First Impressions of FFXIV

Typically the week between Christmas and New Years is a heavy gaming time for me, but this year was thrown off-kilter by two things. First, I didn’t have enough PTO to take off the extra days between the holidays, and second – I really wasn’t feeling any game that I had installed. Wurm Online is the old faithful that I adore and will always keep in my back pocket, but sometimes you just want to throw down some old school MMORPG questing action. I’m currently subscribed to WoW but it’s become primarily about logging in to take care of garrison business and make gold to prep for Legion. I updated LotRO and logged in a couple of times, but I have a very uneasy sense of dread about that game and it’s future. I even floated back into GW2 a couple of nights, but I couldn’t get motivated to do anything there either. ESO tempted me, but I couldn’t justify paying for the game when I didn’t know if it would be my cup of tea. Then, there was Final Fantasy.

I don’t have a history with the Final Fantasy franchise at all… I’ve always been aware of it but I never really thought about playing it. I like my games to be set in a medieval world, with just enough fantasy/magic to make things interesting, a la LotRO or Wurm. Low-fantasy, I guess. So Final Fantasy with it’s high-fantasy, eastern feel never really appealed to me. I’ve also never been impressed with the screenshots or videos that I’ve seen, it looked ugly to me, sort of RIFT-ugly. Still, it had a free trial, so I figured that I would give it a go. I’ve only played it a night or two and I’m still only level 7, but here’s my initial thoughts…

  1. Graphics: Okay, it’s not as ugly in person as it looks in other media. It’s actually kind of pretty at times, and has a certain charm to it. I feel like the NPCs are made out of play-doh, like a really high quality claymation film, but it works when you see the characters up close and animated. There’s something still slightly off-putting to me though, but I can’t put my finger on it just yet.
  2. Races: human (yay), elf (yay), big ugly blue person (yawn), kewpie doll (huh?), and catperson. I took them all through customization (great customization options, btw) and ended up picking a catgirl, inspired by my cat IRL. She’s actually pretty cute, the only real cat-like things about her are the ears and tail so it’s not too over the top.ffxiv_12312015_224120crop
  3. Combat: A bit slow and clunky, but otherwise pretty easy to get the hang of. I picked an Archer, with the thought of becoming a Bard later. So far, so good.
  4. HUD: It’s fine, fairly self-explanatory and easy to use and change. It took me a minute to figure out how to resize the UI elements, but once I did, all was well. Well, except for…
  5. Maps: Let’s talk about this map system. It is atrocious. I have an excellent sense of direction, in both games and IRL. I’m the person you want to hang with in a strange city, and I can figure out the easiest/shortest way to get around in a game with no problems. But so far the FFXIV map system has me beat. They took one huge zone, split it into tons of miniature zones with specific gates in between, but not every gate is usable due to your level. Then if you are in one mini-zone and need to go to another to take care of a quest, you have to find the screen for the quest zone and somehow backtrack/trace a route to the zone that you’re currently in, but you never get to see all the zones on the screen at once. It’s annoying, frustrating, and is a huge time-waster. I’ve watched videos trying to explain how it works. I still don’t get it. I did find this site with an all-in-one map of the world, and keeping that open on my second screen is the only way I can tolerate it right now. Terrible design here.Grumpy-CatFFXIV
  6. Atmosphere: I primarily play games to relax after rough days at a stressful job, so typically games like Wildstar don’t do it for me – they tend to agitate me more than give me a peaceful respite. FFXIV so far is having the desired effect – as long as I’m not looking at the infernal map or trying to figure out where to go, it’s peaceful, relaxing, almost happy-ish. I’ve seen it mentioned on Twitter that it is in some ways LotRO-like, and so far I see it as being LotRO-like in that specific regard. It just seems like an enjoyable place to roam in.
  7. Quests: So far not too bad! It’s the typical kill ten rats, take this package here sort of thing, but that is standard and I’m perfectly fine with that. I kind of like reading the quest text in what I think are the characters voices – it’s almost an exercise in imagination and it adds to the immersion.

So will I stick it out? Maybe. Too soon to tell really. I have two weeks to figure out if I have a future there, if at the end of 2 weeks I’m still playing and enjoying it, I may sub up. Stay tuned! 🙂

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