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FFXIV 1.0 Beta and Launch - A comparison

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Now that we're staring down the barrel of Phase IV Open Beta and Launch... which look to be three weeks away... which is an eternity... Nnnngh!!


Sorry, just got the shakes for a bit. Got the jonesing bad. But I can quit anytime I want...


Seriously, though, I thought it might be interesting for those of you who didn't get to see what 1.0 was like at launch to see how it compared to ARR. Some of you may have unpleasant flashbacks from this, so I recommend those who still have PTS from the old crafting system look away.


Anyway, I was very much looking forward to FFXIV. Most of my old friends from FFXI were hopping onto it, and I was looking forward to a new MMO, as nothing had really felt right since I had left FFXI a few months prior. The RPC had started up, and was bustling with enthusiasm, and both fresh faces and veterans from FFXI were meeting up and things were remarkably drama-free for roleplayers.


The system requirements were steep, so I had to invest in some upgrades. But hey, I was due for a good gaming system anyway, right?


I only got in on the open beta, which was short like Phase IV is going to be, only about a week. I logged in and created my character. Coming from FFXI, the character creator was tremendous... we're a bit jaded now, but coming from FFXI's limited choices, it felt like I could finally make a character that didn't look like every other character out there.


Turns out I made a character that looks like every other miqo'te out there, but that's more of a personal failing.


Logging in took a bit. As with any other MMO launch, the game was plagued with login issues due to the rush and press of people eager to get in and see the new game. I had expected all this. I had heard tales of FFXI's launch woes, and so was actually looking forward to tales of my own. And then I was in, an in Limsa Lominsa!




The first impressions of the place were... to put it mildly, epic. The city was huge, and impressive, all bone white spires and walkways and bloom, every time you walked through a doorway. Visually speaking, this game was very impressive out of the gate.


And unlike ARR, you didn't start in your classy RSE, all clean and neat. You started out as a refugee, in the hold of a ship (For Limsa anyway), clad in filthy, stained rags and clutching a rusty, beaten old weapon. You started as a nobody, and looked the part.


So, I grabbed my disappointingly puny gladius, and headed out, sure I would quickly graduate to something more impressive. And if it wasn't provided through quests, I would simply check the auctionhouse. Right after I figured out how to sort my inventory, and do a search for my friends in game.


... Yeaaaah.








"Where's the Auctionhouse?"


No problem, right? This is only beta, so I'm sure this stuff will show up. So off I went to do some guildleves.


Outside of the city, the world was huge, beautiful... and surprisingly empty. There were no ruins dotting the landscape, no farms or mills... a few lonely lighthouses on the cliffs, devoid of life. Eventually I found a town, but they were empty, and far removed from the little camps where we did our Guildleves.




"Hello flower. Kinda lonely out here, huh?"


The rewards were surprisingly random. I would do a level 5 Guildleve and get level 1 archer gear, or crafting gear, or just about anything but something USEFUL. But it was alright, I was making gil, so I could just go to the NPC shop to buy what I couldn't scrounge from quests, right? After all, I had nearly 10,000 gil!


So I hunted about, but there didn't seem to be any NPCs selling anything but weathered gear for Gladiators in Limsa. This is when I heard about the Gladiator's guild in Ul'Dah. Hmmm... maybe I started in the wrong city? So I took the ferry, and prepared to make the jog to Ul'Dah


... and got 1 shotted by a level 35 Antling who I never actually saw, but was apparently near the road. See, all mobs had ranged attacks, and antlings were sound-aggro mobs who seemed to have an aggro radius greater than the draw distance in beta.


Back to Limsa I HP'd. Sooooo... maybe I could craft a sword? The first sword was a level 5 synth, but to make the materials was higher, so I settled down to do some leves to level up so I could make the actual BLADE of the sword (Which was a level 10 or so synth).


I took a good three or four minutes to actually get to the screen where I hit stuff with a hammer. Select craft from the menu, wait for character to kneel and get out tools... choose to open inventory, wait for a minute or two for that to open, painfully slowly scroll through materials. Select each individually, waiting each time for the game to catch up, then play a little minigame with a glowy ball and a bunch of commands, most of which didn't work as intended, and a bunch of stats about durability.


Took me about 15 minutes to make a bronze ingot.


Okay, enough of that nonsense, I'd wait until launch to try again. Then we'd have auctionhouses, and inventory sort and friend search, and all the lag will be fixed!


So... launch day!




