Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn PS4 Review
Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Square Enix Genre: MMORPG Age Rating: 16+
Other console/handheld formats: PS3
Final Fantasy XIV was widely considered as a mess on its initial release back in 2010, to the point that Square Enix themselves publicly apologized and began a quest to rebuild the game from the ground up. Upon its release on PC and PS3 last year Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was widely praised by those that played it and now it has made its way to PS4.
The story takes place five years after the calamity, the dramatic event that almost destroyed the world of Eorzea and fittingly ended the original Final Fantasy XIV, ready for Square Enix to start anew. Those that haven’t played that game needn’t worry though, as the new game is a completely fresh story that can be easily followed with no prior knowledge of the earlier release, though those that did play Final Fantasy XIV will welcome the references scattered throughout. It might be an MMORPG, but the story is almost as rich as typical Final Fantasy fare, with some memorable characters and plenty in the way of drama.
The game is a Final Fantasy flavoured MMORPG, with all the series mainstays including chocobos, crystals, mogs and such, as well as Final Fantasy VII like Materia (which can be slotted into weapons and armour to grant various bonuses.) You play as a character of your own creation and complete numerous quests and defeat lots of monsters along the way and be rewarded with XP and fresh equipment to grow and enhance your character in the process.
Upon starting the game, you’re tasked with choosing a class, but this isn’t the monumental choice that it is in so many other games, as you’re never locked on one path and eventually gain the ability to switch between classes at will, simply by changing your weapon which refreshingly allows you to see all of the games content with a single character and gear sets for each class are able to be saved, meaning that you don’t have to reequip equipment every time you alternate between classes. Furthermore, combining certain class levels with one another will unlock further, more powerful options. Getting a Marauder to level 30 and a Gladiator to level 15 will allow you to play as a Warrior for instance.
As you grow in strength, the world of Eorzea will also slowly open up to you. It’s vast in size with huge cities, scorching deserts, lush forests and such to explore, all brought to life with a pleasant art style which often bursts with character and colour, and it all renders in full 1080p and runs relatively smoothly for the most part. The lovely soundtrack further adds grandeur to Eorzea, and series fans will appreciate the usage of past music.
There are quests all over the place, made up of the usual fetch things or kill things tasks. FATES meanwhile are timed quests that randomly pop up from time to time and anyone is able to take part in them and, upon their completion, be rewarded based on their level of contribution. Guildleve quests, being split into battle, harvesting or crafting have suitable tasks for all classes, whilst Guildhests are small party based quests.
Dungeons are a highlight of the game and are the most substantial quests that the game has to offer, lasting around an hour. They’re also one of the most efficient methods of levelling up your character, discovering new equipment and are hosts to some truly epic boss encounters that often demand efficient teamwork from your party to take them down.
In terms of controls, the game works reasonably well with a controller, though is a bit unwieldy to begin with but becomes more natural over time, though those that want to have the option of using a mouse and keyboard with the game.
The combat system isn’t the most interesting when fighting alone, though becomes much more engaging when you’re fighting alongside others, with class abilities complementing each other. It’s typical fare for the genre for the most part, using a hotbar system, where abilities can be assigned to certain button combinations.
There’s a diverse range of classes, ranging from combat minded ones like Gladiators, pugilists and Thaumaturgists, all of which operate pleasingly different from one another, with Pugilist’s possessing their own combo system for instance. There are also more sedate class options like the carpenter, fisher and weaver which are satisfying in their own ways, and there’s surely something here for everyone.
The social options are, as is expected from the genre, extensive. Linkshells are essentially chat channels, of which you can use up to eight of at a time. From experience, the community is largely always ready to offer a helping hand to those in need, offering invaluable information and always being ready to help you out in slaying the tougher beasts. As with any online game, there are of course some idiots, but these can thankfully be blacklisted. There’s also a helpful Duty Finder system, which is a great way of finding a party to tackle dungeons, Guildhests and bosses with and it even matches you with people who are on separate servers.
Free Companies are the games take on guilds and function in much the same manner, with members being able to earn XP for the company and move through the ranks, with high ranking members being able to offer benefits to the entire company, for example granting every member an XP bonus.
There’s an Auction house here called a Market board. This allows you to purchase items from others and is a pleasingly painless process, allowing you to quickly search for equipment based on class, level and such. Selling things yourself is carried out through a retainer, helpful servants of which can also head out on their own quests.
The game has a truly incredible level of content, with numerous quests, dungeons, achievements, logs to complete (of hunting and crafting, fishing based varieties and such) and classes to be levelled up to level 50 and, as with any good MMORPG, Square Enix intends to bring new content to the game on a regular basis.
Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn is an excellent revival of what many considered to be a disastrous MMORPG. It might not do much inventive, but it hardly matters when all of the familiar genre systems are executed in such superb fashion and is yet further elevated by all the lovely Final Fantasy fan service that the game is positively filled to the brim with. A pitfall for some will be the subscription fee required to play the game, but if Square Enix ensures it steadily releases content that is as compelling as the existing game, then, going forward, it is sure to be money well spent for MMORPG devotees and Final Fantasy fans alike.