Final Fantasy XIV is arguably one of the biggest upcoming titles of the next few years. Tons of hardcore fans have chosen Final Fantasy XI as their MMO of choice over World of Warcraft – in fact, I played XI for a bit after I took a break from WoW.
After all the drastic announcements of the changes coming to XIV, I was really eager to get my hands on it to see if it was really an upgrade from XI – needless to say, even though this was a pre-public beta, I wasn’t very impressed.
(Surprise fun fact – the exhibitors of the event told me the selective beta would be launching in a month!)
The event started off with a preemptive speech that told us the build we were about to play was really rough at this point, and we may even have to leave the event after a shutdown – so I was cautious right off the bat. I’ll get to the details of my gameplay experiences later, but for now, I’ll cover the character editor.
There are a number of steps involved in the creation of every single character – in fact, the creator tool is easily offers some of the most robust options found in any MMO ever made. There are four race variation options for every race (two male, two female region choices), hundreds of physical characteristic options, a number of initial class choices, and a ton of extra Zodiac/Guardian God options (of which weren’t explained yet).
I was pleased to see that unlike pretty much every other character creator I’ve seen, you can now mix and match a number of different tattoo/extra options for your avatar, rather than just choosing a single defining characteristic – increasing the likelihood that you’ll never see another version of “you” out in the world. Considering my love of Elves, I just had to make a Forester Elezen: I named him Elf Elferton, and he’s pictured below – sadly, Elf Efterton hung up his sweet, sweet robes immediately after creation – I wasn’t allowed to play with him.
This half of the demonstration I was impressed with – the actual gameplay half? Not so much.
Apologies for the lens flare – the booth was really, really dark and secretive, and my only option was to use a flash
I was assigned to the Lancer booth, and I was partying with a Mage, and a Warrior type (shown below) for this portion. The demo consisted of us picking up a Levequest from a questgiver that looks like a wisp – a quest that consisted of a very boring kill mission that told us to “kill some crabs” – not really a good choice to get people excited for your game, in my opinion (The Old Republic E3 demo’s quests were more unique, but we’ll get to that later).
So as we prepare to head out for our menial mission, we traverse around ten minutes of beautiful scenery – we’re encouraged not to engage enemies. During the way, I’m experiencing a bit of lag input when moving around, and whenever I take out or put away my weapon. The controls are exactly the same as XI keyboard wise, but Square-Enix had an optional 360 Gamepad set up at the same time, which was a far better choice in my opinion, due to the fact that the camera controls were much more precise.
When we finally got to the crabs, combat remained relatively unchanged from FFXI, except for one aspect: the action gauge allows for more attacks from a constant pool (it’s like a free extra mana bar). Combat is still relatively slow, and based heavily around global cooldowns. I spoke earlier about some lag while running to the quest; but that wasn’t the only problem with the demo.
Additionally, while I was fighting some of the quest crabs, they disappeared from the map – the proctor kind of awkwardly told me “oh they went over there”, but it took me a while to find some more. Sadly, no extra information regarding selectable late game jobs, or the new level system was allowed to be revealed just yet.
While the standard version did look great, there was a special 3D option available on three LCD screens – THAT was very impressive looking – but the proctors told me it wasn’t shipping with the finished product, and it may not even ship at all – bummer!
I know that a lot of this can be ironed out in the finished product (or maybe even the public beta coming in the next month), but for now, I’m reserved in regards to Final Fantasy XIV’s launch.