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Final Fantasy XIV OBT Review
By Elve
Also about the short introduction of me - I would like it to say something like "He is a

beginner writer and a programmer who had played some MMORPGs and have formed an opinion of

what is good and bad about the genre. He is also prone to annoying people." I know it is

lame but I cannot really think of better description of myself As of picture - I don't

really have an actual one so perhaps it will take me some time to provide one. I would be

happy if you use my mmosite avatar for now

The first thing about FFXIV is that it is a Final Fantasy game and it bears all the markings

of one. Be it for good or for bad FFXIV provides nothing a bunch of old ideas to the MMORPG

genre and serves them with a unique twist. The result is something pretty unique and

controversially – new.

 

Character Creation

You begin the game by creating your avatar in the world of Eorzea - a war-torn world where

suddenly peace had been force in the face of a greater danger that never came so a lot of

soldiers are left without a job and looking for something to do. These soldiers now call

themselves Adventurers and form guilds to take up various jobs from different employers. You

assume the role of one of these adventurers and the first thing to decide is who exactly are

you.

You get to choose a race, gender and origins of your character which further give you

different customization options to the character itself. The races are Hyur which are…

well, human, Elezen that would be a mix between classic elves and the Na’vi from Avatar,

Lalafell which are the tiny chibi-like humanoids that you have probably already seen,

Roegadyn – very big and muscular guys and Miqo'te – the all-female cat-eared and cat-

tailed race that tempt me to make a furry joke but I won’t just to keep some sense of good

taste in this review.

 

Every race has unique strengths and weaknesses as well as multiple backgrounds and origins

so you won’t get bored with the character creation quickly. Still all the races are well

suited for every job you will get in the game so do not pick the huge Roegadyn just because

you want to be a good tank or the Miqo’te because you want to be a good spellcaster but

appeal to your own sense of what is cool.

After you are done with the looks of your character you are asked to select class and a

starting place. There is a wide array of classes to choose from – 18, 7 disciples of war

and magic and 11 disciples of the land and hand. Basically you have 5 physical battle

classes, 2 magic battle classes 3 gathering classes and 8 production classes. It is a wide

array of choices but it does not matter that much what class you will choose because they

are easily changed once in-game.

 

What matters, however, is the starting place. There are three cities you can begin your

adventure in – the sea port of Limsa Lominsa, the hidden forest town of Gridania and the

vast desert trade city of Ul'dah. “Why is it so important?” you might ask. Well, the

scenery is pretty important but there is more to it. You see each city has a unique story to

tell so if you are a story nerd like me choose carefully. Also different cities have

different guilds that reside in them which is very important, different surroundings and

different monsters to fight. After you have chosen a city your story begins.

No matter where you choose to start the story begins with your character receiving a

mystical revelation “Hear… Feel… Think…” and seeing a strange anomaly in the sky that

nobody else seems to notice. And then the shit hits the fan. The ship you are on is attacked

by mysterious sea beasts, a meteor falls from the sky and you find two strange people where

it landed only to be surrounded by wolves and a giant creature breaks loose from it’s

unbreakable chains on a street carnival and goes on rampage. I imagine that these events all

happened at once in different corners of the earth as it makes sense that way. After that

something even more insane happens that should really be seen instead of read about and in

slow motion you are left with the greatest “What the hell did just happen?” feeling ever.

 

After the epic beginning you finally arrive in the starting city and embark on a journey to

uncover the mystery of these events while messing up with conspiracies, curious people,

officials and powers beyond your understanding. You seem to cross paths with several

recurring characters on your journey to the truth.

The way the story is presented is just beautiful - the voice-acting, the choreography, the

music, the atmosphere are perfect. I did not have much time to play during the open beta so

I have not seen the end of it but I have no doubt that all is worth it till the very end.

 

If there is one bad thing about the story – it is the pacing. You get a single story quest

once every 10 ranks and although the quest is long and a lot is happening it is never enough

and does not redeem the huge gap of time between the different story segments. Most of the

time you will have to sit there for a few moments to switch to “story mode” in you head

and recall what have happened before. Thank got there are a lot of other things to do in

Final Fantasy XIV than follow the story or it would have been really painful in-between

these story quests.

