Overall my experience was positive, and I reservedly like the game. I say reservedly for 3 main reasons, RIFT, SWTOR, and TERA. I really liked these games and dove in head first and burned out on them within the first 3 months of playing them and stopped logging into them within a month after that. Also while I had a lot of active play time this weekend after patching the client I was trying to take my time and not push to far too fast.
The Bad or Where Things can be Improved
Many of my annoyances before and during the Open Beta really comes from how poorly designed Square Enix, Lodestone and all the related websites are. The second stems from how paranoid SE seems to be about Beta information. I can understand that during closed Beta that the Beta forums are not accessible to non-Beta web users however when the Beta had gone Open it is time to allow “READ ONLY” access to the forums. So that people that are interested in what is going on can at least see the patch information and any other special announcements that only seem to be made there. However this changed a bit after the forums were carpet bombed by users with a few log in errors so the only information resource was Twitter….
The other major issues that I noticed that I think is at the root of all the concurrency issues and log in issues SE faced this past weekend stem from 1 little overlooked “feature”. That being while logged in you can go idle/inactive AFK for hours and not be kicked out of the game and or authentication server. If there was proper garbage collection of Inactive sessions on servers then a large part of the log in issues would have corrected themselves after an hour or so… WoW has this problem if you get DCed and try to log in again too fast, however after the idle time would force kick the account the user would be able to log in again.
So in honor of the concurrency issue and some account would never log off the server I made a mash-up image of the 2 main characters from Sword Art Online (SAO) anime with a FFXIV landscape in the background.
Before I get into mechanically what I liked about FFXIV, I must say that the world is utterly stunning. I for a very long time have disliked hyper realistic looking scenery and character models, and from what I can tell version 1.0 I would have despised for the same reason I am liking the game now. The difference is a new game engine and a metric ton of optimization. The game looks great even on lower graphics settings which I did switch to from time to time depending upon where I was. The 2 cases was extremely wide open spaces where you could see a long way off, and the other being when I was in the crafting guild areas and there were 30+ other players all trying to craft grind at the same time in front of the supply vendor.
I honestly after playing in the open beta feel about this game like I did after giving WoW a try on a friends account, who did the log in for me so there was no information sharing. If Blizzard has a problem with this they should not, considering from Summer 2005 through July 2011 I had at least 1 account active the entire time and for several years of it 2 accounts active all from that one introduction to the game.
To those that have played many of the Final Fantasy series this one is not very surprising and if you played FFXI then you just like well duh that is how it was there. However I have not come across another MMO that has anything like it with one caveat, EVE Online. In all three games you can do everything the game has to offer on one character and you don’t lose abilities by switching to something different. So unlike every other MMO I have played I do not need to roll my army of alts to get my crafting production chain up and running. I will still have 1-3 alts but they will be truly alts and extra storage space and not extensions of my “main” like in WoW, RIFT, SWTOR, TERA, ect…
Pace of Combat
This is a refreshing change compared to the pace set in WoW, NWO, RIFT and other current and recent MMOs. The only combat that is about at this pace is EVE on average. EVE goes from watching a Glacier move to where nano seconds matter in a the half-life of Antimatter. However I only hear that at higher levels the pace picks up a bit, the key reason being you have more abilities to choose from, not necessarily because there are 40 mobs running in every direction shooting fire on the floor while dodging tornadoes, which that description reminds me of a raid encounter in Firelands the last Tier I ever tried to raid quasi seriously.
In every fight I have done in the game so far when the mob was going to use a special attack it was clearly telegraphed in animation and cast notification, additionally the area of effect was clearly marked on the ground. You also had 2-5 seconds to respond to it versus the 1 – 2 seconds WoW seems to have devolved into.
In then end I plan on giving FFXIV a fair try meaning at least 30 days and most likely 4-5 months. The game when I am playing it is fun and engaging and does not make me feel like any of my efforts are wasted. The only issue at the moment is the Server Farm boss and the massive amounts of players trying to log into the game all the time in the NA/EU data centers. Last night rather than fight with it, I just rolled on Alexander JPY region server and got a Marauder to level 10. When server transfers become available, hopefully free initially due to all of the server fiascoes that we have encountered during Early Access and Launch, I will move the character back to Behemoth where my other 2 characters are located.