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 Final Fantasy XIV: 1.19 Patch Impressions

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Shu
Celestial Council
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PostSubject: Final Fantasy XIV: 1.19 Patch Impressions   Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:06 pm

The arrival of last week's Final Fantasy XIV v1.19 patch has been heralded by many
players as a 'game changer', a great step in the right direction for the
troubled game. Others, however, are less than impressed. MMORPG.com's
Adam Tingle has taken a look at the v1.19 patch and offers a few
impressions from the perspective of FFXIV veterans and for those
returning/new players. Check it out and then weigh in with your
impressions in the comments.



The Experienced
Some people will tell you that the next patch for any struggling MMORPG will
"completely turn things around". Generally, those are crazy. After
dipping my toes in the waters of patch 1.18 I was about ready to hand in
my Moogle badge and leave the lands of Square Enix, but this latest
update is beginning to change my mind, very slightly.

To date, both patch 1.18 and 1.19 are the largest to hit the ailing Final
Fantasy XIV. From playing the former build I was underwhelmed by the
changes made to this MMO, but when formed together with October's latest
additions things are finally starting to make sense. This isn't to say
that this game is excels in any way but it is now at least playable. So
while many players will still raise their Alt+F4 fingers with rage, as a
whole the experience is getting better and things are moving in the
right direction, finally.

So enough babble, what has changed exactly? Well first and foremost,
Square Enix has made great changes to the leveling systems, most
importantly being the abolition of the "physical level". Why the
developers felt that the game needed yet another gauge for progression
above and beyond the many professions in the game, I'll never know, and
it did muddy the waters somewhat. Now that this has gone, things seem
more clear and concise, and coupled with the decision to remove
attribute point allocation; things seem more organic and easy to manage.
Of course these changes will be controversial, and a quick look over
many fan sites will see the anguished cries of those that have seen a
dramatic slash in their hit points and damage rating, but hey, it's all
for the greater good right?

Another addition, and a much needed one, is the introduction of two modes of transport: Chocobo and Airship.
Anyone familiar with the JRPG series will remember the cutesy yellow
bird that usually accompanies a little jaunty tune, and they are
certainly a welcome sight within FFXIV. Perhaps it is the blandness of
the world, but watching a hulking bipedal avian stalk across the land
makes things just seem better; perhaps I just have a thing for Bird
Bird? The other series staple transport, the airship, is slightly less
impressive, but handy none the less. Now trips between the three major
cities are handled with a small dowry of gil and a cutscene, which
breaks the tedium of walking through the "big empty". Small but
effective changes, but why this took a year to implement is beyond me.

Aside from those two, personal, stand-out changes, Square Enix has affected a
number of updates, refinements, and add-ons across the board from new
low level instances to the inclusion of Grand Companies - effectively
another way to grab missions and engage with the MMO, the caravan quests
being a particular success. From looking at both patch 1.18 and 1.19 it
seems as though the developers are slowly but surely bringing the game
in line with "traditional" MMOs, and definitely their focus seems to be
on making the experience for its existing player base more enjoyable and
easier. Take for instance the new Ifrit encounter, and the beast
strongholds - both add a layer of Endgame goodness, as well as the much
needed excitement and thrills the title so sorely lacked.

For a player that has roughed the slightly dismal start to FFXIV's life,
things are certainly starting to turn around, and it does seem like now
is the time where they can start to look to the horizon like Uncle Owen
shrugging off the trepidation and allowing for a moments optimism. Even
for those lore nuts, Square have added a number of side quests which
allow for more yarns to be spun, and even more impossibly jiggling
boobies to be unveiled. Patch 1.19 is promising for veterans, but what
about you disgruntled ex-launchers? Or perhaps those of you thumbing
your wallets, wondering whether or not to bite the gunblade and go for
it? Well that's another matter altogether.

