Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Review
  • Graphics & Combat
  • Multi-Class System
  • Tradeskills & Unique Design
  • Confusing Map
  • Travel System
  • Spam
8.2Overall Score
Reader Rating: (274 Votes)

Some of you may remember the original launch of Final Fantasy XIV in September of 2010. To be blunt, the game was terrible and a failure. But Square Enix chose to do something different, they assigned a new producer and rebuilt the game, learning from the mistakes of the original release. The result is a polished fantasy MMO worth playing.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Release Date: August 27, 2013
Game Type & Platform: MMORPG (Fantasy) | PC
Custom Features: Multi-Class System, Crafting & Harvesting, Grand Companies, Hunting/Gathering Logs
Billing Style: Subscription ($12.95 or $14.95/mo)

SectionsContentEconomyMechanicsGameplayCommunity & SupportTechnicalConclusionResources

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (FFXIV) is what every fantasy MMOG strives to be: innovative, fun, visually stunning, and immersive. And more than that, you will be blown away at how busy this game is. There are people… everywhere. And I mean everywhere. This is hands down the liveliest world of any MMOG I’ve played. Part of it is due to the population, but part of it is also due to the zone sizes and design.

Welcome to the beautiful world of Eorzea!

Welcome to the beautiful world of Eorzea!

Be prepared. There are aspects of this game that are different from any other fantasy MMOG you’ve played and will take time to learn. One interesting part is you can play through and experience the entire game with just one character. You can play any class and undertake any tradeskill. This is a nice new twist from traditional MMOGs where alternate characters are the norm in order to experience different play styles. Another difference is terminology. Player guilds are called Free Companies. The class you play is defined by the weapon you use, and the Advanced classes are called jobs. You don’t loot monsters; instead you auto-pickup items they drop and only loot chests. And the variation in monsters ranges from the cute right down to the bizarre. Want to pursue crafting and gathering? All resource nodes are yours. Little things like this make a big difference when trying to enjoy a new game.

If you want to get an idea of the effort that went into this game, be sure to check out the leading cinematic. It’s best viewed in HD.

On September 24, 2013 Square Enix released their first survey showing more than 1,000,000 unique logins. This game shows us subscription-based fantasy MMOGs are far from dead, and for good reason.

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About The Author

Mr. Allen has an extensive background in technology spanning 20 years including software architecture, design and development, project management and leadership. He specializes in corporate planning, productivity and collaboration, and is the creator of the games Mordor, Demise, Horizons, and Alganon.

12 Responses

  1. Kanub

    “One issue with FFXIV is you are not told at level 30 what your available Job is or what the support class required to secure the job is. You must currently look it up online. Once you gain level 15 in the support class, you can then return to your level 30 guild master for the job soul crystal.”

    Actually, FFXIV does tell you this.
    At level 30, once you’re done with your level 30 class quest, the very same NPC will send on a quest to find the next NPC, that handle your job quests. And it even display what subclass you need to level up, if you have not done so, before you are able to accept this quest.

    • David Allen

      But only after you’ve achieved level 15 in the support class to open the job, and that’s the issue. It’ll appear as a red/higher level class (which we ignore, thinking it’s the next 5 level quest) but nobody reads it. What they need to do is add a tutorial notification once you hit 50 that gives you a heads up. The majority of players won’t click on the red quest to see what they need to do to open it up. They’ll assume it’s a level 35 quest.

  2. Dalvis

    Hey David,

    I’d like to know the setup of the gaming rig you used to play FFXIV ARR. The screenshots looked amazing and I’m currently looking to build a new rig.

    Please and thank you.

    • David Allen

      Hey Dalvis, my system specs are here but here’s quick overview for those reading this:
      i7-4770k @ 4.2GHz | Asus Maximus VI Hero Motherboard (LGA 1150) Z87 | EVGA 780 3GB Superclocked Video Card

      Depending on your location, you can order all the parts either from Newegg or TigerDirect. Feel free to EMail me if you have any additional questions.

  3. Brandon

    Just came to say that I loved the article. I’m an avid FFXIV:ARR fan myself, and I greatly enjoyed reading your review.

  4. Kanzel

    Overall I’d give the game a 7/10 on PC. It has some fantastic aspects, but in some areas it falls flat.

    Visuals: Excellent. The aesthetics of the game world are appealing and downright charming at times, and the game strikes an even balance of great performance and great looks at medium settings. Low-mid range gaming rigs can max the settings without issues and run at 60 FPS. Most impressively is how multi-threaded the game is, so AMD CPU users don’t miss out much versus the beefier Intel CPUs.

    Sound: Good. The game tracks are fantastic, with some real memorable themes thrown in during boss battles that even change tempo and morph to suit the phase of the encounter in some cases like hardmode Titan. Sound effects are crisp and don’t really get too annoying, but certain high-pitched character voices can be a bit grating during attack animations after a while.

    Control/Responsiveness: Poor. This is where the game starts to show its ugly side to the hardcore MMO-goer. For most users in the USA, the game being hosted in Canada is far from ideal, with many ISP’s being unable to deliver low-latency throughput outside of the US. Generally Montreal is a poor choice; SE should strongly consider placing server hubs on the east and west coasts of the States. My connection in particular pings 30-40ms to most Blizzard servers, but it’s well over 100 to FFXIV’s.

