Final Fantasy XIV Review: A Realm Reborn

It was August 27, 2013 when one of the MMORPGs that made the most of talk about itself, and not positively, returned in a completely renewed version. Final Fantasy XIV, originally released in September 2010, has been reborn as A Realm Reborn. After a long period of alpha and beta testing, the re-launch has finally happened, as well as on PC also on PlayStation 3. The expectations were so high that at the release of the online title of Square Enix there were countless login problems, due to server always overloaded. In the world of gamers, and more generally in the world of the internet, there was already a cry for failure, but we must congratulate the technicians of the house for the promptness with which they were able to solve these problems. About two weeks after launch, these problems practically no longer exist, and what we find ourselves in front of is a complete reinterpretation of the original project, a fully-fledged "version 2.0". But let's find out why.


When the plot is crucial

The story of A Realm Reborn continues where it left off with the first version of the game. To allow the passage between the "first chapter" and the "second" in the narration of the events of Eorzea is a cinematic visible at the beginning of the game, or, in a more complete version, waiting a few seconds on the title screen, which corresponds to the last minutes of the first version. Final Fantasy XIV: Online, in fact, was interrupted with the "Battle of Carteneau", in which the adventurers of Eorzea had gathered to face the imperial forces intent on obliterating their beloved land. The aforementioned cinematic shows exactly what happens during this epic confrontation that has literally marked history.

What you have just seen is what is remembered as the "Catastrophe" and the events resume some years after this bloody battle. Once again, the adventurers of Eorzea are called upon to face a new threat, with an enemy returning stronger than ever. The Empire does not give up and here we are faced with a new clash that will see as protagonists the Empire itself, the Alliance of the three city-states and, above all, you. In an MMORPG, the story is often put aside, as players aim to reach the end-game as soon as possible. In this sense, Square-Enix's choice was smart, which practically forced us to follow the unfolding of the story from beginning to end. In fact, the main quests will be essential to be able to continue, helping to unlock dungeons and otherwise unobtainable abilities (such as the possibility of summoning your own mounts). As it should be, however, there will undoubtedly be a slice of users who in any case will not be interested and will progress in a sort of race dotted with continuous “skip” on the cutscene in order to reach the set goal as soon as possible. The plot that is the background, however, is not the only story that A Realm Reborn has to tell, presenting a series of mini-plots linked instead to the side quests and, even more, to the quests related to its class. Regardless of whether we like the story or not, dealing with issues that refer particularly to political clashes, as also happened in the twelfth chapter, we find ourselves in front of a well-structured story that can, without a shadow of a doubt, make it more enjoyable. your own adventure.

If you did something wrong, correct it

A Realm Reborn presents itself with a definable gameplay system, without too many problems, as a real evolution of the original one, evident with the first edition. In fact, we find ourselves in front of the same game mechanics as regards the fighting and / or the change of class, remembering that to do this it is enough to simply change your weapon. Other elements, however, have been corrected, improved and, in some cases, added from scratch. But let's go in order. The first improvements are noticed already starting from the creation of the character, which allows many more aesthetic choices than before. No new races have been added, but the same has not happened for the classes, which now boast a new companion, the Arcanist, the only class to have access to two different jobs. Yes, even the job system has been revisited in its mechanics. Each class will be able to unlock their job, but only by completing a quest for level 30 obtainable by bringing a specific class to 15. In our case, which we started as Thaumaturge, in order to become Black Mage, we also had to get the Archer to level 15 to be able to do it. The quest system has been totally "upset", in a positive sense, by integrating a significant amount of missions to be carried out useful for leveling up very quickly. The Levequests, which instead had characterized the quest system of the first version, although continuing to exist, have a much more marginal function, representing only another method, among others, of being able to level up in certain phases of the game a little dead . And just about this, there have been some important additions that have greatly influenced the way of experiencing. Each game map is dotted with a series of "FATE", "global" events that anyone can participate in to gain experience. Divided into levels, these FATEs are of different types, requiring the achievement of various purposes, from eliminating a series of enemies, a mini-boss, to escorting an individual to the field and collecting objects. But not only that, the "Duty Finder" has also been implemented, which autonomously forms the parties necessary to participate in the various dungeons and so on. The dungeons, but as well as the Trials (a sort of challenge in which the Primals, including the legendary Ifrit, are faced), are of two types: mandatory and not. In the first case, these will unlock as the story progresses and you will need to complete them in order to proceed. In other cases, these will unlock through sidequests. Furthermore, through some of these dungeons it will be possible to obtain a sort of special currency, necessary to obtain very powerful sets of equipment and, above all, necessary for the fulfillment of the end-game. The inventory has also been significantly improved, which is now much more orderly and precise, separating objects, such as potions or materials, from crystals useful as catalysts for crafting and from equipment, each placed in its own specific slot in the Armory Chest. And here escapes our first negative note, as there is no key that reorders the inventory, forcing the player to move each object by hand in case he wants to do a bit of order. The Teleport system is also quite different, which is now accompanied by the “Return” command. The latter, free of charge and every 15 minutes, allows you to return to a previously specified point in the presence of an Aethernet crystal. The Teleport, on the other hand, will now require a sum of money to be able to teleport, without any limit, to the crystals with which one is already "tuned". In addition to the "Return" command, the additions of the "Free" and "Grand" Companies are also worth mentioning. The former correspond, in a nutshell, to the classic guilds that dot the world of MMORPGs, while the latter can be considered as military associations of considerable importance. There are three of them, one for each city-state, they are relevant as they play their own role throughout the story, forcing the player to choose which of the three to join. The crafting system has also been profoundly revised. We find ourselves having far more abilities than we previously had, but the differences certainly don't end there. A first thing to point out are the Tradecraft Leves, similar to the levequests but with the difference that they concern the world of crafting.

