Let’s be honest: MMOs and consoles just don’t go together very well. It’s like combining peanut butter and orange juice or a cat and water. Certain things are just not meant to coexist at the same time in the same place. It’s a matter of controls, really. Pretty much every modern MMO is built around a World of Warcraft-esque system of hotbars, meaning you’ll have access to more than 10 spells (and usually quite a bit more) at any given time.
On a controller, that kind of thing doesn’t really work, simply because you don’t have easy access to enough buttons. Things only get more complicated when you add in things like player chat, the ability to quickly tab through your targets, inventory, movement commands, useable items, out of combat abilities, autorun, and so on. And let’s not even talk about how much nicer it is to have a mouse for camera controls, the ability to click on your abilities, and things like targeting or NPC interaction. This sheer difference in control schemes has led most gamers and developers to come to the same conclusion: MMOs just don’t work on consoles.
But it seems that nobody ever bothered to tell Square Enix that. The company has a history of bringing its MMOs to consoles, a trend that started with Final Fantasy XI, which actually released on the PlayStation 2 before it released on PC, at least in Japan. The game would later be ported to the Xbox 360, and so it’s no surprise that A Realm Reborn would also see a traditional console release. The first round came with the PS3 version, which launched day and date with the PC version, but as with FFXI, Square doesn’t seem content to stick with one platform, which brings us to the release of the PlayStation 4 version of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
This is still the same game that we reviewed on PC last year, and every aspect of the game that was excellent then remains excellent now: the class system still provides a nearly endless amount of replayability, the quests are still varied and well-designed, FATEs are still exciting and breathe new life into each zone, the combat is still satisfying and complex, the story is still intriguing and told in an engaging manner, the dungeons and endgame raids are still among the best in the genre, and the graphics and soundtrack and still ridiculously impressive.
The main difference is the game’s technical prowess, and I’m happy to report that this is a great improvement over the PS3 version of the game. The visuals are improved and feature more detail, the resolution has been increased, the draw distance is greater, and more characters and effects appear on screen at any given time. Admittedly, it doesn’t look quite as good as it does maxed out on the PC, but the quality is comparable this is far and away the best version of the game available to anyone who does not own a high end gaming rig. Those who already have Final Fantasy XIV accounts will find that linking a pre-existing account to your PSN ID is quick and easy, and PS3 owners will also be pleased to know that this version will allow you to migrate much of your customizable data, such as your control settings.
I mentioned controllers in MMOs before, and Final Fantasy XIV can be played with a PS4 controller, but most people will find that using a controller by itself is initially a bit clunky, especially if you’re coming from a mouse and keyboard. Thankfully, switching control schemes is as easy as plugging in a keyboard or mouse (or both), and simply switching to that option in the game’s menu. Doing this allows you to mix and match control styles; if you want to play with a mouse and keyboard, you can, or you can play with a controller, or a controller and a keyboard.
If you have a Vita, you can play on that, too. Each set up is there and be customized to your liking, so finding a control scheme that suits your mood is pretty easy, and you can switch between them at will. It’s a great system, and I applaud Square Enix for making it so simple to mix and match, and switch between systems on the fly. Of course, all of the PlayStation 4’s social features, such as the ability to take and upload screenshots and video, work in FFXIV, too, so those who want to catalogue their time in Eorzea have ample opportunity to do so, and all at the touch of a button.
It’s a great port, and a testament to Square’s dedication to getting things right with A Realm Reborn, as well as their dedication to making their MMOs fully playable on consoles. If you’re playing on the PS3 and you have a PS4, you have no reason not to upgrade. After all, it is free, and as mentioned earlier, nearly all of your settings can be imported from the PS3 version. PC players will have less of a reason to make the switch, but the ability to quickly and easily link their existing accounts will prove vital for anyone looking compliment their PC version with something that you can play on the couch.
Those who have never made the trip to Eorzea will obviously gain the most from this version of Final Fantasy XIV, and for those without a PC, this is the version to get. Square’s success with this game is no fluke: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is one of the finest MMOs available. I’m just glad no one bothered to tell them that this genre doesn’t work on consoles. If they had, Square might not have put so much effort into proving us wrong.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.