Hark, An MMO: FFXIV’s ‘Reborn’ Quests And Combat

By Nathan Grayson on December 7th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

Congratulations! Also here is a bird.

Final Fantasy XIV caught me right at the tail end of my MMO junkie phase. I’d put a fairly significant amount of time into Final Fantasy XI before it, so I figured why not? And honestly, I have to give Final Fantasy XIV some credit: it replied to that question very, very quickly. It was as though Square had developed the thing inside a bubble. Reinforced by steel plate. On the surface of the moon. The number of incredibly bizarre, even-more-incredibly unintuitive design decisions was absolutely baffling. A brilliantly flexible class system gelled up its giant anime hair, picked up a slightly smaller blade, and attempted to save the day, but its quest was disastrously unsuccessful. Fortunately, Square decided to scrap the whole thing and start over from scratch. But what’ll the realm look like once it’s finally been reborn? Well, pretty familiar, if a new trailer’s anything to go on. But maybe not for the reason you think.

Well looky thar, it’s one of them newfangled MMO vidya games. It’s got the killening and the collectering and the tiny squares that make all the booms.

It looks like An MMO, is what I’m saying. Admittedly, that’s still a big step up from vanilla FFXIV’s unabashedly grindy “levequests,” but even, say, Tera’s go-here, do-this grocery lists were more robust. Granted, I’m sure story quests will fare better, but this isn’t exactly a strong appetizer for the main course. I mean, I’d like to think we’re finally past the Age of the Level Treadmill. Or, if not, we’ve at least figured out how to do a damn good job of covering it up.

Those spell effects sure do look pretty, though. We might even have an early frontrunner for best gaming sparkles of 2013 on our hands. But beyond that, I can’t say I’m feeling particularly encouraged by what I see. Fingers crossed that the systems surrounding the fairly standard-looking quests and combat make up for them, but – given how recent MMOs like Tera and The Secret World fared on that front – the odds aren’t exactly in FFXIV’s favor.

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67 Comments »

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  1. caddyB says:

    I liked the Tera combat, but the overall half-nakedness and the grind without any diversion mentality of eastern MMO design made me cancel my sub after 2 months.

    I did get my money’s worth though even without reaching the max level ever, had a lot of fun going solo against bosses.

    • OtioseNexus says:

      See, the ‘overall half-nakedness’ wouldn’t bother me so much if the guys were dressed the same. Hell, all armours should come with the standard version and the ‘overall half-nakedness’ for either gender and let the player flip a switch for personal preference.

      • DerNebel says:

        That’s exactly what I’m thinking here. I have nothing against half-nakedness as long as it is applied liberally instead of obviously marginalizing half the population of the earth.

        In short: Sexy is good, sexism is bad.

        • Berzee says:

          Counterpoint: modesty is good for both sexes.

          • Kitsuninc says:

            Is it, though? I dunno, but I think it’s something that isn’t necessary. Equating sexy with sexist definitely isn’t right. What is sexist is to have a sexy character that fails as a character. A simple sexy character often acts as more of an object than a person, and that’s one of the biggest forms of sexism, objectification.

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      • Berzee says:

        All games should come with a “modesty” checkbox — I would have so many more games to play!

      • caddyB says:

        The guys are also half naked though.

    • TerrorWolf says:

      Personally I wasn’t too impressed with the mechanics of Tera. I like the combat in Guild Wars 2 a lot though. And FFXIV combat is pretty decent, too. Overall it’s a great game. Better than most other MMOs out there these days. FFXIV Masters

  2. RaytraceRat says:

    I love how the character is standing sill and text pops out “Dodged”. A almost forgot how static combat in MMORPGs is, thanks for reminding me it haven’t really changed.

    edit: Moist Depression? Is that the best name for a quest objective ever? :D

    • jinnyjinjin says:

      You might want to look at Guild Wars 2 then. You physically have to dodge in that, for the most part.

      • Groove says:

        Exactly! Whenever I play Guild Wars 2 it doesn’t feel like it’s actually evolved MMOs at all, but then I watch this and see her standing still with ‘dodge dodge’ floating past her head and I give it ‘Ohhhh, I see what you did there’.

