I decided to give the open beta of Final Fantasy XIV a shot. I don't really play FF games, so I'm not too sure what the backstory of this game is like. I did like the trailer very much.
I haven't played a lot, so these are very basic impressions.
The character creation is superb, the best I've ever seen. It offers a very nice balance of options, while still making it easy and not too complex. In particular, I like that you can save a character look, and reuse it.
I think you can download the character creator from the main site, if you just want to see that. The only downside for character creation might be that you cannot really change body types.
The game seems very polished. The UI is clean and colorful.
Gameplay looks like the pretty standard tab-target hotkeys. The GCD seems a little high, it's 2.5s to start with, but I think that there is a stat which reduces it. Combat is decent, though the effects seem very "flashy", with lots of particle effects. It's pretty typical "kill 3 squirrels" stuff.
Talking to people feels very much like a console game, with the speech bubble you keep clicking through.
One interesting thing is that there are three starting zones, but your starting zone is determined by your initial class.
The setting seems like a typical Japanese fantasy setting, with a melange of types. You know, different characters using very different accents, and the word choices and names are mixed in from all real-world cultures.
It's interesting how Western settings seem to emphasize far more cohesive cultures. There is a common culture and style to Ferelden in Dragon Age, for example, which is different from the other countries in that setting. I wonder if it is the influence of Tolkein, or just the structure of Europe in general.
I first rolled a gladiator, which looks like a one-handed sword class, maybe with a shield. Unfortunately, I ran into a bug where the North American servers think that I am logged in, and won't let me log in again. I didn't even get to test out combat on the gladiator.
So I made a lancer, which is a spear-wielding character, on the Japanese servers.
I gather that a single character can take multiple classes, though the classes use different gear. The armory system seems a little complex. I'm not exactly sure how multiclassing works.
It seems like a good enough game. It's colorful, nicely polished, and seems to work well (aside from that nasty login bug).
But it's pretty much the same style of MMO we're all used to and have been playing for years. Indeed, it feels very old-school, closer to vanilla WoW and Lord of the Rings Online (and probably Everquest, etc.). If you're looking for something different, this is not the game for you.