This is part II review of the game.
You can find part I here in case you missed it. Part II will go deeper about the game features and what set this title apart with other games and what I like about the games. I will try my best not to give any spoilers but I really can’t guarantee that.
What FFXIV : ARR has to offer are probably nothing really outstanding in the MMO world. But they are creatively packaged and carefully combined which bring an amazing experience. Even though the game features feel like old-school MMORPG, it doesn’t really seem that way. So what’s so compelling about FFXIV:ARR? Let’s begin!
Note : This article is written prior to patch 2.25. The information might change in future updates.
The World of Eorzea
Here is the official opening trailer to start with:
Eorzea is the region which is unlocked and playable as of this writing. It consists of all the areas currently available to us, including the three city-states, Limsa Lominsa, Gridania and Ul’dah. Where each of them has it’s own history and traits.
No spoilers here, so to make long story short, apparently Bahamut went berserk and set the world on fire. The citizens of Eorzea were having trouble in putting the flames out and they called us for help………………………………OK i was joking, but the bahamut part did actually happen. The world now sets in the Seventh Umbral Era designating a new history to be unfold. Travelling in Eorzea will includes airships, teleporting, chocobo porter and your very own chocobo! (Yes, you can mount it). To unlock a new teleport point, one must travel by old method and attune to the Aetheryte or teleport crystal.
There are tons of the features I like but to keep the sanity of the reader, I will focus more only on the features I find very compelling.
Classes and Jobs
Every player -upon character creation- will be requested to pick a single class which will reflect into which starting city-state (or starting town) the player will be arriving at. This actually doesn’t have any significant impact to the actual story line, so don’t worry. After reaching level 10, the players are also allowed to pick other class. Doing this is fairly easy, just talk to the corresponding NPC and he/she will give you the basic weapon of the class and Voilà! You have unlocked a new class. This step can be repeated as many times as you want until all the classes have been unlocked. FFXIV:ARR separates classes into 4 major categories, Disciple of War, Disciple of Magic, Disciple of Land and Disciple of Hand. Disciple of War and Magic are the battle classes, Disciple of Land is the gatherer and Disciple of Hand is your crafters.
Jobs in FFXIV:ARR are similar to other games, offering some sort of specialization of the chosen class, but the difference is that players are able to switch back from one job to another whenever they feel like it (except certain circumstances like in a middle of a fight or in an instance) by equipping a Soul Crystal. In order to unlock one job, the player must first level up one class to level 30 which followed through by a chain of quests which the history about the job is being unfold bit by bit. The reward is a soul crystal and a new set of skills to unlock! This also can be repeated as many times as you want until all the jobs have been unlocked. A job in FFXIV:ARR doesn’t just serve a purpose to the class advancement, as one class might have more than one job. So what’s new here? The thing is, leveling one job also leveling the corresponding class as well! For example, a level 45 Arcanist (class) can also become a level 45 Scholar (job) or a level 45 Summoner (job). By leveling Scholar to level 50 means reaching level 50 Arcanist and level 50 Summoner as well! Here is an official video to showcase some skills from the available jobs.
Note: Currently only Arcanist has two jobs to choose from (as of patch 2.2). But Square Enix might add other jobs in future patches. So what are the Classes and Jobs available? And which one fits your style or personality? As mentioned earlier, the classes are divided into 4 major categories and so far only the Battle classes are able to unlock Jobs as of this writing. They are divided into three specific roles; tanks, damage dealers (dps) and healers. The 8 classes are :
- Marauder (DoW) – An Axe wielder with very high HP pools and high defense. A tank.
- Gladiator (DoW) – A sword and shield user with high HP and high defense. Also a tank.
- Thaumature (DoM)– A ranged DPS with a staff and shield or two-handed staff. Excel in AoE damage due to crazy MP regeneration.
- Archer (DoW)– A ranged DPS with a bow (Duh!)
- Pugilist (DoW)– A melee DPS with moderate HP, low defense. Focus on fists and kicks and stances.
- Lancer (DoW)– A melee DPS with moderate HP, high defense. Cool armors and a lance user.
- Conjurer (DoM)– A typical healer with high healing capability.
- Arcanist (DoM)– A ranged DPS with healing capability but able to advance to a more focused DPS or focused healer. Able to summon a pet.
The 9 jobs are :
- Warrior – Unlocks from Marauder, also a tank. This job allows for more HP pool (what?! the very high HP isn’t enough?)
- Paladin – Unlocks from Gladiator, also a tank. This job allows for more damage mitigation compare to a Warrior.
