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on August 27, 2013
This review was written before the Heavensword expansion, and I know some things have changed. For example, flying mounts were introduced. I ultimately stopped playing after the 2.4 patch.

=== Revised for 2.2 patch ===

Would rank 4.5 stars currently. Original review mostly in place, slightly revised with additional notes at bottom:

FFXIV:ARR is certainly a ton better than the original FFXIV 1.0. The game itself is fun, and added a lot of elements that make it enjoyable. For example, using the dungeon finder to continue on in the game's storyline. If only FFXI had that during the CoP days... It basically will find you a Tank, Healer, and 2 DPS automatically so that you can progress in the story.

One thing I would like to make mention that is really impressive is how they do the classes. You can level all of the jobs on a single character, and change them just by changing weapons, but the interesting spin on it is that your main job doesn't get some abilities until you've leveled the other classes. (You only get a few 'additional traits' at first, and it increases every 5 levels.)

For example, if you level a guardian, you'll only get a handful of abilities specifically for guardian. Change your weapon and level Conjurer to level 2 and your Guardian will now be able to "equip" the Cure spell (if you want.) Level it to level 8 and you can "equip" the Protect spell. You can mix and match any number of classes "additional abilities" so long as Guardian main can use it. So I could mix 2 Conjurer spells, a Marauder spell, and a spell from Archer if I wanted.

Once you get to level 30, you can even further specialize into advanced jobs such as Paladin (30 Glad/15 Conjurer) to enable a different set of abilities. By specializing into a job, you get less "additional abilities" slots, however, you gain job specific abilities to make up for it. Jobs are limited to cross-classing with specific classes. For example, Paladin only has access to Marauder and Conjurer spells, whereas Gladiator can equip from all classes. Also for this example, Paladin will gain useful abilities (such as auto attack damage up, or a "reduce damage taken" ability) that Gladiator can't use. (Nov 30th update: This actually isn't nearly as impressive as I originally thought, as once you reach level 30, you'll almost always be stuck on your advanced jobs as the stat bonuses outweigh the additional cross class abilities even while solo. One example is that WAR does more damage than MRD because of access to more base stats + Relic weapon / AF2 stats. So basically you'll have access to two different jobs of cross class abilities, and they may or may not be useful abilities. Definitely not as customizable as I originally thought and leans more toward cookie-cutter builds.)

The battle components to the game are indeed a bit slow at first. However, it does pick up a bit when you do your first dungeon w/ a group. I will also say that the 3 second global cool down seems a bit excessive initially, but as you get more abilities to juggle, the overall battle sequences grow on you and are quite enjoyable.

Quests are plentiful for your first class, and you can squeeze out a little bit of quests for your 2nd, but soon you will run into a quest bottle neck, in that you'll have to resort to doing the levequests, FATEs, and guildleves / dungeon finder to level up. The quests are not very in-depth, and a lot of them are: Start quest, pick this up, deliver this, etc. It is a lot of running around but it's not bad, as there are multiple ways to get around. All characters have the ability to Teleport (for a gil cost) to areas in which you have touched the main Aethernet points. There are no flying mounts in the game, for those that are wondering, and all of the mounts travel at the same speed. They did add some Daily Quests as of 2.1, but they do not resolve the quest bottle neck that you'll run into for a 2nd job.

One thing that will be pleasing people who have came from FFXI is that the game doesn't really focus around gil (except for crafting and buying food) which is pretty common for modern MMOs. Another nice thing is that so far I haven't seen any "grinding" of mobs while doing the quests looking for a specific drop. If it says to go farm four bat wings from bats, it only takes 4 bats to get all the drops. Also, there is some threshold that people can assist even if they are not in your party (in addition you can help others and get credit.) There is a threshold though, as you can't just barely tag a monster and get XP or a drop, but you have to do a pretty decent amount of activity to a mob.

The FATE system is similar to the world events from Rift. They usually involve a group of monsters being killed, escorting an NPC, or killing a single boss or Notorious Monster. The FATE system is rewarding, giving a very good amount of EXP, and a potential way to level up is through a "FATE party." These are parties in which people will contribute to the FATE's success as a group as opposed to solo. However, after the 2.1 update, dungeons are now an alternative way to level up experience wise including daily one-time bonuses from the daily duty roulette feature. The hunting log is also very rewarding, giving you EXP for killing certain types of monsters (not many, usually 2-4). There is also different "tiers" of the hunting log that you unlock by doing the previous log. It's a fun addition, and it is probably the quickest way to level from 1-15 until you unlock dungeons for 2nd classes/jobs.

The environment in the game is appealing and pleasing to the eye, as it was in 1.0. The difference is now the game play has actually caught up to the aesthetics. I believe the producers said that the challenges are supposed to be geared towards end game, and that leveling up was designed to be relatively easy as you're expected to level multiple classes. You don't really have to worry about aggro from monsters, as all classes have a "sprint" ability, and monsters lose interest very quickly. Monsters losing interest and returning to their starting position is actually a nuisance for kiting jobs, (Archer, Conj, etc) as if you step too far away from it, it'll just go back to where you pulled it.

Playing with a group is also fun here. As you get more abilities you have to strategically choose which ability to use as they are all affected by the 3 second cool down. There is a built in threat/hate meter to let you (as a tank or a melee) see if you're about to lose or pull aggro on a specific monster (it shows your hate on all monsters that you have some amount of enmity on).

