It is not often that anything is afforded the opportunity of a second chance to make a first impression. That old cliché however is exactly what Square Enix succeeded in doing from the tireless work they have put in over the course of the past two and a half years revamping their previous flop Final Fantasy XIV. Square Enix ditched the 2.0 monicker, changing the handle to A Realm Reborn, and re-launched to a loyal fan base that was apparently overeager to play.
It became very apparent in early access that Square Enix was clearly "not prepared". As of Thursday a few days after release this is still the case. To be clear, A Realm Reborn is vastly superior in many ways to its predecessor and we will cover these improvements going forward in the Review in Progress series. But as much as I (and many other people) enjoy the game, some of these missteps by Square Enix are unacceptable and need to be addressed.
If you are currently playing the game, you unfortunately are all too familiar with errors 90000, 3102, 1017, and the missing queue. For those of you that have not tried to log into the game here is a brief synopsis. During early access some players were getting disconnected from the game with error 90000. These players then stood the chance that they would not be able to log back into the game. The game would give you error 3102 stating that your character was logged in even though this was clearly no longer the case. Error 1017 is the error message for when the world is full. Currently there are not systems in place to boot players that go AFK or to place players in a queue when they try to log in. Since the game will not kick AFK players and people cannot log in when the world is full, this is creating a situation where players never log out. Head to your inn or a crystal and earn rested experience while AFK. The duty finder has also under gone maintenance for a number of issues.
You can be a white knight for the situation and say that errors like this are to be expected from any MMO launch and you would be right. These are massive games and each one of them presents their own unique set of challenges. Even Trion with their smooth launch of Rift had a security issue that left people wondering how their accounts were getting compromised until a person from the community figured out the breach. At least Square Enix had the foresight to launch a software security token months in advance of A Realm Reborn for people who choose to use it. The main point here is that Square Enix did not do enough with their beta test. I believe that they squandered time they could have been using to test their systems and then backed themselves into a corner with having their open beta test so close to their early access period. Square Enix could have performed more focused stress tests and really tried to break the servers during phase three beta. Even if they had taken all of these precautions though the possibility exists that a number of these issues still could have been present at launch.
I could go on and complain about the pre-order system, the ridiculous number of codes and web sites players were required to navigate, and the fact that these sites broke under the stress of players trying to redeem superfluous codes, but I will not (okay, I kind of just did). In a few months these issues honestly will not have any outcome on your decision whether or not to buy the game. Square Enix knows they have issues with their data centers and they appear to be working diligently to get them fixed even if their communication with the community was not as transparent as it could have been at the beginning.
With the majority of the problems brought to the table and written about, we can spend the rest of the Review in Progress series covering the highlights of FFXIV: ARR. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and opinions on this beautiful MMO as illustrated in the screenshots that accompany this write up. The first picture shows a Notorious Monster, Daddy Longlegs. For all of you Final Fantasy XI fans you may recognize the term Notorious Monster, but they are done a little different in ARR. These are still named monsters that are tougher than their non-named counterparts, but they are involved with FATES. We’ll discuss FATES more in depth in next week’s RIP. The second screen shot shows a place of worship dedicated to the twelve: the gods of FFXIV:ARR.
In the long run, the majority of the issues that Square Enix is currently facing will be resolved. Maybe not as quickly as any of us would like but they will get them worked out with time. While Square Enix appears to have stumbled a bit out of the starting blocks with this second first impression they have not landed flat on their face as they did with their original first impression. As a tribute to Square Enix, the problems they are facing are mostly due to the overwhelmingly positive response they have received for the overhaul of this game. They were just not prepared for the onslaught of players they are facing. Over the course of the next few weeks we will cover just what is so great about Final Fantasy XIV:ARR and why it could be the break out hit of 2013 that the MMORPG genre so desperately needs. What do you think so far? Have the server troubles soured you on the game before you even gave it a chance to succeed? Are you willing to take this in stride as business as usual for MMOs? Do you think we should say enough is enough and demand more of video game developers when it comes to launching a product? Let us know in the comments below.
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com and RTSGuru.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can find him spending his free time in Eorzea pretending he is a Gladiator in the Midgardsorm realm or you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen
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