For this review, I am using the term Final Fantasy XIV for the base game (A Realm Reborn) and the following expansions: Heavensward, Stormblood and Shadowbringers. I am not reviewing Endwalker, nor am I reviewing the original game.
Ah, Final Fantasy XIV an online RPG that I have played for many years has finally come around for a review. I have decided it is time to do my review due to how Endwalker will be finishing the overall story arc.
In case you do not know Final Fantasy XIV is an MMO based in the land of Eorzea where you play as an adventurer that has travelled to one of the three city-states and from here on you get involved in the local politics, join a group called the Scions of the Seventh’s Dawn, a local militia group and ultimately end up becoming the Warrior of Light who fights against pretty much divine beings over the many expansions it has. As with every review, I am not going to talk about the story as I leave it mostly spoiler-free but there is a free trial you can enjoy which goes up to level 60 and includes Heavenward.
- Battle Content
- Non-combat Content
- Crafting and Gathering
- Graphics & Design
Out of every MMORPG, I have played, Final Fantasy XIV has the most welcoming community that doesn’t go around insulting each other although this negatively has made a community where it is “okay to play bad” and this carries over to the harder content where you can be held back and simply saying something you will face abuse or reports back.
Your main source of community is the free company you are in, cross-world linkshells and party finder before writing this review I was a founder/leader of a free company formerly called The Nirvana Company which I left for personal reasons. I also run a raid group that will be featured in the Playing Games with Snat that will be coming in future while also running a social cross-world linkshell. You will ultimately find that how well you enjoy the community depends on what free company you join and how good you are as a player to be able to enjoy party finder but if you are someone that avoids that you will find your social interactions are limited to a small group only.
If you happen to play Final Fantasy XIV and are on the Chaos datacenter do toss me a message and I will invite you to my cross-world linkshell!.
Final Fantasy XIV has a massive range of different types of gameplay and I felt it wouldn’t do justice without going into a bit of detail about the major ones. With this in mind, I am going to talk about the bulk of the game first which is the combat content.
For those that do not know most MMORPGs follow what is called a trinity where the gameplay involves a tank (defensive role), a healer (recovery role), and damage dealers as they come together to kill stuff. In Final Fantasy XIV, all content is designed around the idea that as much damage needs to be done before something enrages which would be a party wipe.
As a healer main (I prefer to play White Mage), I feel quite let down within Final Fantasy XIV as it seems the healing roles are designed around a game that does not exist. Final Fantasy XIV has a heavy DPS focus and playing as a healer you seem to be punished for using heal spells with White Mage being a good example as using lilies is a DPS loss and where possible you want to avoid healing using GCDs.
Back in A Realm Reborn and Heavensward healers used to have a small DPS rotation and also had Cleric Stance which provided a small risk vs reward but in Stormblood and Shadowbringers this was removed to make it more simple – something you will find is an issue with the game for those looking for something hard to play as Final Fantasy XIV has somewhat “dumbed down” so everyone can do everything.
When it comes to healers I main a White Mage although I would recommend giving Scholar a try as it is pretty fun at least back in its early days.
Tanks in Final Fantasy XIV are the same as other MMORPGs and have agro management … well they used to have agro management back in A Realm Reborn and Heavenward where they used to stance dance to do the max amount of damage they could do while ensuring that they do not die. In Stormblood and Shadowbringers this was changed so tanks no longer had to do any aggro management and were able to do maximum damage without having to stance dance which ruined some fun from tanks but they did get an actual DPS rotation with some such as Gunbreaker and Paladin having a more complex rotation than some damage dealers such as Red Mage.
When it comes to tanks my preferred one is Paladin although Gunbreaker is pretty cool as well and worth a try.
Unsurprisingly you will find that the damage dealers are the most enjoyable role within Final Fantasy XIV as the game is designed around it. You have your classic melee roles which deal close damage and tend to deliver the most damage as a risk vs reward for keeping as much uptime as possible. You then have your casters which, although range, require to stay still to deal part of its damage while you have ranges that can deal their full damage while moving but is weaker because they can keep their full uptime.
My favourite damage dealers are both Summoner and Red Mage and two I would recommend giving a try.
