Final Fantasy XIV: Just When I thought I Was Out — Adventure Log
If you have ever played an MMORPG, you probably don’t know what Final Fantasy XIV is like. That may sound completely off base when you consider Final Fantasy XIV is an MMORPG. But, it’s way more than just that. It is a true Final Fantasy in every sense of the word, perhaps more so than several other recent entries — it just also has a monthly fee attached to it.
The Final Fantasy XIV we have today is a remake of the original game released in 2010. Due to some pretty severe backlash, that original game was totally trashed and remade into “A Realm Reborn” in 2013. Since then, three expansions have been released in the form of “Heavensward,” “Stormblood,” and most recently, “Shadowbringers.” My very first collection of articles on The Mjolnerd was a long style review of the first three games in this self-contained series. In short, I really liked them.
Final Fantasy XIV manages to set itself apart in quite a significant way from other more standard MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars. First off, it features a full-length campaign and story created by some of the most respected names you’ve never heard of in the gaming industry. It’s actually kind of a hodgepodge, which makes sense considering Square Enix threw whoever they could at the original game to salvage what was left. The lead writer, for example, is Kazutoyo Maehiro, a guy who is mainly known for working with battle systems in games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy 12. The infinitely more famous game director, Naoki Yoshida, or Yoshi-P, is just some dude who used to be a designer on the Bomberman games. Yet, somehow, all these seemingly random developers came together to make a genuinely exciting and truly fantastic story for a game that no one really expected anything from after its abysmal release.
Arguably more important, the second thing that sets Final Fantasy XIV apart is that it ostensibly plays like a Hero Shooter rather than an MMORPG. Character jobs are fit into subcategories called roles, derived from the very simple Tank, Healer, and DPS nomenclature. Essentially, jobs have a very specific set of abilities that are designed to work in their respective role, and require gameplay mastery rather than clever customization. While this does mean there isn’t a whole lot of difference between, say, two warriors, players are allowed to switch jobs on the fly and play whatever way they want whenever they want. It sounds constrictive, but it results in a much more fun gameplay style than you would normally see in an MMORPG.
I suppose the question remaining is: why? I already played Final Fantasy XIV. I suppose I could play Shadowbringers and just review that. But, why would I start an entire series over one measly expansion? The answer is: content. That, and I’ve wanted to revisit Final Fantasy XIV for a while now. All I really did in my original articles is say, “I like the story,” and “I think it’s fun to play,” over and over again. While I certainly put in the time and beat the game, I don’t think I really conveyed how much I played, or what exactly I did to beat the game. On top of all that, the whole series was a mess that took almost a year to complete. So, to bring us back, why? And how?
To start with, I made a new character. Considering Shadowbringers introduces two new races, the Viera and Hrothgar, I decided to focus on one of those. Seeing as my original character, Ozbeg, was a dragon dude, I ended up picking Viera to mix things up — not because she’s a bunny girl who starts out in armor that should really change the age-rating of the game. I swear. I actually kind of wish I made a Hrothgar, anyway. They get a sweet mustache that I never see anyone rocking. Regardless, I took my new character and brought her all the way to Doma Castle. You may be wondering what kind of loser managed to get all the way up to the second to last dungeon in Stormblood in two weeks. But, that’s my secret, cap. I’m always a loser. I had hoped to get to Shadowbringers, but, I did my best with the time I had.
Hopefully within the next week or two, I will make an Experience Points based on Shadowbringers. Until then, I have a sort of fun, sort of stupid, thing planned for explaining the rest of the game leading up to it that I will be working on. For now, I should probably explain my goal here.
I mentioned way at the top that Final Fantasy XIV is a true Final Fantasy, more so than some of the other games that have come out recently — it just has a subscription fee. I imagine that subscription fee probably puts a few people off from buying the game. We’re Final Fantasy fans; we prefer single player, self-contained games bought with only one payment. So, my goal with Final Fantasy XIV this time is to see just how much of the game I can play using only the free month and a half you get for buying a brand-new copy of the complete edition of the game (and unlocking your first job). I should mention, I don’t mean to imply the subscription isn’t worth it — I was subscribed to this game for over a year and loved every second of it. This is merely an experiment. I’ll likely subscribe when its over and continue playing afterwards. But, I’m honestly interested to see if you can really enjoy Final Fantasy XIV without spending more beyond the initial purchase.
That said, I should say I’m in a somewhat biased position here. I have already played through the first three games, and thus, have been speeding through the story. There is an argument for blasting through A Realm Reborn and its subsequent Seventh Astral Era quests, as that game’s story is an extreme slow burn and reading a synopsis online is comparably much quicker. But, not so much for Heavensward or Stormblood. But, I do believe both games could be beaten in a week each, as their stories are significantly shorter than A Realm Reborn’s. So, I don’t think I’ve skewed the experiment too much yet. Hell, there are people who started playing on Shadowbringers’ release like myself who have already made it to the endgame, anyway. So, I’d say I’m closer to average speed than not.
But, anyway, I guess that’s it for now. Like I said, I’m working on a little project to show off my journey so far, and the actual Adventure Log probably won’t truly start until after the Shadowbringers Experience Points. But, for now, that’s that. Happy adventuring, Warriors of Light!