I have a rather long history with the MMORPG genre, having truly cut my teeth on Ultima Online, The 4rth Coming, and really landing and sticking to it for years on Dark Age of Camelot.
Ever since then I’ve played a lot of them, if not most of them, at least the vast majority of major studio releases. These days there are so many being released and just logging in to Arc presents you with so many of them that I just do not have the time or the inclination really to attempt.
One thing that I never did was get involved with Final Fantasy XIV. I do not know how I missed this, but it recently entered my radar again and I tried to see if this was something that I could make my main game for the next few years. Starting out in a well established game is not daunting, or anything like this, in fact, it might even be helpful, having gone through a polishing period that one rarely (if ever) finds in a newly released game.
So I tried entering the free trial and was unable to do so, because apparently I had a registered FFXIV “something” back in 2010. Insert “I have no memory of this action” Gandalf in Moria meme here…
Made a new random email address and got the free trial.
I have now played to level 20 on an archer, 15 Herbalist and 10 Leatherworker (same character), and this is my experience of the good and the bad. I honestly hope that you guys can help me with the bad as maybe to educate me on things I’m doing wrong, or how I can make them less… bad…
RPG: What a journey!!!!!!! What a surprise! How wonderful it is to find a game that goes this far and deep in story and world building! To spend the first hour of the game without ever having fought ONCE and actually enjoy myself! To learn of the lore of the world, all these new and amazing places and events and creatures and relationships, and how it is all presented! I thought that I could no longer tolerate an MMORPG that would not be voiced (spoiled much??) but this was so well done, I did not mind or care that I was reading! Great job! And that design decision to turn all game mechanics into part of the world lore, what an inspired decision!!! This is immersion! This is story telling! I want to learn everything there is to know!!
Combat: Beautiful and impactful! I can feel that what I do has weight and purpose! But what’s this? I can also move while triggering my skills???? I never thought a game would dare to offer this, but here it is! This one in particular was a great sore point of mine: games, I found, would either attempt to be “action” by having me be the marksman (all skills targeted by me on the basis of where I aim the mouse) and offer the freedom of movement while we fight, or be tab targeted but then root you in place for how many seconds while you cast that fireball or prepare that bow shot. FFXIV brings, for me, the best combination I could ever think of! Congratulations!
Mobility: Aethernet (I loled at that, good to find humour as well) and recall and teleport, straight from the very beginning, showing respect to the gamer as opposed to the other games where they decide to waste your time in walking around. The Chocobo porters are effective (nothing special, although I could use with a toggle to never hear that music again).
I can be whatever I want! Oh boy, how I can be lost in this game if only for this aspect… I can be any class???? Any gatherer??? Any profession? And all of them ?????? What the %$## are you doing to me FFXIV? Yes please! THANK YOU SIR!
Inventory: a big f#$k you to all games starting me off with one bag. Thank you FFXIV once again. I can have so much inventory space, but hold on.. what’s this? I have a SEPARATE quest inventory??? AND a separate GEAR inventory? And how big is it the gear inventory?????? OMG! Why are you being this generous? My cynical self looks for the catch!!!! Amazing, just… thank you!!!!!!
delivering quests: when you have to give an item (five furs, ten berries etc) it means you right click on the NPC to talk to him, you start talking and he asks for the things, which pops up a window and your quest inventory, and you have to drag the items to the window (the fastest way – there is another with right click and meh!). This is weirdly reminiscent of old games which had no “niceties”. I have no idea why Square Enix (SE) has not remove this yet… the game certainly knows what you have in your inventory so it should be just… talk to the guy and the items are delivered. When someone asks for two or three items, and you have to do all that dragging and dropping… just… why ? I’m not going to say that we should not have deliver or fetch quests, but, why is this “give me the items” quest mechanic still here???
I had been asked as part of some quests to go an get some things of vendors, and I even found some items that I wanted to buy. But why was I able to buy only one of them at a time? What is this about? Why can I not buy many at once? Is this so just on the specific vendors I visited, or am I missing something? And it’s not even just right click to buy, it’s right click and then authorise the purchase by pressing OK on a new window. It’s just a starting area NPC shop… I’m not paying with a hard earned epic drop loot that I would regret if I made a mistake!! It’ s just 15 gil!
