FFXIV: some more beta impressions

I’ve dabbled very briefly in the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn phase 3 beta so far. After the character wipe for the start of phase 4 (which is open beta), my character from the original launch of the game will be re-imported and ready to play in earnest.

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For phase 3 he was dumped without explanation in Gridania, although I’ve enjoyed poking around the elemental-themed forest city well enough; I really want to get to Limsa Lominsa since he was created and played there exclusively when I played before.

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So far in beta I’ve not touched crafting or gathering. The precious few hours I’ve had were concentrated on the new questing model and the FATE public questing system. FATE events seem to be pretty chaotic. They’re good fun in a “no tapping, combat frenzy” type of way. I do not yet have a sense of how trinity (tank, healer, dps/crowd control) roles will play out in these events.

Beyond these initial impressions I have some aspects of the game that I’ve been contemplating:

Combat
The game offers a different flavoured experience compared to other new games. It’s proudly not an action-combat MMO. That’s actually nice as an option as so many games now are opting for active combat. Whether the combat truly ends up feeling ‘tactical’ or whether it will just feel slow and boring I’ve yet to ascertain.

Grouping-friendly
I’m hoping the FATE system and the class system (multiple roles on one character) could make for a good cooperative PVE experience. Making grouping too easy or unchallenging can lead to silent zerg-fest gameplay of course. I’ve seen good and bad signs in the game so far on this front – whether players bother to communicate outside of linkshells (guilds) remains to be seen. I died on the first fate I tried, unlike in GW2 no-one bothered to resurrect me, despite there being an obvious healer character there. Someone did come and do a jig by my corpse a few times, signs of what I can expect from the community in future or just dumb luck that no-one present had a res ability?

World exploration
The little I’ve seen of the world certainly looks beautiful and well drawn. The creature animations are whimsical yet intricate which makes even the simplest fights more appealing. Now that we can jump there’ll be a whole lot more freedom for simple exploration – in the first incarnation of the game you couldn’t even climb up a hillside if there was no ‘path’ laid out for you. In this beta I’ve done a fair amount of jumping up and down rocks and riverbanks to test out this aspect. The game is certainly going to be a bit more solo friendly than it was, but not I suspect as solo-oriented as WoW, LOTRO or other similar MMOs. I wonder whether the wilderness will be too dangerous to explore without the effort to form a ‘farming group’?

Character building fun
The ‘all-classes-one-character’ model is still moderately rare in MMORPGs. This character could eventually master most, if not all, of the classes in the game if I choose to level them. That’s pretty interesting as, other than Rift’s soul system, I’ve never experienced such flexibility. Already as a lowly level 10 conjuror/level 11 gladiator I’ve experimented with main class / additional (picked from other classes) skill builds. So my gladiator can have  basic heal and buff skills from the conjuror class as an example.

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