Character Development

I mentioned before that choosing a class when you begin is not all that important. In fact

choosing a class is just choosing the starting equipment for your character. Why is that?

The class of your character is determined by what he has in his hands. Thus your character

has two or rather nineteen different levels – physical level and skill level(rank) with the

currently equipped item. Both levels determine how strong your character is . For instance a

level 10 rank 11 archer character will have more health than a level 10 rank 9 archer

character if both characters have the same gear and have been developed in the same way.

 

You gain experience and skill points(experience for the skill rank) by doing anything that

is related to the item that you have in your hands. Still there are some differences on when

and how you gain them. Skill points are rewarded for doing something with the instrument in

your hands. So if you are a disciple of the hand or land you get skill points for every

attempt of gathering or crafting stuff. There is a little random element in War and Magic as

an action would or would not give you SP but there is a chance you will receive some on

every action you do in combat. On the other hand the experience is awarded for a finished

job – a monster is killed or an item is successfully crafted. You will also gain experience

from completing quests and leves but I will get to that later.

 

When you gather enough experience or skill points you level or rank up. The levels reward

you with additional points to spend on your primary attributes – Strength, Vitality,

Dexterity, Intelligence, Mind, Piety. Strength and Intelligence increase your physical or

magical attack, Deterity and Piety increase physical and magical chance to hit and Vitality

and Mind increase your health and mana pool. You also receive elemental points which you can

invest in… elements. I am not exactly sure what they do exactly but I think that they might

affect your magic casting as well as the amount of elemental shards you receive from

enemies. You also receive more attribute and elemental points per level as you level up

further.

A Rank up means you can handle the tool in your hands better. In terms of Hand and Land this

means making crafting and gathering easier and being able to find higher level materials and

crafting better items. For War and Magic this means new skills.

 

The skills in FFXIV are acquired every two skill ranks and once learned can be used with

every weapon in hand. This allows for a pretty diverse custom-made characters with abilities

from multiple classes used with a single weapon. Still there are three things that prevent

you from having uber-classes. First – you have limited number of attribute and elemental

points which limit the strength of the attacks to some extend. Second – the abilities are

stronger when used with the class they belong to. Third – there is a limit to how many

abilities you can equip at a time that is dependant on the rank of your current class –

most of the skills require 3 or more action points to equip, you start with 6 action points

at rank 1 and they are increased by only 1 per rank up.

Battle System

The battle system in Final Fantasy XIV is what you expect it to be – you select the skill

you want to use from a skill bar and it is used. There are a few things that are different

from the typical MMORPG battle system that we are so used to today.

Active mode and Passive mode are the two modes you have in the game. Passive mode is the

“out of battle” mode. You regenerate heath, run faster, can equip items and abilities and

so on. The active mode is the “battle mode”. You can use skills and spells in active mode

and that is just about it. Still it is kind of strange that even abilities that are not

connected to the battles in any way such as meditating for mana or putting arrows in your

quiver require you to go into the active mode to cast them.

 

Health Points, Mana Points, Talent Points and Stamina are the resources you use in battle.

HP are work as you expect them to – if they go down to 0 then you are dead. HP does not

regenerate during battle except when you are healed in any way. Some skills use HP as a

resource similar to Mana. The MP are used for casting spells. Strangely they do not recover

on their own while in passive mode but require skills to be cast in order to replenish them.

Talent Points are received when you attack your enemies or when they attack you and are used

to cast stronger skills. They also go down if you do not earn any for some time. Stamina is

constantly replenished and is used whenever you cast a skill. The amount consumed depends on

the skill you are using and can vary greatly. If you are using ranged physical weapons you

will also have to mind that you have limited number of projectiles and you will have to

restock them once in a while.

