FFXIV Impression: Wrap-Up
My 30 days have expired.
The highest my character reached was 25 Arcanist/13 Thaumaturge, with a smattering of other classes inbetween. I did have a few open days in which I could have pushed to unlock my first Job (Summoner at 30/15), but when you know you are not resubscribing to an MMO, you tend to lose (even more) interest in final pushes. Here is a random smattering of my wrap-up thoughts.
Invisible walls e’erywhere
I was genuinely surprised by the frequency and sheer brazenness of the invisible walls in FFXIV, especially coming from the (amazing, apparently) openness of GW2. While the minimap will generally indicate which areas are off-limits, sometimes it makes no rational sense. No swimming in your game? Fine, I can understand having oceans and lakes (invisibly) roped off. But sometimes you can wade into ankle-deep streams and sometimes you can’t. For example:
There is falling damage in the game – and flying eventually – so it is not as though every cliff-face is restricted. But some are. It’s generally one of those things I am hesitant to test lest I fall to my death, but when you actually bump off such a wall, I get an irrational urge to try finding the seams.
I suppose it didn’t bother me in FFX, so it shouldn’t bother me now… but it does.
They are damn good.
And I’m not even talking about just the culturally different tastes in women’s fantasy attire, I mean all the other incredibly intricate things FFXIV characters can do. The emote system is extremely thorough, to the point you can pantomime practically any conversation. The entire system is one of those “minor” things that you get used to after a while and later feel is lacking from every other game you play.
Speaking of cultural differences, I don’t even know what’s going on with quest text half the time. Are the writers trying to be funny? Edgy? Are there localization shenanigans afoot?
Maybe the game is simply a lot darker story-wise than its otherwise cheery facade would indicate, I dunno. Most of the early quests have you doing generic level 1 fantasy things like picking up apples or whatever. Then you get that, provided you accidentally stop spam-clicking your left mouse button near the quest givers.
I also enjoy the meta humor a bit…
…but not so much when it only underlines the awful gameplay the class in question provides, e.g. Arcanist. “Sure, let me use Aetherflow and Energy Drain efficaciously… there we go. Now just got to wait 60 seconds for another go-around.” The Thaumaturge proves that the designers are not completely incompetent; if Aetherflow had a lower cooldown or having it up gave your DoTs a chance to proc a free Energy Drain or something, the class might actually have some redeeming feature.
Waiting for things still sucks
This is not nearly anything as bad as what WoW got up to towards the end of my dungeon running career. Then again, I wasn’t actually forced to do any dungeons to continue the story up to the level cap either. But nevermind, I already griped about that.
I have been pretty harsh on FFXIV thus far, but I do recognize that it largely follows the same MMORPG mold in which all the goodies are back-loaded into the endgame. Part of the point of my criticism though is that that sort of thing doesn’t work for me anymore. If you are in a period of your life where you can muscle through 30+ hours of unfun gameplay to “reach the good bits,” well… cherish it. There is nothing systemic about MMO design that forces a designer to build their games this way. If WoW came out now, I’d have the same criticism.
All that said, the original FFXIV plan was to play with a friend and check out the sights together. That plan got delayed by a necessary PC upgrade on his part, so when and if that happens, it’s entirely possible I will give FFXIV another month to turn things around. We’ll see then if my perception of the game changes, especially as a melee character.