I’m a really easy eater. Due to my parent’s way of introducing my siblings and me to new foods and a natural curiosity for the culinary, I eat practically everything. Furthermore, I think this open-minded approach towards food is the source of my general tolerant stance towards new things. It has inspired me to try things before judging them, especially when it comes to video games.
The past few weeks, my digital diet had grown somewhat boring. I was mostly living off of multiple servings of Guild Wars 2 a day, while consuming some snacks of FTL and Trine 2 in between. I was lacking some vitamine N for “new” in my daily life, and thus I felt like last Sunday was a good day to add some flavor. A nice plate of Final Fantasy XIV would treat my stomach to something nice. Or so I thought.
Long story short: I forgot about my allergy to bad game design and had to throw up…metaphorically speaking.
Let me elaborate here. After reading some really impressive reviews of the game, I decided I had to check it out. €25 and a download later, I entered the world Eorzea. Right from the start, I felt this familiar Final Fantasy vibe: the music gave me goosebumps, and the visuals were just stunning. Square Enix still knows how to caress my eyes and ears, and I was sure they would also know how to tend to my gameplay needs. Sadly, the character creation was already a wake-up call.
Listen, if your character creation offers me so many things but doesn’t explain a single one of them really well, how do you expect new players to make informed choices? Next to choosing your race and starting job, players also have to pick a culture, birthdate and patron deity. Some of these impact your statistics, while others are pure fluff. However, all of them are just described poorly. Especially the job descriptions are vague and uninformative, giving you nothing but a short impression of what you will probably do when you decide to play as one of them. In general, the character creation confused me, but I’m not one to be put off by such things.
However, do you want to know what puts me off? Boring game introductions. Guess what FFXIV has you go through? Yeah, it does! I’ve spent the first forty-five (45) minutes of playtime watching my character ride a carriage, talking with some drunk guy, running from NPC to NPC and hearing about some of the background story. My character never swung his lance or did something remotely interesting. Even after these forty-five minutes, it took me a walk around the starting town to fetch a few quests and start killing some critters. An hour had passed before I struck my first blow, and I was on the edge of quitting this game. “No!” I said to myself, “push on! Don’t be such an impatient ADD kid and see what this game has to offer!” I gathered my remaining courage, and just when I was about to dive further into the game, it took my final straw by just being so slooow.
I’m not talking about performance here. Actually, the game runs really smooth even on high settings and is a beauty to behold. What I’m talking about is how every interaction in this game is slow. Want to get a quest? Click on the NPC, click on a box, click through multiple speech bubbles and then wait until you’re allowed to move again. Want to give a quest item to a NPC? Open your inventory, right-click the item and click “Hand Over”. Every simple interaction that has been streamlined by other MMO’s is cumbersome, requiring clicks you shouldn’t have to make. When such an elementary gameplay element just feel unnatural to me, I know I’ve chosen the wrong game.
After being frustrated by the slow combat as well, I decided to throw FFXIV into the garbage bin and call it a day. Of course, I’m convinced there’s something about this game that is good, but if a game rubs me in all the wrong ways in just two hours, I can honestly say that it’s not my cup of tea.
FFXIV, you left me with an upset stomach and a bad taste. You owe me a meal.