Final Fantasy XIV – A Realm Reborn
The second MMO in Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XIV actually began with a rocky start: many things failed in the eyes of the player, and the response was all around negative. In a surprising move, Square Enix accepted these flaws, going back and building the game back up from the base, before releasing Final Fantasy XIV 2.0, also known as A Realm Reborn. This rebirth caused the game to flourish, the community coming behind it, and leading to the version we play today.
I, MonocleDan, first joined up around the time that Heavensward was released, June of 2015, and played very sporadically, having periods of on and off in the game. However, mid-February on this year, after some changes in my life, I decided to come back into the game, spinning up a brand new character on the same server as Arekuzanra, and taking on the story once more. My prior character dabbled a little bit into Heavensward, so I’ll leave that to the expert, but I can at least break down the main story of A Realm Reborn, and give my thoughts on it.
Arekuzanra’s Note: I’m going to toss in my two-cents worth for areas that MonocleDan hasn’t had a chance to experience yet.
Also, note: If you’ve already played A Realm Reborn, check out Arekuzanra’s Heavensward review!
Developer: Square Enix
Platform: PC, Playstation 3 (until Stormblood), Playstation 4
Rating: T (Sexual Themes, Blood, Use of Alcohol, Language) — *Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB*
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Players: 1 – 24
“Since time immemorial, this verdant planet has seen the births of lives uncounted. But the land now bears grievous scars, and threatens to slip into a gaping maw of death and darkness.
You who would bring the light of hope to Hydaelyn…
You who would heed the whisperings of the aetheryte and take up the mantle of “adventurer.”
This is your journey—a new tale to echo down the ages.”
-As per the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn site
This is an MMORPG created by Square Enix, taking place in the fantasy world of Eorzea. Players can create an adventurer of various race, class, and appearance to venture into the world of Eorzea, fighting against the oppressive empire along with the beastmen and other forces of darkness along with allies.
Your Individual Character
My character, Kyerin Nayris, is a Miqo’te male Monk, level 55. Not the most attractive gear, I know, but working on it.
I haven’t dabbled much in the other classes. I’m trying to get through the bulk of the story and main quest before doubling back on that.
The three major cities – the desert jewel of Ul’dah, the forested domain of Gridania, and the craggy port of Limsa Lominsa- are plagued not only by the looming threat of the Garlean empire, but by the beast tribes that scour the surrounding lands, interfering with their business. Plus there seem to be strange occurrences also happening, with a number of unique individuals looking into them. The call has gone out for adventurers to rise to the challenge, combating the various opposition in the name of the goddess Hydaelyn. Will you answer the call?
As opposed to most MMOs, the main questline feels like a standard Final Fantasy story, bouncing from one city to the next, taking on issues as they rise with an everlooming threat in the background. For me, this is definitely one of the advantages Final Fantasy XIV has over other MMOs.
The classes of FFXIV are split into four groups: Disciples of War, who use weapons to strike out against their foes; Disciples of Magic, who channel arcane forces for their benefit; Disciples of the Land, who harvest materials from the land or sea; and Disciples of the Hand, who craft items, weapons, and armor from various materials. Players, once they reach a certain level, are able to change which disciple they follow at any time, allowing a single character to level up in all of the various classes.
The Disciples of War and Disciples of Magic are the combat classes: Marauder, Gladiator, Pugilist, Archer, Lancer, Rogue, Arcanist, Thaumaturge, and Conjurer. These classes level for facing the enemies of Eorzea and progressing in the story. Upon reaching level 30, with a second class at level 15, the class can unlock a corresponding job: Warrior, Paladin, Monk, Bard, Dragoon, Ninja, Scholar, Summoner, Black Mage, and White Mage.
These classes and jobs are split into three groups: tank (those who specialize in drawing the ire of enemies and protecting their allies), healers (those who specialize in buffing their party and keeping them alive), and damage dealers (those who specialize in landing heavy blows and defeating their foes). This is important for determining what equipment to be worn, and how parties are composed for challenging some of the tougher opponents in Eorzea.
