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The Progress Report: Final Fantasy XIV F by Adam Meadows

ive months after release, Square’s latest massively multiplayer online-role playing game, Final Fantasy XIV, still feels like an antiquated mess. It ostensibly abandons design elements that lifted the genre from the depths of mouse-clicking obscurity to the realms of pop culture ridicule, leaving Square’s efforts to invite players to ask “why?” at almost every turn. It indulges in design choices that often seem arbitrary, counter-intuitive and, ultimately, detrimental. Naturally, one might be inclined to assume that an unwieldy interface is simply the by-product of a deep, complex and rewarding system. Here, however, this simply isn’t the case – Final Fantasy XIV is perhaps so obsessed with distinguishing itself from its contemporaries that it forgets what makes them work in the first place. And here, still, it forgets accessibility and convenience. There’s little doubt that the omission of spoonfed, screen-spanning tutorials is a valiant attempt to retain the integrity of those “oh, wow!” moments – those moments of discovery: a new ability, a new region, or a new friend. But it often left me to wonder if I had a missed something; it seemingly assumed that I had an intimate knowledge of the games’ systems. Even as somebody familiar to the genre – and a Final Fantasy XI Paladin of four years – Final Fantasy XIV could be an incredibly confusing and infuriating experience in its opening hours. Although “why?” was certainly at the forefront, XIV will prompt you to constantly question the game’s intentions. Limsa Lominsa - one of the game’s landmark cities - for example, is largely a collection of wonderfully constructed pixels with little life to inhabit them. To encounter another player on its vast and wide walkways is an extraordinarily rare and unexciting occurrence – at present, they may as well be ‘non-playable characters’. To this end, Final Fantasy XIV is largely an empty, desolate dead-zone. If you’re looking to venture into the realm of Eorzea alone, you’re looking a long, arduous and lonely pilgrimage - and not the epic Endeavour you might expect. Final Fantasy XIV is, at first glance, an antiquated mess. Its ability to evoke frustration is only matched by its ability to crush its promising ideas under the weight of its own stupidity. And in a genre that demands and rewards the world’s inhabitants with a level immersion matched virtually by no other, Enix’s flagship, just an hour or so in, is making it difficult to care.

“Final Fantasy XIV is, at first glance, an antiquiated mess”

“To this end, Final Fantasy XIV is largely an empty, desolate dead-zone”

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Adam Meadows  

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