Review

Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn Review

  • Game release: August 27, 2013
  • Reviewed: May 5, 2014
  • PS4

A realm redefined, kupo!

by

Final Fantasy XIV found itself languishing back during its original release only weeks after its inception. The juggernaut Final Fantasy XI grew into was a tough act to follow, but no one predicted such a spectacular failure. Square Enix took note and responsibility and made a resolution to learn from its past mistakes, releasing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn as a "rebirth" of sorts for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game that could. It has used its own personal Phoenix Down to come back fully revitalized, and the gorgeous new MMORPG is now a bustling world filled with curious players ready to get lost in it.

Where previously version 1.0 of Final Fantasy XIV suffered from a dearth of content, A Realm Reborn flourishes with a brand-new graphics engine, revised gameplay, and the ability to handle a much heavier server load than ever before. Though the PlayStation 3 edition was a serviceable test run for the new and improved Final Fantasy XIV, it was still plagued with usability issues and interface problems that made it an exercise in frustration, especially when it came to presentation and aesthetic quality.

That's a lot of interface. Fortunately, you can customize it in all manner of ways.

The PlayStation 4 edition has solved nearly all the existing issues with previous versions and can hold its own as a companion to the PC edition, running at a smooth 1080p and rivaling even top-tier graphics on PC editions at the highest video settings. Noticeably improved draw distance is one major reason to upgrade to the PS4 edition, because it resolves previous frustrations with keeping up with your combatants onscreen as well as what's coming up in the overworld. A markedly improved UI makes it simpler to track the action onscreen, and only minor frame rate drops mar the overall experience. When large groups of players are gathered in one area at the same time, there is a bit of slowdown, but it's barely noticeable when it does happen.

The PS4's controller feels fantastic, with functional control mapping and the crossbar, which allows you to use L2, R2, the D-pad, and face buttons to issue commands similar to how you do in the PS3 version. The touchpad has been smartly implemented as well; you can use it as though it were a mouse cursor to toggle between menus and choices. Possibly the most notable and useful addition to the PS4 version of A Realm Reborn, however, is the ability to use Remote Play with your Vita. Taking your Vita to bed to cuddle up with it and get some grinding in feels spectacular, like a history-defining moment. How joyous of an occasion would it have been to be able to play Final Fantasy XI in such a fashion? Remote Play works beautifully for FFXIV, so well that it's hard to imagine any future PS4 MMOGs not including the option.

A tale of two Final Fantasies.

And what of Eorzea itself? The world of Final Fantasy XIV is humongous and rife with treasures, terrifying bosses, and surprises at every turn. A gorgeous expository cutscene sets the stage for the advanced Garlean Empire to invade the realm of Eorzea from the north, while city-states known as grand companies band together to combat the new threat. Crooked Garlean Imperial has other ideas about settling the score, however, and plans out Project Meteor to summon the moon Dalamud, which wipes out all traces of life outside of those on Eorzea.

As Dalamud falls to Eorzea, Bahamut escapes from thousands of years of imprisonment and is finally sealed away by a powerful scholar. The scholar sends all available survivors to a rift in time, and that's where you come in--waiting for the time to arise when you can return to your home and restore it to its former glory. While it's not a narrative that brings any feeling of immediacy to the table, it's meaty enough to make you feel as though your actions can and do matter.

A Realm Reborn flourishes with a brand-new graphics engine, revised gameplay, and the ability to handle a much heavier server load than ever before.

Deep character customization is a boon right off the bat, with new races to experiment with, classes to align yourself with, and options to settle on. There's so much to choose from, in fact, that it can become intimidating. It's prudent to spend a good 15 to 20 minutes studying which race and class best fit your play style before taking the plunge.

There are five races to choose from: the Hyur are similar to the Hume from Final Fantasy XI, while the Elezen are an elf-like race. You've got the Miqo'te, who resemble Mithra, and the Roegadyn are the orc analogue, though they're much better looking than your typical orc. Last but not least are the Lalafell, who are tiny adorable dwarven folk, clearly channeling some Tarutaru for the sake of cuteness. All these races begin with varying attributes, but by the endgame, those variances don't tend to matter, when you've got hundreds of points in each stat. Race is mostly cosmetic in this game--choosing a class and eventual job are more important tasks, and doing so can be difficult if you jump into it blind.

