Making Final Fantasy XIV's account setup process even worse is the third party credit card handling service Click and Buy. It requires its own separate account, which you will have to setup as well. Click and Buy also worries me as being potentially nefarious. I don't understand why Square Enix refuses to hire a proper internal team to handle sensitive information such as people's credit card information for this game, especially when the practice is pretty much a standard.

Final Fantasy XIV suffers from a severely lacking in-game tutorial, a cardinal sin in light of the many odd systems designed into the game. While some very barebones tutorials are in place, none of them do a sufficient job explaining clearly how, say, gathering or crafting exactly works - or even exactly what NPC to talk to next. Sure, you get general directions, but it feels like Square Enix wants players to wander around aimlessly for a while because it stretches out the lifespan of the game's already thin content.

So yes, early game quest content is unacceptably light. Beyond the initial story quest, everything turns into kill and gather quests, and even those don't amount to much. Most Final Fantasy XIV players end up grinding mindlessly on monster spawns. I've heard grumblings from players that around level 20 it gets even worse, which is by no means a confirmation but doesn't bode very well.

Final Fantasy XIV

The tutorial and content issues are parts of a generally larger problem with Final Fantasy XIV. My next statement will involve beating a dead horse metaphorically speaking, but in the case of Final Fantasy XIV its 100 percent true: this game needed more time to cook. So many of the game's current issues could be fixed with a bit more incubation and development time.

There are five melee classes in Final Fantasy XIV, which is good. However, there are only two magic classes: Thaumaturge and Conjurer. What's worse is the complete lack of series classics such as the Summoner, Thief and Red Mage. It would be fair to argue that perhaps these classes have no place in Final Fantasy XIV, except that Final Fantasy XIV is very much a traditional Final Fantasy setting.

Also a disappointment is Final Fantasy XIV's current and mostly uninteresting melee class selection. Gladiators specialise in weapons, but their big draw is the ability to use a shield and one-handed weapons. Okay, so why is it that a player starting the game as a Gladiator doesn't even get a shield? Then you have the Marauder, who specialises specifically in two-handed axes. The Lancer specialises in, uh, lances. Pugilists specialise in... you guessed it, fist weapons. Where's my Dark Knight? Where's my Paladin? How about a pet class or a Samurai? Why have a Gladiator specialise in melee weapons and then three other classes that do that as well, but with specific named melee weapons? Boring.

While Final Fantasy XIV touts an unmatched visual bang, that oomph is currently so demanding that I have to wonder if this is the poorest optimised engine to release since the Age of Conan launch.

OUR VERDICT

Given the serious lack of a proper tutorial, engine performance optimisation, class selection and quest density, I don't see how I could suggest anyone but the most die hard Final Fantasy fans pick up Final Fantasy XIV right now. Add to this mess the archaic and arguably over-priced subscription method, and I wouldn't blame anyone for being completely disinterested this early on. All of this is really unfortunate, because there's a lot of potential for FFXIV to blossom into a much better game post-launch, just like its predecessor. The combat has its high points, and the world of Eorzea is incredibly fun to explore.