I was definitely worried about the game being difficult to differentiate between skilled players and unskilled players, but the higher I go, the less I worry about that. Overall, the game is very polished and pretty addicting. I would definitely recommend it for the price.

=== Update 4/17/2014 ===
I have not had any log in issues for several months. However, be warned if you are trying to create a character on a specific server. Girlfriend wanted to play on same server as me, and we were not able to create a character on Balmung. Eventually by checking back over and over, we were finally able to see the server open up for new accounts. Took about 24-48 hours of checking before it opened up. Same thing happened to my friend after recommending him to try the game out, he wanted to be on my server and was unable to create his character and play right away.

===Update 12/17/2013===
Couple of things to add now that a few months have passed:

Originally, I had a problem in that using the Duty Finder forces you to always have two tanks, two healers, and four DPS for the 8-man dungeons and you are unable to change classes once you are in the Duty. This presented a problem for party optimization, for example in Titan hard mode having two tanks is detrimental (as opposed to just not being optimized) and parties would be better suited with an extra healer or DPS. The game advertises flexibility by "just changing your weapon to switch jobs" but in reality, this does not happen 'when you need it.' You also cannot queue as multiple jobs. This is actually something that World of Warcraft has done well, in that you can change specs and still be in the same "role." Not the case with FFXIV. However, after the 2.1 update in December, they introduced an alternative way to build parties outside of the duty finder that can be accessed from any part of the world. Update: The Party Finder feature does in fact solve a lot of issues with regarding party make up for specific fights. It is a highly used function that is used to recruit members based on similar goals. No shouting for a group is required, just look at recruiting parties, or start your own and wait for members to join. Really a fantastic feature.

As of version 2.2, the game utilizes multiple ways to gear up. For the average player, you will be able to gear up by using "tomestones" that will grant you access to i90, and i100 gear. You can farm unlimited i90 stones per week now, and now the cap has been placed on i100 of 450 a week which I think is fair. The best loot in the game comes from Coil turns 6-9 now [ilvl 110 gear.]

One problem that remains, is that you can only complete coil turns once per week before getting locked out of the dungeon which prevents you from helping others out. Once a week is fine, but if I am free to do the dungeon on Monday with a pick up group, I should not be excluded from helping my Free Company out who often goes at a random time through the week (in which I may or may not be able to attend.) In addition, if my Free Company does turns 1-3 that I was unable to attend, but I was able to help out for turns 4 and 5, I am not able to go back and complete (and get potential loot) for the first turns. This creates an environment that can cause tension amongst Free Company members and penalizes "subbing" someone in a turn. In addition, if I want to attempt turn 4 without my Free Company with a pick up group because a lot of the times people aren't available through the week, then (if successful), should my free company want to attempt it in the week (as in enough people are available) then I won't be able to help them. They were able to introduce a "lot once per week" loot system in the Crystal Tower (2.1 update), in which you can run the dungeon as much as you want and still help others. Perhaps this is for the better with the introduction of a bridge between initial end game gear and final end game gear to keep people playing for longer and keep final end game loot more rare for those that put in the effort.

===Quality of life adjustments in 2.1 that resolved previous complaints===

Introduction of Party finder for content outside of Duty Finder.

Bridge between mid-game and end game equipment and content for gearing alternate jobs.

Fate Grinding as main method of leveling up is no longer the case with dungeon experience points being buffed. It is now simply an alternative way.

Introduction of Duty Roulette, which allows for shorter queue times as you can queue for multiple dungeons and get a significant daily bonuses (4 categories to complete), in addition to adding additional ways to obtain Tombstones for end game equipment.

Adjustment of weekly tombstones from 300->450 effectively lowers gearing out a job from 5.5 months to 3.5 months using tombstones only (very important considering the multiple class system.)

PvP has been added, and it is okay. It is only a single instance of one small area for now, but being in it's infancy it is already running into the problem of characters being geared in PvP gear vs those freshly starting out. The overall mechanics are okay, and it's fun, but it's largely simplistic.

====2.2 Patch / April 2014===

Square-Enix is up to their old ways with grinding / random number generator stuff. After 2.2 patch, end game now consists of the following:

Farming level 5-45 Fates in order to get a 1-2% drop rate 'stone.' to upgrade your weapon. You'll need 12 of these. Once you get this, you'll need to farm some 12,000+ mythology stones that are yielded at a rate of 50-60 per dungeon. The results of your work? A weapon that is the same ilvl as gear you can get from drops. It's supposedly upgradable later, though.

Farming Leviathan over and over again in hopes to get a 1-2% drop that will be split amongst 8 people doing the same thing.

Farming Coils 6-9, which also has the weekly lockout.

So basically if you want to progress past ilvl90, you will be farming low level fates, 1 primal extreme, farming dungeons for tomestones and Coil 6-9. Casual players will most likely never do Coil 6-9, however 1-5 has been made "pickup groupable" but is still ilvl90 gear.

Final Notes:
During 2.0 I rated the game a 4/5 stars. During 2.1 patch Square-Enix won me over. However 2.2 knocked half a star off for me. It's still a solid revamp and now truly worthy of a Final Fantasy name brand.
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on September 7, 2013
So first off read the bad reviews of this game. Most are complaining the log on issues. AO 9-4-13 the servers have been fixed and expanded. There is no trouble logging on into the game at any time of the day. Yes it will be jam packed during the weekends or the time you get off from work but now there is a que time/status instead of giving you an error code. And I don't work for Square Enix but i bet they didn't expect a big demand for this game which is well worth it. And its understandable if you have patience, they did fix the problem now everyone can enjoy it. So i don't see why people are crying over like spilled milk, and some returning it. News Flash, where i live there is no physical copy of the game on any shelf. I live in San Diego, even parts of Orange County and LA is sold out. And also even Amazon and Square Enix suspended the digital download or purchase of the game.

