Home Reviews 4.5/5 Review Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn Review

Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn Review

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It feels a little bit weird to be sitting here in 2024, reviewing/writing about a game that initially came out in 2010. But having gone through a complete revamp, four expansions and with a fifth one on the way, Final Fantasy XIV Online has finally decided to make an appearance on Xbox. And if you’ve been holding out those fourteen years for it, you are in for a treat.

Final Fantasy XIV is set five years after an event known as the Seventh Umbral Calamity, that also spelled the end of the disastrous first iteration of the game. It is an MMORPG that is full to the brim with things to do. But don’t let fourteen years of updates put you off, as Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn is incredibly accessible to new players, and even those adventuring solo.

But before jumping in to the character creator, it is best to decide which version of Final Fantasy XIV on Xbox is for you.

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New players can jump straight in to the free trial without downloading anything extra. And for Final Fantasy XIV Online, it is a very generous free trial. It grants access to the main A Realm Reborn game, two expansions in the form of Heavensward and Stormblood, playable up to level 70, eight character, 300000 max in-game currency and more. You won’t be able to join a Free Company (this game’s version of Guilds), trade with other players and use the market or join any PvP content. But still, what you are getting is a ton of content.

However, Xbox Game Pass customers can take advantage of a perk that grants access to the Starter Edition. This gives you the entire game and the first two expansions, plus thirty days play time. 

Both are excellent options to trial the game, but beware, if you download the Starter Edition, you are locked out of then playing the free trial. So the choice is yours on what you deem most worthwhile.

For what it’s worth, I opted for the Starter Edition and was pleasantly surprised when I hit level 30 I was granted an extra fifteen days play time. By that point I was ready to commit to a subscription anyways, but it was appreciated nonetheless.

Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn utilises a Job based levelling system that featured prominently in some of the earlier games. Rather than levelling up your character as an individual, you level up your skills at particular jobs. It means that ultimately, you can experience every Job quest list for a single character, but levelling up more than one isn’t advisable when starting out.

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I opted for the gladiator role. Normally, I would typically go for a mage build in a game like this, but going back to my World of Warcraft days, playing as a melee fighter just makes things easier when getting to grips with what is on offer. But there is no shortage of Jobs to choose from, and you will be guaranteed to find one that suits you.

The first thing you will probably notice however are the graphics. Final Fantasy XIV Online does look like a game that released back in 2010 at times, and that’s because, you know, it is. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it is noticeable. However, with the release of the upcoming Dawntrail expansion in July 2024, there will be a graphical overhaul to bring it more in line with today’s expectations.

Alongside the main story quests that will be your focal point of attention, every five levels in a specific Job unlocks the next quest in their respective storylines. These don’t have to be done as soon as they’re unlocked, but it is in your best interest to do so as they usually reward you with additional moves for your Jobs.

As expected, most of the early hours will be you finding your feet. It isn’t until level 15 that you are able to explore outside of your chosen starter city. But once that happens, Final Fantasy XIV has the chance to take over your life.

You’ll unlock inter-city travel, dungeons and of course, the Gold Saucer. An homage to the Gold Saucer in Final Fantasy VII, the version in XIV is full of minigames that can be massive time sinks. There are daily and weekly jackpots to be earned, chocobo racing, mahjong, minion battles and even Triple Triad from Final Fantasy VIII. I know I will be in the minority here, but I always preferred Tetra Master from Final Fantasy IX, which hasn’t been seen since Final Fantasy XI. RIP.

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Level 15 is also where the story starts getting interesting. Or rather, when it becomes a proper Final Fantasy game. As soon as you hear the term ‘Warriors of Light’ you know where you stand with it, and Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn is no different. And when you start hearing the word ‘primals’, that is indeed referring to this iteration’s version of the summons.

At Level 20 the dungeons start to unlock but that doesn’t immediately mean you need to find some online friends to jump in with. One thing Final Fantasy XIV Online does impressively is that it is perfectly playable for a solo player. The daunting task of arranging online sessions with real people can put many off an MMORPG, but there is a Duty Finder where you can queue up tasks for others to join in. They can also be players at a similar stage in the main quest, or sherpas looking to guide newcomers around them.

But, you can also form a team of NPCs to delve into any of the dungeons. And they know their stuff. Perhaps not up to the standards of a competent sherpa, at least using these NPCs means you are not missing out on any of the core stuff either.

And so we get to the elephant in the room: How does Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn play on a controller? I’ll say it from the off, it’s not perfect. Choosing attacks is done with the two trigger buttons and associated face/directional button but in the heat of battle with enemies around you it is easy to lose sight of things. Highlighting an enemy is done by pressing the A button, and pressing it again begins combat. Then, choosing an enemy is done with the left and right buttons, whilst de-selecting is done with the B button. All simple enough yes, but do anything of this whilst holding a trigger and you will instead perform an action. There have been times where I haven’t known what I was targeting in the heat of the moment, so I opted for an AoE attack to confuse my party; at least it meant I looked like I knew what I was doing. Hopefully they didn’t notice.

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However, this is the only real issue with the controller. You have to cycle round the HUD by using the options button and that same HUD can get clogged up pretty easily. But these are minor grievances and can be amended to suit your preferences at any point.

It would be fair to say that Final Fantasy XIV has well and truly sunk its claws into me. I have dabbled before and not got very far but this time it has really clicked. As well as the ton of things already to do, I have a personal mission to collect as many minions as I possibly can. But with fourteen years of limited edition ones to go after, I admit it’s a tall order.

And yet, despite the fourteen years of post-release content and additions, Final Fantasy XIV Online on Xbox is built for newcomers. Even on a console using a controller, it goes out of its way to explain every single aspect of itself, and has systems aplenty to help those new to the game, and the MMO genre, feel completely at home. Some issues with a controller are to be expected, but with a massive new expansion and a graphical overhaul on the way, now is a great time to get into Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn. But then again, with how newcomer friendly it is, there’s never really been a bad time.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
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Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
final-fantasy-xiv-online-a-realm-reborn-review<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Free trial or Starter edition available</li> <li>A treasure trove of activities</li> <li>Incredibly newcomer friendly</li> <li>Job system allows you to try everything</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Graphically out of date</li> <li>Expected controller issues are present</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PS4, PS3, PC <li>Release date and price - 21 February 2024 | £Free</li> </ul>
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