Also mixed into the classes are the “harvesting” and “crafting” classes, the Disciples of the Land and Hand. These classes don’t have any upgrades, but reach the same max level as the other disciples. As the level grows higher for Disciples of the Land- Botanist, Miner, and Fisher- they are able to harvest higher level materials, which in turns works for the Disciples of the Hand – Blacksmith, Armorer, Leatherworker, Carpenter, Goldsmith, Alchemist, Culinarian, and Weaver. These crafters can make gear or items of increasing level and power, and can even modify equipment with add-ons called “materia” to enhance their abilities even further.
Leveling is done by using your class’s abilities to gain experience – primarily, this will be fighting enemies as a certain class, though your crafters level from crafting items, and harvesters level by gathering items. This experience can be boosted by special actions such as eating food or logging off in a safe location. As you level in a class, you unlock stronger abilities, can wear stronger gear, and access new quests. For A Realm Reborn, the maximum level obtainable in a single class is 50.
Quests do have a level requirement, and some have a class/job requirement on top of that. Should you not meet that requirement, you may not start the quest. The only time this was an issue for me, with the sidequests and dungeons I had done, was near the end of the main story quests, when the level requirement jumped from 46 to 49 for a trial. Besides that, it never deterred me from progressing.
There are 5 playable races in the world of Eorzea: Elezen, Hyur, Lalafell, Miqo’te, and Roegadyn. Each race is playable in both male and female genders, and come in two different flavors which offer some cosmetic differences. The races have differing base stats, but in the long run, they do not make much of a difference, which promotes playing the race that you desire.
Players are encouraged to join one of the three Grand Companies, each associated with a city – Ul’dah has the Immortal Flames, Gridania houses the Twin Adders, and Limsa Lominsa is home to the Maelstrom. Each Grand Company has several ranks that a player can rise through from collecting seals gained from various missions or events. Each rank unlocks extra gear that can be purchased, along with special features, such as Hunts- taking down targeted creatures for seals- and Squadrons- a platoon of NPCs that can be dispatched for missions to gather rewards and level up on their own.
Players are encouraged to form parties with each other in order to take on quests and challenges, but there are two other methods of cooperation. The most basic is a Linkshell, which allows a group of players to chat amidst themselves. Each individual linkshell can have up to 128 players on it. The second is a Free Company, which is the equivalent of a clan or guild in other MMOs. This group can grant the company bonuses, display their company’s name and crest, share storage, have a house, and at higher levels, even work together to send an airship out on expeditions for rewards.
Five different beast tribes fill in the areas surrounding the major cities: the bird like Ixali, the spritely Sylph, the goblinoid Kobolds, the aquatic Sahagin, and the reptilian Amalj’aa. These tribes follow their own deity, referred to by the other races as Primals, and seek to bring them into their world for their glory. They make up a fair amount of the non-animal enemies that you’ll encounter as you venture through the world of Eorzea, and in true Final Fantasy fashion, you’ll go toe-to-toe with their gods as well.
Later in the game, however, you will discover that not all of the beast tribes are of the same mind: each race has a faction that seeks to make peace with you, and will grant you access to items and story in return for doing quests to assist the tribe. I have yet to fully experience these stories, but I am looking forward to them when I get a chance to slow down.
While it’s all fine and dandy to walk from place to place, it can take quite a while to make the distance, which is why faster modes of transportation are recommended. These come in two flavors: Teleportation and Mounts.
Teleportation can be done to any aerthyte that you have been attuned to. In layman’s terms, there are large crystals in the main cities and various outposts; by taking a moment to “attune” to them, you can mark them as a waypoint, allowing you to pay a small fee to warp to any that you have already marked in this manner. These crystals can also be set as your home point, allowing you to respawn at it if you meet an unfortunate demise in your travels.
Mounts are able to be summoned anywhere outside of the main cities, and come in many flavors. The traditional Final Fantasy chocobo is typically the first one you acquire, though as you progress through the story, sidequests, and events, you can unlock various others such as a suit of Magitek armor, a unicorn, and even a witch’s broom. Their increased speed helps you cross wide areas to reach your target location faster.
