Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Review (PS3)


Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has had a troubled past. While the game only officially launched on August 27th, from the start of the Early Access afforded to players who pre-ordered started running  into frustrating problems logging in or even the ability to create a character on their server of choice.

But Final Fantasy XIV’s problems started much before this. A Realm Reborn is actually Square Enix’s second try at their latest Final Fantasy MMO. Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 launched in September of 2010 for PC with a PS3 version still “in development”. With an incredibly bad aggregate Metacritic score of 49 (and an average user rating of 3.8!), Square Enix hit the pause button and charged a new team with rebuilding the game, essentially from scratch. Less than two years later, Final Fantasy XIV once again opened its doors to players.

Well, “opened its doors” is a bit misleading. Technically, they opened their doors to a few people, slammed the doors shut, told the people outside to try another door, sent them back to the first door when they got there, and if you got lucky you made it inside SOME door. But when you made it in… wow.

For the most part, A Realm Reborn is just another MMO in a long line of MMOs. Kill this monster, talk to this NPC, fetch this random object and so forth. But once you start to dig into the game, its depth becomes more apparent. The main quest itself will last you longer than many AAA games out there. I have been playing quite a bit more than I’d care to admit and I have maybe made it halfway through the main story. This is partly because I can’t see an exclamation point over an NPC’s head and NOT talk to them. But the biggest problem is that I found the crafting system.

This is another difference in A Realm Reborn. In many games, if you choose to play as a warrior or a wizard or what have you, you’re stuck with your choice at least for a good deal of time, if not forever. A Realm Reborn solves this with a very clever class system. To play the game as a new class, all that you have to do is equip a weapon from that class. If I’m tired of punching monsters as a Pugilist, I can grab my sword and shield and play as a Gladiator. Hate the Gladiator? Pick your Pugilist weapon back up and you’re a Pugilist again. I just like saying Pugilist… Later on, you will be able to take skills that you have learned in one class and use them with your second class. Tired of dying? Unlock the Conjurer’s healing and raise spells and you can moonlight as a field medic while you’re punching things. Before you can start a new class you will have to talk to that class’s Guild and run through a short introductory quest, but subsequent class changes between classes you have already unlocked are as simple as changing your weapon to the weapon for that class.

In addition to the combat classes, there are a large number of non-combat classes available. Every army needs an even bigger army of support staff. As with the combat classes, just go talk to the guild of the class you are interested in and you will get that class’s starter tool and start its quest line. The gathering and crafting systems are actually oddly soothing. I lost an entire weekend trying out and ranking up several of the classes. I had only planned on spending a little bit of time with them, but it was nice to just kick back and tinker.

There is an interesting synergy that goes on between the gatherers and the crafters and the warriors. Crafters need raw material to be able to craft new equipment. You can also just switch over to whichever gathering class you need new materials from, like a Miner to gather some Silver Ore for your Goldsmith to craft with, but it is also just as easy to take a short walk over to the Market and search for Silver Ore… As you rank up a combat class, you will find that keeping yourself in the higher level equipment can get incredibly expensive. But you can often find some pretty good deals on the same equipment in the Market.

What is this Market? Well, like many other games, A Realm Reborn has an in-game trading system. The Market allows you to put items you have obtained up for sale for in-game currency. The seller gets to determine the price. If you think someone is going to be willing to pay 5000 Gil for that broken down helmet you found, you just might find a buyer. But if you have plenty of inventory you need to get rid of, you can be the Wal-Mart of adventurers and roll back those prices. Of course, if you don’t mind spending the time to gather your raw materials yourself, you can DIY yourself into some great equipment. Not to be left out, most monsters also drop items that are used by crafters so the combat classes can make some extra coin selling their spoils.

Another way of cooperating with your other fellow adventurers is A Realm Reborn’s Free Company system, the Final Fantasy take on guilds or clans. Once you have reached a certain point in the main story’s quest line you have the ability to start your own Free Company with your fellow adventurers. There is no requirement to join a Free Company, but it is a good way of getting together with a good core group of players that you enjoy playing with. You can get some in-game benefits as well via Free Company Actions like XP bonuses, cheaper Teleporting, etc. There may also be future benefits to Free Company membership as the game evolves over time.

Another cool feature is the FATE system. FATEs are random quests that will pop up on your area map. FATEs are visible to all players in the area, and are designed to be done together with a bunch of different players. They range from tasks like killing a set number of certain monsters that spawn within the boundaries of the FATE, collecting items and returning them to a particular NPC in the area, protecting an NPC from one point to another, etc. FATEs are a great way to rank up and earn extra money for equipment, especially once you start ranking up additional classes.

