Final Fantasy XIV was, unfortunately, a highly anticipated game that fell FLAT on its face on launch. It made numerous "biggest video game flop" lists of 2010, and received almost universally negative scores among the various reviews after its sloppy late September 2010 launch. Square-Enix received heated criticism that it lost touch with its player base with its horrendous UI for the game and its terrible game mechanics, and stock prices for S-E fell and FFXIV was primarily to blame, and the developers seemed to have looked to have aged 10 years in the last three months trying to assure players, investors, and and reviewers that the game was to get better. In this time, they announced that there would be three major patches to the game. The November 2010 patch which would fix some of the glaring user interface and gameplay lag that players were complaining about, the December 2010 patch which would fix the economy in the game by revamping the search feature and making it easier to shop for items, and the early 2011 patch which adds a load of new features to the game.
Here is the documentation for the patch notes overview.
Here is the documentation for the November 2010 patch and a detailed list of what was updated.
So, was this "miracle" patch worth it?
Lag has been greatly reduced, the menu and commands work much more fluidly. In my opinion, this is what I disliked about the game the most. Before the patch contained a horrible UI that did not respond well. Areas were also laggy, and because of the breakup of areas to be processed separately, the lag in the game as a whole has also been reduced, which makes it much more enjoyable.
Combat moves much more fluidly.
The targeting system has been improved. You can now use the F keys to target members, like in Final Fantasy XI.
Item sort function was added, makes it much easier to change classes and equip new things without having to go through a long list of crap or loot to find what you need.
CTRL commands have returned and make it much easier to chat in-game. CTRL+R responds to the last person that sends you a /tell (private message in game) and CTRL+L goes right to linkshell chat.
It is now much easier to gain SP in lower levels. It no longer requires direct participation to get SP. This makes it much easier to get stuff like Shield skill-ups. However, high levels are complaining that the SP gains in the upper tiers is very ugly. (See: The Ugly)
The user interface is MUCH more responsive, and it goes at close to the speed of Final Fantasy XI. Party member locations are now visible on both the blue minimap and the large map.
The Attributes and Gear has been separated and cleaned up. It's much easier to find gear to equip and sell rather than random loot that gets in the way.
Storyline NPC locations are now available on the large map as well.
The EXP and SP bars are now visible on the screen at all times as a movable widget. (It may show off the screen at first.)
Square-Enix ninja-nerfed (decreased) the value of Vitality. While the number itself doesn't decrease, the stat no longer means as much. I had 1050 HP before the patch, and now I only have around the mid 900's.
Searchable retainers haven't been added yet, but it's coming in December, so the wait isn't long.
Higher leveled characters are reporting a massive decrease in SP gain. However, this may be a glitch and is probably not working as intended.
Final Fantasy XIV did get a horrible start. But now it is definitely worth at least giving a try. For people who have played in September-October-early November, they extended the free trial period for a month, so players that started then can play for 60 days free until they fix their problems. The patch gave me new-found optimism about this game and I hope to be sticking around in Eorzea for the next decade. Kudos S-E, you may have started with the game in the crapper, but at least it has a well-built foundation that new content can be built off of!
Hope to see you all around on the Figaro Server!