A year of columns in review

Three years is not a lot of time to do anything. I’m continually surprised by the fact that I’ve been writing about video games professionally for three years of my life, which is admittedly only 10% of my life to date but still seems astonishing. This also marks the start of the third year of The Mog Log, which means that I’ve been talking about moogles and cat-women professionally for a tenth of my life.

I use thoughts like that to keep me warm at night.

As always, the anniversary mark is about the time when I look back at the column thus far and see how well it’s done as a whole. Last year I wanted to really switch up what I did with my coverage for Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy XI, and I think that by and large it worked pretty well. So let’s do the usual thing wherein I look back, you take a trip down memory lane with me, and we all walk away feeling smarter. Or, if that doesn’t sound interesting, you could just go look at some cat pictures.
Carbuncle, forever adorable.First of all, I want to focus on the positive, and that’s the fact that looking back, there aren’t any columns that stand out as bad. Which might sound worse than it actually is, because it almost sounds like I write some things knowing they’re bad.

Allow me to explain: When I write a column, I have no idea if it’s going to be good or bad.

I know what I’m writing about, I know what I have in mind, and I know what major points I want to hit. But while I’m writing the column itself I have no idea how well everything will be conveyed. Nor do I have any idea about which columns I’ll look back on with any sort of fondness, or even which ones will be the most popular. That’s not even getting into the fact that depending on my mood I might think that everything I write is awful.

The point here is that I write nothing with the expectation that it will turn out poorly, but with the expectation that I’m going to look back and find some clunkers. It’s the nature of the beast.

Over the past year, though, I’d say the worst column was the one about consoles as they relate to the franchise as a whole, and even that one was more mediocre than anything. So I’m taking that away as a bright point. I think changing how I covered both Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV relative to one another was a major improvement, and reader response seems to largely agree.

Not to mention that there were some columns that I think served as pretty good standouts. FFXIV’s need to generate impressions, talking about free-to-play, and a column I thought would generate more flames than it did all look really good from where I’m sitting now. In a year when not a lot was happening and a lot of the news was just a forecast of what would come out next, I’m pleased with how things came out in the long run.

All of that isn’t to say that the column was perfect, just that I was pleased with a lot of it. There’s always room to improve.

FFXIV desperately needs a class with a Red Mage sense of style.One area of weakness that I felt rather acutely was the fact that I’m just not that interested in the endgame, something that should come as the exact opposite of a surprise to many readers. I’d like to work on getting a clearer picture of the endgame in both games, even if some elements of both have left a bad taste in my mouth over the years. Yes, I still have nightmares about high-level play in FFXI, but that was years ago and a lot has changed since then.

Another element that I’d like to bring here from other columns is more interaction with reader comments and polls. A Mild-Mannered Reporter has, at times, operated more like a two-way dialogue in weekly installments, where The Mog Log is more frequently a case where I say something and then everyone responds. Part of that is due to different audiences, but part of that is probably also just the fact that I haven’t made use of the tools here that I’ve used there. It’s something to consider.

The last major change I’d like to make is to do more in-depth coverage of major patches. For various reasons this year I wasn’t always deeply engrossed in new patch content, and in some areas that’s understandable — I’m not always going to have as many uses for new features. But I like to really dissect major updates, and responses seem to indicate that those sorts of columns are well-received. So that’s a mark to try and hit.

Beyond that, I’m curious about the feedback from you, dear readers. Rather than putting this into a poll, I’m just curious in general about the sort of things that you’d like to see me focus on more over the next year. You know the usual feedback routes.

Because this is going to be quite a year, one way or another. We’ve got a new expansion for FFXI and a relaunch for FFXIV, if you’ve forgotten, and these two elements are going to be the architects for the future of both games. Maybe they’ll be great, maybe they’ll be awful, but either way we’re facing a major change in the way both games operate. I’m tempering enthusiasm with realism, but there’s no denying how much the next year will make it. I want to be struggling to find negative things to say about the column if nothing else.So if you want to know more about the game information and services, please click here:FFXIV Gil.

FFXIV declares open season on lore

Every so often, Final Fantasy XIV throws me a curveball. Case in point: the Lore forum. This was one of those things that was mentioned an eternity ago that I (and quite possibly everyone else) assumed would happen around the fifth of never. But it’s a real thing, it exists now, and you can go over and get a lovely rundown of all that racial naming conventions, a primer on Roegadyn language, and assorted other threads detailing important lore tidbits.

