Sunday, February 10, 2013

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Announcements : Likes and Dislikes

Note: This is only going off official announcements so far. I can't comment on any non-sanctioned Alpha/upcoming Beta game-play due to existing NDAs in place. I will be using official released videos/dev tracker/producer letters as sources for this post. So no cease-and-desist orders, okay?

"A Realm Reborn" will be going into beta testing phase 1 very soon, as a Legacy member, I will have the opportunity to play phase 1 of the beta test. I wanted to publicly express what I like and dislike about the new remade version of FFXIV based off official announcements and translations we have had so far. 


Improved Targeting Mechanics/New Server Architecture/HUD:

Levequests/Targeting System: @1:17
Party HUD: @2:42


The most important aspect of the list. Targeting mechanics in FFXIV 1.0 were very awful. There were some temporary "band-aid" like fixes to the targeting system to hold us over, (Target Mode A/B/C) but it required completely changing the game configuration in order to play different jobs.

For example, when playing Paladin/Gladiator, I would have Target Mode set to "All" so I could target party members for abilities like "Cover" as well as hold hate against the enemy and heal myself if I need to. When playing Black Mage/Thaumaturge, I would have the target mode set to "Enemy Only" so I could focus on nuking/targeting enemies efficiently. White Mage was the worst of them all. At first I would have "Party Only" in order to just heal/buff party members, but when I started using it for Hamlet Defense, it wouldn't work for healing/buffing the NPCs, so I needed to go to "All" which required quickly tabbing through all of the monsters to get to where I needed. Frustrating!

According to the video above, "A Realm Reborn" seems to be doing away with the differing targeting modes and have it based on different actions themselves hoping making the ordeal of playing a variety of different jobs/classes much easier. 

Server Architecture:

Targeting was the most important on the list, and this has to be the aspect that the the most frustrating.

For "A Realm Reborn", servers have been re-coded and re-designed from scratch to be more efficient.

Like it or not, most of Final Fantasy XIV 1.0's difficulty came from how well you and your party can adjust to lag and latency in the fights themselves.

In fighting Ifrit: Hard Mode, there were cracks that appeared on the ground. It was your responsibility to be able to avoid the cracks before they erupted with fire. (It would seriously damage, if not, kill you if you did not run away.) It's a fun little move, and adds some moving dynamic to the fight itself, and that's fine. However, I think the developers underestimated how much lag/latency plays an issue to how well people succeed in the fight. Especially in Ifrit: Extreme Mode on my server,  I hear stories that parties were 'almost' forced to use players based in Japan in order to give them the heads up that a move was taking place, because the game was so slow in executing the move that by the time it appears, your HP is already dropping.

In the Garuda primal fight, the difficulty came from how well you can get out of the way from the tornadoes, and avoiding her dashes if you were unfortunate enough to not do enough damage. The fight itself was a big gear check. The fight had three distinct phases, and by the time of 1.0's end, most players found a way to skip the second phase entirely to get her to the last phase and finish her off from there. But to those who had to bear through the second phase, getting to the other side of the battlefield from where she was was a minor obstacle. (Teleporting to the middle was a sure fire death, even running behind her you never had enough time due to server latency.)

Nael Van Darnus was better designed to handle the latency. The main lag in that fight was the occasional laser shoot beam thingy. At first, I had trouble getting to avoid that as a tank, but then I developed a method to avoid it. ("One-mississippi, two-mississippi, RUN!") and even though I got hit by the laser animation, I never took any damage, it considered me avoiding it. Huh.

Players in Europe had the most problems playing the game due to the extreme latency and distance from the Japanese-based servers.

The usual response I get from fellow players on this issue goes along the lines of "It was easy!", "Play better next time", or the like. I won't disagree that there isn't room for improvement gear-wise, but it would be an outright lie to say that most of the skill in these fights come from not the obstacles themselves but how well you get used to the lag/delay on the moves themselves.

In "A Realm Reborn", servers are going to be based out of different data centers world wide. As well as the game utilizing an MMO-friendly engine rather than a modification of Final Fantasy XIII's Crystal Tools game engine. I'm hoping with these two major improvements, players would be able to react based on their actual skill and intuition rather than the latency. Well, a game is always going to have lag/latency. No one has a perfect internet connection, but reducing it as much as possible goes a long way.