I played the 1.0 version of this game, even the Final Fantasy 11. This is a completely new game and an easy learning curve. The graphics are beautiful, the music is soothing. And the gameplay flows with a story line. I played World of Warcraft since vanilla and i must say i am happy i switched over cause WoW was going nowhere. But honestly i just wrote this review just to clarify about the server issue, and try the game out from someone you know. See if you like it or not.
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on September 16, 2013
I've been jumping around many different MMOs since I decided to stop playing Aion(played since beta). I tried WoW again for the 3rd time and I just can't get past level 15 because I would get bored. Rift is cool but I couldn't get immersed into the game world. Reactivated my SWTOR account but I just couldn't really get into that game. FF14 AAR wasn't even on my radar but then I started reading about the server congestion and how people couldn't log in. I got curious and started doing more research.

I decided to take a look and finally got a copy from Gamestop last week because someone didn't pick up their pre-order. Been playing for almost 2 weeks and not once did I have problems logging in. The game runs very smooth and there is practically no lag in the main hubs with lots of people running around. I was very surprised with the smooth game playing and beautiful graphics. I've always preferred PvP over PvE but I really love the game world in FF14 AAR. Eventually they will add PvP and I'll be a happy gamer.

Pros: Beautiful graphics and smooth game play. You can level up all the classes with the same character. You can also level up all the crafting professions on the same character.

Cons: The tab targeting system needs a little tweaking.

Conclusion: Highly recommended.
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on January 1, 2014
I've just finished my free trial period which is a whole month, depending how you play you can reach max level on atleast one job in that time frame and get a good feel of the game for yourself and as i said in the title it's very casual friendly, don't need to give away 10 hours a day of your life to this game (yet).

it's gameplay is very fun and the game itself has some aspects of it that can grab onto nostalgia if you're a Final Fantasy veteran for example Materia can be placed on equipment to gain benefits, you can see Magitek armor around the game and even get one as a mount. Those 2 examples are from Final Fantasy VII and VI for those of you who have not played the FF games before there are plenty of other references to older FF games along with references to entirely different games such as a Metal Gear Solid reference during one of the story missions. As for the classes/jobs each class/job feels unique in it's own ways once you get above level 10, just got my Monk to level 50(Max current level cap). There are multiple types of jobs to choose from. I'll give a small description of each from what i understand about them so far.

Disciples of War:
•Gladiator (later on turns into Paladin) which is a tank class who's role is to direct the enemies attention to him/herself to protect the party make things run smoothly.
•Pugilist (later turns into Monk) which is a DPS/DD class (Damage Per Second/Damage Dealer) it's role is to pretty much pummel the enemy down with brute force and combo type moves.
•Marauder (later turns into Warrior) which is another tank like class just like paladin it's role is to keep the enemies on him but i believe it's a more DPS/DD oriented job, (I've not personally played it so i could be mistaken.)
•Lancer (later turns into Dragoon) is also a DPS/DD class that gains a lot depending on what order they use their abilities in, some abilities will gain a bonus if uses after another or from different positions around the enemy.
•Archer (Later turns into bard) this is a ranged DPS/DD/Support class as Archer it's pretty much a DPS/DD but once you unlock Bard it turns into more of a DPS and Support class, it can cast beneficial effects to help the party defeat enemies and also gains benefits from being in certain positions and staying away from the enemy. (I've not personally played it so i could be mistaken.)

Disciples of Magic:
•Conjurer (later turns into White Mage) which is a healing mage job, it uses it's magic to keep the party and/or him/herself alive, and is able to revive fallen players. It does also have the ability to do some DPS/DD with certain spells, but, i believe that's only really useful if your going to be soloing.
•Thaumaturge (later turns into Black Mage) which is a DPS/DD mage job, simply put it's role is to fight from a distance and overwhelm it's targets with hard hitting spells before they have a chance to retaliate, what they lack in defense they make up in power.
•Arcanist (later turns into Summoner and/or Scholar) this one I'll be totally honest and say i don't know much about, it depends which way you wanna take it, Summoner i believe is primarily DPS/DD oriented where as Scholar.. again i -believe- is a healer type class. Arcanist itself can do both roles decently DPS/DD or healer i'm fairly certain. I've not tried it so i can't say.

That's all of the classes/jobs listed above hopefully it helps you make a decision when/if you pick the game up.

The leveling system is very interesting, it's based around questing when you start and turns more towards Fates, Levequests and Dungeons later on.
•Quests if you're unsure and have never played games like this are objectives given to you by NPCs (non-playable characters) where you need to fetch items for them, dispatch enemies or even do something very simple, like, walk around town and talk to people or find something they may have lost. When whatever the objective was is completed you recieve your reward and possibly open up more quest lines/story options. Most quests have a pretty decently written little story attached to them so that's a bonus along with the experience points and Gil (gold) rewards.