If you need more proof that things are different at Square-Enix these days, this would serve as exhibit A. This is the sort of thing that I love. But at the same time, it’s something I’m not completely happy about.

I should clarify; I’m entirely happy that it exists. But I’m a little perturbed regarding the timing, and I think there are ways in which its release now is kind of awkward. So rather than unmitigated gushing over the new forum, this week saw a lot of gushing and a lot of frustrated squinting.

Why now?

I think it should be pretty obvious here she has pedigree.Let’s get the squinting and frustration out of the way because it all comes around to the same premise: I’ve been living in this world for a while.

My character has a name, based off of something that sounded roughly right for her race and nation of origin. Because I’m a roleplayer, her mother also has a name, and she’s pretty well-established at this point. It’s only now, two years on, that I find out her name doesn’t match the conventions that were apparently already being followed by the development team, rules we had not been told about before now.

The point is that it feels uncomfortably like having the rug pulled out from underneath you. I’m happy to have additional information about the game world, but it’s coming after people have already played the game and gotten accustomed to the way the world worked. It’s especially disconcerting for roleplayers, who are fairly invested in the setting to begin with.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, although I know I do. It’s a great thing that the forum is here! I just wish it had been here several years ago and that players could have worked with this knowledge from the beginning rather than be forced to fill in the blanks. Some uncomfortable retcons arrive as a result, and that’s sub-optimal.

Right, that’s the complaining done. Let’s move on to the rest.

Roegadyn love

The fact that we now have a full dictionary for Roegadyn language is great both because it allows players to come up with thematic names and because it gives more flavor to the world as a whole. We’re told that it’s been a very long time since anyone actually spoke the language, so the grammar is lost, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no space for others to try in the future. Dead languages do get the occasional resurrection.

We also get a sense from these posts that while Roegadyn are welcome, they may not necessarily be integrated with the whole of society, and that the Hellsguard in the middle of Ul’dah is still an outsider in some ways. These are, of course, subtle things; after all, we’re talking about hundreds of years after the fact. But it does add a potential point of interest to the game’s lore after 1.0 really kept race as more of a secondary concern.

The emphasis on names also explains some interesting bits we saw before the end of the world, such as why Merlwyb was almost always referred to by her given name. Family names don’t have the same importance as they do for other races, and Merlwyb’s name would not be inherited by any children she might choose to have. Building one’s own reputation is apparently the most important thing to be considered.

But wait, there’s lore!

The most important lore character without a name.The lore forum isn’t just about names. It also already contains some important posts, like this extensive sequence from lore aficionado Fernehalwes discussing some of the more subtle tidbits that non-lore fanatics could easily miss, or this list of existing books in the game, or this potentially headache-inducing discussion of ligatures — all very useful bits of reference for anyone looking to add a bit more verisimilitude to the game.

Fernehalwes deserves big props for this in general; the idea of a lore forum has been his baby, and the fact that we have it now is the result of much hard work. And it’s just the beginning of what I imagine will be a great deal more lore for those interested in such matters.

Final Fantasy XIV has always had a lot of lore, of course, but it’s also been hidden here and there. Some of it isn’t necessarily accessible in English, due to a longstanding tradition of Japanese players getting more bits of official text than we do. Translating that stuff is time-consuming and it’s not necessary to play the game, right?

Except it gives us more of a grounding to play the game. If you care about the world your character inhabits, it helps to know that the designers care as well. A casual player could easily get lost in 1.0’s storyline because a surfeit of important terms were never actually defined or explained, which ironically is the exact opposite of the problem many single-player installments of the series suffer from. By contrast, the addition of a whole forum solely regarding the game’s lore implies that we can get hard information about the setting almost on demand.

I do wish we’d had all of this several years back, though. At least my miqo’te already had an aitche in her name.Click here:FFXIV Gil for more content .

Final Fantasy XIV’s magitek disassembled

I’ve done a couple of articles on reoccurring concepts in Final Fantasy games before, but this is an unusual one because it seems to barely qualify at times. Final Fantasy XIV has magitek, as did Final Fantasy VI, but those are the only games to refer to it as such. Sure, other games flirt with similar concepts (Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy XIII, and Final Fantasy VII most prominently), but none of them is outright called magitek.

Bit there’s still some interesting stuff to unpack when it comes to magitek, even if you don’t consider the corner cases as you ought to. At a glance it might look like this is a simple manichean split between two factions, but there’s a lot more going on and a lot of importance tied up with the term that can hint as to Final Fantasy XIV’s future — beyond the fact that we’ll get to ride some magitek armor.

