I started playing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn last October after mulling over it for months. I’d heard nothing but great things about the game and reading articles about it on the Internet had me excited to see what the hype was all about. I’ve tried World of Warcraft and played up until the first dungeon, but it was way too overwhelming as a rookie, especially trying to jump in a decade later. So I figured I’d try my luck with FFXIV because it’s a franchise I have a prior attachment to and it seems more accessible. Well, 300 hours (so far) later with two level 60 jobs and highly anticipating patch 3.3, Revenge of the Horde, I can safely say that FFXIV has become my favorite entry in the series. For years it was X because it’s the first I played, but XIV has been such an incredible experience that I’ll gladly devote more time to.
My biggest, and most important, praise for this MMO is its accessibility. It’s important because you want any new player to feel welcome without anything turning them away. I don’t know if any other MMOs are as helpful to new players since I haven’t played any other ones, but FF does a solid job. The game explains what important icons and symbols mean and slowly introduce tutorials and information as you progress. I recall beginning in one of the main cities, New Gridania, and being so overwhelmed by the many side quests, characters and vendors scattered throughout. Then I ventured out into the wild with more information to take in, but if you pace yourself and slowly digest the information provided, you’ll have your bearings in no time.
As you level up, you’ll get a feel for FATEs, guildhests which are in essence bite sized dungeons and other experience based events. You’ll start by killing generic enemies and progressively unlock the aforementioned events and these events, particularly guildhests and dungeons, are effective at teaching how each role is played. Low level areas and quests won’t teach you the advanced mechanics of the late game content, but it’s effective in how it gives players an idea for how each class plays, which you can use to determine which class suits you best. Party-based events teach awareness when fighting enemies with AOE attacks, debuffs, and more. If you’re doing a guildhest or dungeon for the first time don’t be afraid to say that it’s your first time because, more likely than not, the other players in your party will happily explain things and walk you through the sequence.
It seems like everyone is playing FFXIV for different reasons, which is great, and mine just so happens to be for the story and characters. A Realm Reborn is an enjoyable tale of good versus evil with memorable characters. Alphinaud, Minfillia and the rest of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn help portray a war that sees betrayal and dark acts tear apart once close relationships. Against all odds, they have to stop the Ascians from trying to destroy the world, as well as the empire from conquering it. ARR’s story becomes more emotional as the patch quests, or epilogue, are introduced and the tone becomes much darker. Heroes risk their lives at the expense of keeping loved ones safe and the heroes don’t always win here. As each quest unfolded and new characters were introduced, I became suspicious of their motivations and there was always a concern if they were going to betray the Scions. Most importantly, the epilogue has some excellent moments that set up the story for FFXIV’s expansion, Heavensward.
Heavensward’s story is amazing from beginning to end. This is because it tells the story of a multi-sided war between the people of Ishgard and the Dravanians, or dragons. These characters, some of which are introduced in pre-Heavensward quests, are much more fleshed out in the expansion such as a badass dragoon named Estinien who wants revenge against an angey Nidhogg for killing his family. Dragons like Vidofnir and Hraesvelgr want nothing to do with Nidhogg’s revenge but rather the peace they once had for 200 years when Shiva and Hraesvelgr fell in love. We learn about King Thordan I and his evil doings as he kills Nidhogg’s sister for the power in her eyes to enhance his own. This awful act has ramifications on future generations and those in power in Ishgard won’t conceal the truth about their former king and the reason dragons are at war. Because of the selfishness of a few men, thousands of innocent people are helpless to the rage of Nidhogg and his fellow dragons. Here we see our close friend Alphinaud and the passionate Ysayle questioning themselves as truths are revealed about the once peaceful dragons. They begin to question their role in the war and it’s tough to see two characters I deeply care for at such an emotional low. Its story, in my opinion, is the best Final Fantasy has seen in nearly 20 years, dating back to the legendary Final Fantasy VII.
The community in FFXIV is wonderful. The players are supportive and helpful to newcomers and I’m always amazed at how everyone playing this MMO has been influenced by Final Fantasy in some way. My favorite memory so far is when I was doing part of the Alexander raid and one of our DPS players were new to the event and was understandably having a difficult time. Well, one of the tanks on our team was being rude for no reason so our team collectively decided to kick this player from the raid because there was no reason to be mean to a first time player. It felt incredible because we weren’t going to tolerate any negativity over a video game. There are FATE parties and people looking to group up for all kinds of events too. On top of that, I’m always having fun with strangers at the Gold Saucer or reading the chat.
All in all, there are some great people in the FFXIV community and I’m glad I’ve made friends through it. It brings me back to Diablo 2 days, and that’s always a good thing. I’ve also been following people on Twitch who often stream the raid on its hardest difficulty and other events and it’s helpful because, without actually participating, I’m able to study the bosses and the mechanics of the fight. There are some excellent guides out there too for how to build jobs and what to do after you reach level 60. They’ve made the grind significantly less overwhelming because you can tackle one thing at a time and slowly reach the high level content.
I’ve reached a solid chunk of the higher level endgame and it’s addicting. My dragoon is currently item level 210 so I’m able to participate in some of the more difficult trials (FF summons), dungeons and raids. I recently got my dark knight to the level cap of 60 and I’m slowly improving the gear for that job so I can partake in the exhilarating events as another role. Each day I look forward to the daily roulettes to reset so I can accumulate more Allagan Tomestones of Esoterics and Law, which is the currency to buy item level 200 gear. Because I did dailies and such with Destiny for so long, it feels familiar and I don’t mind doing them, especially if I can do a fun dungeon or trial and I can upgrade my characters. These dailies are excellent when leveling other classes too because the amount of experience you receive is massive.
FFXIV is amazing and I’m glad I finally took the plunge in October. I love the world of Eorzea and its people. It’s so fun to fight the likes of Ifrit and Shiva, these iconic parts of Final Fantasy, with seven other people in a coordinated fashion. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world, and I can’t wait for the conclusion to the epic Dragonsong War with patch 3.3, Revenge of the Horde, arriving later this year. I’m also curious to see when the team will begin discussing the next expansion for this game because Heavensward added three new jobs and excellent dungeons, raids and trials. I can’t blame you if you’re reluctant to play an MMO, but if you’re even the slightest Final Fantasy fan, I implore you to check out a free trial. If it doesn’t grab you fine, but I hope it hooks you like it has for me.
Brett Woodmansee is an editor for The Game Bolt and he loves RPGs, Chipotle and his beard. For tweets about video games, sports and more, follow him on Twitter.