Review of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
One of the most epic MMO games available on the market today, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and its expansions offers both fans and newcomers alike an unparalleled experience on both home consoles and PC.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Review
Brought to you by Japanese role playing behemoth Square Enix, Final Fantasy XIV’s history as a massively multiplayer online RPG is almost as intriguing as the game’s detailed plot and nuanced itself.
In case you’re not aware – the original iteration of FFXIV was a complete disaster. So much so that the team behind it at Square Enix was largely replaced with a new team that rebuilt the game from the ground up.
Adding modern MMORPG elements pioneered by World of Warcraft and other games, this new edition of Final Fantasy XIV, titled a Realm Reborn, represents some of the best the genre has to offer and is a must play for both Final Fantasy and MMORPG fans. While completely different in style and gameplay than its predecessor Final Fantasy XI, FFXIV is also geared towards winning over that hardcore and dedicated crowd.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn’s development team is headed by Naoki Yoshida who serves as both the game’s producer and director.
Yoshida spearheaded the development of a new storyline for the MMO as well as a new gameplay engine and interface. His changes not only breathed new life into the game but also saved it from ruin according to many critics.
The MMORPG takes place in the land of Eorzea approximately five years after the cataclysm – the release of Bahamut and the Seventh Umbral Calamity – that concluded the first iteration of FFXIV.
The player’s character is transported to this future through time travel and finds a realm rebuilding and preparing to defend itself from an invasion by the northern Garlean Empire, a realm that possesses Final Fantasy’s trademark Magitek technology.
So far there are two expansion packs to FFXIV: A Realm Reborn: Heavensward and Stormblood.
This review will focus on the game as a whole as it stands today, but readers should note that the game’s overall structure, without the expansion packs, is also considered in the course of this review.
If you are a gamer familiar with World of Warcraft or any of the other major MMORPGs, then Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn should feel like a familiar game.
Rest assured, you will find a lot to love in FFXIV, but it does not stray too far from the conventional formula that makes WoW one of the most dominant games of all time.
The combat is action-bar based and features both player versus environment (PvE) as well as player versus player (PvP) elements. Players can choose from a variety of main story quests as well as subquests to deepen their experience but the game’s real strength, like many Final Fantasy games, is in playing its extremely engaging, deep mainline quest.
The plot is rich and detailed, truly rewarding players that make it all the way through. Along the road there, characters will experience all of the mainstays of MMORPGs like raiding and dungeon crawling, but all with a flair and polish that is quintessentially Final Fantasy.
The music is soaring and orchestral but can also be jarringly modern, with rock-infused, synth-laden tracks haunting the later environments in some of the dungeons. Overall it’s a beautiful soundtrack but can be hit or miss at times.
Battles with massive foes are always epic and pleasantly challenging but can sometimes be overwhelming or confusing for new players.
In a change from most MMORPGs that encourage multiple character avatars, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn allows one character avatar to train for all available jobs making every class playable as they are trained.
In terms of consolidation this is an amazing feature but some players may not like that they are encouraged to use the same toon over and over again. It’s a small difference but one that impacts the game a lot for those who like to role play different looks.
While leveling up different avatars is not impossible, it would be a time sink worthy of those past souls brave enough to fight Pandemonium Warden in Final Fantasy XI.
There are six selectable character races in the game, ranging from the human-like Hyur to the demon-inspired Au Ra. Each race has a male and a female variant as well as attendant lore.
Sound, graphics, and community
The game’s score was produced by Masayoshi Soken who combined both original pieces with classic Final Fantasy tracks by Nobuo Uematsu.
When designing the game’s score, Soken was tasked with making something that immediately sounded like something out of Final Fantasy, a mandate that yielded a score that is bombastically orchestral and epic at the right moments while also expressing delicate sentiments and ephemeral notes the next.
The game’s graphics are gorgeous and demanding but should not be anything for a powerful system or one recently purchased.
Older systems may need to check to make sure they can run FFXIV before purchasing – a problem most WoW players rarely encounter. What this means is that Final Fantasy XIV’s environments, characters, and presentation are top notch with a quality that is not only aging well but still continues to impress even to this day.
One of the most vital aspects of any MMORPG is the game’s community, and here is where FFXIV shines. Nowhere in my experience have I found such an open and welcoming community of MMO gamers. Noobs need not feel shy here and, indeed, are welcome.
The ease with which many new players can slip into roles of importance within FFXIV’s world make it compelling and lifelike. If you hate the detachment that WoW’s “conveniences” have created, then FFXIV might be a good transition choice for you.
FFXIV has the right balance of hardcore and lifestyle accommodation that makes it ideal for MMO gamers that want the epic experience, the rich storyline, and the beautiful world but cannot commit hundreds of hours a month towards realizing that end.
This is not to say that FFXIV is not without its faults – best of luck trying to get a plot of land for player housing, for example. But its faults are often overwhelmed by its sheer scope and scale with a level of quality that is not only hard to beat but is seldom found in this genre at this magnitude.
If you liked this post then you might also want to read the top upcoming MMO games of 2018 list.
Kehl Bayern is the author of cyberpunk thriller Animus Proxy and the editor of DEMAGAGA.com. You can find him on Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, and Facebook @KehlBayern.