ImaJAN Media Network
MeltedJoystick Home
   Games  Members
Search +
Searching... Close  
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
  
 
  Login Using Facebook
Twitter
 
     

Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (416)

view profile + 
 
I Am Setsuna 2.5/5
Assassin's Creed Origins 4/5
Boot Hill Heroes 3.5/5
The Bard's Tale IV: Bar... 4.5/5
The Bard's Tale Trilogy 1.5/5
The Bard's Tale III: Th... 1.5/5
The Bard's Tale II: The... 0.5/5
The Bard's Tale: Tales ... 0.5/5
The Technomancer 2.5/5
Tyranny 3.5/5
Pine 2/5
Victor Vran 3/5
Front Mission Evolved 2/5
Greedfall 4.5/5
The Deep Paths: Labyrin... 3/5
The Vagrant 4/5
Avadon: The Black Fortr... 2/5
Mass Effect 3 3.5/5
Mass Effect 2 3.5/5
Mass Effect 2.5/5
Knightin'+ 3.5/5
Indivisible 3/5
Final Fantasy XIV Onlin... 2/5
A Total War Saga: Troy 3/5
Stardew Valley 3/5

Next 25
 

Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn   PC 

A Realm Misbegotten    2/5 stars

Way back in 2010, Square-Enix did what all of us old-guard, frequently-former Square and/or Enix fans desperately wanted them NOT to do: They took a second main numbered entry in their flagship ‘Final Fantasy’ series and turned it into a subscription-based Massively-Multiplayer Online RPG. After “Final Fantasy 11” in 2003, we hoped Square-Enix had gotten it out of their system… but alas, they had not.

“Final Fantasy 14” (“FF14”) launched to dismal reception, and this original form of the game still sits at an incredibly-low 49 score on Metacritic. However, not wanting to abandon their abject failure, Square-Enix handed the malformed project to a new director – Naoki Yoshida – who directed the team to think about their mistakes for a few years. Then, in 2013, the abject flop of “FF14” was given a second lease on life with the new subtitle, “A Realm Reborn.” Unfortunately, it staunchly remained a subscription-based product, which made it ethically off-limits for me and the rest of the Crew, no matter how big of (former) ‘Final Fantasy’ fans we were, or how much we would have liked to have given it a chance.

However, in August 2020, a year after the third major expansion release (all of which must be purchased on top of the recurring subscription), Square-Enix made the unexpected decision to make the base game and the first expansion into a “free trial” with no time gates or subscriptions, and only a generous level cap of 60 (out of 80) to keep mooches in check. When I shared this news with the rest of the Crew, they were all quite excited, but none so much as Chris, who picked “FF14’s” free trail as our first coop game of 2021.

I mentioned former ‘Final Fantasy’ fans a few times in the preceding paragraphs, and that’s definitely where Chris and I both fall. I haven’t played a ‘Final Fantasy’ game since “Final Fantasy 12” on the PlayStation 2, and have been sorely disappointed with the series’ hit-and-miss quality in the post-SNES era (and even during and prior to that era, once we in the West were no longer spared the horrors of the ‘bad’ ‘Final Fantasies’ that Square didn’t localize until rabid Weeaboo demand facilitated it). Chris, on the other hand, has never been as harshly critical as I have of the ‘miss’ games in the series’ hit-and-miss record, and even bought and played “Final Fantasy 13” and “Final Fantasy 0-Type” on his PlayStation 3… but those games silently drove the last nails into the coffin for him as well.

Thus, there we were, two old-guard, 16-bit-loving, “Final Fantasy 4” and “Final Fantasy 6” boosters, longing for a new game in this former system-selling series. Yet we were perpetually disappointed in the new releases, never even giving a second thought to “Final Fantasy 15.” Yet the rumblings from the fan community spoke of “FF14” being the ‘best’ and ‘most authentic’ ‘Final Fantasy’ game in ages. So, with the subscription stripped away from a more-than-bite-sized free sample, I was glad to give the game a shot… but then we actually played it…

Presentation
For a decade-old game, “FF14” looks nice. It uses a proprietary in-house graphics engine, as do so many immaculately-crafted Japanese games, and the character and environmental designs feel incredibly familiar and consistent to the ‘Final Fantasy’ series. There are a number of series staples as playable races (though, inexplicably, the Viera and Hrothgar were only added in the latest expansion and are NOT part of the free trial), plus a variety of new ones. Player characters have a hefty amount of customization options, though I was disappointed that I was unable to make my Cat-Girl Arcanist bigger than a C-cup, even maxing out the bust slider.

Musically, “FF14” is an even more familiar experience for series veterans, with plenty of remixed classic themes to go around, combined with new tunes. Unfortunately, audio is also where the game’s biggest presentational fault presents itself. While the game is partially voice-acted, and quite well done in that regard, the vast, overwhelming amount of dialog in the game is text-only, which comes across as both cheap and lazy. Run-of-the-mill quest-giver NPCs don’t even have an audio catch-phrase at the beginning of their dialogs.

