I was fortunate enough to get hands-on time with the PC tech demo of the Final Fantasy XIV Beta on PC at E3 2010. When it comes to big names in the industry, Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series certainly makes most people’s lists. With a previous entry into the MMO universe, Final Fantasy XI, the series ventures yet again into massive multi-player territory. A very different approach with a fresh and new looking result is what Square Enix intends to offer. This time around a complete experience for the lone wolf / solo type of player as well as those who prefer to group up is yours for the taking.
The gaming station I was presented the game on was running in 3D HD as well as spanning across three monitors. The game world looked great visually and provided a very immersion-friendly and enchanting feel that the world around was not only massive and alive, but also yearning to be explored. The 3 monitor support was currently in testing phases but for those who have a PC that can output such a display I think it will add a lot to the game if included in the final version. 3D is also being considered for the PS3 version of the game at Square Enix and if the looks of the PC version’s 3D are any indicator, that should be exciting as well. I was also able to play the entire tech demo on a game-pad resembling your average Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 controller (although the game also supports keyboard and mouse).
The majority of the game is voice acted, which in itself is a great relief for gamers not accustomed to reading much. The continuous world is huge and you can run through its wide open terrains and towns or navigate an intricate teleportation system to get around instead. I had a chance to look around at the density of the world and was then shown the depth of character creation in Final Fantasy XIV which offered a good deal of variety and complexity to it. This game’s customization system is sure to give perfectionists plenty of hours critiquing and modifying their characters. There are also a good amount of armor variations to be unlocked.
Next I got to hop into an early mission in the game which essentially is a collection task meant to help demonstrate the game’s basics and battle system. This was the most fun part of my experience with FFXIV. Quest cards alert everyone in your party that a quest is about to begin that they can join you in. You can also go it alone which is what I did at E3. As I picked up quest items that appeared in my radar I came across some foes and pulled out my weapon which gave me access to magic abilities, melee attacks, and even classic Final Fantasy spells like gravity and drain (which by the way are still useful to this day in the Final Fantasy universe). After killing my enemies successfully I simply sheathed my weapon once again and began receiving a passive Health Points recovery. Dodging enemy melee attacks is possible as well so you will receive more or less damage from melee attacks based on where you are standing during the fight’s most critical moments.
As I built up a gauge labeled “TP” through strategically timed attacks I was able to use more powerful attacks in the arsenal of my character. More complex and powerful moves will cause players to think before they react, similar to FFXIII‘s “Stagger” battle system. As your TP decreases quickly when you aren’t inflicting a lot of damage efficiently, you will be encouraged to improve the selections you are making in battle. Stamina also plays a factor in how many actions can be performed at any given time, adding even further to the strategic aspects of battle in FFXIV.
All in all MMO-RPGs with such a preceding name for themselves like FFXIV are bound to have high expectations. The only slight disappointment I had is the lack of a bare bones free-to-play zone for gamers not yet sure if they want to subscribe to the full experience and folks who may not be able to renew their subscription. From all indicative information at this time this will not be come to be in Final Fantasy XIV. Perhaps it was wishful thinking to even hope for a feature like this in such a highly anticipated game based on Square Enix’s highly revered flagship franchise, but it still would have been nice to have and in my opinion sold more copies for the game.
Other than that minor gripe I am more than impressed by FFXIV which has a great looking world, battle system, and community-centered focus planned for PC / PS3 gamers across the globe. If I could only play one MMO in 2010, this would be my pick. The controls feel natural on a game-pad and the elements for an addictive, social Final Fantasy experience seem to be all in place. The only question I have now is how far will Square Enix be able to evolve this game with ongoing content updates? Stay tuned to DualShockers for any and all things Final Fantasy XIV and be on the lookout for the Beta coming soon according to Square Enix’s booth at E3.
- Title: Final Fantasy XIV
- Developer / Publisher: Square Enix
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3
- Release: September 2010 (PC), 2011 (PS3)