Even if you prefer to explore on your own, A Realm Reborn has you covered.

While it's easy to recognize MMO mainstays such as the tank, DPS, and healer, there are other varieties of classes to settle into if you're looking for something a little different. Classes are divided into subsets known as "disciples," which are further broken down into specific classes. For instance, you may choose to play a Hyur who fits into the "disciples of war" subset. Disciples of war are primarily melee and ranged classes such as marauders, gladiators, and archers, while disciples of magic feature conjurers or arcanists.

It's a bit obtuse and a far cry from the job-selection screen of any typical RPG, especially when you sprinkle the distinctively Final Fantasy jobs into the mix. You can select a job such as warrior, dragoon, or white mage, but they require having specific classes leveled up sufficiently. In this, it's a different system than Final Fantasy diehards may be used to, but it's a refreshing change, even if it does take some time to work out on your own if you don't enlist the help of a guide. Luckily, each class is tied to an individual experience level, which allows you to pursue class-centric quests and level up characters independently of each other.

You may find the first 20 to 30 levels easy to breeze through, hitting your stride at 40 or 50. Things fall into place quickly when you're facing off against fantastic bosses and collecting new gear. The dungeons themselves are varied in that some incorporate puzzles, some require the designated tank of the party to take control while leading the boss away from more vulnerable players, and many are middle-of-the-road affairs you can conquer with little more than your best spells, buffs, and melee. There's little more rewarding than overcoming, for example, the level 50 Leviathan trial (new to this update) deep underwater as you're bombarded by aquatic armaments and enormous tidal waves. Final Fantasy mainstays make appearances as well, such as Ifrit, Titan, and the Ultima Weapon, all massive events that require cunning and planning on your part, as well as competent party members who aren't above a little support when the game dips beyond typical tank-and-spank measures.

The dungeons themselves are varied in that some incorporate puzzles, some require the designated tank of the party to take control while leading the boss away from more vulnerable players, and many are middle-of-the-road affairs you can conquer with little more than your best spells, buffs, and melee.

There's more to Final Fantasy XIV beyond dungeon exploration, though, and that's a good thing, since grinding to attain the proper level for boss X or quest Y can become tiresome, especially if you're playing solo through story quests and events. You aren't relegated to slashing through bunnies and worms like in the olden days of Final Fantasy XI, but you need patience and a party to quest with if you want to quickly rise through the ranks.

Take a break to craft items if your class allows it, gather materials, or tackle the quest lines and repeatable levequests of your chosen profession for daily growth and monetary gain. You need the in-game cash flow if you wish to take advantage of one of the many boons, such as player housing, which can become exorbitantly expensive.

Housing is an interesting new addition that's quite a bit of a gil sink, but it's a rewarding system that you and your guild members will want to invest in when the money is rolling in. Much like in real life, it can take time to find an affordable plot of land to build your house on, but once it's completed and bonuses to experience points and attributes start rolling in for you and your free company (that is, guild), you'll be thankful for the investment. It's much more than an aesthetic update; it's an entirely new venue that serves to enhance the feeling that you're not just playing a game--you're playing a role. Gardening is an adjunct to player housing, and is the only way some items can be obtained. You can also add your own crafting station and place your very own merchant shop on your property. There has never been a better time for honest-to-goodness role-playing in A Realm Reborn, especially given that you can become a homeowner now.

When the epic music plays when you mount a chocobo, it's hard not to smile.

The wealth of content from prior releases is only scratching the surface, with patches 2.1 and 2.2 adding a plethora of adjustments to current content as well as additional quests for the main storyline. The main quest line is extended and provides a hearty amount of endgame play for those currently at the level cap. Also available are new endgame side quests specific to player disciplines, and a high number of item drop adjustments throughout the game as well.

