Tomorrow is the standard launch date for Final Fantasy XIV, and so I'm sure anyone who cares about the game is super pumped to pick it up. I grabbed myself a copy of the game's limited edition last week and I've spent quite a bit of time with it since, so I'd like to push out this bit of a warning to everyone considering a dive into the vastness that is Eorzea tomorrow.
I'd like to preface the rest of this post by saying that while I'm not enamored with Final Fantasy XIV as it is, I'm deeply in love with the game it can be down the road. The problem is that the game simply isn't complete. You might have read in places that the PC release feels like something of a paid beta. It's true; it does. I don't doubt that Square considers the PlayStation 3 release of the game in March to be the real launch, and that they're using these 6 months to iron out the vast amounts of bugs and incomplete mechanics.
I've decided to make a laundry list of problems the game has here. But before that I'll simply say, hey, don't give up on the game. I'd say just wait for the PS3 version to come out, even if you only have a PC, and jump in after a myriad of fixes and a couple of content patches have been applied.
- The Market Ward - This system, as it stands, is a mess. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of retainers standing around and hawking wares with no outward indication of what they're selling. This means you have to go around to every last one of them and sift through piles of fecal matter to find whatever it is you're looking for. I'm going to be fair and make note that a patch to segregate the Ward into different areas for different item types is incoming.
- The Map - Square have included a beautiful mapping system in Final Fantasy XIV, crafted with vibrant colors and exquisite detail. They seem so proud of this that they've decided not to splotch it up with minor things like showing the locations of your goddamn party members. This is the basics of the basics people. Fix this.
- Travel - The visual aesthetic in the game is fantastic; one of the best I've seen. This makes running from place to place, despite the staggering size of the world, less of a chore for a while. But once you've done it a few times, you start wishing for something to accelerate the process, and there isn't anything. You can teleport instantly between aetheryte nodes, which is fantastic so long as you have the anima to do so, but anima regenerates at the rate of 1 point every four hours, and you need 4 points to teleport. Chocobos please.
- Party EXP Bug - This is so game crippling, and I'm surprised some sort of hot fix hasn't already been applied to fix this. Currently you're only going to benefit from grouping if you're playing with a friend. Get a party of three people or more, and this bug rears its ugly head. Presently in these situations, experience points don't distribute properly, making large groups -- which are according to SE the way the game is meant to be played -- detrimental to your own gameplay.
What I Love
- Vibrant World - SE have truly created a stunningly beautiful and story-rich world in Eorzea. If there can be only one reason I'd like to see all of the above issues fixed, it's to not see this world go to waste.
- Intriguing Story - Like Final Fantasy XI, XIV has cutscene after cutscene embroidered into its storyline quests to help flesh out its world in a way the games like World of Warcraft have yet to accomplish.
- Crafting - The crafting system is deep and almost a game in and of itself. There are oodles of materials to be gathered and transformed into useful gear, food, and components, and all of it is fairly rewarding to take part in.
- The Armory System - Folks are up-in-arms about the Fatigue system, and I've included a semi-lengthy video that should help to alleviate any of those concerns. Either way, the armory system is pretty awesome. Being able to learn skills as a pugilist, and them apply those same abilities to my gladiator class, is pretty damn awesome. Changing classes at will on the battlefield is also pretty neat.
I suggest taking a look at this video explanation of the game's Fatigue System if that thing has you worried. It's not nearly as bad as it seems, and is actually sort of cool.