I have to admit I never concerned myself with MMOs. I’ve scoffed at the monthly fee and refused to take part in the ad nauseum questing, farming, and grinding. Without a second thought I passed on World of Warcraft and on Final Fantasy XIV in 2010. When it came to Tera or Star Wars: The Old Republic, I didn’t even double take. So what motivated me to actually purchase Final Fantasy XIV? After seeing, hearing, and reading about Square Enix’s commitment to turn the once colossal disappointment that was XIV around, I became… curious. Before I could immerse myself in the world of Hydaelyn… I encountered a problem. The greatest foe I have ever fought: Square Enix’s servers. Due to a multitude of server errors and the looming wall of despair… the new character creation restrictions, I had to wait a solid week before diving in chest first. In that week I experienced doubt, regret, and a slight loss of interest that almost had me running back toward the dear old backlog. I’m glad I didn’t. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is beautiful, deep, full of life, and most importantly: fun.
To those of you are fence sitting on XIV: ARR, I’m going to be posting FFXIV “reports” with on the way as I learn and experience the game. The first one will focus on character creation and story/lore, while the second will focus on my impressions/opinions on the game up until level 20 (as well as a wealth of tips). Since MMORPG’s are so large, these posts are going to be infrequent. This is my first MMORPG which means, for those like me, here’s a fresh pair of eyes to tell you all about it.
Now that the server issues are taken care of the first thing you have to tackle in XIV: ARR is character creation. To be honest I was a bit underwhelmed at first. While I didn’t expect things to be as drastic and as user controlled as Saints Row I did expect it to be a bit meatier. However after playing the game for roughly a dozen hours I can safely say that you won’t be running into your identical twin. This was my primary concern with a character creation system that has a definite amount of presets. That being said more options in the hair and facial features department would have been welcome. The good news is that ARR gives you a multitude of colors in regards to hair, skin, and eyes. You can have a primary hair color and add in highlights in addition to the option of having two different eye colors (which is awesome). Once you finish your character, choose your class, name, world, and acquire armor, running into your doppelganger highly unlikely.
There are five distinct races that inhabit Eorzea; Elezen, Miqo’te, Lalafell, Hyur, and Roegadyn. Each has two sub-races with both genders. This equates to twenty different possibilities on the race selection alone. Every race and gender have their own presets and the sub-races have unique ones as well. At the end of the day there’s quite a bit of diversity. All races/sub-races have different starting attributes, and if you want, you can find the stats online to get your preferred fit. There is only a five point difference in the lowest to highest stat possible when choosing a race (17 – 23 for any stat). A few points in the long run isn’t going to matter. Having such minimal stat differences is likely due to classes. Classes are dependent on stat attributes. For example, in order to excel in the Lancer class the player should focus on increasing the strength stat (along with some vitality and dexterity), as high intelligence, mind, and piety are not used. The Dunesfolk Lalafell have the lowest starting strength stat (17) but if you wanted to play as a Lalafell lancer it’s possible due the small difference between min/max race stats. Choosing a race doesn’t alienate what class you can be. Choosing a race you actually want to play as will be the wiser choice. Since your going to be looking at that character for an endless amount of hours, it should be someone you like playing as. Besides, race stats should be inconsequential by mid to late story. Square is supposedly adding a “barber shop” in a later patch that allows hair style changes. Whether or not it will offer addition edits is not known.
After your final aesthetic decisions have been made, a birthday must be picked as well. There are no perks or stats associated with this so choose whatever day you fancy. More interestingly you also have to choose one of the Twelve Deities. All of which have different lore surrounding them. Much like the choosing your race, your chosen deity will grant you higher/lower starts regarding elemental attributes. Keep in mind that the difference between their stats is largely inconsequential, so pick a deity you actually like.
Finally we get to the class selection. What class you pick determines what city you will start in. Luckily I’ve perused around all three cities and can tell you that each one is unique and vibrant. The three starting city-states are Gridania, Limsa Lominsa, and Ul’dah. Gridania is a large forest region, Limsa Lominsa is a port city, and Ul’dah is a commercial city in an arid environment. Your starting class options are as follows: Gladiator, Pugilist, Marauder, Lancer, Archer, Conjurer, and Thaumaturge. Unfortunately those wishing to only play the game for crafting or gathering alone cannot choose to start out as classes from the Disciples of the Land or Hand. Main story quests are only beatable with Disciples of War/Magic classes as I don’t believe a Weaver has the attack strength to bring down Ifrit. Below is a list of guilds and their starting cities.
Gridania: Lancer, Archer, Conjurer, (Carpenter, Leather-worker, Botanist)
Limsa Lominsa: Arcanist, Marauder, (Armorer, Blacksmith, Culinarian, Fisher)
Ul’dah: Arcanist, Marauder, Thaumaturge, (Goldsmith, Alchemist, Weaver, Miner)
The good news is that once you complete the level 10 story quest you have the choice to join any or all guilds in your starting city. To reach the other two cities you need to complete the level 15 story quest and thus gain access all guilds. For those new to MMO’s there are three types of combat roles: damage per second or DPS, tank, and healer. Each DoW or DoM class is associated with one of those three. DPS classes such as the lancer are mainly used to inflict as much damage as possible on a target, tanks are supposed to keep all enemies focused on them with their high HP, while healers… well… heal. Don’t fret, Square made sure that all classes are balanced. The Conjurer packs plenty of offensive firepower. So no matter what class you choose you can do most quests solo. These class roles are mostly for dungeons and raids as doing them without a dedicated tank or a healer can be extremely difficult. You might notice when starting your game that an abundance of players are requesting tanks and healers. It seems that the DPS classes are more popular (and numerous), in response tanks/healers are in high demand. This should balance out when players start leveling up additional classes. I picked a DPS class as well and have had a lot of trouble in finding random players to do dungeons. The wait times can last and upwards of 30 minutes or more, it’s much easier to form a party and just jump into a dungeon.
