The Final Fantasy XIV Diaries (#1) – First Impressions

It isn’t a secret that I’m a huge, Final Fantasy fan. It’s one of my favourite video game franchises of all time and I’ve played so many entries, from the main games to the countless spin-offs. I’d obviously heard about Final Fantasy XIV plenty of times, from its disastrous initial launch, to it quite literally being reborn a few years later. Since then, it has continually grown and improved, to now become one of the most successful and popular MMO’s of all time.

You might be wondering why, despite being a huge Final Fantasy fan and the game being so popular, that it’s taken me until now to try it out? There’s a few good reasons for that. The first being I only got a PS4 in 2018, so I wasn’t able to until at least then. The second being I was already invested in another MMO, The Elder Scrolls Online. I wasn’t really keen on the idea of sinking my time into two MMO’s at once. However, now that I have slowed down how much I play of ESO, I thought it was high-time that I finally give Final Fantasy XIV a go.

You awaken to ethereal voices.

I’ve decided to begin a new series of posts where I give you regular updates and my thoughts of the game as I progress. Today’s will be a first impressions, as well as offering some of the pros and cons from moving from ESO to FFXIV. Let’s get into it.

I think we’re gonna need a bigger crystal…

More often than not, the Final Fantasy games involve crystals of mythical power. That’s no different here. Early on in the main quest, we come face-to-face with the gargantuan crystal called Hydaelyn, or The Mothercrystal. Alongside this, we also begin to understand the threats that face Eorzea, the region that the game is set. There’s the militaristic Garlean Empire, who brought about the calamity 5 years prior to the game’s beginning. Then there’s this mysterious masked figure, who seems to be working behind the scene’s for something unknown at my point in the game. The depth of lore that this game has is really interesting, but can definitely be overwhelming and confusing at times as well.

I’m currently learning about the different beast tribes and their Primal deities. I was able to defeat the Primal, Ifrit, as well as learn about Ramuh. It’s always fun to see how the recurring aspects of the series (characters and beings like Ifrit) are woven into each entry. The narrative is really starting to ramp up now and get more interesting, so I cant wait to uncover more mysteries and see where it goes.

Gameplay

One of the first decisions you’ll make is the class of your character for the beginning part of the game, or entire game if you want. I decided on the Arcanist class, as it would allow me to change into the Summoner job once I reached level 30 with it. It’s obviously a ranged-magic based class, and allows you to summon small carbuncle pets to aid you in combat. As you progress in level and complete class specific quest-lines, you unlock more abilities to use. At the point I’m at, I’ve already unlocked the Summoner job and have plenty of abilities to choose from. What I really appreciate is that you can freely change classes whenever you want. All you need to do is go to the guild or character that represents that class/job, meet the requirements, then it’s unlocked for you to use. With that, just change your weapon and your class/job changes. This is such a great customisation choice and is a big improvement over ESO, which forces you to make an entirely new character if you want to try a new class out.

Combat definitely takes some getting used to, especially with console controls. You’ll have a series of hotbars that you can set abilities on. You then need to hold L2 or R2 and press the corresponding button to activate the ability. It is a little finicky, especially when you get more and more abilities and need to swap between different hotbar sets on the fly with R1. The developers have done well to make it work on a console, but it isn’t the most intuitive. Having said that, the combat is still really enjoyable overall, requiring a lot of strategic thought and patience to excel at. You soon learn the best order of your attacks/abilities and how they work together, allowing you to execute an efficient rotation to overcome your enemies.

One issue I had early on was the slow movement speed while exploring the map and going back and forth between locations. It does make the experience drag occasionally, even with the sprint action. This does improve though when you unlock a mount from a quest at level 20, as well as when you have so much in-game money that the cost of fast travel isn’t a problem.

I’ve managed to partake in a few dungeons as part of the main quest. These are 4-person activities that have you make your way through an area, fighting many enemies, collecting rewards, and slaying the boss at the end. Matchmaking is available to easily set you up in a group. The wait times so far have been around 5 minutes to find a group, so it’s not too bad. These dungeons have been pretty fun for the most part, with the bosses offering a nice challenge. There was one instance though, where I was watching the important cutscene as it was my first run of the dungeon. Once it ended, the other three people in the group had almost beaten the boss already, which was a bit annoying. Thankfully, it was only the one time this happened.

While I’ve really enjoyed the main quests and class quests, the other side quests have been your standard MMO design. Lots of fetch quests with minimal storytelling. This is perhaps the only downgrade from ESO, where its full voice acting and consistently well-designed quests made the experience/quality feel more like a single-player game than other MMOs.

Final Thoughts

Going from one MMO to another is always going to be a pretty daunting task. But Final Fantasy XIV has been an ultimately engaging experience so far in my 20 hours of play. The narrative, lore and characters are starting to grow on me and the world is beautiful to behold. I cannot wait to see where the game goes next, as well as the various expansions to look forward to.

I hope you all enjoyed this post and let me know in the comments what you thought. The future posts I make about FFXIV likely won’t be as long, since I had a lot to talk about with my impressions of the various aspects here. But yeah, I hope to continue posting regular updates about my adventures in Eorzea, so look forward to that.

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