I've never been an MMO player. Briefly played Tera - liked it but found progression slow - and briefly WoW - disliked the combat, just felt like button mashing. I also played Mabinogi for a short while and really disliked the game's mechanics. One day I felt the urge to play one and I knew a friend was planning to start this so I bought it but neither of us started. 9 days ago a friend of mine was looking for people who wanted to start and I decided that if it was in my steam list I may as well try it out. I am now 95.9 hours in according to steam and I love it. I've just hit level 50 and got my Paladin armour and I'm still looking at all the content coming up. As I speak server is going down to patch even more content into the game. So here's the detailed review:Story
The story is a good one as far as MMOs go (based on my limited experience). I'd equate it to WoW in some ways as FFXIV builds off of an already established lore but is still extremely easy for new players to get into. I don't want to say much about it but Square Enix really put work into making a good story. It teeters a bit at times, especially around the middle (lv30-40 is a bit slow) but it's very enjoyable if you get into it.Classes
Combat classes are fairly traditional: tank, support, ranged DPS and melee DPS. Still within these wider definitions, each individual class is fairly unique. To add to this you are not restricted to the classes that you pick at the beginning of the game. You will unlock the ability to train any and all classses as you wish which allows for a lot of flexibility. But "Oh, the grind ¬¬" you say. Nope, all classes trained beyond the first receive exp gain bonuses which really speeds up the process. This is alongside the quick levelling options which I'll discuss in a later section.
There's more though! All combat classses have a progression called a "Job" which is earned by reaching a certain point in the story, getting a class to lv30 and the corresponding second class to lv15, and then finishing the job quest. It's actually really easy to do and it encourages you to try a different role.
All combat classes are unique and don't overlap much at all which is great.
As for crafting classes, there's a fair few of them and I have limited experience of them right now but crafting itself isn't just sit there and wait for things to appear. There's an active process and is fairly enjoyable. Just like the combat classes, new skills are unlocked and it becomes a sort of strategic minigame. Quick synthesis for bulk items is available as well so you don't have to do it for each item.
Still I can see crafting becoming tedious. repetitive and boring at some point but that's no different from any other mmo. Also, unlike the combat classes, the crafting classes aren't really unique.Combat
The combat system is targetted, which honestly I was sceptical about when first going in as I'm not a big fan of targetted combat but it grows on you. This is mostly to do with how the game feels since you really have to think about movement, positioning, skill orders, skill timing etc. from more or less the beginning of the game. This is a big deal and playing the first 20 or so levels in WoW feels boring and just mashing buttons in a certain order. The 2.5sec global cooldown adds to the strategic element of it too. You have more time to think and decide what move would be appropriate, but you also have a longer window to be punished for choosing the wrong skill. I honestly think this is way more fun and interesting compared to other games with a much smaller global cooldown.
Another important point is that this game is very controller friendly. It's on the PS3/PS4 with cross platform support so that would be why. I personally play with a controller and it feels very smooth. I don't feel too overwhelmed with skills and I've unlocked all of them for my job with 3 cross skills in use as well (I have 2 full hotbars but it's very easy to switch between them). It's down to preference in the end but the option is really nice to have.Levelling
There are so many different ways to level it's crazy. Though the main story quest is compulsory, there are loads of side quests available.
If you think quests are repetitive you can switch over to doing FATES which are events that spawn that give gil (money) and experience to everyone that completes them based on the level of participation.
If that's boring there are many different dungeons to do with solid exp gain on all of them. Duty roullete will give you bonus exp once a day so deffo worth doing that.
No? Then you can do levequests which are contracts to do certain things in certain places which you can get by using one of your levequest allowances (which refill regularly). Levequests are available to crafting classes too and are considered the fastest ways to level them.
Still not enough? Then Guildhests might be for you. These are very similar to levequests but you're put into a duty (instance) with a party and asked to do it as a group. There's a daily bonus on guildhest roullete as well so that's good.
Also, the first time you do a certain dungeon, levequest or guildhest you'll be granted bonus exp which is always a definite plus.
Still too slow? Not enough content? Too repetitive? Well if you're that hard to please then I guess I should tell you that there are these things called logs which grant bonus exp for doing certain things. A hunting log will ask you to kill x number of y, while a crafting log will give you the list of everything you can craft. The king of all these is the challenge log which refreshes weekly and gives you a lot of exp for completing tasks like "complete 3 dungeons" or "complete 5 levequests".
Honestly there are so many different ways to level that players can pick something that suits them and though some can get repetitive they're fun for the most part.Endgame
You only need to google the game to see the amount of post lv50 content. The game's been out for about a year and there are things constantly being added. The first expansion is coming out soon so keep an eye out for that. Most people will tell you that lv50 is just the beginning, and they're probably right. I'm only just getting into the endgame and I look forward to everything coming up.Price
Well. This is the one major downside I see to the game. It's very expensive. Though nothing new for an mmo, it is a pretty heavy financial commitment compared to most other steam games out there. Especially considering you can get Tera, Mabinogi, and loads of other mmos for free now. You can buy gametime online from other sellers for a bit cheaper but it's still expensive. I suggest playing the trial to give you a better understanding of whether you'll enjoy it. I highly suggest it and will be playing it, but I can appreciate that a few years ago I could never afford to play a game like this.Conclusion
I honestly think this is the first mmo to seriously impress me with its ability to keep you interested. It doesn't overwhelm you, nor does it leave you with nothing to do. Bosses are often really cool and have interesting mechanics, even from an early point in the game. I really do feel that besides the price this game is practically perfect. It's a great game - buy it if you can.