      • RaytraceRat says:

        Mhm, I got GW2 sometime ago, can’t play it really because of workload I have, but it feels much more responsive in terms of combat.
        Also – no subscription means it can sit on my hard drive and wait until I have more time without me feeling like I’m wasting money :)

      • aliksy says:

        GW2 combat is very good. Better than some single player games I’ve played, even.

        Unfortunately I disgust-quit when they decided they wanted to do more vertical progression despite selling the game on not doing that, and then doing a horrible job of responding to the community outcry.
        [/tangent]

        • Doghaus says:

          I’m confused by all this. Personally I don’t give a tinker’s toss about it, being a player on the extreme side of casual (which is not to say I don’t like the game, I really really do but Steam sales), but it seemed to be something they implemented in order to appease a vocal minority who wanted something else to work (or, yes, “grind” I suppose) towards once they hit 80. So they make this concession and then another portion of the community is up in arms about it. Can’t say I envy them.

          I just want the game to do well so that Arenanet make money and can make cool new content.

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            Honestly I think the biggest issue with their rollout of the new gear was communication. It was a textbook example of how to make your community feel ignored.

            If they’d told people ahead of time – “hey people, we goofed and realize that we need an extra tier of items between exotics and our really cool vanity gear, here’s why… We’re going to add it in slowly so people don’t feel like they’re being punished for our mistake” – I have a feeling that the outrage would have been much less intense.

            Also, I can’t imagine why they chose to link the new tier of items to dungeon progression. That just feels like they’re making an MMORPG design 101 mistake. It is the least interesting type of gear check since it has no interaction with the rest of the game at all, and stands out like a sore thumb because of it.

            I write all this as a relatively dispassionate player who had already stopped playing the game, simply because I realized that I’d rather be playing other genres. GW2 is a fine MMO, but if I’m going to commit the amount of time it’s asking for, I’d personally get a better return from EvE or PS2.

          • Incredibly_Shallow says:

            Part of the problem with outcry about anything an MMO does end-game is that it really does not matter. End-game is for vocal devotees who really don’t matter. They are a small portion of the players and most other players won’t ever get there. Particularly with non-subscription based MMOs they become even less important. They think they are ‘the community’ but they aren’t. The community that developers should care about are the majority of people who never post and only play for 10-40 hours. Thankfully for them (developers) they have all kinds of metrics and gameplay logging methods to tell what that group of players tends to do in game without the player ever directly telling them, so they don’t really have to look at the whiny fanatics posting on the forums about the end game.

            I hate vocal minorities when it comes to any game.

          • aliksy says:

            By giving in to the vocal minority (content locusts) they’re betraying the manifesto (their word) they used to sell the game. More powerful gear you need to grind for should have no place in Guild Wars 2. Players should not have a numerical advantage (no matter how small!) just because they play longer or got lucky with drops. Exotic gear was bad enough, but at least it was pretty trivial to get. No gear grind was a major selling point for the game, and they’ve gone and turned their back on it.

            Content gating like the new dungeon is just bad design. For a game that’s supposed to be about playing with whoever’s around, it really doesn’t fit.

            And yes, their poor engagement with the community really fanned the flames. There was like a 10,000 post thread (well, they merged many threads into it) that had many people saying they didn’t like the new tier. There were a lot of well written, well argued posts in there.

            ArenaNet did not reply. They did not engage with the community. There was one or two half-assed PR posts, but that’s it.

            They locked the thread after a few days, saying something like the conversation has run its course.

            There are plenty of games for people who get a kick out of making the numbers on their character sheet bigger. Trying to make GW2 into one is just foolish.

        • Arglebargle says:

          Much Ado about Very Little.

          Though they could have been a bit more transparent about the changes. Personally, I’m only interested in the cool looking skins anyway, so the more – the better.

        • Cunning Linguist says:

          Oh man, I felt like a sucker after buying all the hype about this game (Guild Wars 2)and paying for it… Yes, the combat is fun but the fun ends with near instant mob respawns (behind your back) and general zombie grindfarm mentality… arghhh getting duped by a big marketing machine when I should have known better….

