Square Enix was in attendance at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 2013), and they made quite a performance with their array of upcoming new titles. From MMORPG’s like Final Fantasy XIV to new and original IP’s like Murdered: Soul Suspect, Square Enix had a dazzling multitude of games on display.
With the unveiling of Final Fantasy XV (formerly known as FFXIII Versus) Square Enix was at E3 in full force, accompanied with a range of titles that would please even the most casual of RPG fans.
I personally had the opportunity to snag an official Final Fantasy XIV: ARR “Battle Challenge” invitation, allowing me to bypass the quite huge line and jump right into the fray. The demo itself was accompanied by a short pre-game presentation where a Square Enix rep delivered facts about the game, and what we’d be partaking in during the playtest.
Without further ado, I present to you my experiences with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and how I became a Meteor Survivor.
A Brave New World – Controls, Interfaces & More
The hands-on demo for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was somewhat short and consisted of a single boss fight: armed with a team of seven, each team would take on the insidious Ifrit, who’s fiery exploits have been a part of the series for quite some time. To defeat the nefarious flamelord our team had to work together: each station was set up to a different class, and each person was led to a random station.
I had the honor of being the team’s Dragoon, which is primarily a melee-based character that dishes out explosive damage with an array of varying attacks and abilities. While some stations were optimized for PC controls, I was at a station that featured a PlayStation 3 controller–and it was quite confusing at first.
A Square Enix rep swooped in and saved the day, explaining each of the Dragoon’s abilities and how to switch between the various macro’ed hotbars. The PS3 interface may look intimidating at first, but really it’s not so bad: there are four sets of four-way hotbars that can each be plotted with various skills and abilities (see below).
Players also have access to sets of hotbars, and aren’t limited to just the four hotbars. By default, the four-way hotbars correspond with the D-pad and the four face buttons on the PS3 controller, and the far left and right sets are accessed by holding L2 or R2 respectively.
The twin analog sticks control movement, and players can even jump in-game–which can be helpful when trying to avoid DPS-style ground based attacks.
Final Fantasy XIV: ARR has three based resource pools: Health Points (HP), Mana Points (MP), and Technical Points (TP). Depending on which class you are, your skills will utilize various resources in different ways; for example, the Dragoon’s attacks primarily use TP, since they are melee-based.
The game’s interface is quite snazzy and is quite akin to your basic MMORPG, with resource bars, hotbars for skills, a quite dynamic and extremely helpful mini-map, and other various indicators that display stats, currency values, etc.
Face-to-Face With Ifrit: Real-Time Combat & Teamwork
Note: It’s worth mentioning that this hands-on PS3 demo featured pre-defined skillsets and presets that were designated by Square Enix, and players had no real control over plotting skills. My experiences with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn are based on the “Meteor Survival” event showcased at E3, and do not reflect the title’s overall gameplay mechanics.
Before the epic bossfight took place, my team acclimated themselves with their characters, learning the ropes in the sanctuary of one of the game’s many safe zones. Once we were all ready, we were teleported to the towering behemoth known as Ifrit and the fight began.
Final Fantasy XIV: ARR features real-time combat and abolishes the turn-based structure, opting instead for a basic MMO-style combat system. As a Dragoon, I was one of the team’s major damage dealers, so I went right into the fray and executed a series of skills here and there.
While the Square Enix rep didn’t have a lot of time to explain every single skill to me–the hot bar was completely filled with skills, sixteen different abilities to use in battle–I did understand that all of them were meant to destroy. Keeping an eye on my TP reservoir, my Dragoon used his mastery with a lance to unleash a torrent of deadly skills one right after another.
Throughout the battle, Ifrit would unleash these pools of hellfire on the ground, which basically spelled doom for anyone who stood in them. While paying attention to your team and your HP, you had to also glance at the ground and watch out for that fiery patch that spelled doom for all who were near.