A video game review would not be complete without talking about the visuals. The PS3 version doesn’t come close to stealing the graphics crown from a game like The Last of Us, but that is due to the huge scope of the game. I have seen the PC version and it of course has much more impressive visuals. I expect the PS4 version that will go into Beta in late February 2014 will be much closer to the PC version in terms of graphics. Not to say that the game is bad looking, it is still impressive that Square Enix has gotten the quality they have out of such a huge MMO on a console. Console development is a zero sum game. There is a limited performance budget that the hardware is capable of, and to be able to play with as many as 5000 to (at last count from Square Enix) over 7500 different players on the same server, many of which may be being rendered to your screen at once, along with all of the other myriad stuff happening, you just have to make some compromises. If you want better graphics, the PC version looks gorgeous. The PS4 version will likely be just as gorgeous, and Square Enix has announced that players will be able to upgrade from the PS3 version to the PS4 version for free once it is available.

Now, all is not wonderful in Eorzea. Luckily for Square Enix, and us, most of it is fixable. In busy areas with a lot of players, the game can get a little laggy. This is worst in cases like trying to do a FATE in a busy area where there are hundreds of other players there too. At its worst, you will see FATE monsters you’re supposed to be killing pop up and die before you can get a hit in on them. This is mainly a server congestion problem, so hopefully as Square Enix continues to improve their infrastructure this will get better. On PS3 the targeting system leaves a lot to be desired. Given that all we have is a DualShock 3 to work with, we don’t have the luxury of being able to just click on something, so the game does its best to figure out what you’re trying to choose, and then you can cycle through targets with your D-Pad. This is configurable to allow you to choose what different targets to consider. By default you will be cycling through pretty much everything, so if there are a bunch of players around you might be aiming for a monster and target another player instead. But, you can tell the game to ignore PCs entirely when targeting, or ignore them when you have your weapon unsheathed, etc.

Oddly, the only communication mechanism that A Realm Reborn provides in-game is text chat. It is pretty configurable, so you can filter out things you don’t care about, and there are different tabs that you can organize stuff into. If all you’re interested in is party chat or Free Company chat, you can pretty easily filter everything else out. It would be nice to have the option of in-game voice chat, but of course you can always work around this on your own. Grab your Vita or your tablet, open up Skype and there you go. Of course, PC players have a lot of other options as well.

Just a few weeks into the game, and Gil sellers are already rampant. This isn’t a problem specific to A Realm Reborn, but it is still annoying. Part of the problem is players with weak passwords that get hacked and become in-game Gil shills. Like some other games, Square Enix has some additional security available like one-time passwords and mobile apps for managing the one-time passwords.

What is both impressive and sad is that A Realm Reborn is VERY GOOD! With so many disappointing games that just end up in the discount bin, it is really refreshing for a game developer to both admit their earlier failures and then to turn a disappointing game into something worthy of the Final Fantasy name. The sad part of the equation is that the technical difficulties during launch may very well turn off a good number of players from what is really a very good MMO. Time will tell how well Square Enix continues to support the game, but at launch there is already plenty of fun to be had.

 

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August 2013 PlayStation 3, PS Vita & PSP New Releases for North America and Europe


Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

With games like Saints Row IV, Madden NFL 25, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and more all coming out, you could easily argue that the busy holiday season starts next month. So feel free to argue as much as you want in the comments below.

Here’s everything scheduled to release in August 2013 right now, but for up an up to the minute list, head over to our August 2013 new release page, which we update constantly.

PlayStation 3 Games/DLC

North America

Europe

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 ‘Vengeance’ DLC (PSN) – August 1st
  • Heavy Fire: Shattered Spear (Retail) – August 2nd (UK)
  • Mars: War Logs (PSN) – August 7th
  • Tales of Xillia (Retail & PSN) – August 9th
  • Dishonored ‘The Brigmore Witches DLC’ (PSN) – August 14th
  • DuckTales Remastered (PSN) – August 14th
  • Disney Infinity (Retail) – August 20th/23rd (Varies by region)
  • Battle vs. Chess Premium Edition (Retail) – August 20th
  • Saints Row 4 (Retail & PSN) – August 23rd
  • Splinter Cell: Blacklist (Retail & PSN) – August 23rd
  • The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (Retail) – August 23rd
  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Retail) – August 27th
  • Killer is Dead (Retail & PSN) – August 30th
  • Lost Planet 3 (Retail) – August 30th
  • Madden NFL 25 (Retail & PSN) – August 30th
  • Rayman Legends (Retail) – August 29th (EU), August 30th (UK)
  • Port Royale 3: Gold Edition (Retail) – August 30th

