FFXIV Beta Impressions
I've jumped into the FFXIV beta. At first, I was entranced by the cutscenes and storyline, as it places your generated character directly in the spotlight of the plot. I walked around, quite a bit, taking in the sights and sounds of this Eorzea place, grasping a feeling of adventure. Then I fought my first monster that wasn't involved in a quest. It was a dodo.
And it killed me instantly.
Lesson learned, I noted the icons next to a monster's name that represented their level of difficulty. Then I ran around, quite a bit, looking for those healthy blue and green icons next to monster's names, only to find that these monsters are few and far between. The entire area is being overrun by Dodo birds, and I guarantee that just about every player has attempted to fight one of them right away, considering they're all over a major newbie area.
After finishing up the story quest and a few oddball "go kill six snow mooses" quests, I was stuck hunting down the uncommon monsters that were appropriate to fight for lower level characters. At that point it was all I could do to develop and strengthen my character. Aside from equipping a needle and going at it with some hardcore weaving, of course. Eventually more quests will be made available, as many guild-oriented ones aren't implemented in the beta, so people aren't going to get bottlenecked into an exp grind.
XIV takes the class system prevalent in most games of the series and breaks it down into weapon-based categories. Its like when kids pick up sticks and pretend they are weapons, if you will. This long stick is staff-like, so now little Jimmy can cast fireballs at imaginary bad guys. Equip a Lance and you're a Lancer, equip a needle and you're a Weaver, etc.
Or equip a moustache to pretend you are Ian McShane.
Understandably, there isn't a whole lot to do, but XIV does have a nice short glimpse of the impending experience from the full game. As it is right now, its boring, difficult to move around the UI, suffering from terrible jittery camera problems, lacking meat (which people want), and somewhat unforgiving, but a beta is a beta.
This game doesn't seem to have typical level-based geography. The majority of an entire region is covered in a mixture of Dodos, Sheep, and Rats. So instead of having a portion of the map only set up for levels 1-5, then an outer area for 5-8, and so on, you're given an enormous area to traverse with a mixture of different creatures of a variety of levels.
Once I took the time to explore, and even ferry over to other continents to check out other capital cities, there were more than enough creatures to play with. Coupled with the ability to teleport to any location I've visited at any point in time, it made exploration quite a lot of fun.