At times it was easy to forget that we were playing in an MMO, which is the ultimate compliment for a video game. If we only had one MMO to play this year, we'd have to suggest ''Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn' on the PlayStation 4.
'Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn' is an action fantasy video game created for the PlayStation 4, it is a great choice for the MMOG fans who kind of thrive in this atmosphere. It offers a new insight into the fantasy world of the game with a few improvements.
The 'Final Fantasy' series stands tall as probably one of the biggest franchises in the history of video games. Alongside games like 'Mario Brothers' and 'Halo', 'Final Fantasy' turned the RPG genre into a legitimate threat that would soon consume an entire generation of avid gamers. Since its debut over two decades ago the games have gotten increasingly more advanced. The latest entry, 'Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn', dropped on the PlayStation 4 last April. Developed by longstanding video game legends, Square Enix, 'A Realm Reborn' sought to create a persistent world MMORPG for console owners everywhere. While the games have always been some of the most deep and satisfying experiences available, they've never really run the gamut on the MMO marketplace. Needless to say we were anxious to get our hands on a copy in order to give it a shot.
'Final Fantasy XIV' is set in the fictional realm of Hydaelyn. Hydaelyn is a planet filled with diverging biomes that span across three gigantic land masses. The game takes place on the central continent of Eorzea. Eorzea used to be controlled by The Twelve, a group of ancient guardians, who came to life via the MotherCrystal. Across this giant continent players will run into multiple cities that each have their own unique flavor and flair. The primary cities that players will be concerned with are: Gridania, Ul'dah and Limsa Lominsa. Those three cities act as starting realms and it is among those three that players get to choose how they begin their adventure.
Looking past the story will allow us to take stock of exactly what 'A Realm Reborn' actually is. Those of us who have been lucky (or cursed) to spend any amount of time with online video games will immediately recognize what appears to be the traditional MMORPG set up. You log into a central server, design a character from the ground up, and then assign him to a world (city). From there you traverse through the realm collecting items, killing monsters, and competing quests as you venture ever onward toward whatever level cap that the developers have installed. Along the way you'll partner up with some people, fight other people, and maybe even join a guild along the way.
If what we said sounds boring it is because the set up has become tiring. Western MMORPGs have comfortably fallen into the same routine of shoving players into faceless characters that exist only to grind to the end game. It was our fear that 'A Realm Reborn' would stick to the path to the point of monotony. In some ways they did, but in others they pushed ahead and made an exciting experience for us.
'A Realm Reborn' was initially released on the PC a few years back under the name 'Final fantasy XIV'. The game came out and failed almost immediately. Fans of the franchise were livid, casual plays disinterested, and everyone in between merely unimpressed. The game disappeared almost as quickly as it appeared and fans were left wondering what Square Enix would do with the property. Well, here it is. Taking five years off to fix the game and rehaul all of the issues made for an entirely new experience. A reborn game. A Realm Reborn.
When you join up for the first time you get to create a character. You have to assign him or her to one of the cities we listed above but before doing that you have to commit them to a faction. Your character can be a part of the Disciples of War or the Disciples of Magic. It doesn't really matter too much which one you choose, at least not at the beginning. Gone are the selections for the Hand and Land disciples. After giving your character a rough once over as far as their appearance is concerned you can pick a server (North America, Japan, Europe) and get to playing.
Upon dropping into the game the first thing that you will likely notice is just how beautiful the whole experience is. Always renown for their aesthetics, Square Enix pushed themselves to the limit by utilizing every ounce of the PS4s power. Characters are expertly detailed and each player has their own unique appearance even though there are thousands of us playing online at a time.
Set up like a traditional MMO you will quickly find that there are menus aplenty to take consideration of. You will see a bar for your health, your magic, and your currency. You will also have access to even more hidden sub-menus that reveal even more depth to what is going on behind your character. Navigating them with the PS4 controller is possible, but it isn't comfortable. Fortunately for those of us more used to the traditional mouse/keyboard, there are options. Syncing your mouse/keyboard is a breeze and it immediately made the experience much more comfortable for us.
One of the issues that many gamers had with Final Fantasy XIV' was the fact that it was tediously easy. There was never really any challenge in the dungeons and once you got to a certain level, everything was simple. Square Enix developed two difficulty enhancements in order to make dungeons much more challenging. Gamers that find themselves growing bored would do well to try the harder modes. We think they'll probably end up retreating back to the default settings before too long.
What we have always loved about the 'Final Fantasy' series is the fact that it has such depth to its lore. Every character could have a novel written about their backstory and we'd probably fall in love with it. That same attention to detail is here. NPCs have personality and they add depth to a world that feels breathing (and it should, it is persistent after all) and alive. At times it was easy to forget that we were playing in an MMO, which is the ultimate compliment for a video game. If we only had one MMO to play this year, we'd have to suggest ''Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn' on the PlayStation 4.