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TheManchild avatar 11:24 AM on 06.16.2013  (server time)
Frothing at the Mouth for Final Fantasy XIV

I rarely get excited for games anymore, but this is a hell of an exciting year for me. Apart from the OODLES of fantastic 3DS releases on the way, the Wii U finally getting some good titles coming down the pipeline (though not fully convincing me I need it quite yet...price drop, I'm waiting on you.) and a whole new generation of hardware to look forward, it's good to be alive and well and gaming. Oh, and Animal Crossing; the idiotic game that takes up roughly an hour of my day, every day, despite me not understanding what I love about it so much. Maybe because it's better than my real life?

Well there is certainly less cat shit to clean up.

Realm Reborn is looking bloody fantastic. From an MMO standpoint, it doesn't seem to be offering anything different, but let's face it; unless you are a hardcore masochist and into games like Darkfall: Unholy Wars, there is very little out there trying to differentiate itself from THAT know, the one everyone bashes but yet which still has countless subcscribers...but I digress. The reason I am looking forward to the revamp of Final Fantasy 135 or whatever number we are up too now is because it's another Final Fantasy; and it is one that strives at least aesthetically to resemble that familiar setting. And Final Fantasy is a world I just can't seem to escape from, no matter how shitty some of its titles have been.

Unrelated picture. Total coincidence, I swear.

The beta testers so far have been pleased. The game is a clear improvement over it's mentally stunted predecessor that nearly RUINED the company and the franchise forever with a single fell swoop of FAIL. I never had a chance to play the first Final Fantasy XIV (and boy does that ever feel strange to say) but everyone I knew urged me to suppress my acquisition disorder and just hold off. It just wasn't worth it. Game was a turd. But this really disappointed me, because I was a fan of Final Fantasy XI.

I remember it like it was yesterday, and it makes me feel old. Back when the game was released, I think in 2003 or 2004, I had it preordered on the PS2. Back then, my computer was an Emachines running Suse Linux which crashed ever half an hour. I only ever used it to talk to my American friends over Yahoo Messenger, and they always knew I'd dissapear for about ten minutes in specific intervals to restart the machine so it wouldn't lock up and bum out on me. So to be able to have a device that could go online to some capacity and let me waste time chatting with girls who were probably dudes, I picked up FFXI and the Harddrive, which came in a nice, beautiful bundle which I still wish I had today.

PlayOnline was a fucking nightmare to set up. My stepdad was deathly afraid of the end user agreement, so it took some serious convincing to get him to sign up. He was, frankly, sick of my bullshit. First there was Ultima Online, then Phantasy Star, and now this? That was, like, three things he had to make accounts for in the span of four years. He was tired of it. The man was about as patient with that sort of shit as a classical pianist listening to Grindcore.

But, being the good dude that he is (happy fathers day!) he went ahead and set me up, and I was ready to roll.

Final Fantasy XI was a game that was made to be completely unfriendly and intimidating, in an obnoxious way, to anybody new. It took a tremendous amount of time to learn the basics, and leveling up was a gauntlet of patience. I can't even tell you how many hours I spent with other equally annoyed players camping goblin mobs on a hill near Bastok. Jesus Christ. That was the game for me; "Goblin Hill RPG". That's all we ever fucking did.

Eventually I got bored and took my Monk to a new city, where somebody power leveled me. I made an in game girlfriend, because I was just cool that way. We would hang around beautiful looking scenery and engage in half roleplay chat like a boring ass romance anime. And then she died presumably, or just decided "fuck is this game ever boring, what am I doing with my life."

Hopefully the latter.

Eventually, I got bored, too. I graduated, and suddenly, drugs and booze were more important to me. I wouldn't sign up again for nearly a decade. Not until yesterday, when my excitement for Realm Reborn got the best of me, and I decided to revisit a familiar old world again; the world of Vana...diel? Is that it?

Well, whatever. Let's just call it Bastok, because that's what I remember, and that's where my new Monk lives.

The game has changed a lot since I played it last. I mean, I was sixteen at the time, and I'm twenty-seven now. That's a long as time to be away from somewhere. But it was familiar as ever, right down to the tunes that played and the area, which I still vaguely remember. A lot has changed; leveling is so much easier. In just an evening I pumped up to level 11 and was able to say "goblin, PLEASE." No more hill camping. But no more people, either.

There are actually more people than I expected running around in the starting area, but none of them want to talk to me. Now, the game is a race to level 99, where most of the good content is. 99! That's gonna take forever. But one thing I will say about it; although archaic in design, it lends itself well to the immersion factor.

When I sit down with something like WoW, or Korean MMO Number 367, I don't give a RATS ASS about flavor text. The game demands little more from me than clicking on flashing dudes, and following flashing arrows to the flashing other thing I'm supposed to fucking flashing click to complete the "quests", which a deranged, amputee dog could figure out with the same capability that I can. And frankly, I just find that super boring.

FFXI makes you work for shit. You have to pay attention to people. You never know who is going to give you quests, so you have to talk to everyone; and eventually, you will start remembering NPC names, locations, and what kind of characters they are. It's actually so ingenious its amazing nobody is doing it today. I guess it's because people have the attention span of grapefruits, and it would be expecting a lot. Quests are tough and don't hold your hand; they take time, and patience, and a lot of exploration. And there are no flashing arrows anywhere to tell you where to go once your finished. You have to remember that shit, or at the very least, actively check your quest information to get a vague idea of what needs to be done.

In short, it actually feels like a real RPG because of this instead of a "connect the dots" simulator. It's time consuming. Oh, and Bastok is fucking huge. Shit ain't no Goldshire. It took me two hours just to explore the city itself and see most of the nooks and crannies, and talk to most of the npc's. It feels like a big, living world, even though it's mostly empty of other players.

I don't know if I'll stick with it, but it was fun to jump in and check the world out again, and it has me excited for what FFXIV has to offer. I'm a little reserved; there is absolutely no way they would take such a draconic approach, and in fact, I already know that not to be the case. The new game will have the standard tropes embraced by the current MMO craze. But that is okay, because FFXI is still here. In fact, so is Ultima, and Everquest too, if you want to get SUPER real about it. But to see a new Final Fantasy, and to know they are working hard to make it good has me stoked! I just can't wait to sit back on my couch and play a good MMO. And my wife, whose recent infatuation with Sword Art Online and my introducing her to Pathfinder has gotten her to be interested in MMO's, thinks it looks cool, too. She might even play it.

Sort of a directionless blog, but I wanted to express my excitement for Realm Reborn. Here is hoping its good, and has just as long a life as XI, which is apparently still going strong as well.

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