Thoughts on the Final Fantasy XIV beta – final steps (part 3)

The Final Fantasy XIV beta on the PS4 ended March 3rd, at 08:00 GMT. So now I’m back to sitting here, staring at my PS4, Xbox 360, PC and a hundred other gadgets, surrounded by literally hundreds of games and even more hidden away on hard drives wondering what to play next. And the simple fact is I just want to press that little button on my PS4 Dual Shock, whisper “PlayStation, Final Fantasy, Start” into my headset (I play late at night so don’t want to disturb the cats) and get right back into leveling my Gladiator, unlocking a Retainer so I can store all my stacks of Tin, Copper and Iron Ores that I’d been collecting and then cracking on with more rock breaking on my Miner.

I’m missing Final Fantasy XIV already, and that means I’m hooked, so that’s a good thing.  It’s the same kind of hooked I used to get with World of Warcraft maintenance times, the same kind of withdrawal symptoms I get with EverQuest Online Adventures just not being there, the same sort of anticipation that’s constantly burning within me each morning as I get up and log in to Clash of Clans to see what I can get up to next. Final Fantasy XIV on PS4 has me in its crystal grasp and I can’t wait to get back to discovering what Eorzea has to offer next.

That’s not to say it’s all good, no game is perfect, so I wanted to vent a little about the things that irked me in the FFXIV beta, things that are so intrinsic to the game that they won’t change in this or any other MMO, but I just don’t like them.

First up, the Main Campaign. Final Fantasy XIV has, literally, thousands of quests to undertake, most of them solo which is great for me as I love just getting on with things at my own pace. Not the Main Campaign, which regularly shoehorns players into forced parties to get things done. Yes, there’s a bit of hanging around waiting for the Duty Finder to automatically find you a party, yes, there are healers that can’t heal, tanks that can’t tank, DPS that like to pull whole armies at once and then complain about wiping, but it’s all a massive improvement on FFXI where you had to form parties yourself. It once took me 3 months to get a party together for just a single Mission in Final Fantasy XI, and with FFXIV having such a huge depth and broad scope I expect there’ll be similar instances where a party can’t be formed for days on end simply because everyone has either done it or they’re busy doing something else.

The solution of course is to join or create a Linkshell for players with like-minded goals, or form your own parties by spamming out invites, using lots of shouts and so on. But that’s like … hard work when I could be out there pulling the wings off wasps for no other reason than I enjoy doing so, and culling lambs to make kebabs.

Secondly, and this is where Final Fantasy XIV falls into the nearly perfect category, because I’ve got nothing else to gripe about. It has an £8.99/month subscription, that’s small fry for an MMORPG of this quality and magnitude. It’ll no doubt have a large community of GilSellers that’ll spam me and send me whispers all day long, but I can ignore them because after being harassed for a decade you kinda get used to it. It has item deterioration which means constantly watching out for armour and weapon degradation and then doing something about it (visit a repair NPC or learn to fix it yourself), but that just adds to the list of a zillion other things to keep in mind as you’re playing, which keeps things interesting.

Other fantastic things that await are the joy of 1080p, Eorzea really is a sight to behold, Remote Play on the PS Vita which means I can carry on mining whilst on the throne of wisdom which makes biobreaks a thing of the past, and an EPIC grind which is what attracts me to MMORPGs in the first place. All classes, jobs, crafts and gathering skills maxed out on one character? That’s the kind of game I live for.

So now I have to wait until April 4th at which point I can jump into Beta Phase 2 and get a lot of things done over the following 3 days, then that data will be saved on April 7th and transferred into the retail release when the game goes live on April 14th. That’s a whole week later. That will be one of the longest waits, I think, in my gaming career.