Earlier in the week, just before the FFXIV (Final Fantasy XIV) Open Beta began I struggled with the question of whether to sign up or not. On the one hand I would get to see the game early and get an idea of what it was like, on the other hand I had already pre-ordered the game so was I spoiling it for myself? Also open beta’s are mainly for bug testing to the game would be buggy as fuck and may put me off, which would be unfair to the finished product. So I decided against it. Until I saw some screenshots. But by then the first phase of the open beta had closed. Luckily the second phase began yesterday and I managed to sign up. That was about sixteen or seventeen hours ago. Sixteen or seventeen hours, most of which have been spent trying to download or patch the client.
SE’s (Square Enix) updater/downloader is frankly shit. At first it didnt work but eventually I managed to open the plethora of ports required to get it to work “properly”. But even then it randomly crashed, failed to reach the speeds it should have (averaged 1mb on a 5mb connection) and was just generally a pain in the arse. As its just a glorified torrent engine I took some of the torrents from its folder and downloaded them (much, much quicker) via uTorrent and then copied them back into the correct folders. Of course you then need to restart the updater a few times to get it to recognise its own files.
Ugh, its nearly as slow installing the updates as it is downloading them. I really do hate when game companies make simple stuff like updating and installing the game such a chore (looking at you Champions Online). Well its finally updated and I pulled myself away from Nagasarete Airantou. When I started the game I was disappointed to see it was windowed with seemingly no option to maximise it. However a quick trip to the windows start menu showed that there is a seperate config program for setting up graphics options and such (which seems a little silly, especially as it doesnt run first). So with my graphics options selected I was ready to go.
So I took a screenshot of the first part of character creation and then alt-tabbed to see whether the game saved them itself. Then the game crashed. Lesson 1 – Dont alt tab. Also there was nothing saved in the screnshot folder. Maye it only saves screenshots in game? Well after some quick googling it seems that one cant save screenshots in the beta. I suppose I could play it windowed and use Alt+Prt Screen. Hmm well after some testing the screenshot folder is still unpopulated and even hitting print screen only copies a black screen to the clipboard. Hmm this is weirdly irritating. Think Im gonna FRAP’s it. ….Please Wait….Installing FRAPS….Done. Well with a bit of fiddling (and talking to Adam about his weekend) Im ready to get my screenshizotting on.
Well it took a little more fiddling. But I eventually got fraps working as I wanted and started to play the game. I love the first screen, classic FF starting screens and the awesome FFXIV logo.
Then it was on to character creation. Which was awesome. While it doesnt quite match the level of customisation available from something like City of Hero’s or Champion’s Online it is still a fairly keep character creation system. I just spent (literally) half an hour making my first character.
As with most such games the first step is to select your race. The races available appear (from what I recall) to be identical to the races from FFXI. But with different names and some slight updates (I think the big green guys had stubby tails in FFXI). The options available are (not the right names) Human, Elf, Cute Halfling, Catgirl and Green muscely guy, or as the game would have you call them:
After you select your race you have to select one of two “sub-species”, which basically seem to be a light or dark version of the race in question. I’d already decided to go with a catgirl so I got to choose between the two below:
I went with the latter one, Keepers of the Moon. After that you have to choose type. To be honest I couldnt see much difference between the four options. I think it’s just slight differences in body shape and face shape. I went with the default option.
Once youve chosen your type you get into the real meat of the customisation options. On the first screen you choose your height, voice, skin tone, etc. It was here that I ran into a problem. I simply couldnt find a skin tone that I liked the look of. Several of them looked cool, but not for a character I was going to have to play for hours on end.
So I decided to go back and go with the other sub-species of catgirl, the Keepers of the Sun. I know its silly, but to be honest the slightly off-yellow skintone is more “anime like” and therefore feels “proper”.
Next it was on to even further customisation, first I changed her hair colour and added highlights.
Then I changed her eye colour, iris size, nose and eyebrows.
Before finally opting for none of the special “characteristics” (scars and such) and giving her a slightly slimmer tail.
Once youve finished customising your characters appearance you have to select their starting job.
Again I had already decided which one I was going to go with (Pugilist). But here’s a look at all the starting “Disciples of War”.
Once you’ve selected your job you select your date of birth and guardian deity. Not really sure what significane these have, presumably you get an in game present or some such on your birthday.
You then select your starting server. Presumably the chocobo’s indicate population levels so I choose a server with a medium population.Lesson 2 – Rabanastre is the greatest of servers
Then its the most important step. The name! I fear how many mis-spellings of Final Fantasy characters Im going to encounter on my travels. Sadly Aisha ClanClan (of the CtarlCtarl Empire) was already taken. Fuck, just thought of Felicia from Darkstalkers. Anyhow I went with Naria Fanel (rocking the Escaflowne, yo!).
You then select your starting city. I selected mine (Ul’dah) based purely on which I thought would look the coolest.
You then are asked do you want to save the character, everything fades to black, it was black for a worryingly long time. I have the feeling that the intro was supposed to play and didnt (you can always watch the awesome pre-release trailer to make up for it though). Because next thing you know youre getting a small ingame intro to the city of your choice. It was actually quite well done. Made the city feel relatively “real” (if a bit underpopulated).
Then its into the game proper (which looks fucking lovely). Where I floundered around for a bit as I hadnt read up on the control’s and so they felt a bit weird (i.e. not like Warcraft).
I eventually managed to get my way into the main menu (ESC doesnt bring it up which is just bizarre). Holy shit theres a lot of options. And then it was off to exit it and write this for you my adoring public.
Thoughts so Far: In the words of the annoying chick from Big Brother, I’m lovin it. But then again I am a big fan of character creation systems and FFXIV’s strikes a nice balance between lots of options and too many options. While in some places slider bar’s or colour wheels might be an improvement on a pre-selected menu thats nit-picking just for the sake of it. So far I havent played the game proper at all. But I have to say, the fact that ESC doesnt bring up the menu irks me more than it should. But come on, every other fucking game under the sun uses ESC to bring up the main menu!
Edit: Well this took longer than I thought. Mainly because I used 1900×1200 24bit png’s for the screenshots, 1-2 mb’s per image is a little much. Ah the joys of image conversion (and re-uploading and re-linking). Im going to create a green muscely guy marauder before continuing with my catgirl.
Listening to: Uncle Tupelo - Still be around