Final Fantasy XIV makes me happy for a variety of reasons. Some of them I’ve written about, and some things make me slightly less than happy on a whole. The point is made either way: I like the game, and there’s a lot of stuff to write about, a lot of big issues that easily sustain a whole column on their own.
Not everything I want to write about does that. There are a lot of things that I think the game does right that can’t be discussed over the length of a column without repeating myself several dozen times. I don’t want to write that column and odds are good you don’t want to read it, either.
What I can do instead, though, is compile several of those points into a single column. I want to look at the things that I like about the game that aren’t big enough to merit a whole column but are big enough to be worth mentioning.
Distinction of class
When Final Fantasy XIV launches, it will have eight combat classes. (The sooner that number increases to include Musketeer or whatever the antecedent of Ninja will be, the better.) Two of these classes are meant to be tanks, one (possibly two) acts as a healer, and four (possibly five) are DPS. We don’t know exactly how Arcanist will play out, but we do know that each class has to maintain an identity and be worthwhile when it’s got some competition.
Longtime readers know this is something that I harp on quite a bit. And I’m quite happy to say that FFXIV does a good job of making each of the classes feel distinct and playable while still retaining overall functionality, which is no small task.
Gladiator and Marauder both have the same goals as tanks, but each one has its strengths and weaknesses. Marauder is a bit less capable of providing hard mitigation and can’t block, but it hits harder and it’s great at focusing in one single targets. Lancer and Pugilist are both up-close physical damage, but Lancer is more about burst combos and positioning while Pugilist maintains a steady flow of combinations and damage.
We haven’t seen Arcanist yet, but I can feel confident that it will be unique while working within the established framework of the game. That strikes me as pretty darn awesome.
Beauty in the details
Saying a game is gorgeous is really pointless because a lot of games are gorgeous. It’s also subjective as heck, saving virtually nothing about the overall quality of the gameplay or setting or mechanics or anything else. I’ve seen remarkably beautiful things in every game I’ve played, even when the game didn’t deliver on all of the promises of that beauty. It’s praise without any actual meat.
That having been said, there is a camp on hot springs with changing stalls.
Verisimilitude is a word I throw around so much I take a five-cent hit on my paycheck every time I use it, but to me, that’s a new class of gorgeous beyond just having nice graphics. There are so many little visual treats all over, little details that make the world feel like a place where people live and work. Some of them are easter eggs, some of them are graphical touches, but all of them make the game feel alive and energetic.
I’ve always loved the look of the game, even back in its first incarnation. The revamped game looks to just be even more attractive in motion.
The roleplaying community
I freely admit this is wholly irrelevant to most of the population, but the community on Balmnug is one of the most familiar roleplaying environments for me, and having it back is a big deal to me. I look forward to getting to run around freely once more.
Smart little touches
Some elements of FFXIV are still remarkably archaic. There’s little reason why you should be forced to drag items over from your inventory to trade them to NPCs when there are countless better ways to execute the same system. But then you run into something that’s so elegant and graceful that you wonder why it wasn’t done before, or if it was done before, why it hasn’t been copied in every game.
For example, while the Armoury Chest is occasionally inelegant, it’s a great way to make sure that you can keep all of your equipment in the right place across multiple different classes. Then there’s the way that Aethernet in the cities allows you to teleport straight to the gates if you’ve attuned to every location. I also love the little gauges right by each item that show you at a glance how damaged an item is and how close it is to being fully spiritbonded. And lest I forget, I’m thrilled that quests you can’t yet accept are shown with a little red icon along with an explanation of when you can accept that quest.
Oh, and the game stole Guild Wars 2′s habit of making gathering nodes and interaction items unique for each player. It’s used to great effect, and I approve wholeheartedly.
Some little bits and pieces of the game still feel oddly lacking, bearing the markings of a bird that did not, in fact, descend from the same dinosaurs as every other avian. Despite that, there are just as many touches that speak of a singular vision and talent, and that just makes me happier than I can possibly explain. So I’m pleased about the game for a lot of little reasons aside from just the big ones.
Feedback, as always, is welcome down in the comments or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I want to tackle something I haven’t talked about head-on before now: the actual dungeons that were under discussion last week.