Returning/Newcomer
Patch 1.19 is a good thing for Final Fantasy XIV, almost a great thing, but
the problems still remain that make this one of the most frustrating and
annoying MMORPGs on the market. A number of tutorial pop-ups have been
added, but the starting experience is still as ill-explained and hard to
grapple with as ever. The ever-horrible UI still feels cumbersome, and
while some of the lag has disappeared, navigating it is still an
un-enjoyable experience. While ever this interface remains, the game is
carrying around dead weight, and clubbing to death the hopes of anyone
that wishes to get near to loving the game. It is just that bad. Square,
kill it, burn it, forget about it, and rebuild - it isn't inventive, it
isn't easy, and it is definitely is harming your game.

To add to these woes, progressing through the Final Fantasy XIV is still a chore.
Aside from Guildleves (which we will get on to) the only real way to
progress is mindless grind: and I know I am not stupid, every MMO
dabbles in grind but this one really takes it too far. Couple this with
the world’s slowest combat system and things look bleak. The developers
have yet to really make the tools of advancement engaging, fighting a
small sheep will see you prod and punch impotently for a minute before
it finally submits to your will, and the mini-games which envelop
gathering are almost forms of torture.

Admittedly things have gotten in easier in respects to equipping your character and advancing
further. Two NPCs offer a small number of weapon and armour upgrades,
whilst also merging together all the tools needed for whatever class you
wish to take on. This small change is welcome, and with the retainer in
place it is easier to buy and sell equipment. This is a welcome change,
and makes things easier, but everything is still too ill-explained, and
forgoing the cries of "carebear" I still see the need for Square to
implement a comprehensive tutorial explaining the many facets of the
game.

Moving onto the game’s questing, again things still aren't quite there. Sure,
we have the main and side missions which give some interesting story,
but the Guildleves and behests are simply dire. Nobody reads the text
description of a quest these days, but by taking out any sort of
explanation, Square have really made Guildleves the most uninteresting
objectives ever. Couple this with the fact you must travel to a city,
pick up your missions, go to the applicable camp site, find the crystal,
engage your quest, and then set about the task, makes it even more
tedious - and the worst part is they don't even reward very well, and
you can only undertake a set amount a day. Fundamentally this game is
flawed in so many ways, and part of me is looking in wonderment to the
developers to see how they can salvage the experience.

To put it simply, I can't in any sound mind recommend that new players or
ex-players return to the game just yet. The things that annoyed you at
launch largely remain, looking to put off any newcomers in the very same
way they did a year previous. While the new player experience is not
everything, and many will point the finger explaining that it is a
narrow point to nitpick, but why stick around if the opening 20+ hours
are such a distressing bore?

At this moment in time, Final Fantasy XIV is an odd bird. Patch 1.19 has
made some great changes, but the roadblocks still remain for a player
that had issues at launch. The same disagreeable decisions remain and
look likely to be around a while. For someone who has stuck through the
bad times, this patch is great, excellent, and a fine addition, but for
those who need a reason to go back, this is not it yet. Like last time,
Square are still some ways off, and a massive overhaul is still needed -
but, without wishing to be too negative, it is slowly progressing and
it may not be the complete train wreck once thought. There is a glimmer
of hope, and as a Final Fantasy fan, I desperately hope the developers
make it the game it should and can be.

Images courtesy of Final Fantasy XIV Pro. Thanks!

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Eir
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PostSubject: Re: Final Fantasy XIV: 1.19 Patch Impressions   Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:30 pm

tl;dr - Still a piece of crap.
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quilens
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PostSubject: Re: Final Fantasy XIV: 1.19 Patch Impressions   Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:25 am

i can't play this without friends and theres no social incentive for me to play

ergo

i agree with eir
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Hera
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PostSubject: Re: Final Fantasy XIV: 1.19 Patch Impressions   Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:06 pm

I agree with Eir. The combat system is just awful. Even my lv1 character in any other mmo can kill faster. =A=

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