With Naoki Yoshida leading the project, the failure of the original Final Fantasy XIV was recreated as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Due to the prior release of the original being hailed as one of the worst MMORPGs created to date, too much was not expected out of the relaunch. Yet Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is currently the 2nd most populated MMORPG on the market, and is also recognized as one of the best MMORPGs by many.
So what did Yoshida manage to do within the 3-year gap between the original and the creation of A Realm Reborn?
A major change between the two is the combat. It was incredibly simplified and made to have more in common with the other tab-target MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. While maybe not as innovative as the prior system, this simplification of combat meant that people from the MMORPG scene already had a basic grasp of how to play the game. The game also created an interesting crafting and gathering system not commonly found within MMORPGs. Rather than being a side feature to the game, gathering and crafting is engaging in a way which feels more akin to in-game combat. Skills will need to be used which can increase progress of the item or the chances of it becoming a higher quality. To add risk only a certain number of skills can be used on each item before breaking, with many skills having varying chances to fail. With this system, crafting and gathering feels engaging as you try and test your luck trying to get as many high-quality items as possible.
Along with combat, the menus were also simplified. As opposed to having to navigate 3 or more menus to do any task, now most things are a simple click or 2 away. While this might seem like a small change to the formula, the constant need for navigation through menus hindered the experience of being immersed within the world. To add further to this, the whole entire UI of the game can be customised. This allows you to create shortcuts or arrange icons in a way which benefits your own playstyle. By being able to arrange the UI, you are given the freedom of making certain aspects of the game more accessible than others or to recreate a screen setting more familiar from a prior game. Both helps to lessen busywork while creating a sense of individualism helping to further immerse you into the realm.
There is a high chance that you will also inevitably become more attached to your character due to a mechanic allowing a single character to be every class. This is a welcome innovation that FFXIV brings. By having a character be able to change classes by switching weapons, allows exploration of more classes without having to backtrack by making a new character altogether. While every class associated with the weapon levels independently of every other class, levelling up becomes easier with EXP multipliers based on the difference between the lowest levelled class and the highest. This not only applies to the combat classes but to the crafting and gathering classes as well. Equipping a pickaxe will change your character into a miner, while a needle will turn you into a weaver. This adds to the excellent crafting and gathering system making it feel more like a part of the game rather than something on the side.
With its Final Fantasy lineage, it comes as no surprise that the game also tries to tell a story. While most MMORPGs do not put a heavy focus on the story of their world, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn’s content completely revolves around it. Unfortunately, you will find that should you wish to ignore the story, nearly all of the game’s content will be barred off. This is a somewhat frustrating feature for those who simply wish to play the game rather than be told a story; however, the emphasis to the story does make your actions feel more important. You are also forced to become more aware of the world your character is inhabiting because of it. As typical of a Final Fantasy game, players are tasked with saving the world from an imminent disaster. You are described as the “Warrior of Light” and your task is to restore balance to the world. This can make the story feel awkward as you see the hundreds of other players who share the same goal. Thankfully the game does a decent job of integrating the other players when in dungeons by describing them as mercenaries who will help you on your quest.
The story, while not the best and or unique, does do its job at getting your attention and pushing the plot and content forward.
The graphics have been downgraded from the original. While this may seem like a strange decision, it actually works into the favour of the game and the players. By downgrading the game, more people are able to enjoy the game making the world seem fuller and more vibrant. It simply looks better due to a better environmental design while not being as demanding to your precious hardware.
Overall FFXIV:ARR was a successful revival of its predecessor. Through simplification of unnecessarily complex mechanics within the game, A Realm Reborn brings an MMORPG experience that both MMORPG and Final Fantasy fans can enjoy. While making the story necessary for unlocking a majority of the game’s content is strange, FFXIV somewhat compensates by creating an above average story than most MMORPGs. The introduction of the tab-target system of combat will be easy enough for fans of the Final Fantasy series to pick up, while being intuitive for MMORPG fans; however, it is essentially ripped from every other genre without much innovation. While graphics have been downgraded, the anime-like style common in the Final Fantasy series along with detailed environments shows that graphical hardware takes second place to attention to detail. FFXIV: ARR is definitely worth checking out for any fans interested in the Final Fantasy series or simply a new MMORPG.
Forget the nightmare that was the original, and enter into A Realm Reborn.
● Rich and Detailed Environment
● Compelling Story
● Customizable UI
● Interactive Gathering and Crafting
● Story Bars off Content
● Conventional Tab-Target Combat