    • Jupiah says:

      I know, it’s ridiculous! You’d think that even if they don’t want to implement a real-time combat system and force the player to physically dodge attacks, they could at least give the character model a dodging animation instead of just having the words DODGE pop up over their head while the enemies attacks pass clean through them. Why do so many MMORPGs refuse to do that?

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        Many MMORPGs do this, but apparently the extra coding and animation work is more than Squeenix can commit? Damned if I know, it seems like the sort of thing that should be a relatively easy addition these days considering how long it’s been in WoW, and probably games before that.

        I’m just guessing, but I’d put it down to conserving animation budget.

        • animlboogy says:

          Apparently hundreds of people were moved to this project to get it through this reboot. On one hand, they’re in a mad dash to balance quality with timeliness, which has to be the hardest thing. On the other hand, when multiple projects are shoved to the side to get one big game out quickly, you’d think they’d use all that extra staff to make a dodge animation so as not to embarrass themselves and get comments like these.

        • mickygor says:

          It seems people are overlooking the fact that it’s alpha footage – the game isn’t finished, and the coders don’t need the animations to be completed to develop the functionality.

  3. Fox89 says:

    I was reading a gamsutra article last night discussing the gaming trends of 2012. And one of the big ones was the death of the subscription MMO. Even more than the WoW-tastic systems, Final Fantasy XIV is going to be struggling to bring subscribers in to a model that is becoming less and less popular by the month.

    The Old Republic struggled with the times in the same way, and between that and XIV’s own catastrophic reputation after the vanilla release, I’m not exactly optimistic that it is going to turn around. It makes me sad, because I’m a huge Final Fantasy fan and I would dearly love a great FF MMO that I could sink my teeth into. But as pretty as it is, trying to go toe-to-toe with Guild Wars 2 and any number of F2P games doesn’t seem like a move that is going to end well for Square Enix. Maybe if the brand itself had the same strength that it had back when XI was released it would stand half a chance, but it simply doesn’t.

    The subscription MMO is now reserved for World of Warcraft, EVE and… well, that’s about it. And I don’t think A Realm Reborn is going to be the revolution it needs to be to buck that trend.

    • RaytraceRat says:

      I think RIFT is still going subscription based. But yea, looks like you’re right.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      I just wonder how much of that is “this type of monetizing is dead” and how much of it is “all these subscription MMOs are boring and lack new ideas.”

      I know several MMO players who are waiting to sub to another MMO but can’t find a good one.

      • Fox89 says:

        Perhaps it would have been better to say death of the subscription MMO ‘as we know it’. I don’t doubt that if something came along with fresh ideas and interesting game mechanics the subscription model would take off again.

        But the now-traditional ‘fetch quests and hotkeys’ MMOs can’t get away with it anymore, those were mainly the ones I was referring to. For sure if we got a Dark Souls online with the same real time combat systems, I might be inclined to throw down a sub! :)

        • Dahoon says:

          That would be awesome wouldn’t it. I doubt they could get a publisher on it without turning it into a WoW-clone.

          Any game that feels as good now as Dark Age of Camelot did when it was new would get me back to MMO subscription games. As it is now everything is just another publishers take on how to make a WoW clone with a twist. I for one hate really dislike WoW, so any WoW-clone-with-a-twist is going to suck in my universe. I think I have tried most of the big ones and I hate really dislike every single one of them, except maybe GW2.

          My MMO universe is getting lonely. I wish I could find something fancy to play *sob*

          • zachdidit says:

            I’m personally waiting for Archeage. Even though I generally swear off eastern MMOs, this one really looks like it’s got potential to shine. It’s not out of beta yet and its set of already completely features blows every sandbox I’ve played out of the water.

    • elfbarf says:

      Rift is a smaller MMO (compared to say WoW) which is still surviving on a subscription model. It’s able to do this because the game itself is good and the players feel as if it’s worth the monthly fee.

      FFXIV’s failure had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the subscription. It failed because it wasn’t even half of a complete game; everything about it was a mess at “release”.