There's no traditional PVP, and at times the grind can grow tedious, but if you press on, you find a vast and charming supporting cast, complex classes with plenty of interesting augmentations along the way, and a reworked MMORPG that combines new and old elements to weave together a satisfying and modern Final Fantasy that does its part to cater to longtime franchise fans and MMO enthusiasts alike. This is an admirable redesign, especially on the PlayStation 4, which very well may be considered the best venue to experience the staggering world and cornucopia of additional content. Even if you're still trekking through Vana'diel, consider making yourself a new home in Eorzea--we'd love to have you.

The Good
1080p display eliminates messy UI from previous versions
A wealth of additional content from latest updates
Aesthetics on par with the PC edition
Remote Play makes mobile exploration simple
The definitive way to play through FFXIV
The Bad
No traditional PVP
Treads familiar ground
Frustrating grind at times
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
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About the Author

/ Member

Brittany Vincent is a Hyur black mage hailing from the world of Final Fantasy XI as a Mithra white mage. She spent upward of 35 hours for the purposes of this review in the PlayStation 4 edition of Final Fantasy XIV, though the PC edition has previously been her Eorzean home.

Discussion

194 comments
gruber23
gruber23

I would love to play this game, but the monthly subscription is a huge negative. I'm already paying for WoW, so paying for another monthly game wouldn't be a wise idea. Most of the newer MMORPG's lately have been going for the F2P or the buy once and play forever type model, which is amazing, which is also why I'm confused as to why they went with a subscription base.  Batttlefield 4 - Call of Duty Ghost

pnova
pnova

I hope they add a PVP like eldar scroll online

Witchblade13
Witchblade13

I haven't put that many hours into the game (only have a level 38 Summoner), but it's definitely worth checking out for anyone who is curious. It's got a lot of interesting mechanics, Attacks and spells feel really good to pull off (especially on PS3), though if you try macros on a controller it's a bit hard to manage. Also if you do play on PS3 the community that plays on PC might be less than friendly. Ran into some pretty snooty people while playing in dungeons. It's got a great character creator, much much better than some titles that came before it. This review was nice and pretty fair. 

AtlasTheStrong
AtlasTheStrong

I love this game, It's a good mix of everything MMO-wise and the way they weave in the good ol' final fantasy flair makes it a must play experience. It's not for everyone but it's one of my favorite Final Fantasy in the last 10 years.

Ophenix1
Ophenix1

I loved FFXI but I'm never getting into another MMO, like, ever. Not only is the monthly fee enough to buy 2 games on Steam's sales every month but it is such a time sink. If I were in high school I'd be all over this, but I'm not, so I'll have to lean back and wait for Square to start making 'real' Final Fantasy games again.

hitomo
hitomo

watch?v=UrO0db-04HQ&feature=youtu.be


just compare and be ashamed

WolfBladeKK
WolfBladeKK

It starts off rocky but it slowly pulls you in. I'm a lvl 36 arcanist/summoner at the moment. Its a huge game with tons of stuff to do.

hitomo
hitomo

this is a 6 and ESO is a 8 ... someone mixed that up at gamespot it seems

chyng85
chyng85

A pretty phoenix style reborn~!!

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

Man some ESO fans posted below you can tell the complaints are many and the explanations are few but what I like most? There is so few compared to the ESO review responses on how bad that game was.


I guess if you don't have that many gamers liking it there is very few willing to defend it.


Oh and yes that is a fanboi statement =)

ignitingicarus
ignitingicarus

FFXI was one of the greatest and most original MMOs ever made. Even FFXIV pales in comparison.

meatz666
meatz666

Final Fantasy XI was good.

Is this a joke?

Kunakai
Kunakai

After playing both ESO and FFRR I find myself wondering how this game gets such a high score when ESO got a six. Same applies to GW2, it was praised as some kind of reinvention of MMO's when in actuality the changes to the formula were very miner (with exception to combat). It may be that expectations were higher from ESO due to its single player origins but FF also comes from such a background. 

