I’ve been playing FFXIV for about six months now. Strangely, I haven’t blogged about it here, mostly because those little posts tend to go on my Tumblr instead. The truth is, this is the longest I’ve lasted on a subscription based game that didn’t allow me to buy a lifetime membership. That says a lot considering there are so many reasons why I shouldn’t like FFXIV… even though I do and I’m hooked on it right now.
The first reason is totally personal bias. Syn and I have been quite angry at Square for the last 6-7 years or so, mostly due to their poor business choices and game design. Seriously, how many times are you going re-release our beloved FFIV and muddle up the translation/plot (milking the series for all it’s not worth)? Then releasing unneeded and badly-written sequels (FFIV The After) for even more money… I’ve seen better fanfiction online!
As a gamer growing up with Squaresoft during my young and impressionable years, Final Fantasy was once a series that could do no wrong. The last real console FF I enjoyed was FFIX. Everything from there just seemed a muddled mess of kiddie J-Pop and non-fantasy to the point I couldn’t recognize it as Final Fantasy anymore.
Apologies to those who enjoyed those games, but give me the classics. I pretty much vowed to stop buying anything Squeenix produced after that point. So the fact that I bought and subscribed to FFXIV is nothing short of a miracle.
Perhaps, though, with games like Bravely Default, we’ll see a change in the company’s approach. I’d love to see them return to their roots… which is something I feel FFXIV does in many ways. FFXIV may not have the best FF story out there, but it certainly has a FF feel I’ve been missing in console games for the past ten years. And that was the first thing that hooked me and kept me playing.
Trinity Gameplay and No Build Variation
Some people love trinity gameplay. Some people hate it. I’m not really in one camp or another.
I’ll admit, though, I’ve gotten used to games (GW2, LOTRO, Secret World, ESO, etc) that either abolish or downplay the trinity style compared to more oldskool MMOs. In fact, trinity seems outdated when you look at what many new games are trying to accomplish with wide open build possibilities.
So for FFXIV to come along with a very strict trinity and really no variation in skills or playstyles, it’s surprising how many people have taken to it. Sure, you can go back an level up all those other classes on one character. Some class skills overlap once you get your jobs. But overall, most people of the same class will have the same skills on their bar as everyone else. There’s not much (if any) build variety… yet… I still enjoy it and I think that a strict trinity works well with the classic Final Fantasy classes.
Still like to hope for more class variety in the future…
Forced Dungeons vs. My Fear of Grouping
Okay. Who put the forced grouping dungeons in my main storyline?
If you know anything about me, you’ll know that’s totally not acceptable. I’m a soloist at heart when I’m not playing with close friends. While I enjoy helping people and joining in open world content (I think FATES are one thing that saved this game for me), I’m super shy and have a terrible fear of grouping in PUG situations.
I don’t know where that fear developed… perhaps that little YA noob me getting ganked in UO as my first MMO experience… but it holds me back from experiencing dungeon and raid groups in every game I play. At the thought of putting together or joining a group, my heart starts pounding, sometimes my hands shake… and well… it’s just not a fun thing for me. In fact, it got so bad, that after the forced-grouping nightmare that was FFXI, I quit MMOs for many years.
Many newer MMOs are much more solo friendly. You can usually do main storylines without having grouped instances forced upon you. FFXIV is not one of them.
This has taken me time and dedication to overcome. The Duty Finder helps a lot. It puts the groups together for me and saves me from having to fearfully communicate my need to join a dungeon group. It also eases my mind to know that if I totally make a fool of myself, I’ll probably never see any of these people again.
There have been times I’ve put down a character for months because the next thing I had to face was a dungeon. I won’t roll alts in FFXIV not because my main can pretty much do it all, but because I know I’ll have to go through dungeons to progress through my storyline and level up. Every dungeon down is a victory won over my strange PUG fear.
But you know… it’s also teaching me that grouping with strangers isn’t as terrible and scary as I’ve made it out to be. Most the parties I’ve run with (aside from one or two… and those who just want to speed run), have been understanding and willing to explain fight mechanics to new people. I do my best to do my job and discovered that the Bard’s ranged DPS was a good class for me in learning situations.
I’m not sure how I’ll manage endgame things, but so far, my main is level 43 and I’ve survived!
Speaking of Endgame…
That’s all anyone seems to talk about in this game. Free Companies. Linkshells. Forums. Where are all the low level and progressing players?
Yes, I did say that I’ve been playing for 6 months and my main is now level 43. I’ve dabbled in other classes, rerolled a few times, done some crafting, took some time away from the game, and many other things that have put me way behind other players. Heck, just the fact that I started playing a month after release put me behind by default.
It’s a bit tough to be that one person who doesn’t have a level 50 in the guilds and linkshells. While everyone is thinking about atma weapons and Levi runs, I’m still pondering my first attempt with story mode Garuda. This makes socializing and grouping with Free Company folks difficult because in many ways, they’re playing a very different game than I am.
I know that it gets that way in certain groups in all games. But this game seems to be the worst I’ve ever seen for funneling people towards end game in a way that those still progressing feel like outsiders in a world of Coil runs and TEX.
The devs have recently done a good job in expanding content for those who are still leveling, while providing challenges for those who are at end game. With the newest 2.2 patch, I’ve seen more options for leveling and making the much-needed gil than ever.
I love the new Challenge Log and Venture systems! Along with unlocking Beast Tribe Daily quests at level 41, these have really given me new incentive to log into FFXIV every day. I feel that I have so many choices in what to do, none of them under pressure or super difficult, that I’ll be happily leveling my way up to 50 without breaking a sweat.
A few months back, I was reconsidering my subscription to FFXIV, mostly because I felt the game was skewed towards end game too much. I’m glad I stuck with it and have learned to adapt and develop along with the game. I now find it rewarding in so many ways, and look forward to seeing how this FF world grows over time.