What happened to FFXIV?

I wanted to see how FFXIV was doing in the ratings game since I don’t play it myself and was somewhat shocked to see it crushed by all of the negative reviews. Just looking at Metacritic gives it a score of 54 out of 100 with user reviews even lower than that. Gamerankings throws it an even lower score at 51.43%. Among some of the hates cited: transportation system exists in the game (as visual assets) but isn’t implemented yet, broken market system, and a GUI that unnecessarily complicates simple tasks.

The one comment that made me shake my head in disbelief had to do with recipes discovered in-game: you actually have to write them down yourself since it doesn’t track them for you using some kind of digital journal. Pen and paper. Hadn’t technology made that kind of stuff irrelevant to MMORPGs? Or is it an attempt to make the game seem more real? I can’t tell but it’s apparently upsetting enough for reviewers to point it out.

So the question in my mind was…WTF? Isn’t this Final Fantasy?

The lower rated reviews basically tell the same story, though with varying degrees of niceness. The buzz that I’ve gotten is that this game wasn’t ready for launch. It’s stable, it has a nice class system, it’s certainly beautiful to look at; but everything else seem to be missing bits and pieces of themselves presumably to be added in later.

Whether it was because Square-Enix needed to push it out the door for the holiday season on PCs or made the users on the platform their reluctant – and paying – guinea pigs is up for debate. The final tally is that the game has serious flaws, ones that certainly fail it on any hope that it could be a ‘WoW’ killer. Or even a contender. Square Enix has acknowledged this by extending the free trial period, though it strikes me as being more than a little arrogant in dumping it out there and then turning around to say that they’ll add in everything that should have been there initially later. For any game, not just Final Fantasy.

The Gametrailers review was particularly scathing with the reviewer suggesting that the game had been created “in a vacuum”. I couldn’t help but think of what Capcom developer, Keiji Inafune, had said of games at this year’s TGS (Tokyo Game Show) in that many of them were “five years behind” what the West was doing. It resonates with another statement made by MGS mastermind, Hideo Kojima, had made last year on the differences between Japan’s developers and those here, that “It is not the Japanese technology or culture that is losing; we are lacking the motivation.”

So the next question is just how much of this factors into what happened with Square Enix’s work with FFXIV? It’s hard not to wonder, but fans aren’t sitting still with this list of fixes that they would like to see implemented to make it better. Who knows, it could be a far different game a year from now or when it launches for the PS3 with all of the feedback they’re getting now.

MMOs have historically had rough launches from the days of World War 2 Online (which is still active) to the present, though there have been relatively smooth ones such as Mythic. Still, bandaging the wounds of a game like this from launch until whenever also seems to be standard practice.

But in FFXIV’s case, it just sounds like major surgery is required if these reviews are anything to go by. Come on, Square Enix. You’re better than this.


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