Forget the bad press.
I say this as someone who did exactly the same thing this week; I forgot everything I thought I knew, forgot the beta, forgot the buggy launch. I didn’t want to be blinded by my previous conceptions, over a year on, to see what has become of the proper sequel to Final Fantasy XI (a game, admittedly, I struggled with on its release).
To be honest, the first thing I noticed is that FFXIV looks a lot cleaner. Sharper. It runs faster, clearly having been cleaned up, and everything looks and handles like an HD version of FFXII, without the boring Vaan.
There’s a lot of content to be getting on with, but little in the way of length and breadth, a month with the right people and it is quite likely you’ll have seen all there is to see – that is, of course, if you discount the large number of elitist people who see new players to their little world as scum. Which is charming and somewhat silly of them, considering without new players, Square-Enix would have to shut the game down, let alone finish their later-in-the-year overhaul, Patch 2.0 – which will change an awful lot.
I soloed an awful lot towards level 50 as a pugilist (arguably the easier class to tackle), there are experience groups but its just a bit of a tedious grind. Levequests and Grand Company missions do reward, but again, not with loads of experience – and as you only get an allowance of 8 of these “repeatable” quests a day, it is also very easy to use them all up very quickly and be left with nothing else to do.
But Eorzia is nice. It looks nice. It feels nice. It feels untamed and wild, with stunning views and great, detailed landscapes.
Is it worth money? As in, £6 a month worth it? Perhaps. Coming up to 2.0, you can get a Goobue Mount for free, as well as other collectables. Those who participate in some of the quests in the run-up to 2.0 will even have their names mentioned by NPCs for the rest of the games lifespan, which is arguably a nice ego-massage. With rare loot, Ifrit fights and a couple of dungeons to run, all seems on the surface not too bad for what is, right now, a budget title. Having picked the game up for £4.99, it’s hardly the worst fiver I’ve ever spent.
However, it is a game where right now, the main attraction is to level up every single job on your character to 50, in preparation for new ones coming in 2.0 – this is a challenge of patience and time, as it will take a week for each combat/mage class, and I am told usually two to three weeks just grinding crafting leves (which you have to save up). It won’t be for everyone. Of course not. But it’s hardly the disaster I remember either, or the horror story that many still proclaim it to be. It’s not the easiest game to get into, sure – but heck, I’ve seen worse.
Having read what is incoming in 2.0 later this year, I have no doubt that this will be worth investigating in more depth then. For now, I’ll use up the rest of my free month – socialise, network, see what happens. Eorzia is a lovely world.
Square-Enix just need to pull their thumb out and actually make it sing.