I planned on doing an overview of what i thought of ARR a week ago but decided to wait until i hit max level. It really is the only fair way i felt i could do it. The game deserves that at least after three years of rework and a complete overhaul. I’m also going to ignore the log in issues and downtime since they’ve been discussed to death and frankly they’re to be expected. Also being played down is the lack of PVP and housing, which are coming in the next patch i believe.
- It’s Final Fantasy – While this might sound like a silly reason to anyone not a fan or that didn’t grow up with the franchise, i can assure you that it’s an important aspect that can’t be ignored. I’ve missed playing in this realm since i stopped playing XI and it’s nice to be back in it. While i am by no means a fan boy since i have zero brand loyalty, it’s still nice to step foot in this world.
- The Art Style – A hotly debated aspect of MMO’s recently, with the unveiling of EQNext. I’ve always loved the art style in Final Fantasy and XIV doesn’t disappoint. I’m a fan of the realistic style over stylized or “cartoony”. Hell, it’s the reason i couldn’t get into WoW at all. If i don’t like what I’m looking at then it doesn’t matter how great the combat or content is. FFXI still looks amazing after 11 years and looks better than a lot of MMO’s released since.
- The Class System – By far my favorite aspect of Final Fantasy MMO’s and one i wish more devs would adopt. I’m not a fan of alts, never have been and probably never will be. The ability to level everything on one character and one name is important to me. It means everyone on your server knows you and your reputation and there’s no hiding behind alts of another name. I believe this is quite important for a community.
- The UI – It’s clean, slick, and customizable. As someone who likes a minimalist look with little to no screen clutter, i find this UI almost perfect in it’s current form. Up until a few days ago, i didn’t realize that elements can be resized as well, which just adds to my enjoyment of it. Sure it could use a few more options here and there but it’s nothing i absolutely need right now.
- Character Creation – This was a tough one for me so i decided to do an overall impression of it and leave what i believe is lacking for the Bad section. I found the separate available sections rather thorough and some options like tails were more than i expected.
- The Client – I’m not sure how they did it or what they did to make the game run so well. I’m serious! A game that looks this good should not run like butter, yet it does. Even when I’m surrounded by dozens and dozens of players, i experience no hitching and very little FPS loss. This was the firs thing i noticed back in beta and it still amazes me.
- Armory Chest – SE, i love you for this. Anyone that played XI knows how absolutely frustrating our inventory issues were and are when you have to carry around gear for all of your classes. While not as extreme as that game was, what with having 6-8 gears sets for every class, it’s still a simple solution to an inevitable problem with the class system.
- Mounts – As someone that loves collecting them, this is a nice addition to the online franchise. Lets hope that future options remain grounded!
- The Trinity – Normally this wouldn’t even be discussed but i was sorely missing it after GW2. It’s unbelievably less stressful than having to do everything myself just to keep the group alive, which i found myself doing quite often in PUGS in GW2. While in the Good section, it does need to be expanded on to include support and CC.
- The Classes – While i love the class system, I’m not in love with any of the classes themselves. This is without a doubt my biggest issue right now. I’m sure this is mostly due to my favorite classes completely missing from the game and may not be a problem for most but it bugs me. I strongly identify with Dark Knight, Samurai, and Thief as they were the classes/jobs i enjoyed from XI and my other MMO’s. Had they been included in the release, i believe my enjoyment would increase exponentially. I won’t even go into how Bard isn’t really even a Bard.
- The GCD – Some seem to herald this 2.5 second abomination as more laid back or strategic, but i see it more as a hindrance. I’d be fine with it as is if the auto-attack was sped up a bit to overcome it but even that is way slower than it should be. Some reactive abilities are even tied to the GCD, which makes no sense at all, and should be corrected. That 2.5 seconds seems like a lifetime if you happen to be a tank and manage to lose threat.
- Fates – I love love love the concept as I’m a huge fan of a dynamic events system over the old boring quest hub system. GW2 leveling was very enjoyable for me because of that system. Unfortunately the implementation in XIV is on par with the rift system, in Rift of course, which is the definition of boring. I hope they expand on this concept and take it to the next level because i would love for it to be more dynamic and involved.
