Countdown to Judgment: The Trial of Final Fantasy XIV - Day 1
We've started playing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn on the PS4 here at Short Pause, and we want to tell you, our fair reader, all about it! Every copy of A Realm Reborn comes with a free 30-day trial of the subscription based MMO, and we intend to put ours to good use. Over the next 30 days, we intend to chronicle our exploits in the land of Eorzea in explicit detail, regularly updating you of our progress and where we stand, before eventually delivering a verdict as to whether it's worth it to start paying for this game via a monthly subscription and continuing to play. Up first, Brent introduces you to Kandy Kane, a beautiful Marauder whose outward appearance is less than indicative of her prowess with a battle axe.
I can’t even tell you which Final Fantasy game I played when first experiencing this franchise all those years ago; it was that unappealing to me. Everything from the art style and the annoying characters, to the yawn-inspiring story and fantasy themed RPG fighting mechanics, was a major turn-off to me. Ever since my initial off-putting experience with the series, I have had ZERO interest in this widely acclaimed and beloved franchise. The only other time I purchased a Final Fantasy game was when Final Fantasy XI was initially released on the PlayStation 2, complete with the HDD that was bundled with it. I needed that HDD because it was the only way I could download the SOCOM 2 map pack that was on a demo disc included in a copy of The Official PlayStation Magazine. Once I had the HDD hooked up, I tossed that Final Fantasy box aside, never to acknowledge it again.
Recently, I was visiting my local GameStop and noticed that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn had finally been released on the PS4. I nonchalantly asked my friend, the manager of the store, for his thoughts on the game. Turns out, he was a huge fan of the series and had nothing but glowing praise for A Realm Reborn. He went on to describe it as an awesome co-op experience (selling point #1), and that the world was incredibly vast with a variety of different areas to explore and quests to carry out (selling point #2). He also stated that even though the game still had that Final Fantasy vibe to it, he was confident that I wouldn’t be put off by it as much as I was during my previous experiences with the franchise. I couldn’t believe it; I walked into that store with the sole intent of reserving Wolfenstein, and I walked out with a legitimate interest in a game that I couldn’t have cared less about ten minutes prior. Once I told Ben and Taz about this new found interest, naturally, they were quick to support the claims my friend had made, making it even harder for me to stick to my guns. I spent the next few days pondering what my friends had told me.
”I couldn’t believe it; I walked into that store with the sole intent of reserving Wolfenstein, and I walked out with a legitimate interest in a game that I couldn’t have cared less about ten minutes prior. "
The gamer in me couldn’t resist the temptation, and I downloaded A Realm Reborn this past weekend, much to my chagrin. Immediately after making my purchase, my first thoughts were, “You are such a sucker; you’ve been duped by your so-called friends into buying a game you KNOW you’re going to hate.” However, there was no turning back; the purchase had been made and I was going to give this game a shot, regardless of the level of my extreme pessimism. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I encountered issues almost instantly while trying to register a Square Enix account that’s required in order to play this game. I created the account, and was greeted with a screen indicating that I should be getting a confirmation email with a code (which, of course, would expire after an hour) that I would need to input in order to proceed. After an hour had passed, and still no email had arrived, I started the process over again, only to be met with the same results. I knew right then and there that this was a sign; a punishment for going against my established Final Fantasy beliefs. I took to Twitter in the hopes that someone could provide me with some sort of work-around for this account creation nonsense. Sure enough, one of my friends suggested signing up via the Square Enix website from my computer, as opposed to the in-game registration process, and once I had created the account, received the confirmation email, and linked my PSN account, I was able to finally proceed onward to the character creation segment.
