At the time, Its 2020 and the MMORPG genre is kind of stale, while there are many titles to choose from and play. They are all kind of redundant and need more innovation then a copy and paste from other games.
Save for one… Final Fantasy XIV, with an abysmal launch (I know Square Enix is never going to live that down) then after the servers being brought down and an amazing recovery with Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn, years later is the #1 pay to play MMORPG om the market.
But is it worth playing? While there is a plethora of content to do, friends to be made is the game all the way from lvl 1-80 and hundreds of hours in story quests worth it?
Let’s find out!
Final Fantasy XIV is probably one of if not the best MMORPG to fully immerse you into a story and make you character feel like they are the sole hero of Eorzea. With the Main Story Quest (MSQ) being a continuous story and each patch major or small along with the expansion builds on it. The story is never dull, it will have its slow boringish parts and fillers to build up other tensions and talk about many different topics and events that are happening across Eorzea and beyond.
The story is done right and if you are a Final Fantasy fan, you won’t be disappointed. With ShadowBringers (ShB), this FFXIV story is one of the best in the series in a long time. So if you are looking for an MMORPG with a consistent story that is engaging as it is memorable you are in the right place.
FFXIV has slower combat than most MMORPGs out there, the default GCD (Global Cool Down) is 2.50 seconds where games like WoW have 1.5 second GCD so the game in turn feels faster and more responsive. (I know many will argue this changed with BFA because of the many added abilities to the 1.5 GCD slowing the game down in general, but it’s still faster overall then FFXIV).
But in FFXIV as you level up and get stronger you get many abilities at that are OGCD (Off The Global Cool Down) So while you wait for your next GCD to refresh you can cast other spells and abilities in between and the combat eventually balances out, feels fast and fun. If you are still not enjoying it, It may also depend on the battle class you are playing. I recommend playing all the basic classes/jobs to 30 and get a feel for what you like. Overall the combat is much slower than your other MMOs and that can be annoying but at the same time it makes it feel a little more strategic and lets you plan accordingly for your rotation then just face rolling your keyboard.
The Class System:
FFXIV is pretty unique when it comes to how it handles the class system. You can play every class all on one character, so instead of leveling ALT characters you are leveling ALT classes (jobs for the advanced classes, monk, bard, paladin etc..) while it’s the same thing you don’t need to log out and log back in. You make a gear set and you can go from Paladin to Dragoon as in a click of a button! (That was Easy!)
This is done by the weapons, the weapons choose who you will be, if you equip a sword you are a gladiator (GLA), if you equip a bow you are an archer (ARC), if you equip a rod you are a conjurer (CNJ). These classes can then be leveled to 30 and take on their respective Job. GLA becomes a Paladin (PLD), ARC becomes a Bard (BRD) and a CNJ becomes a White Mage (WHM). This just lets you move freely through the game, staying immersed and not having to make that 90 – 120 second log out / log in to swap classes. The classes and the jobs in the game all feel amazing and different from each other. They have been streamlined a little in ShadowBringers they still have great class fantasy to them and while they are some abilities that may be similar they do feel and act differently. So if you are looking for a class system that is fully immersive and lets you swap from DPS to a Tank with a click of a button, then FFXIV is for you.
I lost interest in crafting in MMOs over the years, as they always felt like they were an add-on to the game and not a part of the game itself. This is where FFXIV differs, if you are into crafting, whether it be cooking, making potions, selling armor, or gathering mats. FFXIV brings crafting like you never seen it before. It has its own story lines, the biggest con I have with it is that it’s a grind, but a rewarded grind if you know what you want to get out of it.
Crafting provides fun quests and systems and you can get some great items from farming scripts which are like tokens you would get if you were raiding on your main battle class. You can use these to buy master recipes or different gear for glamour etc..
As mentioned crafting is a grind, and it can be confusing as it can be rewarding. If you end up able to buy house or an apartment, you can be a carpenter or goldsmith to create and build different frames, couches etc for your home and furnish it. The crafting scene is its own game and is really standalone from the battle classes and has its own unique systems and abilities to learn / master. I recommend taking crafting classes to level 30 so you can gain wonderful cross-class skills. But overall if you are someone who enjoys crafting and felt like games have been lacking in this area, FFXIV does a pretty good job, while its not perfect and there is certainly remove for improvement, but it’s a fun system and one of the better ones out there.
If you are someone who enjoys feeding their crafting addiction you can pick up Fishing (FSH), Mining (MIN) and Botany (BTN). Fishing is very focused on RNG and is really annoying while trying to get X fish for a recipe or quest.. MIN is very grind heavy and will have you smacking the same rocks over and till you collect the 100 ore/rock you need. Botany is the least annoying of the 3 and is the most relaxing IMO, but definitely grab them as they too provide their own story lines and allows to explore Eorzea in different ways.
The meat and potatoes of the battle classes. As you progress the MSQ you will come across BLUE quests with a plus sign next to them, DO THESE. Some will open extra features, others will be dungeons, raids and trials. They are not long quest lines but will allow extra dungeons to be ran, so do the blue.
