It’s not the first time that FFXIV has landed on a console. The popular Final Fantasy MMO was first released alongside the PlayStation 3 (defunct as of Patch 4.0), then later ported to PlayStation 4. However, despite the fact that owners of any system could play with one another across platforms, it’s always been far more tailored toward the PC experience. That was, until the FFXIV PS5 Beta dropped last week.
As both a long-time desktop PC player and somebody who has dabbled with FFXIV on the TV, using both a PS4 and a separate “couch-dedicated” PC connected to a Wireless Xbox Elite controller, I can easily say that the PS5 offers the most natural way to play Final Fantasy 14 on the couch that I’ve experienced thus far. That is to say, if I wasn’t already so tied up with the PC version (explained below), I could actually see myself making this the main way to play Final Fantasy 14.
And it offers quite a bit of customization. Out of the box, you can change between three different graphical modes: an unlocked 1080p mode, a 4K mode that increases draw distances and felt pretty smooth even while hovering around 30 frames per second, and a “best of both worlds” WQHD mode that output to 2K and ran at a buttery smooth 60 FPS. Not to mention, you can choose to play with the fabulous DualSense controller, or you can go in on a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse setup. Both are great!
Even on a 55” Samsung Q70R where I sat about 6 feet away from the screen at all times, I didn’t see an image quality difference between the 4K and 2K modes, but I did notice a massive improvement in frame rate when switching to 2K. That became my preferred mode, and my PS5 didn’t even hitch a little bit while running through a crowded marketplace or the Aetheryte Plaza in Gridania, both of which were packed to the gills with avatars.
Not only did everything look sharp, the lack of even one visible lost frame on WQHD mode stood out to me. I have no clue if it goes up to 120 FPS, given that my input signal is set to 4K by default and my TV doesn’t support HDMI 2.1, however, I’m pretty sure that the 1080p mode does do this!
That said, due to me completely forgetting that I’d already tied my PlayStation Network account to a completely unused FFXIV account some years ago, I basically had to start fresh on a new account, meaning that I didn’t get to test-run anything with my main, a level 64 MNK, who I am currently running through the back half of Heavensward on my primary PC-bound account.
This led to me creating a new character entirely- Baglier Soms, the Lalafell Lancer of Diabolos who I’ve leveled up to 10 so far. One of the first things that I noticed with this character was just how immaculately the PS5’s DualSense controller responded to the pitter patter of my feet across different types of terrain.
There’s something deeply grounding about running across a river and feeling the splish splash of little Lalafell feet in-between your hands as you move, and while it’s just a highly convincing trick, it’s become one of my favorite parts of playing Final Fantasy 14 on PlayStation 5. So much so, in fact, that I’m disappointed that the DualSense’s special haptics and adaptive triggers are not used for more things! My excitement quickly waned when I discovered that each of my different attacks had no effect whatsoever. There wasn’t even any vibration.
Cutscenes look especially great on the PS5. They’ve always felt like they were made for larger screens, given how cinematic they all are, and here you can truly enjoy each cutscene at a consistent 60 FPS at 2K if you’re rolling with the highly preferable WQHD resolution mode. If you are, you’ll also probably find it easier to follow along with the story, or at least this was true in my case. On the PC, hunched over a monitor, I’m often skipping dialogue or drifting off and not fully paying attention to what’s going on. On the PS5, however, I found FFXIV’s storyline far more enthralling much earlier on.
If you’re not used to playing with a controller, it does take a little while to get used to Final Fantasy 14’s control scheme. There are a ton of different user interface elements that you’ll eventually master. Personally, I find it to be much easier to get around with a keyboard and mouse, but the new DualSense features may make it worth learning how to play with a controller.
I did also notice a few visual bugs. One bug in particular appeared when I approached a cliffside behind a waterfall in the Black Shroud that looked like it was made of distorted glass rather than solid rock. It was a little bit weird and jarring, but definitely not enough to ruin the rest of the experience for me. And I doubt that I’d have noticed it if I wasn’t already attuned to what Final Fantasy 14 is supposed to look like anyway.
By all accounts, this is the definitive console experience for the famed Final Fantasy MMO. I will still ultimately prefer playing on PC because that’s where all of my saved progress is, but if I didn’t already have that as my main option, the PS5 version would be my first choice. If you own a PS5 and you’ve been curious about trying Final Fantasy 14, do note that the free trial lets you play all the way up to level 60 and carries you all the way through the entire first expansion, Heavensward, completely free of charge. My verdict? Give it a shot!