With a basic understanding of the type of roles you can play, it is time to talk about the content you can use those roles in and that is the battle content. Just like before I am going to talk about them in different sections and go into a bit of detail about what they offer. Before we go into the different types however this list is not final. I have not included Blue Mage content due to not having much experience with it outside of the solo fights.
I have a love/hate relationship with FATEs as they were sold as content that would affect the world and things would be different should you fail them or not but it seems all we got is branching outcomes with different FATEs happening depending on the outcome.
The content itself is just to turn up to a certain area and kill a bunch of mobs or a possible “boss” which doesn’t involve having to think at all. While there are some massive FATEs such as Steel Regin which is harder and does take a bunch of people to kill.
FATEs do reward you with some stuff with the first being what most people used it for in A Realm Reborn and Heavensward and that is the experience point sadly you will find many players within Final Fantasy XIV that has no idea how to play that role and it is in part why I do feel they have dumbed down rotations to make it more simple for the masses to play.
They do provide a chance to get some rare items but in Shadowbringers this has changed to providing a new token that can be used to buy items such as branding, minions and such via the shared FATE system where you can unlock some new stuff after grinding out FATEs in the new zones.
Overall I am not a big fan of FATEs. I expected it to be more than it was and I do think it creates a lot of bad players who do not learn how to play the job they are using.
This content surprisingly has quite a lot of lore of the nations themselves and, sadly, these were mostly removed in Stormblood and Shadowbringers. Leves are little quests you can do which provide some experience and you only get a limited amount of these a day which carries over until you got 100.
There are also guild levels which are instances that are designed to help teach the players how to play the game and while these were never updated beyond A Realm Reborn I am not surprised so much. I enjoyed leaves but I can understand why they were not developed further.
The dungeons within Final Fantasy XIV are surprisingly not the bulk of the content that you will be doing during your time playing the game. You will be doing them during the story and levelling up your classes but beyond that, you will only ever step into the same one or two for three months during an expert roulette so you can buy new gear.
Most dungeons themselves are fun when you do them for the first time but they are easy and by the time a new dungeon comes out you will already be over-geared for it which turns it into a bit of a grind rather than having fun with it – more so when you can pull everything and be done in less than half an hour.
The trials you will face within Final Fantasy XIV are mostly fun and assuming you enjoy farming for mounts and weapons you will find the extreme versions of these fights are what you will mostly be doing.
Trials provide direct rewards for farming them such as a better weapon, crafting materials, new gear and mounts and surprisingly the trials are quite fair with none of them filling unfair should you be knocked out.
I remember back in A Realm Reborn how much fun I had with farming the extreme trials to get the “ponies” and then collecting Kirin due to it. I remember the times when I farmed the trials with my raid group of the time to get the weapon so we can progress better in the savage raids and again I can not stress just how much fun I have had with them.
Raids are the fun part of Final Fantasy XIV and it is something I find the most enjoyable content within the whole game. There are four different styles of raids with the first one being called an Alliance Raid.
Alliance Raid (24 men)
These raids are the ones that are more commonly known in most MMORPGs as they involve a larger amount of players with it being twenty-four players in a single instance and having battle after battle as you explore a new area.
Sadly the alliance raids seem to be used by the development team as a method to do “fan-service” and have to cross others with other series rather than being original content like it was during the Heavenward period of the game. In A Realm Reborn, it was Crystal Tower (Final Fantasy III) which at least was added to the lore of Final Fantasy XIV. Heavenward has its original content and was fun while Stormblood was just a retelling of Final Fantasy Tactics and Shadowbringer was … well whatever the fuck it was with Nier.
They are fun in terms of the fights, the glamour is also kinda cool and you are likely going to do this a lot if you end up doing Alliance Roulette. You will find this content is abused for the relic grinds and as with most things repeating them will get boring after a while.
Raids (8 men)
Raids are where you start to use the skills and spells you have learnt and start to play actual hard content. Raids has two different modes with the first being a normal mode which has the story included. The normal mode of the fights also provides, and sadly so, the raid gearsets which visually look the same as their upgraded counterpart from savage. Normal mode isn’t that hard and can typically be done blind by jumping right into Duty Finder.