 

There are various skills that I can separate into three categories – simple attacks,

powerful attacks and buffs and debuffs. The simple attacks are used to inflict some damage

and generate TP. The powerful attacks use up TP in exchange for greater attack power, area

of effect attacks with different shapes or status effects they can bestow. The powerful

attacks use up a lot of TP or MP or a little amount of TP and MP and a large amount of

stamina. The buffs and debuffs are pretty much standard. The status effects they can bestow

are increased or decreased damage, accuracy, moving speed and so on. They use up a little

stamina and sometimes mana or health.

 

The stamina system gives FFXIV the unique Final Fantasy feeling to the battles. In my

opinion this is the latest development in the Active Time Battle concept and it definitely

works well. The battles, although extremely turn-based when it comes to executing attacks

remain very interesting and fast-paced with a feeling of urgency and actions happening in

real-time. Managing four resources at once is fun and challenging when fighting an equal

opponent or several weaker enemies at once. You will run a lot if you overestimate yourself

or when the mobs trick you into an ambush. Now that I come to think of it the enemies in the

game are quite smart and will use their skills according the situation you are in. They will

even slow you or immobilize you when you are trying to run and run themselves when they are

low on health. Some mobs will even follow you around waiting for you to attack other

monsters so they can join in battle. And all of it is just insanely fun.

Gathering and Crafting

Many MMORPGs face the problem “What to do when you are tired of battling?” Some of them

use minigames and exploring to fill the gap. Some rely more on crafting. Still a problem

remans – people will not do these things if they are not meaningful to the character

progression in some way.

I can imagine that this is the kind of thinking that lead to the development of Final

Fantasy XIV crafting system. A crafting system that allows you to level as fast if not

faster than the battle system is a god given jewel to any MMORPG player and FFXIV gives it

to him. Moreover the crafting is essential in Final Fantasy XIV as you can only buy the most

basic gear and tools and all the rest is either rewarded to you or crafted by players. Also

your items break when you use them and the only way to repair them is by using a crafting

profession.

 

The resources to craft in FFXIV are acquired in two ways – as a loot from the monsters you

kill and by gathering professions. There are mining, fishing and botany and they allow you

to gather a bunch of materials. Each gathering profession has it’s own minigame that relies

on your skill to fail or succeed in acquiring the needed resource. Still all the minigames

seem quite the same and involve finding the right spot to place a cursor in limited amount

of tries. Still the items obtained from gathering are kind of random. You get a certain

material from a certain place but you never know what material you will get from the place

you have found and there are some stuff you gather that make no sense of gathering with your

current profession. Just an example – botanist gathers different plants and trees but if

chop a tree with an axe you might gain crow feathers.

The crafting system also has a minigame that depending on both your skill as a player and

the skills of your character determines if you succeed or fail as well as the quality of the

item. You must basically choose between speed and quality when crafting an item and if you

are too slow the item might break before it is finished and you will fail at producing it.

 

It sounds very good till now but here comes either the most brilliant or the dumbest part of

the crafting system – the recipes. My head hurts when I think of the recipes. Many games

have this many crafting and gathering professions but none that I can think of has that kind

of interconnections between all of them. Trying to craft in Final Fantasy XIV makes me feel

like I am playing Settlers and I am not very good at that. You send a farmer to gather

wheat, then send the wheat to the miller, get flour, get water from the well, get wood for

fire from the lumberjack and voilà – you have a bread. Every single thing required for

crafting an item has to be made by someone. You don’t believe me? Let’s take a look how a

spear is made. To make a Bronze Spear you have to be a Carpenter and have to obtain Animal

Glue, Bronze Spearhead, Maple Spear Shaft, Iron Spear Grasp and Bronze Spear Butt. As a

carpenter you can create the Maple Spear Shaft from Linseed Oil which is crafted by the

Alchemist from flax which is gathered by Botanist and Maple Lumber which is crafted from

Maple Log which is gathered from the Botanist as well. The Alchemist also makes the Animal

Glue but you can buy it as well at a steep price. Bronze Spearhead is made by Bronze Ingot

by Blacksmith who also creates the Ingot from Tin Ore and Copper Ore. Iron Spear Grasp –

Blacksmith from iron plate which is created from some ore that is mined. Bronze Spear Butt

– Blacksmith again from bronze plate that is made from bronze nugget and we already know

how that thing is created. So to make a single Bronze Spear we need 5 different professions

and more than 10 types of materials. Have in mind that in every recipe there are also

elemental shards involved that are gathered from battle.

