I have loved Final Fantasy XI in the short 30 days I played it when Steam had the collection on sale for about a couple bucks. Sure, it wasn’t as “streamlined” or “user-friendly” as World of Warcraft… I didn’t care much for those frail points people used to pick on the game. The game was one thing, hardcore. This was what kept me charmed to the game. When I had heard that Square-Enix was working on Final Fantasy XIV I was naturally curious about it. Square-Enix took to heart some of the casual player’s complaints from Final Fantasy XI and seems to have applied their lessons towards the new entry of massively multiplayer RPG’s (MMORPG).
Yesterday, the beta for Final Fantasy XIV went public. It has caught the attention of many folks as servers were buckling under the mass of players attempting to register to get their free beta key and download the beta client software. I certainly lucked out mid-day today and got mine. Most of the servers are quite populated from people getting in on the beta. At about 7pm CST, there were only 3 servers on the list rated at moderate population and the rest were flagged as full. The interface seems to have been a little more streamlined and took some lessons from the complaints from Final Fantasy XI to make the interface more sensible. The two biggest things I was impressed with were questing and cinematic cut-scenes.
The cinematic cut-scenes are rather nice with quality narrations on major story events and the scenes are rendered in real time . The questing has vastly improved from how it was in Final Fantasy XI. Back in Final Fantasy XI the early quests were a total drag because of the matter that at low levels they were a bit tough (like kill quests) and partying up early would net you less experience points. Final Fantasy XIV seems to have corrected this with giving party leaders quests to scale. You can pick from 1 star (solo difficulty) all the way up to a 5 star with a legion of players banded in a party. This makes for a nicer experience and the matter that if you are playing with friends you can crank the quest difficulty up without worrying about not getting enough experience points. On the times you can’t get your friends to play with you online you can tune it down to 1 star and progress without worry of monsters being too difficult to manage.
I will say that Final Fantasy XIV is definitely one game I am looking forward to seeing grow once the community begins to fill with players.
[Screenshot taken from actual game running on my personal PC.]