•Fates are battles with different objectives that can pop up in most any area excluding in the main cities and have a timer of about 13min, actual duration depends on number of players around and doing fates. They are great ways to gain experience points and alittle Gil (Gold) throughout your adventures. The objectives can sometimes be to dispatch all of the enemies that show up, could be a few or it could be a whole lot of them. Possibly one large Notorious Monster, only one enemy to defeat but it usually has a lot of Hit Points and requires more then 1 person to be able to finish. Or even something like pickup up items laying around the ground or retrieving items from enemies around the area and giving them to a specific NPC near the Fate.

•Levequests like the name says.. atleast i think so.. they are quests to help you level. Depending on your level, what zone your in, and what job you are they can be easy or hard. Levequests give options of usually 4 different quests per zone/per level tier you gain access to new tiers every 5 levels starting at level 10 i believe. Objectives range from escorting an NPC to safety, to pacifying (not killing) enemies around the area. You get the option to raise the difficulty up to a max of +4, in other words if your level 22 and your in a level 20 area you have the option to raise the quest level up to 24 for more challenge. With more challenge comes more rewards, you gain more experience points and gil if you complete it on higher difficulty, you also gain a bonus for speed if you can complete the objectives quickly. Levequests are also not just for classes experience, you can use them to level crafting stuff which ill talk about later down the review.

•Dungeons at early levels are taken on by a party of 4 players 2 DPS/DDs, 1 Tank, 1 Healer at around level 50 you start getting dungeons that require 8 people, 4 DPS 2 Tanks 2 Healers, or 24 people which is just the 8 person party but 3 of them. Along with experience points gained from dungeons you can also obtain equipment for your classes that cannot be obtained by other means and is usually better then what you can get from a crafter or quests around that level. Each dungeon has different objectives and mechanics but all of them stay true to a single format until you get up to level 50 anyway, 2 mini bosses and 1 main boss. The bosses are spaced out so you have a few minutes of fighting and getting to the 1st, fight it, then you have some more adventuring to do before the 2nd boss, etc. As i said the dungeons themselves have varying mechanics as do the bosses, some bosses might just be stand there and wail on it where as others if you were to do that you'd lose the fight in a matter of seconds. It's not hard to learn what each does after your first attempt.

That's my description of most of the ways to level in this game as of right now, that could change in the future, but, there is no way to tell.

Crafting in this game definitely caught my eye, coming from Final Fantasy XI crafting was kind of bland and boring where as here it's very indepth. Crafting works almost exactly like leveling a Disciple of War or Magic in the way that you gain experience points rather than 0.1, 0.2, etc up to 1.0 to gain a point. As i said above levequests have the option to do crafting jobs as well as your melee or mage jobs, the difference is for the crafting ones you just need to turn in something you are able to craft for experience and gil, if you trade a HQ (high quality) item you can double the reward given. The downside of this is you can see lazy people just buy the items needed from a vendor and trade that, i personally like crafting it myself for the HQ chance and double reward. along with levequests for experience and just plain crafting, you gain a bonus for each item you craft that you've not crafted before, the game itself keeps a "Crafting Log" so you don't have to search around online to find the recipes like you had to do in Final Fantasy XI. You have a lot of control over what your making, it feels more rewarding to level a craft on this game in my opinion and depending on what other crafts you have leveled you can gain benefits towards certain things like Quality or Control over what your doing. Along with crafting there are Gathering jobs so you don't have to rely on other players or merchants as much for materials. I'll give some descriptions of them below. (Most of the crafts are self-explanatory just by looking at the names)

Disciples of Hand:
•Carpenter is the crafting class that work with wood, it can make logs into lumber, equipment such as polearms (spears), bows and shields, and some armors. Since Free Company housing was added i would assume they can do furniture too.
•Blacksmith is a crafting class that works with metals bronze, steel, etc. They can make ingots, rivets, chains, tools, and weapons.
•Armorer is the crafting class as the name says that can make armor, usually heavy armor for jobs like Gladiator and Marauder. It benefits from having blacksmith leveled because it can use some of the materials blacksmiths make for it's armor.
•Goldsmith is another crafting class that works with metals but also does jewels and specializes in rings, necklaces, bracelets. It can make weapons but usually for mage type jobs or tools for other crafting classes.
•Leatherwork is a crafting class that specializes in obviously leather but leather is used to make light and mid-range armors for jobs such as Lancer, Pugilist and Archer, it also makes alot of equipment for the other crafting classes.
•Weaver is a crafting class that works with cloth, it can make light equipment for jobs like Leatherworker but usually only does the really light armors and equipment for other crafting classes as well.
•Alchemist is the crafting class that works with potions and status enhancing stuff of the like, it also can make stuff that can benefit all of the other crafts.
•Culinarian is the crafting class that makes the food in the game, and if your wondering why do you need food in a video game that isn't the Sims, food can give large boosts to stats like Strength, Vitality, Critical Hits, and almost all of it gives a +3% bonus to experience gained.

Now we move onto the gathering jobs which i mentioned above, they are meant to get materials for the crafting classed but you don't need to level a crafting class to level gathering, you have the option to sell your materials you gather on the Market Boards for a profit.

Disciples of Land:
•Miner is the gathering class that looks for stuff like ores and gems, it benefits goldsmith, blacksmith, and armorer to have this gatherer leveled.
•Botanist is the gathering class that looks for stuff like grasses that can be turned into thread, cotton to be turned into thread and clothes, and flowers/plants that can be used by alchemists for potions.

That's my Review over all, i hope it helped out, first time doing a written review on anything so i tried to make it as in depth as i could to give people some insight on the game and some of it's mechanics. Also I'm sorry about my grammar and punctuation I've never been very good at either.

