I’ve tried Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn (FFXIV) on several separate occasions now, but it’s finally clicked for me. Over the last week, I’ve played it almost exclusively, and I’m even considering starting a regular stream, as I’ve fallen in love with it. But why didn’t I fall for it earlier, and what is it that I like about it now?
It’s hard to say why I previously didn’t gel with FFXIV. It may have been incongruous with something happening in my life at the time, or perhaps I just didn’t want to pick up another time-siphoning MMO – particularly one that requires a subscription.
What I do know, though, is that the starting area certainly had an effect on me, and that may have had an impact on my impressions previously as compared to now.
A Player Reborn
There are three starting areas in FFXIV; Limsa Lominsa, a seaside starting area; Gridania, a forest area; and Ul’dah, in the desert.
Two of these areas – Ul’dah and Limsa Lominsa – are centralised around a main town with multiple levels. Accessing the levels requires the use of an elevator.
Gridania, on the other hand, is on one flat plane, but split between Old Gridania and New Gridania, in this way providing the same spread but from a different perspective.
For me, I found it much harder to wrap my head around the tower structure, mainly because the elevator would not simply say “Take Elevator to Upper Deck” and instead refer to the target location (i.e., “Take Elevator to The Drowning Wench”).
Granted, you will, with time, come to learn these locations, but initially, I found myself inundated with terms and locations and I found it hard to keep it all in my mental file.
Gridania was different, in my experience.
Yes, the existence of Old and New Gridania does have a similar impact at first, but for some reason, I could put it all into perspective more easily. I guess we are all different, but I would say this – if you feel a little overwhelmed by FFXIV at first (or even underwhelmed), try creating a new character with a different race to start in a different area.
It might just be the shake-up you needed.
I’m Lovin’ It
Of course, I can’t really suggest that this is the only reason I’ve fallen in love with the game because it’s not. It may have had a minor effect, but the truth is, I’ve played the game once or twice before in the other starting areas, so perhaps it was simply easier for me to map things this time around.
FFXIV starts out much like any other MMO that you may have played – with a bunch of fetch and exterminate quests. In fact… a WHOLE lot.
Probably too many, if I’m honest. The reason for these quests is pretty clear – this is a complex game, with a complex map, and players need to learn their way around.
It enables players to build a mental map of not only the locations within the game but also the way in which they engage with the game. And I encourage you to push through the grind – it is a LONG grind before the story begins to pick up.
However, by the time the story began to crystallise, I was getting the hang of engagements and really starting to enjoy my role. When the story kicked in, I realised the game was much larger than I had realised, and – more than that – I no longer NEEDED to do the mundane quests.
The main story quest itself is long and detailed, and once it opens up mainly requires players to enter Dungeons and Trials, which are far more enjoyable experiences.
But WHY do I enjoy FFXIV, when I’m already quite heavily involved in another “lifestyle” game; Warframe)? Well… it ticks my boxes. In particular, the boxes that Warframe doesn’t, such as my itch for high fantasy, detailed role-playing, and desire for a persistent world that I strongly feel part of.
It’s this last part that I really enjoy – when I learned that I could purchase my own property on a server, using in-game currency, and I could fashion my character and this property in numerous ways, I was sold.
Not only would my invested time result in my desired role (not to mention the fact that there are also side jobs such as mining and crafting that can be levelled separately to your primary role), but I would also be able to build my own legacy within the world – and this means something to me.
That’s not going to ring true for everyone, but I think it’s a real driving factor for an MMO, and FFXIV has this in spades – at least at first glance. Above and beyond this, though? It’s a story-based MMO and a good one at that. There’s so much to dig into here, with a long tail across three major DLCs, at least one of which has been referred to as one of the best stories in a Final Fantasy game. There’s also a very long main storyline for the base title, it will take time to grind through.
Bring on Shadowbringers
Then there’s the fact that A Realm Reborn was a complete refresh of Final Fantasy 14, and the wiping of the old servers to replace them with the new is actually written into the lore, which is super cool. It’s mind-numbingly large, and I can’t wait to find all of the individual pieces.
And on top of that? The bosses are damned fun and really well designed. The early ones… not so much, but as you progress into later Dungeons, it just gets better and better.
Some of what I’ve seen for Shadowbringers just look like a crazy amount of fun, so I can’t wait to get there.
The truth is, FFXIV is an MMORPG, so it won’t appeal to everyone. If you’re not a fan of playing with others, it’s not for you. If you don’t like grinding, it’s not for you. If you don’t like a hell of a lot of reading, then it’s probably not for you.
However, if you’re open to these things, you might find that FFXIV has become something bigger and better than you may have realised, and it’s certainly worth checking out.
Even better? You can level any character up to 35 for free – and this is easily 30-40 hours of gameplay.
Plenty of time to get a real feel for it.