ARR carries a MSRP of $29.99 USD for the PC and comes with a free month of game time. If you want a copy for the PS3 it will cost you $39.99 but you will also get a free upgrade to the PS4 edition if you upgrade your machine later on down the road. The PS edition also includes with it a free month of game time. If you already own a copy of FFXIV you are in luck. This new version is free for you but you will only get around two weeks of free game time. I believe this is more than a fair price for a new game. While the internet debate rages on about business models and whether or not the sub is dead and buy to play or microtransaction based games are the way of the future the fact remains that Final Fantasy XIV and Yoshi-P are taking a stand against the microtransaction movement and holding on to the subscription model as long as they can.
Personally I believe that if they can continue to produce quality content at a reasonable pace then charging a subscription is more than fair. I do not believe that releasing one content patch every 90 days is a reasonable pace however and unfortunately that is beginning to appear to be what SE might have in mind. Square needs to make sure they keep the content flowing while charging nearly $15 dollars a month, or that price might seem to get a little steep to play the same game. Yoshi-P says they are comfortable with having a certain level of attrition and that they do not need an exaggerated number of players paying a sub fee to keep the game going but we have all heard that song before. You only have to look as far back as The Secret World to see what happens to sub-only based games when they cannot keep the numbers they need.
This is a very social game and has a number of systems in place to support that fact. It is refreshing to play an MMO that requires its players to complete group content in order to take part in the main storyline. Full Active Time Events also known as the acronym SE made to fit a word that encourages group play... there are a number of people that are mildly disenfranchised with FATEs at the moment because of the ease at which people can use them to level their classes but it still does not take away from the fact that FATEs are a welcome addition to the game. Free Companies are XIV’s take on guilds with another layer added on top of that. In XI, Linkshells acted more as a player's guild. In XIV linkshells act more as extended social networks with players being able to be a member of up to 8 linkshells at one time. Linkshells can be used for very specific purposes such as keeping an eye on Behemoth or Odin (end game FATEs) to spawn across the world, to just being another social chat channel. With the level of polish that Square Enix has given most of the game the chat system is something that they need to take another pass at. Adding friends and putting people on your blacklist is overly complicated. While it is not hard to do it should be able to be accomplished in fewer steps. Such as right clicking on a player’s name in chat and clicking, add to blacklist, or add to friends list.
Square Enix has done a masterful job cleaning up this hatchet job of a game. I cannot find a single area in which the game has taken a step back from its 1.0 release. If they can address the duty finder server issues and give another coat of polish to the game’s chat system this could have easily been a 10. It does hurt a little bit that there is not any 24 man content in the game yet especially when the game had a number of players start at the level cap already. I did choose not to penalize the game for the absence of PvP at release even though PvP is typically a staple of most MMOs. This game is first and foremost a PvE-centric MMO and SE has done a great job with creating an engaging PvE experience. If they can get meaningful PvP into the game then that is just a bonus. I do not necessarily believe that a MMO has to have both great PvP and PvE to be a success. It is perfectly reasonable that a game can focus on one or the other.
This was probably the toughest topic to score. There is nothing truly evolutionary about this game. There is not even anything that is really new. The ability to level every class on one character, while rare, is really just a holdover from XI with a little bit of a twist. The armory system is just a new face on multiple gear set systems. Vanguard's actually had a little more functionality because your gear set would automatically switch when you tried to harvest something if you were wearing your adventurer's gear. Using your chocobo as a battle companion is a fun feature but pet systems are nothing new. Hard mode boss fights have been around for ages. Leves and Guildhests are a new twist on the old quest hub design. Now a single person acts as the whole hub. Even the crafting system, while a bright spot in the game, is not doing anything that has not already been done before. All of these really great systems are things that we have all seen and done before. What Square Enix has really done, and done extremely well, is taken all of these systems that we love from other games and added a level of polish to them that is rarely seen and made these systems their own. This is something that we see a lot from Blizzard and what has made World of Warcraft so successful.
Creating a MMO is no small feat. Attempting to remake and relaunch a MMO is something only a handful of companies could ever attempt to try. Even if Square would have failed at applying a Phoenix Down to this game I would have respected them for evening trying. They have surpassed my greatest expectations for what this game could be. While I wish the world was more open and geared for exploration I am happy with what Square has given us. I can see myself eclipsing the amount of time I spent in Telara jaunting around Eorzea on my trek to level every job, catch every fish, and become a master at every craft. Square has proudly shaken off the ragged cloak of embarrassment that Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 draped over this storied franchise, and with A Realm Reborn has revealed the finest MMO to be released this year and has truly crafted a game worthy of the title Final Fantasy.
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
Read the rest of our Review in Progress series and Rob's column below:
| Great main storyline
Great original soundtrack
Multiple classes on one character
| Ability lag
Instance server instability