 

There are simpler recipes than this one but every item that you can equip follows similar

production process. Have in mind that when gathering you have no idea what item you will

obtain from the spot you have found and that the gathering places are not found very often

around the world. Also I did not seem to find any places that contain the recipes you have

learned and when crafting you must either experiment or check a crafting guide.

On the upside this system allows you to create every single item in the game so I guess that

if you are into crafting you will love it. It also stimulates people to interact with each-

other and create a living economy in the world. There are very few other games that make

sense of grouping with people as much as Final Fantasy XIV. In a single player game this

system would have been a disaster as there would have been no alternative way of getting

items but in a MMORPG it just makes sense. If you are not into crafting there surely is

someone that is and you can buy items from him. On the other hand if you are smart and you

read the economy you could make a lot of Gill(every FF game in-game money).

World…

I have no idea how to call this section but I feel there are a lot more that I can say about

the game and I do not want ten more sections. Now I will talk about the stuff you can do in

the game, the cities, the hunting fields and so on.

 

Let’s begin with the cities. The cities are huge. Every city has a unique design that you

will make sure you remember it. Limsa Lominsa is a port city build completely over the water

with most of the buildings being carved into solid stone. Gridania is a scattered forest

city does not look very big at first but soon you notice how beautifully it is laid in the

forest. Ul’dah is a giant trade center with huge arcs and impressive architecture. All the

cities have unique look and feel to them and are a pleasure to walk around into. There are

three other cities but I have not seen any of them.

 

There are two important places that you will find in the cities – the different guilds and

the inn.

The Inn a.k.a. Guild of Adventurers serves as a hub where you can get new quests and

guildleves. You are given new quests every ten skill ranks by talking to a resident NPC at

the Inn to which you are introduced soon after arriving in the city. There are two other

NPCs that give you regional and local Guildleves.

The Guildleves are little missions – jobs that you do for the different guilds in the City.

They can award you gill, items and other peculiar awards. The Local Guildleves are usually

ones for crafting or gathering resources. They would not require you to fight enemies and

often can be performed within the borders of the city. The regional Guildleves usually

require more traveling around the world. There are Leves that are similar to the local ones

and require you to craft something but there are also the Battleleves that hire you for the

task of going on a bounty hunt for certain creatures.

 

The Guildleves system has two features that make both brilliant and stupid at the same time

– there are limited number of local and regional leves you can get per two days and the

leves can be shared by a party of people. You can also adjust the difficulty of the

Battleleves for the size of the party you have which will bring additional awards to all the

party members. This would mean that going in a party with other people is meaningful for a

change but on the other hands punish the players that prefer to go solo. The Battleleves

require you to go to a certain place outside of the city to begin the job while the crafting

and gathering leves require you to go to a certain NPC to do so. A nice touch for the

crafting leves in particular is that you receive the materials you need for crafting from

the start-NPC and you can actually input the recipe directly rather then selecting the

materials one by one which is the way you usually craft.

 

The guilds are the places you can buy beginner equipment for any profession and eventually

– specialize in it. The different cities are hosts of different guilds so it is important

to choose your beginning city wisely when choosing a class. The different guilds trade in

Guild Marks rather than in gill. Guild marks are rewarded to you by completing different

Guildleves for the guild. With these Marks you can learn actions and traits from the Guild

that kind of serve as passive skills that enhance your current ones. The actions are

associated with the crafting and gathering guilds and the traits are for the war and magic

guilds.

Another place in the cities you should know about are the market wards. These are rooms

where players can show their merchandise, open a shop that buys materials they need or even

sit there asking for someone to repair their equipment. There are about 30 of those wards

but as it can be expected the majority of players set shops in the first ward and there is

will rarely be anyone in the wards after number nine as there are nine wards per page. The

result is a crowded Ward 1 and plenty of empty space in any other ward.

