Early Access Roller Coaster Ride

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So early access is underway, and it has its ups and downs.  On the plus side, the game looks beautiful, the content is full to bursting, the systems are working great, there is very little lag, and I am able to play my old character and reconnect with all my friends.  But on the down side, here in North America, we’re seeing a lot of server issues and connection issues with logging in and the duty finder.

One aspect of the main story line is to go and run though several dungeons which can only be connected through using the duty finder, so when this is down the story doesn’t progress.  No grand companies, no earning seals, no epic cut scenes, no dungeon loot.  As a side effect of this problem, it also looks like some instanced battles in-game also rely on the duty finding server.  I was on a marauder quest that wouldn’t load because of a server error, later to be followed up by an error related to the duty finder.  Needless to say this has been frustrating while playing the game.

So to help us out, the maintenance team has been taking down the servers, trying to resolve the issues, and putting them back online.  This works for a while, but with so much traffic coming in with players trying to log and go right back into the duty finder, they have to throttle traffic, people can’t connect, people get booted, and other people cling to staying logged in as long as possible which ads to server population and wait times.  In fact, the reason I am writing this blog right now instead of being in-game fishing is because the servers are down again and I can’t log in.

However, amid the error messages, full servers, connection issues, and a few systems not working, the game itself is fantastic.  As I said, everything works as it should and everything in the world plays seamlessly.  The game is so great, that even with the issues they are having, once I am logged in and playing my character, all of that server maintenance and unable to log in crap is forgotten.

If any of you had played beta, you’ll know what kind of treat you are in for with the full version of this game.  You know the lands you will explore, the quests you will take, how the FATE system works, the marketing system, the equipment, the crafting/gathering systems – it is all there and working as it has been.  Now with the full release we have all areas unlocked for exploration, no level caps, grand companies, housing, more in-game items and rewards, fishing, arcanist class – the list goes on.  And every area visited, every class played, every dungeon explored – it all has something new to see and something interesting to do.  I also like the little bits of pop culture references that the game has sprinkled into it.

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The most exciting thing about FFXIV 2.0 is that the level of detail in the full version of the game doesn’t dwindle after the first few levels or after the first few main story quests.  As a player, you won’t “get the hang of it” after just a short while.  The game is constantly challenging players, throwing new and exciting things their way, and getting more and more exciting over time.  In most other MMORPGs you pick a single class and level that – and about halfway through the game you feel you’ve pretty much got a handle on how things work and just continue to grind and grind until the end.  FFXIV doesn’t work like that.  If you feel you’ve mastered a class – there’s plenty of difficult end-game content and equipment variations that will keep you working extremely hard to become better and push yourself to the limit.  And when that isn’t enough, at any time your character can take up another class and the game becomes completely new again with a new storyline, new abilities, new quests, and new items.

ImageI won’t go into too much more bragging about this game just yet, but I have a feeling SE hit the ball out of the park with this one.  So, even with all the issues in early access, I have been to the other side.  I have seen the working game.  I have played with the community, and I have tasted the waters of what this game has to offer.  And there is hardly anything that I would change about it.

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