The lights are on
In an E3 presentation, the team behind the game discussed how they are focused on bringing classic elements from the franchise into the MMO space.
The trailer they showcased captures this ambition perfectly with moogles, summons, limit breaks, cactuar, and none other than Cid and his infamous airship. The developers also aren't forgetting what fans love about Final Fantasy: the story and characters. A unique way they want to go about that in the MMO realm is to let you create your own Final Fantasy story and character. It's one thing to be an observer of Final Fantasy; it's another thing to live it.
MMOs usually lock you into a class, but in a Realm Reborn you can choose your combat style on the fly, since weapons dictate class. Change your weapon and your class follows suit. While many MMOs encourage playing with others, A Realm Reborn isn't shying away from embracing those who want to play solo. Lone wolf players can rely on Chocobo companions, who take damage and heal you, so you can get through the game without human players at your side.
Also taking a cue from successful MMOs such as Guild Wars 2, Fates (full active time events) happen as you explore the world. These public challenges randomly appear and provide unpredictability and realism to the vast world.
I also got some hands on time by taking on the Ifrit challenge with other players. Being thrown into an MMO without time to get your bearings isn't the easiest, but I eventually got through the initial barrier. Playing on the PlayStation 3, commands are executed by holding down the R2/L2 button and selecting attacks and skills that are mapped to specific buttons. Things got chaotic fast. Not only do you have work as a team successfully, but Ifrit could make the floor crumble, harming players. If you were too focused on what commands you are dishing out, you could get wrecked in his fury. I liked the challenge of juggling attacking, coordinating with the team, and paying attention to Ifrit's attack pattern. There's something to be said about overcoming the obstacle with a group, but the battle started to feel very mechanic after a while.
Square Enix hopes A Realm Reborn rights its mistakes with Final Fantasy XIV. Time will tell if it gets there, but I did enjoy that the game feels like it was made by fan with little queues to Final Fantasy hallmarks.
The MMO releases on August 27 for PlayStation 3 and PC. A PS4 version is coming in 2014.
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