Final Fantasy 14 has had a long journey to being the video game it is today
First released back in 2010, the Square Enix online RPG was initially panned, receiving scathing reviews across the board.
Critics blasted the game as “broken” and “grind-heavy”, with fan reception to the long-awaited MMO also negative.
Then-Square Enix President Yoichi Wada even issued a formal apology for the game, later saying it had “greatly damaged” the Final Fantasy brand.
The backlash saw the Japanese gaming giant suspend subscription fees and draft in Naoki ‘Yoshi P’ Yoshida to help rebuild it.
The director and producer’s efforts culminated with Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn, released back in 2013.
Rebuilt from the ground up, A Realm Reborn used a new game engine, improved server structure, a better interface, revamped gameplay and a fresh story.
A Realm Reborn addressed all the issues players had with Final Fantasy 14, and the hard graft Square Enix put in paid off.
Critical and fan reception to A Realm Reborn was glowing, and since its release Yoshida and his team have been busy adding to it regularly.
The Heavensward and recently released Stormblood expansions have been added to FF14, helping it go from strength to strength.
It now has 10million players across the globe, not far off the 12million World of Warcraft had at the peak of its popularity.
The Final Fantasy 14 brand has also grown even stronger thanks to a recently released Netflix series.
Final Fantasy 14: Dad of Light charts the relationship between a father and son as they reconnect over the popular online RPG.
It’s quaint, funny, touching and charming – perfect fodder for binge watching.
The additions to Final Fantasy 14 are showing no signs of letting up, with October seeing the launch of the big patch 4.1.
That brought with it a new raid, which sees players return to Final Fantasy 12’s world of Ivalice.
And there are already plans in place to introduce Blitzball, from Final Fantasy 10, to FF14.
Final Fantasy 14 Dad of Light is a Netflix show about the online RPG
With so much content on offer in Final Fantasy 14, and more on the horizon, Express.co.uk decided to jump into the world of Eorzea.
Being a first time player, I wanted to see what it was like experiencing Final Fantasy 14 now – and how the game holds up after all these years.
After creating my character, and choosing my race, gender, appearance and what location to start in – I was ready to begin my adventures in Eorzea.
The first thing that jumped out to me playing on the PS4 was how much you had to control with just a DualShock controller.
Being built for the PC means the vast number of things you have to control is meant to be done with a keyboard and mouse.
From bringing up maps, quests, chatting to friends, and fighting enemies – there’s a lot the PS4 controller has to do.
While it takes a bit of getting used, with practice it does become easier to stay on top of these multitude of things with a DualShock.
And, if all else fails, you can always hook up a keyboard to your PS4 to make it easier to chat to other people on your travels.
Once you start you’re eased into the world of Final Fantasy 14, slowly introduced to the different guilds and how to take on quests.
Jumping into an online RPG when you don’t know anyone else who plays the game can at times feel like a lonely pursuit.
However, Final Fantasy 14 has an elegant way to side step this.
When you’re wandering around Eorzea outside of the cities you will regularly come across Fates.
These are random events where there are specific objectives – such as defeat a certain number of enemies, collect special items or defeat a boss.
As these events occur, players in the real-world will all club together to defeat the FATE alongside each other.
It’s a great way to make real life players, who do not know each other, get introduced and work together.
And, if you strike up a conversation afterwards and the other party is willing, it might be the way you get an ally to join you on adventures.
If that doesn’t work, even just walking through Eorzea and seeing the world populated by so many real-life players is quite the sight.
Final Fantasy 14 feels like a more traditional entry into the series
When you’re new to Final Fantasy 14, you have an icon next to your name so other, more experienced players know you’re a newbie.
And, if they help you out, they’ll get rewarded for it – again encouraging interaction players.
You can , if you so wish, just go off on adventures on your own – which in my first month of play was perfectly fine.
As the story progresses, and the foes become harder, you’ll need comrades to help – but to start with, as Fleetwood Mac sang, you can go your own way.
And what a journey you’ll go on.
Final Fantasy 14 is an engrossing, brilliant RPG
The story, the characters, and the world of Final Fantasy 14 is utterly engrossing.
For fans of the series who were not keen on the action orientated and stylish approach of Final Fantasy 15, FFXIV will seem like a breath of fresh air.
It has the feel of a traditional Final Fantasy game, with slower paced combat and a quaint setting – instead of one that’s too cool for school.
In my first month in Final Fantasy 14, I only managed to scratch the surface of this beguiling, enchanting game.
This was rammed home to me when I entered an exclusive district where I could buy a house.
But the home owning dream in Final Fantasy 14 seems even more difficult than it is for millennials in real-life.
The money I had in my back pocket wasn’t enough to get a bit of furniture, let alone a house.
I knew I’d have to go on a whole lot more quests, find clans to band together with and sink a whole lot more time into it.
And that would be absolutely fine with me.
• Final Fantasy 14 is out now on PS4 and PC. The entry subscription costs £7.69 every 30 days. On PS4 you don’t need a PS Plus membership to play.