I get metaphorical because I can't just type yes a thousand times.Let’s start with the basics: What makes something magitek? In both FFVI and FFXIV, some standard rules apply. The device is neither wholly magical nor wholly technological; it’s mostly a mechanical device powered by magic. The devices acquire their power through draining sources of magic through invasive means. Last but not least, they’re used almost exclusively by the larger and all-consuming empire, making these devices the tools of the enemy.

It seems simple enough. Magitek represents technology, technology is bad and evil, we should live in accordance with nature, and so forth. Except that both of the games using the term counter that assumption.

Technology is not solely the province of the Garlean Empire or of the Gestahlian Empire in FFVI. The latter had Figaro Castle, airships, Narshe’s mining equipment, trains, and points related. The former doesn’t quite have any mechanical playgrounds, but 1.0 made it clear through story scenes that Cid Garlond and the Garlond Ironworks were all about cutting-edge technology. And here it’s worth bringing in an obvious corner case in the matter of Final Fantasy VII.

Mako technology in FFVII is not called magitek, but it bears the same hallmarks. This is the same game that adds a man with a gun-arm and an animatronic carnival mascot to your party. What Shinra is doing to the planet is clearly a bad thing, but the simple use of technology isn’t problematic. You can write it off as an inconsistency, but I think there’s more to it than that. And I think the heart of it lies in another game that doesn’t use magitek but clearly has callbacks to it.

In FFXII, one of the major elements of the plot is magicite. Magicite itself is valuable but plentiful, but nethicite is the real prize. Nethicite is magicite that can absorb magical energy and then discharge it before refilling. The important distinction is that only three pieces of real nethicite exist; most of it is manufacted nethicite from the Archadian Empire. This manufacted nethicite is used to empower airships to behave in ways that should not be possible, and it can even directly empower an individual to be more than simply human.

You know, much as magitek is used in FFVI and FFXIV.

The parallels run even a bit closer than that. The word magicite first shows up in Final Fantasy II, but it becomes majorly important in FFVI as the remains of a dead Esper. Espers are also the source of power for magitek devices; the difference is that magicite shards are the more powerful form, whereas the Empire’s draining techniques are inefficient.

Given enough time and few enough scruples, even inanimate things may learn to cry for war.There’s a common thread here in all of this. Magitek isn’t technology; magitek is technology that should not work. Magitek devices are those that outright break the rules of the world, tearing away energy without care for the cost. Magitek isn’t a parallel for mechanics or themes or anything similar — it’s a metaphor for overreaching ambition.

FFXIV has a countering influence in place: the beastmen. 1.0 made it very clear that unlike Final Fantasy XI’s victims, FFXIV’s beastmen would very happily bust everyone back down to the most basic tribal level. The Primals are manifestations of that same energy that powers magitek in raw unchained form. Ifrit doesn’t care what burns, only that something does. Bahamut is wanting revenge not just on any target in the End of an Era trailer but on everything within range of his destruction. Tear everything down and let nothing survive.

Magitek is the opposite number. Magitek is about building so quickly that you don’t care how unsteady your foundation is. It’s about having a gun that will explode in your hand and kill you the moment you pull the trigger, but that’s fine as long as it kills your target. There’s nothing coincidental about the fact that both empires wielding it will happily brainwash others or even take control of a mind as necessary. They rush in a direction with no concern for the consequences.

Between these two extremes stand players. And therein lies a last point of comparison: In FFVI as in FFXIV, a maniac found a path to great power that allowed for the destruction of the world. Kefka and Van Darnus both brought destruction to their respective worlds. We know what happens afterward in FFVI, and it frequently wasn’t pretty.

It remains to be seen how ruined the world will be when we can return to FFXIV Gil. But there will need to be a balance, and the player characters will be a very small middle between two massive extremes.

FFXIV’s magitek armor

Get a first look at Final Fantasy XIV's magitek armor

As part of a concerted effort to connect Final Fantasy XIV to past entries in the franchise, Square-Enix is introducing magitek armor to A Realm Reborn. The armor hails from Final Fantasy VI and takes the form of large bipedal mechanized mounts in the online game.