- Black Mage – Unlocks from Thaumature. Even more AoE damage.
- Bard – Unlocks from Archer. A ranged DPS with more party support by singing songs.
- Monk – Unlocks from Pugilist. A faster skill rotation and very position (or stance) dependent.
- Dragoon – Unlocks from Lancer. More flashy moves and also position (stance) dependent.
- White Mage – Unlocks from Conjurer. Have access to even more powerful healing skills and certain buffs.
- Summoner – Unlocks from Arcanist. Have access to more advance DPS skills with more powerful pets or egi (a small, tamed version of primals)
- Scholar – Unlocks from Arcanist, one of the only class who has access to 2 jobs. Have access to more advance healing skills with pets also focusing in healing capability.
Well.. it’s missing one here.. Oh well~
There are also Disciple of Hand (DoH) who are basically the “Crafting” classes and Disciple of Land (DoL) who basically are gatherers. Going into the details of each job and class might worth it’s own post so I won’t go through them now.
Have you ever find yourself to create so many characters with different classes or jobs just because you were bored with the class you were playing, or any other reasons you might have? Not to mention every single time you create a new toon, the headache thinking about what nickname to give is bound to happen (unless you don’t care about having an original nickname). Well at least that was the case for me, everytime I see other players playing other classes or jobs, I will feel like “Hey, that’s even cooler that what I am playing right now! I want that!”. Typically I had to create a new character, typed in a new nickname, re-do all the story and side-quests to reach to the point I can use those flashy skills. This alone might take more time than I had spent in my original character. Armoury System answers to that problem. It allows the player to quickly switch to any other class/job you have previously unlocked and leveled without the need to re-do any of the story. This helps a lot for people with compulsive need to play multiple classes or jobs like me.
Duty Finder and Party Finder
The old days of LFG or LFM has become a history since the addition of Duty Finder and Party Finder. Duty finder (DF) is the cross-server auto-matching feature to form a party in any given instances. One can just pick one class or job to play as and queue up in the Duty Finder and let the server handles the rest. It will then find people with same interest and looking for people who also queue up with different classes. During queuing time, one can still do other stuff while waiting the party to be formed, like fishing, leveling or even crafting (say goodbye to hours of waiting just to form a party). You may notice what is Roulette upon opening the Duty Finder. Duty Roulette is a system where players have no control in which duty/dungeon they will enter. The purpose is to matched players who require to run a specific dungeon with others who don’t really care. The incentive? Players who queued up in Duty Roulette earn extra tomestones (a form of currency only earned in dungeons) and gold depending on which job is highly in demand.
Party Finder (PF) is similar fashion to Duty Finder but limited to one server where the party is created. Both Duty Finder and Party Finder have it’s pros and cons. With Duty Finder, the pool of players will be bigger since it searches for players across all server in the designated Data Center but one are unable to set certain parameters like “experienced only” or “first-timer”. So the risk of having a bad run is higher comparing to party finder (but it’s not a guarantee).
Party Finder also serves other purpose that the Duty Finder can’t. One can set many parameters to satisfy the party leader’s specific needs, those who don’t meet requirements are unable to join the party. Parties are also divided into 2 types, light party and full party. Light party composed of 1 tank, 1 healer and 2 DPS, typically only used for instanced dungeons, like Halatali, Brayflox’s Longstop, Amdapor Keep, etc. Full Party is composed of 8 people, 2 tanks, 2 healers and 4 dps. Normally full party is for harder instances with a more complex mechanics involved, like primal fights (or Trials) and Raids. There are also an alliance system which composed of 3 Full Parties and currently there is only one instance for this feature, The Crystal Tower.
Duties and F.A.T.E.s
I noticed there is a new trend in the MMORPG genre where features heavily on the ‘action’ (or hack n slash) stuff, namely Dragon Nest, Soul & Blade, etc. While FFXIV:ARR still stick to the same old MMORPG style focusing in storyline, beautifully crafted world, slower pace, content difficulty scaling and carefully thought gaming experience. In early stages, the content will direct players learning about the basic of the game (just like any other games will normally do), showing the ropes in how the game works, the mechanics, etc. Either you are an experienced gamer or a newcomer, it works very well. Since this is Final Fantasy, you will find a very strong ties between the character you are playing to the main story line, some even the side story line. Duties or Questing in FFXIV:ARR also don’t feel like how it used to be, no more “Kill monster A 10x” just to be told to “Go Kill monster A another 10x” and so on. Questing in FFXIV:ARR feels more dynamic and less boring. It could range from unveiling another story of its own to connecting the dots in the main story line. There are also Levequests, a pay-to-hire kind of quest or board quest which you are given 3 allowance every 12 hours with a cap of 100. They will reward experience, gold and sometimes items as well. This is one of the most effective way to level your classes quickly.
