What is Final Fantasy XIV?
This is an MMORPG with “target” combat (that is, all your attacks accurately fly at the chosen target) and a generous global skill cooldown of 2.5 seconds (that is, the main abilities need to be played at exactly this frequency). Dungeons and raids in it are instances (that is, not part of the open world, but separate closed entities), where you can get there in a group of four or eight people, depending on the type of test. The team can be assembled both independently and through matchmaking.
Combat classes (currently 17) are traditionally subdivided into tanks, healers and damage dealers. Tanks keep the attention of opponents on themselves (it’s very easy to do: just turn on the stance), survive thanks to their high health and their defensive skills, and beat enemies with simple combos. Healers heal and resurrect the team (and primarily tanks), and in their free time (that is, most of it) they also attack with simple spells. Damagers obviously do high damage, but many of them require a complex rotation of skills for this. The latter is especially important, because difficult bosses are limited in time: they need to be killed in 10-12 minutes.
Melee damagers need to carry out attacks from different sides of the enemy, and casters (including healers) need to stand still while preparing a spell
Since Final Fantasy XIV is part of the acclaimed JRPG series, it places a lot of emphasis on story; for the progress on the main quests, almost all content is closed here. Its new portions come out regularly: once every two years – a big addition, the passage of which is comparable in timing to a good JRPG, and every four months – according to the patch. In five patches after the expansion, its volume more than doubles.
In addition to continuing the story, each patch contains a simple dungeon and an 8-player boss in normal and extreme versions. Every two patches (that is, in 7-8 months), raids for 24 participants and portions of four raids for 8 people, which have a particularly difficult savage version, are released in turn. Conquering and farming savages are confident players and spend a significant part of their time.
Each type of content (bosses, raids for 8 and for 24 participants) are separate storylines, not inferior in quality to the main one
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and its first add-on Heavensward are now available as part of the Trial version: you can upgrade as many classes as you like to level 60 and spend a couple of hundred hours on the plot for free. After Heavensward, two more add-ons came out – Stormblood and Shadowbringers , and a fifth is planned at the end of the year – Endwalker .
In general, FFXIV was created according to the templates of the same WoW, which has become the gold standard for the genre, and most of the amenities that the fighters of the Horde or Alliance are used to are here in place. However, “Finalka” also has a lot of its own merits, thanks to which people stay in it.
This is the best Japanese RPG of the 2010s
Perhaps the most obvious thing for which the Final Fantasy games can be praised are the vivid characters, interesting storyline and distinctive setting. Alas, the offline editions of the cycle that came out in the 2010s almost could not boast of this, and the genre as a whole seemed to have stopped trying. FFXIV itself did not acquire all three important qualities at once – it happened only in the first expansion, Heavensward . But since then it has only improved, and the latest addition, Shadowbringers , in terms of storytelling, is able to wipe its nose with almost all Japanese RPGs – and in terms of drama it approaches the unattainable height of Final Fantasy XII . It’s no coincidence that FFXIV made it to the top 20 PS4 games according to Metacritic!
The key to success is a brilliant antagonist with a lot of dialogues and well-written motivation.
An important plus of FFXIV is that its creators prudently think through the story in advance, skillfully hanging loaded guns on the walls. Thus, the Shadowbringers tie-up was presented three years before its release, in one of the patches for Heavensward. The conflicts left behind by the heroes are also not forgotten – and come around a few years later. This makes the story feel whole, despite its growing scope. Although it will not grow indefinitely: the main storyline is promised to end this November, in the Endwalker add-on.
Finally, for fans of the Final Fantasy series, the game will be a special pleasure: although it has its own world, the history of which is carefully written down millennia in the past, FFXIV skillfully integrates elements from other “Finaloks” into it. The Crystal Tower arc plays on the plot of FFIII, Dalmaska from FFXII stands on the ruins of FF Tactics locations, and the trip to the moon in Endwalker will not do without references to FFIV. The fourteenth part allows you to take part in intense, spectacular battles with bosses from the previous parts, while not slipping into a banal “skit”, but giving familiar characters and stories a new context.
And yes: the spectacle, without which Final Fantasy is hard to imagine, is shown here not in cutscenes (their production is rather modest), but in battles. Each bossfight is set in the mood for a unique theme: the FFXIV soundtrack includes several full-length albums of top-notch rock and electronics.
It is simple and undemanding.
The developers have worked hard to make Final Fantasy XIV accessible and convenient for everyone. Imagine any reason not to play MMORPG – and you will find that they have already thought about it.
Don’t like interacting with other players? No problem: matchmaking will find suitable partners for any content. Afraid of letting your team down? Choose a simple role for yourself. Don’t want to ask questions? There are guides on the Internet for all occasions. Knowing what to do, you can go through even the most difficult savage raids without adding a single person to your friend list. And the plot does not require practically anything at all.
