I've done Makeb a couple of times and found it to be competent. I've yet to experience the Shadow of Revan stuff, but from all accounts it is well done and intensely fascinating. I may hold off on that for a while just to prolong my game experience; after all, I'm very intent on taking SWTOR as casually as possible this time around to avoid inevitable burnout. And that means trying new things and taking time off from the game if I need to.
Nowadays, I busy myself with being outside, playing my Xbox One with my son (Forza Horizon 2 is a particular favorite of ours), and trying out new games. Or more accurately, trying older games I haven't played in a while.
Enter Elder Scrolls Online! Again!
TESO captivated my interest from the early announcements. It looked like Oblivion (but prettier) and played like Skyrim (at least later in development). There are several very cool things about it (good starting races, good starting zones) and some bad things (lol auction house wtf, twitchy combat). Mainly, my wife plays it a lot and I sometimes watch her and think, HUH. Maybe I should do that again!
TESO can't catch a break.
I downloaded two MMOs over the weekend. One was TESO. I won't be playing that any time soon, thanks to the *other* MMO I downloaded. On a whim, and it was a complete and utter whim, I also downloaded the trial for FFXIV: A Realm Reborn.
Now, I played the original FFXIV on a trial account early on. To say that I hated it would be a shockingly inaccurate statement. I *loathed* that game. The opening cutscenes on the ship, the 15 minutes of voiceover, the hilariously bad menus and UI. God, everything about original FFXIV was 'wtf lol dis game suxxx' bad; the combat, the graphics, even the chatbox. I tried it and dropped it almost immediately. It's important to remember that my only real MMO experience prior to FFXIV Original Flavor™ was World of Warcraft (and to a lesser degree Puzzle Pirates).
Then came a cavalcade of other MMOs, including SWTOR. I tried EQ2 as well and found that I enjoyed it a bit despite the busy and antiquated UI. Rift came and went; while it was a bit clunky, I appreciated what Trion was trying to do. Some Perfect World MMOs came after that, so generic and bland that I've forgotten their names. There was TESO as well, and a trial of Wildstar which did not impress me at all. Heck, I even tried MMO shooters like World of Tanks (nope), World of Planes (better but didn't last long on my HD), War Thunder (better than WoP but still not good), and Destiny (bought it on sale, ok for a time, got old fast).
The only one besides WoW that really stuck to me was SWTOR. That may have changed yesterday morning.
I booted up the trial of FFXIV: ARR (which is now pronounced in my head 'Fix-iv arrrrr') and was pretty impressed with the visual style. Even the start screen was snazzy. The character creator was pretty outstanding as well; it may be missing all the sliders and customization of TESO's crazy editor, but it had more than enough options to make me happy. Much more than SWTOR or WoW's creators, that's for sure.
The opening cinematic definitely lets you know you're playing a Japanese RPG. It's weird and makes no sense, but not in a horribly awful way. I generally dislike JRPGs intensely, so the fact that this one did not immediately piss me off was a good sign. The opening scenes aren't skippable, which makes it rough if you create more than 1 or 2 characters though.
The game starts you off in 1 of 3 different cities based on starting class;
- Limsa Lominsa for Marauders and Arcanist: A beautiful seaport that boasts some truly inventive vertical design.
- Gridania for Lancers, Archers, and Conjurers: A fairly standard woodland realm that's sprawled out and mildly inconvenient to traverse.
- Ul'dah for Pugilists, Gladiators, and Thaumaturges: A desert city with all the Arabian trappings you'd suspect. I've spent the least amount of time here so far and can't really give a good indication of what it's like.
So far, the game is interesting and fun. In stark contrast to Warlords of Draenor, FFXIV's world feels alive and bustling. There are an immense amount of NPCs wandering around in cities and small towns, enough to make it feel like a real place, and they interact with your character for the most part. The creature density is pretty damn high in the wilderness, though thankfully (at least early on) most of them are not aggro-on-sight. Leveling is a steady process, with decent pace and excellent quest writing. All in all, I'm pretty impressed.
I started as a 14-day trial account, but since the base game is only $20 and includes a free month, I signed up for the whole shebang. I'll be interested to see my engagement level in 30 days; will FFXIV stay with me like SWTOR did? It's off to a promising start ... but then again, so was Rift.
I'll report again with my impressions beyond the starting zones soon!