Is Final Fantasy 14 is still worth playing in 2023? Why we’re still playing and loving it in 2023? Most of all, if it’s still worth to start your own adventure?
The first big positive of this game is something that is really hard to keep fresh because it totally leaves the traits of the MMO genre, but still is one of my biggest selling points for the game and that is the first time playing experience.
It’s really hard to take yourself back in time and remember all the good moments you’ve spent with things that are long gone. But if you do so for Final Fantasy, it had been the best moments of my game alive as a long time console player and single player game enjoyed. Even though back in 2014 where I came to Eorzea for the first time, it offered way more MMO aspects forced onto the player, but more to that later.
However, what really stands out in this game is not even compared to other MMORPGs on the market, but basically all single player games as well is how much this world makes sense to itself. And the developers created a universe that drags you in with every new character you meet or places you travel to. It is insanely immersive. And the laughter details references to the franchise or writing of the story’s plot are in a class of its own. Even starting into A Realm Reborn made perfect sense for me and I absolutely enjoyed the story with classical Final Fantasy elements, especially on the antagonist side.
Nonetheless, Heaven’s Ward, like for many players, was that expansion and moment in time where the game developed into an absolute masterpiece. Gameplay became complex, smooth, and much more entertaining and the story around each God and the Dragonsong War was just beautifully written.
While still having the ongoing light motif develop that leads to its conclusion in the recent and WarCraft expansion, so there had always been a lot of planning to make the whole world and story fit while still developing each expansion’s topic around it.
But even apart from all the story driven content, up to that point, there’s already so much to do in this game: so many outfits and weapons (which you can get by using FFXIV Gil) that are worth collecting, trials and raids to participate in and even the brand new crystalline conflict PVP mode is already available at that point. Crafting, Gathering, house building, Gold Saucer...... It’s crazy how much content this game is offering that even a player like Asmongold was totally stuck in Heaven’s Ward as there is so much content to tackle already.
Just when I was recently playing a good variation of single player games over the past weeks, I realized how good Final Fantasy 14 is where a good old classic, like Grandia, outplayed the other new games by longshot. Even Kingdom Hearts 3 that I absolutely love for many elements didn’t come anywhere close to the shining times of old Final Fantasies. And not talking about Strangers of Paradise, that was cool but felt super repetitive and boring after a while.
On the other hand, we had the Resident Evil 4 Remake. This game was great, not from the epic story or plot, but just how well it is crafted into a very atmospheric horror show. That was the play to have fun with the absolute basics of managing your resources, hitting enemies sharply and constantly making Leon look like the badass character he is. And while the whole engine at battle system has been pushed to the next gen standards, the mechanics of the game are absolutely 2005. To be completely honest, I think this is the best remake that’s available right now.
This is where Final Fantasy 14 comes into play again. This game is not trying to reinvent the wheel, but create the whole vehicle around it. The combat system is a classical World of WarCraft Rebrand with added strategical elements and the typical Japanese rotation system. But how all this is implemented and introduced in the game is absolutely classic.
I still hope for an earlier access to job skills and the way how the game could be more fun at lower levels. But overall, I have way more fun playing these old-functioning battle mechanics than warping my main character from spot to spot to dodge my enemy attacks or start any assault. Think about why Elden Ring was so popular? It took all the good battle made mechanics and updated them by mixing in some open world elements.
The gameplay of games like Tactics Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics, while they seem dated from a visual perspective, they’re way more fun than modern strategy games that put in real-time decisions and stuff like that.
The one exception that I thoroughly enjoyed and would rate as my personal Game of the Year for 2022 is A Plague Tale: Requiem. Here, the producers and developers of the game took the horror genre to another level and while it doesn’t feature the grotesque horror of Resident Evil, the gameplay mechanics were simply amazing. The first game in which I enjoyed the stealth parts because they made sense. And while for me personally, the story was the big selling point for the game, gameplay felt rewarding and absolutely satisfying.
That’s how games should be designed when the players feel rewarded for their actions and get even more when walking the extra mile. So, this leads us back to Heaven’s Ward, right? Because walking the extra mile leads you into three more expansions that develop the main plot further with the heartbreaking and genius climax in Shadowbringers and perfectly crafted conclusion in Endwalker to become one if not the best stories that any game ever created.
But it still does offer all the MMO aspects especially if you reach end game but also everything the game had in stock before that because Square Enix are insanely good at keeping old content alive and due to thinking of former content, you can always go back in time with your high-level character to relive the moments that other players felt when they played the game two expansions ago, except for some balancing changes, maybe.
I mean for example, if you don’t care about the recent Mandeville Relic weapons, you can just leave Eureka a visit, gather up some friends and try to venture as far as you can into the riddles and mysteries of that very special aisle or you could join the Bozjan Southern Front for further development of the war against galimov and how the whole all scheming and planning took place besides the big events of Shadowbringers or Endwalker.
There’s just so much content that this game is offering and only the veteran players and those that played it patch after patch will run into content draft. If you’re a new player or haven’t explored all these old forms of content, this game is a freaking must play in my opinion, especially if you like any of the main series Final Fantasies that are on par with a quality of 14 or even beaten by it. I mean, you can even treat it like a single player game with each patch more and more because Square Enix is constantly adding party support to dungeons and trials so that you’re not dependent on other players to join your efforts and story progression.