Last week in San Francisco, we had the opportunity to get hands on with the latest build of FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn!
We explored the Black Shroud, fought in a now cobweb infested Toto-Rak raid and were among the first to be able to explore the new Ul’dah, Thanalan and La Noscea!.
We were able to notice some nice improvements with the new build as well as spot some areas of interest when exploring the world.
Check it all out after the jump!
There were a few different accounts that I had access to during the event.
A. Create a character and start from scratch in Gridania
B. Explore the areas around Gridania and try out quests
C. Explore La Noscea with limited quests
D. Explore Ul’dah and Thanalan with limited quests
I started out with account B in the hopes that I might stumble upon a Full Active Time Event (FATE) while looking around. The character I was on had no abilities set, so I opened up the menu and proceeded to fill up the hot bar. Under the ‘general’ tab where things such as “auto-attack” and “teleport” are I noticed 3 icons that immediately caught my interest.
They were for “Cherry Bomb”, “Wayward Hatchling” and “Mammet #001”- pets. No, they don’t do anything. They follow you around and look cute.
Next up I opened up the map and noticed that the map will show quest NPCs in the entire zone. Hovering over one of these icons will show the name of the quest. I also noticed a specially marked location to the west- “Haukke Manor”.
This is the new level 35 raid that will be available to players when the beta starts up. Do those gargoyles look familiar? They should if you ever journeyed to the depths of the Dzemael Darkhold. Thought if I had to guess, the owner of this manor probably didn’t go on numerous raid runs just to petrify Batraal so they could haul him back and mount him on the balcony as a decoration. Then again, maybe they did?
I wandered around the area a bit, exploring the area while eagerly awaiting the FATE that never came. I returned back to the nearest Aetheryte and noticed the Chocobo Porter NPC. I thought “oh cool, a place to rent Chocobos near Aetherytes now!” Yes, but not quite. The Chocobo Porter is a bit different from simply renting a yellow warker. When you rent a bird from a Porter, you select a destination (an area that you must have previously visited) and the bird will automatically carry you to your destination without the risk of attracting any enemies. You can disband the bird at any time while traveling to your destination.
Recently on the Developer’s Blog, they posted the below image. I can now tell you that the NPC there is one of the Chocobo Porters I described above. You can also see the Wayward Hatching pet in this image as well.
I decided to teleport to other areas in the Black Shroud in order to look for FATES, which I was told appear as a pink exclamation mark on the map. After opening up the teleport menu I noticed something different. Remember Anima? Remember how you hated running out of it? It’s gone. Teleports now use Gil.
While playing around in the settings I discovered a new camera setting. This option would allow the character to run at the screen when moving backwards, as opposed to the backpedaling that players disliked in the alpha. Also new from the alpha build is the ability to map keys to gaming mice. A minor addition, but a very nice one to see.
Not wanting to waste my time waiting for a FATE to appear, I decided to check out La Noscea.
These areas were put together just in time for the media to explore so not everything was in place quite yet- including the area names when opening up the map. However I was in the eastern part of La Noscea which contains the Red Rooster Stead, Cedarwood and Moraby Bay, or rather, the Moraby Drydocks (which looked quite similar to this concept art).
To the west of this section of La Noscea was the entrance to Limsa Lominsa, unfortunately I was told it wasn’t quite ready to be explored yet. However I did see a picture of Limsa Lominsa during the presentation and noticed that the Aetheryte had been moved to the lower level where the fountain was between the Mizzenmast and East Hawkers Alley. Unfortunately that’s all I would get to see for now. I headed up north to check out the Red Rooster Stead which looked quite similar to the area with the windmills that we’ve seen in recent trailers. There, I spotted a familiar creature from FINAL FANTASY XI: the Mandragora.
Traveling more I stumbled upon some type of crystallized looking area on the coast. I had the impression that perhaps this was an impact site of sorts with the way the crystallized structure was formed- almost a crater of sorts. Needless to say, it looked very cool. Yoshida was dead serious when he said there would be several visual points of interest in each zone. From what I’ve seen so far, he’s delivered on that promise.
During my exploration of La Noscea I found myself stopping several times to view the water. They’ve redone the way the water looks in A Realm Reborn and it’s simply gorgeous to see it in action. Sadly, the picture we have for it doesn’t do it enough justice.
At this point I decided to head over to Ul’dah and see how things have changed.
As I entered Ul’dah I was greeted by the new music which reminded me a bit of FINAL FANTASY XII. The layout of the city seems almost identical to its 1.0 counterpart with the exception of newly added zone lines.
The bricks that make up the walls of Ul’dah have received some new texture work, which makes it look quite different when you first see it.
In the above image you can see the newly styled Ul’dah. This photo is in front of the Aetheryte Plaza in Ul’dah. If you were to pan the camera to the left a bit you would see the new Hall of Flames which is now outside in a pavilion. The new zone lines for Ul’dah cut it diagonally, leaving the adventurer’s guild in the same area as the Aetheryte. The Gold Court, and the upper levels of Ul’dah are a separate zone.
I left the city to explore a section of Thanalan. As I walked around near the city I stumbled upon something that all of you lore lovers will be interested in- the Sil’dih Excavation Site (which can be seen in the below image).
Afterwards I came across Black Brush Station. Wait.. station? Could that mean…
Yes! It’s that railroad track again! The same one we saw at last year’s E3! After talking to some NPCs in the area, I seemed that it was used to transport ore from the mines.
At this point I was invited to jump into a raid with some members of the Community Team including Rukkirii and Foxclon. It was a new version of The Thousand Maws of Toto-Rak. In the years between the the Cataclsym and your arrival back in Eorzea, Toto-Rak has seen a few changes- largely, lots of spiderwebs and green goo on the ground that slows your movement when passing through it. However, some things are still around such as the gate devices which require photocells in order to unblock your path. It was familiar, but different enough to be a fresh experience for players coming back to the game after having experienced it when it was first released. In Toto-Rak were these explosive pods littered all over the place. Being on Archer, I was dubbed the destroyer of pods, pewing them with my arrows before we walked by. On occasion, they would draw us in and explode- not the most friendly pods you’ve ever run into in a dungeon. During this, Bayohne pointed out a new bar at the top of the party list. It seems that depending on the classes/jobs in your party you’ll get a straight up stat bonus. For example a Lancer/Dragoon might give a DEX bonus to the party. It doesn’t stack, so having more than one in the party wouldn’t increase that particular bonus further. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get more information about that. It took us two attempts to defeat the boss- a large mite. Luckily it was easier getting back to the boss chamber after the wipe thanks to a new teleporter at the beginning of the dungeon.
That concluded my hands-on time with FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn. The game is coming along very well and I for one can’t wait to play more and explore this re-envisioned world.