During your encounters in Eorzea, you will noticed there are certain events going at a random times in different zones or area. This is called “Full Action Time Event” or FATE. FATE is like a dynamic event which could occur anytime depending on the types and situations. There are different types of FATEs, collect enough items, eliminate threats, to seasonal events like “Lightning Returns”, “Shantoto”, etc. FATEs do have stories attached to them, so there are certain parameters for specific FATE to happen or not going to happen. FATEs will reward you with experience, gold and company seals. You can only earn company seals after you have progressed enough to pick one of the Grand Companies to join. The seals will then be available to exchange with equipments, materials and ranking up.
FFXIV:ARR does very well -in my opinion- in balancing the western and eastern ‘taste’. The pace is acceptable, no crazy grinding, tons of contents to be enjoyed, lots of customization (even the whole UI can be re-arranged to fit your liking), good graphics and beautiful environment. It is also one of the rare games which currently still employs tanks, healers and damage dealer (or DPS) roles. Although Yoshi-P has stated that hybrid classes are likely to be released in the future. The game is limited to DirectX 10, but Square Enix promised they will release update which will fully utilize DirectX 11. So if you have triple-monitor setup (which I don’t have), you will see how beautiful the world of Eorzea is. Combined together with the awesome BGM, it really pulls the players into immersion.
Leveling and Item Level
Typically players will just focus in one specific way to get to the highest level as soon as possible ignoring all the other contents the game might offer. This is not the case with FFXIV:ARR, it provides many options for players to level their characters. FFXIV:ARR do encourage diversification in terms of leveling. Depending on your play style, you can level from participating in FATEs, finishing duties, doing levequests, finishing dungeons or a mix of all those. There is also a level scaling in this game to prevent power-leveling and obsoleting previous content prematurely. So even you have been playing for months, you can still enjoy the game with your newly-subscribed friends in a way it’s intended to be. This is not a Pay-to-Win game, so getting to maximum level really doesn’t help you a lot in lower level contents. In fact, hitting the maximum level allows you to access to a whole lot of new contents to be consumed. Current level cap is 50 and item level is going as high as 115. As you progress further, you will have access to harder content which normally rewards players with higher item level. Average Item level is currently the only indicator widely-known to gauge how good or ‘hardcore’ a player is which we all now that’s not always the case.
How about instanced dungeons? You can enter any instance you have unlocked via Duty Finder with 4 or 8 players depending on the party composition requirements. The difficulty is scaled properly from low level dungeons to higher level dungeons. Each dungeon is unlocked every 3 levels with the exception of level 50 dungeons. Each dungeon also has a minimum item level instead of just player level. The dungeons also have certain story that might or might not connect to the main story line directly. But if you do follow the story, you will see the connections.
Raiding in FFXIV:ARR currently limited to the Bahamut Coils, which is also the hardest content available in the game. Prior to 2.2 patch, there were 5 turns which were not accessible via Duty Finder and has a weekly lockout. Meaning that once you have cleared a turn, it’s impossible to go back before reset. After 2.2 patch though, Square Enix added another 4 turns of Second Bahamut Coil, leaving the first 5 turns of First Bahamut Coil accessible via Duty Finder and no longer in lockout. So players who were stuck in the first Bahamut Coil can keep trying and adjust the strategy required to beat the last turn of First Bahamut Coil and finally coming in triumph. After beating First Bahamut Coil will then unlock a series of story which in turn will unlock the Second Bahamut Coil. Bahamut Coil currently only limits to 8 players.
One final thing I want to talk about is Trials. Trials in FFXIV:ARR means primal fights where you only have to face one primal in a single instance at any given time. Of course there are stories behind each primals fights and you need to unlock them before going in. There are also extreme modes of the fights where your wit and skills will be tested continuously. So what is a Primal? Well a Primal is like a God, being summoned into the realm because they were worshiped. Each beast tribe normally worships a single Primal. During your adventure in Eorzea, you will slowly unveil one by one and understand the story behind it. There are exceptions though, not all the primals are unlocked via story-quest. There are also other primals who will spawn at a random time in a specific area throughout Eorzea.. Just like any Final Fantasy series, they are considered ‘hidden’ bosses.
I guess that’s long enough.. And lastly I will continue the review in another part where mostly it’s about my experience playing the game.
So what do you think about the features? Does it feel ‘Final Fantasy’ enough for you? Share your thought below!