The next version of the raids is savage and this is typically seen as the “hardest” content in the game. The savage fights are improved versions of the normal raid fights with the final fight having an extra phase with a hidden boss. This mode is best done within a static but due to how the game is designed it is doable in Party Finder and ultimately as gear becomes more common the DPS and heal checks for these fights break down and they become easier to do. This content is the one I find the most fun and the reason I keep an active subscription!
There is also ultimate and while it isn’t a “raid” it is the hardest content in the game and is there as a conquest for bragging rights should you be able to clear it. They are rarely released and are fun to try.
This content is a weird one as I both like it but also feel it doesn’t go far enough and then becomes boring while on the other hand it goes overboard and thus becomes dull. The idea behind these dungeons is you can freely take whatever role you want with you with the first set of “floors” being the easy mode and the later sets being the hard mode.
The layout of the dungeon itself is random although the design of the dungeon is the same regardless of how many times you enter it. Unlike other dungeons, the mobs here are quite tough and there are traps placed around the area and you are given tools to be able to avoid this.
While I do wish normal dungeons had more random elements to their layout, I do like the idea of deep dungeons but I do think they lack the feelings of both exploring and what dungeons do offer. Overall it is fun but the later floors tend to drag to get to the good parts.
Back in Heavensward, a new instance was released known as The Diadem which was a floating island where you could kill mobs and get a random piece of gear such as armour or a weapon (so much like how legendary gear works in games like Fallout 76) and I personally found it fun but it was not well-liked by the community for understandable reasons.
While this content was then redone (twice), it gave birth to what is known as adventuring forays. The idea behind this content is you have a wide area that you are free to explore with powerful mobs around the place as you level up using its system. I found Eureka amazing with this and t felt like Final Fantasy XI again with chain killing mobs, Bozjan Southern Frontlines switched over to dangerous mobs using fancy FATEs to level up although they can be difficult with the final one of each zone being a mini raid with them being interesting and fun.
Overall I like this content and want to see a lot more of it but I do wish it was in the open world so you can come and go into the content as you like.
Outside of savage raiding and extreme trials the relic weapons are my favourite type of content. In all the expansions other than Stormblood the relic weapon was used as a method of getting experienced players back into older content via a grind, a lengthy grind, and while it is boring it is oddly fun.
The relics are upgradable during the whole expansion and provide custom stats and will become best in the slot given time but the grinding is what I enjoyed. There is something about the mindless grinding that you have to do to compete with them that forces you to zone out for a while, listen to some music, pop on voice chat or whatever and have something to aim for.
While it is disappointing that the job’s iconic sets do not upgrade (although the ones in Stormblood and Shadowbringers did for a step), the relic weapons sadly never seem to carry on the iconic design sets and turn into something else completely although in both Stormblood and Shadowbringers the final stage of the weapons did match the gearset you get from there.
Overall the relic weapons provide that need for a grind, they look pretty and they become pretty powerful. Not much else to say about them!
If you are thinking that hunts are going to be like in Final Fantasy XII where you are given a target and you go and kill some major boss you will be disappointed. Hunts are the mini-world boss which come in three ranks with the first being B, then A and S (and a SSS).
The B rank is a weekly target but the A rank spawns after a set amount of time and I think the S rank still has spawn conditions but I am not sure of that as of Shadowbringers.
The fights themselves are not that hard and people will come together to just zerg the boss down and once you kill these you are given seals which can be used to buy rewards with the most important one being able to buy items to upgrade your tome gear to the same item level as the savage gearsets which is the primary reason why I do them when a new expansion drops.
Treasure maps are fun, period. This content is designed around forming up a party, collecting a timeworn map and then going out and finding the chest. Once you have found the chest you naturally find a bunch of mobs nearby which you have to defeat to get access to the loot that is inside and with a bit of luck you will find a portal.
Should you find a portal you are treated to a dungeon where you either have to pick the right path to get to the end which provides greater rewards and you also have a chance to gamble it for even more loot. The other dungeon is pure RNG should you get to the next section and sadly you can not gamble with this one but with some luck you get a gold chest that provides better rewards.
