E3 2013 Impressions: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PlayStation 3/PC)

I won’t mince words, I was not a big fan of Final Fantasy XIV‘s initial release. Setting up subscriptions was a pain, there was a needless reliance on crafting and its subsequent minigame, and above all else, it just wasn’t fun. So naturally, the cynic in me is eager to pass off A Realm Reborn as a floundering attempt to make a failing MMO turn a profit. Well, I had a chance to sample the game again at E3, and while I wasn’t exposed to a great deal of content, it was enough to make me hopeful that the game is worth saving.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, as before, will allow you to fully customize your character from a wide range of facial features and skin tones. Since a few years have passed from the initial release, my recollection of the create-a-character process has faded. Judging from the options that were on display though, it appears that there may be more options to choose from than there were before, which is always a bonus. Also talked about was the FATE system, which was described as being a set of events that take place in the world that passing players can choose to take part in. There is certainly a lot of potential in such a system, and while this particular feature was not on display, I look forward to seeing how it turns out.

Your class and abilities are still determined by the weapon you wield, so if you tire of one class or decide that it’s not for you, one just needs to pick up a new weapon. No need to create a new character each time. Each of the E3 stations had a character pre-configured, and as I stepped up to the plate, I realized that I would be in control of a Lancer. The other players and I made up a balanced group of eight with which to combat Ifrit and things… didn’t go so well.

First impressions: the visuals still look incredible. I suspect much of it can be owed to the hardware that was provided, but nevertheless, the models are sharp and the backgrounds really pop. This actually made the battle that much more challenging, as it was one more thing to be distracted by as the battleground gets ripped up by fire and brimstone.

While both the PS3 and PC versions of the game were present, the PC station I was setup on reminded me a great deal of World of Warcraft (a game that is impossible not to draw comparisons to when talking about MMO’s) in the way that the user interface was laid out. In either case, the battle was an absolute blast to play. The battle started out like you would expect from a normal run-of-the-mill boss encounter: tank keeps the aggro, healer keeps up the tank, and everyone else unleashes fury. Once in awhile, Ifrit would cause cracks to form on the ground that would unearth an explosion that massively damages anyone standing on top of it. As the battle progresses, things get kicked up a notch when Ifrit begins to call upon explosions that cover entire segments of the battlefield. This ended up taking a large portion of our group by surprise, as we all fell like dominoes. When it was all said and done, we picked up the pieces, regrouped, and were anxious to try again.

If the entirety of the Realm Reborn experience can mimic the chaos and entertainment that comes with battling one of Final Fantasy‘s most token summons, then count me in. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn releases August 27th, 2013 for PC and PlayStation 3. A PS4 version will become available sometime in 2014.

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