Final Fantasy XIV - A Forrest Review
The 11 year, ongoing hit, massive multiplayer online game Final Fantasy XIV just released its fourth expansion: Endwalker. I’m nowhere near close to that expansion, and so I won’t be talking about it! Haha, but I want to share my thoughts on the game, and how much fun I’ve been having while playing.
Final Fantasy XIV is an MMORPG on PC and Playstation. It does require a subscription (after a point), but has a very generous free trial. I have a few friends who are extremely dedicated to this game. Once I found out FF14 offers a free trial that has been expanded to level 60, and covers material all the way up to the end of Heavensward, the game’s first expansion, I thought, why not? So I joined them!
Personally, I’ve found FF14 to be more of a solo experience. Which is totally fine by me—it allows me to play at my own pace, consume story bits when I want, for as long as I want. But it allows me to quest alone, which I was never able to do very much of if I wanted to level up when I would play World of Warcraft or Everquest Online. So for me, it’s been great fun.
Final Fantasy XIV has a hefty handful of races to choose from when you start the game. They are:
Hyur - Your typical human race.
Elezen - Essentially, elves. Taller human-looking people with pointy ears and colorful eyes.
Lalafell - Tiny people who most resemble gnomes from Everquest Online. They are very cute and unassuming.
Roegadyen - I haven’t looked into this race really, but they most resemble orcs/ogres. And the reason I say this is because they’re often depicted with green or blue skin, though they can have other colors. They’re very beefy looking (strong)! They are considered a maritime race.
Miqo’te - Cat people! Cat ears and a tail, with either wide eyes or slitted eyes, depending on which regional Miqo’te you choose.
Au Ra - Dragon people. They have horns and a dragon’s tail.
Hrothgar - Lion people. If you ever played Final Fantasy X, they’re essentially Ronso. This race is only playable when you’ve actually purchased the game and the Shadowbringers expansion. This race currently only has male characters available.
Viera - Bunny people! This race now has both female AND male versions available. Male Viera were added when Endwalker was released. This race is also only available after purchasing the game. If you’ve played FF12, they are the same race as Fran.
I chose a Miqo’te as my character, and started as an arcanist, which is a magic class. Choosing arcanist put me in the starting city Limsa Lominsa, a port town with a penchant for pirates. The story starts pretty slow, not gonna lie. There’s some cute bits here and there, and the arcanist quests are so-so in keeping me interested. I pushed through because I enjoyed the gameplay, and the quests didn’t feel entirely like your typical fetch quests where nothing the NPCs seem to say matters, just fetch the item requested and be done with it, sort of deal. So this was a big plus. Especially as I continued on in the game, I found I was seeing repeat characters, or worldbuilding that repeated itself later on. You start to feel like you actually belong in this world.
While I play the game solo, I’m not always soloing. You can join random players or find a group to play with for dungeons (and for questing too if you wanted), though dungeoning gives you the most experience in a shorter amount of time. I have a few friends I’ll play with, but usually only for dungeons. Having a group gets you into dungeons much quicker, as you have to wait in a queue until all players are found to group up with, if you’re going in solo. There are three types of classes that are necessary for dungeons: tank, healer, and DPS. Tanks take most of the damage and keep enemies off their teammates. Healers focus on healing the tank, but other players too as needed. They also resurrect fallen players. DPS are damage-per-second classes that deal a ton of damage in a short period of time, but have less health/endurance and die much quicker if they’re taking the brunt of the damage from an enemy. There are far more players playing as DPS than tanks or healers, and so as a DPS character, it can take a while to find a group when you’re in a queue for a dungeon.
