It’s been a good couple of weeks since I’ve felt compelled to dash home after work and jump right on to FFXIV, so I think I’ve managed to scratch the itch thoroughly for now.
Hands-down, it was one of the prettiest games I’ve ever played, and the way it integrated single-player and group content into an actual story was unexpected – I’ve never seen an MMO where completing the main storyline was actually essential to progress.
This also made it easier to log off once I got the end credit sequence for “Heavensward” and realized that I was at the point of the game where I should start running dungeons over and over again to get my numbers high enough to run raids, then run those over and over until my numbers were higher. This isn’t particularly enthralling, so I’ll wait until they put out some more story content or another expansion – historically, those come with gear resets, so I’ll be able to get my numbers higher with a lot less effort.
There are some things about it that could use some tweaking, of course, but I won’t fill this post with a list of grievances. Rather, here’s an unsorted list of things I loved about it:
First, the ability to change class at any point. I try to avoid alts in most MMOs, because they are a massive time sink unto themselves, but FFXIV makes it easy to try out different roles.
Second, all the stuff that made it look like a Final Fantasy game that just happened to be an MMO, not an MMO that happened to have some Final Fantasy content. Highlights include getting a full set of White Mage class armor that had the iconic White Mage look and getting my own set of Magitek armor.
Third, never feeling poor. There’s really not a lot of things to spend money on in the game, so apart from paying for teleports and occasionally repairing gear, your bank account just tends to go up and up. There’s no scraping together copper pieces to afford spells or what have you.
Fourth, the sheer convenience of travel, and how they work it in to the storyline. You can fast travel to almost every one of the game’s towns and outposts, and participating in an instanced dungeon requires visiting the entrance once and never again. The sole exception is a quest hub with no fast travel options that you wind up going to over and over again. It’s not a huge inconvenience, but it’s just annoying enough to make the in-game explanation make perfect sense once an NPC finally mentions WHY you’re needing to go the long way every time.
Fifth, weather effects. I love weather and the day/night cycle in MMOs, and it’s something that virtually no game spends any effort on. FFXIV not only has rain, it has lots of different KINDS of rain, and snow, and fog and on and on. You even get weather effects inside dungeons if they have sections that are open to the sky.
I should stop numbering these, because they’re not in any particular order anyway, so I’ll end with the “Finally” as follows:
Finally, there are huge swaths of the world that you don’t need to go to in order to complete the story. There’s a ton of optional content that you aren’t sent to, that you simply uncover by exploring, and it’s something that is horribly absent from most modern MMOs, where every bandit camp or wolves’ den is placed directly in your path, with a handy NPC nearby to tell you to go in and clean it out. After finishing the main quest line, my map was still covered in gray, unexplored sections, promising places to go some day.
To sum up: A heck of a time, and one that made me glad that I relaxed my NO MMOS policy.