PC Review: Final Fantasy XIV

Has Square-Enix learnt from its mistakes?

Final Fantasy has been online before and it got an incredibly mixed response from the MMO community. I played it for a bit and despised every second of it, it just felt soulless and artificial compared to the likes of WoW. But that was then and this is now, so can they make up for the past online attempt?

Not at the moment anyway. Final Fantasy XIV is sadly an incomplete mess that should never have been released in its current state; it’s clearly not ready and feels like pure beta code at this point. It also makes bizarre decisions like arbitrary caps on quests and jobs, a minimal emphasis on the story that isn’t engaging at all and making buying items just complicated. There’s also the matter of travelling around which usually results in you running across the huge lifeless world with nothing to do but grind.

Grinding will be all you’ll become accustomed to and it feels so archaic in design. There’s no evolution of the genre at all and feels more of a step backwards if anything. Dialogue is 98% handled by text, which is painfully small to read, even on a huge HDTV and there is no option to increase the size of the text. The menus are hard enough to navigate without having to squint at them and no it’s not my eyes, I wear glasses that give me more or less 20:20 vision.

If that isn’t bad enough, the game just throws you in the deep end. There’s no real tutorial or instruction on how to begin your journey, regardless of what character and class you choose. You’ll be placed at different areas depending on who you choose to be, but you still won’t have a clue what you actually have to do, unless you are familiar with MMO’s and can put up with the lack of instructions. Combat is broken and confusing. Recharge limits are misleading and there are a number of bugs fighting enemies like them suddenly getting all their health back or suddenly spawning out of nowhere. There’s just no consistency to be found.

It’s just a complete mess at this point and I cannot understand how it was ever allowed to ship in this condition. Deadlines perhaps? Well maybe so, but even still it doesn’t change the fact that this is truly unacceptable. I don’t think I’ve come across such an unfinished game in all my years of playing MMO’s. But even playing other MMO’s in beta form with thousands of bugs still played and handled a million times better than Final Fantasy XIV is at the moment. At least with those games you could see one redeeming thing, no matter how small…but I can’t see anything good about this latest online attempt.

Visually, Final Fantasy XIV looks good but you’ll see many of the areas seem to repeat themselves across the landscape of the world, like someone went a bit crazy with the copy and paste tool. The framerate stutters from time to time, load times are long and there is quite a bit of lag to be found, so it’s far from perfect. The music is a nice touch, but the sound effects and voice-acting are atrociously bad.

The Verdict

Final Fantasy XIV is an incomplete mess. Updates may come along to fix it, but it’s going to take a small miracle to get it to an enjoyable and engrossing form. It was released months too early and needs a lot more work to improve it. I hope it can redeem itself in the future, but I won’t be holding my breath.