When most people think of Final Fantasy XIV, they think of the game that square dropped the ball on, right? Wrong. I’m here to tell you that this game was sadly over looked by its painful launch. However, before I get into that, lets talk about what most people thought about the game.
First off, players were limited by how many quests they could participate in through allowances, the User Interface was dreadful, and the game seemed very slow-paced and monotonous. Players had to navigate through several menus to get a simple task done, such as crafting or navigating through the marketplace in order to buy or sell items. By navigating through the market place, I mean walking up to each individual retainer (which is an NPC that you hire to sell your items for you) to search for items that may or may not interest you.
Everything was wrong with the game and players felt dissatisfied. The only thing holding this game together was its amazing graphics, and sadly most gamers were not able to run the game at proper settings. Nothing was feasible, the game was boring to most hardcore gamers, thus turning away many players. There are a few more details I could get into as to why this game failed horribly at launch, however, I won’t waste everyone’s time. I’m sure you get the gist of it. With the fall of this great MMO, producer Hiromichi Tanaka announced his resignation.
That was the bad, now let’s discuss the good. Square-Enix President Yoichi Wada than turned to Naoki Yoshida for help and tasked him to turn this game around. Naoki Yoshida was made director and producer of Final Fantasy XIV Online. Soon after the change in staff, version 2.0 was announced and Yoshi promised he would get this game back on track. Yoshi kept his promise, and not even a month later the updates started rolling in with a new version update every 1-2 months. The content and UI changes were welcome among faithful players and brought old players back to experience the game change for themselves. This is where I came in. At the time I had no idea what the game was like before, so it was a fresh experience for me. I started out with the gladiator class. This class was perfect for me because I didn’t want to indulge myself into the game too much and was easily solo-able with this choice. I found the levequests very entertaining and was a very fun way to level up.
A levequest is basically a hunt assigned to you through an adventurers’ guild with some back story added to the person requesting the hunt similarly to the hunts in Final Fantasy XII. As previously stated there are allowance on these quests. However after the new flood of updates the allowances were raised to 100 and earning a rate of 8 allowances every 4 hours. My favorite part of these quests was the soundtrack. Every time a levequest was activated a catchy Final Fantasy style battle theme would play. Upon completion, the famous fanfare melody would play. After spamming these quests for weeks I finally hit level 40 and decided i would delve deeper into the game. I joined my first linkshell (guild) and I felt like I was missing out on so much. Job quests at level 30, dungeon raids, Chocobo Caravan Escorts, Hamlet Defense, grand company quests, primal battles, a materia system very similar to that of final fantasy VII, and so much more. After adventuring with my new link shell for a few days I could not take my eyes off this game. I could see absolutely no flaw in the game. The UI still had some minor hiccups, but speaking as an FFXI player it was an improvement. Not only did Yoshi fix Version 1 in its current state, he also made it a unique once in a lifetime experience with the addition of the Grand Company quests to bridge the story from version 1 to the newly announced A REALM REBORN.
Lets dig into this story a bit. Normally I would say SPOILER warning, but like i said this was an experience only available in Version 1 of FFXIV. There is no way to play through this story in version 2. So take it from me or watch the story unfold on YouTube. Fifteen years before the events in Version 1 the Great Garlean Empire invaded Eorzea. The brunt of the attack was focused on Ala Mhigo. Ala Mhigo was a strong city but unfortunately for them, the might of the garleans was unmatched. The City States Limsa Lominsa, Ul’Dah, and Gridania declared they would put aside their differences and would act as one to form the first ever Eorzean Alliance.
Sadly it was too late. The Empire had razed Ala Mhigo to the ground and vanished without a trace. The Alliance Eventually dispersed and everything returned to normal. Five years later the Garlean Empire returned to Eorzea. Only this time their focus was the region of Mor Dhona. A fleet of airships led by the maasive Agrius helmed the Invasion. Upon arriving at Mor Dhona the fleet encountered the mighty dragon Midgardsormr. Misgardsomr was not alone in this fight. An army of dragons had flew in from the north. The battle was intense, but eventually the dragons halted the Empire’s advance. The Midgardsomr and the Agrius were an even match and battled to the very end leading to their mutual demise. You can still see the mighty dragon entangled around the Dreadnought Agrius in Silvertear Lake forming a towering monument over Mor Dhona.