This is where I experienced my first “wow” moment, as I had no idea just how deep the customization options were when it came to creating your online persona. Normally, I like to make a dude that’s extremely terrifying and imposing, because it fits my natural “hack-n-slash” play style. Instead of doing that, I went ahead and spent an hour creating the sexiest, most petite Marauder (class type) I could. There was just something about seeing this cute little thing wielding a gigantic battle axe that had me thinking to myself, “Yeah, I could watch this cutie kick ass for hours on end!” This made perfect sense to me, seeing as MMO’s are time-consuming to say the least! I decided to name her Kandy Kane, because she looks like she could moonlight part-time as an exotic dancer when she’s not burying her axe into her enemies' heads. As much as I adored my cute little warrior, I still wasn’t sure if she would be able to hold my attention long enough to prevent my latest experience with Final Fantasy from falling apart.
”There was just something about seeing this cute little thing wielding a gigantic battle axe that had me thinking to myself, “Yeah, I could watch this cutie kick ass for hours on end!”"
My adventure began with Kandy aboard a ship heading for Limsa Lominsa, and while learning from a friendly pirate about what to expect from the city, he suggests that I go talk to Baderon of the Drowning Wench Bar for work. Upon arrival, I spent a good half hour wandering around, not because Limsa Lominsa is such an impressive looking city filled with guilds, market places and other points of interest, but mainly because the map provided is rather difficult to follow. Thankfully, once I reached the Upper Decks of Limsa Lominsa, I was able to locate Baderon who had me running errands throughout the city and putting me in touch with other NPC’s that have missions as well. As I completed these trivial missions, I was gaining experience points (XP) that not only increased my hit points (HP) and magic points (MP), but also unlocked new action abilities for my Marauder class.
Once I was able to obtain a decent battle-axe and sufficient armor, I started to accept new quests that would take me outside the walls of Limsa Lominsa and out into the region of La Noscea. My first impression once I set foot outside the Zephyr Gate was that this had to be a joke! There was a “Lvl 1 Wharf Rat” and a “Lvl 1 Ladybug” wandering nearby. Now, this is where my dislike of everything Final Fantasy reared its ugly head again! Why in the hell should I be afraid of a ladybug, and do I really need to hit it twice with a 25lb battle-axe? Surely, Kandy Kane could just walk up and step on it, right? I don’t know if it’s because I’m so used to the more fearsome creatures found in other games that feature co-op play (Borderlands 2, Call of Duty Zombies), but I was less than terrified with the meek monsters I had come across so far. After laying waste to these silly “creatures," that's when I noticed the towering Mossless Goobbue (Level 12 no less!) lumbering towards me. Seeing this big fella had me rethinking my carefree hack-n-slash approach, as thinking back to my time with Borderlands 2, I remember it was never wise to take on a creature that was so many levels above my own. As I wandered around more, moving further away from Limsa Lominsa, I noticed other, more intimidating foes, which made me wish I wasn’t traversing Eorzea all alone. Even though there were many others around, there was no guarantee that they would come to my aid should I be overmatched.
” Now, this is where my dislike of everything Final Fantasy reared its ugly head again! Why in the hell should I be afraid of a ladybug, and do I really need to hit it twice with a 15lb battle-axe? Surely, Kandy Kane could just walk up and step on it, right? "
Having acknowledged that I needed to rank up my character a little more before I travel any further, I started to make my way back to Limsa Lominsa, and that’s when I was introduced to a FATE (Full Active Time Events). These FATEs are special events that randomly occur while you explore the world. So far, these usually involve taking on hordes of lower level enemies – or one, much stronger beast – that must be defeated in the allotted amount of time. Anyone around the area may partake in the event, but your earnings will be based on how much you contribute. So, if you’re sitting outside the designated zone waiting for the beast to get closer to death before deciding to join at the last moment, you won’t earn much XP at all. Thankfully, I entered a FATE that had just begun and there were plenty others fighting together, and while my contributions were minimal at best, it was a very good learning experience.
I had my first taste of real combat, and even though I came away a little more confident in my abilities as a marauder, I knew that I would have to level my character up more if I wanted to match up well against some of the more terrifying beasts lurking among the hills of Eorzea. I returned to Limsa Lominsa, determined to take on a new batch of quests in order to prepare my character for the greater world at large. I went into Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn with very few expectations, but now that I've invested many hours into the game, I'm starting to see its true potential.
To be continued...