Wednesday, August 28, 2013

FFXIV Launch Review

So, launch. Let me begin by saying an MMO having a flawless launch is pretty rare. The closest I've ever experienced was the launch of Age of Conan, a game that was somehow better out of the gate than it was several months down the line. The worst launch experience I've suffered through was the launch of World of Warcraft, where the game was by and large unplayable (a fact many people seem to have forgotten). By comparison the launch of FFXIV 2.0 falls somewhere in between.

In my beta review I mentioned how ambitious I thought having such a short stress test was and how brave it was to do so so very close to retail launch. Everyone I know tried to convince me I was just being a Negative Nancy, perhaps bias from my previous experience with the earlier incarnation of the game. I stuck to my guns though and, shocker here, was right. People forget I've had a lot of experience here. I'm a Stress Test guru of sorts. I can read that shit like a psychic reads palms.

Let me preface with, I know the below sounds really bad, but the fact that despite all of that I'm still playing every day says a lot. The game itself is enjoyable. So what has the launch experience been like?

During Early Access many servers hit cap right away. By 10:00AM the next morning, many servers were locked to character creation meaning no new characters could be rolled there. So if you didn't pop on right at 2:00AM, you probably didn't make it on in time to create a character on the same server as your friends. Even if you did, most servers are full at all times of the day.

This, originally, was alright because you could just get into queue and eventually get in game. To throttle, they removed the queue on day one in a vain effort to get people to just reroll on other servers. Thing is, people roll on a server for a reason: to play with their friends. Convincing large groups of people to up and leave isn't an effective means by which to solve the congestion problem because it's just not going to happen. Especially not when their friends are likely already well established on the server due to there being no character wipe after open beta.

This means that early access was basically useless for a lot of people because they couldn't create a character and/or log in. To have any chance at all you had to sit and spam the log in process repeatedly, sometimes for hours, to get in. The sad part about this is that it's kind of an easy fix. As of now there's still no log out feature implemented for idle players online. This means that once you're online, you can go afk perpetually and remain in game unless your computer crashes or servers go down, meanwhile people who would actually be playing, can't.

That's kind of a huge oversight.

By official launch the problem was only worse. On launch day every single North American server was closed to new character creation. So you essentially went out, waded through a crowd, spent money, and couldn't even play the game. Square has been ineffective about communicating its intentions to fix the problem, creating a lot of understandable frustration. In short, my prediction during beta came to fruition.

I'm not wholly certain how they so woefully underestimated the amount of interest in the game. It's almost as if they didn't even bothering looking at the presale orders before setting the original server caps because, let's face it, the issue of over population became apparent during the first 24 hours of early access. Throwing retail buyers on top of that mess was obviously only going to exacerbate the issue.

In summary, if you are on your way to the store to pick it up... give it a week or two. Trust me, your experience overall will be much more enjoyable. Don't worry about falling behind, you'd do so anyway unable to create a character or login. Waiting will spare you the frustration.

Other than the congestion problems the launch has been a success though. I've yet to encounter any glitches, bugs, or game-breaking exploits that ruin my good time and if you do manage to get on, the game runs smoothly and there's very little (if any) lag.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah. I finally just gave up and said 'See you in a week or two' to the game. \; So sick of fighting to get in.