FFXIV: Are the proposed changes enough?

October 18, 2010

With the recent posts from the developers over at the official Final Fantasy XIV: Lodestone site I ask you, “Are the proposed changes and additions enough to keep you playing the game?”

My answer is an honest, “I am not entirely sure”.   Taking a moment to disect what has been announced as in the works for the late-November update we can see that there are a number of much-needed changes to the game’s systems coming soon.  Unfortunately, these seem way too far off for most.  Yet on the bright side, SE has given us all another free month to tempt us to stay and give them a chance to right the ship.

1) Map Changes.

Amongst the map changes are additions to the map system that are much needed.  However, the vast majority of these features were already available in the previous FF MMO.  Making it an incredible disappointment that they were not in at launch of XIV.  Things such as the simple ability to continue to read and type in your chat window while viewing the map is a big deal.  Plus, the ability to use to share your relative map position with other players is all fine and dandy.  However, there is STILL no mention of being able to see party member locations on the map screen.  This is the most egregious failing of the map system.  Beyond the old style, artsy maps with no easy way of moving from map to map, lacking the ability to view party member locations adds a huge level of annoyance to party game play.  Where there is already enough annoyance to be had due to other issues.

2) Chat Windows!

This is where we are finally seeing them flesh out something completely.  Adding the ability to create and specify specific chat windows is something every new MMO has had and is expected.    Toss in the addition of the old FFXI Cntrl-R reply keybind and the system only lacks a few text commands to be fully functional.  Personally, since we can now see every linkshell channel at all times, it would be nice if we had slash commands such as /l1, /l2, l3, etc in order to communicate with our non current LS instead of having to recognize which LS and take the 30-60 seconds for the menu system to switch our linkpearl.

3) An actual Loot Window

I must admit that beyond the fact that the loot window is embedded in 3 different menu systems currently, the loot system in XIV is not a hugely problematic one.  Having the ability to bring up the loot window with a single keystroke will help tremendously.  That being said, there are few things that need to be added into the Loot system beyond just this.  Items are given to seemingly random people on their drop.  Kind of like there is an internal roll system at play.  However, for larger bosses with r/ex items we are going to need a quartermaster/master looter system as well as the ability to /roll or /random on items in the loot pool.  Relying on the niceness of the random guy that was given the item into their pool is simply a bad idea for longterm play.

4) Targeting…

Targeting has been horrible since day 1 in this game’s Alpha test.  This is one of those changes that makes me continue to believe that this game is still being considered to be in Open Beta by its developers.  Targeting was one of the largest problems brought up during testing.  Demands for keybindings for targeting everything from the nearest NPC, nearest PC, nearest monster as well as each separate party member were left unheard during the test phases and we are only now getting them?  These were mainstays in the games predecessor and should have been there since day one.  Why these can not be patched in before Thanksgiving is beyond words.

5) Keybindings

All I have to say is, “OMG Finally!”.  We are finally going to be able to remap the horrible camera control keys the way we want them to be.  We bitched, we griped, we complained to deaf ears about these issues since they were changed sometime in the Alpha.  Most keyboard players even went as far as to use an application that made windows think the arrow keys were in fact the JKLI keys because it was so horrible.  Sure, they did give us the ability to change our bindings, but we were so extremely limited in doing so.

That’s a good deal of changes they are making.  In addition, they are going to be “streamlining the UI”, trying to remove lag where they can and populating the world with more monsters.  They have many planned additions to the game and a near complete revamp of the Synthesis system’s UI including a much desired recipe list.  All that being said, I have two huge problems with all of this.

1) Why is it taking so long?

Seriously why Square-Enix?  This game of yours has had to cost you a pretty penny.  It’s been in secret production for a long time before it was even announced and it has been all but an abject failure.  The game magazine and website reviews are in and you have received some of the lowest scores for a so-called AAA MMO release ever.  Hell Star Trek Online and Champions Online got hugely better reviews than FFXIV did.  You have to be embarrassed at the quality of product you have released.  So as I see it, you have to options.  You can continue to be slow and push patches at a rate of 1 every 4-6 weeks and lose more and more of your player base.  Or get your act together and learn to work fast and patch once every week to ten days.  At this point, players are going to be willing to deal with the odd bug (hell there are already enough of them) if you start changing things for the better.  The little things like patching the proposed keybinding change should have ALREADY happened.

2) Most of the targeted changes avoid the core problems with the game.

The core problems with the game are being untouched by these announced changes.  Are the developers over there really not seeing that these little things are not what the reviewers and canceling players are complaining about?  People want a lot more out of your game and you have failed to even speak to these concerns.  Wake up SE and stop dealing with the little thing when there is not one, but multiple elephants in the room that need attention.


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