We’ve got a brief look at the magitek armor in motion after the break, so suit up and don’t forget to bring a can of oil for the journey!
Really happy to see the perception this game is getting. I think it’s a great game, could use some work but what game couldn’t? At the end of the day I know for sure come launch I’ll be there and maybe even with the PS3 edition to boot.You can click FFXIV Gil to get to know more game information and support.

 

Few Final Fantasy XIV screenies

Get your epeen on with these new Final Fantasy XIV screenies

My, that’s a large… sword that you’re holding at a very interesting angle, there. Compensating for something, perhaps? Maybe it’s impotence caused by the long wait until Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn comes to a home PC or PS3 near you?

Then we have the cure! No, it’s not a little blue pill; it’s a new gallery full of FFXIV screenshots and concept art from the upcoming reboot. Check them out and feel assured that your epeen will once again be in action.

Game has always had amazing visuals …square has always been known has THEE graphics powerhouse but when you have great graphics and shit gameplay …well we all know what happened hopefully the redesign will prove better .You can click here:FFXIV Gil to learn more.

Phase1 and 2 FFXIV’s beta phase

Apparently Gladiator is cool again.

I’m going to completely fail to surprise any longtime readers of the site with this sentence: I am kind of a fan of Final Fantasy XIV.

Of course I am. I write our weekly column about the game, I discuss the game in other columns, and I went across the country to preview the game back in February. It’s not a secret. Nor should it come as any surprise that I am a Legacy player and thus have had the opportunity to take part in the game’s first two beta test phases. As of today, I can start talking about those experiences.

Well… I can sort of talk about those experiences. A lot of what I have to say was already conveyed back when I took that aforementioned trip in February. My warm feelings about the game have not diminished in any way over the past few months, but rather than rewriting everything, I thought I’d go with a look at some things I’ve discovered from not hitting just the highs and the lows.

One of the biggest things that I didn’t quite get to in February was tanking. I’ve described tanking in Final Fantasy XIV’s original version in various unflattering terms, ranging from “not fun” to “something so miserable it makes me want to quit my job.” It wasn’t a good time is my point. You had to hold aggro without the tools to actually do so, there were wonky interface issues, and the overall flow just wasn’t fun.

We don't yet know how awesome Bards will be, but I'm going to go ahead and guess super awesome.Running dungeons in the beta, by contrast, has been fun. Aside from being an excellent highlight of how the game’s resource systems work even at low levels, the Tam-Tara Deepcroft alone has given me plenty of cause to run it over and over. Pulls are large without being cumbersome, and when I’ve lost aggro, it’s felt like a result of my mistake rather than a result of my not having the abilities I need. Dungeons also inherit the pace that they had in 1.0, with plenty of reasons for players to keep moving rather than wait and meander. Rewards are plentiful, and I’ve yet to see a run when nothing dropped for any given player (although sometimes the rewards have been something said player already had).

Another element that I didn’t see enough to touch upon in February was how the game’s quests lead you from one place to the next; more to the point, they don’t. There are regions off the beaten path that quests do not send you to; some them have more worthwhile quests for you to undertake. There’s a sense of flexibility there, that you can strike off in any direction and just search without your time being wasted.

Levequests also make their return, and while they’re largely similar to their first incarnation, they’re just different enough to be more enjoyable. Leves are now broken up into five-level bands, with difficulty increases clearly marking how each step up ramps up enemy toughness. Some of the leves are still a bit unbalanced, especially for melee damage at lower levels, but the beta elements are still being tweaked.

Want a more in-depth look at the core of the game? Click FFXIV Gil to learn more about the game content and services.And check back on Saturday for more discussion of the beta in The Mog Log because… well, I’m a fan. You already knew that.

 

Final Fantasy XIV beta phase 1 and 2 – combat

I’ve mentioned in the past that sometimes plans get changed dramatically between when I plan my next column and when I actually write it. This week, it turned out that I could stop being mum about the Final Fantasy XIV beta. So that meant throwing out plans and starting back over. In fact, it meant starting way over, since I found myself with so many things that I wanted to talk about it was difficult to figure out where to start.

So I’m starting with the obvious. I’m going to talk about aspects of the first two beta phases in as much detail as I can realistically fit into a column starting with one of those obvious cornerstones of video games: combat. This isn’t meant to be about impressions so much as dissecting and analyzing what I’ve played to this point, what is working, and what isn’t. If you want to know my more in-depth impressions of killing things in Final Fantasy XIV’s early test version, read on.

