Time to play Final Fantasy 14

Time to play Final Fantasy 14

On September 30, 2010, Square-Enix released the first version of Final Fantasy XIV, a video game that confused the many fans of the series who had already missed the eleventh episode in 2002. Two years before the debut of Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft, in fact, the first penetration of the MMORPG market by an AAA publisher took place, the first landing in a universe that many struggled to understand. >
Final Fantasy XI never succeeded in the unlikely attempt to dominate the undergrowth of pop culture, a feat carried out only by its western "rival", but it staged an extraordinary world, that of Vana'diel, destined to remain the preserve of a small community, made up of die-hard fans and those few people ready to take the big leap into the unknown territory of online shared universes.

For many fans, Final Fantasy XI was the first MMO in absolute. For many users, it was the first time that a video game "allowed itself" to ask for the payment of a monthly fee, which nowadays represents the standard, between battle pass and expansions that cleverly disguise this business model. These features, on the other hand, meant that most Final Fantasy fans leapt straight from the Tidus epic to Yasumi Matsuno's mistreated Final Fantasy XII, oblivious to the odyssey that sat in the middle.

The landscapes have become more and more beautiful, until they reach the levels of Shadowbringers. The same situation, in some ways, has repeated itself as it was eleven years ago, when Square-Enix opened its doors on a new MMORPG, this time set in the world of Eorzea, ideally destined to establish itself as a titan of the category. The rest, as they say, is history. The launch was a disaster, many veterans of the eleventh chapter abandoned the ship, the retention of users was at an all-time low, in short, there were all the signs of a defeat that would have resulted in a premature abandonment.

But with an unexpected move, Square-Enix announced that it did not want to give up, putting the project for a reboot in the hands of Naoki Yoshida, whose team became the protagonist of an extraordinary restoration work that has now become famous in all corners of the industry, to the point that there are even documents that tell all the details of this historical period. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn had such a powerful impact that it transformed, in a very short time, into one of the leading MMOs on the market, drawing old and new fans into its fabric of breathtaking storylines.

What it was extremely difficult to hypothesize, is that Yoshida's new project would raise the bar one expansion after another, constantly expanding its playerbase, considerably increasing production values, bluntly transforming itself into one of the best chapters of Final Fantasy never made. And even if after all these milestones it is difficult to explain to most people that it is worth crossing the MMO label, there are now at least 14 million fans who know what lies beyond the gates of Eorzea.

Watch on Youtube. With the release for PlayStation 5 of the beta version of Final Fantasy XIV next-gen, a title that hasn't come to an end yet, Suare-Enix closes the circle of its artistic maturity. Through this edition, the work becomes in effect a canonical chapter, usable to its fullest potential by anyone with a new generation console, as well as ready to give any fan of the franchise the most unique opportunity to live a life. parallel in the midst of magic, Chocobo and Moguri.

The PS5 version of Final Fantasy XIV puts on the plate a resolution up to 4K, a framerate up to 60fps, an extraordinary reduction of loading times and a visual spectacle that now escapes all those PC configurations that are starting to show the first signs of the time, such as our 1080.

In addition to presenting itself as a "new" title according to most technical perspectives, this edition expands the Trophy park and finally manages to do justice to the efforts of the artists of the house, which expansion after expansion have significantly raised the bar of ambition. Add to the cauldron the extraordinary support for the gamepad, in this case the DualSense, and an endless series of options to customize the gaming experience, you get a chapter of Final Fantasy capable of satisfying even the needs of the most difficult palates.

Final Fantasy XIV isn't afraid to look back, as the latest Eden raid from Episode 8 demonstrates. If once the free-trial version of A Realm Reborn only allowed you to make your way up to level 35, tasting the contours of a mammoth plot and superficially experiencing the combat system, the restyling brought by the latest patches allows players "on trial" experience the base game and the first Heavensward expansion to the fullest. This means that the Eorzea Chest is willing to offer anyone hundreds, if not thousands of hours of top-notch content without the need to swipe your credit card. But what is it that makes Final Fantasy XIV great?

The Final Fantasy fanbase has experienced a rift over the past few years: on the one hand there are longtime fans, stoically anchored to their positions, convinced that the saga has experienced an inexorable decline through the most recent episodes. On the other hand there are the enthusiasts, who together with the new players continue to get excited even in the face of stories and philosophical deviations undoubtedly far from the most ancient inspirations. Final Fantasy XIV, for its part, represents the solid bridge designed to reunite the extremes of this chasm.

Fishing with both hands from the fantasy and post-fantasy imagery of the first chapters of the series, the work supervised by Yoshida puts on the plate a main plot that has nothing to envy to those of the most beloved instances, and he does so by mixing excerpts of a mythology known to most with an excellent original writing, all in the shadow of the MMO component. This seemingly boundless ambition translates, in practice, into a series of characteristics unique to the genre.

You can raise your own Chocobo, and of course dress it as you want. The first, and most important, is that Final Fantasy XIV can be experienced and played just as if it were an "offline" and stand-alone episode; the structure of the campaign, which has a focus on narrative completely alien to the MMO world, lends itself perfectly to single-player use, allowing anyone to measure themselves against the background of Eorzea without it being in any way necessary to participate in the most complicated group activities .