      SWTOR’s failure had less to do with the subscription and more to do with a lack of end-game focus. Sure, people may have continued to play casually if there wasn’t a subscription, but they’d still run out of things to do fairly quickly. Even if they had end-game content, the game isn’t very good it unless you’re impressed by a dialogue wheel (which gave the illusion of choice), decent writing (though a lot of it was pretty bad), and mediocre voiceacting. The combat was a major step back from other MMOs; even WoW’s combat is much faster paced. Everything about SWTOR at launch felt like it was several years old.

      • Droniac says:

        To be fair with regards to SWTOR: a dialogue wheel is an enormous step up from any other MMO ever, and decent writing is far more than you can say for most MMOs (with exception of LotRO, AoC, and TSW). And I don’t quite see SWTOR’s combat as a major step back from other MMOs, it was certainly a lot more engaging than WAR or LotRO combat, even if it wasn’t quite as responsive as WoW or RIFT.

        I also doubt the lack of end-game content is what drove players out. Nearly the entire endgame crowd had already quit within the first couple of months, but the game didn’t really start losing subscribers until well after that point (5-7 months after launch). My guess is the main reason SWTOR started losing subscribers so many months down the line is because the majority of their player base (relatively sane individuals who just want to experience the story and setting) ran out of things to do (story). Why? Because Bioware was so busy trying to cater to endgamey people and expand its PvP modes that they completely forgot to add anything of any actual substance whatsoever. Not even a single new questline in almost a year… yeah.

      • Fox89 says:

        RIFT is doing pretty well, sure, but it on its own is not proof that subscription models are still reasonably viable for the traditional MMORPG market. There are exceptions to every rule, and I think the trends have become pretty clear over this past year.

        I imagine something like RIFT can get away with it as well because the budget to run the thing is lower and the development costs are lower. Something like TOR and FFXIV are likely to cost many many millions more to develop and sustain – such is the nature of large publishers – and the result is they need larger subscriber numbers to make the profitable.

        On the flip side, if you don’t pump enough money at marketing and the service then you don’t bring players in or things start to stagnate. So from what I can tell the folks at Trion have invested wisely and found themselves a nice profitable balance. Judging by the limited numbers I have found I’d estimate they probably have about half a million subscribers – nothing like WoW but seems to be working for their operation.

        This is, however, a very fine balance to find in today’s market. And with Free to Play taking over, it is only getting more and more difficult for sub only models to stay competitive. Even a success story like RIFT has a free to play ‘Lite’ element to hook people in. They understand as well as anybody which way the winds are blowing.

        • neurosisxeno says:

          Wait what? So TOR and FFXIV are proof that the sub-model is over, but Rift is an exception? You are quite literally cherry picking to fit your narrative. Rift is doing fine because it’s a very well run game. The developers (Trion) are very responsive to the communities demands, and they have continued to pump out monthly content patches (something not even Blizzard has managed) for almost a full year. They also just dropped an expansion that triples the size of the game world. I have been so tempted to get back into Rift, and paying a sub is hardly too high a price.

          The reason TOR failed was because once you finished leveling, the game stopped being fun. Raids were poorly balanced or just flat out broken, and PvP heavily rewarded the early levelers, combined with Biowares reuctance to take a stand against angry mobs on the forums, certain casses saw huge nerfs that weren’t necessary, while clearly imbalanced classes stayed exactly where they were. SWTOR was a great game, and I have no problem paying for it, but not until it has some time to mature.

          FFXIV on the other hand, was a bucket of crap. For whatever reason, Square thought it woud be intelligent to release a barely functional, archaic, half complete game, and charge full price with a subscription for it. I played the Beta and knew from the first moment it was going to be terrible. My friends and I laughed about how bad it was–even compared to FFXI. It took so many steps backwards in terms of design and gameplay, that it was a chalenge just to navigate menus, let aone do anything functional.

    • ikbenbeter says:

      RuneScape. Everyone just forgets about RuneScape. I don’t play anymore but that game is not dead at all. There’s been massive updates and absolutely no coverage.

  4. Didden says:

    Do you have attach a tail in real life? I’ve heard rumours about furries.

  5. Kitsuninc says:

    This is…different than it was before? I guess I didn’t pay enough attention to just how bad it was before, but it’s hard for me to give the tiniest of craps about a game where you just stand still trading blows until someone falls down.