I ended up forgoing many of the side quests and focused on the main story. Around level 50, I gave up my scholar class (a healer class the arcanist can turn into, or summoner if you decide you want to play DPS ((damage class)) instead) because, to be honest, it became a bit too complicated, and a bit boring. At this point, though, I was fully invested in the main story quest. While some of the cutscenes are very long, and sometimes long winded to boot, once I beat the first section of the game (A Realm Reborn), there was no going back. Not to say I wasn’t already invested. ;)
By the by, while I did say I’ve cut out most of the side quests, that doesn’t mean I haven’t done any, nor does it discount the fact that they exist. There are some very fun and interesting side quests, and some that you should absolutely invest the time into. One in particular being the Hildebrand quests. You must not miss this questline, once you find it. :)
So the really cool thing about Final Fantasy 14 is that you can play every single class on one character. For people who like to roleplay, in my opinion, FF14 is not alt friendly. (Alts are alternative characters. Generally in other MMOs, people who like to try different classes will make alternate characters from their main character, which gives them a swath of new personalities and appearances depending on how you like to RP in-game.) You can make alts (if the world is accepting new characters), but you then start from ground zero, including the main story quest. You can purchase story progressions for your character separately from the main game if you want, but otherwise you’ll have to just do everything all over again. Which, for some people, is just too much work, and I don’t blame them! But it can get costly when you’re already paying a sub (12.99 for one character per world, or 14.99 for 8 characters per world a month). Alts can be worth it if you have a specific purpose for them! Some use them for extra storage, others specifically for roleplay, some just so they can play as a different race without using an ingame item called Fantasia, which changes your character’s appearance.
The community is extremely friendly. If you ask for help, more than likely you’re going to find it. On a free trial, you’re limited on how you can communicate (you can only /say or /party chat, though you can join linkshells, you cannot make your own. You cannot add someone to your friends list, or to a party, they have to add you.) but usually when you find a player doing the same quest as you, they’re likely going to join you.
I really love how the game looks. When I first started, I was concerned with how linear the worlds seemed. When you move across the map, they’re all enclosed instances, and to move to another section of the world, you go through portals, essentially, that take you to a new map section. As I’ve gotten further in the game, though, and unlocked new areas, I have absolutely grown accustomed to this, and really love the layout. And even besides all that: it’s damn beautiful, the music is fabulous and engaging, and the enemies are very fun looking, and very nostalgic to older Final Fantasy games.
As a Final Fantasy fan, there have been some fun events. One of them being a FF15 event, where you run into the main character, Noctis, and help him get back to his own world. There is also an area in-game where you go to the Gold Saucer, a casino that is very similar to the one in Final Fantasy VII, and with the same name. You can race and raise chocobos, gamble, play the lottery, and play games. There is so much to do in FF14 that it can sometimes be dizzying!
Back to the main story… I’ve often heard it told that A Realm Reborn is the slowest and least interesting main story section of the game. I didn’t think it was awful, but I can’t deny that it is slow. And while I’m admitting this, I want to let everyone here know: it is SO worth getting through, because the story and the characters grow so much, and I have literally cried over this game because of how much it has touched me, intrigued me, and pulled on my heartstrings. Slow or not, A Realm Reborn gives you everything you need to know to set you up for future events and understand better how the world works, and to get you invested in the cast of characters. As a “main character” yourself, the story pulls you in like you actually matter, even as a silent protagonist. You sometimes get to choose what you say in response to things too, which makes it all the more involved.
I’ve only just finished the main story of Heavensward, and I’ve loved every minute of it. Things pick up not long after you complete A Realm Reborn, and gaining the ability to fly (on your mounts) makes traveling that much easier and more fulfilling. Since I gave up leveling my scholar class, I picked up the dragoon class, and I’ve been having so much fun. It’s very dynamic, and even more fun to play with a controller versus the keyboard. It feels very intuitive and I feel like my skills as a DPS character have improved. I’ve also been enjoying playing a healer class called the astrologian, and I can’t wait to get back to leveling that class. I’ve just been so invested in the main story that I haven’t had the time to try other classes!
I give FF14 a full 5/5, not even sorry. I love the characters, and even some that I had a hard time liking in the beginning, I love now. As I said before, the side quests are worth it too for when you run out of, or tire of the main story for a time, so there is always something to do. If you can’t afford to sub, you can absolutely play the first half of the game entirely for free through their free trial system, and that’s SO many hours of free content. If I hadn’t gotten so excited, I’d still be on the free trial myself—but for me the full experience was worth the price. And this has been months of me playing for free!
Because of how the main story quest line is set up, it doesn’t matter if you’re starting now versus when the game first began. You won’t miss out on anything, which is a huge plus, because in other MMOs, I would be very confused about certain things because I missed the storyprogression of them happening, and disappointed that I missed live-events that could have had huge consequences on my character. So, there is no “late to the party” in FF14! Join at your leisure.
So yes, I absolutely recommend the game. Are you a player? What’s some of your favorite things about the game? Tell me about it in the comments (spoiler free of course!). As always, if you enjoyed this content and want to support me, you can donate via Ko-Fi or Paypal.