Review: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.4)

Dreams of Ice

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The prospect of playing as a Ninja again in Final Fantasy excited me. After working my way up to level 50 in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the class ended up having so much style and substance that it changed the game for the better, and I’ll be enjoying it for months to come.

While the rest of the Dreams of Ice update wasn’t as enjoyable as playing a Ninja at endgame, A Realm Reborn remains worth playing.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])
Developer:  Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
MSRP: $39.99 ($12.99 per month, with a free PS3-to-PS4 license transfer) 
Released: August 27, 2013 (PC, PS3) / April 14, 2014 (PS4)

Things have changed since my last review update with patch 2.4. Now, I’m not only a level 50 Ninja, I’m also item level 108. Before I get to how Ninja works in the current endgame meta, I’ll talk a bit about the journey from Rogue to level 50.

Simply put, I was surprised at how well Rogues and Ninjas function in the overall world of A Realm Reborn. The game’s director noted how a “Thief” class wouldn’t apply, and I can easily see that now after playing through the new class story. I enjoyed the whole pirate feel of the Rogue arc, and the complete turn with Ninja. The narrative is built in such a way to make you believe ninjas have been around this whole time, quietly watching everyone in Eorzea.

After reaching level 30, you’re on your way into this completely new world and are able to see the realm in a completely new way. It was probably the most enjoyable class questline I’ve played, and I have roughly half of the game’s jobs at max level. So how was the process? Well, it was mixed. Like I said before, the queues for dungeons are horrendous. It’s odd that Square Enix decided to release a dps class so early, without one tank or healer class to offset it.

Yes, a Dark Knight tank job and presumably a healer will arrive in the expansion next year, but saving the ninja for later and adding a much-needed class now would have made queues better. Having said that, I’ve never had as much fun FATE grinding as I had leveling my Ninja. Everyone was friendly, and it’s a riot to see 24+ Ninjas rip apart a FATE boss, running around the world using Mudra magic. FATEs are still a viable method of leveling, so while dungeon queues were a bummer, the worldwide comradery of leveling out in the world made me like the community that much more.

Endgame content with the Ninja is a blast. Not only does it have a few perks like a teleport and an inherently faster move speed, but it also has a ton of full party buffs that make it worth taking up a coveted raid slot. The class can help restore the TP for one party member, it can constantly debuff enemies, and it can either stun or silence as needed on a swappable ability. The Ninja is absolutely worth playing and a ton of fun in my tests, but it presents one extra problem that hasn’t quite been addressed yet.

From what I’ve seen in many static groups, the Ninja meshes well with the Monk, and completely replaces the need for a Dragoon. As a Dragoon player who has multiple jobs over item level 100 I’m safe, but career Dragoons will likely not enjoy the current meta — in fact, I’ve already seen a ton of them jump ship, and my static will likely prefer my Ninja going forward. Hopefully Square Enix will address this, but it’s good news for prospective Ninjas.

In terms of the other new changes, the new Poetics tome feels grindier as a whole than the grind in patch 2.3. Expert dungeon runs are currently the best way to earn Poetics, and Square Enix has taken away many of the other viable methods like Hunts. Hunts are abysmally slow, as only S rank hunts give a measly 10 Poetic tomes. I wish the company had added more ways to gain the new tome even if it was at a slower rate, because dungeon grinding is something I was glad to be rid of in 2.3. Thankfully, all three new dungeons are still fun to run. I love all the boss encounters (especially the Mummy King and the Yeti), and the actual aesthetics and new musical accompaniments are among my favorites.

The other piece of the puzzle that I haven’t covered yet is the Extreme version of the Shiva fight. After a full week my static and I have it on farm status. It’s much more fun than Ramuh overall, and people seem to like doing the encounter more. There are more learning groups out there than there were for Ramuh, and the gear itself is a lot more valuable. This is a tank-centric fight that keeps everyone on their toes without requiring as much as Ramuh did; Shiva is how EX Primal fights should be going forward.

From what I’ve seen of Final Coil so far it looks like a natural ramp-up from the first and second wings, which is great for players who are all about conquering endgame. I’ll need much more time to give a full verdict, but all of the groups I play with seem to enjoy the challenge. Other changes include more housing wards, and a higher Atma drop rate. These two things alone should please long-term fans who had issues with those concepts. It’s nice to see Square Enix fix multiple facets of the game, and not just go and add new content on top of problems. This is the major reason why I continue to play A Realm Reborn.

While I would have preferred a tank or healing class instead of a dps addition this year, as well as a few more meaningful tweaks to the new tome system, the fact remains that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is still worth playing. Newcomers will have a ton of fun playing a new class alongside all of the new Ninjas, and hardcore fans have much to look forward to with a new Coil to conquer. Although 2.5 seems much more interesting in terms of variety, 2.4 is still enough to keep me interested.

Impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.

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Managing Editor - Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step in January of 2009 blogging on the site. Now, he's staff!