Either way, I know five friends who started playing FFRR and quit within two months, we'll see how things pan out for ESO but it has massive advantages in my opinion. 

hitomo
hitomo

different People, different MMOs, but I am no fanboy, I never played elder.scolls.offline ... but ESO is like LOTRO, Age of Conan or the Witcher ...


and I just was in a dungeon and some other People showed up, and for a minute we where all fighting to gether and the next Minute evryone was minding his own Business again, this all works in ESO without mouseclicks or navigating through menus ... lets see the long run ... but atm its just awesome ... and all in all it costs me a lot less then one of those so called free to play games, I use to run in a browser in spare times


regards

lee1823
lee1823

I'm not really into online games but hits looks pretty good... and I love final fantasy.  Can I enjoy this on a casual basis playing say once a week for 4 or 5 hours? 

hitomo
hitomo

you know how it sounds when a game is totaly frustrating me? "ARRrrrrrrrr ... ! "

hitomo
hitomo

'I was in the ESO beta and FFXIV pretty handily blows ESO out of the water...it's just a much better game in almost every respect '


yeah, get of the crack, dude ...

daikkenaurora12
daikkenaurora12

I really liked the FF franchise and want to play a modern FF game but Square-Enix keeps telling me "NO".   Sad.

tidus_ff
tidus_ff

FFXIV is fantastic at what it does. It's a master-piece of modern MMO's brought together in a polished, Final Fantasy themed shell. Solo play, approachability, not overly shallow gameplay or combat and has relative depth across the board. 


However if you're a person that comes from the old-school approach of MMO's in that community and co-operation are the absolute key areas you want in an MMO, then I'd have to say to that person to move along. The game makes it very difficult to make long lasting bonds with people because it focusses so much on solo play, and the times you do want to go out of your way and form a party, you'll 95% of the time be using the Duty Finder which pairs you with random people from across all servers. This, as you can imagine, makes it very hard to get to know people outside of very brief encounters.


So for me this is not what I want from an MMO. MMO does not stand for "end game." There is a journey to take to reach the end points in any given system and THAT should be the focus. There is nothing wrong with MMO's that have a shallower levelling gradient, or games that require getting together with people to progress for simplest things. This creates community, cooperation, and weeds out those that moan, brag, call others for not being as "elite" as themselves etc. That is the MMO I want, the same system the old MMO's had, not a single-player game that occasional puts me together with random people who I'll never speak to again.

STrugglingFool
STrugglingFool

I played it and I could not deal with the grind.

k41m
k41m

@Ophenix1  Sorry dude but anybody who complains about a monthly fee of 10-15 dollars has some pretty shitty financial woes and probably shouldn't be playing video games in the first place.

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

@ignitingicarus I have played EQ, SWG, WoW, SWTOR and now FFARR. No FFXI was not original nor greatest ever. EQ was the first 3D MMO thus most 'original' and WoW is the greatest due to it's sub counts that no other MMO ever touched.


Also like to point out that FFXI was the most successful MMO by square it paled to most other MMos and was more on par with the original EQ that held off many players due to the complete lack of soloablility that plagued EQ.


FFARR is far more pleasing. I stopped playing FFXI third week in after looking for a single for a group for three days.

ravenbeast
ravenbeast

@Kunakai both games suck balls . That's what the players get . Bunch of greedy companies decide to turn some beloved RPG games into the online mmo BS just because they're all the rage right now. well these two abominations are the direct result of their greed. 4 GOD sake , These games are meant to be single or co-op RPGs . Stop messing with their structures.

jasonmzk
jasonmzk

@Kunakai  FFXIV perfectly captures the "Final Fantasy" experience, and ESO is a weird hodge-podge of Elder Scrolls and an MMO. One feels natural to me (and most whom play it), and the other feels like it was crammed together and held with glue and tape. 

