Final Fantasy XIV - A 2020 Review
Updated: Feb 1
85/100 - A highly recommended MMO experience
When it comes to MMOs, we tend to think of the legendary World of Warcraft. The game that we've come to love, or hate, over the last decade while keeping most of its player base. It has been considered the king of the genre for the longest time, but no king rules forever.
A lot has changed in the gaming scene since the release of World of Warcraft. And many attempts at dethroning it and replicating its success have fallen short or failed.
Final Fantasy XIV had hoped to compete with World of Warcraft, but that was not to be the case on its release. The excitement surrounding the game was there, but the lack of content was a big deal for the majority of players. Ultimately this ended up driving many players away, which prompted the developers to rework the game and bring some life back into it.
Thanks to this, the game had been improved and continues to do so with each new patch and expansion. The game was not only revived, but the changes took it to a much higher level. But is it good enough to compete with the legendary World of Warcraft?
What you can expect from the game:
The game features eighteen classes in, with one being a limited class that can't be played in regular content. Not only are there a lot of classes to delve into, but each has its own questline, which unlocks class abilities and features, similar to the original World of Warcraft. However, this can be a problem if you want to level up your other classes as fast as possible.
A regular tab-target styled MMO experience with a lot of flashy effects and unique combo-styled abilities. This keeps each class feeling different, keeping them feeling fresh when compared to each other. However, at higher latencies, this game feels way more delayed compared to other MMOs where you might barely notice it.
There are two groups of professions, disciples of hand and land. Eight are crafter (hand) professions, and three are gatherer (land) professions. Just like with combat classes, you can level all of them on one character, and they will provide you with a vast amount of relevant content to spend time on. And if you're into trading, you may find them to be a great source of income.
A staple in most MMOs is the gearing experience. With Final Fantasy XIV, gearing feels less meaningful where every piece is just a combination of armor and stats. You can get sets of gear every ten levels from level fifty with a currency called Tomestones. While the level eighty gear you can buy with this currency isn't the best, it isn't far off from it. The best of the gear is found in current endgame content on savage difficulty. But with each piece being stats and nothing interesting, the upgrade feels less noticeable than you'd expect.
Since you have access to all the classes once you reach their level requirements you can easily switch from a maxed level class into a lower level one. Allowing you to experience each of the classes and level them in zones where your main might out-level it. The leveling experience is decent, with a wide range of tasks you can participate in. And it can be made even faster if you create your new character in a preferred realm. You will be given a road to level seventy buff, which increases experience gain by 100% for ninety days or until the realm is no longer preferred, whichever comes last.
The game features a lot of four-player dungeons, eight-player trials and raids, and even twenty-four-player alliance raids. Some of the main story questline requires completing instances in groups, which can be done through the duty finder similar to the dungeon finder in World of Warcraft. If you are looking to pass some time in-game, there are a few mini-games you can play. Such as a card game called Triple Triad or Chocobo racing, similar to the Mario Kart games, amongst a few others.
The selling point of this game has to be its storyline. Unlike other MMOs that present you with quests you can do in any order, this one focuses on the main story and a lot less on sidequests. The storyline, otherwise known as the MSQ, takes you on a seamless journey from level one into the current endgame. With many plot twists and unique characters, you may find yourself doing the MSQ for hours at a time, trying to uncover more of what's to come. However, a good portion of the cinematics does not have voiced characters, which can be very off-putting.
For an MMO, the graphics are above par, but in some of the older areas, it does feel dated. Bugs are uncommon, and you are unlikely to run into any on your first playthrough of the game. After hitting level thirty on your first class, you are given fifteen days of game time, a nice unexpected little bonus. Community feedback is taken into consideration more often than not, and changes to the game are not uncommon. Overall, the experience is an enjoyable and seamless one with very few potential issues to run into.
The game is currently in its third expansion, Shadowbringers, which adds a ton of new stuff into the game. Most notable being the new zones and MSQ that picks up where you left off in Stormblood. Shadowbringers is regarded by some as the best Final Fantasy story in years. Additionally, there are two new classes and playable races that came along with plenty of quality-of-life improvements made to the rest of the game. The endgame features challenging raids and dungeons with multi-phase boss fights that require a fair amount of understanding to get through.
When it comes to achievements, collecting appearances and mounts, the game falls a bit short. Compared to some other MMOs which encourage completing collections of all sorts of things, the completionism content in Final Fantasy XIV seems less engaging. The achievements list doesn't have a summary for you to quickly look through and find categories of content you'd like to focus on. There are plenty of titles for you to collect, with a lot of them requiring little effort on your part. It is as though you are given tons of stuff but with not much meaning behind it, and the meaningful things aren't encouraged by the game.
The community in the game can be friendly, so much so that sometimes you are left feeling a bit awkward if you're just casually playing through the game. However, if your goal is to find new friends to enjoy the many aspects of this game with, there are groups you can join where players get together called Linkshells. This is on top of the typical guild system you'd expect in an MMO. This allows you to be a part of multiple different social groups with none of the drawbacks of having to change guilds if you want to spend more time with one group.
A solid MMO that does a variety of things differently. The story is enjoyable and has some unexpected twists. The gameplay is average for a tab-target MMO but classes each have their unique ebb and flow. The game doesn't feel as fluid as some other MMOs when your latency is higher than two hundred. There are plenty of things to do, and you can access all classes and professions on your character at any time. If you are unsure about trying the game due to the weeb culture associated with it, you can mostly ignore it and enjoy the game for what it is. Or embrace it and have a great time with many like-minded players. Overall, a highly recommended MMO experience that has a great free trial for anyone interested in trying the game out.