Dungeons in FFXIV are very well designed, can be very mechanic heavy and really fun. So if you enjoy Dungeoneering FFXIV does this right. Each dungeon in the game has its own lore and quest lines, so if you are into that as well you will get even more story. On top of the normal mode dungeons you will be for the MSQ or side quests, as you progress you come across more blue quests, that will unlock hard modes for an extra challenge and better gear to increase your ilvl and get cool looking gear. After you complete Dungeons you get tomestones, these can be used for certain gear, items and many other things you can buy at NPCs. Save em for something good!
Raiding in FFXIV are fun, not as trash heavy as other games, some parts of certain raids, will have puzzles or things you need to do while you fight some mobs and then move on to the boss. Raids are side quests (BLUE QUESTS) that tie into the MSQs. Usually to access some raids you have to complete certain parts of MSQs be a certain and be a certain ilvl. If you are using the Roulette it is recommended that you look over a guide before you blindly tank, DPS or heal if it is your first time. Check out MTQ, she makes amazing guides, they are extremely on point and high quality. Raiding also provides items and tomestones that will be used to buy gear, weapons and other items. As you finish the normal modes you can do the blues to unlock savage content for harder fights and challenging rewards.
Alliance raids, these are the 24 man raids in FFXIV and usually tie directly into the MSQ some way or another it is recommended that you do the Crystal Tower Alliance raid because it ties into the ShadowBringers xpac, also do the StormBlood Ivalice as these raids tie into the new relic quest released in 5.2.5. In 5.3 the Crystal Tower Alliance raid will be mandatory because of how tightly it ties into the ShB expansion. These raids are fun, require coordination with your 3 groups of 8 and the mechanics are fun. These raids can provide some great gear whether for upgrades or just using it for looks. They are longer then your normal 8 player raids, but I find them much more fun and rewarding.
Trials are I think everyone’s favorites as you are fighting familiar summons from the FF series, like Ifrit, Gilgamesh, Bahumat etc… This is a one boss fight type deal, and you unlock many of these in your journeys as you play through the MSQ and do the blues. Trials have a few modes Normal, Hard and Extreme. The newer expansions StromBlood and ShadowBringers did away with the hard mode and moved right to extreme, probably because making three versions of the same fight was the developers own raid boss in itself. Extreme versions of the trials are where its at, from awesome weapon drops and mounts you to an amazing challenge to test how good you are at your class as well as coordinating with your team. At max level and decent gear you can solo older content to get weapons for glamour(Transmog) possibly minions and mounts.
Overall these areas of FFXIV provide fun and challenging content, having a group to go at this weekly and bring down some of the hardest content in the game is a lot of fun. I think raiding is the least impressive of the three, I enjoy the stories and the aesthetics of the non-alliance raids but feel like something is missing and could use some extra work to bring it up to par with the trials and alliance raids.
If you have played World of Warcraft or Warframe then you know that the true end game is Transmogging and Fashion Framing. This is no different here with the Glamour systems in FFXIV. While it is not as intuitive as WoWs Transmogging system and glamouring really becomes inventory Tetris especially if you are playing multiple battle, crafting or gather classes on one character. You get an Armiore you can store seasonal, Artifact and other special clothing in it. You also get a Glamour chest, where you can turn gear into a glamour piece and store it here and edit the glamour using the glamour plates. This is using prisms to glam the armor you want on to plates so every time you change your armor as long as you have prisms you can on the fly change back to your pretty glam. This system is great, but needs some work and if they could work in the transmogging system that WoW has with the glamour plate system it would make this the almost perfect system.
Housing is another area that is amazing, you can rent buy an apartment, small, medium or large house (Good luck finding plots to build a house). You can also make a Free Company(guild) and have a FC house. The housing system is extensive and I have not really dabbled in it much, but this ties back to crafting where you can make outside items, indoor items and much, much more to make your dream house in game. Some of the best housing system I’ve seen in a MMO.
Final Fantasy XIV has a very big social aspect to the game. You can Join a Free Company that is purely social or crafting, join a link shell that focuses on high trials and raids, join a Cross-World Link shell that is part of the same data center (Aether / Fairie) and chat or make groups with your friends on Gilgamesh Server. You join a fellowship, that can be a mix of all everything mentioned. While I like the idea, I feel it’s a little much. You can join 8 link shell, 8 CWLS, 1 FC and 10 fellowships, each can have 500-1000+ members. I guess this is great if you got multiple things going and have many interested parties, or players are looking to get a little bit of everything. The Community in FFXIV is probably the nicest and most helpful I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. There is something here for everyone.
There is still so much to cover and I plan on doing a much bigger full FFXIV beginners guide to cover everything in much more detail. FFXIV is an MMORPG that really has almost something for everyone, there is no true end-game, FFXIV end-game is what you make the experience. If you want to be an expert crafter, or an expert Healer there is no wrong way to play and experience the game. It’s not without its issues and needs some changes and fixes to better certain areas of the game. But in terms of pay to play, you will get the most bang for your buck.
So is FFXIV worth playing in 2020? Yes, whether you are in it for the social aspect, hard core grind or trying to find the best outfit for a Saturday night out at the Gold Saucer there is no lack of content and always something to be done, FFXIV is well worth the hundreds of hours of play.
SquareEnix is so sure that you will love the game and want to play and have a free trial up to level 35. You can play all the base classes and then level to their advanced jobs and then get through a good amount of the MSQ and side quests. If that’s not a great a deal I don’t know it is.