Fans of the Final Fantasy series often praise its storytelling, and Final Fantasy XIV looks to cling tightly to that tradition. Cutscenes permeate the questline, adding a new layer of depth to the general "skip quest text, accept quest, complete objective, turn in quest" routine that's so commonly found in other MMOs. The cinematics themselves are generally quite well done, though the lack of voice-acting is rather disappointing, given the series' pedigree.
That aside, it does have a way of causing you to feel somewhat isolated from the greater game world. I didn't feel like my story was taking place within Eorzea but rather in some bizarre alternate universe where only I existed. I know that many people tend to play MMOs as if they were single-player RPGs, and if you're one of those people, you could certainly do worse than Final Fantasy XIV's cinematic-laden storyline. I, however, am not one of those people, and as such I'm not entirely a fan of the "you are the chosen one, just ignore everyone else around you" storytelling route the game takes.
As for the content of the story itself, I found it to be quite enjoyable and entertaining if not particularly deep. The dialogue is very well written, and it really does a great job of bringing the many characters you meet to life more than a pre-recorded voice snippet and some quest flavor text ever could. And while the cinematics -- through which most of said dialogue and story information is delivered -- are done well, throughout the course of the storyline there were situations in which I'd exit a cutscene only to run two steps and be plunged straight into another one. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy a nicely rendered cutscene just as much as the next guy, but at some points I found myself tapping my fingers impatiently and thinking, "Just let me play already!"
As a result of the constant deluge of cutscenes, there was honestly very little real gameplay involved with this play session. One quest (the lighthouse escort quest I mentioned in my last article) did see me fighting off a few bugs while escorting an NPC, but they all died with a single blow from my spear, and that didn't really allow me to get any impressions of how combat works. That's another problem I had with the story, to be entirely frank. I love a good story, and I don't mind cutscenes when they're done well. However, I would much prefer the story be delivered through the course of gameplay rather than see it wrest control of my character away from me and force me to watch as the exposition is delivered. If I wanted to sit and watch something, I would have gone to the movies. The glory of the video game medium is that it allows a story to be told through the player's actions, but Final Fantasy XIV
doesn't seem to follow that.
In spite of those negatives, however, I am very grateful that you lot chose to send me deeper into the story. Not only did I escape with some extra gil lining my pockets, but I found myself becoming invested in Alira's story as plots piled upon sublots and the story progressed. Also in accordance with last week's voting, I took on four profession classes. Yes, I know, I said I was only going to do three, but as it worked out, Mining and Blacksmithing were in first place for their respective categories, with Botany and Alchemy in second. So I took all four, which will hopefully allow me to give you a deeper look at the game's crafting system when the time arrives.
And speaking of voting, it's that time again, ladies and gents. This week I'm going to spice things up a bit by asking you to vote not only on what I'm going to do next but on what goal I should aim to meet prior to our next meeting. So without any further ado, here are your choices!
We haven't gotten much in the way of hands-on time with combat so far, so perhaps you'd like me to head out into the field to spill some blood. If that's where you send me, I'll do my best to reach level 15 in the Lancer class before we meet again.
Or maybe you'd like me to work on one of my crafting classes. As I mentioned above, I took two complementary pairs of crafting classes (Blacksmithing and Mining; Alchemy and Botany), so if you're interested in how to play the game of crafts in Final Fantasy XIV
, pick one and I'll give it a go.
Lastly, I'm going to provide the opportunity for a change of scenery. Now that I've completed Limsa Lominsa's initial questline, I don't really have anything tying me to the city. With that in mind, if you'd like me to check out the (infuriatingly labyrinthine) forests of Gridania or perhaps the desert sands of Ul'Dah, now is your chance.
Matt Daniel is in a bit of a slump. You see, he's between MMOs, and he needs your help in deciding what to play next. Stop by every Wednesday for Choose My Adventure and tell him what to play, how to play it, and what color underwear to wear. No guarantees on that last one, though.