Breaking up the monotony of story quests, and a few on the side to grant additional story, are various dungeons, short instances that require a group of 4 or 8 players to take on. This can be done either by forming your own party or, if you are a bit shy on numbers, joining into a queue that matches up players to conquer them. Dungeons have a minimum and capped level, forcing players above that level to temporarily be reduced to the capped level for the duration.
During the story quests from the beginning to Heavensward, there are 11 required dungeons to complete. There are 20 extra dungeons that may be done, a few of those being harder versions of prior dungeons.
Dungeons typically have 3 bosses to encounter of varying difficulty and tactics, and drop gear that is slightly above what is normally available at that level. They are a good source of experience, and a great way to practice using your class or job within a party, something that’s essential to conquering later game challenges.
After the main story is done and the maximum level is hit, there are two raids to participate in. The first is The Binding Coils of Bahamut, an 8-man series of dungeons with a set of “turns”, instances that you can save your progress after each. The second and larger one is the Crystal Tower, a series of 3 dungeons each needing a squad of 24 players to topple.
I have not touched any of the raids yet, though I do want to once I don’t feel so rushed.
Arekuzanra’s Note: The Binding Coils of Bahamut, as MonocleDan mentioned, is an 8-man series of dungeons. There are a total of 13 turns total, which are split into three sections (the first being 5 turns while the second and third were 4 turns). I only ever did the first 5 turns, and this didn’t even happen until I did it with some Free Company friends after Heavensward came out. The original raiding scene was incredibly difficult to get into because the Binding Coils were locked behind needing a premade group. It wasn’t until much later that you could use the Duty Finder to enter, and even later than that that the Party Finder was made so you could more easily make these premade groups.
The Crystal Tower series is, in essence, just as MonocleDan explained. It’s three 24-man dungeons where cooperation between the three 8-man groups is key to completing the tower.
Alongside the dungeons scattered about are trials that challenge parties of 4 or 8 members. These trials feature a single fight against a boss and its minions, typically primals, requiring the party to learn the tactics and formation to succeed. 10 different trials are required to get through the story, and there are an additional 17 trials, most of which are tougher versions of the primals already faced. Each trial has a time limit, though parties get as many tries as they are able to fit into the time limit, each subsequent try gaining a bonus to help them succeed.
PVP in Final Fantasy XIV comes in two different flavors: The Wolves Den and Frontline. The Wolves Den is akin to classic player versus player, 4 on 4 in a fight to the finish, with only one team standing at the end. Frontline, however, more closely resembles a capture the flag war. Three teams of 24 players, one representing each city, compete by protecting their outposts while defeating opponents and capturing their flags.
Completion of PVP grants you Wolf Marks, which are used to get unique gear and items from the PVP store.
I first played on the PS3, then hopped over to the PS4. I haven’t tried it on the PC, but I can say that on both consoles, it looks amazing smooth. The scenery is breathtaking, the character models appealing, and the motion fluid. There is a noticeable difference between the two, with the PS4 having a higher level of display, but it looks good no matter the format.
Each area, battle, and character has their own theme which I feel encompasses them, and helps add another layer to the gameplay. I haven’t gotten sick of the battle music even after 55 levels of it, and I’ve even purchased some of the tracks to listen to outside of the game.
I have played several different MMOs, from free ones such as Maple Story and Wakfu, to pay-to-play including World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XI. And I will say that only Star Wars: The Old Republic comes even close to how much I love playing Final Fantasy XIV. There is an actual storyline worthy of being in a Final Fantasy game that keeps me engaged and wanting to progress from quest to quest. The community is quite welcoming and helpful, making it quick and easy to find pick up groups to tackle dungeons and trials. I am able to progress quite easily by myself, meaning that I can pick up and play when I want to.
The only flaw I can say is that there is so much stuff that I want to do, I do not have the hours in a day to complete it all.