If it did help you and you decide to pick up the game come over to Sargantas and say hi, player name is Stryger Severino.

Thanks for Reading.
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on October 17, 2013
I've been playing final fantasy games since the very first on the NES when i was a kid. This games takes parts of the most successful games and adds to it's own. From the classes/Jobs to the music to monsters/mobs its all Final Fantasy all the time. I mean Chocobo's, MAgitek, Primals/Summons, Classic roles White mage/Warrior/Paladin/Black Mage. Not to mention the upcoming updates that are supposed to add chocobo breeding, Golden Saucer(from FFIIV) Treasure Hunts, More Primals/Summons not to mention the beautifully crafted story(The story makes up most of the Final Fantasy games before this)

If you haven't ever played a Final Fantasy game before things in this game might feel out of place or weird. But to those who've played all or most FF games before this you will drop right in going yep This Is Final Fantasy. The Music alone is or takes parts from at least FFIIV, FFIIIV, FFIX, and FFIX. Not to mentions the ultimate music(Which my friends and I call the Death music from older games.) the simple prelude. Simply if you love Final Fantasy and/or love MMO games play this one.
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on April 21, 2016
Some background on me:
1. I am biased, as a long time fan of the Final Fantasy series.
2. Other MMO's I have played: World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Diablo 3, various Battlefield games
3. I purchased the PC version, and have a fairly high-end custom PC setup that is able to play most games (including this one) at max settings.
4. I'm 35, self-employed and have family obligations. So I cannot grind out hours on end to get the gear/achievements necessary to enjoy some games.
5. In this particular game, I have reached the level cap with one character and have completed the "Main Scenario Quests", but have only scratched the surface on side quests and activities.

This is a long review. I've tried to sum up each point below in a snippet labeled with asterisks.

Pros:
1. The Story: ***Very engrossing story, you will not regret playing through the game.***
Without a doubt, the FFXIV story is the most engaging aspect of this game in my opinion. There's really no way to convey the quality of a game's (or any medium's) story without experiencing it for one's self, and so its often the most difficult aspect of a game for someone to evaluate prior to purchasing. But if you have even a passing interest in the Final Fantasy series, and enjoy an engrossing (sometimes slow-going) story line rich with politics and some very timely topics (think the Refugee Crisis), you will almost certainly enjoy being part of the story of FFXIV as it unfolds. Any further explanation would lead to spoilers, which would be a shame. The Final Fantasy series has always been known for their story telling, with rich character development and engrossing side stories, and FFXIV is no different. I will not lie, there have been scenes that brought a tear to my eye, revelations that made me really go "Aha!", and developments that made me feel for characters other than my own.
2. The Music, and Atmosphere: ***I want to buy the OST now. FF veterans are in for a special treat***
I lump the two together because the music of this game is so much a part of the atmosphere. So much so that I did not lump in Graphics here. The musical themes follow each scenario and area of the game well - upbeat, ominous, hopeful and sad when needed. This is the sort of game that makes you want to run out and purchase the OST. There are very special treats for fans of the series, as the game's developers have found many ways to tie in fan favorite songs from previous games (think Terra's Theme from FF6) into FFXIV. Artful setup of environments and backstories set up the player actually feel involved in scenarios as they play out, which goes a long way to total immersion in the game which is hard to do even in offline single player games. Even some of the more tedious tasks in the game (like traversing long distances for "go fetch" quests become less tiresome because you often have an enjoyable musical accompaniment.
3. Graphics: ***Decent, with Character Models being the stand-out***
For the most part, the art is typical Final Fantasy quality. The environments are reminiscent of a highly polished FFVI (steam punk vibe) with elements of the popular FFVII (from a character standpoint). Character models are well-detailed, but pixelation and low-res surfaces become clear during zoomed-in views. Environmental models suffer more from this, but it is clear that the developers focused on the areas that are most important so despite some low-res textures, the environments still feel seamless. Overall, the occasional sub-par graphics do not detract from the experience. Again, the character models steal the graphics show as attack animations are appropriately extravagant, even for the simplest actions.
4. Voice Acting: ***A huge reason why the story is so good, and the game so fulfilling***
A very close third (behind Music and Atmosphere) in what makes this game so spectacular is the voice acting. While not all dialogue has accompanying voice acting, those sections that do are done very well. Rarely have I listened to an NPC deliver a line or speech and felt let-down or "meh", as if the voice after were really phoning it in. Ironically, those rare occasions have come when an NPC is supposed to be delivering a rousing speech, but IMO that is more a result of the lack of accompanying "hurrah" or buzz from the receiving crowd. Generally, the voice actors receive a massive kudos for bringing this story to life, especially if you experience the game (as I have) solely in Japanese.
5. Gameplay: ***Never a grind. Mechanics seem intimidating at first, but are easy to learn, sometimes hard to master***
I've found myself saying that FFXIV is like watching a movie interspersed with gameplay. This is not to say that I feel like developers had game play mechanics take a backseat to story telling, but I think it is more a testament to the quality of the story itself. Playing the game, leveling, and developing my character all feel very much like mechanisms to advance the story. This sounds so obvious, but in too many MMO's your leveling for the sake of leveling, grinding for the sake of finding that next "Best in Slot" item, or to reach certain goals or achievements that seem to exist separate from the story of the game which is unfortunate. If you spend a lot of time reading through guides preparing to play your main character, the gameplay mechanics may seem intimidating. That is because playing your chosen discipline to the best of its possible abilities requires a high degree of skill management, group coordination and pattern learning. This is more true for some jobs than others, but in general the game does reward a high degree of dedication to mastering a certain class or job. That is NOT to say that the game can not be enjoyed by more casual players (such as myself), who enjoy playing in groups and experiencing team mechanics, but are not looking to join hardcore raid groups who focus specifically on clearing high-level, high-difficulty instances (raids) to obtain top-spec gear and items. It is the sheer variety of side quests, side jobs and non-combat focuses that make the game constantly enjoyable for players of all levels.
6. Flexibility: ***One character, ALL job***
A feature unique to FFXIV (as far as I know) is that the same character, through some basic achievements, can be used to experience the entire spectrum of available jobs and classes in the game (given you are willing to commit the time). Yeah, MAJOR plus in my book.

