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Average User Score: 7.7Jul 8, 2015FFXIV: Heavensward provides more of what players have already experienced, only more refined and with flying mounts. While it is true that theFFXIV: Heavensward provides more of what players have already experienced, only more refined and with flying mounts. While it is true that the story is much improved over the original FFXIV:ARR story arc, such praise needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The original story contained plot holes that were big enough to cause a well intentioned reader to look at the story as a thing in need of fixing rather than something immersive. The current story is not only free of derailing plot holes, but is actually pretty good. Character's develop naturally through the story, and you can see their personal growth as they experience the events the story is composed of. There is a genuine sense of loss and triumph at multiple points throughout the game.
The storytelling benefits extend to a great portion of the side quests as well, making them feel more meaningful then typical fetch and kill chores. If only all of them could be said to be so improved, as I found myself grinding my teeth in the churning mists helping less than capable NPCs for several hours. A mixed bag, to be sure, but no less improved.
But enough about the story. What about the game that lies beneath it? Little has changed from FFXIV:ARR, and that becomes more apparent the closer one gets to the end game. MMORPGs are games played for long stretches at a time, but the dungeons are little more than static corridors with better than average loot. It encourages players to romp their way through them repeatedly, but, much like watching the same video on repeat, it gets old quickly. The dungeons are by all means beautiful, well rendered, and have their own unique music scores to help with their ambience. It's unfortunate that the development team hasn't come up with a way to keep them fresh for more than a few play throughs.
The problems with dungeons make raising secondary jobs incredibly painful in comparison to the first play through, which explains the over the top ratings from many reviewers. Other activities are presented to try to even things up, but the sheer mountain of experience points and better gear offered by the dungeon corridors encourage players to put themselves through dungeon repeat hell in order to end the pain faster.
FFXIV:ARR is also plagued by an inventory system that is grossly inadequate for the kind of multiple job system it is built around. Those running multiple jobs will, with time, completely fill their inventory space and be forced to purchase more retainers with real world money. The space issues are caused by the accumulation of equipment, which can be used by multiple jobs and for vanity items. The pre-heavensward equipment has heavy overlap between different classes, so unwary players may end up stowing gear beyond its expiration date in case they might want to raise another class using the same equipment. Without taking drastic measures like jettison all unused vanity items into space, trying to raise multiple jobs will lead to several retainers full of green dungeon loot with little room to spare.
The current solution is less than satisfactory: Increase your monthly subscription fee and you get another retainer. The calls for an inventory system fix have been very loud at E3, being asked repeatedly on multiple occasions, and the demand will only increase with time as they continue to add even more item sets. In any case, the long running effect of the inventory system is that players will only be able to play a small handful of the jobs regularly. So even if they did find a way to freshen up dungeons and the grind, players would be unlikely to take advantage of those systems.
Finally, there is the the wait times to get into content as a damage dealer. What should have signaled the death of the Tank, Healer, and Damage Dealer trinity of old continues to haunt the MMORPG world to this day. Had someone told me that these problems would persist over ten years into the future back when I was struggling to get into a group as a mage in World of Warcraft, I would have thought the person totally nuts. Yet the improbable has come to pass, and developers lazily implementing the systems of old with no care for the problems they cause has led to yet another decent game being brought lower than it should.
I think far too many a professional reviewer has overlooked these important aspects of the gameplay, and have posted their reviews far too early. Until you've played with several different waves of people, how can you honestly review a game built around an open social experience? Expect wave one reviews to give FFXIV:Heavensward a shining ovation. Those that truly wish to rate the experience over the long run, as it should be rated, will likely give it a more humble 7 or 8 out of 10… Expand
Average User Score: 8.0Jun 25, 2015The good:
1. Story is objectively better than that which came before it. Yes, stories can be objectively better when dealing with basic formThe good:
1. Story is objectively better than that which came before it. Yes, stories can be objectively better when dealing with basic form and common sense. If a story provides giant gaping loopholes that the characters could have exploited to avoid catastrophic situations, you will notice them and it will suck. You will be happy to find no giant "poison vial implication" loophole here like you did at the end of the "Before the Fall" patch.
