The Final Fantasy franchise has a very special place in my heart, it has always been a franchise that I would end up playing at nearly every major point in my life. I first experieneced Final Fantasy when my father picked up Final Fantasy VII, I would spend hours watching him play the game, though at the time I didn't know the name of the game. Eventually later in life, during a time where I was truly in deep with depression and made a number of attempts on my own life. It was the generious donation of a PS1 console from my youth pastor and the frutuitious trade for Final Fantasy VII, a game I had heard so many good things about, that gave me newfound hope. Through playing the game, I had began to value my life more, even if at the time, was simply so that I could play other games in the franchise. A year later my cousin gave me his gamecube, and one of the games he gave me was Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, which to this day, I feel that it is an underappreciated gem on the underappreciated console. Eventualy I played many of other Final Fantasy games over the years, but I was never truly enthralled by another Final Fantasy game until I bought a PS4 and picked up Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn. sure, I enjoyed Final Fantasy VIII, FFIX was a great call back to classic Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy X, thought Final Fantasy X-2 was fun, Final Fantasy XII had a great political intrigue and interesting ideas, Final Fantasy XIII was a bit of a mess, but a mess that i enjoyed regardless. But none of them made me feel the same way I felt when I first played Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy: Chrystal Chronicles, until I the day I stepped foot into the world of Eorzea.
Over the years, I had played a number of MMORPG's, I had heard a lot of things about them, and I wanted to give the genre it's proper due. I played a great many, mostly free to play titles, as I couldn't ever afford an active subscription or even the games themselves. Though, I did get a chance to try World of Warcraft thanks to my father. He had invited me to play the game as a way for me and him to reconnect after the speration between he and my mother, so he was incredibly excited when I expressed interest in playing the game. But; my interest waned very quickly. I ended up encountering the same problem that I had with all of the other MMORPG's that I had played up until that point, I lost interest after reaching level 20. Up until I had played Final Fantasy XIV, I would always quit playing most MMORPG's by the time I reached level 20 because there wasn't anything in the game that I felt truly invested in. The main issue I had found was that those games had a real lack of compelling storytelling. Most of these games were built around the idea that the player would "create" their own story as they adventured through the land. While WoW had more of a story than many other of it's contemporaries in the free to play market, I still didn't feel like the story held any real importance, and I especially felt that the player was of no importance in what happened in the world, you were just one of many. Sure Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Trek Online tried to impliment more of a story that invested the player, but their stories weren't very good. I think a big issue with me and MMORPG's is the fact that I got my start in gaming playing very heavy story based RPG's over RPG's that focused on player exploration, more specifically, Japanese RPG's.
So, considering my history and my, at the time, interest in playing MMORPG's. I was heavily drawn to Final Fantasy XI, the frist Final Fantasy MMORPG. But considering that at the time I couldn't afford to buy the game, or even hold a monthly subscription, it was something that I would never be able to experience. Eventually my interest in MMORPG's died, and I just focused on playing what I normally loved playing, JRPG's. My interest in the MMO genre wouldn't be rekindled until the announcment and release of Final Fantasy XIV Online. When I first saw the opening cinematic for the game, I was amazed. The graphics looked amazing, and leagues better than any MMORPG I had seen at the time. What got my attention the most was that the game was going to emphasize the story and incorperating the player into the major events of the game. You were no longer going to be some nameless grunt that isn't actually the "hero", instead you were going to be the chosen "Hero of Light". Needless to say, Final Fantasy XIV was critically panned for it's myriod bugs and other issues. I was pretty dejected knowing that it wasn't going to live up to what I was expecting out of the game. Then came Yoshi-P, the man revived the floundering MMORPG and turned it into one of the top MMORPG's on the market. Delivering excellent gameplay, beautiful environments, and a truly compelling story. I was excited for the MMO once again, I thought that I might finally be able to experience the MMORPG that would truly grab me.
Still, I wouldn't be able to play Final Fantasy XIV A Real Reborn until much later in it's life, five years after the relauch to be precise. In 2015 I finally mangaed to get a part time job, and thus granting me my own income. After a year of saving up, I finally bought a PS4 and a brand new TV, it was a 32", but that was all that i needed for my personal use. After two months of having a PS4, and after forgetting about the existence of Final Fantasy XIV, due to writing it off as an experience that I would never get to play. The though occured to me, that I should finally buy the MMO that I had always longed to try out, now that I could afford to buy the game and afford a consistant subscription.
So, I bought the game, and after creating my character, I started my journey into the world of Eorzea for the very first time. What greeted me was an amazingly crafted story and world that drew me, accompanied by a fantasic score that brings me to tears even now. I was finally playing an MMO that could truly draw me into the world. I eventually met a lot of great people, made many friends, and felt at home in a guild. In the short three months that I was able to play the game, it became my most played game of 2016 with 356 hours played. It is a game that I feel homesick being away for so long.
My faovrite memory of the game is this one time where I was doing a F.A.T.E. boss that was absolutely massive, I fought this thing solo as a level 40 something white mage. So it was seriously kicking my ass, as my character was far too weak to actually be able to kill it quickly. After several tries, another player came to fight the thing as well, another white mage. Somehow two level 40 something white mages managed to take down an enemy inteaded to be fought by several people of varying classes in that very same level bracket.
Three months after starting my adventure, I became homeless, and sell my PS4 and TV so that we could pay the deposit on a hotel room for my family. I became incredibly depressed, but I got a lot of help from an amazing community, I truly can't thank them enough for what they did for me. Things eventually settled down, and I am now living at a new place, a year later. With the release of Stormblood, something that I was eagerly awaiting a year ago, I would talk about the game with my father over the phone. My enthusiasm for the game encouraged him to buy the new starter pack that included all three expansions and start a journey of his own. Me and my father would be on the phone for hours as he played the game, I would guide him through it, give him various tips on how to play the game, and explain various pieces of lore or game mechanics that may have confused him. This was truly a bonding moment for my father and I. This isn't the outcome that he really wanted, becuase he wanted me to play World of Warcraft with him, but he enjoys the time that he spends with me nonetheless and has come to greatly enjoy the game. Hopefully i can get a new PS4 so that I can join him in the game, a game that I have come to call home.
I really want to include my favorite in-game song.