I mentioned a Let’s Play series showing Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 in my last post:
Out of intense curiosity, I’ve been watching this series for a while, trying to take some notes about what I like and dislike about 1.0. The YouTuber showers praise on the game while he plays, more than it deserves–to the point where I wonder if Square Enix actually paid the guy–but he’s at least enthusiastic. He is more of a talented radio-voice-guy than a talented gamer though. It’s very humorous to listen to him talking about mining like it’s some kind of exciting baseball game. (Also, I don’t want to brag, but I did way better at reading quest text in my Stormblood videos. :)
The precise version shown in the video is something like 1.18, by the way.
Never having seen or played the original version, my only knowledge of 1.0 was the popular opinion that it was total and complete garbage, the Atari E.T. of MMORPGs, not worth the pixels it was printed on, a game so bad that it somehow reached out of the screen and strangled the player to death right in his chair.
Watching the Let’s Play dispels that myth completely. It actually looks … not that bad.
Graphics. One thing I noticed immediately is that the color and shading in 1.x seems to be a lot better than it currently is. I don’t quite know how to describe it but it looks like there’s more contrast and saturation in the world–the darks are a bit more dark, the colors are a bit more colorful. Maybe it’s something about the YouTube video that makes it look that way. The current game often looks a bit flat and washed out to me (especially at night). This is something I’ve noticed in a lot of Asian-style games, so maybe it’s an intentional style. While it might be more “realistic” in that real life often looks flat and washed out, it doesn’t look that great on a computer monitor and I wish they would give us Contrast and Saturation sliders.
Leaning. Your character leaned side to side when you turned, and there were short starting and stopping animations. It looks very nice on video but I would not have liked it if it felt laggy while playing.
Fonts. I like the fonts used for the nameplates a lot better in 1.0 The font used in the current game is very plain and utilitarian and not very artistic. A variety of choices to pick from would be nice.
Map Size. Maybe it’s my imagination, but the outdoor zones in 1.0 looked bigger than they are in the current game. I wish they had retained that. (Though it doesn’t look like there was anything in the bigger areas.)
Seamless Transitions. Transitions between cities and outdoor zones were seamless in 1.0–I really wish they had kept that. I’m not a fan of loading screens between zones in MMORPGs. I find one of the defining traits of a “true” MMORPG is the ability to walk all the way from one side of the map to the other without any transitions (a la WoW), but hardly anyone does that anymore. I suppose it’s too much of a technical challenge, and players don’t demand it anyway.
Cut Scenes. The cut scenes in 1.0 seem to be more complex with more motion capture and more complicated camera movements, at least at the beginning of the game. It looked very nice, but as I’ve mentioned before it probably wasn’t a sustainable development model.
Characters and Story. F’lhaminn is in 1.0! (Minfilia’s mother.) That is so cool! Thancred is also there, in the Ul’dah starting zone, though he seems to be just a lovable rogue and not part of any kind of organization. This kid Ascilia I’m seeing in the videos is apparently little Minfilia, according to the wikis. So apparently the story of how F’lhaminn ended up adopting Minfilia was in the 1.0. I wonder if Raubahn and Pipin is explained as well?
Starting Area. I like that you could start any class in any of the three starting zones. Currently your starting class dictates which zone you start in. Not sure why they changed it.
Map. The map looked better in 1.x, perhaps because of–again–more contrast. However I don’t like that it was full screen.
Character Shops. Tentatively putting this under “likes,” it looks like there was an area where players could setup their own shops with retainers. It also looks like you could go up to actual players and “browse” things they had for sale. It’s a neat concept, but I can’t really tell from the videos how it would work out in practice and at large scales. (Apparently not well, since they abandoned the concept.)
Bugs. Quite a few bugs have been shown in these videos. There’s one where players slide around on the ground without moving their legs which really breaks my immersion. :)
Lag. There is a lot of lag and stuttering shown in the YouTube videos. It could have been this guy’s connection (I’m assuming he’s in Australia) but I would have hated to have to play that way.
UI. The UI in 1.x looked very strange and overly tedious. There are plenty of tedious elements in the current game but it looked a thousand times worse before.
Leveling. It looks like there was a “master” level with sub-levels or “ranks” for each of the classes. I didn’t like it. I like the way it is now, where each class has it’s own individual level.
Combat. Combat seemed to be more tedious than the current game (which is pretty unbelievable considering the current game is paced slow). It looks like it did not use a global cooldown system familar to MMORPGs but instead a system more similar to something like Dark Souls, where every swing deducted “stamina” points, so you had to manage your stamina pool during combat. I personally like Dark Souls combat but it doesn’t look like this implementation worked very well in 1.0. (The slower pace made for some glorious animations though–marauder axe swings looked incredible, and also the conjurer spell casts.)
Doors. You had to click on doors to open them. Yuck!
Gil. In 1.x it seemed like you got a lot more gil as rewards, so you had thousands of gil in the first few levels, which is weird.
Zooming. The person doing the above Let’s Play never zoomed in or out. I don’t know if it’s because you couldn’t or not, but if so, I would have hated that. I play zoomed out quite a lot. (Oh, I see he zoomed in in episode 21, but not out.)
Crafting and Gathering. It looks like the crafting and gathering minigames were a lot more arbitrary and tedious. There was some kind of thing where you had to move a slider up and down to select where you chopped at a tree and so forth. And mining had some kind of pulsing circle that you had to click at the right time to get the best results. I’ll give them points for creativity but it looks like it would have been frustrating to do over time. I like the current system better.
Hotbar. This episode I’m watching shows that it doesn’t remember your hotbar settings when you change to a different class! You had to setup your hotbar again every time you changed? Yuck! Double yuck!
It looks like version 1.0 didn’t have the tight coupling with a Main Scenario Quest that the current version does. It looks like it was more of a sandboxy feel, in that you did your leveling through the use of levequests, rather than following a story to the exclusion of everything else. I don’t really mind either style of MMORPG, so that wouldn’t have bothered me. On the other hand, it looks like it was a bit more grindy to gain levels.
The YouTuber mentioned at one point that there was no digital download available for the game, and you had to buy it at a retail store. I always wondered why I never even knew the game existed until A Realm Reborn came out… that certainly would explain it! I definitely would not have bought a retail copy of any game in 2010. Maybe that was just in Australia, though.