The latest expansion of Final Fantasy XIV, Shadowbringers (5.0), is released. And with it, SquareEnix pushed some updates to Doman Mahjong, which was released in 4.5.
First, let get the basics down: Final Fantasy XIV is an MMO for Windows, MacOS and PlayStation 4 where you need to both purchase the game and have an active subscription. But if you’re only interested in Mahjong rejoice: you can play using the time-unlimited trial account. Regardless of what account type you have, you need to make your way through the Main Scenario Quest “The Ul’dahn Envoy”. After that, you can unlock the Gold Saucer with the quest “It Could Happen To You”. Now you unlock Doman Mahjong with the quest “Every Little Thing She Does Is Mahjong”. After that you can play Mahjong using the Duty Finder. Or you can play bot games using the NPC tables in the Gold Saucer.
Let’s have a look at the Mahjong rooms. There only Hanchans. There are two unranked rooms which are only accessible with a Light Party, i. e. you have a group of four. Then, there are two ranked rooms: Novice and Advanced. You need to be 1st Dan or higher to enter Advanced. Though due to the relative small player base noone ever queues for Advanced which can make games quite frustrating for higher ranked players, more about that later.
The Mahjong game has barely any animations at all. Drawing, discarding and calling have the minimum amount of animation of them so you can see what is happening. There are no real customization options but choosing the tile set. You can choose between the Doman Set, which is a Final Fantasy themed set, and the Classic Set, which is what you would call a normal set.
The information you need is spread over the screen. Some information is redundant due to that. The current dora, not the indicator, are displayed on the top right, just below the current deal number. It might take a while to get used or unused to it. The wall is not displayed at all. The hand options are to the bottom right: disable non-winning calls, auto win, hints, dangerous tile markers, tile names, and chat.
When called the called tile is grey out leaving a ghost tile.
If you’re unsure about tile efficiency you enable hints which will show directly above the hand options. Which would be a great plus for beginner friendliness if there was a proper tutorial for the game. Also if you’re not good a reading the river you can enable the dangerous tiles marker. Which would mark all the dangerous tiles with red and orange marks.
If you aren’t proficient with the Chinese numerals you can enable tile names which you display the tile names on your tiles in your hand when you hover over them. But sadly only for the tiles in your hand and only if it’s your turn.
There is no warning if you might get into furiten when dropping a tile. But it does say that you are in furiten.
All in all the visuals get a 3.5.
Scoring is as you would expect. Now might be a good time to mention there are no replays. So if you want to share you big hand you need to screenshot it immediately.
I don’t have complains about the usability, so it’s 5 stars.
In beginner friendliness, it’s 2 stars. There’s no proper introduction and reading the in game guide to Mahjong doesn’t help much. In the visuals, there is bug present: there is no distinction between a daiminkan (called kan) and a shouminkan (extended kan). All kans have the form a shouminkan.
Well I said earlier noone plays in the advanced rooms. But that has a big drawback that everyone seems to accept: if a 1st dan player looses against 3 4th dan players in the novice room, they loose about a loot of ranking points. Even getting 2nd might result in you loosing ranking points there. Also, playing a unranked game requires you to put together your own Light Party. Fortunately, players just organize themselves for this.
You might want to checkout the various communities for that.
Now, to the sounds and music. The background music is calming, though very stereotypical. The calls aren’t voiced. They don’t need to. That way you can’t get annoyed by voices you don’t like. The calls instead get a nice sound effect. So the audio experience gets a 3.5.
Beginner Friendliness: 2
Average Rating: 3.5
Based on the source in game I can’t recommend playing Doman Mahjong to players how want to get into Riichi Mahjong. If you’re already into Riichi Mahjong, Doman Mahjong is an OK Riichi client embedded into an MMO where you have fun playing games.