Final Fantasy XIV allows you to pick which city state you will reside in. Limsa Lominsa, Ul’Dah, or Gridania. It doesn’t matter which path you take because all stories intertwine. You also have this ability called the ECHOE which enables you to reach into the past and witness events with your own eyes. A group of people who also have this ability discover you and invite you their group. This group acts independently of the city states. The leader realizes that something is amiss. Signs of the Garlean Empire’s return have been becoming more an more frequent. The city states are ignoring the empire’s presence. So if they don’t do something then who will?Individuals blessed with the ECHOE can also communicate with the beastmen. They seek to form a pact with the beastmen tribes only to be turned down and threatened by Ifrit himself.
Wait a second, I have to interrupt. This story is amazing! A Final Fantasy game to it’s core. Sadly though the main story “Campaign” ends shortly after this. Some key characters from the Empire are introduced and the group decides its best to lay low for awhile. Because the Empire is to powerful and simply put, they are nothing but flies buzzing around a chocobo. Who knows, perhaps they will return in A Realm Reborn? Oh wait, did i say the story was over? Don’t worry guys, I won’t leave out the best part. The once in a lifetime experience I was referring to before. The Garlean Empire finally made their presence known once more. This time however their intention was to smash the lesser moon Dalamud into Eorzea. Ridding the country side of its occupants, both beastmen and men alike.
The three city states declared once more that they would put aside their differences, this time for good and it was decided that resurrecting the Eorzean Allaince would serve greatly in the coming apocalypse. The Alliance sent their best warriors to Mor Dhona to scout and discovered their base of operations. They were channeling the Aether of the land to somehow pull the moon to the planet. The warriors succeeded in destroying this station, but it was too late. Dalamud was already at an uncontrollable descent. The derranged garlean behind the summoning of this meteor, also known as the White Raven, was from the VIIth legion of the Empire. Sound familiar? He began to lose himself with power and raised a small piece of land to relish in the light of dalamud unlocking some of its power for himself.
The Alliance sent a scouting party to investigate these rumors. Upon arrival, small meteors were cast out on the countryside which killed the group. The Alliance knew they had to act fast and assigned one final mission to the brave group of warriors. They were to take an airship to the floating land mass, confront the White Raven and finish him off for good.
Perhaps defeating the raven would also slow or possibly halt dalamuds descent. It was a hard fought battle, but with the fate of Eorzea resting on their shoulders, the warriors triumphed. The Raven was defeated. Did the defeat of the White Raven stop dalamuds advance? Nobody was certain. The one thing that was certain was they had to prepare for the Garlean Empires Invasion. This was a great victory for the Alliance nonetheless. They had defeated the commander of the VIIth legion of the empire and celebration was in order. The days that followed were quiet. Storms began to circle around the meteor in the sky. A songstress could be heard all over Eorzea as if the gods were crying. Stones of the twelve started to illuminate. The Alliance was disturbed, they knew the end was at hand. They could only pray to the gods and hope that if they could stop the invasion, all would be corrected and the twelve would answer their call….
Players were left in awe as servers shutdown to play this trailer. I’ve heard impressions from several players of this game and all were the same. “I really didn’t know how much I enjoyed this game until it was over.” I agree, this trailer hit emotions on all levels. Hearing the FFXIV theme “ANSWERS” played from start to finish was the perfect setting. Naoki Yoshida has done an excellent job reshaping this game. What started out as a fumble from Square Enix turned out to be not only a great MMO but a fantasy worthy of it numbered title. This moment will forever remain cherished in the hearts of all who witnessed this event.
We all know a final fantasy game isn’t complete without its soundtrack and this one does not disappoint. The entire sound track of this game was composed by none other than Nobuo Uematsu. Enough Said. We haven’t seen this much love from Nobuo since Final Fantasy IX and X. I’m proud to say, welcome back. The soundtrack of this game has all of the nostalgic tunes, from battle themes to fanfares, the city states, regions, dungeons, even some of the small hamlets are amazing. Nobuo has created yet another masterpiece. His choice for Susan Calloway for the theme “Answers” you watched in that trailer was proof enough. I’ve rambled on enough and it’s time to bring this review to a close.
Yoshi created a work of art and people will miss version one. But new adventures await in A REALM REBORN. Hope to see you there….