FFXIV Early Impressions

We’re two days in to Phase 4 (Open Beta) for FFXIV, and it’s time to start sharing thoughts on features, mechanics, how the game is faring, and whether or not we’re having fun.

ffxiv blackmageClass/Job System
I am loving this approach.  I just switch my weapon, and I turn into that class.  It’s like logging off and logging into an alt, but I get to keep my character’s identity.  I’ve been leveling a Conjuror with Graev’ Lancer.  We want to stick close together, so it’s awesome that when one of us can’t play we simply swap over to another class and go have fun.  Being able to keep abilities from the other classes is like a sudden boost to the depth of the game.  I can play a Conjuror and pick up buffs, then swap to a Gladiator but have the ability to use those spells.  This means much later down the line players will want to combine classes to maximize their potential. Awesome system with tons of gameplay built in.

ffxiv fate
Lots of people doing a FATE and not one hitch or drop in frames.

Performance is shocking.  It doesn’t freeze or hitch at all.  “It’s like magic,” said Graev as he waded through hundreds of people in Gridania.  Graev is on a 6 year old rig, and albeit he has lower frames than I do on my 3.5 year old system, neither of us see a decrease in performance with other players on the screen.  There are TONS of people playing, and all of them are visible since I haven’t once seen a lobbied zone.  Square Enix did something here right in a big, big way.  I want whatever they’ve done here to provide ridiculously good performance, and good looking visuals, to be used in every MMO ever developed again.

FFXIV GroupingQuesting
Hrmm. For the most part, I don’t like it.  Most of the quests are in the ‘kill 5 squirrels’ category, with a lot of ‘Go click this basket of fish then talk to me’ mixed in.  I’m glad these can be done once, and that any other class I play will have to do FATEs (public quests), dungeons, or grind experience chains.

The story quests, albeit hard to understand since I never played 1.0 or really any FF games, are better now that I know what’s going on.  Some of them have been like the side-quests (blah) but some have cutscenes and really do break up the gameplay nicely.  One of my biggest gripes, however, is that you can’t go into these in a group.  You have to disband every time and do it alone.

Launch (beta?) Issues
The worst issue – BY FAR – is how they’ve handled servers.  Instead of queues, they’ve simply locked servers so that no new characters can be created.  That completely screws people out of playing with their friends.  We have at least six people trying to get onto Leviathan to play with us in our guild, but they can’t until Square decides to stop opening new servers and just let people queue. I didn’t get to play on Friday at all because I was 1 second (literally) behind Graev pressing ‘Play’ and the server locked me out. I know that all of these issues will be gone in a few weeks, but that doesn’t make them suck any less.

There’s still a lot more info to come.  Graev and I are about to run the first dungeons.  I’ve only begun to dive into the crafting.  I hate the questing, but I love the combat.  I feel like at times I do spam the Stone spell, but that’s because I don’t have any other abilities yet.  I would rather use the same ability than have to spam 20 different ones.  The subtle things like the experience bonus for going on a killing streak, the way my character’s eyes follow his target, the way the world feels full of people (maybe not to subtle), and just overall traditional feel of the game give me a very optimistic view of FFXIV’s future.

This is sooo much better than FFXIV 1.0, and I hope it stays that way.  Tons more info to come.  Stay with us!

  • I tried one of the last closed betas and wasn’t quite sure what to think. My opinion is somewhat similar to yours. The combat was fun enough, but the questing wasn’t great. There was an absolute ton of typically uninteresting text to wade through before you got to the standard kill quests, as you say. It didn’t help that the opening of the game featured an incredibly long cutscene and text exposition before I could even play. That is a major pet peeve of mine.

    So far I’m sitting on the sidelines and waiting to pick this up when there’s less going on elsewhere.

  • Don’t discount the quests so quickly. It’s true they are very traditional in format but they are very well-written indeed. I guess it depends how much you like reading while playing MMOs (personally I can’t get enough of it). If you enjoy good prose for its own sake then you’ll find questing in FFXIV a perpetual pleasure.

    On the other hand, I have the opposite view on the weapon/class swap thing and for exactly the reason you like it. Yes, it feels like swapping to an alt – which is exactly what I’d prefer to do! And, indeed, what I will do if I end up playing for more than the free month.

    The server throttling is crazy but so is the volume of people trying to play right now. I only took a quick look. I’m leaving it until Head Start before I actually begin playing seriously – I might even leave it longer than that.

  • I love the game, but every time I try and do my story quest I get disconnected. My character is now broke and I can’t talk in my own linkshell or send private messages to people, nor add people to my friendlist. But that’s all assuming I can actually get into the server.

  • I love the crafting, by far the best in any modern day MMO. The final perk is any goods you make have your name listed at the bottom of the stats page when you mouse-over the item.

    I randomly bought a piece of crafting gear from the marketplace board and noticed it carries names on player crafted gear, as such I’ve now got a contact for future purchases. Don’t discount the marketboards, always check them before you hit the vendor for gear.

  • One of my favorite parts so far is the way you can mix abilities from all the classes.

    This is awesome in battle but even better within the realm of crafting.

    Being able to weed through the abilities list of the different crafts and start theorycrafting/planning on what abilities to match together for optimal success is awesome. Just because I want to focus on Goldsmithing doesn’t mean me leveling culinarian is worthless.

    My gripe is the level cap of 20 for P4. No reason it should be 20, at 20-25 you can unlock Retainers, GC, FC, Chocobos, and continue the story. 20 Just seems awkward.

    And the login issues is silly. My wife cant play due to not being able to make a character. And currently as im typing this I can not log in due to the server being full. Which I understand, but I am not in a Q I am just locked out. Just put me in a 1000 person Q for all I care, but currently I have to continually try and log in until i can play.