  6. Flipao says:

    The most fun I’ve had in an MMO combat-wise was in DC Universe Online, it was fast paced fun and responsive.

    It’s a shame the game was buggy as hell, I got tired of seeing exploiters on PvP and getting stuck on buggy instances and left after the 1st month, when I tried it a few months later the game was all but deserted.

    • mondomau says:

      DCUO was my first real MMO and I loved it – i suspect would have got bored once I reached level cap and had to start grinding for epic gear, but that never happened because my account was stolen in the big security breach SOE had – my every attempt to recover my it was met with ineptitude or stony silence and eventually they banned my account and refused to respond to any communication because they have a ‘zero tolerance policy to behavior that breaches their Terms of Service’. Such breaches including having all your personal details stolen from their ‘secure’ servers apparently.

  7. Toberoth says:

    Bad sign when even the person who’s showing off the game skips quickly through the quest text…

    • Milky1985 says:

      Yes because the quest text is really important in a game-play video with a giant alpha symbol on the video to symbolize the fact that its in alpha and so is no-where near ready.

      • Toberoth says:

        Well, it is important actually. Since it’s the first proper video they’re showing off of the new version of the game, everything that’s in there should be as good as possible. If the quest text is so dull that the player feels the need to skip it in a video which should be designed to make the game look as enticing as possible then there’s something wrong, alpha or no.

        • CptPlanet says:

          It’s not important. It is done for the viewers. Noone wants to watch someone standing there reading the text in a video.

          • Kitsuninc says:

            Yeah. There are good points to make. That wasn’t one of them. Anyone who’s making a video about anything is going to skip the text unless they’re reading it out loud.

          • Toberoth says:

            If the text isn’t interesting, then why is it there, and why are they showing it off?

            You mistake me, I think–I’m not saying that I find the storyline fascinating and I want to know about it, I’m saying if the text is so boring or throwaway or pointless that the person playing the game can’t be bothered reading it, then it shouldn’t be in a video designed to show off the game, and it probably shouldn’t be in the game at all. This is meant to be a promotional video, and all it promotes (to me, at least) is the idea that this is another dull MMO where the combat system is static, the spells are predictable, the world design is generic, and even the story doesn’t redeem all this (as it might in a more traditional Final Fantasy game), because it’s delivered in trite little nuggets that nobody is interested in.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Well, if that is the case then why did they show that bit at all? Easy enough to show some features and combat without quest text being anywhere involved. Alternatively, editing would do it as well.

          • aliksy says:

            If it’s not exciting to show in the video it’s probably not exciting to be in the game. Maybe they should try making a less conservative (reactionary?) game.

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            “If the text isn’t interesting, then why is it there, and why are they showing it off?”

            I agree with this man. Imagine if we got a Wasteland 2 video and they just skipped through the dialog options to get to “the real stuff”. Or watch a GW2 video, wherein the player will not usually see a text box unless they make a point of talking to an NPC about something.

            If the best way to make your game look interesting is to skip past a bunch of bloated quest text, then that text probably needs to be edited down to get out of your way faster, or alternatively make it genuinely important to the game (as dialog will presumably be in my Wasteland 2 example).

  8. Arkon540 says:

    I have interest in this game, I like the FF visual style and lore, but that video is not doing much for me. When I play MMO’s I play them very “actively”. I jump around while using my instant casts, stay mobile, etc. I fear that since FFXIV will be “emulating” the console RPG combat in a realtime world(when you engage an enemy it locks you into combat where you’re basically choosing menu items ala FF 7), there may not be much room for “control”. However, there really would be no need for mobility in a game where there is no PvP.

    tl;dr I’m afraid this game will be a multiplayer “console style” RPG, which is exactly what it’s supposed to be…

    • Toberoth says:

      Tbh I think it looks just like WoW with slightly pointier hair, I don’t understand the “console rpg” comparison you’re making.

    • haze4peace says:

      They are adding PvP into the game.

  9. saudrapsmann says:

    According to some alpha testers on the FFXIV subreddit its just meant to be streamlined like this for the first few levels, then you get access to an improved levequest system as an alternative form of leveling, on top of the always available older alternative of grinding mobs in a party.