2. The new classes are interesting to see, if only for their story quests. Each provides a slightly different take on the traditional three roles, but for those hoping for something to break free of the trinity formula, you will be disappointed.
3. The new areas are a welcome breath of fresh air. Despite my initial impressions from preview videos, each zone is refreshingly different from the last with the sole exception of Coerthas Western Highlands being fairly similar to Coerthas Central Highlands.
1. The inventory system: To understand the current problems with the FFXIV:ARR inventory system, you have to understand three things: First, we are free to play every class in the game on a single character; Second, FFXIV:ARR has a vanity system that lets you use older item skins over your current equipment if you so choose; and third, the same inventory space that will be used for half a dozen or more vanity sets will be used to hold any crafting materials you may be using or gathering. It's a glorious mess of epic proportions linked to a terribly managed server back end. The limits of a player's inventory prevent the exploration of all the game's many options on a single character without adding to the monthly sub by renting out more "retainers"- NPCs that act as the player's bank and auction house. Which brings us to number 2.
2. Unlike games like World of Warcraft, where players have multiple factions with different story quests, FFXIV:ARR shares a single story shared by all players regardless of their origins. While the story does start out differently, it all converges together around the level 20 mark. This is old news, but is related to the continuing inventory issues. Cross-class skills require other classes to be leveled up, so two characters may end up leveling one of the same class regardless.
3. The patch story wall: FFXIV:ARR runs on a linear story, so to get to the Heavensward content you'll have to visit all the story quests from the content patches. Whether you personally find this a detraction or not depends on how much you care for the story. The writing pre-Heavensward constantly shifts from adequate to terrible. The constant shifting between good and bad means that it inevitably drops the ball at some crucial moments, leaving the player tearing his hair out wondering why the characters would act a particular way when some obvious thing should have made them act differently. Before you get to where the story is genuinely good, you have to move through where development was clearly rushed.
I would rate FFXIV:Heavensward in the 8-9 category, but with technical issues holding back players from engaging the game in particular ways (namely the inventory) and the requirement of new characters to go through nearly two years of patched in story of fluctuating quality, I have to rate is as a strong 6. The improvements beyond the 50 story wall bump it up to a tentative 7. Should they fix the inventory issue, the game would be an 8/10.… Expand
Average User Score: 4.9Sep 30, 2012This is going to be more of a first impression than a full out review, and so I'm just going to touch on a few points which I think areThis is going to be more of a first impression than a full out review, and so I'm just going to touch on a few points which I think are helpful.
1) Graphics and Aesthetics: This is one of the high points for the Pandaria expansion, and the overall feel of Pandaria (graphically and musically) is a needed breath of fresh air. We are introduced to a completely new southern continent whose existence was hinted at as far back as WC3. The oriental theme of the expansion is interesting, although it remains to be seen if the setting can hold its own for a long period of time as opposed to being a "flavor of the day" sort of thing. 2) Story: The alliance introduction to Pandaria involving Varian Wrynne provides both a strong sense of purpose for the alliance and provides motivation for Varian's expedition into the mists. The horde on the other hand is given a mindless, hate filled sock puppet in the form of Garrosh Hellscream. To call Garrosh a character would be giving Blizzard too much credit, since the opening cutscene for the horde provides no insight into Garrosh's genocidal hatred for the alliance. Unlike Varian, whose reason for entering the mists is something that can be sympathized with (even if we disprove of some of his methods), there is simply no sympathizing or liking Garrosh even when looking into the material from previous expansions. A huge gaping hole exists where the reasons for Garrosh's behavior should be, and the idea that such a non-character will be the big bad of the expansion, putting him on par with Arthas or Illidan, is maddening. 