10mack10
10mack10

@Kunakai  Both games are using a diluted MMO formula and both games suck.  Someone needs to grow a pair of balls and bring something new to the genre, everything "new" has been so minor, it feels like we're still playing Vanilla WoW with better graphics with every new MMO.

dkpunk
dkpunk

@hitomo I know right?   Played tons of FFXIV and ESO and can easily say ESO is the better game.  Graphics, combat, crafting and of course pvp are done much better in ESO.

Sound_Demon
Sound_Demon

@daikkenaurora12  I agree with you, why can't they make an old turn based combat style with tons of content and amazing story? Why is current FF so shit? I really don't understand...

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

@tidus_ff Outside EQ I know a great many MMOs you can solo all the way to end game however FFARR is the ONLY one you cannot solo to the end if you are following the story you MUST starting at level 15 group for a dungeon and co op with people which happens more than a few times and ends (from what I heard) in an 8 man run)


Oh and what MMO doesn't mean end game? If there is no end game then why play it at all? Your idea of a game is SWTOR because the journey in that game sure as hell beats anything at the end of it. SWG also had similar issues and why both suffered due to that fact. The ease of leveling in FFARR is so you can get to the end game and the real meat and potatoes of the content.

noirtenshin
noirtenshin

@tidus_ff  you never did any end game content did ya? The story line is supposed to be for everyone and not forcing (except the dungeon parts) to go in parties.
After that (finishing the story line, which in the end has 8 man instances and dungeons) there are primals (8 man instances) and after that coil (8 man instances).
Parallel to that there is the Crystal Tower and with the new patch this month CT2 from which both are 24 man raids or some basic pvp stuff.

Also nobody is stopping you to make or join a free company (guild) or use linkshells (private chat rooms). So i wouldn't blame the game for your inability to communicate and bond with other players that are there.

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

@STrugglingFool Sadly this is the most REALISTIC complaint. I don't share his views but damnit least this is a complainer that explains why and check it out it was simple!

dmblum1799
dmblum1799

@Kinguard73 @ignitingicarus  


I played EQ from day one and you could solo it if you were a pet class. I was second to 50 on my server as a necro and I did grind a lot but did group too. It was just generally a harder game in terms of time investment - when they added Luclin you needed a guild and huge searches for keys and such. But it was fun to beat the bosses.


I should add druids could also solo because of kiting. Fairly boring, but it worked.

slainta
slainta

@10mack10 @Kunakai  

I don't understand what's this MMO players obsession with vanilla WoW. This is a Final Fantasy game first of all. And as such it is great. End of story. :p

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

@10mack10 The problem with being truly innovative? it can sink your ship. People tend to play it safe. Like for instance take Defiance. That is a FANTASTIC wannabe MMO but it wasn't truly an MMO and had such poor coding it's been plagued since it came out. However the concept and the general design is great and the most innovative MMO wannbe out on the market right now. if only a real company took Trion's idea and gave it the funding it needed to become a real MMO.

gabtemps
gabtemps

@hitomo @lee1823  If you don't have a life, that is. XIV is awesome for casuals. The Duty Finder tool gets you in a group in less than 5 minutes on most dungeons and group events. It is possible to solo through more than half of this game.

Real endgame, though, such as the Second Coil and Extreme Primals, is where you'll find a brick wall and then you'll have to look for a good group.

lee1823
lee1823

@hitomo @lee1823 I thought as much.... i'll have to miss then. I get very little gaming time nowadays! Hope you all enjoy.... looks great!

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

@dkpunk I find it funny being call fan boi and all that jazz only to see review after review saying you and Hitomo is on some good fanboi crack of your own. You know what gives me credence over you two? I got reviewers and people who actually played both games saying your full of shit.


ESO is a game that fell on it's own sword. it might get better but for now it's a MMo that plays like a single player game that punishes people for playing in groups.. let's not mention the bugs and the messy coding.

One day it might even stand as an equal however ESO slit it's throat again not crossing platforms which means few people to play on a supposedly MASSIVE online role playing game.


Great... now people are PAYING a subscription to get the same feeling of isolation players of Defiance have been experiencing for free.... sounds like a good deal.


