"The visuals in this version are sharper, higher-resolution, and full of visual flair that was missing from the PS3 iteration of the game."
If you've been reading RPGFan for any period of time over the past eight months, you've undoubtedly noted a certain fondness for Square Enix's relaunched, rebranded, and re-everything'd MMORPG, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. We've discussed the game and its music at great length, so if you want more discussion of the nitty-gritty gameplay aspects, you should take a look at the previous entries
of our Review Journal. This review will focus mainly on the technical aspects that would interest a potential PS4-edition buyer.
The most immediate question players might have is how the game looks and runs compared to its last-generation little brother, and the quick and easy answer is "outstanding." The visuals in this version are sharper, higher-resolution, and full of visual flair that was missing from the PS3 iteration of the game. The load times are faster, the draw distance is greater, and far more characters can be displayed onscreen at once. While it's not as high-resolution as the PC version, nor does the framerate reach quite the same level of consistency, this is still a massive upgrade over the PlayStation 3, and a more than satisfactory complement to the experience that can be had on a good PC.
Control-wise, this is arguably the best way to experience Final Fantasy XIV. If there's a potential control setup you're interested in, you can do it here. Keyboard and mouse, keyboard and controller, controller alone — the options are all there for you to tailor this experience exactly as you like it. I bounced between several during my time with this version — I fought Titan and scoured several dungeons with a wireless keyboard and mouse at my desk, gathered for hours with the PS4 controller and the touchpad while relaxing on the couch, crafted and quested via Remote Play on Vita while in bed — and found each of them to have their own strengths. Suffice to say, you won't have trouble finding a way to play this version that suits your mood.
Speaking of that Vita Remote Play: it's awesome. There have been some complaints that the text can be a bit too small to read on Vita, and there's certainly merit to that argument. Maybe it's because I've played enough to not have to read all the text, but I personally had no trouble questing, crafting, and doing some light combat on the handheld, and the performance ranged from "pretty good" to "perfect." The worst of my experiences involved some significant visual artifacting in the video, but the game itself didn't suffer from any discernible input lag. It's not the best option for those endgame extreme difficulty battles, but those with more experience on a controller than myself (who spends the bulk of my time using a mouse and keyboard) should have relatively few issues. Additionally, the game remembers your interface customizations for Remote Play separately from your TV-bound adventures, which saves you the hassle of having to tweak it every time you want to play.The bottom line is, if you want to play an MMO on your handheld, this is a perfectly viable option. With the game's significant variety of activities, there's always something you can do if you want to kick back and relax with the Vita while still getting your Eorzea fix.
If you're the kind of player who takes screenshots, you likely already know that PC and PS3 players have access to these functions — the former being able to use both an in-engine hotkey or the Steam overlay if you're playing in that environment. These options are matched by the PS4's share button, but trumped by the ease with which its players can share those precious moments. Likewise, capturing video is undoubtedly simplest on Sony's next-gen platform, so if you want to record a 5-minute clip of your tailcoat-clad weaver wearing a hat made of flowers dancing on a rooftop, this version is your best choice.
Finally, migration: if you're a PS3 player in possession of a PS4, I can't think of a single reason why you'd hesitate to switch. PS3 players receive a free upgrade to the next-gen version, and there's a data transfer function which allows you to migrate a good portion of your critical customization data. A player with a capable PC might consider holding off if they're happy with their current setup, but I personally enjoy having access to both versions — the PC for its raw performance and the precision of a mouse and keyboard, and the PS4 for its sheer number of control and social options.
If you're a player of Final Fantasy XIV, you already know that the game has seen tremendous support on its two existing platforms, so it's likely that this already-excellent version is only going to get better. It's a stellar port that handily outpaces its predecessor and continues the tradition of offering tons and tons of options, allowing you to tailor the experience just the way you like it. It's clear from every aspect of its launch and execution that this was not a lazy effort, right down to small but crucial details like the game allowing you to stay logged in if you return to the PlayStation 4 home screen. Naoki Yoshida and his team have proven time and again that the success of A Realm Reborn was no fluke, and that reputation is duly earned thanks to carefully crafted experiences like this one.