  • Oh, so you guys rolled on leviathan too? Guess I’ll be seeing you around in the world.

    Also, how do you feel about crafting? It starts slow but I absolutely love it. Crafting, and more importantly gathering, is decoupled from your combat classes completely…levels and gear are separate so you could be the server’s foremost blacksmith and have never killed…uh…well, I suppose you need to get to level 10 to even unlike class changing, but still, you know what I mean.

    There are also so many choices to be made once you get a good roster of crafting skills! With 2 resources and 2 goals and a ton of ways to reach them with the skills you get, you can easily personalize how you craft things. And quicksynth is there for when you just want lower level mats, so the fact you have to make everything one by one normally doesn’t bog you down.

  • One of the best things about this game for me is they seem to have actually nailed the Final Fantasy feel. FFXI never felt like a FF game. I never played FFXIV the first go around but I have a feeling it also didn’t capture the FF feel. Lengthy opening scenes and text exposition is classic FF and I love it. I know not everyone does and they could have done more to allow more skippable cutscenes. You can skip a few, but not all of them.

    I’m playing on PC and I may have to try it with a controller layout. Final Fantasy just feels right with a controller.

  • It seems SE’s intent is to just keep spinning up new servers until the traffic load balances out. They reiterate that the existing servers are under ‘temporary’ suspension. There’s no mention of server transfers, queuing, or any other approach.
    MMO’s are about community as much as the entertainment value they offer. If the ability to engage your chosen community isn’t facilitated, what’s the point besides the entertainment? Fortunately, there’s a dearth of alternate entertainment options out there offered by competitors without such barriers.

    Tl;Dr: SE, I’ll take my patronage elsewhere until you’re actuary prepared to deliver your product.

  • Keen your post make me want to give it another try! First time I tried it on closed beta I wasn’t even managed to go into combat.I spent the first 2 hours going from mob to mob and see this speechless dialogues and I got bored and closed it. I know I should be patient and keep playing more. flawless movement and combat is vital for me and I read that everyone agrees that combat is fun and traditional. This alone will make me try it again.

    If the combat is indeed so much fun, along with the awesome class/jobs system will beat any other “bad” things that may have. I would really like to give us more info about crafting, since I am a addicted crafter 🙂

    One fear I have with new MMOs is that they may turn into f2p..I hate when I devote time to an MMO only to turn into f2p after…companies should give insurance to you that they will never go f2p and if they do they will compensate for it..

  • “Fortunately, there’s a dearth of alternate entertainment options out there offered by competitors without such barriers.”

    But they are so boring…. This is the only MMO atm able to hold my attention.

    And they have made some very un conventional choices with the servers, I do not like it. But I do like the game. A lot.

  • Yeah I can’t think of any other decent MMOs out right now. WoW is beyond stale at this point, only other thing I can think of would be GW2 maybe, but that doesn’t feel like much of an MMO to me for some reason.

  • I tried to roll on Leviathan when I got home from work Friday around 6pm eastern. Was locked out of creation until 2am so I played till 5am and finally passed out. The next morning tried to get my gf in but creation never opened at all over the weekend, finally made her character at 7am this morning. Was a shame we never got to play together.

    Interesting how there was a queue at first but then by the end of the weekend it was replaced by the server is full error. Open beta was really pounding their servers apparently. I wasn’t expecting so many issues but it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the game just a little frustrating is all. The gf had to put her foot down and deny me from playing on Sunday since she couldn’t. Haha!

  • Trying to decide which edition to buy. I would like to ask how important the mount is. Is it easy to get a mount at level 20? Lot of people say that the game looks a lot like vanilla wow 🙂 In vanilla I spent lot of time farming gold to buy my mount. How is it on FF?I didn’t manage to reach level 20 in beta so..

  • You can get a Chocobo relatively easily from doing some Grand Company quests for seals. The Coeurl mount might be nice just because I don’t think there is any word on how/if you’ll get more non-Chocobo mounts. Also the SE comes with a neat Behemoth armor for your Chocobo.

    Personally I went for the SE just because the 25% off at GMG made it cost just a few dollars less than what I had planned on paying for the standard edition anyway.

  • thank you and also, if I pre-order now, do I have head start?or now is too late for this?

  • Ok pre-ordered 🙂 Now I am trying to convince some friends buying too so we can play together…or else I will not make it too far alone.

  • ignoring there decision on server management….

    The game runs great and looks great, im not a huge fan of the meele combat, its hotkey based but not as bad as other games, a little slow but its made up for by the looks/feel of the combat and having to move around to avoid attacks
    Im honestly on the fence about the multi-class thing, being able to be anything seems counter productive to me, even more so with crafting, there’s going to be very little demand later on in the game with people being able to be every craft *but* the cross classing of skills looks like it would be good
    I like the quests even if they are mostly generic, but as was mentioned by someone above, Im a story and lore nut and the quest text is fun, although I miss the voicing of modern mmos, it all feels a bit… quiet

  • I honestly could not get into it. It didn’t help that when I made my character there was what felt like a half an hour cut scene before I even got to move my character.

  • Is it possible to play without quest grinding? Sounds like the quest are fairly boring and lead to more or less linear path, which doubt I can stand for too long. Mechanics, graphics and smoothness are all great but don’t mean much pass the initial few hours of gameplay imo.

  • I have the same question as JJ Robinson. Are there quest hubs? That’s all I need to know at this point to decide if a game is worthy of trying or not.

  • @JJ Robinson: Yes it is possible to play without quest grinding. You’ll do several quests in the beginning as you get through your story stuff, but you’re free after that. Unless something radically changes after level 20, you level faster NOT doing quests — but you may make less money.

    @Jenks: Yes there are areas called sanctuaries which look like little towns. These usually have a few NPCs offering quests. As I mentioned above, you’re free to ignore them.