For those who don't know the story, a couple of years ago, FFXIV was released, and it was one of the worst MMOs I've played at the time, and the biggest flop in the MMO genre ever. The game was unplayable, the combat was delayed, you had a system that basically forces you at a certain point that you cannot gain exp because you played too much, as a PAY TO PLAY game. But the game was pretty!
Needless to say, the entire team of the original game was fired and taken off. Square/Enix basically came out and said 'We done fucked up!' and bam, a rerelease of the game. The good news? It feels like a FF game now, and the gameplay is much improved. The bad news? There's so many games out there now that are just, well, better, and some are F2P.
I might as well go through it since I can't even log onto the beta atm, so... Also, there's no spoilers for the plot. Most of this info can be found on other websites too.
Title: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Rating: T, rating changes in game
Graphics: 9/10 - Probably the most beautiful game I've ever played. There's really nothing else to say about this, because it's the god to honest truth. It's also a number on graphic cards, because it basically means you need a high end graphic card to play this game. Which means you need a high end computer to play.
Plot: 8/10 - Now this feels like Final Fantasy. From the opening to where you finally have control of your character, you feel like you're in a Final Fantasy world. This is what the game should've been at the start.
You can start in the three familiar towns (Which you can choose to start where) and while some of them got a bit of a facelift, if you played in 1.0, they're easily regonizable.
I won't spoil the story (And tbh, I think the story so far is more interesting than the story in SW: TOR), but even then, I think the story is different depending on where you start. In 1.0, I started in Ul'dah, and I chose to start there again. I can say I'm glad I made that choice.
You'll also see the staples of the FF series along the way, like chocobos and Moggles deliver your mail. And for older fans... you'll see! So it does have a Final Fantasy theme to it.
Music/sound: 9/10 - Familiar themes and new themes. I liked the original soundtrack to the game, and I like the newer music, especially the battle theme. And of course, epic fucking Chocobo music when you ride one. You're just riding a chocobo, but they manage to make it sound epic. :D
The one flaw is that the music sometimes doesn't play in certain zones, but I'm guessing that's a bug.
Gameplay: This is divided into 6 sub-categories since MMOs are different.
Combat 7/10 - The combat... is something to be desired. It's boring, to put it mildly. It doesn't feel as fluid and responsive as WoW's combat system, and again, like some other games, it looks like I've dodged something, and I still get hit with it regardless. It's not as terrible as SW: TOR (Which felt I was fighting with the controls 90% of the damn time!), but... it's just not as good as WoW's.
Like 1.0, you can switch to a different class, which makes having alts pointless. I think this is a good thing, cause if you're in need of something and someone in your group leveled it up, bam, switch, and the group can go!
I haven't played all the classes, but the 2 classes (Thaumaturge and Conjurer) I really played much of were about the same when I played them deep into 1.0. So thankfully, I didn't have to relearn a whole class. If you were a really early 1.0 player, Thaum might be a bit different, it plays more like a Black Mage.
I heard later on, the starter classes branch out into more Final Fantasy-ish classes like Black Mage, White Mage, Dragoon, Paladin, etc etc. I haven't gotten that far, my highest level was 31 back in 1.0.
Crafting 7/10 - Crafting is still crap, but much more improved than 1.0. You basically gather the mats or buy them, change your 'class' to your desired crafter, and go for it. You also have the chance to make the item much better than if you made it the normal way, but I have no idea about it, since I didn't play with the crafting system too much.
You can also level crafting the normal way or through leves, which most people recommend anyways. I'll talk about leves in the pve section.
I didn't work on any gathering professions this time around, so no comment on that yet.
PvE (Questing, exploring) 9/10 - I have to say, this is greatly improved from the original. To break it down, you can gain exp by:
1. Killing monsters. Tedious, I don't advice doing it unless you're farming for something.
2. Killing monsters via your class 'hunt' quest. You get bonus exp for killing a certain amount and the game will put something over a monster's head if you need to kill it if you're the right class.
3. Story quest. You need to progress through the 'main' story regardless, so always keep up to date on this. It unlocks different things in the game as well, so you have to do it.
4. Class Quests. EVERY class has class quests, which all have their own story. While they can be tedious at times, the story makes up for it.
5. Regular Quests. There's NPCs all over the place that offer quests. You can also skip them and come back to them with another class later, which I think is good.
6. Leves. This was the main method of leveling in 1.0, but now, it's basically optional. I only really did them when I felt myself getting behind. A good method of catch up if you run out of regular quests!
7. Fate. This is like Guild Wars 2 random events. Basically, random events happen around the world and the objective is different for every one, like collect items and give to a NPC, kill a boss mob, kill an army of invading mobs, etc etc. Nice way to pick up some quick exp while going to different places.
8. Duty Finder/Dungeon Finder. I have to say I'm not impressed with this so far, but it makes for really easy and quick exp. They don't even have to be dungeons, it could be a quick monster survival type of deal or just killing. Hoping the later Dungeons get harder or a 'heroic' mode for those of us who like challenges.
9. Exploration. Like WoW and most games, you find a new area, you get some exp. It's minor, but it does encourage to look and explore the entire map.
So there's a LOT of ways to get exp in this game, and you don't run out of things to do. There are a few annoying things like having to hand in items to the NPCs, and if it's more than 1, it's really annoying.
You also have an inventory for gear and inventory for your items and crafting crap, which is nice and gives you plenty of space. Of course, hoarders like me will most likely run out of room regardless. >.>
The 'flight path' is chocobos, and yes, you do ride on an airship too at some point, which are staples to FF games. However, I don't see a need for the chocobo paths if you own a mount. Currently, I could not ride my Goodbue mount due to an error/bug, so I can't really say.
Overall, the PvE is fun and you'll always have something to do.
PvP NA - I haven't played any PvP games and am not sure if PvP will be put in the game!
End game (50 only content) N/A - The beta only went up to level 20, so no clue on end game.
Misc (Latency. bugs, configuration, community) N/A - I'm not giving a score since it's still a beta, but I'm greatly disappointed at Square/Enix. Mostly for their lack of communication. There's a serious bug going out on some characters, who are stuck in the game, and when a player tries to log that character, they cannot log in. And there's no word from Square/Enix about it at all. Even a 'We're working on the issue' would be better than nothing.
Also, who thought that having very few NA servers and an overabudance of Japanese servers was good? Believe it or not, Final Fantasy is popular in the US and Canada. The fact that EVERY SINGLE NA server was locked for new characters is not a good sign. So people who want to play with their friends? Nope, not happening! This wouldn't be an issue if beta stuff wasn't going over to live play, but it is. I think it's a mistake to do, but it's not my choice, so meh... I think this was a stupid move and if the servers couldn't handle the load, you should have queues. I think queues would be better than not being able to play at all!
Also, who thought that not having any sort of fucking queue system was a good idea? Because IT IS NOT! Hence why I'm not playing, my server is full and there's no queue system. And I'm not about to sit around and keep hitting refresh.
The UI seems kind of sloppy with a lot of buttons on one side. Granted, this game is designed around to accomadate the PS3 console, but still. I didn't fiddle with the UI too much, so hopefully you can change it to how you want it to be.
Hopefully, things get figured out within the week.
Final Score 7.6/10 - Above average, but if I had to factor in the last part, this score would be much lower!
Overall: 8.4/10 - A game you should try, especially if you're a Final Fantasy fan. A good re-impression that has some problems here and there. Hopefully, Square/Enix will fix them before launch. If you're a Final Fantasy fan and don't get plagued by the game-breaking bugs currently in this build, give it a try. I'd recommend trying it out for the first month and seeing if it's for you.