In 2012, Square Enix retired the original, flawed Final Fantasy 14 and introduced a revitalized version, which serves as both a sequel and a relaunch. The new FF14 is a stable, expansive MMORPG that combines traditional elements like questing, crafting, and raiding with the signature features of the enduring JRPG series. The game appeals to those with a deep connection to the Final Fantasy universe, its music, and its creatures.
FF14 distinguishes itself through its gamepad controls, offering a console RPG experience alongside keyboard and mouse controls necessary for group content. The combat is visually impressive and strategically engaging, while the innovative class system allows players to level up multiple professions on a single character and combine them, resulting in a wide array of progression paths.
A Realm Reborn, rather than revisiting the original game's narrative, serves as a direct sequel. The story revolves around the aftermath of a world-shattering catastrophe and your character's connection to the event. Of course, you've lost your memory—a staple of the Final Fantasy series.
The game's dialogue is filled with quirky fantasy jargon that highlights the often ludicrous nature of these stories to newcomers. FF14's primary strength lies in its distinctiveness, which is supported by its console-RPG roots, classic Final Fantasy music, sound effects, class names, and character designs. The game is visually appealing and offers a sense of nostalgia for fans of the series.
While the game's structure follows familiar patterns, it incorporates unique elements. Players complete quests similar to the World of Warcraft model, but at a brisk pace with minimal travel times. The game also features FATEs (public quests similar to Guild Wars 2's dynamic events), Levequests (timed daily tasks with scaling rewards), and mini-dungeons called Guildhests that offer cross-server group play in quick, 5- to 15-minute sessions.
Nevertheless, some degree of grinding is unavoidable. Players have individual levels for each class, and as lower-level quests become scarce, they must rely on FATEs or Levequests to progress. While this keeps early content relevant, repetition is inevitable.
FF14 offers a vast array of content that will satisfy players seeking a new MMO to invest in. However, the subscription fee enforces commitment and feels outdated, especially given the availability of free or subscription-free alternatives. This payment model also limits the game's laid-back, gamepad-driven appeal in the long run.