It actually happened: I got the full version of FFXIV: A Realm Reborn and went back to Eorzea. Unfortunately I couldn’t play day and night but I did get a bit further on the main plot, and had some fun. My smoking hot cat boy got past lvl40, acquired a chocobo friend and a shiny unicorn mount, ran some dungeons and hung around in a hot bath.
FFXIV is still very pretty – so very pretty. With such handsome characters too. I haven’t changed my mind about the playable female characters looking a bit too similar across most races, but the vast majority of character models are just great. Pretty people everywhere. Especially the guys, which is such a rarity in MMOs. Even the bulkiest dudes are still good looking – take that World of Warcraft and your single semi-hot male character model!
Some beautiful NPCs:
But for the actual game part: one can notice that Europe finally got their own servers, the lag is nothing like it was before. I like the responsive controls and the usage of skills in the game, though I’ve mainly only leveled a conjurer (and a white mage) so far. The concept of initial classes and later jobs with some cross skills is an interesting idea, though in the end there isn’t that many options of to choose from. I feel that the almost unlimited decks in The Secret World give more variety on this aspect. But being able to level all the jobs and tradeskills with one character is commendable – if an arduous work. I still didn’t touch those tradeskills (or PvP), and I had my hands full.
I really don’t have much clue about the loot yet, I just prance around in this stuff. Even though clothing is optional – as one intimate night inside the free company manor proves – I must admit I love the armours, and adore the whole possibility of dyeing.
My gorgeous catboy:
The main storyline hasn’t been super engaging (at least not yet), but it does have its moments. I don’t really understand the charm of running back and forth fetching all kinds of crap to all these people who don’t bother moving a muscle themselves. Or having to prove themselves separately to every single idiot, even after it’s been established that the characters have already slayed some big ass monster(s).
My absolute favourite thing is a main storyline questhub in a place without teleport. Oh yay, I did want to travel to that place for the 200th time. Though these are all regular sins of MMOs and quite easily forgivable. On the other hand FFXIV has its own specialty in an interesting fetish towards dead bodies (and fiddling with them). But that’s mostly just funny in a morbid way.
The storyline also requires a quite a lot of dungeons, but the duty finder makes it easy to get a group even if there are not enough friends available. All in all I think the difficulty level of FFXIV is pretty good. It’s not really terribly challenging while leveling, but mostly the characters aren’t huge killing machines either. Also, slowly the encounters grow a bit more complicated and some actual tactics are being required here and there. I know there’s the new difficulty levels and all that jazz coming when one hits 50 (and eventually 60 with the xpack) but the main storyline is – and should be – reachable by the most casual players too.
The primals in the game are also rather stunning: (Ramuh, Titan and Ifrit)
When advancing in the story, the players are required to pick a faction – on of the Grand Companies – to work for. This is a reputation grind with some rewards. I’m not a fan of any kind of grind really, but afaik one can freely swap the company and doesn’t even lose the fame acquired to it so far. Overall the grind required to experience most of the content doesn’t seem horrible or unfair, though I’m weighing this from a total newbie perspective and might still change my mind.
My first month was a fun enough experience to keep playing. I still needed to have another break to get some RL things done (and save the subscription fee), but I have already bought my copy of Heavensward, so I’ll definitely be back. Meanwhile my gallery in imgur has more pretty screenshots.