Review: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PS4)
It'd be an understatement if I were to say that I was happy with how Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn turned out. The past decade of MMOs has been brimming with disappointment (including the original Final Fantasy XIV release, coincidentally). It seems like there have been a dozen games that have cost hundreds of millions to make and promised engrossing worlds. However, they all failed in one major way: they had no soul. FFXIV: ARR didn't suffer from that problem.
As great as it was, one of its greatest perks, its PS3 version, didn't do the game justice. A huge UI would interfere with visibility, and its presentation was watered down to run on the dated console. Enter the almighty PS4 version.
Running at 1080p, the world of Eorzea is beautiful on PS4. Everything from the environments to the character models are top-tier, making the game a great demonstration of the PS4's graphical capabilities. You may find yourself sitting in town admiring the look of armor on other characters, or taking screenshots in the middle of boss battles—I advise doing this if you love great screenshots and a group of players upset with you. To be honest, I have a hard time differentiating the PS4 version's visual quality with the PC version on high settings, and that's saying a lot.
The difference is night and day coming from the PS3 version. The UI is no longer massive, and while the text can be difficult to read you can change the font size in the settings (heck, you can even switch to 720p if you'd like). The draw distance is perhaps the most noticeable improvement. No longer will you see pop-in and foliage loading 20 feet in front of you. The PS4 has tackled the challenge of running this gorgeous game like a champ. Frame rate dips only occur when huge amounts of players are present, which in my experience only happens in large-scale FATEs and in Revenant's Toll (the level 50 hub).
Interacting with the interface takes a little practice, but is as functional as an MMO on console could ever be. Using skills is performed by using the crossbar, a system which allows you to hold any combination of L2, R2, face buttons, and the d-pad to input commands (those who have played the PS3 version will feel right at home). The touchpad on the DS4 functions as a virtual cursor. You can guide the mouse cursor with finger swipes and toggle between menu items by clicking it. However, I've found the virtual mouse to perform much better (L1 + R3 to enable). The only real headache is using the map. It's cumbersome and makes navigation a bit of a chore. Truthfully, you're better off memorizing the layout of Eorzea just so you can avoid ever having to open the map.
Once you've customized your crossbar layout in a way that's concise, combat and navigation are no more difficult than they are with a keyboard and mouse. It all comes down to making sure your bindings are well thought out (Hint: clump related skills together).
In addition to looking gorgeous, the PS4 version allows you to share your favorite moments with your friends, including videos and screenshots. If you happen to own a Vita, you're definitely going to want to try out Remote Play. My brief time with it was quite spectacular. Essentially, you can play FFXIV: ARR anywhere that your Vita has internet access. Say goodbye to ever being bored again.
Unlike the game of launch, FFXIV: ARR on PS4 arrives with content galore. the 2.1 and 2.2 patches were so gargantuan that their patch notes are dozens of pages long. The gist of it is the game has undergone polish, received new boss encounters, a raid, a housing system, and so much more. If you're new to MMOs, you'll just want to jump on in and play; looking at the new features can be overwhelming.
This might sound crazy, but I happen to believe the PS4 version of FFXIV: ARR is the ultimate version for Final Fantasy fans. Yes, it's more difficult to navigate menus, but this is a game that was built with a controller in mind and it shows. On PC I always felt like the 2.5 second global cooldown was a bit lengthy. It doesn't feel that way with a controller in hand. The GCD offers ample time to think about your next input, and make sure you enter the corresponding button combination in time. In a way, on a controller it feels like a much more refined version of Final Fantasy XII's combat.
This is the PS4's first killer app. FFXIV: A Realm Reborn on PC is a fantastic game, and it has graced the PS4 in glorious fashion. Playing on the PS4 makes it feel like you've finally encountered the next-gen Final Fantasy you've been waiting for. If you're a fan of the franchise, but don't have a gaming PC, you may just want to consider getting a PS4 now more than ever. Just be sure to bring a keyboard so you can chat with others.
Jonathan Leack is the Gaming Editor for CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @jleack.
Copy provided by publisher. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is available on PS4, PS3, and PC.