Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – Beta Phase 3 Impressions

I recently (and quite squeefully, I might add) received my Phase 3 beta key for PC/PS3 for FFXIV: A Realm Reborn!

FFXIV and I have a history… (hell, Final Fantasy and I have a history, but I’m sure you’ll hear about that later..) FFXIV is a game I believed wholeheartedly in- The Husband and I pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition of the original release, played it, watched every move in the community, and we still have Certificates of Nation Allegiance in frames from Gridania. Unfortunately, like most others from the Original Era, we came to find that the game was utterly and wholly flawed, lacked refinement, and baajezus, your EXP flow SUUUUUCKED after 30. I had no clue where the game was headed, besides down. I hated saying that, too. I have been a fan of all things Final Fantasy for many, many years; I’ve collected them all, played *most* of them (remakes of remakes of remakes, not), and clung to FFXI for 8 years before hanging it up in lieu of a private server. I still have all of my old adventures archived here.

Oh, that’s all free– history normally is.

In all the time since then (I left XIV in May 2012), I’ve watched the structure be reworked, employees be swapped out, a lot of folks in hot water, and a Producer, Naoki Yoshida, who didn’t want to see this game die. And today, I saw a serious vision of what they have worked so hard for.

The Phase 3 beta introduces our original characters back into the game, with all previous leveling & items intact. Well, except that your Gil will be missing a digit– I had 2.62 million gil when I left, and now I have 262,000. A lot of folks are crazy pissed about losing millions, but I see exactly why they made that decision; if they’re rebooting the game, you seriously don’t need that much money, and you’d end up with a jacked-up economy like in FFXI circa 2007. Plus, gil flows easily from the quests and missions in this version, so you’re not broke! All of the City-States are available in this Phase as well, with a big change to the citizenry alignment; you no longer choose your allegiance, you simply choose your preferred starting job and it places you in the City-State with that guild. Again, this change makes total sense, even if it takes some of my freedom of being a wild one away. When I started the first time, I was level 20~ before I joined my Class Guild, because it was in Ul’Dah while I was from Gridania. With this change, you can work with your Guild right from the start.

The first of major differences is the UI layout and functionality. Everything is much more streamlined than in 1.0, with a few nods to WoW and other MMOs in matter of mini-key menus and the menu order. The Inventory system is freaking wonderful now- they have been taking items out since the 1.0 shutdown, making it MUCH easier on crafting and space. Also, armor that you are wearing no longer takes up inventory space, and you have direct access to your Armory Chest from anywhere at anytime! WOO! No more carrying around 4 jobs worth of gear for me!

Now, time for a super serious important update- YOU CAN JUMP.

Vacious looks absolutely terrified, and rightly so- we Lalafell~arus have a very low center of gravity. But! Those giant cliffs with the invisible border you couldn’t fall from? BOOM! Gone. You can take fall damage, so choose your hops carefully.

Now that the earth-shattering part is out of the way, we can continue. 😛 *my /sarcasm is ALWAYS ON.*

The landscape of Eorzea has changed drastically. (If you don’t know why it might have, please watch this. In this particular post & beta weekend, I’ll be focusing on Gridania, so here are some updated screenshots:

As you can see, the terrain actually varies throughout The Black Shroud now. While you might say, “Uh, it’s a ton of trees?” and I’d have to say you’re right, The Black Shroud in 1.0 was literally repeats of the same few circles over and over, with the same colors, same trees, no variation. Now, there are clearly different types of trees, NONE OF THE DAMNED CIRCLES SO FAR (ramps that lead up and down over and again), and the landscape isn’t so flat, in terms of color.

One of my favorites:

This particular area existed in 1.0- Lifemend Stump. It was gorgeous, albeit plain, in 1.0, and it’s even more gorgeous now.

I’ve cycled through the pretties so far- let’s get to the meat and biscuits!

The story is, of course, completely different now. The main scenarios (at least mine so far) are completely updated to the Seventh Umbral Era, and the NPCs with them. Everyone actually talks about the past and what happened, instead of pretending this is just a blank slate startover. You’d always hope that a gaming company would take this route, but let’s face it- they rarely do. They go, “Oh man that game sucked. Let’s redo it, and act like that whole mess never happened!” This is exactly why I’m so proud of version 2.0 and the direction Square Enix is taking it. If you have an old character, or were lucky enough to not get boned out of Legacy Status (I’m so jaded), the characters you interacted with previously will have a glimmer of recognition of you:

Wait. There is something familiar about you. Could it be that you are…?

I adore things like this in games. It gives a sense of realism, an awareness that is often missed.

I truly feel (so far, anyway) that Square Enix and Mr. Yoshida are trying their best to take care of us now, and really listening to what we have to say. I have yet to have one of those moment where I curse the name of the creator and their lack of foresight on _____, which is shocking. SO YAY! As I play more of the beta, I’ll give more in-depth articles and lots of screenshots. What do you think of FFXIV: ARR? Are you in the boat, or did you run ashore years ago, swearing to never return?

You stay classy, Eorzea.


Posted on June 23, 2013, in Gaming and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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