I’m on a little bit of an unintentional WoW vacation. After being disenchanted with the community and the game for a bit, I picked up Final Fantasy XIV to play with a friend. Bards are my favorite class in every game, and FFXIV has them! I rolled a little catboy archer to play with my friend, and I’ve recently, after four months of playing off and on, hit level cap.
But I’ve noticed a few things about this game.
The Good, the Bad, and the Bardly
Every game will have its roadblocks. Some players will find FFXIV to be a bit “grindy”. But, playing to current level cap, 50, I’ve noticed some things that I like and some things that don’t work too well.
- Dungeons are unlocked through quests, making them feel more like they have a place in the overall story.
- An incentive system to give reason to be supportive to other players (more on that in a moment)
- Interesting class system nearly eliminates the need for alts
- Amazing graphics
- Great storyline that feels like a Final Fantasy game
- Starter gear set for each job with pieces at levels 45 and 50
- Numerous class quests that feel meaningful
- World travel is easy and much quicker than flight points- less time spent on travel and more time actually out interacting with the world.
- My server, Balmung, is very welcoming to RP (to the point that it’s branded an unofficial RP server- there are no officially designated RP servers).
- Bards (this deserves its own bullet point)
- Subscription-based, I know some people don’t care for that.
- Dungeon attunements (I like them)
- Levels 46-50 are a grindfest
- I couldn’t play for nearly a month because the graphics caused my computer to overheat- I needed a better cooling system (so not so good for less beefy systems).
Leveling was easy until around level 35- generally just doing dungeons and the main storyline quests (and class quests) got me there, and then things got a little bumpy and I had to turn to grinding repeatable quests to finish some levels, and almost entirely those from 46-49.
The storyline itself felt like a traditional Final Fantasy game, with your character as the main character. Many standard Final Fantasy elements made an appearance (Ifrit and other summons, an airship, this game has a Cid, classes and monsters).
Classes and Jobs are extremely interesting in this game- one character can essentially be every class in the game. Changing classes is like changing specs in WoW, with the main drawback that when you change classes, you must re-level it. So on my level 50 bard, I could swap to White Mage and have to start over and level from 1-50, with the ability to swap back to my bard at level 50 any time. There’s a bonus to leveling other classes- some class spells and abilities can be used cross-class (mainly things like cooldowns).
Really, the only reason I’ve rolled any alts at all is because I want different characters for RP.
Fostering a Supportive Playerbase
Imagine walking into LFR and being welcomed for never having done the instance before. That was nearly what happened to me last night when I went into an 8-player instance for the storyline.
The main difference here is that Final Fantasy will detect when someone in the instance group has never completed it and grant a bonus reward. This happens even in leveling dungeons: groups with people new to the instance will get bonus EXP for a clear. In endgame content, it’s bonus gear currency. It would be like, instead of getting 90VP for a wing of LFR, you got 270 for a clear. New people are seen as less of a detriment, and more of someone you’re rewarded for helping.
And that’s not the only thing, there’s also a system that, after every instance, you can grant a commendation to a player that left a good impression. Maybe it was someone who was helpful and nice. Maybe it was someone who did hella DPS. Maybe it was just a healer who healed you when you stood in bad.
Commendations give cosmetic rewards- things used to decorate your mount, a pet, a title, even a mount.
The difference here is that, instead of dungeon debuffs or votekicks that punish people for not playing “nice”, there is incentive to be decent to each other. Positive reinforcement -vs- negative. And I’ve found that makes a lot of difference.
Is the Grass Greener?
I’m not saying I’m quitting WoW, but I am enjoying Final Fantasy XIV much more, right now. The graphics are amazing, and I’ve found a really good group to play with. Plus, I get to be a bard! Sometimes you just need a change of pace, and maybe FFXIV is that for me.
Plus, they’re adding a marriage system in an upcoming patch that will allow same-sex couples, which is a fair bit better than WoW is doing on that front (not as good as Wildstar, admittedly). I’m looking forward to playing the endgame and beyond!