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 next, Ben chimes in with an Arcanist who's lagging behind his more powerful friends.
With Brent a full-blown Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn addict, his Marauder is a world-travelling, battle-axe wielding bad-ass tens of levels ahead of my meek and inexperienced Arcanist. He's tackling FATEs, crafting weapons, and completing quests I can only dream of at this point. And Taz? He's not far behind. As he and Brent explore the desert city of Ul'dah together, I continue to slowly work my way towards level 15 and the ability to join them in their world travels. It's been a busy week on my end, so I haven't been able to play as much as I would have liked. But busy or not, Eorzea and its many adventures await!
My first impressions of A Realm Reborn were favorable. While I've never played the subtitle-less precursor to A Realm Reborn (as reviews at the time were less than stellar), I have had previous experience with an MMO take on the revered franchise in Final Fantasy XI on the Xbox 360. While I remember Final Fantasy XI being nigh impenetrable to newcomers, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is much more friendly to first-time adventurers. Following a very cool cinematic that sets up the story and world of A Realm Reborn, players find themselves thrust into the shoes of their newly created character. Brent has already waxed poetic about the game's character creation tools, and he was dead on. Seemingly limited only by your imagination, the creation suite allows you to create any number of impossibly beautiful denizens with which to populate Eorzea. After deciding I was going to be an Arcanist — a needed class in order to keep our Short Pause party efficient and varied — Donner Kohl (named using this handy generator here!) was born, and I was off to find adventure!
As I mentioned, A Realm Reborn is surprisingly friendly to new players. I was able to get in to Eorzea and have a clear destination in mind when I first began. I found Baderon the bartender without much trouble, received my first quest and proceeded to begin the process of learning the game. And there is a ton of stuff to learn in this game. Thankfully, the help system is — er — helpful, and the on-screen prompts make it easy to learn about the various techniques and gameplay systems you're exposed to throughout the course of the game.
After performing some menial tasks for Baderon, the game opens up a little more for your player character. In Limsa Lominsa — the home base of the Arcanist and several other classes — you have the option of exiting to the overworld from either side of the city. Your basic level one and two baddies populate the grassy area around the city gates, with your more powerful creatures roaming the lands further away. One of the quests I took part in tasked me with slaying 4 Aurelia, which are these sort of floating, jellyfish-like creatures. I remember running around all over the outside world, passing enemies far above my current level thinking to myself, "Yep, definitely not going in the right direction." This was when I learned I could exit the city from the aforementioned both ends, and sure enough, those pesky Aurelia creatures were floating around in this second area . It was a small victory to be sure, but it's a testament to the game's design that this little victory filled me with so much accomplishment. Either that, or it shows how woeful I currently am at this title. Probably a little bit of both. Leaning towards the latter a little bit. Okay, fine....fine. A whole lot of the latter.
After getting into combat for the first time, I like how streamlined the process is for us controller-lovin' console folk. It reminds me a lot of DC Universe Online in this way. Just as DCUO felt great on a game pad, A Realm Reborn makes combat fun, accessible and easy to execute on a DualShock 4. Holding the shoulder buttons to pull up your hot keys, while pressing the face buttons to execute actions, works great. I also like how the touch pad operates like a touch pad on a laptop, allowing you to move the cursor around in mouse-like fashion. It's intuitive and makes total sense within the UI of the game. In general, Square Enix has done a fantastic job of translating a genre typically reserved for a mouse and keyboard to DualShock 4 controller. Of course, the game comes equipped with mouse and keyboard support as well, should you choose to play in a more traditional way.
The most important thing I've accomplished so far is being accepted into the Arcanist's guild, which admittedly isn't much. I was tasked with slaying a few members of the local wildlife, utilizing the two spells I had at my disposal, and upon completion I had proved my worth to the guild's head mistress. It was a basic, but necessary, task early in the game, and opens up more elaborate quests for my novice adventurer.
Like I said, I haven't accomplished much yet, but herein lies the beauty of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. This game makes you feel like you are part of another world. You, and a thousand of your closest friends are running around Eorzea at any given time. You see them in passing on the city streets. You join them for monster slaying goodness in the wilderness. You ask them for advice when you're in a pinch. It's easy to get lost in the enormity of the world. Somehow it's fun to collect herbs for Baderon, pick oranges for a local farmer, or slay level one ladybugs on the grassy plains. As with all great MMOs, there's that sense of belonging to something greater with A Realm Reborn; the sense that there's almost an obligation on your part to do your job and help keep Eorzea afloat.
On my way back to the city after a recent excursion to the Summerford farms, I haphazardly stepped into an area with a FATE running above my recommended level. Feeling confident after my recent victories, however small or insignificant they may have been, along with my perfect FATE record up to this point, I felt sure that I would contribute my part to conquering the FATE and continue on to Limsa Lominsa with some extra experience points for my troubles. As — *ahem* — fate would have it (that's a little Realm Reborn humor for you), I died quickly thereafter, but not before taking a couple of enemies and some always welcome experience points with me back to the respawn point inside of my home base.
This much was clear: I needed to get stronger and I knew just what needed to be done.
To be continued...