Overall maps are fun and it is one of the few contents I will log in to be involved in. Easy Gil, some fun fights and loot to grab – who could ask for more?
It sucks. I really could end it there but let me go into why I dislike it. There are different PvP modes with your standard small parties, large parties and then a MOBA style mode which is the only one I enjoyed.
The abilities, skills and spells in PvP are different to those in PvE but your gear does not matter although there used to be a PvP only stat which was removed. The gear you do get from PvP is pure vanity but you can only get it by farming PvP but the modes are pretty bad.
While I will not discuss the modes as they are just either killing everyone until the end of the timer and getting more points or your classic MOBA but what annoys me is Rival Wings (the MOBA style PvP) has NO roulette which doesn’t help to drive people to that content. Frontlines (large party PvP) has roulette and will often pop during the day while the only mode I do enjoy has no roulette thus the only way I can play this content is during a community ran event which happens at a time I am unable to play Final Fantasy XIV.
Overall while Rival Wings is fun, I do not recommend PvP at all in this game as the engine really can not handle it and it would need a change of its networking backend to do so.
There is quite a bit you can do that doesn’t involve having to get involved in combat and they range from farming minions, cards and much more. I am not going to go into too much detail about collectables but I am going to go into what type of content you can do just know that minions and cards are rewards for doing a lot of different types of content.
The Gold Saucer from Final Fantasy VII makes a return although the mini-games you remember from there do not such as motorbike racing. In Final Fantasy XIV, there is a range of arcade-like games but the main focus is on the G.A.T.E.S which provide MGPs and are more of an interactive mini-game such as dodging stuff, shooting stuff and more.
One of the G.A.T.E.S is featured in the image above where you have to make your way to the jump like a jumping puzzle and while I am bad at them it is pretty fun!
The Gold Saucer as well provides vanity gear such as Setzer’s gear from Final Fantasy VI and bunny gear which you can imagine how many people rushed out to get it. There are also hairstyles and emotes you can earn here and overall I find this place pretty fun for a couple of hours but I do wish they update it to include more such as classic card games like poker, or board games such as chess.
When I first heard Triple Triad was coming I was far more excited than I should have been and should have guessed from the name I hoped they released the version from Final Fantasy IX but instead we got the one from Final Fantasy VIII which in my opinion isn’t as good but it is still fun.
I won’t go into the rules of this game but you can go around and collect a bunch of cards and play against NPCs and others. They do hold contests and if you enjoy Triple Triad you will find it fun. I have yet to farm all the cards in the game but I am hoping hope that they release Tetra Master in future using the same cards.
I would also be happy if other classic Final Fantasy mini-games make their way over and it seems with how active the development team is that this may happen at one point.
Ah, Chocobo racing is a bit of content that I know was hyped up and a lot of players both loved or were disappointed with. The idea of this content is simple and that is you get a Chocobo, you race with it, you retire it, you breed it and you get to raise a faster and better Chocobo and keep repeating it.
The race itself is with seven other players and you can pick up abilities as your Chocobo automatically runs around the course like in Final Fantasy VII. These races are either with players or NPCs and I find I mostly get NPCs nowadays I do enjoy the racing but I do wish it is something you can do while queuing up with duty finder or at least when you are in party finder.
Ocean fishing & Fishing
Just like most RPGs, you will find Final Fantasy XIV has fishing and while you can go around catching fish for raid food, big fish for achievements or you can pop onto a ship and go for ocean fishing. Ocean fishing is fun and honestly, there is something about being able to waste an hour while chatting with people.
As this is casual content you do not need to worry about getting any gear to be able to do this content and you can use it to level up quite fast. I love ocean fishing and while I know the rewards from it kinda sucks, it is amazing how many hours you can waste pressing a single button or two while chatting to people!
Housing is a topic that I can not comment on as I am not a person that enjoys games such as The Sims and has never really seen the appeal of designing your own house. The plots you can buy come in different sizes with the first being a small, then a medium and a large but they are limited in the number of plots that exist per server.
In other words, if you ain’t lucky enough to be able to buy a house you will need to settle with a room in a free company house or an apartment. Both a room and an apartment are the same size but an apartment will stay there forever while the free company room depends on how long you are there or how long the plot stays.
