Failed games don't usually get second chances, this one did and it made up for all of its predecessor's flaws and more.
When they announced that they were going to remake the game, and even work this transitional process into the game's lore, I was skeptical. "Good luck with that", I thought, believing that nobody would bother giving a botched game a second chance.
When 1.0's service ended and a cinematic video labelled "End of an Era" (and later "A New Beginning"") was released on Youtube, depicting what had happened in the game's world, I watched it simply out of boredom. By the end, I was hooked. "What happened to the players?" "How did this happen?" "What's next?", I thought. This was Final Fantasy's story telling at its best.
I signed up for the Beta Test and started playing during Phase 2, and I was immediately blown away by how polished the game felt. I have played a few MMOs in my time but nothing came even close to how solid this game feels. Everything from graphics and sound, to the user interface and quest design, you can tell somebody had poured over every facet of this game and tweaked it just the way it needed to be to appeal to players.
I will not spend this write-up talking about the in-game elements, as you can find out about all that elsewhere. As a skeptic who didn't think Square Enix is capable of making good games anymore, the message I do want to deliver is that this IS a game worthy of the Final Fantasy title. This is the game that people wanted to see back in 2010 when 1.0 was released, and this is the game that you will want to play if you read the 1.0 reviews 3 years ago and felt disappointed.
Yes, there are some server congestion issues at the moment, but like all MMO launches, this will eventually go away. Yes, the gameplay cannot be called truly innovative, as it sticks to many of the tried-and-true mechancs; but to criticize the game for this is akin to criticizing a can of beer for tasting like other beers: nobody will ever criticize beer for being like beer because that's exactly what they want. And when it comes to delivering what people want, FFXIV: A Realm Reborn delivers in spades.