The Transition from PC to PS5: Deepening My Appreciation for FFXIV

The Transition from PC to PS5: Deepening My Appreciation for FFXIV

Final Fantasy XIV’s next expansion, Dawntrail, releases on June 28 (for those who pre-order). I’m looking forward to it. There is just one problem—I still haven’t finished the last expansion, Endwalker. Yes, I know it came out at the end of 2021, but time just got away from me and I fell off in the middle of the expansion. At the time of this writing, the date is April 3. That gives me 85 days to complete Endwalker and its patches. This calls for a drastic change in strategy that I hope will help me in my mission: I am switching my platform of choice from PC to PS5.

There’s a reason I’ve played Final Fantasy XIV on PC since I first started playing the game four years ago: it’s an MMO. The assortment of actions and movements you have to simultaneously perform during large-scale dungeons or raids feels tailor-made for a keyboard and mouse. A controller always felt too constrictive, especially in my stressful job as a White Mage (a healer role). But one of the biggest hurdles I’ve faced in trying to complete Endwalker is my PC itself. I’m just not in the mood to sit at my desk for hours as I rush through the expansion.

The crux of the issue lies in Final Fantasy XIV’s quest design. As an MMO, most of the game’s main scenario quests are rather mundane, at least mechanically. While there are spectacular combat encounters in Endwalker, there are only nine main scenario dungeons or trials, spread out across 108 quests. That means the majority of quests send your hero—the Warrior of Light—from one point of the map to the other, sometimes to kill an enemy or two, sometimes to collect items, and sometimes just to talk to people. The talking is the best part, because that’s the story I’m here to experience. But the time in between is mostly mundane. “Mundane” is not fun for me to do from my uncomfy desk chair (which is its own problem). I want to do this from the comfort of my couch. Thankfully, I was able to snag the PS5 version of the game on sale.

Image: Square Enix / Kotaku

Despite my aversion to playing with a controller, the promise of leisurely relaxing on my couch called to me. That’s the easy part. But just like switching jobs in the game itself, switching to a different method of input—a DualSense controller, in this case—essentially means I have to relearn everything. It’s slow going, and at times I wonder if it’s worth it. The main issue is that I’m still trying to set up my cross hotbars in a way that meshes with how I play. Cross hotbars are the way console players trigger their actions. As opposed to the rows of actions on a PC that you hit with different keybinds, the cross hotbar looks like two plus signs side-by-side with space for actions on each corner. It’s made to reflect the d-pad and face buttons, which the actions are bound to. As far as transferring the complexity of an MMO to a controller, it’s pretty ingenious, but it’s still a learning curve. My first 24 hours with the PS5 version were mostly spent tweaking settings and getting my cross hotbars just right.

But after overcoming the natural growing pains associated with it, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by just how well my change of platform has worked out. Movement in particular is a place where I appreciate the ease of a controller. While WASD and a mouse certainly don’t make travel hard, it’s just a little more complicated than simply using the joysticks. Now I find myself breezing through the game’s quests much more happily. My couch is indeed as comfy as I remember and I enjoy lounging on it as I explore the gorgeous scenery of Elpis and Labyrinthos. The majority of quests aren’t combat heavy, so even when I’m presented with a short fight my slowed reactions on the cross hotbar aren’t really a big deal. It’s turned the game into a much smoother experience for me in exactly the way I needed right now. I mostly turn my brain off and then tune back in when I need to watch a cutscene or read some important dialogue. Turns out Endwalker is pretty good, who knew?

Where I do still feel the console version falls behind is in dungeons and trials. When I do reach these more intensive combat encounters, I still find myself switching back to my PC so I can perform at my best for my party. Of course, I could use the NPC parties available through the Duty Support system and run these sections with a bunch of bots but so much of the joy of playing FFXIV is in engaging with other players. That’s why I’ve also taken to keeping a Bluetooth keyboard connected to my console—so I can type out messages. The other features of the PC version I dearly miss are things that director Yoshi-P has frowned upon but I still find great utility in.

So, the leap has had its pros and cons, but overall, switching to PS5 has made me appreciate the different ways people can play this game. Now, as I anticipate the release of Dawntrail, I can’t help but think that I’ll switch back and forth between PC and PS5 for the upcoming expansion as well.

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