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Previewing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn on the PS4


The original release of Final Fantasy XIV in 2010 and subsequent updates received a poor reception from the public with significant criticism over quality and stability. After several years of fundamental redevelopment including a new game engine, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was successfully launched on the PC and PS3 in 2013, receiving strong accolades from players. Buoyed by the strong relaunch, it is now is set for a full PS4 launch on April 14th in most parts of the world including Europe and North America. This will be quickly be followed by a launch in China sometime in the summer of 2014, followed by Russia, Taiwan and the Middle East.

I recently had a chance to preview the game on the PS4 and chat with Square-Enix's Naoki Yoshida.

Now, I will admit to being somewhat of a neophyte when it comes to the Final Fantasy series; previously had played only Final Fantasy VII, and at least a decade ago. Still, I was familiar with the unusual characters, strange lands, and alien lore along with some of the peculiar mounts like giant Chocobos!

Getting FFXIV up and running on the console was fairly swift since I have experience on a PS3, though the PS4's controller-with-touchpad took a little getting used to. But don't worry about that; for the truly console-inept, Final Fantasy XIV fully supports the mouse and keyboard option, even on console.

My experience during this latest media event playing the game on the PS4 in glorious 1080 resolution with some really good sound was truly stunning. Rather than plunging right in using a premade max-level character, I decided to start with the newbie experience. The character creation, style, features, accoutrements, colors, and body design were extremely deep, providing the ability to generate a truly unique and memorable avatar that looked awesome in high-res. The initial gameplay script was on rails: talk to a sequence of guiding avatars, pick up some starter quests, and then kill 10 rats -- or in this case, a bunch of squirrels and ladybugs. Despite that, I quickly found myself totally immersed in the realm, impressed by relatively smooth console gameplay combined with the quest system, maps, navigation, transportation, and character development PC fans of the title are already familiar with.

The ability to play on a small portable PS Vita is particularly interesting since it allows not only a smaller window into the full game but an opportunity to do some casual crafting while engaged in something else. It was a bit like sitting on the couch knitting while watching TV. What, you don't do that?

Since I am not a Final Fantasy XIV expert, I decided to use my interview Yoshida-san to ask questions about special features, social aspects, and the metagame. I was particularly interested in the feature to stream and record live gameplay on the console and where he though streaming as a feature is headed in the industry. He told me that a mass production and sharing of player-driven content is something his team wants to actively encourage. There's no intent to employ other such content (like machinima or e-sports), but he won't rule them out as possibilities, either.
FFXIV ARR Crafting
Given the mouse/keyboard common control platform, the developers are not planning to implement built-in voice communications or some of the more specialized PS controllers such as the Move, either, which is understandable since PC players may not have consistent access to these devices. The primary PS4 controller is the Dualshock4, which I found to have a surprisingly intuitive and responsive touchpad. The team does seem to understand that this may restrict long-term potential growth into team PvP and the e-sports arena, however. Another primary focus of the team will be on the player interactive experience and the elimination of lag, considered especially important since some players are using a virtual remote access on the smaller Vita device.

Yoshida also told me that housing and the environment will not be destructible as it evolves since destructively environments tend to attract the griefer contingents. PvP, he promises, will be carefully managed in areas such as the Wolves Den Gladiator area. The high cost of player housing issues are also an ongoing high priority for the production team to resolve.

Steam distribution of the PC game began yesterday. Unfortunately, while full support for a Mac client is still on SE's radar, there are no immediate plans for Linux. The $40 digital standard version provides the game and 30 days of game time; there's also a $60 digital Collector's Edition featuring a number of unique in-game items. For $80, you can snag a special boxed edition featuring the same in-game items plus unique art, music, and movies. And of course, there is an ongoing 30-day subscription of $13 (with a slight discount if you buy 180 days for $66).
FFXIV ARR Landscape

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