We’ve already discussed how, despite its massively multiplayer online nature, Final Fantasy XIV as a whole is very much an authentic Final Fantasy experience in its own right. But is the opposite true?
If you’ve read the headline you’ll already know that yes, of course it is. But one of the most interesting things about the game as a whole as it has developed from its disastrous 1.0 incarnation through A Realm Reborn and Heavensward into Stormblood is how well it has managed to balance these two seemingly disparate aspects: the strong narrative of the Final Fantasy series, and the sheer amount of things to do and quality of life features that a hardcore MMO player expects from a game like this.
Today we’re going to examine that latter aspect in detail.
Continue reading Stormblood: It’s a Great MMO, Too
Have you heard the tale of FromSoftware, dear reader? Legend has it that long ago, in the dim and distant past, these renowned scribes were more than just “the people who made Souls games”.
Joking aside, the company’s past output is quite a bit more diverse than you might expect if you only became aware of it in the last couple of console generations. In particular, the first two PlayStation eras represented FromSoftware at its most experimental, with its games running the gamut from Souls’ spiritual predecessor King’s Field to mech sim series Armored Core.
Perhaps the most surprising of FromSoftware’s games from this era, though, given their present reputation for “dark and moody”, is a rather peculiar PlayStation 2 game released in Japan and Europe as Kuri Kuri Mix, and The Adventures of Cookie and Cream in the States.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Kuri Kuri Mix
Final Fantasy XIV and its long-running spiritual predecessor Final Fantasy XI are in an interesting and slightly awkward position.
They’re numbered mainline installments of the long-running Final Fantasy series, which, in theory, should attract series veterans, but they’re also massively multiplayer online role-playing games. The latter is a genre typically (and not necessarily correctly or fairly) associated with being time-consuming, challenging and dependent on playing alongside other people — and thus not especially attractive to those who prefer to play games solo, concentrate on story or take things at their own pace.
What we’re going to talk about today is how Final Fantasy XIV is as much a good Final Fantasy as it is a good MMO — and why you shouldn’t sleep on it if you’re a Final Fantasy fan who doesn’t typically go in for online games.
Continue reading Stormblood: Yes, It’s a Great Final Fantasy
Square Enix’s second Final Fantasy MMORPG is a big success now, having just enjoyed the release of its second expansion pack, but things weren’t always so rosy.
In fact, the story of how Final Fantasy XIV came to be what it is now is one of the most interesting in all of gaming — and certainly an inspiring example that demonstrates even if you release a completely broken mess of a game, it’s not necessarily beyond redemption.
Today, then, let’s take a look at the history of Final Fantasy XIV as a whole, and in particular how it’s developed since the release of A Realm Reborn in 2013.
Continue reading Stormblood: Introduction
Nintendo’s Wii gained something of a reputation as a “party game machine”, for better or worse.
The Wii U never quite captured the same success as its predecessor in this regard due to its considerably smaller audience — not to mention the rise of other types of games filling a similar niche — but that didn’t stop Nintendo in particular from producing a number of different games intended to be played socially. With other people. In the same room! Imagine that.
One such example was Wii Party U, a successor to its similarly named predecessor on the older platform. Designed to be accessible and understandable to all ages, it’s neither the most complex nor technically impressive game on the platform — but it is noteworthy for being very successful at what it does.
Continue reading Wii U Essentials: Wii Party U
Speak to anyone who claims to be a fan of Konami’s Castlevania series and ask them what their favourite entry in the series is, and doubtless each one will give you a different answer.
Some will prefer the purity of the NES originals. Some will cite Symphony of the Night’s genre-defining nature. Some will extol the virtues of the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS titles. Some even have a soft spot for the 3D Nintendo 64 installments in the series.
One title you won’t hear a lot of people cite as their favourite Castlevania, however, is 2010’s Harmony of Despair, a digital-only game that originally released on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 platform — not typically a hotbed of Japanese games — and which subsequently came out on PlayStation 3 a year or so later, featuring a number of enhancements.
It’s a game that wasn’t received all that well on its original release, primarily because it deviated fairly dramatically from the Metroidvania format we’d come to expect from the series by this point. But although this game is far from your typical Castlevania of the era, it remains worth a look, particularly as its age means you can now pick it up pretty damn cheap.
Continue reading Harmony of Despair: Castlevania’s Red-Headed Stepchild
When I first started playing Final Fantasy XIV in A Realm Reborn’s open beta, I was keen to experience everything the game had to offer as soon as new things became available.
There’s a benefit to this approach, of course: coming into new things “blind” when no-one else knows what to do either allows the community as a whole to work together and figure things out for themselves, developing established strategies that simply become “the way things are done” from thereon.
But this also puts an undue amount of pressure on people, particularly in more “casual-friendly” content such as dungeons, non-Extreme Trials and even 24-player raids to an extent. If you weren’t there on that first day, expect to be admonished if you haven’t read up on an encounter beforehand; expect to be told to “watch a video”; and don’t expect any help. (Sometimes people will pleasantly surprise you, particularly in levelling content, but at level 60, this is unfortunately true for the most part.)
All that said, there is sometimes a benefit to being behind the curve, particularly when we come to the twilight hours of an expansion and await the next full installment in the game’s overarching storyline.
Continue reading Eorzean Diary: The Benefits of Being Left Behind