PlayStation Vita Games

North America

  • Dragon’s Crown (Retail & PSN) – August 6th
  • Mystic Chronicles (Added to PS Vita Store) – August 6th
  • Little Acorns (PSM) – August 6th
  • Divekick (PSN) – August 20th
  • The Walking Dead: Season 1 + 400 Days (Retail & PSN) – August 20th
  • The Walking Dead PlayStation Vita Bundle (Retail) – August 20th

Europe

  • Little Acorns (PSM) – August 6th
  • BreakQuest: Extra Evolution (PSN) – August 7th
  • Floating Cloud God Saves the Pilgrims in HD (PSN) – August 7th
  • Rayman Legends (Retail & PSN) – August 29th (EU), August 30th (UK)

PlayStation Portable Game

North America/Europe

  • Sweet Fuse: At Your Side (Retail & PSN) – August 27th (NA), August 28th (EU)

Also Scheduled to Release in August 2013 for North America and Europe

  • Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F (PS3 – Retail & PSN)
  • Lone Survivor (PS3, PS Vita – PSN)
  • Luftrausers (PS3, PS Vita – PSN)
  • Mars: War Logs (PS3 – PSN) – NA
  • One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 (PS3 – PSN) – NA, PSN & Retail in EU
  • Payday 2 (PS3 – Retail & PSN)
  • Real Boxing (PS Vita – PSN)
  • Spelunky (PS3, PS Vita – PSN)

*Keep in mind that all release dates are subject to change and new PSN releases are added weekly.

 

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Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn: gathering and crafting video, screens


Square Enix has released a new video and screens taken from Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

A Realm Reborn is version 2.0 of the mess that was Final Fantasy XIV Online. The original game transitioned to the alpha version of A Realm Reborn last month, with the finished product scheduled for a simultaneous release on PS3 and PC in 2013.

For a look at some of the game’s more demanding activities, check out this Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn gameplay, which showcases quests and combat.

 

Click for gallery mode
Click for gallery mode
 

 Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Screenshot

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Screenshot

 

Source: CVG

Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn: 5 minute gameplay movie


Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Square Enix has released a new Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn gameplay trailer.
It features over five mintes of alpha version gameplay set in The Black Shroud, a woodlands region surrounding the revamped city-state of Gridania

A Realm Reborn is essentially version 2.0 ofFinal Fantasy XIV Online. The original gametransitioned to A Realm Reborn last Sunday, November 11.

Source: CVG

Final Fantasy XIV Subscriptions Aim to Regain Player Trust


The game’s payment model will keep the product in Square Enix’s hands.

final fantasy

Developers have offered a lot of justifications for the subscription MMO model, in which players shell out a monthly fee for unfettered access to more or less everything in the game. As free-to-play games offering à-la-carte gameplay options become more and more popular, fewer MMOs can stay afloat by asking the player base to pay for its fun up front. However, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn remains unmoved on the benefits of free play. As a justification for keeping the subscription model after the troubled MMO’s upcoming relaunch, Square Enix states that the trust of its players and its financial independence are more important than the number of people playing.

“The main reason why we haven’t decided to take the free-to-play option is that, at the game’s original launch, it didn’t live up to expectations and it let down a lot of fans … We want to regain that trust and to deliver on past promises,” says Naoki Yoshida, the game’s director. The link between fan loyalty and subscription fees may seem tenuous, but Yoshida clarifies that this payment method is Square Enix’s way of ensuring that every FFXIVplayer has constant access to every single facet of the game. Although Yoshida is opposed to serving up the game piecemeal, however, he has no aversion to the free-to-play model in general. “It just really depends, and it’s hard to say which one is better.”

Another reason Yoshida cites for the subscription model is Square Enix’s lack of outside investors for the game. “We’d have to pay our investors back, and free-to-play is an option to get that money back to investors quickly,” he explains. While free-to-play can often rustle up large sums of money through microtransactions, Yoshida wants to ensure that FFXIV is beholden to no one except its parent company. “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Rebornis a product that is independent to Square Enix. All of the money’s coming from us, so we had more time to put it into what we wanted to do. We’re not in a rush to pay anyone back.”

Square Enix’s commitment to comprehensively fixing FFXIV‘s problems is admirable, but the game already took a serious blow on the chin after its unsuccessful initial launch. Wary gamers will be hard enough to entice without the added burden of a monthly subscription fee. On the other hand, if FFXIV turns out to be as strong as Yoshida hopes, tentative players shouldn’t mind dishing out a little money for it. A Realm Reborn is currently in alpha tests, and should launch in early 2013.

Source: VG247