The Final Fantasy XIV Open Beta test is finally here. If you can get in, more power to you. The test application site along with the game and the overall Square-Enix ID site has been extremely congested since the launch of the test last night. They are continually giving out beta keys and then ceasing to do so every few hours now, so keep trying over at entry.ffxiv.com if you want to experience what the game has to offer for yourself.
If you can’t get your own key, here is the place to be to see the sites and sounds of Eorzea.
A good friend of mine made this hi-res video of the opening sequence of the forest stronghold of Gridania. Unlike Limsa Lominsa, you do not start being asleep on a boat you start out on a… well just watch the video. In my person opinion it is better than its sea fairing counterpart. Even if SE likes to be a little pervy with its female characters.
As you can no doubt see the world around Gridania is a very different place than Limsa Lominsa. The stronghold is found at the center of a lush green forest. The forest setting is used everywhere in the city. We are surrounded by a very similar feeling as we once had in Windurst back in the games predecessor. Like Windurst, it has many flowing streams and fresh water is a main theme of the area. Along with the woody forest atmosphere we are taken away by a city that is ever so much like a cross between Windurst and something from another Final Fantasy game, Guadosalam from FFX.
City Layout -
While it is a wonderful thing to mimic the look and feel of a modern Windurst, it is an entirely different thing to want to mimic its layout. Unfortunately, Gridania is laid out very similar to a modern Windurst Walls. The stronghold is basically a large circle with most of the needed areas inhabiting the outer edge of the circle. While the exits of the city are long Windurst Canopied paths and tunnels that take a decent amount of time to traverse to reach the outer forest.
In the outer lying areas of the stronghold you will find such things as the Conjurer’s guild deep in a cave to the north. Or deep to the southeast you will find the Archer’s guild. The one bright spot of this particular city is that there is not nearly as many elevations and stairs to navigate to get from one point to another. It is perhaps the most straight forwards of the three cities in that regard. You may have to spend some time running between place to place, but in the end it is far more easy to navigate for a new player than Limsa Lominsa is.
The Market Wards are located in the “Lotus Gardens and are much more aesthetically pleasing that LL’s as well. Complete with built-in benches where you can actually choose to sit. (This in and of itself is a HUGE step forward from FFXI. We can only hope that SE has a few more tricks up its sleeve for the launch in several weeks.) Not only do they feel more like the zone they belong in, they are infinitely easier to get to.
Besides the actual duration it takes to get from point to point, the biggest downside of the city has to be the location of the Adventurer’s Guild (AG). Now if you are new to FFXIV, the Adventurer’s Guild in any of the three cities is the key hub to the location. It is the place where you hire and fire retainers, create linkshells, and obtain guildleves for both crafting and adventuring. Gridania’s AG is located in the far southeastern portion of the town. It is a hop skip and a jump from the outer gates of the stronghold, but is nowhere near centrally located like its Uldah and Limsa Lominsa counterparts. Making it a very long treck to go from the AG to any other portion of the city.
This could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. If you are a Conjurer or Lancer, this becomes a fair bit of a problem, but if you are a member of one of the guilds located only steps from the AG, then you are loving life.
The biggest perk of Gridania’s AG is the fact that the Airship Dock is situated inside the AG itself. If you want to head on out to a different city (something that is not currently available in the beta) you will be able to take mere steps downstairs and hop on the most conveniently placed transportation hub in the game.
The town of Gridania may not be for everyone. Yet in my personal opinion the entire experience so far in the zone has been a leap beyond what Limsa Lominsa offered us in the Closed Alpha & Beta testing period. The overall feel of the zone is only multiplied by the wonderful town and city music that is dominant in the area. This is the closest to a Sanctuary of Zitah feeling I have had in this game at this point.
Check beyond the break for a more extensive gallery of screenshots from the Opening Cutscene, a little battle and a look at a few of the sites of the city of Gridania. Read the rest of this entry ?