Ann "Cyliena" Hosler jumps using triangle into the PS4 edition of FFXIV: ARR!
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn launched on the PlayStation 4 last week. I’ve been a long-time Final Fantasy RPG fan, but when it comes to the Final Fantasy MMOs I have only had done beta testing for both XIV 1.0 and A Realm Reborn. It’s been a while since I've played in Eorzea and I’ve been looking forward to checking it out on the PS4. Square Enix was kind enough to send over a copy of the game to review; here are my impressions of how it plays out so far on the console!
Getting Into the Game
The initial installation and update only took about 10-15 minutes, plus a couple more for getting booted out after everything installed because I forgot to go redeem the game key on my PlayStation account. Due to heavy traffic load, the world I wanted to create on (Gilgamesh) was temporarily not available to new characters, so I wasn’t able to complete my character creation process until the following morning when it unlocked. I’m okay with that though—it shows that the PS4 release has people excited and jumping into game.
The character creation process is really easy on the PS4. I had no issues scrolling through options, zooming, or rotating my character. Everything was very straight forward and being able to save my appearance settings at the end was a definite bonus, because I didn’t have to spend time creating the character again when the world unlocked the following day!
Using a Controller
When you begin playing on the PS4 you’re given the choice of using either keyboard or controller controls. Since I wanted to get a true console feel of the game, I went with controller, but still kept my keyboard online in case I needed to type. I soon landed in Limsa Lominsa and my initiation into using a controller in an MMO (a first for me) began.
It’s befuddling to imagine squeezing all the versatility of MMO controls into a controller to someone who has only played PC versions before, but Square Enix manages to mostly nail this down well. Trying to memorize all of the controls feels a touch overwhelming at first, but once you begin to remember small things like the touchpad selects UI elements (it can also be used as a mouse), triangle jumps, R2 brings up combat hotkeys, and so on, it falls into place.
That’s not to say that the controller didn’t have its problems, though. The biggest issue I ran into was targeting monsters. You use the arrow keypad to cycle through mobs, and I swear that whenever I was in combat the game gleefully started out with the monster furthest from me the majority of the time instead of the one chomping at my feet. Sometimes I would lose my target mid-combat for goodness knows what reason (possibly me hitting the wrong key on the controller?), forcing me to go through the Russian-roulette of mob tab-targeting again.
Thankfully the selection issue wasn’t so severe that I couldn’t function in combat, it was simply an annoyance that delayed me. The worst it affected me was causing me to be too slow in FATEs that other players were at, and not being able to contribute as effectively as I would have been at a computer.
Grouping and Combat
I have a couple of friends that play on Gilgamesh and one of them pulled me into a group my first day playing. Keeping up with each other felt quite easy, but where I felt there were problems was in communication. Because I was using a controller I had to stop everything I was doing to pick up my keyboard to talk to him. I didn’t get to a high enough level yet to determine whether or not this would affect more difficult combat, but not being able to communicate while traversing the world or fighting can have its detriments.
Once you actually have a mob selected, combat is pretty easy. In the early levels the R2 button brings up a hotbar with your combat actions, and using triangle, square, circle or X will dictate which action you perform. Combat felt fluid: R2, X, R2, triangle, R2... darn, Carbuncle got the killing blow again! The R1 button swaps between hotbars, which I assume will allow for further skills and customization as you gain levels. Fighting with a group went smoothly as well, though using my small healing ability took a bit of extra legwork.
Thus far the graphic quality has been my favorite part of FFXIV: ARR on the PlayStation 4. The world is absolutely gorgeous. I experienced no lag—even when passing huge flocks of players in the merchant wing of the city—everything just runs smoothly and looks fantastic. This makes those small annoyances I have with the game 100% worth it. I’m sure I could come up with a few more adjectives to make up another paragraph of “the graphics rock my world,” but I’ll go with a few pictures and a brief video instead (though they probably don't do it enough justice)!
PlayStation 4 Sharing Tools
The capture and sharing tools on the PlayStation 4 work seamlessly with the game. All the images I used in this article were ones I took while playing last week, and Square Enix even managed to have each image automagically imprint their copyright stamp on it. Video capture was no issue; I even found myself with several videos I didn't even realize I had taken, probably from me trying to capture images! I tried out some Twitch streaming and broadcasting worked as perfectly as it does for any PS4 game.
While Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn on the PlayStation 4 has its quirks, the graphic quality easily makes up for them, and over time the quirks will disappear as playing with your controller becomes second nature. The game is unchanged and is still the same fantastic experience that it is on the PC. If you have a PS4 and are on the fence on whether or not to pick up the game, I definitely recommend giving it a whirl. Eorzea awaits!
If you want to watch nearly eight minutes of traveling, questing, indecisiveness and a bit of combat on the PS4, check out the video below!
Ann "Cyliena" Hosler, Managing Editor
Bonus Gameplay Video