Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn, level 10-25 impressions

final fantasy 14 a realm reborn logo

Having long since trounced the local squirrel population in the beta, I’ve gone forward, trekking through dungeons, partying up for quests, and getting a better sense of what Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn has to offer. If you haven’t already, perhaps you’d like to first read about my experience with the earlier portions of the game.

final fantasy 14 a realm reborn lancer

This game is a slow burn

For better or worse, it can take some time to get into this game. Of course, most games have their period of hand-holding; a time when certain elements of a game can be dull to those already familiar with the genre or video games in general. For many, it will take at least until level 15 for things to begin to be interesting on the gameplay side of things. That’s when you’ll get to your first dungeon. It’s at this point that groups start to do things like mark sets of enemies so that they can be efficiently taken out, one by one. I’m currently at level 26, and as of right now, the combat is still only about average in terms of difficulty and complexity when compared to other MMOs.

As a Lancer, the absolute most I would be doing in a fight is causing a “slow” effect on the enemy, stunning them, hitting them from the flank, and then using my 2-hit combo. While it may sound like a lot, it’s not; especially when you’ve already been doing it for tens of hours. In a group, it’s even simpler: cast slow, and then either hit from the flank or from the back for more damage. “Life Surge”, a skill that regenerates a percentage of health based on the next attack, and “Keen Flurry”, a skill that causes my character to parry more often, are useful but rarely necessary. “Invigorate” recovers TP (what you need to use skills), but I’ve so far only found it useful after sprinting (which puts TP to zero).

Looking down the skill tree, I can see that there are some skills that will allow me to hit surrounding enemies, or enemies that I’ve lined up; and they presumably will inject some strategy into the combat. Combat has increased in intensity as I’ve progressed, and it’s starting to be more engaging, but it’s definitely a slow march towards what experienced gamers are used to. Thus far, even though the combat hasn’t been quite as complex as I would like, it’s been enough to hold my interest alongside the other elements of the game.

final fantasy 14 a realm reborn pic 1

There have been some interesting enemies and situations that have arisen during my playthrough. In one dungeon, there were enemies that broke through walls to surprise our party, once even when we were already occupied with another mob. So as not to spoil, I can’t give any details, but there was a mini-boss that required us to defeat it indirectly–weapons were of no use. In my future time with the game, I’ll be looking forward to seeing the core combat intensify, and for more unexpected surprises.

A realm reborn the black shroud

A Handcrafted World

I like that there is a lot of variety to the many sections of Hydaelyn. The world feels like it was handcrafted. There are games in which you wander the world and feel as though you’re seeing assets that have been copied and pasted here and there. Though there might be some of that going on (I’m sure most games have it to some degree), it doesn’t feel like it. The enormous trees found in the forests of the Black Shroud are of varying size, some of them acting as bridges to other areas, and others allowing adventurers to walk through their hollowed frame. Some games with extensive emphasis on building a large world would have had to cut corners by lacking in variety of foliage and/or cutting and pasting the same assets over and over, but I didn’t get the sense that A Realm Reborn did that.

final fantasy 14 sastasha dungeon

Though the world of A Realm Reborn had already been pleasant, the dungeon Sastasha is when it really outdid itself. It’s the first dungeon, and if it’s purpose was to fill adventurers with a sense of wonder, it did quite well at that. Though it’s not actually under water, it has that sort of theme about it. Sastasha is a blue-hued cave with sandy walkways that are enclosed by calm, blue waters. Multi-colored coral sprinkle the area, and a few colorful stony paths lead to new areas. Pirates dwell here, searching for treasure of course. The opening of the cave to the ocean brings into view the familiar outline of ship masts. I like this dungeon enough that I’ll be back here a few more times, even though I’m well past needing to.

final fantasy 14 a realm reborn pic 2

Fancy a Drink in the Tavern?

There are other little details that really help to make the world of A Realm Reborn come alive. For one, your character will focus his/her attention on the enemy, npc, or player that you’re targeting–It’s a subtle touch, but it adds to the realism. On one occasion, I was wandering through a new area to get to a further destination. I happened to see a building about the size of a barn, and I wondered why it was there. Heading in, I was treated to some lively, jazzy piano music, and a smattering of npcs who were relaxing in this tavern–it was quite a welcome surprise.

Dialogue in Final Fantasy 14 feels like it has been given special treatment. Even for the times when you are doing typical quests like collecting a specific item, or killing five specific creatures, Square-Enix at least tries to give good reason for their existence with well-written dialogue. One of the more memorable characters might be Dametta, a lady who rambles on about anything, but can be particularly focused on mun-tuy beans.

One thing I fear most when I play an MMO is being nickel and dimed for my time in order to prolong subscriptions. From what I’ve played thus far, A Realm Reborn does nothing of the sort. For example, you can initiate multiplayer quests and the system will attempt to find a match for you while you run around taking care of your other quests. For those of you who have played any MMOs that have you slogging across massive, boring landscapes, fear not. A Realm Reborn will only rarely have you crossing large amounts of land, and even then, it only takes a handful of minutes to do so. With a rented Chocobo, that time is even shorter. All in all, I have been very pleased with this game’s commitment to not wasting players’ time.

I will eventually finish Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn, though it will definitely take awhile. I’ve enjoyed my time with the game so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing the conclusion of the story that feels like it’s just begun. For those of you out there who are in the mood for an MMO, definitely check out Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. Square-Enix has put a lot of effort into it. Enough that it definitely warrants your attention. Who knows, it could even be your next virtual home for years to come.

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Ryan Southard
Ryan Southard 776 posts

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it's new or it's old, as long as it's awesome, he'll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard <a href="">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>