Final Fantasy XIV is approaching the finish line of a lengthy relaunch process that has been in the public eye for almost a year. Part of that has been preparing the game for PlayStation 3, but the port's showing at E3 2013 made me less eager to witness this rebirth.
We gathered a large party to take on a raid boss, Ifrit, who fans will recognize as a summon from various games in the series. It's much the same in this iteration, except these summon characters first have to be defeated in large-scale encounters. I took on the role of an Archer, content to stay in the background and pick off the monster from afar.
Mechanically, the concessions made to the controller seem fairly straight-forward. Holding down the triggers pulls up an imitation hot-bar with common commands, turning each of the face buttons and directional pad into your standard attack keys. This is similar to the system utilized in DC Universe Online, though it has more visual indicators than text. That's a welcome difference, since I always found the font in DCUO too small for a TV screen.
That user interface advantage, however, was undermined by muddy textures on both my character and the environment. It simply doesn't look good on PlayStation 3 at this point, and with the beta test just around the corner, I'm not sure if Square Enix has plans (or the ability) to perform additional optimization. Obviously expecting high-end PC visuals on a years-old console would be a mistake, but these were sub-par even compared to other MMOs on the system.
Unfortunately, this short battle was all Square Enix gave us to judge by. The newly announced FATE system, neat as it may seem, was shown only in video form. We won the fight, naturally, and it was satisfying to take down a large monster, but MMOs offer that as a matter of course. I hoped to see something new and exciting here, and instead got standard mechanics in a poor wrapping.
The good news is that the solid controls should persist for the game's eventual PlayStation 4 release. The additional horsepower should make it look less ghastly on Sony's next system, and couch-lounging players will have an alternative to taking up adventuring on the PC. It's only too bad that the PS3's considerable audience may have to settle in the meantime.