Nothing changed. Absolutely zero. No auctionhouse, no inventory sort, no friends search, huge menu lag, no npc-purchasable low-level gear, and a crafting system that required materials from a level 20 craft to make a level 5 sword.




The combat and leveling system was... weird. You had two separate 'levels'. Your character level, which you retained regardless of which job you were on, and your job 'rank'. The interplay between these was not well defined, but from what I could tell, your personal level functionally meant jack shit. Then there was leveling itself. You got exp not from killing monsters, but scoring hits with your weapon, or otherwise doing job actions that the game considered useful in combat. The problem with this was the balancing of it was terribly askew. Gladiators technically had two separate jobs they were ranking up, sword and shield, and you didn't get your first shield until rank 5. Pugilists easily outstripped marauders due to the fact they attacked so quickly, and mages had a rough time getting enough points from healing or nuking.


Thaumaturges and Conjurers were not well differentiated, until higher levels. At low to mid levels, they were more or less identical. They both healed, both could AoE heal, both could raise, and both could nuke. Conjurers had all the elemental nukes, and Thaumaturges had dark and light dot/nukes. Then Thaumaturges got Shadowsear, and basically your mage choices were to get a Thaumaturge, or to choose wrong and eventually kick the Conjurer to get a Thaumaturge.


And it was STILL impossible to get proper gear. The skill level to craft a rank 29 sword was actually fairly reasonable... but the skill required to craft the lower level swords was actually higher. In other words, while making am Iron Falchion was fairly simply, making an Iron Gladius was damn near impossible.




"Just because the shield has a lantern in it, why do I need to have an alchemy skill high enough to know how to make the lantern in order to craft the shield? It's like needing to know how to make an alkaline battery before being able to change the batteries in a flashlight!"


So everyone was running around in an eclectic mix of mismatched gear, either far too low level, or far too HIGH level for them. Because FFXIV didn't forbid you from wearing gear based on its level in those days. A rank 1 mage character could equip rank 50 heavy plate if he wanted.




"So, if I can wear heavy armor... why again is the bathrobe better?"


Naturally, there were heavy stat penalties for equipping gear too far outside of your level range. However, getting gear in the proper range was almost impossible, thanks to the Market Ward system.




"Level 17 armor, level 5 sword, level 1 belt, and level 25 CRAFTING BOOTS. And I'm better geared than most!"


The Market Wards were large, visually identical hallways where you could dump your retainer, to stand around with other retainer, shuffling their feet and looking supremely awkward, with a bazaar flag over their heads. There was no indication of what they were selling, or indication of which ward was for what, so finding what you were looking for in the wards was actually more time consuming than just going out and farming/gathering it yourself. You only had seven or eight slots to sell items in as well, so you couldn't even sell a category of items effectively.


You could also request items, which had a unique icon, and might have saved the system by providing a method of commissioning gear and such, except... to request something, you had to already have it. And the item was then tied up until you cancelled the request, so it was utterly pointless.


Later they added categories to the generic wards, and a search function, but all of the retrofits never quite brought it up to the functionality that the simple Market Boards have in ARR.


Another problem with 1.0 was that the zones, while huge and lacking hard zonelines (Though there were 'soft' ones, as you would sometimes discover during Guildleves, especially around Hallatali) was that they were... empty and boring. They looked exactly the same, no matter what part of them you were in, and they were completely devoid of structures or variance.




This was Thanalan. ALL of Thanalan. Take this, and copy/paste it a billion times. That was Thanalan.




Welcome to every part of La Noscea




You get the idea (Yes, the Twelveswood was always this dark. Always.)


Another big issue was the gear. Or more specifically, how drab it all was. You started out in stained, dirty brown clothes and... basically got new, cleaner brown clothes.




Starter brown gear




Brown gear, grey and biege gear, and brown weapons




Grey, grey and brown, brown and biege, grey and brown




Now we've upgraded to brown armor!
































And of course, the best gear at that time in the game, for Rank 50 only, Rust.


And the repair system was... well, punitive. Even when gear was optimally matched with your level, it had the durability of congealed butter. A sword would typically last for 3 guildleves before it would break. And gear was considered broken at 50% durability. NPCs would only repair gear to 75% durability, and the scaling of ho they charged was so messed up that it was literally cheaper to replace that Rank 29 Iron Falchion than it was to repair it at the NPC.


So, why did I stick with it? A lot of people didn't, and rightly so. The game was practically unplayable at launch, and remained a broken, clumsy mess for a good year afterwards.


