Rant: The Final Fantasy XIV Debacle
It seems the latest hot topic lately seems to be swirling around Square-Enix's new "AAA" MMO release of Final Fantasy XIV. I started blogging on this site over 3 years ago because I was utterly disgusted about the absurdity that we as MMO players have had to endure with some of the games that get released in unfinished states. Here we are years later and we have another "AAA" hyped MMO that is the latest in a long line MMORPGs that was kicked out the door incomplete by a company that is either woefully out of touch or just plain lazy.
I've mentioned it several times and now I'll mention one last time: I loved Final Fantasy 11. I really think it was one of the best pure PvE MMOs ever released for a wide variety of reasons. Sure FFXI had it's flaws, but when I stepped back and put the game into the context of when it came out I was more than willing to cut it slack considering it was released way back in 2003. It was always one of those games I went back on several occasions when I had the itch, and the prospect of another installment in the form of FFXIV had me and a lot of my guild members interest to say the least. We used to imagine what a newer updated version of FFXI would be like given all that has happened in the genre since 2003. Much to our shock and horror, Square-Enix seems to have sealed themselves in some sort of time capsule completely oblivious to not only the advancements of the genre, but their own innovations from FFXI effectively turning their new product into a giant step backwards for themselves and the genre.
If you have been following any of the press coverage as of late surrounding FFXIV, you might have seen major credited review sites completely demolishing the game despite SE's plead for everyone to wait 3-4 weeks before reviewing. Gamespot's 4.0, Gametrailer's 4.2, IGN's 5.5, and an ocean of negative player reviews seems to all confirm that FFXIV is a complete debacle of an MMO that is on a crash course to a bargain bin near you. Frankly I am glad that these sites and players are not bending to SE's request for delaying reviews, they aren't delaying taking your money, and if they needed more time they should have delayed their product until it was ready. Now I know the odd fanboi will try to argue otherwise, but the rest of us in the real world are sitting here left trying to wrap our minds around what the hell were they thinking when they made this game?
Why would you make a PC game with a control scheme built around using a gamepad? Last time I checked most people operate their computers with a mouse and keyboard and every other MMO on dev on planet Earth seems to understand this. I understand that the game may be ported to console's, but this is one corner they simply should not have cut. This is one of those areas where you would have thought they would have learned after FFXI which had a notorious reputation for having one of the worst UI control schemes of all time. Here we are seven years later and it is as if SE has been locked away and has never seen any other MMORPG released in recent years. Every single task requires the maximum number of keystokes possible. Opening the menu, cursoring around, then navigating through various submenus just to do the most trivial tasks is completely absurd. It's like having to entering the old Konami code everytime you want to do something. Did they really think this was the best way for users to interact or were they just lazy? I can't imagine how anyone in the 2010 era of MMORPG gaming could look at this and think this is the best we could do, or even consider it an acceptable means of interaction. When you factor this in with the fact the UI is slow, laggy, and unintuitive, the experience becomes even more annoying.
One the main contributions FFXI brought to mainstream MMO gaming was the introduction of the auction house system as a staple for online world economies. That being said, why is there no auction house in FFXIV? Whether they plan to add it later or not is irrelevent, it's a core feature to any game of this nature and they practically invented it. It should be in the game, and it should be there at launch. Given the hassle of interacting with the world through its atrocious UI, who really thought it would make more sense to have to rummage through masses of people selling their own wares? Sadly it doesn't end with the missing auction houses. There are Chocobo stables like FFXI, but no chocobo riding. There are airship docks like FFXI, but you can't ride them. Whether they come later or not doesn't matter, they should be in the game and ready to roll at launch.
Even the content is a massive step backwards. FFXI was a world full of interesting and unique quests with little stories and interesting rewards that helped bring the game world to life. Instead those are tossed away in exchange for mundane and repeatable "Kill some rats" type quests that have infected MMOs like a cancer. I find it odd that this would be the only thing the devs would take away from newer games in the genre. Aside from being an absolutely horrid way to mask an already dull grind, the decision to limit the number of these you can do every day or so makes it even more silly.
Final Fantasy XIV is the classic example of why we should rejoice if our highly anticipated MMO gets delayed, and at the same time it is the classic example of why we as gamer should not reward a company for pushing out blantently unfinished mediocrity. The amount of patching needed to make this into an acceptable product is mind boggling, and only the most massochistic players or blind fanboi will probably be willing to endure playing this long enough for that dream to come to fruition. Even if you are not a fan of the this game, it should make you recoil at the thought of what that next "AAA" MMO you are looking forward to playing could turn out regardless of the IP or what company is making it.
Co-Leader of Inquisition