Neutral Points to Consider:
1. Cost: ***$20 for A Realm Reborn, $40 for Heavensward expansion, $30 for 2-month time cards = $225 to play this game for a year***
In my opinion, $20 for the base game and $40 for the expansion pack are reasonable for the content provided. Granted, the only way to access that content is to pay per month but the initial purchase of the game entitles players to 30 days of "free" time. And a free trial is available that gives 15 days (with limited access). To purchase the game and play a full year, you're looking at $225 ($180 for 12 months of play time assuming you purchase in 60 day increments at a time, and $60 for the "full" game). Now that is a harder pill to swallow, especially for those who do not have as much disposable income and/or free time to make the most of your play time. For a casual player like me who gets in maybe 6 hours a week, you'll reach the level cap probably in about 3 months, maybe less. Casually playing throughout the course of the year can expose you to 99% of the game.
2. In-game experience may vary: ***As the disclaimer says. This is common sense***
The English subtitles have characters speaking in a mix of old Northern-European English, and modern day English slang, and some of that dialogue is borderline raunchy even if you don't completely understand ye olde English. That may be concerning for those with younger players. More concerning may be that which is completely uncontrollable, which is Player Character language. Given you're sharing the realm with thousands of players from around the region (or the world depending on your server), and that the game attracts a wide variety of gamers, you are sure to see some explicit language and varying points of view. Few seem to play the game in a true Role Playing spirit, so expect to see comments about the upcoming presidential election and candidates and other cultural issues. Thankfully, I've found outright vulgarity and childishness at a minimum (I play on Leviathan and Marlboro servers), and to me the overall in-game experience has remained pleasant.
3. In-game community: ***Overall a mature community, with many more helpful folks than those who detract from the game***
Overall, I've found other PC's (player characters) to be enjoyable to play along with, and most are more than willing to go out of their way to help new players learn the ropes. The game does make a considerable effort to increase the game's approachability to those who are new to the game, the genre or gaming in general but as with most things, it is what you make of it. Want to be a hermit and play the game as solo as possible? You can do that, but you'd be missing out on a lot of enjoyable content. Want to be full-on immersed, participate and contribute to Free Companies (Player Controlled and Coordinated guilds), and get the most out of your multi-player experience? FFXIV does this better than any other MMO I've played, including WoW.

Cons:
1. Complex to Master: ***Easy to learn, complex to master.***
As mentioned in the Gameplay section, mastery of specific jobs is complicated and requires significant dedication to the game, including frequent practice. If you are a perfectionist or completionist, this can be a challenge - a welcome challenge for some. Fortunately, patches and accompanying "nerfs" (alterations to the game's mechanics that significantly change the way a certain job is played, often by decreasing the utility of "overpowered" skills) seem to be few and far between, so you will not often find yourself having to re-learn your chosen job.
2. Limited Realm selection: ***Choose wisely, unless you're willing to pay more***
Unsurprisingly, the more popular (and populated) servers are very difficult to get into and once you've chosen a server, you are tied to it unless you are willing to pay $18 to change to another server of your choice. Realm Selection plays a fairly significant role in your in-game experience, as more populated servers means an easier time getting invited to parties, dungeon and raid parties.
3. "Go Fetch" Quests: ***A necessary evil, but no less detestable***
Common to pretty much all role playing games, these sort of quests are scattered throughout the story and sometimes in FFXIV they feel downright flippant. eg.
NPC A: "Go check out Location XYZ, something may be going down."
You: ***makes the long slog to Location XYZ, which more often than not are located FAR away from a teleportation hub***
NPC B: "Oh you're here. Nothing going on here, but thanks for coming out. Why not go back and tell NPC A that everything is OK?"
You: ***long slog back to NPC A, also not located near a teleportation hub, all the while wondering why you didn't get to kill anything***
All in all, these such quests may take something like 2 minutes beginning to end, but it often feels longer because they break up the normally flowing main story quest.

Suggestion:
If you have the money and time to spend, and have even a passing interest in MMO's, you should at least try out the free trial. Warning, it does a very good job of hooking you and convincing you to buy the full version.
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on January 16, 2015
Enjoyable game, I eventually grew tired of it because, like most MMOs, it ends up being a grind. I really liked that one character could be all of the classes and that new features are regularly being added.
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on July 22, 2015
Character Creation/Customization: Actually VERY limited. Visually refined, but limited in scope more so than games much, much older than it. Strong limitations around what facial features and hair can be used with which face type, of which there are very few to choose from anyway.