General combat impressions

I kind of miss Cure, but I expect to miss other things more.  Except I don't know if I'll miss them yet because I don't know if they're gone.  It's confusing.These early beta phases are not indicative of the game’s entire combat setup. Marauder, Pugilist, Thaumaturge, and Arcanist are all unavailable due to the way the Armoury System works, which means that it’s hard to get a clear grasp on how all of the classes will interact in the end. But even here there are some obvious differences, starting with the fact that some standby abilities just don’t matter any more.

Case in point: Cure. Cure has gone from being madly useful for every class to being borderline useless on most classes. I even went for broke on Lancer and pumped up my Mind only to find that it still healed for paltry amounts, meaning that I would need to look in other directions to avoid my health being whittled down in larger fights. This may have been neutered to make potions a more attractive consumable option.

This is not exactly a bad thing. It’s frustrating in places, but it does mean that certain abilities are no longer automatic additions to your skill bar. For the record, while Cure is pretty useless, Protect remains an excellent option.

Actual combat is mostly a matter of managing your cooldowns, resources, and combo attacks. At lower levels in solo combat, this is fairly brainless; since TP starts full and refreshes quickly, the first several levels require you mostly to just hammer out your weapon skills as quickly as possible. Once you get into the mid-teens, however, you have more activated abilities to manage to momentarily boost attack power or add an effect or whatever, and you probably have your first combo attack to spice things up.

The further along you get, the more it becomes clear that your TP is not nearly as unlimited as it looks. It does regenerate fairly quickly even in combat, but as you get out your higher-level abilities, you can also burn through it very quickly. Tanking in particular often forced me to be careful about which skills I used and when because I just didn’t have enough TP or MP to blast out with guns blazing at all times.

Having a global cooldown set for 2.5s seems a bit slow at first, but in practice it allows just enough time between abilities that your individual choices are a bit more significant. It doesn’t really have an impact on battle pacing overall; a normal fight was over about as quickly as a fight with a single enemy in World of Warcraft, for example. At higher levels, combat felt methodical but not slow — cripple the first target instead of using high-damage abilities to reduce incoming damage, set up a combo, then buff my attack power and finish that combo on the second target. It was strategic rather than frantic, if you will.

Class by class

And we lanced!  And we cried!  And we laughed!  And had a really really really good time!Gladiator: The class I played most in the original version of Final Fantasy XIV and also my preferred class in the beta phases, the Gladiator has taken its nature as a tank and run with it. The net result is a class that feels more cohesive but still has a few options for dealing damage, mostly for porting over to other classes or using while solo. It’s also got both a healing buff and the ability to use Cure with some utility, making it resilient even while solo.

Lancer: Of all the classes in 1.0, Lancer seemed to have the most issue with its overall identity; despite its unique Surge mechanics, it struggled to make a niche for itself. Here, as one of the two pure DPS classes, it’s taking the role of heavy burst damage to heart, inheriting traits from Final Fantasy XI’s Dragoon. It also lacks much in the way of defenses, having grown a little more fragile than before even with a more reliable self-heal option. But at least you don’t have to worry about your wyvern dying.

Archer: At low levels, Archer is simply unbelievable. Ranged attacks, plenty of TP, and the ability to chain out weapon skills means you kill things very quickly. At higher levels, the class seems to be more about being the utility sort of DPS class, something that matches the fact that its associated Job is Bard. The change from “crazy fast killing” to “buff, debuff, and harm” is going to throw some people off, but the actual mechanics are still fun, and they give Archers a unique niche compared to Lancers.

Conjurers: Clearly slotted into the healing role now, Conjurers do get a self-buff that allows them to increase magic damage and decrease healing done when they’re out and leveling solo. That having been said, most of the class’s really neat abilities now are focused toward heals and buffs, getting most of the usual White Mage tools along with the lesser-used elemental magics. Those who have played similar classes will feel right at home.

Overall feelings

The biggest weakness of FFXIV’s combat in the beta is that it doesn’t come out of the gate at its full strength. You have to level and explore the game for a while before you can really start to feel what the designers were going for. This isn’t to say that the system is bad, but it means that your first impressions might not line up with what you’ll actually be playing.

Once you get past that hump, though, the combat system is a joy to play. It feels very similar to games like World of Warcraft without quite falling into the trap of being identical. Some people will call it a thinly veiled clone, but some people will call Defiance a thinly veiled clone of WoW, so that isn’t entirely indicative. It takes pages from WoW’s playbook while remaining distinct.

