a possible end of the world scenario. So, how do you make it work it a world that is actively being played by thousands of people? You alter it to create a party scenario that can incorporate an unnamed amount of people.

And it works… Or rather, it works for me. It’s everything that I expect and enjoy in a Final Fantasy game.

Square Enix is known for constantly working to enhance their battle mechanics. That’s something that happened between Final Fantasy XIV and A Realm Reborn. Whether it’s a good or bad change, I can’t say fortunately. I didn’t play Final Fantasy XIV. So, all my perspectives are solely from A Realm Reborn.

Seasonal event quest window (New Year's)

Seasonal event quest window (New Year’s)

So, how playable is it to MMO players?

While I am not a fan of MMOs and admit to having not really played any for any length of time beyond an hour, because of the social aspect of the game, I have talked to others who have played MMOs. The response is mixed. Some people really like the game others, not so much. Most of those who dislike the game make sure to talk about it on the game’s forum. The forum is a fairly active one. It’s also been beneficial to the game as the developers read the forum and do use input from the gamers about what they would like to see.

So, do I like the game?

While there are many aspects to MMOs that I generally don’t like; I feel that A Realm Reborn does a

Fighting in a fate (mini boss fights that happen outside of dungeons)

My scholar fighting in a fate (mini boss fights that happen outside of dungeons)

pretty good job of engaging all players. It does it so well, that it was called the most accessible game for people with disabilities in 2013. That’s not something to sneeze at. They have attempted to make the game so anyone can play. In many ways I think that they’ve succeeded.

There are so many things that I like about this game. It’s not a free MMO. You have to pay for the game and there is a monthly subscription fee (you can opt to pay in chunks as well as month to month). The fee is nominal. And other than additional retainers beyond the 2 you’re given in-game, nothing is hidden behind a pay wall. Everyone has equal access to all content in-game.

The aesthetician

The aesthetician

While there was bonus content for people who bought the collector’s edition, it’s something you can buy later if you want it. It is also stuff that isn’t a major loss. They were small items that don’t affect game play. It wasn’t like Bethesda locking an entire race behind a pay wall. It’s not clear whether Imperials will be unlockable for a nominal fee later on.

I like that Square didn’t make a whole race that isn’t playable unless you pay an extra fee. The extras, while nice, aren’t huge deal.

The patches continue to morph both gameplay and story as they add both new content and improve upon mechanics that pre-exist in the game. Now, I’m sure that this is true with MMOs across the board, I enjoy some of the little touches that have been added like seasonal quests.

Merlwyb, the Admiral of La Noscea

Merlwyb, the Admiral of La Noscea

I also enjoy both the crafting and gathering classes. I can spend hours weaving. I have spent hours fishing as well. It’s fun. It also doesn’t detract from gameplay. If you just want to dungeon crawl, you don’t need to do the crafting or gathering classes. I do think that you do need to forward the story at least to be able to easily travel between city-states to get more crafting skills and gathering items can only be found in certain areas, so in that sense, you can’t just go in to craft and gather.

How do I feel about this game overall?

A sleeping chocobo

A sleeping chocobo

I enjoy it immensely. I enjoy it so much, I still actively play it to this day… largely with the same character that I created back in beta. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re not a huge fan of MMOs. It’s an MMO that doesn’t feel like one. The game play is fun and interesting. The story is equally interesting and as content expands, so does more history about the world you’re playing in. It’s a game that is accessible to those with disabilities making it a more inclusive world.

I can’t say whether I think everybody should go buy this game yesterday because it really depends on the player. But it is a fun game that continues to engage its players in an interesting way. They continue to add story and history to explain where and how we find out how we got here.There are plans to add new jobs and new races. And it was recently released to the PS4, so it looks that the player base will

A dark summoner summoning

A dark summoner summoning

continue to expand.

I’m going to create another post giving more specific detail. I realized as I was writing this that there was so much I wanted to write about that I couldn’t easily fit into one post. The first is my impressions of the game. The next one will be getting in to more specifics, game mechanics, more information about the plot and other sundry information… and yes, there will be more screenshots.