The races in this game are: humans, humans with cat ears/tails, humans with some patches of dragon scales/horns, large and awkward pastel-skin colored people with weirdly angular but otherwise human facial features, elves who are almost identical to humans except for their weirdly horizontal ears and the pear-shaped race of perpetual human-looking children. SO, nothing very cool, nothing that looks savage, nothing that looks aggressive or fierce. No orcs or trolls or ogres or goblins or fun races. And you need to buy the xpac for the dragon scale humans. There is no second faction to this game. Although the enemy faction in the story line has all the lasers, high-tech robotic armor and space ships you spend the whole game wishing you could play with. Pretty disappointing to me.

Class/Job system:
All classes exist on one character in this game. So you only need to think of one name. Good if you have only one main name you like to use in games. Bad if you like to play different races or if you like to name your character something clever and related to their class as your sneaky ninja name or whatever will not be quite so clever when you are playing a white mage or bard, for example. I fall in to the latter category, so I am not much of a fan of all the extra clutter this system dumps in your bags. All classes move at a snails pace compared to other MMO games so it doesn't really matter what you pick, you can always change and if there is any sense of satisfaction to be had playing your class, you wont experience it in the first 40+ levels anyway.

The map and navigation:
All I can say here is, if your class or main story line quests turn red because you are too low level and need to come back later, MAKE A NOTE OF WHERE YOU ARE because the game will give you no guidance in getting back on to your main story line. Wandering aimlessly will be the best you can do and it has happened to me several times already so, be prepared for the worst navigation experience in any MMO to date. They really spent no time on their map/mini map and it shows. The map in this game is not really a true MMO map. They are small zones, stitched together by loading screens to make larger zones, this is even true in the cities. I don't care for this personally, I much prefer a (mostly) seamless world and this game has more seams holding it together than even Star Wars The Old Republic. At least Star wars' maps were different planets so there was a defensible excuse for them to be separated by loading screens. This game does not have that excuse. And it separates it's maps a lot more than SWTOR.

Mounts in this game are both highly detailed and in some cases HUGE (the expansions flying mounts have been pretty impressive so far). However, they are slow. Very, very, very slow. I can't stand how painfully slow travelling in this game is. It pretty much forces me to spend my character's money to just teleport to the nearest town first wherever I go. They could double the current speed of ground mounts and they might feel like an actual mount but as is, nothing you ride on, be it chicken or dragon, will make you move faster on the ground than your own sprint button that you get at level one. I think they just want to make their really, really tiny world seem less really, really tiny. They failed.

UI:
The user interface is fairly customization-rich, nothing new or fancy, a lot like the game RIFT with regards to being able to move stuff where you want it or shrink it to your liking. Mini map is worthless, I just shrink the main map down to a size I like then drag it over the useless mini map and leave it there for navigation. It is my understanding that FFXIV was meant to have 3rd party add-on support by now, but their developers are basically just ignoring everyone and not adding it to the game, so there is no damage meters and consequently no way to know if you are doing well or not. Because of no 3rd party add-on support, there is no way to change your UI completely if you don't like what they offer within the game itself.

For PS4, you CAN use a keyboard and mouse to play the game but you can NOT use any special mice with more than left click, right click, middle click. No 12 button gaming mice, not even 5 button gaming mice. For me, that might as well have meant you can't use a keyboard/mouse on PS4 at all. I bought a PC license for my account as soon as I realized that as i have 30 buttons on my bar by level 40 and there is no way I can play at a competitive level without at least a 12 button mouse. For me, I play well with the 1-5 hot keys but I don't play well holding shift/ctrl modifier keys and pushing the 6-0 keys. Because of that, a gaming mouse is pretty much mandatory for me. And because of that, playing on PC became mandatory for me. That said, because PS4 and PC characters/accounts already exist on the same servers, it was a simple task to buy a PC copy of the game in order to allow myself to log in and play on the same account from PC or PS4 at my leisure.

Playing with the PS4 controller was a joke. Once I had more than 8 buttons, the PS4 controller was like trying to reinvent the wheel just so they could say "yes it can be played on a controller". No it really can't, and even if you beg to differ, you can't argue that in a competitive end-game environment, you would benefit MORE from having to cycle between 16-button bars rather than having all your buttons/cooldowns where you can see them at all times as is the case only with mouse/keyboard mode.

Crafting:
Crafting in this game is the most convoluted nightmare of any game I have ever played, MMO or not. I hate it and I can not bring myself to say anything nice about it. There is more mechanically involved in crafting than there is in combat. Why? I don't know but this game comes off as a serious role-players wet dream and in no way does it feel like a hardcore raider or otherwise professional/dedicated MMO player's game of choice. It was interesting for the first few levels, but as the entire crafting process was brought to light, it quickly became something that I was fully committed to never wasting time on again.

Questing/Leveling:
The most tedious leveling experience of any and every MMO on the market today, in my opinion. More of a chore than anything, the experience itself involves less physical combat and more running back and forth and teleporting across the map to run back and forth than any other MMO I have ever played. There is really so little actual content to this that I was stunned to see how little of my questing experience involved being more than a delivery boy for letters and introductions....and pretzels...and lemonade...and cookies..etc. etc. etc. This remains true as I approach the end of the core game. I will have to do a bit of research to figure out whether or not this experience changes in the expansion as I have little interest in doing this for 10 more levels after I hit 50.

