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I'm still not 100% sold on this game yet. So far I've been in two phases of beta, and there are just a few things that kind of irritate me. For instance, leves feel like they are rather boring fillers for where quests should be. There's not a lot to leves either, solo. Guildleves go from pretty easy to absurd at around level 30. As a conjurer, I get particularly irritated by mobs that put 4-5 debuffs on multiple players at once, and having a single-target, single dispel that costs relatively high mana and 2 seconds to cast. This kind of makes esuna a pretty worthless spell. If you as a healer are both slow and paralyzed, pray to the RNG gods you can get an esuna off on yourself before someone dies.
I played Guardian as well, and the tanking style of the class wasn't at all fun. Flash... Hack..... slash..... flash.... maybe cast a high cool down defensive or offensive ability. Later on of course you get more skills like shield slam which comes in handy, but it seems like leveling from 1-20 is a chore.
The Battle Leves are basically the typical "go out and kill x and x or escort x to x or get x low enough to calm them down or gather x in a set amount of time." It wouldn't be so bad if it didn't get so monotonous. I'm not sure if they are adding more quests when they launch the game, but I sure hope they do. Guild Leves and Battle Leves are great for leveling other jobs, but I don't want to have to constantly do them in conjunction with the main quest line. I hope I'm wrong here and there will be more zone quests, but it seems that post 20 they are hard to come by.
The way shadows and foliage is rendered also bothers me. Hopefully they will have put in direct x 11 support by then and have polished their engine. I have a great gaming rig, and I bought it because I like to be WOWed by beautiful realistic landscapes. Final Fantasy is always 3-4 steps ahead of the rest as far as graphics go. Even FFXI broke the mold when it came to MMO graphics. Who doesn't remember their first trip to Jeuno on foot, and marveling at how beautiful and vast the landscape was (while trying to avoid goblin ambushers and butchers that seem to come out of nowhere)? Or remember seeing the beautiful aurora effect all over Xarcabard, or the rainbow in la thaine, the sunsets in The Dunes. There was something memorable about every zone in FFXI (The Sanctuary of Zi'tah will always be my favorite zone in FFXI), because everything looked so vibrant, and this was during the time that games like UAO, Asheron's Call and Everquest were still popular, and you remember how awful those games looked in comparison!
But enough griping, because there are a lot of things I enjoy about the game.
The music is INCREDIBLE! I think they went delightfully overboard with the music in this game. The music was something I didn't care for in FFXI. I only had to stay in San d'Oria for 5 minutes before I wanted to pull my ears off. Or how about the somber music of Gustaburg that made me fall asleep at my keyboard when I had to traverse it? And those are zones where there is actually music. A lot of the game had only ambiance and the occasional grunt of a pissed off goblin about to chase you all the way across the zone.
The music in Limsa Lominsa makes the hairs on my neck stand up. It's fantastic! Gridania sounds like I'm running through the Shire in LotR, and Ul'Dah is very quiet and peaceful, especially if you are traveling through the city at night. The battle music is okay. I wish they would make it more epic, but at least they are consistent with the tune. I love The Magnificent Seven twist to the chocobo song when you take a porter. I don't really know how I feel about the chocobo song when you get on your own. I keep wanting to hum the song, but I can't. It's an interesting rendition of the song though. I could live with it.
I LOVE the cutscenes and story! I love games that draw me in with a great story, and since this is Final Fantasy, it had BETTER have a good story to tell. So far I haven't been disappointed. I kind of wish there were voice actors though, instead of reading when people talk. This is 2013 after all, and after playing games like Secret World, Guild Wars 2, and to a certain extent World of Warcraft, there should be voices to the main story characters. I heard that at one point there was voice acting but it was too cheesy or something. I don't even care if the voices are in Japanese! I watch subbed anime all the time! As long as I we can have a voice.
I love the dungeons so far. One in particular was very challenging, it may be because we didn't have a tank, but I just remember some of the mechanics were pretty cool. The Copperbell Mines for example was the most fun I've had in an instance. Granted, I was running with some cool people, but still.
A lot of bosses have a mechanic where you have to pay attention to the environment, like Satasha where you have to pay attention to a certain detail or you will get a lot of adds.
Fates to me are a double edged sword. I didn't care much for them in GW2, but I didn't hate them either. In this game it makes traveling from zone to zone a little more enjoyable, especially since you can level sync to join in on a particularly difficult low level fate if you aren't pressed for time or are just out farming.
We'll see what happens the last phase of beta, after they've unlocked everything. It's a very pretty game, great concept, but I don't know if it's enough to hold my attention yet. We'll see.