It's the fourth week of my four-week feast of Final Fantasy XIV, and my jaws are seriously getting tired.
Kotaku's MMO reviews are a multi-part process. Rather than deliver day one reviews based on beta gameplay, we play the game for four weeks before issuing our final verdict. Once a week we deliver a log detailing when and how we played the game. We believe this gives readers a frame of reference for the final review. Since MMO titles support many different types of play, readers can compare our experiences to theirs to determine what the review means to them.
I'm going to call this week's log Pancake Week. Pancakes are delicious. The thought of eating a giant stack of pancakes right about now sounds wonderful. Imagining the warm, fluffy goodness, slathered with butter and dripping with golden-brown syrup makes my stomach rumble. That's before you start eating them. The first few bites are amazing; just as you imagined. Then you start slowing down. The pancakes begin to grow heavy in your stomach. Suddenly it's not as good an idea as it originally seemed, and the thought of another bite makes you shudder.
So, welcome to Final Fantasy XIV MMO Log Four: Pancake Week.
I logged in early this morning after attending a GameStop midnight launch for Super Scribblenauts. It was mainly for Medal of Honor, but I had my priorities.
Most of the linkshell was either asleep or otherwise engaged, so I decided to just randomly wander around the world a bit.
I spend a lot of time simply wandering around the various locations in Final Fantasy XIV. It's such a pretty game. My screenshot folder is filled to the brim with beautiful scenery, and as I was running around the area surrounding Limbo Lominomicron I had to take a video, just to capture the leaves blowing in the wind as I jogged through the rolling hills.
I found myself wishing the developers had spent as much time on creating a compelling and intuitive gameplay experience as they did on those amazing graphics. The thought depressed me, and it was very late. Bedtime.
I didn't feel like playing today, but I logged in anyway, just to run circles around a few random people, just in case inspiration struck. It did not.
After an hour of aimless wandering, I logged off and playing Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light on my Nintendo DS. The graphics aren't nearly as nice, but the game has a final goal that's a bitch more tangible than Final Fantasy XIV's.
The main reason I logged in this evening was to see what the rest of Oogle (my linkshell) was up to. My time with them has been brief, but they've quickly become the most entertaining thing about Final Fantasy XIV. It's no longer about leveling my axe or making new things with my mad blacksmithing skills.
It's about Mitsudo's cheery demeanor. It's about Silver's complaints, and Hrastolm's getting angry over Silver's complaints. It's Dai's well-meaning attempts to organize linkshell activities for this past weekend, knowing I wouldn't be around much longer.
It's about Toxi being mean, mainly to squirrels.
I played for a few hours, chatting with the folks and avoiding the hell out of this thing:
This night I also learned that Final Fantasy XIV is about running from whatever the hell that thing was.
A little chat, a few guildleves, and I called it a night.
As if I needed any less motivation, Square Enix this morning revealed plans to fix all the problems people had been complaining about for months now, extending the 30-days of subscription-free play included with the game to 60.
That basically means that the game I am playing now is not finished. But it has been released, so I have to judge it for how it plays now.
The last thing I wanted to do after that news was play. I went out for the night instead. Fresh air is neat.
I spend two hours porting from place to place, doing some guildleves. The linkshell was pretty quiet, and I didn't really feel like playing anyway.
It was the last day of play, and I wanted to see something different. The only problem was I was stuck in Ul'dah with no anima to teleport anywhere. On TeamSpeak my guild was chattering away, the horribly mean Toxi and a group killing crabs and squirrels in some faraway land.
I lived vicarious through them for a while, running through the lands surrounding Ul'dah, trying to find pathways to places I had never been to. I found a lot of dead ends instead. Eventually I made my way to the ferry.
The ferry ride started off stormy, with lightning flashing across the sky. Slowly the storm clouds faded, and we found ourselves on calm seas, standing there for 10 minutes while the game did whatever it needed to do in the background.
Eventually I found my way inside the ship, taking a seat on a convenient bench. I have to open the main menu to sit and stand. It's so amazingly counter-intuitive I wanted to scream.
The squirrel battling continued on the linkshell's TeamSpeak channel as I journeyed north of Limsa Lompisa or whatever, looking for adventure. At one point a plant hit me for 1, 152 hit points. I had 1,157. Ouch. Luckily I am an excellent runner.
At the urging of my linkshell-mate Dai I wander into some caves called Mistbeard Cove, where enemies far above my level lurked around every corner. Nearly getting killed multiple times, I was about to log out for the night when a huge band of adventurers showed up.
"Hey, aren't you that Kotaku guy?" One of them asked. "Maybe >.>" I answered. They were trying to form a 15-man experience point farming team, and I was a person. They needed people, even ones that could barely harm what they were attacking.
I joined up, and then we went on a rampage.
Well, first several of us died, because someone forgot to cast shell. Then we rampaged, and it went something like this:
It was pure chaos, and quite lovely. I was barely doing any damage or gaining any experience, but others were leveling, so it worked for me.
After about an hour of non-stop killing, I called it a night. Thanks to Blackomega Kingofwaffles and Vivi for sending me off with a bang!
Oh, and the voice you hear is Toxi on our linkshell TeamSpeak server. Told you she was mean.
So my critical time with Final Fantasy XIV is now at an end. Part of me is relieved. The pressure is off, and now all there is to do is deliver the final verdict in my review later this week.
Another part of me will miss these people I've gotten to know briefly over the past few weeks. They'll still be there, and I'll still have access to the game, but these days unless it's work-related, my MMO time is severely limited.
It's been a little under 28 days since I took my first stumbling steps into the world of Eorzea. I'd like to think I left a few footprints behind as I leave.
Stay tuned for our full Final Fantasy XIV review, later this week!