By now many people already know how much of a disaster FFXIV was when the original version, now known as '1.0', launched a few years ago. It was awkward and hard to control and just wasn't all that fun. It was bad enough that Square Enix felt the need to tear it down and rebuild it again with the promise that all the problems would be gone. And for the most part they were right. I've taken part in the last two phases of the beta and had a lot of fun. There's more to do and see in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, controls have been tightened up, jobs have been added, and it's just an overall better game.
That is, if you can play.
The game has been riddled with both player data errors and major server-side issues preventing players from playing. On top of that Squenix is making some very poor decisions that are wholly unnecessary and only compound problems in the future.
The worst of the errors came about when players tried to play during the fourth phase of beta, a two day period of open beta that ran from August 17 to 18. A large number of players quickly found themselves unable to access the game in any way throughout the weekend. On top of that, server congestion had quickly brought many of the 'worlds' to capacity forcing SE to both add to new worlds and suspend the creation of new characters on others. The cue indicating a players place in line to get onto a world was removed requiring players to manually attempt to get on which usually resulted in hours of failure. Strangely these errors seemed to be worse for non-Japanese players. It wasn't until late on Sunday in North America that they finally seemed to have fixed the errors and extended the beta a few hours as means of apology.
Then comes the current period of early access. Surely with five days to prepare the game would be ready for the Legacy players from 1.0 and pre-orderers right?
While the player-errors seem to be gone for the most part, the servers are still proving to be unprepared. The NA and EU servers have been up and down all weekend. Right now they're enforcing severe restrictions on log-ins and character creations because the servers are already at critical capacity. How on Earth are they going to be ready for the game's official launch on Tuesday when the rest of the 1.0 players like myself who are getting upgraded for free come on along with non-pre-order players?
And again these problems don't appear to have effected the Japanese servers. In fact during one maintenance update from SE it was said that changes made to the NA and EU servers would be implemented into the Japanese servers which never went down. What's so special about those servers that they don't require all this maintenance and their worlds rarely go down?
To top things off there was also a major error in game Saturday that rendered instanced areas unaccessible and in some cases even froze characters in place not even allowing them to log out. Only fix for that was shutting down the game. Early access has been nothing more than beta 4.5.
Oh, and speaking of early access, there was also a major goof-up where SE sent the wrong early access codes to the wrong countries. Oops.
As if that's not bad enough they've also made some other annoying decisions that I'm guessing come from the corporate side. For starters the major account hub, called the 'Mog Station', where players can do everything from registering their game and setting up payments to requesting world transfers won't be available until Tuesday despite people playing the game right this second. Not giving players early access to that is just begging for it to become congested as well. If the early access service and official forum can go down due to congestion then there's no hope for the Mog Station.
Lack of access to the Mog Station also lends itself to some other problems for non-early access players, too. Since we can't make an active account (despite 1.0 players already having accounts with free trials and characters on them) we can't participate in the Lodestone, FFXIV:ARR's official fansite. In addition to that those of us who have beta phase four still on our PCs or PS3s, which is exactly the same as the retail version, can't update it to the latest version in advance which means even more congestion for the server come Tuesday.
Now, don't get me wrong, when the game is running right it's a great game and a lot of fun. Plus they've been more than generous to the 1.0 players. But with so many persistent problems with getting into the game and playing I have to wonder just how long people will stick around this time. The original wasn't ready for release when it came out and I'm wondering if the same isn't true this time as well.
I swear, FFXI didn't have these kinds of problems when it launched.