FFXIV Open Beta: Gridania Story, Combat and Gameplay + Thoughts on the Game

By now the die-hard Final Fantasy fans are logging in to servers around the world for their first look at the release version of FFXIV Online. In this final of our videos celebrating the release of Final Fantasy XIV Collectors Edition today, I finally get in some good gameplay. The video picks up at the opening cinematic for Gridania, then I play around with the UI and basic commands a bit before engaging in combat and seeing more pretty cut scenes. Lots of good stuff in this one. After the video, continue onward for my critiques of the game based on what I experienced in the Open Beta.

As promised, now I lay into the game itself. As I previously ranted, the Open Beta seemed to be very poorly organized. I had to jump through so, so many hoops just to get the client installed, patched and running properly that part of me was no longer even interested in playing the game. Another part thought, “After going through all that, this BETTER be good.”

And in some ways, it was. The character creation process itself is quite detailed and allows for some relatively in-depth customization. Of course, your character will still look like the race that you choose, but with many, many options for skin tone, facial expressions, voice, eyes and nose, hair, etc. That part was fun.

And I loved the transition of my character from the version I created in the first and second videos I posted to one appearing so vividly in-game. In the cut scenes, I was especially impressed with the graphics. Even during gameplay, the look of the characters and environments is gorgeous.

The class system also seems really interesting, although I didn’t progress very far, and the questing from what I played through seemed decent. I enjoyed the switch back and forth between gameplay and cut scenes, too, and think that overall I would be a fan of the storyline. But, for me, that wasn’t enough to suck me in.

Like Juggynaut, I was turned off by a cumbersome interface that just doesn’t work well on a computer. Compared to the stellar graphics everywhere else in the game, the menus clash both in usability and their sheer aesthetics. Even during the character creation process, the pop-up menus and the necessity of clicking on menu after menu to input the right commands, was starting to worry me a bit. Then, in-game, the issues with it become much more obvious. It may sound to the reader that I’m simply being lazy — and sure, I’ll admit that plays a role — but it also was such a distraction that it repeatedly took me out of the game and left me frustrated. Granted, I never played FFXI, so that also may play a role.

The interface is something that I probably would grow at least a bit accustomed to if I were to continue playing. And customizing my hotkeys and bars to my liking, assuming I could figure out how, also would certainly help. But the intrinsic functionality problem that is built-in to even the most basic of menus, for me, is a deal breaker. At least, for now. If I were to lose interest in WoW and needed something to fill that hole, I would consider trying it out again and giving it a little more time to see how I adjust.

And should I hear that the released game fixes this issue, I would be interested in giving it another shot. But it seems to me that, as Juggynaut said, Square Enix is trying too hard to match the UI so it’s comparable to previous games in the mostly console-based FF series.

Even though I’m excited for its release and to see how well (or not) the game does, for now I’m going to pass. But I won’t say for sure that it’s a permanent “no,” because I’m prone to indecisiveness and certainly still have time to change my mind.

Anyone else in wait-and-see mode?