Written by Bad Demoman 11th November 2016
For a lot of people, the MMO experience is basically World of Warcraft and that’s about it. But I didn't play WoW until 2014, and I only played it for a month. I didn’t catch the “bug”, I suppose. My MMO experience was limited to Guild Wars and a bunch of free Asian MMOs (Risk Your Life took up a huge chunk of my life!). So I started on Final Fantasy 14 partway through Heavensward, the first expansion. An MMO lives and breathes on its community, and how it treats its players -
When you start FF14, you get a couple of choices -
Your selection of job will affect where in the world you start out, but it’s important to note that you’re able to change jobs almost whenever you want. After progressing through a bit of the story, you’ll get access to the other cities, and all you need to do to unlock the other jobs is to visit their guilds. The result is that you don’t feel like decisions you made are affecting your enjoyment. When I played WoW I got to level 30 or so as a Druid before deciding I didn’t enjoy it -
The story quests seem to be a conflicting part of FF14. Obviously you’ll be spending a lot of time on them, and they’re required to unlock a lot of features in the game. Some people claim FF14 has one of the best storylines in an MMO. On the other hand, one of my WoW playing friends tried out FF14 before me and complained that there was “just way too much text!”. At the time, I was dismissive. That’s what Final Fantasy’s all about! But after playing the game, I entirely understood what he meant. I found it incredibly difficult to invest in the story at all. Minfillia, one of the most key characters, struck me far too much as an uninteresting character whose sole role is to order you around. It doesn’t help that her orders are often far from interesting. FF14s quests made me long for the days of “Slay 15 goblins and deliver their third toe from the right”. A lot of the story quests in FF14 involve travelling between different NPCs and talking to them. It feels like a grind to get to the more interesting content! Thankfully, some of the side stories are a lot more interesting. Finding out about Bahamut's history as a world destroyer that was imprisoned was amazing, and while I haven’t gotten to it yet, what I’ve seen of the Alexander dungeons have made me really look forward to them.
There’s a wide berth of content types in FF14. There’s Fates, quests that will appear in the world for a limited time that can be tackled by any number of players at once. Guildhests, repeatable quests that mostly serve as efficient EXP farming. The recently added Palace of the Dead is a particular highlight. The idea is, you enter a 50 floor dungeon at level 1, levelling up at a much faster rate as you progress. It lets you try out new classes without having to grind them all the way to higher levels, while also earning some EXP for the class outside of the palace too! A large amount of the focus is on Dungeons. A large amount of your time will be spent in 4 man dungeons -
This is partially because, in my experience, the community is mostly experienced players that have already hit endgame content. There's positives and negatives to this -
Final Fantasy 14 is an MMO in progress. While WoW has over 10 years of content, experience and community behind it, Final Fantasy 14 is still in its early stages by comparison. A lot is set to change with the release of Stormblood, the second expansion. However, after being rebuilt from the ground up after the less than stellar initial release, the Realm Reborn version is more than just a competent MMO -
Thanks to the awesome guys of The Little Ones Free Company over on the Phoenix server for the help with the pictures!