Heavensward, expansion present in the free-trial and probably our favorite, was then followed by Stormblood and Shadowbringers, additional contents that have further expanded this dimension, injecting thousands of hours of activity and definitively transforming Eorzea in a parallel world. Far from the competitiveness of the raids, in fact, it is now possible to lead a quiet life beyond the mirror of Final Fantasy, building a house, going fishing or raising Chocobo once they have retired from the mission for the salvation of the world.

The second unique feature of Final Fantasy XIV is that of being one of the best videogame metaverses ever made; every corner of the Hydaelin universe holds quotes even to the smallest nuances of the series, hosts the opponents who have made its history, raises the curtain on timeless activities such as the Triple Triad card game originating from the eighth chapter. It happens to walk through the woods and find yourself in front of the legendary Odin, it happens to start a chain of quests and suddenly having to defend yourself from the slashing of the swords of Gilgamesh.

The Gold Saucer, a real casino, cannot be missed. chock full of minigames. To go in this direction is also and above all the artistic fabric that supports the work, always willing to cite and dust off old inspirations ready to suddenly emerge from the plots of the raids, which are continuing to pay homage to mythological entities such as Exdeath or Kefka Palace. Similarly, the collaborations matured in the orbit of the MMO should not be underestimated, including the most recent with Yoko Taro's Nier: Automata, which resulted in a series of raids for 24 players closely linked to the universe of 2B and 9S.

It is not a question of simple quotationism, because the artists and writers of the studio have succeeded in the attempt to pack original characters of great depth, especially in the confines of the latest Shadowbringers expansion, weaving tales of the highest level and translating them visually as best you could. Not to mention that the fascinating design that touched both the characters and the (splendid) settings, was first set to music by Nobuo Uematsu and then by Soken, who have often raised the value of amalgam beyond the recent limit of "offline" chapters.

And then? Well, then there is the MMORPG component. Final Fantasy XIV is an extremely inclusive online video game, in the sense that it offers fans a multitude of extremely varied content. Most of the activities are within everyone's reach, devoid of particularly complex dynamics, and do not hesitate to reward players with dopamine injections related to the collectible component and personal satisfaction.

Exdeath has appeared in the raids of Stormblood, awakening several memories. The experience, today, collects over eighty dungeons to face together with other adventurers, dozens of boss fights defined Trials, a multitude of raids for 8 and for 24 players, seasonal activities that have ranged from procedural dungeon crawlers to the exploration of open worlds hostile heirs of the eleventh episode. Since things to do are wasted even away from the fighting front, and each character can master any class or profession, the box is richer than ever.

Although the hardcore scene could never count on a similar basis to what the World of Warcraft community constantly provides to the most dedicated players, Final Fantasy XIV's endgame ecosystem is one of the most successful in the gaming-as-service landscape, and is also characterized by the same artistic care which illuminates the rest of the offer. In short, whether you want to raise your personal Chocobo, buy and furnish a cottage by the sea, experience a great adventure or face the most dangerous enemies on the planet, Eorzea has an answer for your needs.

Everything perfect , then? Although Final Fantasy XIV has been entirely embroidered around the concept of pleasing any genre of gamer, from the simple fan of the fiction of the saga to the fan of crafting, there are still a couple of edges that need to be filed. The most evident undoubtedly lies in the shortcomings in terms of repeatable activities: since the PvP sector of the title is practically non-existent, and in fact there are no counterparts neither of the Arenas nor of the Mythical + ones that have made the fortune of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV is a title that lends itself well to being played for short periods condensed around the major patches; a factor that can be taken both as a virtue and as a defect.

The latest great collaboration has brought the world of Nier: Automata to the borders of Eorzea. Most read now

Overwatch, heavy criticism for Mei's new skin, branded as an example of "cultural appropriation"

Mei's new hair is debatable.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart shines next-gen in Digital Foundry analysis

An expert-certified spectacular.

Doom Eternal introduces paid cosmetic DLC, despite previous promises

Has something changed?

Similarly, the game world is rapidly becoming obsolescent, and it is very difficult to meet other players outside the areas that contain the most recent content; testing new characters on the occasion of the launch on PS5, in fact, we found ourselves mostly crossing deserted maps, often visually archaic due to the limitations dating back to PS3, as well as dotted with activities now without significant rewards in the long term, but there is to say that this problem is shared by all MMOs that have reached a certain longevity.

But leaving aside the nitpicking, the release of the beta version of Final Fantasy XIV on PlayStation 5 has highlighted once again the extraordinary qualities of one of the best MMORPGs of the last decade; a title that manages to unhinge some axiom of the genre, unrolling itself on an artistic carpet of the highest quality and along a narrative component closer than ever to the traditional inspiration of the saga.

We have said it several times, and we have reiterated in the review of each expansion (here you can read that of Shadowbringers), but it is worth mentioning once again: any fan of the Final Fantasy series should at least give the fourteenth episode a chance. And as the next Endwalker expansion is upon us, there's no better time to catch up with what has now become a legendary story.

Powered by Blogger.