Final Fantasy XIV On PS4 – A Realm Reborn

It’s something of a miracle that Final Fantasy XIV even made it to our PS4s.  Upon its original release in 2010 it was widely criticised by critics and players alike for various reasons, from a ridiculous lack of content through to terrible design choices and overly complex game systems.  Yet here we are nearly four years later with what is arguably the definitive console edition of Final Fantasy XIV. It is absolutely A Realm Reborn: a revamped, reworked game that bears only a passing resemblance to the original.

Our very own Jim Hargreaves reviewed the PS3 edition just over eight months ago. Having launched last month, this latest version is yet another refinement, taking the already-improved Realm Reborn to the next level. For those unfamiliar with the title, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is an MMORPG set in the world of Eorzea, where you lead your fresh-faced (or hideously grizzled) adventurer through a series of quests on your way through an overarching storyline. As in any MMO, there’s also a level cap to hit, which can be either alone or by aligning with other players.

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The key change between the PS3 and the PS4 version is the jump in graphical fidelity, with minor advantages to the gameplay that accompany that jump. Sadly, the PS3 version was often akin to playing a game from one or even two generations back, at least in terms of the fog that obscured objects and characters in the distance. My biggest bugbear with the title was NPCs that you had to find for quests would often pop into existence a couple of metres in front of you, and as such you spent more of your time chasing an icon on the mini-map, rather than interacting with a physical character. These problems have more or less been eradicated in the PS4 version, with characters and locations beautifully presented with an excellent level of fidelity.

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Whilst the character models are still slightly more basic than we are becoming accustomed to this generation, this is obviously to maintain a solid performance from the game, which it easily and consistently achieves. The various cities, towns, regions and landscapes all have their own character and exploring and discovering them is a genuine pleasure.  I would often find myself thinking how amazing a place would look on the PC whilst playing the PS3 version and that would diminish my experience somewhat, but with the PS4 version all I experience is a sense of wonder. The only occasional issues are related to frame rate drops, though they are nowhere near as bad as those experienced in the PS3 edition.

One of the other advantages that has come with the move to PS4 is the Dualshock 4, and in particular the touchpad. Whilst the layout of the on screen interface clearly retains its PC roots, navigating it on the PS3 could often be a chore, using the select button as a tab to navigate through all of the options. The touchpad on the Dualshock 4 however is a welcome replacement for a mouse, allowing you to navigate the screen with a decent level of finesse once you’ve become accustomed to its sensitivity. Otherwise the pad controls remain the same, with Square Enix doing a solid job of mapping all the inputs needed by an MMO from a keyboard to a pad. It can be initially overwhelming, and earlier battles were often punctuated by pressing the wrong input or holding the wrong trigger, but as with anything the more you use it the better you become and the more intuitive it feels.

One of the most unbelievable elements added in the update to PS4 is the implementation of remote play. Unbelievable in that in my experience it worked flawlessly about 90 percent of the time, and not just when connecting directly between the Vita and the PS4, but over an external internet connection. It genuinely felt like witchcraft to be playing an online game on my PS4 that was being streamed simultaneously over the internet to my Vita, with no real impact on either graphical fidelity or gameplay.

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As a balancing point, it should be noted that my PS4 is connected via a wired fibre optic connection at home, and I was often playing via business ADSL at work, but I also saw no problem playing over bog standard broadband at my in-laws.  The other 10 percent of the time it should be noted that playing either caused the remote play link to fail entirely, or for the game to stream to the Vita with various graphical problems like missing textures or obscured portions of the screen. On the whole though I found it a reliable and enjoyable way to continue playing when away from home, and it’s an experience which is impossible to replicate on any other console.

The continuing barrier to many players will be the fact that Final Fantasy XIV requires a monthly subscription, with many people believing that it’s an archaic method of producing revenue from the genre. However, there are a number of options available to players, including upgrading from the PS3 version to the PS4 one for free. For players with both consoles you can grab yourself the PS3 edition of the game, and upgrade it with 30 free days of access for around £5 which is an absolute steal. Equally, the PS4 edition is less than half the price of a standard retail release so you could easily discover whether you think it’s worth carrying on with a subscription after a month’s worth of play, for a relatively cheap entry price.

I’m thoroughly enjoying my time with Final Fantasy XIV, though as with Jim’s review of the PS3 edition it doesn’t quite fit to put a number against a game which I haven’t seen all of, and which will continue to evolve throughout its lifecycle. I will instead be following this update with my play diary as I travel through Eorzea, and share my experiences of Square Enix’s incredible fantasy world. I hope you’ll join me!

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9 Comments

  1. Excellent write-up.

    Been looking to get back into Final Fantasy XIV since it launched on PS4. No doubt will at some point as long as Square has gone back and tweaked the crafting. Having marked it as one of the game’s stand-out feature, I was a bit disappointed at how grindy and unrewarding it could be.

    I get how constant mining, fishing etc. can work on PC as you can simply minimise and do something else for those few seconds. On consoles, however, I feel you are much more engaged, even if you have a dual set-up like mine.

  2. Coincidental timing with this review, I’ve been umming and ahhing about giving this a go for the past week or so. I’ve never played a subscription game before, apart from the free trial period on WoW and the various F2P games available on PS3/PS4, and am unsure whether I’d get it enough out of it to pay. Anyone who’s first try at subscription gaming is with this got any comments/advice?

  3. I just wish the world was fully open, instead of split into smaller areas. It hampers my immersion to some extent, and WoW have always been able to pull it off. There’s something wonderful about simply walking into Mordor without queuing at The Black Gate.

    • One does not simply something something.

  4. This is my most played PS4 game. I’ve sunk hours into it and I can tell I will play it for hours more. It is well worth the subscription fee IMO.
    The amount of spam messages I get sent over chat is abit annoying at times but it is easy enough to blacklist those players.
    If you are thinking of getting this then I recommend getting a keyboard to type as you are playing with other players who are playing on PC, and trying to reply to people whilst selecting one letter at a time is rather tedious.

    • Top-tip: With the Playstation App on Android (and I assume iOS) you can use your phone as a keyboard in some apps. Might work with Final Fantasy aswell, I haven’t tried.

      • Yeah it works with FF, but if you don’t use it for a few minutes then it disconnects from the PlayStation and so if you want to type you have to connect it again. It is a right faff but good as a short term solution :).

      • Oh, that’s a shame. Another thing for Sony to work on.

  5. One thing to note: if you upgrade from the ps3 to the ps4 version, you can no longer play the ps3 version. While for many this may not matter, some people might want to be able to use both versions at different times. The answer here is buying a copy for each console. You still only pay the one subscription, thankfully. The downside (aside from having to pay twice, obviously) is that any changes to your character’s gear or skill layouts doesn’t transfer back and forth.

    Having to use both consoles for this, I also found that having a security token was essential, otherwise every time you swap consoles it tells you that you need to change your password for security. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, as there’s a free android app (and I assume one for the iphone too) that acts as the token.

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