In preparation for the fourth and newest expansion: Endwalker, we’ll be reviewing the performance of the service and giving tips on how to set up the game within Shadow and Maximum Settings.
Final Fantasy XIV’s state as a titan of the MMORPG industry is something of a gaming miracle. Released in 2010, originally the game was a commercial and critical failure. Rather than abandon one of the mainline entries in their most iconic franchises, Square Enix announced a complete overhaul and rebuild of the game. Headed by Naoki Yoshida, the game has had a complete renaissance. Improving year after year after a rough start in 2013, Final Fantasy XIV’s story, gameplay and subsequently its player base has increased beyond what many thought were possible.
- Final Fantasy 14 Recent News
- How To Play
- Playing Final Fantasy 14 on Shadow
- Installation Space
- Installation Time
- Forced Password change and account safety
- Duplicating Settings from another PC
- Stream Quality
- Audio Popping and screen picture degradation
- Disconnection from Play
- Payment Efficiency
- Playing Final Fantasy 14 on Maximum Settings
- Mouse Cursor Issue
- Duplicating Settings from another PC
- Shift+NUMPAD issues on Moonlight
- Grainy Stream Quality
- Millisecond Timing Issues
- General Thoughts and Experience
Final Fantasy 14 Recent News
Between the evenings of December 7th and 8th, the servers came down for an emergency update for 3 hours. This was to ease the stress on login servers. Square Enix was fixing faulty code in their login lobby software and reappropriating hardware from their testing servers to the main login servers in order to prevent the queues from removing players who are waiting.
This is an attempt to address the infamous 2002 disconnection errors that remove players from the queue, forcing them to go back to the end of the line. It remains to be seen how far this will go in alleviating player frustration during login queues, but it seems to have had the intended effect of preventing people from being kicked out.
Regardless, the queues are long and Endwalker continues to suffer from success. After a solid 90 minutes of waiting in line, I was able to play.
How To Play
With Endwalker adding massive new chapters to the game and tons of new content to enjoy, how can you experience FFXIV on a Cloud Gaming Service? Currently unsupported by nearly every cloud gaming service from GeForce Now to Boosteroid to Stadia, playing will be restricted to PC rental Services, such as Maximum Settings or Shadow, where the only limitations are what software you can get to work on the hardware provided. Other cloud gaming service types will always be confined to what is curated for you by the platform.
Playing Final Fantasy 14 on Shadow
Final Fantasy is a very large and expansive game and requires at minimum 65GB just to attempt installation.
One of the annoying limitations of Shadow is the measly 256GBs of space afforded to users for all software on their virtual PC, and this includes operating system and mandatory Shadow code for streaming. I was forced to remove other games to make room, as usual.
Shadow’s download speed fluctuates somewhat, but the initial installation of FFXIV took roughly an hour. As with any massive game on a PC Rental service, first-time setup is going to take some time. You may experience mouse control or stream lag of your rental PC during installation. This is normal as your connection to Shadow is straining under the download of your new software.
Forced Password change and account safety
Something I failed to mention during the Maximum Settings video is that Square Enix may force a password change upon you when logging into a cloud service for the first time. Suspicious activity on your account is taken seriously. In addition to protecting its players from account theft, Square Enix is constantly fighting an endless battle against people trying to sell in game money and other products that corrupt the in-game economy. Stolen accounts are often used to propagate this industry and locking them down prevents that abuse without banning the account that was stolen.
The act of logging into your account on a cloud PC miles away from your normal location can flag your account for this failsafe. If you account is flagged, follow the instructions to change your password and access to your account will be restored.
Duplicating Settings from another PC
When installing on a new PC, It’s highly recommended to upload your settings to FFXIV’s built in settings too. This will transfer your HUD and related settings to your cloud PC and save yourself the time of rebuilding all your Item sets, controls and miscellaneous features. Your HUD will go from DUD to STUD in no time at all if you take advantage of this feature.
Final Fantasy is a game built to be capable of play on lower end PCs and the Playstation 4, any tier of Shadow is going to run the game well. We ran the game to the fullest with no issues at all.
The stream quality was solid for several hours of gameplay, and I felt very comfortable playing in Shadow. Comfortable enough to turn off my Heads Up Display to record some more cinematic clips for all of the Cloud Warriors to enjoy.
I played in a constant 1920×1080 High Definition stream. Settings were turned all the way up and I experienced absolutely no hardware lag or crashes. Any quality reduction in play was solely due to my connection to Shadow.
Audio Popping and screen picture degradation
Even with higher stream bandwidth settings, after a very long session (in my case, just trying to get through the queue) you may experience stream stuttering in the form of audio popping sounds. This can be fixed with a quick stream restart in the shadow menu.
Furthermore, just like Maximum Settings, if there was any drop in internet speed stability, the picture could get grainy. This happened a few times, though I do not know if the problem was on my side or Shadow’s.
Disconnection from Play
During play, I was forcibly disconnected from Shadow. The reconnect happened quite quickly, and my controls were not functioning correctly for a few seconds after that reconnect. I was luckily not engaging anything particularly dangerous at the time so it cost nothing in game. Still, it’s worth mentioning.
