The Final Fantasy XIV Chronicles: Gladiators and Guildleves

Although I’ve neglected any form of descriptive prose thus far, it’s simply for the sake of trying to express my frustrations with Final Fantasy XIV. With multiple entries already written in advance of posting, I can confidently say that my experience of Limsa, my character’s starting city, is incoming.

Reddybrek Scrawler, the Elezen Gladiator

Final Fantasy XIV has yet to demonstrate that it’s anything more than a collection a Guildleves – a series of dispensed quests that demand little more than the culling of the local wildlife or the crafting of valuable goods. Thus far, then, it’s certainly a standard massively multiplayer affair. But what it is starting to demonstrate, however, is its ability to nail the basic fundamentals, such as combat, and more intriguingly, character development.

Reddybrek Scrawler, my Elezen Gladiator – which, as far as I can tell, is effectively the archetypal ‘Warrior’ class – appears to be geared towards shield and sword combat. He, at present, is a moderate damage dealer equipped to tank. In other words, he’s the poor soul who volunteers to take the beating from the other side.

What’s interesting about Final Fantasy XIV’s character development is that it allows the player to choose how their character’s attributes are balanced. Do I want Reddybrek to be able to endure the toughest foes? I can simply invest more into his ‘Vitality’ trait, an investment that was immediately reflected by his expanded health bar.

Another notable – and much appreciated – inclusion is the ability to set the difficulty of Guildleves. Spanning from one to five stars, each is designed to accommodate a particular number of players; ‘Solo’ being the easiest, to ‘Legion’, being the most difficult. It’s not perfect, though. In the first camp, for example, I was able to solo the ‘Legion’ difficult, propelling Reddybrek to a Rank 6 warrior in just a single quest. Whether or not this is a flaw in the game’s mechanics, I’ll leave you to decide.

To return to the source of frustration mentioned previously, Final Fantasy XIV limits the number of a leves – both combative and craft orientated – to eight per category per every 36 hour cycle. Moreover, combat lacks the ubiquitous ‘Auto-attack’ option, relegating combat, at least initially, to simple tapping of a single button.

Brief glimpses of incredibly smart design often serves to emphasize just how cumbersome and underdeveloped its ‘peripheral’ elements are, as they damage any incentive to want to engage with the games core mechanics.

Although hardly exciting, the video below will give you a sense of the interface, the city and its surroundings:

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