I can’t even begin to stress how much drama this game has caused, right from step one: I’d been wanting to play this one ever since it was announced and had shown hope that it was going to be better than Final Fantasy XI. I’ve never really had a great PC to play the latest releases on so when I heard there was going to be a PlayStation 3 release, I was excited. However, though, the PS3 release was delayed again and again until I honestly believed that it just wasn’t coming for a long time, if ever. What I heard about the PC version of the game wasn’t much better; that the first versions of the game weren’t faring well with their audience and that it was looking like Final Fantasy XIV wasn’t going to pan out. By the time an actual apology was issued by the director of the game, I was shocked and, by that time, I’d given up on looking for the game’s PlayStation 3 release as it seems the game as a whole was just plagued with problems.
That’s when talks of A Realm Reborn came around, looking to turn the game around on its ass without losing the values that gave it the strong potential it had: this one saw a potential relaunch across all platforms with a certain launch date. I loved the idea and went right for it, hoping to join the first line of players getting into the relaunch, my excitement for the game renewed and, in anticipation, figuring I would get way more use out of my PlayStation 3, I figured I would go ahead and take the opportunity to modify my system so I could use unsigned software and take full advantage of the system. Of course, this meant a problem with Sony and within a week of A Realm Reborn’s release, Sony banhammers the everloving piss out of my account and my system both, making buying the game utterly useless. I was distraught as I, yet again, was faced with the fact that I couldn’t play the game. Given, I could very well just buy another system or trade mine out for a non-blocked system but that wouldn’t be a very cost-efficient option… but I still had that option. When cost is an issue I tend to steer away from the problem and try to move on.
Which I did, until there came the announcement of a PlayStation 4 version coming: this got my excitement level right back up, yet again, and even moreso when I checked into what the Collector’s Edition offered. I was riveted, thinking I could finally seize an opportunity to get this game and nothing was going to get in my way, this time; hell, thanks to the Collector’s Edition, the wait may have very well been worth it. I participated in the open beta test phase one to ensure that this was well worth the bother and my play test through the game cemented it; even if I could only get to level twenty before being capped, it was a great representation of the game. There were quite a few annoyances but Square had assured me that they were being addressed and that they were being handled. I was hooked and I was more than ready to lay down the cash needed to get me my Collector’s Edition. I don’t know if you’ve read it yet but if you haven’t, I suggest you go check out my posts regarding the trek I had in getting this one.
It didn’t stop there, though: getting the game set up was a real pain in the ass, too. It appears that in updating the client, something in the install for the game went wonky and ended up screwing up my game, causing me to believe that there was something wrong and I tried getting it fixed but Square-Enix and Sony’s “customer support” were too busy passing the buck from one to another – an experience that brought me to reformatting my PlayStation 4, thanks to a Sony rep; and nearly losing my Square-Enix account credentials, thanks to Square-Enix reps – so I decided to fix it myself and, lo and behold, I got it done.
Fast forward to a solved state and I start the game up; the excitement and anticipation levels were high as I got my character started. I’m playing a role I normally don’t play on my first run through an MMORPG: the gladiator, a tank. I started on the Marlboro server because the servers where my friends played were occupied to the brim. Starting off the game, I noticed that all the big qualms I had with the beta were fixed up – more issues to do with the GUI and it worked well for my television. Once I got started, things went great – one of the best things about playing this game, so far, I find, is the fact that you can play just as well soloing or playing in a team. If you’re better off finding help on your own and you have a laptop handy, or something, go for it. That’s what I did. If you want to rely on others and get into parties and start a social experience from the bottom, go for it. The community here seems to be, mostly, awesome. It’s a surprise, really. It also works out to my benefit because, apparently, tanks are in a bit of demand right now so when I get into a higher level I won’t ever have a shortage of stuff to do. I strongly favor this system because a lot of it doesn’t feel forced: there are things called FATEs, for example – which stands for Full Active Time Event – which happen in real-time on the field, at any place, and player participation is entirely optional and you’re rewarded based on your participation; a lot of times teamwork garners greater individual rewards so the motivation is there. Same thing goes for Duties, which act like instances or raids would in other MMORPGs: you waltz up to a Duty trigger and once you activate it you get placed in a queue. You see, every Duty has a set amount of roles allotted for it and this queue sets you up with a team that is also in the queue. For example, one quest had me pitted up against Ifrit, a Duty that required one tank, a healer, and two damage-dealers. This is kind of a dual-edged blade: if there isn’t enough people at your level wanting to join up, you’re kind of stuck waiting for a while but I haven’t had that problem yet and probably won’t for a while. To me this ensures that a party, so long as it operates well as a team, will never be short-staffed and a party will never not have what it needs. These Duties seem to be built around this structure, as well, and it makes it good for players like me that have trouble with people whose goal seems to be just ruining the game for others.
I’ve gotten through 23 levels, now, as a gladiator and things are going great. I have but one insignificant complaint – that chatting on the PS4 is way too cumbersome and the chat pod is way too small. Other than that, I can confidently say that, even though getting started on this experience has literally been nothing but trouble, once I got started, it became clear that it was very much worth it. Time to get back to it so I can quest out for my mount!