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Okay people, Final Fantasy fever has set in and it shows no signs of abating. Come in, get comfy and let us infect you with our sickness.
I've been speaking about why Pie and I like Final Fantasy 14 in generalities the last few weeks, so this week I want to draw on some specifics on why Pie and I are so overjoyed with this game right now.
FF14 does a lot of things right!
For one, it is a wonderful introduction to the genre, gracefully introducing mechanics to, fairly and firmly, teach players how to, you know, play. While the ramp up is slow for those familiar with MMOs, a captivating story awaits accompanied by a brilliant score, both of which propel you forward and make you yearn for more. It feels like I'm finally able to play a classic game in the numbered series with friends and online in an experience we can share.
Additionally, the game caters so well to fans! You can feel the team has a genuine love of the series and source material and aren't simply being forced to cash in on nostalgia. Subtle as well as overt nods are plentiful; call backs to Amano character, monster and costume designs astound; flourishes and remixes of classic themes serve well to invigorate; and everything is just so delightful to behold in a modern game that it gets us giddy!
As far as gameplay goes, again the ramp up can be slow and character building is somewhat absent, so veterans won't be overly impressed. It may lack the complexity I usually covet, but the system is solidly built and the accompanying aspects of the game make this easy to forgive. What I do love, however, is how group content is synced to a certain item and character level, ensuring that content is consumed as intended! Dungeons and raids never gets steamrolled (and thus, boring) and remain relevant as new content gets introduced. In WoW, for instance, not being able to experience a dungeon or raid at the appropriate difficulty, as it was originally indented, was a huge source of contention for us and ended up invalidating a lot of what could have otherwise been wonderful PVE experiences.
Gear, and the stats they add, have weight that can be felt. I've not tracked this quite enough in combat scenarios, but this is clearly evident when crafting. Every upgrade to your primary stats matter; when you come up short by one CP because you neglected to acquire a single HQ accessory, you start to realize just how precise the underlying formulas are. Although this may sound bland, before you know it, you get caught up in a constant desire to upgrade for the sake of necessity. The exhilaration of meaningful progress, seeing noticeable improvements to how well you can craft high quality items upon upgrading, has a way of sinking its teeth into you and exciting you to keep pushing to that next tier.
I think one of the things that excites me the most about FF14 is knowing what Yoshi-P (director, producer, and superhuman extraordinaire), did with this game. He made an MMO that isn't simply competent, but downright amazing from the piece of garbage, jumbled bloody mess that was the original release. Now that the game is stable and gaining immense traction, how will he proceed now that he can stretch his wings? With Heavensward looming on the horizon, I know we don't have long to wait to find out what he has in store for us.
Pie and I are so stoked to play and we can't recommend the game highly enough to fans of the series or those looking for a good MMO to play. Come on guys, get down with the sickness.