FFARR is 20 dollars cheaper, is cross server, a popular franchise that hits all the right themes that made it popular and it didn't hide an entire class and mount that is VERY much needed and cheapest to obtain behind a 20 dollar paywall.


ESO is a potentially excellent MMO holding back everything that is supposed to make it an MMO except for PvP. The PvP is the only portion that actually looked finished when the game came out. Provided it doesn't become free to play before they fix the severe issues it has it could very well be an accomplished console/PC MMO. Right now it just looks like Trion took over the game.

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

@Sound_Demon @daikkenaurora12 No idea hy current FF games are crap but FFARR isn't regular game it's an MMO thus why it's not turn based. (thought it kinda is in a way...hmm..)

Atzenkiller
Atzenkiller

@Kinguard73 @lee1823@hitomo this game is extremely casual friendly. you never have to search for a group, you can just use duty finder and it finds you a group of random people for whatever content you like. of course at end game it's better to try to find a group of decent people instead of randoms.

thanks to the duty roulette there's also an incentive to play old content again and again so you should always be able to find a group, even if you just started the game.

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

@lee1823 @hitomo I am casual and yes you can enjoy it casual but off and on you will run into a sotry that requires you to find a group and run a dungeon. it is a bit of a hassle for soloer however this is an online game which means you should have least some people to run with by the first dungeon.

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

@Sound_Demon You hear? Please, please, please! Sit your ignorant ass down and least read some reviews and critics and  mena real ones. There is TONS of videos showing off ESO's issues and reports of their issues while FFARR worse issue is it is similar to many MMos out there!


The worse thing about ESO is all the bugs hacks and the inability to play with other in a game meant to allow you to play with others.


The worse thing about FFARR is it's a general MMO with a Final Fantasy theme.


If people don't like something they need to say why not I don't like it because I ehard or my brother told kind of crap.


I'll be honest I had the CE of ESO before I read the reviews and the large amounts of complaints about the game. So from what  read and not been told by fan bois but actual reviewers is three things that made me get FFARR CE (which the CE goodies wasn't nearly as good btw heh)


The game is VERY buggy (which can be repaired in time I know)

The game due to choices players make can separate players playing together into two different instances due to their choices. (which is a 'feature' of the game and it also means that is the first MMO that punishes grouping up)

The last is no cross server. Each platform will not be and that could end up being horrid if few people buy the game and you are forced to play alone regardless of your desires. Remember people need MORE reasons to pay for a sub not less and Xbox will force people to pay a sub AND Xbox Live to play those poor Xbox bastards.


Now I played FFARR and yes it's not exactly a complicated MMO. Really it's like a great many others with a Final Fantasy theme (theme park anyone?) attached to it. However it's great and for the console THE best MMO you can play with friends since your friend can be n a PC or PS3 and STILL play with you. FFARR is one of the most 'friendly' MMOs to have came out.

hitomo
hitomo

@Kinguard73 @dkpunk different People, different MMOs, but I am no fanboy, I never played elder.scolls.offline ... but ESO is like LOTRO, Age of Conan or the Witcher ...


and I just was in a dungeon and some other People showed up, and for aminute we where all fighting to gether and teh next Minute evryone was minding his own Business, this all works in ESO without mouseclicks or navigating through menus ... lets see the long run ... but atm ist just awesome ... and all in all it costs me a lot less then one of those so called free to Play games

regards

Sound_Demon
Sound_Demon

@Kinguard73 @dkpunk  Both games are terrible I hear, they are equally bad. The point of MMO is to open social combat, create trading and marketing opportunity, group questing and PvP. Both games suck in those aspects. Why release an MMO if you haven't the slightest idea how it's run. I hate WoW and Runescape but atleast they are getting the idea of what an MMO is like and giving it's players those functionalities

Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn More Info

First Release on Aug 27, 2013
  • PC
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation 4
After a tumultuous launch, an entirely new team at Square-Enix has completely redesigned and rebuilt their second MMO, Final Fantasy XIV Online, from the ground up.
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Genres:
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Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
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