 

Outside the city the zones are huge. I think it takes more than two hours just to run from

one side of the map to the other following a straight line and there are nine of those. To

ease the transportation there are Camps and Aetherial Gates which serve as a waypoints to

which you can teleport once you reach them at the cost of Anima – a resource that I think

replenishes over time but is still limited in order to prevent pointless jumping between the

gates. You can transfer to different camps from anywhere on the map and you can reach an

Aetherial Gate by teleporting from a nearby Camp. Both Camps and Aetherial Gates can serve

as a starting point for Guildleves that require you to do a certain task in the region

around them. In camps you can sometimes find merchants to restock on ammo or at least

crafting facilities. There are also special NPCs around the camp that offer you to join in a

public-quest-like events that require you to fight a number of enemies before a huge boss

arrives.

 

There are also various other ways to get around in the world – carriages, ferries, air

ships and eventually you can even adopt your own Chocobo(big yellow birds of awesome).

The only problem with the whole world is that you will be grinding quite a lot in it

although there are a lot of things to do there. The game knows that and there are places

that are made solely so you can stand there and grind undisturbed by anyone for as long as

you like with fast mob-respawn rate.
Graphics and Sound

What can I say except that Final Fantasy XIV is probably the best looking game I have every

played. The visual style combines both western and eastern elements and manages to be quite

unique. The models and environments are highly detailed, the effects are superb and if Limsa

Lominsa was a real place I would probably want to take my girlfriend there to see how

beautiful it looks at night. The monster models are quite unique and although you have seen

some of the models elsewhere as well there are quite a few that will leave you with your

mouth wide open. The game knows that it looks good and it uses it well. There are a lot of

places that are especially designed so it can show off how good It looks.

 

The sound is just as brilliant. The effects are pretty smooth but where the game really

shines is the music. Final Fantasy XIV’s score is composed by no other than Nobuo Uematsu

who in my humble opinion is a genius. The music perfectly complements the region you are in,

the situation you are in and the stuff that is happening on-screen. If there is an OST that

I can just sit and listen for hours it is definitely one written by Uematsu.

 

Interface

I would usually pair this with Graphics and Sound but god, I cannot do it just because there

are so brilliant and the interface is the weakest part of the game. In fact it is so weak

that it will probably make some people give up the game. Don’t get me wrong – it looks

great just like the rest of the game but it is so slow and bulky and tiring. The interface

of FFXIV is designed so it can be played with a joystick and because of that you will often

do three or four clicks while in other games to do the same thing one click should be

enough. Only one menu can be opened at a time which makes playing even slower.

 

There are some design decisions that will leave you baffled at first although they make some

sense like having to select your class every time you open the menu for configuring your

action bar. Others just make no sense at all like not being able to save the configuration

of your current action bar before switching to different class so you can quickly return to

the previous state while you are finished mining or crafting. Moreover – why do you have to

change your class for that?

The software mouse that the game provides is laggy and there are already mods to change it

with a hardware version that behaves very well. Why did they not include this option? Why

most of the options have not been included in the game but instead have been carried

outside?

 

After a while you get used to the interface but you do not get used in the sense that you

find it okay – you get used to it in the sense of not wanting to commit a suicide every

time you have found a valuable rock you want to mine. Yes, it sounds harsh but it really is

that bad.

Conclusion

Final Fantasy XIV is a great game ‘that embraces the concept of sandbox world where the

player is the king and binds it with a solid storyline and character development. The game

seems too complicated at times and is somewhat grindy but it has many features and beautiful

presentation that will get you hooked for a long time. The bulky interface and the

overcomplicated crafting system are the only two things keeping this game from being

perfect.

Screen 28.
Character Creation 9/10
Story 10/10
Battle System 10/10
Crafting System 7/10
World 9/10
Graphics and Sound 10/10
Interface 4/10

Overall 9/10


 

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