Eight Years Later, Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn Remains A Landmark Moment
Square Enix achieved something truly special with Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn.
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Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn celebrates its eighth birthday today, meaning it has been almost a decade since Final Fantasy 14 rose from the ashes of failure. With A Realm Reborn, the once doomed project was transformed into an MMORPG that would go on to attract millions of players around the globe and produce expansions that many regard as among the finest JRPG stories ever told. Naoki Yoshida and his talented team at Square Enix were thrust into an impossible situation and made the most of it, salvaging a title on the precipice of annihilation and turning things around in a way that still feels unprecedented to this day.
I’ve talked before about the lofty position held by A Realm Reborn in the gaming zeitgeist, and how many view the comeback story with such admiration that it almost borders on mythology. But this is something that actually happened, a product of blood, sweat, and tears that made the best of a bad situation to build something extraordinary. Considering the game’s turbulent development as some sort of fantastical event to parallel the land of Eorzea itself is a disservice to the real work that went into making it a reality. Yet it’s this very sense of love and perseverance for both the Final Fantasy name and the fans who stand by it that has allowed Naoki Yoshida to become such a beloved figure in the game’s community, with players from around the world treating his words as gospel alongside the talents of Masayoshi Soken, Natsuko Ishikawa, and so many others. This team really is one of a kind, and they wouldn’t be the same without Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn.
The original stance taken by Final Fantasy 14 was one of hubris, marking it as an unfortunate relic of a company that oversaw the calamitous launches of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and other projects that had an unhealthy obsession with visual fidelity. It was known for pushing boundaries and setting a high benchmark for the world to follow, and this mentality was foolishly applied to the MMORPG genre. The field was already making steady advancements elsewhere with the success of mammoth titles like World of Warcraft and Runescape – titles that recognised graphical prowess could be thrust aside in favour of engaging stories, beloved characters, and gameplay that ensured players were having fun first and foremost.
Final Fantasy 14 didn’t have any of this, and launched as a relatively awful game as a consequence. It was panned by critics and players alike, with only a handful of dedicated fans sticking with it after the initial launch failed to cement a hopeful future for the online game. Square Enix was keenly aware of this backlash, and took the necessary steps to address its failures and craft a new game in its image, one that would essentially hit the reset button. Naoki Yoshida was brought on to helm the project, and to the surprise of many at the time, he and his team would continue supporting Final Fantasy 14 with patches and updates as development on A Realm Reborn began. It was a staggering amount of work completed in a very short amount of time, which became evident in the obtuse pacing of the base campaign that would later be addressed in the years to come.
While other games have replicated it before and after, the way in which Final Fantasy 14 ushered in the destruction of its own world with the announcement of A Realm Reborn remains an extraordinary achievement.
The Fall of Dalamud onto the realm of Eorzea was something that players experienced in real time over a handful of months, each new update bringing the red menace closer and closer to the surface as adventurers stared up at the sky in anxious wonder, terrified yet excited about what the future might bring.
As the final update arrived, monsters spawned in legions and players were tasked with fighting back armies of evil creatures as the world that had become their home began to fall apart. The end was nigh, and for many all they could do was gather on hilltops and watch their own oblivion come to pass. It’s a beautiful moment of melancholy that made Final Fantasy 14 feel alive, like the stories of this virtual place and those responsible for its creation were crossing over in a way that still feels special, and I wish I was there myself to experience it. As Dalamud struck the ground, the screen faded to black and the reveal trailer for A Realm Reborn began playing. From this moment onward, JRPGs would never be the same.
Nowadays, A Realm Reborn is viewed with disdain by veteran players. While it introduced us to iconic characters such as Alisaie, Alphinaud, Y’shtola, Thancred, and so many others, it’s also a massive journey filled with repetitive quests and needless busywork. It has since been streamlined, but encouraging newcomers to plough through it remains a difficult task. Our own Cian Maher even wrote about this struggle recently, noting that he wants to love Final Fantasy 14, but its wealth of content means that staying on top of things feels impossible. But without this inconsistent campaign, we would never have experienced the excellence of Heavensward, Stormblood, or Shadowbringers. It was the foundation on which titans now stand, and the Hydaelyn and Zodiark storyline it has spent almost a decade unweaving will soon come to a close with the arrival of Endwalker.
Eight years later, A Realm Reborn remains a magnificent achievement, and its importance in not only the genre of MMORPGs, but gaming as a whole, cannot be overstated. A number of games have met an unfortunate fate in recent years, and the internet’s immediate reaction is to ask whether they are capable of having their own “A Realm Reborn” moment – Avengers is probably never going to. The project’s revival is so legendary that its name has become shorthand for rising from the ashes, and walking towards a future away from a failed past.
You don’t earn this reputation by luck – you do it with a mixture of talent, passion, determination, and willingness to accept your mistakes and build something better from the ruins. Final Fantasy 14 achieved that, and has come to play an essential role in the lives of players who have met its characters, fallen in love with them, and bettered themselves in the shadow of a game that encourages people to come together and conquer challenges in the name of Eorzea. All in all: Final Fantasy 14 is a game that is truly special, and in another eight years, that is what it will be deservedly well remembered for.
Link Source : https://www.thegamer.com/final-fantasy-14-realm-reborn-anniversary/