Improved HUD:  


In the video above, the new HUD shows what party members are casting at all times. It seems a bit insignificant, but in the events I posted above (Ifrit, Garuda, Nael Van Darnus) we would always parse the amount of damage people did in each fight and we would be somewhat puzzled when the total damage outputs looked something like this:

Black Mage 1: 22969

Black Mage 2: 20780
Black Mage 3: 11220

See a big discrepancy there? Chances are, Black Mage #3 wasn't doing his/her share of the spells. In some early cases, I was Black Mage #3. But what happened to fix that was people would ask me what spells I was casting, and we were able to fix it after the run ended and I was able to be Black Mage #2. I was never Black Mage #1. XD

But the point is, the party slots can be organized by job, and we can figure out who the bad apple is and try to correct the casting as the battle is going rather than try and fix it afterwards or even worse than that, them not knowing the reasons on what they're casting and why.

For example, we were doing an event, and one of the Black Mages was using Flare, and Blizzard/Blizzara for little to no damage. They were unaware that Flare is radial around the caster and won't hit mobs from a distance, Blizzard and Blizzara are similar but more of a "get the hell out of dodge" run away spells more or less. By seeing them cast in the HUD, we can stop them immediately and tell them to stick to the spells more appropriate for the situation. 

FATE System:

The FATE System stands for "Full Active Time Event" (ha, Final Fantasy IX reference!) . Players will be able to come together and are automatically partied up to do an in-game event. While the game term is from FFIX, it has been likened to that of recent MMO "Guild Wars 2" in its implementation of dynamic in-game events.

It has been confirmed so far that FATE will be used for Chocobo Escort missions, Hamlet Defense Battles, and an upcoming battle against the Behemoth and other notorious monsters.

There will be 5-10 FATE events per zone. Maybe some achievements for doing FATEs too? That would be lovely.

Since Hamlet is changing to what I understand to be an open-world defense battle... how will getting relic quest items change I wonder?

Possible Removal of Speedruns as a primary requiremnt of getting gear?: 

It's been confirmed that gear you could only get via speedruns from dungeons will be a drop in "A Realm Reborn" such as Darklight gear. But the ways of getting them will change. However, from the above video, it seems that a time limit of some sort will remain.

Some interview questions and answers from JPGames Interview:

JPGames-Frederick: And what about the time limit on current dungeon raids? Will they remain in A Realm Reborn?

Yoshida: The raids in the current version are basically things we have put together with very limited methods and that is why they are limited at the moment. This is not what we want to do in A Realm Reborn, we want to create many different things. Expect that instanced raids in the new version will be a lot of fun. We will probably remove the time attack type of system where you are fighting against a boss. Yeah, our instanced raids will have many different settings where you have to go through in order to make it to the final boss. 

JPGames-Frederick: So it will possibly take a lot of time to clear those dungeons?

Yoshida: Yeah.

Limit Breaks:

Still too early to see how this will come out, but I would like to see how Limit Breaks work and how often they can be used.



What class you start as determines your starting nation:

It's been confirmed that what class/job you start off as determines where you end up in. The class/job matches the guild.

For example, the Conjurer's, Lancer's, and Archer's guild is in Gridania. The Marauder's and Arcanist's guild starts in Limsa Lominsa, and the Gladiator's, Pugilist's, and Thumaturge's Guilds are in Ul'dah.

This bugs me greatly. If I was a new player, and I wanted to be a Gridanian, I would need to start as a Lancer, Archer, or Conjurer.

Limsa Lominsa is going to be shafted in the newbie department because they get 1/3 less players by default. Gridania gets three classes to where people end up, Ul'dah gets three classes, and Limsa only two. 


Spiritbinding prevents trading to others or re-selling gear:

Spiritbonding is when points goes to your gear and weapon when you begin to equip and use it. Once a weapon is 100% spiritbonded, you can choose to convert your gear into materia to attach onto better gear.

Confirmed on Friday that once an item has had one point of Spiritbond attached to it, it will not be tradable/sellable.

This is a touchy subject. I can see WHY they did it, for economic purposes in the game, and simplying the process.

But there should be some kind of fee or penalty and be able to un/de-spiritbond an item. Prices for multiple-melded pieces of equipment are going to skyrocket because people will either craft them to sell or wear.


Wow, that was a longer rant than I expected. Well, I'll see how these events will play out in the beta. I'm mostly optimistic. We'll see!

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