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One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the game’s visual appeal. I’m completely comfortable saying that Final Fantasy XIV, hands-down, remains one of the most graphically appealing MMOs in recent memory. From the lush forests of the Black Shroud to the parched sands of Thanalan to the snowy peaks of the Coerthas Highlands, A Realm Reborn is full of breathtaking and marvelously rendered scenery, a variety of spectacular weather effects, and a number of small details that help fill Eorzea with a sense of vibrancy and life. In the same vein, the character models are superb and wonderfully animated, right down to their facial expressions.

And thankfully, players will now be able to truly relish all the eye-candy FFXIV Powerleveling┬áhas to offer, as the revamped zones are no longer a baffling labyrinthine mess that requires a team of cartographers to navigate. I’m looking very pointedly at you, Black Shroud. Some may find the map redesigns a bit linear for their tastes, but if that’s the price of lush, well-designed zones packed full of unique landscapes and features, then it’s one I’ll willingly pay.

But enough about how it looks; let’s talk about how it plays. To do so adequately will require more space than I have here, so for now I’m going to focus on my experience leveling my primary class, Conjurer, which is of course a Disciple of Magic and therefore is focused on the combat-centric aspects of FFXIV. If you’re more interested in the Disciples of the Land and Hand, I’ll be covering those in part two.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of progression, let’s take a moment to talk about combat. In the game’s initial launch, combat was slow and often tedious with a great deal of downtime between fights. Combat in A Realm Reborn takes its cues from other major MMOs and doesn’t necessarily deliver anything new. You’ve got your hotbar of abilities, you target what you want to kill, and you execute your rotation. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but compared to combat in 1.0, it’s a big step up. Unfortunately, it’s not without its (sometimes glaring) flaws.

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