Last week started our review in progress series on Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Unfortunately it had to spend a lot of time discussing about what was happening in the game preventing an inordinately high number of players from actually playing. This week it appears that the server fixes that Square Enix implemented have gone a long way to improving everyone’s experience. This week I get to start writing about the good stuff, and there is a lot of good stuff.
In this week’s review in progress will cover two topics that are central to this incarnation of XIV; FATEs, and the Job system. FATE or Full Active Time Event is a new addition to A Realm Reborn that was not present in XIV 1.0. While FATE may sound like a word that was turned into an acronym to suit SE’s purposes it is actually a welcome addition to Final Fantasy. Most of you are probably aware that over the course of the past few years since 1.0's original release dynamic events have really started to gain ground with the MMO community. While these events can trace their roots back to the earliest of MMOs they really came to prominence with the release of Rift. They have became even more of a gameplay staple with the massive success of Guild Wars 2. Square Enix took note of this trend and made sure dynamic events were a main feature in their relaunched game.
FATEs are Final Fantasy’s dynamic event system. While they are a new addition to the game they do not feel like something that was just shoved in at the last minute so Square Enix could put a check in the box and say, “we have those too.” FATEs come in a number of forms and appear all across Eorzea. Typically a FATE will spawn and last up to 15 minutes. Some FATEs will require you to collect a resource by killing monsters or picking them up off the ground, some FATEs will have you fend off waves of invading mobs. Still other FATEs will have you lay siege to bandit forts and then defend them when the bandits regroup and attempt to take the fort back. One of the central features of FFXI was Notorious Monsters or NMs. In XIV NMs are present too but they appear in FATEs. Unfortunately they do not seem to drop the extremely nice gear that XI’s NMs did. You will start participating in FATEs in your first few levels and will continue to be involved with them through the endgame. Currently Behemoth and Odin are endgame FATEs that are live. FATEs are easily recognizable on the map as a blue circle with a purple icon in the center. You can tell what type of FATE is it based upon the purple icon. The FATE pictured below is a NM type encounter.
Upon completing a FATE you will be rewarded based upon your participation. You can earn a bronze, silver, or gold medal. The better the medal you earn, the more experience, gil, and grand company seals (guild currency) you will also earn. Some FATEs will award bonus items too such as pets, miscellaneous items, and gear. FATEs are also the fastest way for players to level their disciples of war and magic classes.
Next up is the job and class system. Final Fantasy XIV has classes, and it has jobs. The classes are disciples of war, disciples of magic, disciples of the hand, and disciples of the land. These are then further broken down. The disciples of war are gladiator, pugilist, marauder, lancer, and archer. The disciples of magic are conjurer, thaumaturge, and arcanist. The disciples of land are the gathering professions and are miner, botanist, and fisher. The disciples of hand are the crafters and are carpenter, blacksmith, armorer, goldsmith, leatherworking, weaver, alchemist, and culinarian. At character creation you will choose between whether you want to be a disciple of war, or a disciple of magic. Unlike in FFXIV 1.0 you cannot choose to be a disciple of hand or land to start the game. Additional information on crafting and gathering will be covered in a later article.
Once players have reached a sufficient level in their class they will have the opportunity to advance into a job. Square Enix has provided a back story behind jobs and say they are martial paths from the past that were once prominent but fell to the wayside and have now started to become popular again. Gladiators become paladins, pugilists convert to monks, marauder to warrior, lancer to dragoon, conjurer to white mage, thaumaturge to black mage, and the arcanist can become either a summoner or a scholar. In probably the most questionable transformation the archer becomes a bard. In order to advance to your job of choice you will have to not only level the precursor class but one other class as well. For the paladin you have to be a level 30 gladiator and a level 15 conjurer. Once you have obtained these levels you will be presented a quest to go and earn a job crystal. Equipping these job crystals is what converts your character from their class to these jobs. It can seem a little convoluted at first but it is not that complicated once you get the hang of it.
One character can learn all of the classes and jobs in the game. This is very valuable because you can use cross class abilities in the game. The higher the level your character the more abilities you can use from other classes. At max level you can choose up to 10. If you have a job you are limited to only selecting 5. As a paladin you would have your main class abilities from the gladiator and draw other abilities from the conjurer. There are also abilities you will earn from your job the higher in level you go.
This is a trinity based game. Final Fantasy XIV: ARR also uses tab targetting and hotbar actions for combat. For the players that have been toying with Guild Wars 2, Tera, Neverwinter and any other MMO that has come out recently labeling itself as action combat you may find that ARR seems a little slow. It is hard to argue that point. There is a global cooldown that you have to deal with and very few abilities are not subject to the GCD. In the very beginning you will find yourself only hitting two keys. Once you start to level and open up your jobs you will find that you have more responsibilities and the pace of play picks up a bit. You will also find that sometimes you have to wait and see if you really want to use one ability because you are restricted by your GCD and you may need to use another one for a counter before the GCD would have expired. If you are tanking or dealing damage and required to interrupt as well, you will see what I mean. The same can be said for casters that are responsible for crowd control.
The RIP still has a few weeks to go and a lot of new and interesting systems to cover before we stick a score on FFXIV:ARR but so far the game is a lot of fun and one of the best titles I have played all year. I am well on my way to obtaining max level on my first job which I’ll admit is causing me to have some mixed emotions. While I am excited to see the max level encounters in the game it seems like everyone is leveling extremely fast. I am a little concerned that this may cause some premature burnout for players. I am also pleased with the restitution that Square Enix has provided its players for the terrible game performance for the week after release. All players were given an additional 7 days of free game time. What about you? Do you think SE did enough? Are you enjoying the game? What are your favorite and least favorite aspects so far? 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 Paladin in the Midgardsorm realm or you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen
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