I played Final Fantasy XI for about half a year back in 2004 so I definitely wanted to try FFXIV while it was still in beta.
I am quite disappointed!
Let’s start with the main bit: the game is way too much like FFXI. I understand that Square Enix was trying to reach some sort of balance of new and old, and tries to stay true to FF roots by reusing themes from games past (in this case: the same races with new names), but I think they could have created an entirely new world instead of taking an old one and multiplying the polygons by a few.
The locales are also not as imaginative as I expected them to be. So far I’ve traveled two cities, a forest, and plains, and they’re… well, boring. Limsa Lominsa (my starting place) is a city spanning coastal rocks, but it’s bland as hell. Its outskirts are green with gray rocks, forever, with not much variation. The only way you can really tell one place from another without the usae of a map is by seeing how far away you are from a big city.
The game’s graphics don’t feel optimized. In fairness, my computer’s starting to dip into “low-end” territory (GeForce 8800 GTS 512), and the game is still very playable, but things still feel sluggish, overall. Low frame rates, especially compared to something like a Source Engine title.
And talking about sluggish – I can barely use the UI! The mouse just drags along the screen like molasses, trying to buy/sell items is nigh-impossible due to the game seriously freezing up when you try to navigate from menu to menu, and this clumsiness also translates into battle, where it’s exceedingly difficult to select enemies or party members. The unresponsive UI alone is reason enough for me to stop playing the beta, for free.
More reason to not buy the game: it seems as if you can run out of things to do quite easily. You’re only allowed to initiate 8 quests in the period of 48 hours. Maybe this is just a beta thing, but, uh… I can complete 8 quests within the period of ONE hour. Does Square Enix honestly want people to play an MMO, one of the most addictive electronic things you can do, for only one or two hours every two days? Do they expect the player to take up the rest of the time trying to craft shit and work with the clunky UI system to set up a bazaar?
The beta provides almost zero documentation about how everything works, and I hope – for the sake of people who will actually buy the game – that this improves by the time it’s released next week. But I’m still totally in the dark about the most efficient way to make money in the game (there is no Auction House system), whether it’s better to solo or party up, why the game seems to put so much emphasis on working on multiple classes rather than focusing on a main one, etc. etc. etc.
Did I mention that the game still crashes regularly?
The whole game seems unfinished and poorly thought out in a number of ways. It’s a shame that Square Enix has decided to proceed with the release rather than spending more time working out some serious kinks. Hopefully the poor experience by early adopters won’t detract players who try picking it up down the road when (if?) FFXIV has got its shit in order.