- Fast Travel – What can i say except i wasn’t a fan of this in GW2 and I’m not a fan of it in XIV. I’d have preferred if the crystals at the camps were handled more like they were in XI where a reliance on specific classes was needed in order to teleport around the game world. Need a teleport? Well then hail a White Mage for that and don’t forget to tip! Perhaps this is too old school for today but it certainly did open up the lines of communication a lot more than what we’re seeing today. I also realize that the ability to swap to whatever class makes this trivial but at it’s core i look at it as a community building option.
- The Dye System – In short, it stinks. Going from GW2’s system where i have over 400 dyes which i can apply at any time from my character sheet, to this NPC based system with few options is very disappointing. I love dyes, i love collecting them, and i love changing up my appearance quite often. The current system leaves a lot to be desired.
- Lack of Appearance Slots/Wardrobe – I’m one of those dorks that likes to play dress-up and look the way i want to look. I can seriously spend years collecting certain gear specifically for this option, so to not have this is very disheartening. I’m hearing this may be coming soon but didn’t see it in the 2.1 patch notes so i decided to include it.
- Hair Options – They’re lacking, to put it nicely. While i enjoyed the overall character creator, this option could have and should have been doubled in options. How is it that Aion, which released four years ago, still has over 50 hair styles when every other MMO struggles to come up with half that number. Some of the options in XIV are exactly the same but with different colored accessories. Again, this is dependent on hiding the head armor slot, which i do!
- Invisible Walls – While not as prevalent as in XI or even 1.0, they’re still all over the place. As an explorer, i hate running into these blasted things. Some of them even seem to discourage exploration. They’re like a big tease that show me a nice cave or nook that i want to go into but cannot. Some of them are even on silly spots like stairs and walkways.
- Quests – Maybe it’s because I’m tired of them or maybe they’re just poorly implemented, but i dislike them in XIV. I lost track of how many times i was sent across the entire zone, only to be sent right back and then back again. There’s absolutely no flow to them at all. They seem to try to inconvenience players as much as possible. The fact that there’s not enough of them to level on beyond maybe 1 or 2 classes is also an issue.
- Levequests – Glorified dailies are what i like to call them and i hate dailies with a passion. I’d have preferred if these quests were just turned into more normal quests for leveling or even transitioned into dynamic events.
- Class Based Cities – The cities themselves are gorgeous but basing them on classes instead of races is not something i like. It would have been amazing if they separated the main cities by race instead which could have opened up so many more possibilities.
- Mount Interaction – Or the lack there of. Having to mount and dismount every time i want to turn a quest in seems like a minor annoyance but adds up after a few levels. An auto dismount for attacking mobs would be nice as well.
- Tab Target – It’s god awful. Instead of the target right in front, it tends to go for the furthest possible mob away and sometimes goes completely randomly. I’ve found a workaround by binding the nearest target option but that had limitations as well.
- One Weapon – I don’t mind having abilities tied to weapons but give me options when it comes to weapon selection. Where’s my dual wield option? Perhaps when more jobs get implemented this will be expanded on.
- Item Link/Preview – Again a fairly common aspect of modern MMO’s completely missing.
- Party Size – Burn it with fire. I can’t stress how much i hate the Light Party size. Four is just a bad number which leads to many issues ranging from composition to exclusion. When you only allow 2 DPS per tank/healer, then you leave a very large pool of players sitting on the sidelines waiting for a party. I’ve previously stated how much i hated the 4-man size in TOR and it’s no different here. I really wish SE stuck to the 6-man size that was absolutely perfect in XI. That size allowed for more roles than just tank, healer, and dps. It encouraged support and crowd control which are not only missing but aren’t even required for content. Sure you can still CC, but the options are limited and comes at a sacrifice to group efficiency.
- Main Scenario – The quests themselves are fine and seem to be rather enjoyable to most players. The aspect that absolutely stinks is the reliance on completing these story quests to unlock every damn thing in the game. I found it very difficult to play with friends that were on different stages of their story. Multiple friends on different quests? Forget it, may as well play solo until you catch up to each other. I’d have preferred if the quests to unlock chocobo’s and dungeons were kept separate from the main story.
I may have gone overboard over analyzing every little aspect of the game but it is what it is. I feel the game needs another patch or two before i can really say whether or not I’ll be playing it for years like i did with XI. Housing for sure is something I’ll be spending a lot of time doing and a lot of money maintaining. I’m looking forward to that patch and future ones to come. Until then, my current opinion stands as undecided but excited.