Simply put, the people. The roleplayers.




Riki, Ozak, Claus and I, watching the sun rise




Gathering for a huge, inter-linkshell expedition to the Galmorra Ruins




Plotting strategy to get past mobs that could one-shot us




One of the early story nights




Making the trek to Ishguard with Claus




Hunting the Great Buffalo




Crafting Party




Campfire night




Sitting in the Golden Court


The game was a mess, but the people made it worthwhile. We banded together, crafted together, leveled together, helped each other out, and generally turned what was a bad game into a great experience.


These are the people who stuck it out with the game and became Legacy. I've seen them around in the beta, online... So if any of you are apprehensive about Legacy players, I can tell you... for me they made a terrible game great.


I can't wait to see what they do with a great game ^^

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It sucked. So bad. The RP kept me in XIV and I wouldn't have wanted to spend those two years any other way! I got to see it through from beginning to end. All the patches and improve. The story they created just to keep us entertained while they rebuilt the game. The changes to mechanics that actually made the game FUN! I'm so glad I never left! XIV is my only MMO home, and ARR will be the same!


Some of my favorite XIV memories.




Open-beta, on my shoddy laptop, the days back when I had one "i" in Aysun's surname. FFXIV became my new MMOhome at this point despite all the problems.



Around launch time. I was in love with Ul'dah. No LS in those days, just a couple of RP pearls that fell apart before even really getting started.



And then I met these guys. Sanctus Refero. This was the night I met them and was recruited.



First Starlight celebration in Eorzea! Getting the Santa suit was such an ordeal back then!







My first time to Ishgard (and it was IC, too!).



First annual Mavanix fashion show I got suckered into ICly.



Sanctus hosted a ball of some sort (Alona had silly uniforms for the hired help as you can see from mine and a few other Miqo'tes attire). I left names on because I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who came. I miss these days!



First NM hunt. I became the ritual sacrifice for Dodore because I was under-leveled. x3



Another fun NM hunt. And I wasn't dead this time.



Sanctus repearling event.



The beginning of the end. Who remember meeting this guy in person, rather than as an NPC? /raises hand



Nothing needs to be said on this one..



My (and Aysun's!) favorite cliff overlooking Ul'dah. 



I swear that little moon looks bigger! Doesn't it? No? ...Yes it does! You're crazy! FFXIV_1310871314_zpsbc130d9c.jpg


Friendly doe.




With Nebulous! In Toto-rak, a place we spent a lot of time IC and OOC..



My super secret CNJ-leveling days.. and a growing problem in the background! No denying it now!






I learned me some Ifrit.



Memorial service for Corbin/Aoixin/Kayleen, who passed away on December 24, 2011.



Adventuring with Blue Skies.



This looks romantic, but it wasn't. Aysun with one of her favorite people, Galvadan.



That problem just keeps getting worse.



Fun endgame stuff with.. this shell changed names too often. 



Bard badassery with some moogles.



That time I broke Gridania..



Dalamud is confused. That's the sun, stupid dog.



I think this was my first Garuda (hard) win.



We found a body here ICly, but OOCly, what the hell was the little settlement? Sylph village? Can't remember.



Probably my favorite fight in all of 1.0. I don't know why.



Exploring the Shroud with Selene, trying not to piss off the drakes.



Everwatch gathering. The doe did not shit on Turk ICly, unfortunately. It would have been hilarious.



Status update with Dalamud.




Dance time at the Cieldalaes!



Auroras in Thanalan.



The new assault tactic at Castrum Novum.



Praying at the Anchor Yard.




Shit's getting real!




Eva's prayer at the Gala.




Visiting the stones. Oschon is Aysun's guardian.




Time for the final battle.




Aw.. the memories~

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"There'll be something other than guildleves to do at endgame, right?






At launch, there was literally no content other than the underwhelming main story/class quests, guildleves and behests. No regular quests, no dungeons, no NMs, no group bosses, no nothing. Looking back, Tanaka's whole "only 20% of the game's content will be accessible in beta" (or whatever it was) lie is all the more insulting. The fanboys/girls who claimed that the game was great and that SE were visionaries were even worse.


I tried out RP (having never done it before) because there was literally nothing else to do in the game, and I made some good friends because of it. I'm glad I stuck around, but man, even I had to take a few months off here and there. Remembering back to the days of doing Broken Water leve parties week after week after week gives me PTSD. It's the reason that I only have two classes at 50; props to those of you who maxed out everything, but man, I couldn't possibly imagine playing 1.0 that much.