A long evolutionary process: between old and new

Without a shadow of a doubt A Realm Reborn draws inspiration from the founders of the MMO genre, in particular World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2. These two great titles continue to be the masters of every new MMORPG, but what we find ourselves in front of is not a mere copy. The developers of the new Final Fantasy XIV have been able to wisely exploit their experiences, past and acquired, to remedy the mistakes made with the original version. Among other things, it should be considered that the elements inspired by the great masters are present more and more frequently within the various productions of this genre. Therefore, given the situation, it is wrong to speak of “more of the same”. Particularly appreciable, moreover, are the numerous references to the historic brand from which the title comes, such as the presence of the Magitech Armor of Final Fantasy VI as personal mounts. It is, however, an element that may annoy many, given the ease with which it could be mistaken for simple fanservice. Whether or not, finding our memories of the past in front of us was genuinely enjoyable. During the alpha phase and the various beta testing phases, several things were added and changed until the final commercial version was reached. However, almost a month after launch, PVP is still totally missing, making Final Fantasy XIV still incomplete. This is a real shame considering how a title of enormous quality like this must lose points for such a lack. In general, from the beginning up to what we have now, the game has grown positively by implementing what was most lacking in the first version. However, we were saddened by the removal of a feature present during the alpha test, which showed the improvement of the DPS of each equipment (on the basic attack), simplifying the choice of what to wear. Last but not least, there is a small criticism to be made to the staff that manages the community. Local chats are totally overrun with bots that endlessly spam their dubious sites to try to make real money. We sincerely hope that the same situation as Final Fantasy XI will not be reached and that the problem will be resolved as soon as possible.

A Final Fantasy like you've never seen it before… Or maybe not?

Even graphically speaking, A Realm Reborn shows an incredible improvement over its first version. The polygonal models, cutscenes and animations of characters and abilities are truly spectacular. A common criticism heard around Final Fantasy XIV is "But it's not a real Final Fantasy". Believe it, nothing could be more wrong. The settings clearly recall the perfection to which the brand has accustomed us from its origins, with majestic and pleasant landscapes to explore.

The game's graphics engine has also been significantly optimized. At the time of the alpha test, this image was released (click to enlarge):

As you can see, the recommended requirements were not the most accessible at the time. Although the new Final Fantasy XIV continues to be one of the MMORPGs with the highest performance demands, the technical specifications required are much more affordable. We at the editorial team tested the game with an Intel Core i7-2600k and a GTX 580, always managing to stay above 50 fps despite the graphics being set to the maximum possible. Particularly sore point, however, is to be made with regard to the audio sector of the game. The various soundtracks present in the game are of the highest quality, once again boasting the compositional genius of Nobuo Uematsu. But soundtracks alone are not enough. Over the course of the game we found ourselves witnessing numerous cutscenes in which the characters were not voiced. Is it permissible that a game, after a year of beta testing, still has no full voice acting today? In our opinion no.

Verdict 8.5 / 10 Even if it is a MMORPG, it is better than the XIII Comment We find ourselves in front of a noteworthy MMORPG, in a very different situation from that of the first version and from what we could expect during the testing period. We were pleasantly surprised with what we tried. While PVP is still missing, we confidently state that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn lives up to its rivals, the mainstays of the genre, and that it absolutely deserves a chance. Finally, a special thanks goes to the Diamond Dust of the Ragnarok server, whose members were very kind and willing to accompany us in the slower and more complicated phases, giving us the possibility to overcome these points without too many hitches. Pros and cons Relevant narrative structure
Significantly improved game mechanics
Wise use of their experiences
Excellent level graphics sector x Too many bots in the community
x The dubbing
x PVP is missing

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