Final Fantasy XIV in 2022 – A new player’s first impressions

I’ve been thinking about getting in Final Fantasy XIV for quite a while, I signed up for a free account and downloaded the PC client with it sitting on my desktop for these past few months. I’d heard the hype of Endwalker, and have seen the thousands of players migrating to it from WOW in 2021. I’m a huge Destiny fan, which labels itself as an action MMO, however, I know deep down it’s really a shooter with MMO-like features. It’s time for me to jump into the real deal, it’s time for me to jump into Final Fantasy XIV.

Only, I couldn’t have picked a worse time to start. Endwalker has just come out, Final Fantasy XIV’s latest expansion and it’s so popular that Square Enix has had to stop selling the base game, they’ve stopped the sign-ups for a new account, and currently, we don’t know when it’s going to be back on sale. No matter, for the time being, I have plenty of catching up to do.

Given this is an MMO then that means there’s a monthly subscription involved if you want to play ‘full time. The monthly subscription is about £10 per month, but the cost goes down slightly if you commit to more time. Then there’s the base game cost of £10 for the Starter Pack (A Realm Reborn and Heavensward) or the Complete Edition for £50. I’m not a stranger to paying this kind of fee for a game, however, I wanted to be sure I like it before I commit. Which is where the free trial comes in.

My early impressions of the Free Trial so far are pretty fantastic. You get a large chunk of the game included A Realm Reborn and Heavensward, plus loads of other content, dungeons, raids, and quests. I must have sunk 10-15 hours into the trial so far, and I’m looking at the Square website most days wondering when it’s going to go back on sale so I can pick up the Complete Edition. One thing I have heard about the game is the quality of the story, so I want to play through all the expansions in chronological order to get up to speed.

Final Fantasy XIV has an interesting history. Originally launched in 2010, the game was received very poorly by fans and in November 2012 the game was shut down. There was a huge amount of disappointment from fans, given the game had been in development since 2005, and complaints ranged from the user interface, performance, and gameplay. The lead producer and director of the game were removed and the planned PS3 version of the game was suspended indefinitely. Final Fantasy XIV was re-released in 2013 after Naoki Yoshida took over, and since then the game has been on the upward trend, to the point now where it’s regarded by many as the best MMO currently on the market, with the much-publicized migration of players from WOW to FFXIV in 2020 and 2021.

I’ve been on the fence for a while about getting into an MMO. I never played WOW, it wasn’t my thing back in the day, I was a console gamer back then focused on Nintendo releases like The Legend of Zelda, plus many hours playing Halo multiplayer with friends in couch co-op. It’s been an interesting journey though, as the original creators of Halo went on the make Destiny, which is my most played game over the last 7 years, and that’s always dabbled in MMO-like concepts. That game has me hook, line and sinker and it’s now time to branch out into something else… a fully-featured MMO, with all the bells and whistles.

Back to Final Fantasy XIV. I have a lot of catching up to do as mentioned before, but the game I have experienced so far has me itching to play more. As far as I know, the sequence is A Realm Reborn, Heavensward, Stormblood, Shadowbringers, then we have the most recent one, and the end to the 10-year first saga in Final Fantasy XIV called Endwalker.

Let’s have a look at what it’s all about. When you first start you create a character, you can customize the name and race, and then you are dropped into the world of Eorzea. There are three main places you can start, and depending on your choices when you create a character you’ll be placed in one of the three starting areas. These are forest cit called Gridania, the desert-dwelling called Ul’dah or Limsa Lominsa the coastal port city full of pirates or finally you have.

Each city is full of characters to get to know, quest givers to do little jobs for, and the main story campaign which will keep you engaged. I’ve heard the early game in Final Fantasy XIV isn’t the best, however, I’m having a fun time at the moment leveling up and learning the ropes.

Final Fantasy XIV uses the trinity of classes – Tanks, DPS, and Healers. Given I am new to the whole thing I thought I’d start out with an Ax, which lead to me a tank role. I picked the Marauder. This means I have a huge ax, plus I have some pretty good damage mitigation and self-healing actions, plus I can dish out pretty good damage myself.

One of the big features of Final Fantasy XIV is I can change class at any time just by switching weapons. I picked Marauder and the ax to start with, I just liked the look of it, and I’ve been learning how to be a tank through light party Dungeon runs in the early game. As well as classes you have jobs, which are evolutions as you level up. For example, at level 30 my Marauder becomes a Warrior.

There are 10 bases classes to choose from including Gladiator, Lancer, Rogue, Archer, Arcanist, and a load more. This felt a little overwhelming to me. I was wondering which one was going to be best, was I going to box myself into something I didn’t want to do later in the game? I needn’t worry though, given you can switch things up at any time. I thought the best thing to do was to jump in, get good at one class go through the leveling up process, and then switch it up if I felt like it later.

Once you pick your class and get acclimatized to the city, you set off on the main quest, the side quests, and soon you’ll be battling. Some of the starting quests can be a little mundane-fetch-quest-style, but that’s part and parcel of gathering XP and leveling up. The story in Final Fantasy XIV really has me engaged, plus the early dungeons are good fun and I’m having a good time leveling. I’m only somewhere in the mid-’20s at the moment and I have so much more to go.

The community has been very welcoming to Final Fantasy XIV. Other players are very patient when it comes to learning new mechanics, getting involved in Dungeons, and helping you out with tips in battle. A good community surrounding a game is so important, and I feel like I have been lucky with the Destiny community all these years, as, for the most part, they are a very nice bunch of people. From what I can gather so far with the Final Fantasy XIV community, they are a pretty awesome bunch too.

So far I am having a great time with Final Fantasy XIV. In regards to the free trial, I have the whole of A Realm Reborn plus Heavensward to get through. I would hope by that time the full game will go on sale once again, as I imagine that’s going to be a month or so away. As soon as the game is back on sale I’m going to sign up for the full package, and get stuck into all the expansions leading to Endwalker. It’s highly likely I’ll create content for Final Fantasy XIV, so if you are starting at a similar time to me then get in touch on YouTube or Twitter, I’d love to hear about your journey too.