By Thomas . September 21, 2013 . 9:31am
The last time I talked about Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, I discussed the mechanics of battle, and went over some plot points from my experience in the game’s Lancer Guild. The main focus over the past two weeks has been about getting through my introductory experience—the game’s story elements, and learning the way the game works.
Eventually, after I progressed through the Lancer Guild enough I was able to reach the point of joining other guilds as well, thus not forever being stuck as just a lancer. This point happens early enough in the game to keep the options open, and lets the player customize their character as they see fit, but also not too early on. Having to accomplish the basic missions for my initial choice, The Lancer, I was able to learn the basics, and given a taste for how the game works. In this sense the player is eased in, and not overloaded with options from the get-go.
In my starting village in Gridania there were plenty of other guilds to see. A quick tour of the layout of the land showed the Conjurer’s Guild, Archer’s Guild, Botanist Guild, and a Carpenter’s Guild, on top of my own Lancer Guild. Gridania is actually quite a beautiful forest. The environment and theme could be seen as a harmony with nature. The area is very rustic with greens and browns everywhere. But even though my time in Gridania had been enjoyable I couldn’t stay there forever.
I soon found myself progressing through the game to get out of this starting village, and to branch out… and soon, exploring became a gift in itself.
Finding new areas was fun, and getting strong enough to get farther and farther away from my starting point were a challenge but a worthy one. You unlock Return, and having Teleport spells early on to help you in your exploration, and finally reaching other Aetheryte crystals (think of them as places that you can teleport to), felt like a big step in the right direction. It was in my exploration of the land outside that I came across my first story mission. This mission was not linked to my own guild, but in fact to something I mentioned in my first week of coverage.
Back when I created my character I was introduced to the world by a dream sequence where a Crystal was reaching out to me, telling me to think and to feel, although the Crystal itself was silenced and I soon awoken to my journey in Eorzea.
In my travels, I ran across a peculiar mission where I bumped into strange travelers, Yda and Papalymo. Perhaps my greatest shock at first was to hear that they had voice work. The voice acting so far in A Realm Reborn has been minimal with mostly just narration, this early story mission gave me a taste for the actual acting in the game, and not just some disembodied voice. Characters actually talking were something that I haven’t heard much of yet, I was starting to get used to just reading all the dialogue. The mission also helped me acquire a better grasp on the circumstances of that Crystal in my dream, and started to get the ball rolling on the grander schemes that awaited in Eorzea, with the promise of potential political intrigue, and the balance of the world being pulled out of whack.
Adventuring out had not only started to move the story along but also was what sparked my first real taste of friendship. Thinking back to my first party mate I made, I remember that it happened completely by accident. During a mission I was on, I made my way to a dungeon, something I was getting used to now, but crazily enough this dungeon was crowded. It turns out, a FATE started happening right in my dungeon. People from all over crowded the area as I was in, to fight all the hordes of monsters coming through, and here I was just trying to get my mission accomplished. Soon enough I found myself forced to fight in the FATE as well, it was the only way to get through, and hey, got me some easy experience. During that FATE I met another Lalafell and we fought together.
As the FATE finished up he soon started to follow me around the dungeon until I finished my mission. That’s when he offered me an invite, which I thought about at first since I was not familiar with this person. But being on a server away from my other buddies I originally planed to play with (good old fashion server problems) I needed to make new friends. I accepted the invite and we became a party. We traveled together, fought together, healed each other, it soon became the norm to have someone watch my back for me.
My first party experience in A Realm Reborn was on a small scale like this, just the two of us together. Soon, however, we began to make new acquaintances and grow our group. I got to know my group a bit through the game’s chat features, and we had some fun conversations. What started out as awkward musings became some funny jokes as we bemoaned how hard it was to type on the PS3 to each other (it looks like I wasn’t the only one who lacked a USB keyboard).
I found the community to be very similar to my experience with my first friend. They all seemed awkward at first, but nice enough. The chat showing up in public was full of some dumb jokes, people asking for directions, people trying to make a buck, and my favorite: our remarks about how lame the servers were being. I remember one public chat where some people chuckled about Square Enix holding off sales of the digital copy of A Realm Reborn. Thankfully, digital sales are now back up.
Speaking of servers, I still get occasional errors every now and again, but nothing that has been as bad as the first week. The logging-in process has been better at my end. There have been noticeable improvements, and I feel Square Enix has done well to get the experience to be smoother, but it is still far from perfect.
There’s tons more content to touch on in A Realm Reborn, and I’ve really only gotten to scratch the surface of it all. I didn’t get to discuss crafting, or Limit Breaks, or even what it’s like to ride a Chocobo. But if I had to summarize my experience with this game, I would say it’s been surprisingly good thus far. The story-based content honestly impressed me, I found guild stories to be compelling and the main story to be interesting enough. The combat became addicting for me, and I enjoyed exploration a whole lot. This is a game you can really sink your teeth in, and just play it for whatever reasons you want. It offers up: story, exploration, combat, social aspects, mining and crafting, a complex market system, and much more.
A Realm Reborn is its own realm for you the player to make of it whatever you wish. I only shared with you the very basics of what this realm has to offer you. If you explore it on your own you will no doubt have your own experiences, and your own stories to tell.
Food for Thought:
1. The voice acting offers options to choose from, I played on my default setting of English, but you can adjust the game to a variety of choices such as Japanese, French, or Spanish
2. Finding a great spot to stand around in was actually something else I enjoyed about exploration. One of my favorite spots was a riverbed where the trees bent around and opened up at the horizon. I managed to get a snap shot of the scenery with the setting sun behind me and showed it off to all my friends
3. A lot of the user names I encountered were pretty tongue in cheek, among some of the funnier ones I can recall was Banana Obama. The game itself has a pretty self-aware sense of humor about this and made a couple jokes about your user name early on when you sign up for guilds