When you have an area you can call home, Final Fantasy XIV offers a large amount of stuff you can use to make it look like what you want. You can change the flooring, and the walls and if you own a house you can change the outside and its garden to what you desire.
Crafting and Gathering
As with every MMORPG you can do both crafting and gathering and while gathering is, well boring, crafting is quite fun assuming you are not someone that rushes to find the latest macro that will craft things for you.
Gathering works quite simple as you get the needed stats and you go to the node and hit the button on the item you want. Getting HQ is a percentage chance but you can get collectables where there is a bit more of a rotation to get it.
Crafting you have a bunch of skills that all work together to build up the progress and quality. Should you get the quality up to 100% you will always get an HQ item otherwise based on Final Fantasy XIV RNG anything below 90% will be the same as if you got 1% or at least that is how lucky I am.
Just like most MMORPGs, you will find there are many ways to earn Gil in Eorzea and beyond but you may be disappointed that it does not do much. The first method of earning Gil is via crafting and gathering items and placing them on the market board and relying on supply and demand.
The next method is just doing content. Most dungeons will give Gil which will cover the cost of repairs but roulettes will provide you with a bit more which will also cover your teleporting fees. You can also earn Gil by doing levels and you will always find one that is easy to craft, allows you to hand in three at a time and provides a bunch of easy Gil.
Once you have the Gil there is not much to spend it on. Sure you can buy food and potions but the bulk will be on glamour or other collectables and that is pretty much it. I have not touched on it in this review but there is a lot of glamour you can buy and most looks wonderful admit not to my taste.
Custom Deliveries is content where you are tasked to help someone with gathering or crafting items and you are treated with story development that is quite enjoyable to do and works on a weekly lockout.
You have a range of clients with the one I like the most being a dragon that is looking to meld issues between humans and dragons and believes it can do this with crafting and thus it wants to learn.
Overall I liked doing these but it is a shame there is not much more the crafts are easy to do but the story behind them is fun, often cute and lastly worth doing for the lore.
Ishgard Restoration / Doman Restoration
Eh, I would not call this content as Doma’s restoration is just a hand in any item and then get a bunch of cut scenes where you can see Doma change and you see a school and a bit more get developed up. Due to the nature of the game however and the fact they use it for main story quests it means you can not really interact with anything and that it is mostly just a new background as you run to Gangos.
Ishgard Restoration is different and can be used to level up crafting classes and it involves going into the new Diadem, collecting items and using those to craft items that Ishard needed to rebuild itself. It may not sound special but when you see you are rebuilding a new housing area it felt quite nice to see a place you could buy a house in future and see it develop from nothing.
When it comes to Final Fantasy XIV I m a sucker for lore and the beast tribes offer a lot of information that if you kike lore you will enjoy. As content beast tribes serve as a daily quest that you can gain some experience from and work to earn their trust which provides rewards being a ridable mount, minion, music sheet and a bit more.
Surprisingly I have enjoyed most of the beast tribes with Stormblood being the ones I found very boring. Beast tribes come in two forms with one set being focusing on combat with the second set being crafting (and for one of them, gathering). The quest themselves are very simple and none of them unlocks any instance fights but they are fun to learn about the tribes.
Overall I enjoy these and I will remember the Moogles, Sylph and the pixies with the last one of that set being one I would likely still do in Endwalker now and then and should you do them you will see they unlock a special quest that helps bring them all together.
Final Fantasy XIV is ultimately an MMORPG and thus it is designed around addiction and thus has a lot of things you can do but you will find what I am about to say in this review is different to how I feel about it.
First, you have content you can learn to do such as extreme trials, savage raids and ultimate … and that is it for difficult content so if you are looking for hard things to do you will find this game does not offer much of it.
You have tons of collectables you can farm such as music sheets, paintings, triple triad cards, mounts, minions and quite a bit more and if you are into that you will find it enjoyable. You can gain new gear using the tomestones they provide or from raids but you will find that the gear doesn’t have many purposes – it does not matter that much even when it comes to savage content as melded crafted combat gear will do the job for good players.