I’ve always had a tough time picking a name, but since ARR has been out for over a week, any famous names are probably out of the question. In my first few hours of the game I had the pleasure of crossing paths with Tom Selleck, Steven Segal, and Jack Bauer among others. You’ll see all sorts of names, although I’ve even seen a massive amount of Game of Thrones inspired names, unsurprisingly I might add. The creativity and utter hilarity of these names can be impressive. I found myself alternating between fits of laughter and bewilderment of why I didn’t think of that. The final choice you have is world, FFXIV’s fancy way of saying “server”. This choice at the moment is permanent and your character is locked here. Square is supposedly implementing a character transfer service that may or may not be free.
You’ll start the game in standard fare; all starting characters have the same dress. Pretty early on however you can ditch those for better ones. In response though, Square has made sure you’ll look like a clown. At one point I rocked purple shorts, red boots (knee high), brown/white body armor, with yellow oven mitts on my hands. Yeah I know, I looked good. Thankfully I was able to pick up better looking armor or at least armor that matches. If looking like a clown isn’t your thing you can always run around in your underwear. It’s completely normal… I rock tight blue swim trunks them I’m out mining.
I’d like to note that the overall main story will be the same regardless of starting city. However I do not know to what degree the finer details differ. I’m going to assume that missions and events will be slightly different until you’re sent to the other two cities at level 15. For example two NPC characters Yda and Papalymo are assigned to the Twelveswood, while Thancred is assigned to Ul’dah. I met Yda and Papalymo during my story missions before level 15 since I started in Gridania. For players in Ul’Dah they are most likely going to meet Thancred instead. I would wager a pretty penny that Square made only slight differences in the beginning of the story, so there shouldn’t be any problems.
I would be lying if the lore and the events prior to XIV: ARR were confusing. After playing the game for a while and getting familiar with the lore I’m going to try and clear things up. Final Fantasy XIV (2010) is a prequel to A Realm Reborn as the story picks up after the “calamity” in the original XIV.
The history of Eorzea is split up using two different alternating eras. They are called the Astral and Umbral eras, both have indefinite time frames. Astral eras refer to a time of prosperity and peace while Umbral eras are that of destruction and war. Astral Eras begin with times of peace and end in times of war and devastation and vice-verse for Umbral. Long ago before the various tribes of man arrived at Eorzea it was inhabited by the Twelve Deities. These deities welcomed them with open arms. Unsurprisingly wars break out between them ushering in the First Umbral Era and as a result of this, the Twelve left Eorzea. Once the wars end, the age of man begins in the First Astral Era. Final Fantasy XIV takes place at the end of the 6th Astral Era and the beginning of the 7th Umbral Era. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn takes place 5 years into the 7th Umbral Era.
The planet Final Fantasy XIV takes place on is called Hydaelyn and is split into three major continents; Aldenard, Ilsabard, and Othard. There is a smaller landmass/island to the west of Aldenard called Vylbrand. Eorzea refers to the realm made up of both Aldenard and Vylbrand. There are six city states within Eorzea (not all are currently inhabited): Sharlayan, Ishgard, Gridania, Limsa Lominsa, Ala Mhingo, and Ul’dah, The continent to the north of Eorzea, Ilsabard, is home to capital city of the Garlean Empire; Garlemald. Othard and Ilsabard are under complete control of the Garlean Empire.
Simply put, the Garlean Empire did not exist 50 years ago. Due to a rapid advancement in technology known as Magitek and the rise of a powerful and ambitious Legatus who eventually became the emperor, Garlemald amassed an army and started its empire. I could not find exactly what the term “Legatus” means, however it seems to refer to a high military rank such as a general. The Garlean Empire takes over the continent of Ilsabard then Othard. In 1557 of the 6th Astral Era, 15 years prior to A Realm Reborn, the Garlean Empire invades Eorzea and brings down the northern city state of Ala Mhingo. For reasons not yet know the Garlean forces stopped their advances after capturing the city-state.
The original Final Fantasy XIV takes place in 1572. Legatus Nael Van Darnus of the Garlean Empire plans to drop the lesser moon Dalamud onto Eorzea in order to rid Eorzea of its “impurities”. The battle between the Eorzean Alliance (Gridania, Limsa Lominsa, and Ul’Dah) and the Garlean Empire takes place at the Cartenau flats in Mor Dhona which is directly beneath where Dalamud will crash. This battle is referred to as the Battle of Cartenau. The Alliance along with Archon Louisoix Leveilleur, leader of the Archons from Sharlayan, plans to call upon the Twelve and send Dalamud back into the sky. He is the old Elezen White Mage seen in the opening cinematic. The ending of FF: XIV involves the defeat of Nael and the Eorzean alliance failing to stop Dalamud… as it is discovered that Dalamud wasn’t a moon at all, but a prison for the Elder Primal Bahamut. Due to Nael’s actions Bahamut is released and wreaks havoc upon Eorzea forever changing its landscape. This is what is referred to as the “calamity” and what signaled the beginning of the 7th Umbral Era.
The adventurers who stopped Nael at the Battle of Cartenau find themselves 5 years in the future during Eorzea’s rebuilding (due to Archon Louisoix). Who or what imprisoned Bahamut is not currently known. These adventurers have become known as the Warriors of Light but almost everyone in Eorzea have forgotten important details these Warriors of Light, even their identities. This is where Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn begins, with you a new adventurer, beginning his/her journey…