FFXIV is widely notorious for its awful launch with its original form. The game was fundamentally broken and had no sense of identity in a time where MMORPG’s were extremely popular. However, Square Enix refused to see Final Fantasy XIV become a tale with a bad ending, instead, they restructured their entire team and relaunched XIV under the new title: A Realm Reborn. In a stroke of brilliance, the real failures of FFXIV were woven masterfully into an in-game calamity what provided an in-game explanation of the relaunch. The realm of Eorzea in Final Fantasy XIV truly was reborn. The rest is history.
Today, Final Fantasy XIV enjoys the success of two critically acclaimed expansions and a resurgence of players in the announcement of its newest upcoming expansion Shadow bringers, which is set to launch this Summer. With that said, how exactly does Final Fantasy XIV, a six-year-old MMO, hold up in 2019? The answer is simple:
Final Fantasy XIV has never been better.
By subscribing to FFXIV you are welcoming yourself to mountains upon mountains of substantial content. If you find yourself bored in FFXIV, it’s likely your fault, though the game makes it confusing in finding the various activities and when they become available. Want to become a ruthless warrior and power through the games many layers of raids, dungeons, and trails? Do it. Don’t like a battle and would prefer to be a humble merchant who crafts their way to end game content? Get that gil then!
There are over 20 classes & jobs to choose from and what’s best, you can level them all on a single character. Players can swap between classes by choosing the weapon of the class. Bad news for players who love many characters, (or popularly known as alt-a-holics by MMOs goers) but great news for just about everyone else. For as much variety that’s available in the game, there are other components that contribute to the games ability to remain healthy as a subscription-based MMO.
The graphics have changed little since its original launch; however, the character and level designs are top notch. Each zone looks vastly different from the last and the recent expansion adds fresh landscapes for players to explore in. the world is rich with vibrant colors, fixing a concern a few critics had with the grey color pallet of the vanilla game. This game isn’t Black Desert Online, that’s for sure. Yet, in 2019 the visuals hold up well, with 4K options added to enhance the overall look.
This is a Final Fantasy game, expect nothing less than spectacular in this department. With the additional of Heavensward and Stormblood, there are sharper tones added to each respective theme. Heavy orchestration captures a Victorian feel in Heavensward zones while Stormblood adds tracks for both night and day to capture two entirely different ambiances. The OST alone is worth a download on any RPG fanatics Spotify playlist. In addition, with each crossover FFXIV does with other popular titles such as Monster Hunter and Final Fantasy Tactics players can earn orchestration rolls to listen to classic tunes in their homes. The music is amazing.
Along with the top-notch soundtrack are audio queues and sound effects that feel unique in their own right. Every action has their own distinct flair, so much that if you’ve played the game for dozens upon dozens of hours, you will be able to recognize abilities being used just by hearing them being performed. From each slice of a Samurai’s blade to a Black Mages fire magic you will get a true sense of identity from each job in the game.
Perhaps the games strongest point in 2019 is the story. NPCs no longer represent vessels whose sole purpose is to shuffle player from each objective, rather, each central character has been developed well enough to star in their own mainline Final Fantasy title. Final Fantasy XIV isn’t just a good story by MMO standard it stands as a worthy addition to the mainline Final Fantasy games. Hardcore fans of the series will surely miss out on a well-crafted tale if they ignore this title. Especially with recent canonical addition of other Final Fantasy’s being added into the game. I don’t want to spoil too much here, which is why I’m being vague, but if you play FFXIV I highly recommend not skipping the cut-scenes.
The driving force of any modern MMO is its game-play and it's clear the developers of FFXIV understood this. What started out as an MMO that didn’t go great lengths to changing the inherent formula of the genre evolved into a game that isn’t afraid to add content only appealing to certain players. Outside of crafting, gathering, and combat players can experience activities such as Triple Triad and Chocobo racing. These activities are deep in their own right, making strong cases to be standalone mobile titles. That’s how good the additional activities have become.
For players looking to experience content that’s willing to challenge them they will be happily surprised to find an end game that is brutal. That’s not to say there isn’t tons of fun to be had with endgame activities but some of them aren’t made for the faint of heart. Savage raids require incredible amounts of preparation and cooperation and push players beyond their mechanical and social limits. For those willing to take the endgame head-on, players are met with a shower of rewards such as exclusive mounts and top of the line gear.
If you are more interested in PVP activities, players will be disappointed with the options available. While the PVP scene is leagues better than it was in the original game FFXIV has had little of an emphasis on PVP activities until recent times. With recent changes to how PVP works, however, PVP has never been more accessible and rewarding. There are options that are meant for casual audiences but PVP gamers will find a lot of depth here with each PVP season. Players can put together teams to challenge for the top roles and whoever’s team rises to the top at seasons end will be met with an abundance of rewards. Plus, FFXIV has added a MOBA esque game type that plays brilliantly. Adding modes such as these have does wonders in separating FFXIV for the rest of the pack.
If you are thinking about giving Final Fantasy XIV a shot in 2019, I would encourage you to do so. There has never been a better time to get into the game. Also, just because the game is approaching the seven-year mark, doesn’t mean the population is waning. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. Currently, the game is sitting at a healthy 600,000 subscribers and will only increase with the launch of Shadowbringers. There is a lot to like about FFXIV and players of all different backgrounds can find something to truly love about the MMO. It isn’t the prettiest or most complex MMORPG available but it does everything so well. This polish makes the game feel lived in allow players to become fully immersed in the set design while reminding the gaming world of today that subscription-based MMOs can still be successful.
Finally, started the game at level 1 for new players means having to catch up on hundreds of hours of content that had been added to the game since launch. Players have the option of buying a “Jump Potion” which allows them to skip certain story elements to advance their character. Keep in mind these potions will not be helpful in familiarizing the player with the class and there is quite a bit of content they will miss because of it. But if you’d rather dive in and play with your high level finds right away, these Jump potions are a welcome alternative to the leveling process. Final Fantasy XIV still is going strong in 2019 and will look to have another massively successful year with the launch of their upcoming expansion Shadowbringers.
|+ Fantastic Story Content.||– Visuals are a bit dated.|
|+ Over 20+ Classes/Jobs to Choose From.||– Content bloat can intimidate new players.|
|+ Nearly Unlimited Customization Options.||– PVP is lackluster.|
|+ Challenging End-Game Content.||– Subscription may turn players away.|
|+ Great for Beginning, Tons of Depth for the Hardcore.|
|+ You'll never run out of things to do.|
|+ Top Notch OST.|