And it’s fun. The combat system had to try to retain the baroque sensibilities of its predecessor while being faster and more strategic, and it managed those changes quite well. Not perfectly, but the design document was pulling in a few dozen directions.So you can click here:FFXIV Gil to learn more about the game information and services.

 

Summing up Final Fantasy XIV beta phase 1 and 2

Whenever I try to summarize what it is I find so special about Final Fantasy XIV, I find myself at a loss. It’s not just the game mechanics, it’s not just the setting, and it’s not just a history of roleplaying that’s stretched for the entirety of the game’s history. So trying to summarize the first two beta phases is going to be difficult.

I’ve hit all of the major points of the beta already, both the points of divergence and the points of similarity from my big tour back in February. But there are little dribs and drabs here and there that I haven’t yet touched upon, things that I feel are relevant to the beta test of Final Fantasy XIV even if they don’t fit into an individual column.

So this is the conclusion. This time next week, we’ll be awash in E3 news, so there’s no finer time to wrap up my beta musings than now.

We will stand strong.  We will stand together.The thing that struck me the most all through the beta phases — and still does right now — is how the game feels very different while still being a strange animal. I’ve said before that FFXIV feels like the product of some divergent evolutionary track, and while the relaunch seems designed to compete in the modern world, it’s still a very odd game in many ways. But it’s also accessible in ways that it never was before.

If you’ve played an MMO in the past five years, you will be able to get a decent sense of how the game will play. Movement is handled in a familiar fashion, targeting and attacking work in the usual ways, and so forth. The thing is that all of these are just mechanics. They don’t change the soul underneath. This is not a game about being forced to start at one point and continue to another; it’s a game about heading off on whatever path you want and coming back whenever you’re ready. If you want to eschew the main scenario in favor of crafting and gathering, the game gives you the tools to do exactly that and won’t bother you to go back. If you want to go back and forth, again, do as thou wilt.

You can say the game has become a more directed experience, which is true, but it’s less a matter of holding your hand and more a matter of not leaving you in a cold dark room to figure out what comes next.

The game also still oozes flavor. During the last part of phase 2, I set out to just explore the map, and there was quite a bit to see. Landscapes both engrossing and varied awaited me at every turn, with appropriate music and sounds to give me a feel for the region. Some parts of the Shroud were wrapped in perpetual autumn, giving way to desolation as I moved further along. Others just became more lush and green or tapered down to marshlands as the forest met the water. There was a sense that everything was a real place filled with actual people, not just a collection of NPCs standing about performing unclear functions.

Add to that lively quest text and the same care for aesthetic concerns as the original version and you get the idea. The world feels solid and lived-in, a quality that always made me very happy. You know me and my verisimilitude.

We do not forgive.  We do not forget.  And we do not forfeit.The biggest issue the beta seems to have right now is a bit of thinness to the character customization. You can port over abilities, but the ability list is fairly narrow. I don’t like the idea that any two Gladiators in the same equipment will be functionally identical. It does avoid kicking people based upon specialization, but it also removes some of the fun in my eyes. Then again, we’re talking the earliest betas here, so more may be on the horizon that I have yet to see.

I’ve seen people complain that the game is a World of Warcraft clone now. Having played both, I can’t really say that’s on target. Certainly the game has borrowed elements, but that’s just a matter of not reinventing the wheel. The pace of combat, the feel of resource management, the overall structure of the game — none of these resembles World of Warcraft in anything more than the most cursory sense. I think a lot of this is a knee-jerk reaction to the difference in the early levels, since the original game just sort of flung you into the aforementioned cold dark room. Now you’re being pulled along and are actually shown how to do things.

Contrary to popular belief, being told how the game is supposed to work is not actually a bad thing. Especially not here. Before, you could easily pick a class to start without understanding what you were meant to do with that class, and you might wind up starting in the wrong town with a crafter class and wind up stymied right away. Yes, you have to wait a little longer to dive into the meat of the game, but once you get to that meat, it’s delicious.

At least from the first two test phases, FFXIV still seems to have that certain je ne sais quoi, even if it no longer comes across as being quite so aimless in the early levels. You have to play a bit to get at the heart of things, but it’s time well spent.

Also, I’ll admit to recreating my old character in the character creator. I got some feels.You can click here FFXIV Gil to learn more information.