Combat:
SOOOOO SLOOOOOW. I read forums everywhere to figure out what the fastest-paced combat in the game was after rolling thaumaturge proved to be better for making me sleepy than excited. I was told every single time to try Ninja, roll Ninja, play Ninja. So I did. Ninja is just as painfully slow, even now as I approach level 50, I doubt I will play this game once it calls for another $15 unless the expansion completely changes the dynamic of combat. This game has the slowest combat of any MMO that I have ever played. I am used to global cooldowns in between button presses that are .5-1 second. This game is 2.5-3 seconds. That is just painfully slow. And no effort was made to make sure that you unlock abilities in an order that makes your combat rotation more fulfilling and rewarding before you reach the endgame for any class. So, boring is the name of the game it seems. There are lots of bright attack/spell animations, so what you get in exchange for a zero challenge/zero skill game play experience is, at the very least, a visually pretty gaming experience.

Player Interactions/Group Content:
The inability to pick your own server makes this the only MMO game that tries to forcibly prevent you from playing with your friends. Character creation can, at times, take more than 24 hours as you wait for the game to momentarily (and I mean momentarily, it will be gone again in 3 minutes or less) unlock the server your friends are on. It was well over 30 hours before the server that I created my character on was randomly and momentarily available for others to join me with the characters they were making. That is absurd, in my opinion, and pointless as it's intended function was, by their own admission, to spread server populations evenly.. which did not happen at all. People say the best bet is to make your character in the wee hours of the morning at like 3am, when more servers are unlocked for use due to the low population in the middle of the night...I did not find this to have any impact on server availability for those of us trying to get onto the same server together when we tried. It was also recommended to try right after maintenance since everyone would still be logging back on and so server pop would be at its lowest making most/all servers available...Again, not my experience. The whole ordeal left a pretty bad taste in my mouth regarding the decision to use a system like this in a game that thrives off of working together and playing with friends. I really couldn't grasp why an MMO would shoot itself in the foot this way, but they stand by their mistake to this day, so expect to run in to these issues if you are looking to start the game with a friend. Were it not for this feature, my review would have been 3 stars. But this is an unforgivable error in an MMORPG.

Environment/Graphics/NPC&Mob design:
Very high quality graphics, but half the creatures are just...really, really, incredibly stupid looking. Walking mushrooms and giant ladybugs and the like. And I don't mean just entry level mobs but 30-40 levels later these stupid throwaway mobs still make up the majority of those that you encounter in the world. All MMOs have this in some amount, I know, but this game just dropped the ball. There are some really cool, well-detailed monsters that are fit for titles like Monster Hunter, but they are so few and far between that it feels like very little effort went in to the artistic design of this game.

Final Thoughts:
If for no other reason than the company that is running it is not Zenimax, this game is still worlds better than Elder Scrolls Online. I seriously hate the company behind ESO, and their cash grabbing ways. Even at $15/mo this game is a better deal than ESO will ever be. I will say that I have been impressed by the community in this game, too. Somewhere between the need to pay to play with this community and the way the game was designed to incentivize positive group interactions in dungeons with the player commendation system, this game managed to breed a much more pleasant community than non-subscription based MMOs have. And even better than the toxic communities of other subscription MMOs like WoW as well. How long that sense of community lasts, I can not say, but there are still rotten players in the game. It is in no way a perfectly serene human interaction environment. Just much, much better than most right now.
Unfortunately that is not enough to make this game worth a continued sub fee. At the end of the day, this game does SEEM feature rich, but I will probably never be introduced to most of those features before the sluggishness and general absence of a coherent system to make that introduction leaves me bored or pushes me away with its unrewarding combat and tedious navigation experience.

If visuals are the absolute only thing you care about, you might like this game. If you are a seasoned MMO player, you will likely not find the game play in FFXIV to be better/more rewarding than that of WoW/SWTOR/Rift. At least the game works when you play it. That is to say, no broken quests or issues that go unsolved for weeks or longer at a time. Which is not something Elder Scrolls Online can say.

If my opinion changes at all once I knock out these last couple of levels and hit the point where I need to buy the expansion pack or be done, I will try to remember to post an update here.
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on September 16, 2013
FFXIV has had a very a rough launch. Worst i've seen since EQ1. They simply were not prepared for how popular it has become.

Now that they have gotten some extra servers up and running allowing increase capacity we can finally play it.

The overwhelming popularity of this game should tell you enough. Nobody is dumping their accounts on ebay or playerauctions.
Everyone who can play is really enjoying it, including myself.

I'm not going to write a huge detailed review because there are plenty of them and I am about to start playing. I will say its a solid game and a very beautiful one at that. This has got to be the best looking MMO i've played and i've played them all. If you have no MMO that you currently call home, buy FFXIV. Its only $30 and has enough potential to keep you enthralled for years... at least until EQNext is released. =)
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on October 24, 2014
This game is a lot of fun, but I gotta be honest: it just made me want to go back and play WoW again. The graphics in Final Fantasy XIV are absolutely top notch. The gameplay, sound effects, and overall atmosphere satisfies a nostalgia for early Final Fantasy games. Beyond that, however, it suffers from a steep level grind that I find is all too common in Asian MMO's. I just don't have the time or energy to invest in leveling characters like I used to when I was younger, so I only lasted about 2 months in this game before I finally called it quits.

I actually think this game is worth buying and playing for at least the free month just to get the experience of what a Final Fantasy game is like if you've never tried one before. I think with additional content in the future and a steady fan base this game has the potential to last in the long term, but it's just not for me right now with how busy I am doing other stuff and playing other games.
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