Final Fantasy has always been a strong gaming brand – selling more than a hundred million titles in the past twenty years – so the latest online venture had a big name to live up to. Its September 2010 release of Final Fantasy XIV, the second MMORPG in the series, brought harsh criticisms from fans and gaming websites worldwide: the controls were awful, the combat was sluggish, the game tested even the most powerful computers; the list of problems was endless. Despite this, one year on and the game is starting to become the epic that it should have been. Since the game was set to go P2P last Friday, I hopped into game during the last few free weeks to give it a proper review.
The game is set in the war-torn lands of Eorzea; recently struck by a colossal army from overseas, the cities of Eorzea have banded together to defend themselves from future attacks. As an adventurer, it is your job to aid the cities in any way you can from dancing with children to fighting off waves of monsters. Each starting zone has its own short storyline that converges into the main storyline.
Apart from the main storyline quest, players also earn quests called Guildleves. These can be collected from any main questing hub at a player's leisure, and are based around either field work (combat or gathering) or local work (crafting for local NPCs). Guildleves are the principle source of earning experience early on, and the majority can be done without assistance of other players. That's probably a good thing, though, as the game feels more like a single-player game with MMO elements. Regardless of server populations, a story-driven quest filled with cut-scenes and instanced areas (locked to other players) makes playing through the first part of the game a lonely experience. Even later on, quests do little to encourage team play, and the need to party only really becomes apparent at the very end of the game.