EDIT: Man, you reminded me of some things that I'd forced myself to forget about, like 25,000+ gil NPC repairs (only up to 50% in beta, and 75% at launch!) for weapons that broke after an hour of play. Repair NPCs also didn't repair jewelry at all for a while.

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I can't help but respect all you Legacy players for making it through the horrible mess 1.0 was. I sure as hell couldn't, I really wanted to but it was just too painful to play. Even when they decided there would be no cost, I just couldn't.

Maybe if I had met the right people at the time it would have been different, but sadly I didn't. But! My love for the Final Fantasy universe is still strong so here I am again, hopefully this time I'll get to meet some of you people.


My ranting aside, thanks for sharing a bit of what the game used to be with the new players, knowing how much work has been put into the game since the new team took over helps people appreciate a lot more how the game now looks and feels.

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That was beautiful Izzy.  Even if it did bring back all those bad memories of beta and launch day.  I'll never ever forget that sinking feeling in my heart when I realized the game was so poorly done and nearly unplayable.  All of my LS mates from FFXIV (and Selene and my brother) all abandoned me in the early days, leaving me with little reason to keep playing.  I kick myself for not knowing about RP yet or where to find it, it wasn't until about 1 year after launch when I found you guys on Besaid and was completely hooked on 1.0 after that.  


It's hard to look back on the game now and see it in such a state, but we won't have to worry about it anymore.

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What a trip down memory lane.


I remember the frustration of being destroyed by what seemed to be ordinary monsters (monster strength was all over the place). I remember the market wards and attempting to buy a new axe, and finding the task to be utterly impossible (and a chore even after they added category-specific wards). I remember trying to build that axe for myself afterwards, and finding the crafting to be surprisingly fun (if frustratingly luck-based and irritatingly obtuse).


Most of all, though, I remember the collective frustration of hundreds of thousands of players and the internet shitstorm that followed. Man, what a time to live! Haha. Truly, it was the sign of the end times for Square Enix, or at least, it would have been if they hadn't managed to turn things around as well as they have.


I took a couple pictures when I last logged in to see Dalamud falling, but aside from the high-res textures, 1.0 really doesn't hold up very well next to ARR:






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I played the open beta for 1.0 for as long as I could, and I was torn.  That game looked AMAZING, but the mechanics left it nigh unplayable for me.  I rebuilt a character I'd played in XI and ran around for a bit.  Leve's made no damned sense to me, and the game seemed to limit what I could do at any given time (including putting on armor... that menu was awful).  That being said, The land seemed a bit more... -open- to me.  While the scenery that I've seen so far in ARR is stunning, it seems that they've scaled down the explore-able areas quite a bit.  Is it just me?  Like I said, I wasn't able to play that long, but I seem to remember some wide open spaces that aren't there in ARR.  Thoughts/corrections?

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That being said' date=' The land seemed a bit more... -open- to me.  While the scenery that I've seen so far in ARR is stunning, it seems that they've scaled down the explore-able areas quite a bit.  Is it just me?  Like I said, I wasn't able to play that long, but I seem to remember some wide open spaces that aren't there in ARR.  Thoughts/corrections?[/quote']

It's not your imagination; the landscapes in 1.0 were much larger and more seamless, but at a cost of copy-paste terrain, no terrain/tileset variation, no landmarks, barrenness, etc.


ARR breaks things up into smaller individual zones, but in doing so the developers are able to fill each zone to the brim with variation, landmarks, and activity.

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That being said, The land seemed a bit more... -open- to me.  While the scenery that I've seen so far in ARR is stunning, it seems that they've scaled down the explore-able areas quite a bit.  Is it just me?  Like I said, I wasn't able to play that long, but I seem to remember some wide open spaces that aren't there in ARR.  Thoughts/corrections?

It's not your imagination; the landscapes in 1.0 were much larger and more seamless, but at a cost of copy-paste terrain, no terrain/tileset variation, no landmarks, barrenness, etc.


ARR breaks things up into smaller individual zones, but in doing so the developers are able to fill each zone to the brim with variation, landmarks, and activity.

Thanks for clearing that up!  I'm not discontent with what I've seen in the beta so far, but there was definitely something to be said for the vastness that existed in 1.0  However, I completely understand why the dev team made the decisions they did, and it shows!

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