In the MMO world an hour is a very short amount of time, typically one can spend such time doing very trivial tasks and not even be aware of the amount of time that has passed. During my first hour of Final Fantasy XIV I was entertained and intrigued as to what was going on around me, which was revealed through a story-thick session including whimsical characters and a heavy amount of lore. The focus of the game was mainly on a couple of characters who had jumped from an airship in the sky and were looking for the wreckage. Upon being thrust into the enchanted forest land of Gridania this unlikely pair of a short peculiar male with a monocle, and a drop dead gorgeous female character with red thigh high armor and silky white cloth, were told that prophecies predicted their arrival and they were destined to save Gridania from some dark destiny not yet detailed. Unaware of such prophecies, the pair go about their journey and begin to learn of Gridania’s people as the main character adventures on in a parallel, quiet fashion.
My experience with the game took place in the world of Budhum in starting city Gridania playing as a Roegadyn Sea Wolf who specialized in axe combat. I personally found the story to the game very interesting in my initial hour of playtime in the beta. I did notice that my character never spoke, and things seemed to center around others much more, but other than that I was pretty interested in what was going on.
After a brief rendezvous with the main characters you come across there is a short battle against some rabid wildlife beasts that are thirsty for blood (according to the game) and once these are easily dispatched a treant comes to swallow up the remaining enemies and then… your party! After giving chase to you and your squad the tree monster is sent back to rest by a group of moogles who have come to the rescue along with the ‘woods wailers’. After this mystical scene the party is escorted to safety and told about the wood’s fury, which they had invoked the wrath of.
At this point I chose to venture to the Caroline Canopy, the adventurer’s guild of the starting area. Here I noticed the game’s text dialog was exhibiting a gross amount of grammatical and spelling errors, many of which I felt may have been done on purpose to add a sense of unique-speech to the game, but others made me wonder if this was just a fail-town of errors. The party members you ran into in the forest are puzzled by the whole “forest-beckoned” destiny thing which really felt a bit cliché but thankfully is not the center of focus for the game. Your mysterious companions are sent to be cleansed of their “sins” as to not enrage the guardians of the woods again after a short encounter in the Canpoy and at this point I had to stop playing due to scheduled server maintenance.
Overall I didn’t get to experience much of the battle system that I hadn’t seen already in my experience playing the title at E3 2010. As I mentioned in the first hands-on impressions piece I was able to avoid damage by moving at the right moment, which I think is a great feature and sometimes is noticeably absent from MMO-RPGs, but in the beta I was even alerted to ‘evade’ when the opportunity presented itself. The first person mode I hopped into at times was great but disappointingly did not show the weaponry I was swinging. From what I experienced it also seems like the single player focus is strong enough that those who wish to go it alone in this Final Fantasy should have no problem doing so, in terms of story depth. All in all, I can really say that I enjoyed the story-drenched gameplay I experienced and it left me wanting more. I look forward to delving deeper into the skill, combat, upgrade, and weapon systems of this game but am also glad to find out that the world the battles exist in is a place I can picture myself spending lots of time in.