Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn overtakes it's smaller, glorious predecessor, Final Fantasy XIV and brings together hundreds of players in an epic, online role-playing game. The cross-platform, massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) brings together PC and PlayStation 3 players, which leads to a large community of players, but also to some problems.
Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn is an overhauled version of Final Fantasy XIV 1.0, but includes a fresh, new story line. After the devastating battle of the city-states of Eorzea against the incident Garlean Empire, there was an unexpected twist. The powerful primal Bahamut was unleashed and had the battle all but won. The Warriors of Light, the heroes, were teleported back in time at the last minute, and begin their new adventure here in Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn.\n
New players begin their adventure in Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn with the character editor. Use it to define the appearance of your character using one of many templates and a fair number of customization options. The selected character class is not set in stone, because you can retrain later in the game. Once you start a world, you can't change it. If you want to play with friends, you need to log in to the same world.
Final Fantasy XIV (1.0) veterans can keep their legacy characters from Final Fantasy with some advantages: money (gil), equipment, and character development remain largely intact. Legacy players, however, remain in their own worlds by themselves.
Main story and side jobs
While you follow the main story, you can freely switch single player-instances and release players from dungeons. You can also build your character up to the maximum level (50), get through jobs and deliver new equipment. This ensures rapid success without repeating boring tasks or so-called 'grinding'.
Aditionally, you can form a group with friends and jointly launch multi-player instances or search for collaborators. Foreign players traipse through the game world together and, therefore, across servers. How quickly you form a group depends on the use of the servers and your class. Healers and defenders (tanks) spend less time as fighters (damage dealers) than black mages or archers.
In the first pass, with story quests and side missions, you can gather enough money and experience points to progress relatively easily. Later, you encounter spontaneous fighting at random points in the open game world - Fates - a useful source for collecting experience points.
Nice features of Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn are the changeable character classes and part-time jobs. Once you have your starting class leveled high enough, you can learn other classes. You don't have to create a new character figure; creating a new, main weapon results in a class change.
Communicate with other players
In order to communicate with other players, there's only a text chat window that can be adapted with numerous filters to suit your needs. A voice chat for cross-platform voice communication between PC and PS3 players is neither intended nor planned.
Control and combat systems
Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn players can use the controls on a PC and PS3 with either a mouse and keyboard or the gamepad. Use the mouse for attacking enemies or providing your allies with healing spells. With the controller, you have to scroll with the arrow keys, but it's do-able with a little practice.
Battles always follow the same pattern: the tank attracts the attention of powerful enemies or enemy groups, while the fighter ensures damage. At the same time, you can provide up to eight-member groups of druids, white mages, or scholars with healing and protection spells. Each group is composed of a fixed number of fighters, tanks, and healers. Missing players looking for a game can search content across servers. You don't have to meet for quests in a specific place; this simplifies the search for participants, but hardly promotes a sense of community.
Enemies have different attack patterns. Battle individual players with hard punches or use area attacks. Scale attacks are distinguished using a red mark on the ground, so you should try to avoid them. Dodging is not only a skill, but also a matter of luck: attacks happen repeatedly, even if you're already in a safe place.
Crafts are a refreshing change from dungeon raids. Products in the form of new armor, rings, potions or meals are available for sale and satisfy the needs of other players. What Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn is missing, however, is a good source of income to equip the player with fresh coins. Lack of funds raises market prices and makes it harder for artisans to get their money.
Server problems spoil the fun
The joy of playing is dulled by connectivity issues with the server and login difficulties. Fates in certain places, enemies, or other players won't be displayed, making individual tasks barely playable. Server capacity couldn't handle the number of players throughout the test phase.
Good graphics and music, bad dubbing
Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn include three charming starter cities: The Pirate Island Limsa, the forest area of Gridania, and Ul'dah, a rich trading city. The environment is detailed, with forest cover, deserts and beaches, and weather effects provide atmospheric images on PS3, but with a few drawbacks. The animations are particularly successful and there are many lovingly designed expressions of feeling. Observe other players, then welcome, poke and cheer each other on.
The objects don't always appear in a fluid manner. Pop-up effects occur on the PS3 and PC versions and point to overloaded servers.
The music of Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn is well done. Each area has its own, appropriate musical theme, but the voiceovers aren't well done. Large parts of the story missions are poorly synchronized or not synchronized at all.
Conclusion: Promising MMORPG with growing pains
Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn is a standout for an MMORPG. The RPG comes with a good range of varied activities and thus ensures enjoyable, long-lasting entertainment. Also, the original and richly designed dungeons and instances contribute to the overall enjoyment of the game. With the fully automatic search for companions for dungeon quests, A Realm Reborn is also suitable for those with limited time and money.
The lack of team play is disappointing. In this open game world, with hundreds of players running around, they're all pursuing their own goals and hardly interact with each other. The unbalanced economic system makes it difficult for artisans to cover their costs. Technical defects in the dungeons, login problems, error messages and registry problems make for a less than ideal gaming experience.
In short: Even the remake of Final Fantasy XIV has growing pains.