The time has finally come for the last phase of the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn PlayStation 4 beta, which will carry over all of its data into the final release -- a release that's set in stone for next week (April 11th for early access, the 14th for everyone else).
Naturally, I took this opportunity to get back into the game in anticipation last week after leaving my level 20 Lancer in the frozen void close to launch, and I can't stop playing. I've already made a ton of progress on the PC version, and I'm absolutely addicted to the PS4 port -- it's just that good.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PC, PS3, PS4 [tested])
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
MSRP: $39.99 ($12.99 per month, with a free PS3-to-PS4 license transfer)
Release Date: August 27, 2013 (PC, PS3) / April 14, 2014 (PS4)
Years ago, I never would have imagined that an MMO could have been adapted so well for consoles -- that changed when A Realm Reborn was released for the PS3 last year. Controller support was completely reworked to not only support the functionality out of the box, but to also accommodate the brand new UI. Skills are used by holding down either the L2 or R2 button, which bring up options for all four face buttons and cardinal d-pad directions. That leaves 16 skills right off the bat with the simple press of a button combination, then you can sift through additional hotbars should you want to work more in.
This UI works just as well on the PS4, but there's a major twist here that helps make this the definitive version -- the Touchpad. Simply put, A Realm Reborn's Touchpad functionality transcends anything any developer has attempted so far on the platform. The chief reason why it's so great is the fact that you can rub your thumb on the pad to function as a mouse cursor, including the power to "click" the pad to simulate a mouse click. This often comes in handy when highlighting the minimap to ascertain a quest location, and pretty much everything else.
Square Enix also went out of their way to make the jump to PS4 as painless as possible. When the game launches, Square is offering a free PS3-to-PS4 license transfer. This basically means that you can log into the Mog Station online, click a few buttons, and transfer over your rights to the PS3 game over to your current-gen console. That's the theory anyway, and I'll have impressions on how that works out close to launch when I try it myself.
Another huge get for the PS4 version is full Cross-Play support with the PC and PS3 platforms. Once again Square comes through with this pretty massive game-changer, as people are free to play with friends regardless of what platform they own. Vita remote play is also supported, which is going to be huge for people who use that often (I generally don't, but I'll provide some launch impressions for those who are curious). Finally, A Realm Reborn has mouse and keyboard support, as well as the typical share functionality that's built into the system. All things considered this is one decked-out port.
As you'd expect, the game features upgraded 1080p visuals, which look incredible on the right setup. The draw distance is staggering, the framerate is near perfect, and everything is incredibly smooth. This is compounded by the fact that the world of A Realm Reborn is bright, delightful, and vibrant in general.
If you haven't played A Realm Reborn yet, this is the perfect opportunity to do so -- and if you already own it on PS3, make sure you opt for the free upgrade. Although I wouldn't say the game is flawless (nor would I recommend it for those who loathe the genre), I haven't had this much fun with an MMO in a long while. Stay tuned in the future for continued coverage of A Realm Reborn, including more PS4 impressions.