Published on July 27th, 2012 | by Sgt. Mettool0
Adventures in Final Fantasy XIV: Part 1
Whoa now, there’s an awful lot of buzz going around lately about the Final Fantasy XIV reboot. Hell, I’m excited too. There’s gonna be Cactuars, old legacy bosses, and Magitek Friggin’ Armor. Not to mention that I’m preeeeetty sure that the same artist who works on Final Fantasy Tactics is leading the art design for this porject. Seriously, take a look. You can’t tell me that it all makes you want to adventure in Ivalice again.
But yet nobody’s talking about the game as it stands now. Yes, there’s still a Final Fantasy XIV out there to play, and no, nobody’s got the gall to go do a compare and contrast on it because the media’s shoved the original game under a rug. But it just so happened to be on sale for $9.99 on Amazon last week. And you get a month of play time free, so I figured “Why the hell not’?
Couldn’t hurt, right?
Like every good MMO, I was greeting to a long download and a five hour patching process. I guess there isn’t too much to say on that; if WoW had been waiting almost a day to install everything from Vanilla to Lich King, then I should be damn grateful that I managed to slink by on just five hours of patching. That’s really not all too bad. Though it was a bit of a shame that I had finished installing just as a six hour maintenance had started. Ouch. So I spent the day outside instead. The end.
Haha, no. I never spend the day outside. I just slept through it.
Afterwards, I went ahead and crreated my midget conjurer (I really have no idea what any of the race names are yet) and was thrust into the middle of a forest at single-digit FPS. And let me tell you, I am running eight gigs of RAM and a quad core processor, and I couldn’t get this game to run decently on anywhere above medium-low settings. And the best I could get was around 25 FPS with aliasing around every character model. It looks pretty ugly on my rig… and I guess you need nothing less than an Alienware desktop to get this thing running decently. I also had to exit the game every time I wanted to change the graphics settings, so I spent maybe another hour doing that. When am I going to actually get to play the game?!
With my graphics settings now indiscernible from a PS1 game, I finally went into the game and was treated to some splendid cutscenes and tutorial battles. It certainly made a first good impression: not very many MMOs treat you to a storyline at all. Hell, most just thrust you into the world to collect twenty bear asses. I knew straight away that FFXIV had structure, and I was sure it could only get better from there.
With my tutorial quests finished, I was introduced to the game’s primary means of progession: leves. Yes, that’s how it’s spelled, and i’m pretty sure it’s pronounced “leaves”. Or “Levvies”. I don’t care. Unlike normal MMO quests, leves are timed, often randomly-generated missions that direct you to the monsters you need to kill or the items you need to collect. My first leve involved combat, and tasked me to kill three giant mushrooms in the forest.
But the mushrooms were nowhere to be found on my map! Did I forget to accept the leve? Was the game just teasting me? No, it turns out that once you accept a leve, you have to travel all the way to a point on the map to activate it. This wouldnt be so bad if these locations weren’t 10-15 minutes away apiece. What’s more, you can only accept four of these quests every twelve hours. So once you run out of leves, you really have nothing to do but craft (and boy do I have a lot to say about that) and grind on monsters without any bonus Experience Points. It’s a responsible choice on Square’s part, but no less annoying and limited.
After finally accepting my leve, I found the mushrooms in the forest and proceeded to commit sweet fungal genocide. The combat is about what you would expect, and is very similar to FFXIV, if not somehow clunkier. Targetting the monsters with my spells was a massive pain, as the click box for each of them was absolutely massive. If I wanted to target the one in the back, it would just select the one in the front instead. What’s more, you have to double-click a monster to fully target it, and then you can start wailing on it. How cumbersome. This would prove especially tricky later on when I had to heal my companions, as the party interface is even more clunky and littered with tooltips that get in the way of my targetting. Never has healing been such a hassle.
The mushroom monsters went down pretty quickly. In fact, most of the monsters I encountered in the first ten levels or so went down with one or two spells. I leveled up and gained some new skills as I had expected. I wanted to use them right away, but the hotbar just seems to disappear when you’re not using it. Not a good thing when you can’t remember what key you bound Cure to and need to use it in a pinch.
I’m starting to see why a lot of people had issues with this game. The UI is absolutely horrendous and the targetting system works so far against the player that the artifical difficulty is through the roof. That being said, I’m still enjoying the game so far, and the story is surprisingly strong for an MMORPG. I’ll be continuing this series of articles soon with a primer on the class system, the crafting system, and the oh-so-dreaded crafting leves. Be sure to check back!