3) New Race and Game Mechanics: The removal of the talent system has caused something of a firestorm within the community, but its results are obvious and positive. Game balance is easier to achieve with the simplified system, and it is far easier to figure out what talent choices benefit a character the most given a particular play style than in previous expansions. It should be noted that the Pandaran race feels somewhat novel (for lack of a better term). Unlike previous expansions that introduced new races, they are not firmly entrenched into either the alliance or the horde, and this contributes to a feeling of disconnect with the player's chosen faction. The animations and voice acting for the Pandarans, as well as their aesthetics, are quite appealing to those who wish to play a more comical character than something serious. The monk class feels something like a rogue if the rogue were given the ability to spam attacks more often and traded stealth for increased mobility. Its flexibility is far greater than a rogue, however, as a player could be a healer or tank. 4) Minor complaints: If I were to rate this expansion only on the new content, it would be an 8 or 9 out of 10. However, as a veteran player, it is impossible to ignore the fact that in order to experience all the new content of the expansion, one will have to first go through all the old content from previous expansions, including the nefarious Cataclysm expansion. There is a quality in voice acting and pacing that is lacking in the previous expansions, and it is noticeable when moving from the Pandaran starting zone into the reformed continents of Cataclysm. Again, I am not judging Pandaria by what happened in Cataclysm, but the fact that players must tread 70 or so levels of content they have probably done multiple times on different characters drags down the fun tremendously. My first impressions verdict is thus a 6 out of 10. The content is good, its just unfortunate you must fight through so much land already (very thoroughly) traveled in order to get to it.… Expand
Average User Score: 3.8Oct 2, 2010I've played this in both the open beta and on release, and I've never seen a game that has come out with so many flaws and problems. Just likeI've played this in both the open beta and on release, and I've never seen a game that has come out with so many flaws and problems. Just like FFXI, the entire basis of the game is the advancement of a linear storyline... and that's it. The game boasts impressive in-game art, graphics, and cinematics, but the gameplay is boring and repetitive. Once you get through your first few starting quests, you are left to do repeatable daily quests in one of three categories: Battle, crafting, and gathering. So basically you are left doing daily quests in a very similar fashion to World of Warcraft's endgame play, only that is what you will be doing for the entire length of the game. To make matters worse, the combat controls make working in a group a pain, as they do not allow for point and click casting. A redundant target select is built into the game so that people with gamepads can keep their eye on one target while healing people around it, but this only complicates PC controls.
The crafting in this game is a carbon copy of the Final Fantasy XI crystal crafting system with an unintuitive mini-game added on top. You have no recipe list, so you must look up all the recipes online at their website and you also have no way to tell if the item is too difficult for you to craft at your given skill. This also means you must manually put in all the materials for the item into a grid of boxes before you start crafting. Once at the mini-game, new players will be left scratching their heads in frustration as they vainly try to learn the crafting mini-game with a complete lack tutorials. Sure, if the player is smart enough to pick up the crafting tutorial quest back at the city he will have something to work with, but the tutorial fails to explain the intricacies of the game, such as what the pretty light on your crafting tool represents. Also, when you fail at making an item, all the ingredients you meticulously collected are destroyed, only adding to player frustration. The gathering mini-game trades the frustration for boredom, and is just as unintuitive as the crafting mini-game. Thankfully the introductory gathering quest is helpful here, but "hot and cold" mini-games belong in the realm of things to do on long car trips when we don't have advanced electronic devices available to us, not in a video game. At least not in the unintuitive, and rather dull application it is applied here. The player market is a mess as well. Square went with a Bazaar system as opposed to an Auction House, and since the economy is mostly player run (think like 90%), this ends up creating a convoluted mess. You will be stuck searching through an army of retainers (the npcs that player hire out to put their stuff on) for close to an hour before finding what you want. The costs will also be either out the roof or ludicrously low due to their being no way for players to gauge the marketplace in order to set a good price for their goods.
The game's physics engine is a rip straight out of Final Fantasy XI as well, meaning poor interaction with the environment and no swimming or jumping. You are guaranteed to always be on the ground in this game. The only improvement that this game boasts over its predecessor is the fact that it allows for solo play. This is nothing to be proud about, however, since that has been standard issue in MMOs for at least the last 5 years. So basically we have a game system that is a carbon copy of the Final Fantasy XI system with the only difference being repeatable quests and solo play. The only thing to look forward to is the storyline, but we've moved far beyond linear stories with games such as Baldur's Gate, Dragon's Age, and Fallout. Nothing to be proud of here folks, and certainly not worth wasting your money on. Pretty graphics give this two stars, but ancient game-play mechanics on top of endless player frustration gives this a 0 in game-play category.
2 out of 10 for this one folks.… Expand