    Even with perfect latency, the game client suffers from a ~2 second delay in communications, ensuring that melee have an incredibly difficult time hitting anything in motion unless the target has a much larger-than-normal hitbox, or they’re traveling in front of the target/in the path of their target when they use an ability. This doesn’t bode well for PvP balance, where almost certainly no one will ever be standing still for long. Add this together with a 2.5 second base GCD, and you start to see some real rage building, particularly if you play as a tank class.

    More on the GCD, abilities that are off it aren’t totally off it, because you still have to deal with animation delays. Even off GCD abilities are hindered by the animations, making interrupts for some classes like the Dragoon tricky at certain parts of their rotation, if not impossible under the right(or wrong?) circumstances. This should be addressed immediately, as it’s a colossal annoyance for veteran MMO players.

    Last but certainly not least, tab targetting in FFXIV is an absolute abomination. Prepare to cycle through enemies on the opposite side of the screen, above you, below you, and behind you when you’d rather target the thing 5 meters in front of your face; if an enemy is anywhere within your camera view, AT ALL, tab target will try and select it without much care. There are ways to set custom targetting to other keys but none of it truly fixes the problem completely, and frankly it shouldn’t be necessary.

    Gameplay: Average. Wonky UI and control issues aside, FFXIV is a blast to play once you start collecting your abilities, and boss encounters tend to be extremely well-designed with few bugs as any class. The only thing keeping this from being “Good” is an extremely buggy final raid boss, some animations locking you in place for FAR too long, and that if you’re playing the Warrior class at a competitive level, you probably rerolled Paladin out of disgust. Animation-locks from limit breaks and resurrection are borderline ridiculous, requiring encounter micromanagement to even do something as simple as hitting the boss in the face really hard without getting yourself killed in the process. Long cast time plus longer, uncancellable animation does not equal a good time. Accepting a resurrect must also come at the perfect time, since you will be able to take damage but not able to be healed for a ridiculously long period. Why be immune to healing during the animation but not damage? Why the long animation to begin with? It doesn’t make much sense and comes across as a poor design choice.

    Story: Average. It’s an MMO. Some people will laud FFXIV’s story as fantastic, but to be frank it’s nothing new. It’s a quickly thrown-together affair using stock character emotes with the occasional(very occasional) action scene, completely uninfluenced by you or anyone else. Each person who plays the game will see the exact same story played out in the exact same fashion, regardless if you’re a woman, man, giant ogre man, or tiny midget woman, with no input required. The story writing is incredibly straight-forward with no real twists and turns thrown in, with some huge plot holes that will make you question why the Empire didn’t just crush you sooner to begin with. They do have a giant fortress within eyeshot of your rebel base. But I digress; the story continues from point A to B and wraps up suddenly, then descends into the abyss during the post game where it hardly exists at all, giving the post-game a very rushed feel.

    Unrelated to the game itself but still very important: Square Enix’s NA support is terrible. If you have a problem with your account or in the game, expect days, even weeks for something to be done. Support is only open business hours Monday to Friday, zero support on weekends. Work 9-5 every day and don’t have the time to sit on the phone on hold for a few hours? Good luck getting anything fixed in a timely fashion.

  5. Vorathe

    Great Review.

    As a long time MMO player of 13 years, I enjoy most of what FFXIV has to offer, but in IMO it has a couple of flaws in both User Interface and Itemization.

    Since this review covers all of the great things about FFXIV, I’ll touch on what I think some of it’s short comings are.

    Itemization is extremely uninspired
    1) Loot only drops from chests and boss mobs from what I’ve experienced (level 40 Paladin)
    2) Most higher quality items are untradable
    3) Item names and graphics (armor/weapons) aren’t very unique and sometimes stay the same for many levels, with maybe slight changes in appearance.
    4) Stats and Names on Armor and Weapon upgrades are too predictable
    5) Overall generic feel of wearable items, with level 50 items being a little less generic

    The User Interface blocks certain functionality while performing various tasks
    1) You can’t join a party while the crafting window is up
    2) You can’t send private messages to other players while inside a dungeon
    3) You can’t view your friends list while inside a dungeon

    Other Random Annoyances
    1) General chat while in cities is unusable due to gold farmer spam
    3) Putting players on your ignore list is a chore, they have to be manually added in the social window
    4) There is usually never anything of real value on the action house aside from crafting items because higher quality items from drops are not sellable/tradeable
    6) You can’t right click your party window to perform basic tasks such as: reassign leadership, remove from group — you have to open the social window for this
    7) There are A LOT of mind numbing run-around quests
    8) You are FORCED to click through sometimes 10 or more chat bubbles to accept a quest. Only a handful of quests allow you to skip this. (Remember back in Vanilla WoW you had to get a mod to make quest text instant? It’s more annoying than that since there aren’t mods in FFXIV)
    9) You are FORCED to do story quests with insane amounts of dialog to unlock many of the dungeons.
    10) No named/rare world spawns
    11) The map will probably frustrate a lot of users, mostly because it doesn’t show depth very well, and the markers sometimes appear as if they’re in different places because of zoom level

    • David Allen

      What experience did you have? Share it with the readers here, but please be specific. Also note Support encapsulates more than just Support from Square Enix; it includes the entire community, wiki, forums, etc.

    • Michael

      I disagree Jason. I have had to contact SE support numerous times, once when my iPhone crapped out during an update and I didn’t write down my emergency removal code for the token. I was on hold for about 2.5 hours but that was it, and a 2.5 hour wait is not that long. I was on hold with Blizzard support for 4 hours for the same thing just 2 years ago.

      The people that have been having a hard time with SE support are those who have engaged in RME activities.


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