Technically, “FF14” is pretty solid, though it suffers from being both a persistent MMO (thus requiring a connection to Square-Enix’ servers at all times in order to play) and a subscription-based game, requiring players to cough up a minimum of $13/month to unlock the full experience. The server we played on, Ultros, was nearly always full, necessitating sitting in a queue for anywhere from a few minutes to a half-hour in order to log on, but once logged, on, the experience is stable and glitch-free. “FF 14” deserves a special commendation in the technical section for the fact that it is perhaps the ONLY MMORPG that includes native Xinput controller support out of the box, with eminently friendly and usable controls… though, the game couldn’t quite shake the genre’s abysmal UI conventions, resulting in an overly-cluttered screen.

Story
We’ve heard it over and over again from the fanboy community: “FF14” has the best story of ANY recent ‘Final Fantasy’ game!

That, dear reader, is what’s called a LIE!

“FF14” starts the player off as a nobody arriving in one of three starting city hub locations, with the starry-eyed notion of becoming a real-live Adventurer and doing adventurous things.

O…kay?

Playing as an Arcanist – a class I chose based off the ability to become a Summoner later on – I started in the island nation of Limsa Lominsa, a maritime-themed area run by an ex-pirate admiral with an unpronounceable pile of consonants for a name. After having some waking-dream-like visions of a giant talking crystal and a horrible war that took-place 16 years prior, where the Garlean Empire tried to crash one of the world’s moons into the surface in order to wipe out their enemies, only to be routed when the dragon-god Bahamut hatched out of said moon on its way down, our hero gets their first quest: Picking up garbage!

The problem with “FF14” is that it doesn’t really try to defy ANY of the banal MMO tropes and conventions that make the subgenre so eminently mockable. I think I gave the game a few more hours than the rest of the MJ Crew, clocking in 40-ish before giving up, and the game never really moved beyond boring, tedious, menial fetch-questing. The main theme of “going from zero to hero” by doing to boring, banal tasks that even NPCs don’t want to do for themselves is the type of thing that should, maybe, take up a couple hours’ worth of prologue… but that’s pretty much all there is in the base game. Alas, none of us could stomach this level of tedium long enough to get to the “Heavensward” expansion, which the fanboys boast is “when the story gets good,” because who in their right mind would spend a hundred hours in a game that isn’t even in the suburbs of “fun”?

“FF14” bombards players with tons of quests to do and NPCs to talk to, but none of them are even the slightest bit interesting. NPCs will spew paragraphs of (un-voiced) text about how important their menial jobs are and the exact details the player needs to know, filled with unpronounceable proper names and unfamiliar geographic references, which, after a certain point, I started to just skip past as my eyes glazed over at the thought of doing more of the same inconsequential crap.

Mixed in with the gobs of said inconsequential crap is a main story quest that leads the player to learn – shockingly! – that the Garlean Empire that tried to take over the world by smashing it with a dragon-egg-moon-meteor is still at it, and is sending masked sorcerers out to stir up trouble amongst the less/un-civilized beast-man races, who can apparently summon ‘Primals’ as some sort of totemic gods. Simultaneously, the player will endeavor to work their way up in their class guild, eventually unlocking an advanced ‘job’ version of the same basic class. In my perspective, the Arcanist class story was dull, with a plot revolving around an evil pirate who looks like Ganondorf from ‘The Legend of Zelda’ and a fellow Arcanist who used to be a Cat-Girl dancing slave to said pirate.

It is often pejoratively stated that “J”RPGs take 20 hours to get good. This is not universally true, but among recent Square-Enix games, I definitely agree that it took “Dragon Quest 11” that long to really hook me. Yet with double that amount of time sunk into “FF14,” I never felt anything resembling engagement, interest, or a desire to learn ‘what happens next.’ I just felt bored and irritated that the game was so insistent on wasting my time (probably to get more hypothetical subscription money). And this is, allegedly, after Square-Enix made further revisions to the basic “A Realm Reborn” quest structure, cutting out roughly 30% of the tedium!

Gameplay
“FF14” doesn’t really try to do anything to mix-up the MMO formula that has been standard since Blizzard released “World of Warcraft.” You have your class archetypes of Tank, Healer, and DPS (Damage Per Second), to which every traditional ‘Final Fantasy’ job has been torturously mangled to conform. With four members of the MJ Crew and four slots in a standard ‘Light Party,’ we divvied up the archetypes so that Chris was the Tank, Matt was the Healer, and Nick and I were DPS. As a DPS Arcanist with dreams of being a Summoner, I was wholly disappointed in my class. My summoned minion couldn’t draw aggro (e.g., enemy attention) away from me, which is the ENTIRE PURPOSE of summoned minions, and I spent most of my time applying the same two debuffs (e.g., bad statuses) to enemies before mindlessly spamming my damaging spells.