All content, all professions are available on one character – you don’t need to download twinks. All quest tasks are marked on the map – you won’t have to wander. When you die, you have nothing to lose. Getting decent equipment, if not top-end, is as easy as shelling pears. And you don’t have to go overboard to prepare for top content. Even if you took a break for a whole year, you can either just buy the clothes in which you can conquer the “savages”, or farm them for a week of relaxed play. Final Fantasy XIV appreciates your time and does not require constant presence and endless grinding.
Naoki Yoshida , Final Fantasy XIV Development Lead :
It’s okay not to play it every day. Come back when we release a major patch, then put it aside to avoid burning out, and play other games until the next patch.
And I am ready to confirm that these are not empty words: this is how I have played since the days of A Realm Reborn. For a month per patch, having time to close all the “savages” and try all the proposed content during this time. And if you don’t want to spend even a month, it’s not a problem: FFXIV regularly organizes promotions with a free login to the game for several days – that’s enough to run through the story content. Play the way you like.
Megaton of content
However, the fact that in FFXIV it is not necessary to spend six months trying to get top gear or learn how to pass the most difficult tests, does not mean that this cannot be done there. For hardcore regulars, there are occasional Ultimate Challenges: 20-minute marathons that require perfect teamwork and months of rehearsals. For fans of grinding, there are religions – a beautiful weapon that is not easy to get and needs to be improved for a long time. And, of course, there are achievements – not as creative as in WoW, but numerous and dedicated to all aspects of the game. And there are many of them.
You can download alternative classes – which is very interesting, since each is played differently. Complete daily quests of different tribes of beastmen, pumping relations with them. Hunt rare monsters. Conquer roguelike random dungeons 100-200 stories deep. Swing in separate locations for relics, where enemies are more difficult, and death leads to a loss of rating. Dig up treasure maps and try your luck in special dungeons full of loot and traps. Participate in PvP matches – both chamber 4-on-4, and mass battles of three teams of 24 people each. You can play for a special class – a blue magician, teach the skills of enemies and act in a special arena.
Tired of fighting? It doesn’t matter: there are eight more classes of crafters and three classes of gatherers. To fish on the shores or go out to sea for this; dig up or mow rare ingredients, and then let them go to craft. At least for myself, at least for sale – or maybe even for the restoration of the city, in order to get into the ranking. Or bring special orders to needy NPCs for weekly rewards.
Want even more variety? You can have performances with musical instruments, furnish your own home both inside and out, and compete in the Triple Triad, the card game from Final Fantasy VIII . And there is also a whole entertainment complex with mini-games, lotteries, fashion contests and mahjong. Yes, Final Fantasy XIV is one of the best Mahjong clients ever!
Here, perhaps, the point is that FFXIV is a game less tuned in to hardcore farming and scrupulous honing of fighting skills. Or that moderators punish players for any toxicity, including humiliating party members for low damage per second. But the result is obvious: migrants from WoW never tire of wondering how peaceful and friendly the community at Finalka is.
There are almost always people who are ready to answer questions, give useful advice or explain the reason for defeat in battle. Newbies and players who are ready to learn from their mistakes are almost never disputed. Toxicity can be found only in top raids, but there is also a clear division into groups for farming, where mistakes are not comme il faut, and for training, where it is not shameful.
Are there any downsides?
FFXIV does not have an official translation into Russian (which does not prevent thousands of Russian-speaking players from enjoying it, and the most desperate ones from using an auto-translator), and it also costs money (although on Russian Steam you can pay a ridiculous amount for a monthly subscription – less than 300 rubles). But the paid game and subscription guarantee not only high quality content, but also the fact that it will not get spoiled by mechanics begging for money, will not stifle the requirements for grinding. If you really spend your time and money on an MMORPG, then on the best!
But you still have to waste time – and a lot. It’s not about grinding – it’s just that FFXIV has had so much content in eight years that it will take hundreds of hours to complete the storyline alone. And, alas, it begins with the weakest part: before the best stories, you will have to endure a lot of empty quests.
On the other hand, fans of sweating, like in WoW, may not be so happy with the level of complexity of savage raids, and the lack of customization within a particular class, and the fact that almost all combat mechanics in FFXIV are based on positioning. Dungeons are arguably overly simple, and PvP isn’t nearly as fun as it could be.
Well, and, perhaps, you can complain about the predictability: every time you know in advance what exactly will be in the next patch. If the plot is still sometimes able to surprise, then in terms of gameplay FFXIV has long forgotten how to present surprises.
But on this, in principle, that’s all. In the eight years since the restart of Final Fantasy XIV, it has grown from just a decent MMO to one of the best. At the same time, the emphasis on the plot makes it a great gift for both Final Fantasy fans and the lack of high-quality releases for JRPG fans. It is great for singles, but for teams of 8 people, it will also offer excellent cooperative gameplay – and just enough complexity so that you can spend a month training, and then after winning, calmly postpone the game until the next patch. This is an MMO that will require from you exactly as much time as you yourself are willing to devote to it – and not an hour more.