    So don’t fear, those actually looking forward to trying the game, though there’s a pathetic amount of comments here from people who clearly have no interest in giving the game the slightest chance.

    • Toberoth says:

      I’d give it a chance if it looked, you know, good. As in not bad. As in the exact opposite of the video above.

      • saudrapsmann says:

        Oh yeah totally looks bad.

        I don’t know how anyone ever does… standard MMO questing! Its like they like MMOs or something. CRAZY!

    • Fox89 says:

      Seems a bit of an odd way to market your game.

      “So boss, should we make a video showing off the quest system?”
      “Yes, make sure you get the early, crappy stuff.”
      “Er, how come?”
      “Well, if we put all the rubbish in the promotional material, everyone will be pleasantly surprised when they play the full game and it’s nothing like that!”

      I want this game to succeed very much. As I’ve said in an earlier post: huge FF fanboy here. But if they’re gonna put out a video about the quest system that sucks, I’m going to assume the quest system sucks!

      • saudrapsmann says:

        The… early, crappy stuff?

        What’s so crappy about what was shown off, exactly? I see standard MMO quests but with a smaller goal and more exp than these quests usually give in other MMOs. It looks like a good way to show off different regions and act as an alternative to other forms of leveling.

        You must have insanely high standards for MMOs that I assume no MMO will ever fill, so why are you bothering to argue about it in the first place? Just say “I dont like MMOs” already.

        • Fox89 says:

          I have always hated this form of quest system. But recently we’ve had things like TOR and Guild Wars, among others presumably, improve that formula. Same goes with the combat. These mechanics existed and proliferated because of the technical limitations of hardware in the last decade. Such restrictions no longer apply to the same extent, so I expect a new MMO to mix things up a bit.

          Like Guild Wars 2. You know how you actually have to dodge in that? And quest givers can now have voice acting and dialogue choices. We’re still a way off from eradicating the shopping list quests, I will admit, but what is shown here is hardly best in class for an already archaic mechanic. Which, when you’re planning on charging a subscription, it kinda needs to be.

          • saudrapsmann says:

            For questing? Seriously? Guild wars 2’s hearts are a thousand times more tedious, and no dodging is not needed in it more than being mobile and thank god for that because dodging in gw2 sucks compared to tera. What you seem to think it “needs to be” is an action mmo, something you’ll never find in the final fantasy series and no one who actually likes the games wants. If you want to play Cash Shop Wars 2, go play it, but stop bitching about this one just because you seem to equate “it doesn’t wow me with innovation” to “its crap”

  10. dontnormally says:

    Final Fantasy XVIVIVXXIVIVIXXIVIVIXXVIVIXIV

    “What is this, The Land Before Time?”

  11. Lemming says:

    I know it’s fashionable to hate MMO questing done this way, but I really don’t see the problem if there is a market for exactly this type of game play. If we worried about stuff like that, JRPG turn-based combat would have died a horrible death around 1999.

    • Fox89 says:

      There was a market for it a few years ago. Now? I just don’t see it. Single player games can get away with turn based combat because 1) their systems offer more depth and 2) they don’t give you dumb “Kill X of Y” quests all the time.

  12. Rukumouru says:

    Oh god, not ANOTHER ONE of THESE.

    Seriously, every god-forsaken MMORPG out there right now is the EXACT SAME THING.

    I can’t believe Ragnarok Online (pre-Renewal) is still the best MMORPG i’ve ever played. After all these years, it’s about time for someone to do something new and refreshing with MMOs, instead of spanning a thousand World of Warcrafts, Lineages, Aions and what-nots.

  13. Aerius says:

    I always felt like a final fantasy MMO should work more like guildwars 1, in which you control an entire party of characters that can also be substituted by other players if you want, and the main drive of the game is the story.

  14. sharkh20 says:

    This redo is going nowhere fast. I cannot figure out why they thought this was a good idea with the current state of mmos. Seems like a big fat waste of money to me. But I could be wrong.

  15. RvLeshrac says:

    Seriously? You didn’t go with “Wark, an MMO”? Shame.