Combat is beautiful, no question about that! It can be slow, but that is not the problem. The problem is that combat in FFXIV is designed so that you HAVE TO TAKE DAMAGE! There is no such thing as kitting, there is no such thing as avoidance tank, there is no such thing as I RUN AWAY. In normal modern games, you can move around as to not let the mob hit you, or you can trap it, or you can send a pet to aggro it, or you can simply kite it if you can and are allowed by class (moving all the time away from the mob as to always keep it in range and thus not take any damage). And the combat system allows such great mobility! However, all that is not exactly… possible… strictly speaking!
First of all, the range of everything is 25 y., nothing longer… but fine… because AMAZINGLY all my skills are activated WHILE MOVING (yes I say that a lot, but only because it’s amazing and I love it) but move 50 y. away.. and the mob resets! You fight the mob within a 50 y. circle or the mob becomes invulnerable, going back where it was when you hit it or aggroed it. So actually the best way I found to fight was to start fight at max range and just shoot it with the most effective (DPS-wise) sequence and let it come to me and hit me.
This can only be explained as WORKING AS DESIGNED. SE want you to take damage, they want your gear to be punished and damaged so you repair them, they want you to be in a group with a tank who will take the damage (and aggro), and they want you to use Pots (Healing, Tactical or Mana) to deal with the way your solo quests will go. Some areas are easy, aggressive mobs are far and wide between, but some areas you cannot fight one unless you fight three at the same time. This is where the strain comes in and you have to use pots. So you need pots, and you need repair NPCs. So there is your money sink (the first one at least, I do not know which other will become apparent), and the beautiful, involved, alive and mobile combat system that I love, becomes… lesser for it. Sure I can move… but only in a circle…
To craft something
– you press N
– you find the recipe
– you select if you want to use good or rare materials
– you press the button
– you kneel down while a crafting apparatus manifests
– you then use skills to try and make the item as good as you can
– which means that you should actually use 4 of 5 skills
– you click a button
– then you made one
– then you press N… find the recipe… etc….
There is no doubt that this is an involved crafting system, with a purpose (as all things you do must be thought out), that needs user action and planning and thought, so great! And I was even liking it at the start when I was learning it! No doubt it is a great system for some. But then I think, what if I want to harvest one day and get 500 materials, and then I want to craft the next and make 200 items ? That will take so long… that it might become a chore!!! All that decision is nice and all, but surely if I can do it once, then I can do it again, this is not testing me as such, there is no sudden problem to be had for example (like in Vanguard’s crafting system) that I need to respond to. If I have the mats, and I press the skills a certain way, I can make the item, every time. AutoIT seems built for things like that, but EULAs get in the way of things… And even if no EULA prohibits “botting” this process, if you use a third party application to simply robotically do something for you, is that playing a game at this time or … something else ?
auction-housing : no price per item? No selling of multiples as I want them? If you made 100 (anything) and want to sell them one by one you actually have to list them, one by one… Why? It already took me so long to make them, why can I not just have the option to list 20 items in stack size of 1 for 20 price ?
none of these, (a), (b), (c), (d) or (e), are by themselves serious enough (however, (e) is kind of very serious for me), and if you want to, you could just play it like a story experience, which I suspect from the first 20 levels I saw, will be epic, amazing, mind blowing experience! There are more cinematics and time spent in exposition and story in this 1-20 than I have seen of Blizzard in the first three expansions! (I may exaggerate, but this is what it feels like to me and why I love my 1-20 experience)
so… final thought:
– are the annoying things that I will want to do but cannot do going to spoil this?
– Can I play the game story mode only, without feeling… that I’m missing out on the rest, which I cannot do because they are annoying?
– is all that worth paying every month to do it ?
Right now, I have to say … I’m leaning towards… “No”… with a sadness. I just cannot justify getting involved in this world… and paying for it… while having these problems which alone are annoying, but together can be game breaking for me… Are there things I could be doing or legal (according to the EULA and SE) that can alleviate my personal pain points ? Please do no judge me harshly, the market is a big part of the enjoyment I derive from an MMORPG, the other being the story. FFXIV has a fantastic story (apparently) so that is covered, but the market is not … “polished” enough a system to allow me to go into it for all the points I made on (e) (or (d) ).
If anyone has any suggestions that would make the things I do not enjoy be less annoying, I would really appreciate it!!!!