FFXIV’s A Realm Reborn returns the game to its roots

E3 2013 Final Fantasy XIV's A Realm Reborn returns the game to its roots

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn stays true to its name and its lineage: What was originally a failed title, at least according to some players, will soon be revamped into an MMO that harkens back to its hardcore Final Fantasy roots. At this year’s E3, Massively nabbed a hands-on experience of the game’s reboot in the Square-Enix booth, and as the owner of those very hands, I can say it was a thrilling experience.

My demo allowed me to choose between DPS, tank, and healer units. I myself am a lumbering tank in real life, so it felt natural to refill my virtual shoes in an epic battle against Ifrit. Action was quick, incredibly responsive, and a treat. Unfortunately, Ifrit rose into the sky and torched us all, but that’s not the end of the story.

The press were invited to listen to Producer Naoki Yoshida as he spilled umpteen cans of beans on what’s new. His first order of business? Sorting out the PC vs. console wars. Since the game is cross-platform, you might think PC players have a control advantage over console gamers. Not so. “Players who are used to console-based RPGs can use the controller at the same level that someone on a PC game would with a mouse and keyboard,” Yoshida-san said with the help of a translator. “What we think is revolutionary is what we call the cross hotbar. Keyboard and mouse players can perform actions with one click; we have now made it so that players can perform the same type of actions with the controller with just one button.”

The FATE system was fully functional in my demo and incredibly interesting. For those not familiar, here’s the skinny: FATEs are active world events in which characters can interact in random adventures. Perhaps a gigantic boss crushes through the ground and the adventurers nearby are thrown into another epic battle. “[FATES are] quests that will just happen, and players will have the opportunity to play them or not play them. The world has come alive, and the player can be a part of that world,” Yoshida remarked. “Whether its helping out an NPC or defeating some type of enemy, you are rewarded automatically.” Fast-travel isn’t enabled amongst the FATE systems to eliminate the impression that the world is built from nothing but “teleport points.”

E3 2013 Final Fantasy XIV's A Realm Reborn returns the game to its roots

Level syncing was active during my demonstration game; it’s a huge feature for all players regardless of level. In fact, you can actually drop your character’s level to compete with other lower-level players. You won’t just be flicking a level 6 enemy across the map to oblivion without any effort; the level drop will ensure that lower-level content remains a rewarding challenge for all players. The experience and rewards for your true level are retained, however, so you won’t be stuck with a measly one point of experience for your participation.

Another bit of good news? Limit breaks are seeing a return! “In order to activate a limit break, you need to be in a party of four,” Yoshida told me. “Depending on the actual content, there will be limits to what kind of limit break you can undertake.” A limited limit-break? Yep. “If you’re in a party of four in the field, you’re limited to a level one limit break,” he explained. “For some instanced dungeons, maybe you’ll have level two unlocked. It will depend on the content.” You can even get hidden limit break bonuses by winning challenges (and beating the aforementioned Ifrit, provided he doesn’t conjure a mass of hellfire to scorch your face). These hidden bonuses and boosts just keep the environment alive and engaging for everyone. As Yoshida said, “It’s all about being able to play efficiently and find these hidden ways to fill up the gauge.” It’s difficult to coordinate use of limit breaks in battles, so if players are up against a behemoth enemy, communication is the key to timing out limit breaks and using them together to inflict maximum damage.

Yoshida-san also revealed that there’s a new housing system releasing with the first large content patch. Instead of occupying housing “instances,” players can actually purchase land and build upon it in “community-style” housing areas. Readers, if you’re interested in purchasing land for a house early, heed this advice: Save as much Gil as you can.So click here FFXIV Gil to learn more information and services.

FFXIV final beta phase 3 test begins

FFXIV final beta phase 3 test begins tomorrow

One million beta testers strong, the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is poised to possibly deliver a comeback story unlike anything we’ve seen in the MMO genre to date. The rebranded makeover of the flopped 2010 fantasy title is currently preparing for the conclusion of beta phase 3, which has been announced as starting tomorrow.

Square-Enix tweeted that the final test for phase 3 of the beta will begin on July 10th and conclude on the 15th. This test will take place for both North America and Europe. Following phase 3, FFXIV will move into phase 4, also known as “open beta.”

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn’s launch is scheduled for August 27th. We covered the heck out of this title at E3, including its PlayStation 4 plans, a hands-on with its demo, a look at its PlayStation 3 user interface, a video overview of the FATEs system, and our thoughts on its convention appearance.Are you ready, click here to learn more FFXIV Gil.