You will find the only times you want to do dungeons are either to gain experience, get some glamour or when you are told to do so to get the relic. What I am trying to say, admit in a bad way, is there is not much to do combat wise casually that you can do to progress nor much reason to do the header stuff more than once after you cleared it.
For me I enjoy farming relics for the jobs I do play as it provides progression during a whole expansion but also because it drives me back into older content that is enjoyable in its own right. Secondly and this is something that is not supported by the game itself but I love self-improving myself and seeing what ranking I can get on FFlogs and trying to get better each time. I do wish Final Fantasy XIV provides a ranking system to see how well you are doing without needing third-party tools but the game has a nature of “letting people be bad” and should you speak up about it you get a trip to the game master’s jail.
The game itself works on many different lockouts. Each week you can farm up to 450 tomes which can be used to buy new and better gear which works out to a bit of gear each week. Raids also provide gear with normal and alliance provides one bit of gear a week but savage you only get one chance a week to win loot – if you do not win anything you got to wait a week but are given a token. Beast tribes and content such as roulettes work on a daily reset and this also includes custom deliveries. Extreme trials don’t have any form of lockout and can be farmed freely and these lockouts are designed so people log in daily or at least weekly and the game is most active during even several patches due to this.
Overall there is loads of stuff you can farm and some hard content but this game does not have much in the way of casual progression nor places to use the gear that you can get. If you enjoy housing there is a lot of time you can spend doing it up such as a remember in my raid group loves doing.
Graphics & Design
The graphics for this MMORPG is quite good but they go way overboard on the compression in the earlier expansions due to having to ensure that the textures would work on the Playstation 3.
I am not going to show a whole range of gear sets but they do look quite nice and there is a noticeable difference between the different settings you can find two images below that shows the difference.
Overall the graphics are nice. The animations for the game are pretty, the gear design is quite nice and the environment looks wonderful but I do feel it needs an upgrade and the older gear sets to get revamped and for the Healer & Cleric Robe to finally get a working hood. I do not care if the development team says it is impossible – modders have got it working!
Speaking about graphics it is time to talk about the gear set and glamour for this game. Many different sets look like they belong in a fantasy setting and others fit the modern world but I do love most of the raid sets. I am not going to comment on every single one nor talk about the mog station (cash store) sets but below you can find all of the raid sets for White Mage – these are the sets you have to earn!
This will be the shortest section of this review – it is amazing. Have a listen to the music on Spotify for their official OST and feel free to let me know in the comments what you think about it.
Answers to this day still give me the chills.
Before I show the rating, although you have already looked down and seen it, I would like to thank the following people for making my time in Final Fantasy XIV special – Adam, Adam again, Simon, Vi, Kim, Davy, Robin, Conor, Coty, Leon, Nathan, Antero, Tom, Martin, Chris and even you Dianna.
Overall I enjoy playing Final Fantasy XIV and while it has its flaws and I do feel the game is being made far too simple for the sake of new players, I can understand why they do it and for the reasons above and it may be surprising due to how negative I can sound at the time, I rate it the following!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I do enjoy my time playing Final Fantasy XIV and while it is simple to play there is a lot to do and the community is what makes any MMORPG and Final Fantasy XIV’s community is friendly and a lot does depend on what type of free company you join.
Before I wrap this review up I figured I would share both the best experience I have had in Final Fantasy and that was defeating a raid tier known as E4S which was Titan we spent days progressing at our normal hours and we have gotten very close to defeating it. It was at this time the group decided to wake up early the next day and I seem to recall we downed it in one try. I have included the run below of our clear and it is recorded from my brother’s point of view.
All screenshots used in this review can be found on Life in Eorzea. All people included in the screenshots from Patricia Nirvana, Ryu Nirvana and members of my raid group, former members or people on the Moogle server. There is much more to do than what I have listed above but I have gone into detail about stuff I have mostly done personally.
Need to reference?
Ellis, M. (2021). Final Fantasy XIV: My Review. [online] Snat's Narratives & Tales. Available at: https://snat.co.uk/reviews/video-games/final-fantasy-xiv-my-review.html [Accessed 11 Dec 2023].
Steam Key Giveaway!
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