I decided against my better judgement to stay up until 2am PST on Friday morning in order to quickly make a character on Coeurl and see a few things before the inevitable crash. Having Beta tested multiple games, including all the phases of ARR, I was expecting to see some type of insane server congestion. It may have been too early in the AM for NA perhaps? Apparently, the JP servers all fill up within a half hour! I was pleasantly surprised that I only saw 1 disconnect during the login process. We were not able to see the NA server listings for quite a while for some reason so after a number of exits and reconnecting to try and refresh this list, it finally loaded for us. Off into Couerl we went!
Leaping into Coeurl
Something new that’s interesting, gamepad control is no longer customized by a menu (in 1.0 it was a text interface)! It is now interactive and very easy to understand. When the gamepad on the screen highlights a certain function key, you select a corresponding function key you’d like to use on the gamepad. For example, I prefer inverted camera so when the screen highlighted camera up, on my gamepad, I selected down. Voila! (Alternatively, you can also access the Character configuration and choose to invert X and Y axis etc.).
Also note that the gamepad calibration popped up for me first probably because I have a gamepad plugged in. I assume that it will not show up for a keyboard and mouse only player. There is also an option for canceling the gamepad setup so you can move on with your character creation and world selection, as well as the starter cutscene.
Please note that all contents are not final. I love that SE is trying to give us more surprises for the actual launch so I fully support hiding certain things and not adding the full effects into cutscenes! When writing feedback on the beta forums, please keep this in mind.
The cutscene they have prepared for Phase 3 is absolutely nostalgic. New players were introduced to the world that Legacy players lived in and defended with all their might (d’aww). Knowing that this is not the final product, I am super excited for what new players will see when the game launches. I plan to actually start a new character to go through the new player storyline.
After the introductory cutscene, you will be able to create your new character and select a world. I saved all of my character data files from 1.0 so I was able to quickly select my old character design and popped Aque Lia back into the world! Very very convenient. Also, to avoid loosing the newly created character, it now allows you to save the new character data prior to selecting a world. HURRAY! This was one of the more innovative features of 1.0 and very glad to see it make a return. Hey now! 1.0 had a few glorificuses… and completely overshadowed by the suck… but it still had a few!
The Journey Begins
Once character creation is complete and a server is chosen, your journey truly begins. Another cutscene (also unfinished) gives you background story and lore for your character before popping you in to Eorzea proper.
Amazingly, the new cutscene exactly addresses a number of player feedback. “Where is the epic?” we asked. In a previous blog entry, I posted all my feedback, one of which was GCD and some solutions. We were aware that all the cutscenes in previous phases, including this one were placeholders. However we had an inkling that it may not address some of the concerns the beta testers had. I was one among many who wrote this type of feedback, asking devs to please make sure that the journey begins with an epic fantasy. This placeholder cutscene addresses this concern in so many ways, kudos SE thank you so much for listening to us!
You will notice that I once again went straight to Gridania… After testing in Gridania since Alpha to now, many assumed I would go straight to Uldah or Limsa Lominsa. That was my original plan but I saw immediately that there would be a shortage of conjurers so I went the route of Gridania to aleviate that void. Also, I love Gridania ^_^! To those who may not already know, starting city is determined by what class you choose to start as during character creation.
After the cutscene, your character appears at the entrance of the starting city you choose. Immediately, the graphics stood out to me! A number of youtube videos have appeared and you may have seen them! Gosh, they’re so daring! I do not wish to get my account perma banned from the game oh no no, so screenshots are all I’m providing. However, to highlight the near completed lighting for the game, below is a comparison shot between previous Phases and Phase3.
We were told right off the bat that they graphics and lighting were still being optimized in concurrent builds. Going into testing being aware of this fact, I have ignored the lighting and graphical feedback as they were unnecessary and honestly the game already looked gorgeous even without final touches. But in this Phase, I was completely blown away by the beauty of it all. I was not expecting such a drastic change between Phase2 and 3, I thought perhaps maybe more shadows, or texture, general lighting fixes here and there such as glare etc… instead, what we had was finally the full lighting engine being implemented and the world became even more alive than it was before. Per YoshiP… they’re still tweaking it and not 100% done yet!
On to Gameplay!
Once you are in the game, you’re free to do whatever you wish, pick up quests, go outside and whack mobs, explore. Almost anything you want! I say almost because the first 15 levels are basically tutorial mode. Unlike certain MMOs where you spawn in a tutorial instance and cannot interact with the real world until you complete it, ARR chooses to allow you to interact with the world right off the bat. There are merits to both systems depending on the game, this method is perfect for ARR.
I choose to immediately embark on the main story line and tutorial quests. Through out the game, as you encounter new things, a help window will appear to guide you through the new discovery. For a veteran player creating a new character, they can simply close out this window. You are not forced to go through a battle training such as the one encountered during the beginning of 1.0.
I spent the next hour picking up quests and attuning to aetherytes (teleportation crystals). I also created a new character in order to experience the Uldah starting sequence with Vivid. We only managed to explore a little bit outside of the city before Vivid had to go, and I felt super sleepy so we logged off for the night! The adventure continued 5 hours later (yes I only slept for 5 hours!) and I will write more about it in Part 2.
All in game screenshot Copyright (C) 2010 – 2013 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.