“FF14” uses the ‘tab-target’ system for RPG combat, meaning that the player hits the Tab key (or left and right on the d-pad, for those using a correct input device) to switch between enemy and/or ally targets. I found this to be an incredibly tedious and poorly-implemented system in “FF14,” as I would often have to cycle between a dozen enemies that were WAAAAY outside my spell range, and not even in combat, in order to get my focus changed from the one I just killed to the one that was still attacking me.

“FF14” also uses a Gil-sink system via which equipment takes damage and must be repaired after using it for a time. This system seems like it’s only there out of some traditional tokenism, as the cost to repair base game gear is trivial… of course, it may become significantly more costly to repair late-game gear that’s actually good. Who knows?!

To be fair, though, “FF14” does actually have a few mechanics that are at least novel to the MMO subgenre, if not quite fully realized. “FF14” is, perhaps, the only MMO where a single character can become every class and job in the game. Yep! Starting class is only for starting, and before too long, the player can join the guilds for all of the other classes… then start leveling each of them from scratch again... well, at least it’s faithful to the traditional Grinding Hell of the job system from games like “Final Fantasy 3” and “Final Fantasy 5.” However, combat classes aren’t the only classes available. While physical combat classes and magical combat classes are classified as Disciples of War and Magic (respectively), there are also gobs of Disciple of the Hand and Disciple of the Land classes, with the former involved in crafting items and the latter involved in harvesting raw materials from the world. Becoming any class is a simple matter of talking to the head of the class’ guild and joining, then equipping the appropriate main-hand class ‘weapon’ (many of which aren’t weapons at all) to actively switch. I spent a couple hours engaging with the Disciple of the Hand crafting classes and… HOLY CRAP compared to the crafting quests, the menial MMO tasks given to Disciples of War and Magic actually start to feel interesting and well-written!

The other unique mechanic in “FF14” is its take on ‘dailies,’ which it dubs ‘duties’ instead. While most MMOs require dedicated players to log-in and dick around with various systems every single day in order to maximize character growth, farm limited resources, or not miss-out on limited-time events, “FF14” allows players to accumulate both a bonus experience modifier and ‘levequest’ points while not logged-into the game. With the MJ Crew only playing together once a week, we were able to benefit greatly from the fact that the game allows for burst of play rather than a sustained millstone of rote activity.

Finally, we must address the game’s single biggest problem: Remember in that last paragraph where I said we all played ‘together’ once a week? Well, we didn’t actually play ‘together’ but once. See, like so many MMOs, “FF14” starts the different classes in different towns, and it takes about 20 hours of chipping away at the main story questline before all of the character classes are in the same location doing the same thing. And even then, the number of team activities in the base game are sorely limited to a tiny handful of dungeons, which generally have very little to do with the main story, other than running through them each once and killing the boss at the end. Of course, as free trial players, we didn’t have access to the full party and social systems in the game, a completely understandable limitation Square-Enix put in place to combat spammers and ad-bots in game. However, it never felt like we were ever actually encouraged to team up. Everyone was busy dealing with their menial tasks on their own, pursuing their disparate class/job quest objectives, and maybe doing some main story if it happened to be in the vicinity of that other stuff. Indeed, “FF14’s” ultimate failing is that it’s an MMORPG that doesn’t encourage cooperation!

Overall
Boring, banal, formulaic, trite: These are just some of the words I would use to describe “Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn.” I absolutely can’t see how this version of the game is ‘improved’ in any way over the critical and financial flop that released a decade ago. At least I can say that I’m grateful to Square-Enix for providing a generous and truly free trial, because if I’d paid money for this experience, I would have been VERY pissed off.

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 1/5
Gameplay: 2.5/5
Overall (not an average): 2/5

 

 


Recent Comments
Comment On Review

 
 
Log In
 
For members wanting to use FB to login, click here
remember me
 
 

What Members Are Doing

Comments about...

New Game Reviews

Returnal game review by dbarry_22
I Am Setsuna game review by Nelson Schneider
Assassin's Creed Origins game review by Nelson Schneider
Stardew Valley game review by Chris Kavan
Boot Hill Heroes game review by Nelson Schneider
Undertale game review by Chris Kavan
Cyberpunk 2077 game review by Chris Kavan
Papers, Please game review by Matt

New Game Lists

Games I Own: Playstation Plus by dbarry_22
Backlog by Nelson Schneider
Ranking the James Bond Video ... by SIngli6
My Backlog by Chris Kavan
Top Super Nintendo (SNES) Gam... by Jonzor
Top PlayStation 4 Games by Megadrive
Top Game List by Barmak
Games I Want To Play by Shaneo99

 

 

 

Contact Us Public Relations MeltedJoystick Friends    

Advertise and Business

Contacts Us

Jobs

About us

SiteMap

 

Support Us

FAQ and Help

News and Press

Terms of Use

Privacy

Hitfix.com

Amazon.com

OVGuide.com

   
Are you sure you want
to delete this review?