FFXIV’s world has me hypnotized

Real busy week with tests and midterms so my playtime has been minimal and my time to blog is even less.  I do however want to give you guys a taste of what’s to come with our FFXIV coverage.  Here are some screenshots of our adventures today.  Click on them to make them bigger.  These are taken on the exact settings that I play the game on.  The world is absolutely beautiful.  The character models and some of the style of the graphics look very Eastern (Asian).  At times the characters all look like pale porcelain dolls with androgynous big hipped bodies and faces, but you really can look past that if you try hard enough.

In this entry I just want to focus on the world and what I’ve seen so far.  It’s actually much bigger and much more open than any MMO I’ve played lately.  I ask Graev all the time: “Can we go there?”, referring to something in the distance.  His reply is “Yes, let’s go” and we explore and adventure. The views are breathtaking.

We traveled from our starting city (some desert with a name that starts with a U) to one near the lower center of the map.  The trip took us one hour of non-stop running.  Along the way there were several neat things to look at and many detours we could have taken but we kept strictly to the path.  We passed from the desert to this forest area which is the only time we have ever zoned.  The transition was harsh in terms of environmental effects, as it went from desert to forest while loading.  Other than that, the entire world has been seamless.

I’m very surprised at how immersed we were in the world.  I get lost in it and I quickly lose myself to the experience.  This is one of the most pleasant surprises about the experience and it’s honestly so important to me that I’ve chosen to share it with you guys first.  If nothing else, they’ve done what many can not and that’s create a world for players to feel like there’s more than meets the eye and like it’s bigger than they can perceive all at once.  Sure, this is largely due to the fact that it’s a new world but in the past five MMO’s the worlds were also new and I never felt immersed like this.

There’s plenty to complain about, but the world is not one of them.  If nothing else, I’m glad Graev got me to play the game again long enough to see the world.   Coming up will be my posts with my thoughts on combat, crafting, controls, the class system, and Graev’s overall thoughts on the game.  I will also be Livestreaming all week.

  • I’m curious how the controls are now. Seems to be the number one complaint and the reason I never tried the FF MMO’s.

    Are you guys using game pads? Or is a mouse and keyboard feasible now?

  • I think mouse and keyboard controls have improved since beta but they’re still not too good. But I use them in the game, so they must not be horrific.

  • God… Those environments DO look really nice. I can’t get over the level of detail in the models and textures, even at less-than-max settings. Do they still have the draw distance issues that FFXI had? I remember being blown away by the rendering in XI, too, until mountains just sprung in to being about 300ft away.

    WoW did some interesting things in terms of rendering and scaling details back the farther in the distance something was, so they could begin rendering it from farther away, getting rid of that jarring feeling of having things appear before you. Curious to hear if FFXIV has gone a similar route or if your mountains and trees are manifesting before your eyes.

    I also see what you mean about the porcelain doll effect… It’s very noticeable in that closeup shot of you two in the forest. I think it has something to do with their posture; something about the way the legs and arms are positioned in what is supposed to be a “relaxed” or “comfortable” posture that just looks like a doll or action figure. Lack of facial texture and expression doesn’t help, either.

  • From my time in beta, I found the “gosh wow!” effect of the landscapes lasted about a week. As someone amply demonstrated in another thread with screenshots, the landscape is heavily cut&pasted. You will soon come to recognize rock formations, gullies and clifftops as not just being repetetively similar but exactly identical.

    Running across a stunning landscape is also something that is incredibly immersive at first but suffers very badly from the law of diminishing returns. That’s why few complain about slow travel at launch but a few months down the line the teleporters and griffin-stations come in.

    Nevertheless, I agree it’s a truly beautiful world. Something to do with the textures, I think. FFXI had exactly the same “feel”.

    On the character models, the Lalafel certainly do look like dolls. I thought that was intentional. I didn’t think any of the other races did. The animation on the Miqo’te I played seemed extremely fluid and natural and the skin quality seemed convincingly organic. The monsters are absolutely superb. I spent more time watching them than fighting them.

  • So the world is fun to explore now? That’s good news. From what I remember of FFXI, it was such a pain. The smallest little ledge stopped you from going forward, especially since you had no ability to jump whatsoever. Add in no ability to swim, and everything just felt so…artificial to me. It really taught me enjoyable a silly little feature like being able to jump could be.

  • Glad to hear you’re enjoying some of the game, Keen. The world really is immersive but those environments really do tend to get convoluted at times. I’m still enjoying how everything looks and having fun in the game but sometimes I wish things were laid out a bit better — Uldah makes Stormwind look simple.

    What server are you guys playing on? If you need a good guild, I can vouch for you with Servants of the Twelve on Mysidia.

  • I wasn’t that impressed by the environments really but they’re ok. The character rendering is very nice indeed and is probably the nicest part of the game. I also like some of the music used (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANONzo6pTRc). The Gridania starting cut scenes are very entertaining too.

    That said, the interface is very frustrating. Menus take a lot time to appear. Long and frequent load screens are exasperating. Very few cues and affordances means you are often bewildered wondering how to do something. Controls and combat are clumsy compared to any other game I’ve played, though this may be a side effect of targeting the PS3.

  • Remember, this is a game where my first impression was a soulless, drab, entirely lifeless experience. Since Graev convinced me to try it with him, I’ve given it more effort and pushed beyond the ‘initial’ experience.

    @Wonderwyrm: I’m not saying the game is amazing. With Allods it was a case of me loving the game out of the gate and then being disappointed. This is me hating the game and now finding some good in it for the sake of at least attempting to look past shortcomings.

    @Chris: We’re on Lindblum. Very populated for simply being a pre-release. We enjoy it.

    @Caleb: Some ledges stop you for sure. some don’t. In the desert area near Camp Drybrush, almost every little ledge lets you jump (or fell off, no jumping) down. I haven’t tried jumping off cliffs yet.

    @Bhagpuss: I’ve heard about the cut and paste landscape but I haven’t noticed it yet. I’m still in that stage where I can’t really take it all in yet. There are birds flying in the sky, light breaking over mountains (with a great draw distance to answer someone’s question), and nice details on the landscape that I do see.

  • In your updated review I would like to hear about updated interface/gameplay responce. I understand this is intended to be played with a controller, I did play some of the first FFXI and did not mind it. It seems a lot of people who reviewed combat in alpha/beta seem to have a slightly different opinion on the matter now that some of the issues have been worked out (mouse responce/lag/etc). There are also a lot of gameplay movies on youtube showing the various classes although most of them are from the starting areas and do not show much of characters with a lot of abilities.

    I think a lot of players would like to hear more about the questing if anyone has a moment to comment on the subject. I understand the current form of quests are ‘guildleves’ with 36hour cooldowns (akin to dailies), but are there other quests to be found? Or is it a grind fest beyond those guildleves?

  • I recently got into Fallen Earth, which seems to have no zoning at all. I just leveled out of the first “zone” and on the map it said to drive north to get to the higher level one. I did so, fully expecting to hit a magic wall eventually and load into the next one. Never happened, I drove without a loading screen from one zone to the next.

    Even their instances happen instantly once you step foot in the building. You want to talk immersion and an open world, that is it. No game I can remember has this few loading screens and a completely seamless world, including Vanguard and SWG.

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