Today marks the official release of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, but is it worth your money, and how does it stack up against current competitors?

A Realm Reborn is version 2.0 of Final Fantasy XIV. After being available for over 2 years, Square Enix decided the negative feedback they were receiving concerning the title was unacceptable and started a complete overhaul to the game and it’s systems, resulting in A Realm Reborn.

Placed in the realm of Eorzea, players will find their created Adventurers starting out in one of 3 cities and learning the ins and outs of questing, fighting, crafting and so much more. While most of the mechanics themselves will be familiar to players of MMOs, Final Fantasy is somewhat more complex than most and isn’t a big fan of hand-holding. You’ll get basic tutorials for most systems, but it’ll take you a while to fully grasp quite how everything works.

A Realm Reborn’s new graphics engine has worked wonders for the title, and now it’s not just one of the best looking MMOs on the market, it’s one of the best looking RPGs. Smooth graphics complement great design to make Eorzea a great place to spend hours on end. Each of the major cities and its surrounding area has it’s own design that makes it feel unique.

FF-XIV-R2

The question most people seem to ask every time a new MMO launches though is “Why should I leave [insert MMO of choice here] to play this?”. The short answer is you probably shouldn’t. The long answer is that Final Fantasy XIV probably isn’t going to replace your favourite MMO unless you’re already looking to replace that MMO. While it IS new and shiny, it still offers that same kind of experience as other MMOs, and trying to say one is better or worse than another will always be pointless.

Final Fantasy XIV has it’s strong points (it’s easily one of the more visually impressive MMOs), and it’s weak points (walls of text suddenly make me miss the audio dialogue of The Old Republic), but the level of enjoyment will largely depend on the individual user. For players who are used to the subscription-based format, there’s more than enough content here to justify the cost, while fans of the F2P will likely reject A Realm Reborn under the “it’ll become free eventually” argument that seems so prevalent in the MMO community. If you are looking for a new MMO to move onto though, the low price point on entry ($38AUD for the game + 30 days) and fairly standard subscription rates are worthwhile for the experience provided.

FF-XIV-R3

The final question most people ask is “Should i get it at launch, or wait until it gets patched more?”. Well, despite what the forums might say, the FFXIV launch has been relatively good. There was some heavy maintenance during the first day of early access to deal with connectivity issues and server load, but by now most people are accessing the game with few issues. There’s still some bugs that need working out (If you’re a fan of Alt+Tabbing, make sure to run the game windowed for now), but Square Enix have been getting a handle on things relatively fast. As far as levelling and content goes, A Realm Reborn’s class system allows you to level your character in multiple classes, which means that even if you hit the level cap too fast, you can switch class, play some different content, and switch back whenever you feel like.

My experience with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (at the time i’m writing this) has so far been exceptional. The launch hasn’t been perfect, but the same can be said for virtually all online titles. Major issues are quickly being cleared up, and the game itself is fun to play. While the original game might’ve been criticised for it’s quality, i feel like A Realm Reborn is just the opposite. In most aspects, it goes above and beyond what you’d expect from an MMORPG, and it should be experienced by fans of both the franchise and the genre.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is now available on PC and PS3.