I can't talk about how much I've been playing FFXIV and cut a link dump short without something to show for it, right? Because otherwise I'd be just like this little lady here...
So here goes. I'm going to do this bullet point-style, and it'll be brief (I hope) because I'm still really in the beginning, here. I've had the game less than a week, and I'm playing on two different servers (two different groups of people I wanted to play with, so there's that). If you want the "full disclosure" on how far I've gotten into the game, one of my characters is level 21 and just past her first three instances that involve a full party. The second character is slightly behind, at the point just before those three fights. I'm playing Arcanist (I couldn't resist a class that literally fights with books) and Archer for now. You can check my progress at any time by clicking on my character names in my sidebar with handy links to Lodestone.
Cons (let's get this out of the way):
- Even in the span of just a few days, there've been aspects of the game that I hated when I first started and have either gotten used to or warmed up to now. One of the biggest things I very much dislike about FFXIV is the movement. Is it too much to ask that when I punch a directional button my character just run in that direction? Am I missing some setting that I can adjust to make that happen?
- Something that goes hand-in-hand with my problems with the movement: the camera. I can't swing the camera anywhere I like without it suddenly resetting to its position behind my character. At the very least, I would like it to gracefully slide back to position rather than what it does now, which is reset in just one frame. It's abrupt and it makes my eyes hurt. I've had to re-train my hands to just (literally) not look around the environment with the camera because I don't want it to reset, which has the added effect of completely disorienting me.
- Every time something happens (completing a quest, opening a new option, etc.), this huge banner comes up on the screen with fanfare to herald and sing your praises. While cool, all it does is block my view, and in some cases, it blocks animations that are supposed to be charming and fun with its stupid gold letter-ness (like when you've opened access to staterooms and leves, the characters do cute little welcoming motions, which are blocked by the ugly banners).
- Speaking of blocking my view, I preferred it when my keybind/macro sets disappeared while not in use (like in FFXI). Talk about a cluttered screen, paired with the mission help on the right side. You might be thinking, "but Kristina, that widget is totally optional, but so useful!" To that I say - the game pretty much gives you everything on a silver platter, so much so that it's almost pointless to read the dialogue. Even when I do read the dialogue, I find myself looking there anyway since it's such a sexy, handy list of things I need to do and in what order I need to do them. I should be happy that my compulsion for lists is gratified by this widget, but I hate it because it just reinforces the fact that you don't need to try hard (or at all) to find things/people, and aren't really encouraged to explore for the sake of it. If the list isn't enough, look no further than the mini map for directions to exactly every NPC and even monster patrol area you need in order to complete your duties. There is no thinking involved, except for battle strategy, which is basically mashing the same two attacks over and over since I'm a low level character.
- I'm not saying the game is "too easy," and I shouldn't complain about that because it really saves time, but I feel like there could be a better way to make it friendly to all sorts of gamers while not making it completely... well, mindless. Like, seriously, all you have to do is follow the icons on the mini map and the list on the right automatically checks everything off as you go.
- I cant just tab onto an NPC and initiate a conversation with them using the [enter] key. I don't like having to use the mouse for dialogue, trading items, or other little things. Or really, at all. I really wish I could play this with only the keyboard.
- Is there a point to merchants or gil in FFXIV? So far, I've gotten all I need from quests and dungeons, and have only spent gil on birds or teleports. For that matter, is there a point to craft/synth jobs at the moment?
Pros (finally, right?):
- The immersive cutscenes/cinematics are absolutely brilliant. I love that my character interacts with the NPCs/environment no matter what gear I'm wearing, with unique movements, meaningful expressions, and does it seamlessly. It definitely gives me that special, heart-warming fuzzy feeling of playing a game that's all about me, even if there are 20 other players crowded around me seeing the same cutscene I just did.
- All the areas are stunning, and I'm so happy that I'm running the game on a computer that could take full advantage of the graphics. Every time I pass by water, I marvel at its wetness. When I pass through canopy areas while it's raining and it's dry in some spots but wet in others? I swoon. All the colors becoming more vibrant when the in-game day is reaching its end? Breathtaking. When I'm in a zone experiencing a thunderstorm and the lightning flashes, casting stark shadows in some areas and bright spots in others? Glory.
- The voice-acting is rather good, and I like that it's part of the game. I kind of wish there were more of it, though I've thought since day one that the only reason there aren't is because half the NPC names aren't even pronounceable. Still, it's in the "pro" list because it's awesome.
- You can dye your gear the colors that you like? Just when I thought that I couldn't be swayed by little gimmicks, this comes around and takes me by surprise. It's one of those things that I didn't know I wanted until it came my way.
- Though I generally like Fate and the idea of Fate, I hate that sometimes, I'm just in the area for a quest or I'm running through, and I'm suddenly attacked by a bunch of Fate monsters because I'm automatically initiated into the fight just by being there. I'm undecided whether I'm overall for or against it, but the pros outweigh the cons. If I'm not the appropriate level (or if I'm unwilling to participate), I can just walk out of the area of influence, or, in the case of being too high level, just click "level sync" and fight.
- The. Soundtrack. Is. Awesome.
- Though originally I thought it was kind of detached, I've come to appreciate that it doesn't matter where you are in Eorzea if you want to initiate stuff with friends. See a friend online you want to invite to your linkshell or free company? No need to go meeting up somewhere to trade a linkpearl, just invite them. Want to form a party? It doesn't matter how far away you are from each other. Newbie in the linkshell needs help with a dungeon? You're just one click away from a teleport into the instance so long as someone can bring it up on their duty list. It completely eliminates travel time and focuses instead on doing things at the moment people can do them.
- Being able to save your gear sets and store them all in your personal armory which is separate from general inventory is god-sent. No longer will I need to go look for a Moogle or head to my stateroom to do a gear-change before some mission, instance, or fighting some monster. Oh hey, I'm playing Conjurer right now, but what my group really needs is a tank? Cool, lemme just change my gear and we're good to go. No, don't wait up - see? I'm already done.
- The Aetheryte system for zipping from place to place in the main cities is great, and I love that by attuning to each in-town crystal you then unlock the ability to zip straight outside through whatever gate you wish. Overall, giving everyone the ability to teleport as they please is a huge time-saver, as is the Chocobo porter system, which I find both useful and charming. Look ma' -- no hands!
Alright, this has turned into a pretty long thing, so I'll leave it at this for now. Like I mentioned before, I'm still pretty much a newbie, so my feelings on some of these things are definitely going to change over time. Also, being able to team up with my friends has played a huge role in my enjoyment of the game. While I was leveling up my first character solo, I felt like I was playing a solo RPG - and a game that practically played itself at that. Once I joined up the free company and linkshell my buds were on (about 17 levels in), things improved 100%. What I call "mindless" in the "con" section is bearable because I can just pal around with my buds while doing it.
Of course, your own thoughts and experiences are welcome in the comments. Also, if you happen to be in Hyperion or Excalibur, we should be friends or something! My info is on this site's sidebar.