So this is kind of an awkward hands-on and impressions rolled in to one. I only got about a good five minutes with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
because it wasn't really on the show floor for people to try out. It was instead being used for a battle against Ifrit, a challenge given to parties of eight to take down the monstrous beast within a ten minute time limit. Considering that I haven't given any serious play to A Realm Reborn since the first phase of the Alpha, I wasn't really in any condition to be taking on a boss battle like this. Thankfully I got a healer class, which even though I had never actually played it in A Realm Reborn I've had plenty of skilled players to observe who knew what they were doing.
It's hard to get a proper taste of a game when all you're given is a boss battle event. In the original game these events were nothing to sneeze at, constantly rebuffing even the best of parties. To say that this boss event was manageable is kind of an understatement, it actually felt a little too easy to take down Ifrit. He had plenty of tools to destroy our party, but the balanced party that Square Enix provided was more than capable at taking him down. In my case I was tasked with making sure our tanks were able to keep their HP up while Ifrit wailed away at them, but to keep it balanced enough to not take hatred away from the tanks.
I was actually really impressed with how responsive the game was compared to the original release. The game used a lot of server queries in the first version of the game, causing a large amount of lag between starting an action and it actually happening. This is pretty much nonexistent now, which made for an incredibly smooth and responsive experience. Visually this game is looking much improved thanks to a lot of little things that are added to the scenery, like proper grass and foliage. The color scheme of the game also seems a lot more varied, compared to the mostly earthy tone of the original game.
So, it was difficult to get a real state of the game outside of this event. With the beta opening up soon, we'll have more coverage once the embargos have been removed. Check back with us later with more details before the game launches this August.