Final Fantasy is one of the most popular franchises in all of RPG gaming. Through the years, Square Enix has taken elements of what makes the RPG genre great and blended it with fantastic lore, a distinct visual style and addictive gameplay, making the series a hit across multiple platforms.
When Final Fantasy XI took the series online, it did one of the rarest things an RPG could do – be different. And when Final Fantasy XIV came to shelves, expectations were high. However, by all accounts, Final Fantasy XIV was a huge disappointment. On the PS3, the UI was clunky, the online elements were uneven and even the gameplay took the wonder out of exploring the world of Final Fantasy. Square Enix realized that it had made a misstep with the original game, and now, with Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn, has rebooted the game to correct all of the mistakes of its predecessor and deliver the online experience that fans were waiting for. This game features much better graphics, more streamlined gameplay, and a server system that doesn’t buckle under its own weight.
Loving the PS4:
The power of the next-gen PS4 console has made it possible for the game to now rub shoulders with its PC counterpart with high-definition 1080p graphics, better draw distances and a noticeable decrease in lags and drops in frame rates. The new PS4 controller is also better suited to handle more fast-paced combat and perform inventory actions. You can even play the game on your Vita via Remote Play, so if you want to get some grunt work done, you can take it to bed and work on killing those creeps. This mechanic, it is safe to say, is something that will become commonplace in games of the future.
The Story | GamePlay:
The world of Forzea in A Realm Reborn is much better looking, and chock-filled with loot and challenging enemies to fight against. The initial cutscene sets the tone for your adventure perfectly, planting you in the middle of this global chain of events that you will have to influence through your journey. The one things A Realm Reborn manages to do, at least partially, is something that a lot of other MMOs struggle with – making the player feel like their actions matter.
In a return to what has been one of the staples of the Final Fantasy series, the character customization options are numerous, complex and invite the player to think before they choose. It is easy to get lost in the depth of the classes and races, and picking the perfect look for your character before you begin your journey. While the complexity might be a bit intimidating to newer players, studying the tooltips of each class and race will help you make an informed decision. There are now five total races that you can choose from. Each of these races have their own strengths and slight attribute bonuses, but none of them will confine you to a particular style of gameplay. Eventually, the class you choose to play as and the job you undertake will define how far you get in the game.
All of the MMO standard player types are available here – the damage dealer, the healer, the tank, the mage, the summoner and several others that you will recognize as you play along. Within each class, there are subtle variations in the way you can build your character depending on your race and the skill tree you choose to invest points in. Once you hit the higher levels, you will quickly come face to face with gigantic, terrifying boss monsters that drop powerful gear. The dungeons you venture into look great, and have their own personality. For example, some dungeons will pit you against a lot of enemies, while others will require you to navigate carefully to avoid traps. Some dungeons have puzzles that you have to solve before you can progress. This keeps the environments in the game sufficiently varied.
What I liked:
In an exciting new gameplay mechanic, you now have the ability to build houses. While building a house is a costly affair (much like in real life), once you’ve successfully managed to erect a dwelling for yourself, you will gain a lot of bonuses to experience and attributes. And it’s not just a cosmetic addition to own a piece of virtual real estate either. You can set up a shop in your house selling the items that you or your guild members are adept at crafting. You can also undertake gardening tasks around the premises of your property. If you’ve ever wanted to live in the world of Final Fantasy, this is as close as you can get, for now.
The updates to the game aren’t restricted to the graphics and incremental improvements in gameplay. The main storyline has been beefed up with a lot of new quests and side-quests, and new ones keep getting added via patches. There are a lot more items to find and use in the world of Forzea now. In addition, there are quests that are specific to your particular class, so hardcore players have those to look forward to. There is no proper PVP as of now, but there are other things to do in the game that keep the game interesting, even if grinding can get a bit boring at times.
Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn is a welcome return to form from Square Enix. The new additions to the game, both obvious and subtle, in combination with the improved graphics engine enabled by the PS4 make this a fantastic MMO experience. The developers have gone back to the drawing board and revamped Final Fantasy XIV Online to make it a product that is worthy of competing with the other MMO giants. The option to play it remotely via the PS Vita is the icing on the cake. If you’re wondering if this game is worthy of the Final Fantasy name, stop wondering. A Realm Reborn is here to stay.