The game was extremely responsive. As FFXIV doesn’t usually require split second controls except in very specific fights, it was hard to tell but I had no issues whatsoever except during the disconnect.
A personal issue, mirroring my problems on Maximum Settings, was the inability for the game to recognize Shift+NUMPAD buttons. This is a problem that is unique to my preferred keybinds, but I had to change my settings to use ctrl+NUMPAD in order to use all of my abilities.
As Shadow is a monthly subscription, unlike Maximum Settings, which is a pay-per-minute service, you’ll likely get more bang for your buck if you intend to binge the game in large amounts over the cloud. The general rule is that if you intend to play over 10 hours a week on your cloud platform, Shadow is going to be a better option.
Playing Final Fantasy 14 on Maximum Settings
Final Fantasy, though not an ugly game by any means, is not going to be a challenge for the Maximum Settings GeForce RTX 2080 Super tier. The game played perfectly at the highest settings in both HD 1920×1080 and also when rendered in 4K.
This 4K footage is being streamed back to my monitor on a basic 1920 HD stream, so detail will not be apparent, though the remote computer is still doing the work making me wish I was streaming to a device that could display it properly.
As a game built to be capable of play on lower end PCs and the Playstation 4, even the lowest tier rental PCs from Maximum Settings are going to have no issues running the game in basic High Definition. I would stay away from playing in 4K on the lower tier, though running at the highest graphical settings should not be a problem.
Computer Performance aside, there are a number of quirks and issues you may run into when playing Final Fantasy remotely. They will not happen to everyone and they are not insurmountable. I have outlined those I was able to experience or duplicate.
Mouse Cursor Issue
A common trouble for remote play is that the position of the mouse cursor may be awry. This issue seems specific to FFXIV. If it affects you, the true position of the mouse will be affecting an area some distance away from where the cursor appears on the screen. This can be extremely frustrating to deal with and needs to be fixed immediately. The simplest answer on the Moonlight platform is to simply enter your game settings and change your mouse to use the Hardware Cursor. This will change the appearance of your mouse in game, but otherwise removes the issue completely.
A similar issue can occur using Parsec, and can be solved following the excellent support guides posted to Maximum Settings Discord or Community Forums.
Duplicating Settings from another PC
Now, with full control of your game, you can move onto updating your HUD and game settings. Any fresh installation of Final Fantasy is going to use default settings, but you can easily port over your own HUD and settings from another PC using the tools already in the game.
You’ll want to go to whatever PC has your preferred HUD and control settings. From the character selection screen, you’ll select the tool and upload your current settings to the FFXIV servers. You are limited to doing this once every 24 hours, so make sure you like your settings and get it right before you upload them.
Once this is done, you can log into the same character select screen on the PC that you wish the new settings to be applied, in our case, the Maximum Settings PC. Once this is done, most of your settings such as HUD, hotbars and item sets will be accessible from the new PC. A few things like custom macros are not supported by this tool and will need to be recreated on the new device if necessary. This is a HUGE time saver if you customize your HUD as much as I do.
Shift+NUMPAD issues on Moonlight
Another obstacle experienced on Moonlight is a limitation to using shift + the numpad. MMORPGS are notorious for having large amounts of buttons, spells and commands to press and FFXIV is no different. I could not use the Left Shift + NUMPAD combination that I normally utilize to access a great number of actions. I had to use Ctrl instead of Shift for best results and update my keybind settings accordingly.
Most players do not utilize the NUMPAD along with the shift function, but I do.
Grainy Stream Quality
You’ll notice some of my play had a bit of graininess to the video, which was a product of the stream to my PC via Moonlight. After adjusting the settings for a higher stream bitrate, this problem vanished. Should you encounter a similar issue, it’s a very easy fix. Ensure your internet connection can handle these higher bitrates, or you’re going to have a bad time. A full guide for this can be found in our Getting Started with Maximum Settings video. You’ll find it around the 3:45 mark.
Millisecond Timing Issues
I did have some issues playing some of the twitchy timing games in the Golden Saucer, but I wasn’t sure if I was experiencing a bit of input lag or if I was just terrible at it. It didn’t feel too off, but it’s definitely a good way to test it yourself if you get inside, as much of the other gameplay in FFXIV is not going to be judged down to the microsecond.
General Thoughts and Experience
Once my control issues were put into order and my game settings set to how I liked them, I had no issues playing the game. Things played smoothly, even when I had my streaming bitrate throttled. I was able to play all of my favorite roles in various combat scenarios to my satisfaction. Once everything was all set up, it felt nearly indistinguishable from playing locally on my own PC.
In conclusion, FFXIV is great on Shadow. Barring the annoying space limitations of the platform, the setup was easy, the payment structure is conducive to binge-play and the game played very well. Recommended.
FFXIV is absolutely both playable and enjoyable on Maximum Settings, however, you’ll want to take some time to set everything up. It doesn’t take too long, especially if you know what to do. After you’ve fixed your settings, updated your HUD and controls, and duplicated any macros you might use, the game is ready to play and will not need any such prep ever again. Just log in and play.
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