Choose My Adventure: Final Fantasying


Final Fantasy, born in 1987 on the Nintendo Entertainment System, is Square-Enix's most successful franchise with over 100 million units sold in its 27-year history. Final Fantasy is essentially a constant in the games industry; there is always a current Final Fantasy game, and there is always an anticipated Final Fantasy game. No matter the day or time, thousands of people across the globe are playing one Final Fantasy or another. Final Fantasy is a Big Deal.

That's not to say everything has been sunshine and roses for the series. Fans are passionate about the brand and have had some less than stellar reactions to certain decisions in various iterations of the franchise. Perhaps the most notorious story in all of Final Fantasyland was the launch, un-launch, and re-launch of Final Fantasy XIV, which has been discussed in great depth here at Massively.

It's been over a year since Final Fantasy XIV became Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. And with a new expansion on the way and the massive patch 2.4 freshly live, there's no better time to leap into this title to see what we can see in this month's edition of Choose My Adventure.

My Final Fantasy

I'm a fan of Final Fantasy. I've played most of the games and have always enjoyed their over-the-top stories, ridiculous characters, and excessive leather belts. While I still maintain that Super Mario RPG is Square's greatest game, I'm willing to concede that Final Fantasy IV and XII were pretty exceptional (VII is overrated. Fight me.). My experience with Final Fantasy XIV, however, is pretty limited. I checked the game out during a Steam sale and played a Lancer to around level 20 or so, but when my free game time ran out, I stopped playing. Rest assured that just as in every other Choose My Adventure, I'll be going into this one nearly blind.

For those who are also new to the game, perhaps a quick explanation is needed. Final Fantasy XIV is a subscription-based MMORPG that features most of the same things one would expect from such a classification, including monsters to kill, quests to run, characters to create, and goofy things to ride. What makes FFXIV different, though, is the way it handles classes. The game's class system is weapon-based instead of character based, meaning changing your weapon is all it takes to change your class. Thus, one character can wear a wide array of hats in FFXIV's world of Eorzea. There are even crafting classes for those MMO players who fantasize about running a store or spending the day picking flowers in the woods.

The original Final Fantasy XIV is basically gone. When A Realm Reborn launched in August of 2013, it did so with a new server system, a complete world redesign, a new UI, new playable characters, a dynamic content mechanic, and a new graphics engine. Perhaps most interestingly, Square-Enix attempted to make the massive game changes fit into the world's lore, explaining the overhaul by saying, "Dude, a meteor hit everything and KRPPHSHHHHH!" I can respect that. Firefall's world changes were usually accompanied by an apology, not a storyline.

With Heavensward, FFXIV's first expansion, slated for next spring, this marks one of the last opportunities CMA will have to jump into Final Fantasy XIV before it again morphs into another game.

Choices, choices, choices

Choose My Adventure is all about honesty, folks, and I cannot stress enough how excited I am to be playing something with as much depth of choice as Final Fantasy XIV. After my recent string of betas and freshly launched things, it's nice to be sitting at this keyboard with too many decisions to make instead of too few. This first week is going to be centered on creating a character and experiencing the early-game content, so we have a whole bunch of choices to make before we can get started.

One major decision has already been made. I'll be playing Final Fantasy XIV on a PC instead of exploring the PlayStation 3/4 version. Here's why: I don't have a PS3/4, I don't have a capture card for streaming from a PS3/4, and eww, consoles. I'm not certain this is a thing Massively readers care about, but I did feel it important enough to mention. Any screenshots you see (excluding today's, which I took from the official site) or streams you watch will be from my PC and not Sony's current system offerings. I am curious about the console FFXIV experience, though, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

That one thing aside, we still have a lot to decide. Final Fantasy XIV's character creator is one of the best in the MMO niche and offers us quite a few big decisions that dramatically influence the first few levels of our experience. So let's dive in. First, of course, we must answer the question posed to MMO characters since the dawn of time: Dude or lady?
Next we have to choose a race. I am told this choice is less important than our class choice, but since Choose My Adventure is all about what you want to see, I am leaving it in your capable hands.

Check the FFXIV wiki for pictures of each race:
Finally, we'll need to pick ourselves a class. Like Matt before me, I'm limited to combat classes, though this time it's because starting as a non-combat class is no longer a game option. I'll offer up the crafting classes a little later. Remember that classes are determined by their weapon and that we are free to change classes at level 10 should we decide we absolutely hate the way in which we are killing monsters:
That's that. You have until Friday, November 8th, at 11:59 p.m. EST to get your votes in. I'll be playing the game over the weekend, and we'll have our first CMA FFXIV livestream adventure on Monday, November 10th, at 7:00 p.m. EST. Get your votes in while you can and tune in on Monday to hang out with me as I put them into action. I am 90% certain there will be chocobos.

See you in Eorzea!

Mike Foster is putting you in the driving seat of Choose My Adventure, the Massively column in which you make the rules, call the shots, and take the blame when things go horribly awry. Stop by every Wednesday to help Mike as he explores the ins and outs of games big and small and to see what happens when one man tries to take on a world of online games armed only with a solar keyboard and the power of spellcheck.