Today I want to talk about my recent FFXIV experience and how it beats with WoW gameplay.
The deeper I’m in the Square Enix game, the better I understand one simple thing that I picked up very soon.
If we take franchises, WoW would be more like Lord of the Rings, where armies and kingdoms matter most, with their carefully drawn maps and rich history, with battles of peoples rather than characters. Final Fantasy is more like Star Wars or Harry Potter – evil and good factions, yes, history, yes, but what matters most is a very small group of characters and their up-to-date, current story in focus.
You cannot actually compare these franchises – well, you could! – but it’s counterproductive. Just the same approach here: I do not want to pick one over another, to even think about comparison, and just enjoy them all.
The same could be said about gameplay so far. Of course it has to do with many hours and years invested in WoW – I simply have no stories left there to explore and can focus on endgame repetitive activities. In FFXIV I’m a newbie, and far from endgame, digging the story which is the game. Of course WoW has its lore stories, and FFXIV must have the same gear and cosmetics grinds in the end. But it is what it is today: WoW is repetitive actions, during which I could watch a movie or a tv series on a nearby screen, and FFXIV’s story requires total attention because it during leveling it works as an anime series on its own.
Considering time spent in my weekly gaming schedule, Final Fantasy today is basically my pre-WoW-reset shelter. This early into 9.1. patch, I’ve lots of things to do. Reputations, renown and their awards are far from completion, raiding for transmogs gives its fruit – and plenty! – but is also far from over. So it naturally takes most of my time, and I turn to FFXIV only when I’m done with my tasks for the week by reset day, or if I ran my share of repetitive world quests/raid runs for the day on a number of toons and want to unwind a bit – it’s like switching from a game to a movie or a series.
At the same time, you can’t play a lot of FFXIV in a row – it’s like binge-watching a series season. The amount of lore and new information is simply too big to digest in one sit. I’ve had my BSOD, overheating moments when I tried to consume the whole leveling lore of a new WoW expansion in one-two days, so I’m trying to avoid that. And so, playing both games simultaneously is a perfect switch from grind to story, from digesting loads of lore to a no-brain fun.
Do you see how brilliant my situation actually is? I can have a rest from gaming… by gaming, and it works both ways! WoW -> FFXIV, and FFXIV -> WoW.
That all said, my progress in FFXIV is quite modest. I’ve finished the A Realm Reborn (“vanilla”) initiate story (which ends with an epic cinematic and game credits) a while ago – and on two different alts. Now I’m busy with the… sequel patches of the first vanilla story, which took almost the same time as the first storyline – and only in 4 quests I’m jumping into the first expansion.
It is very true that the story is great, and becomes greater as the game rolls on. I’m really getting more and more invested in characters and events, and now that travel is reduced to seconds due to unlocked flights and quick travels points, I don’t pay too much attention to the environment, and basically jump from quest to quest which also helps a lot.
Truth is, I’m percepting the story as if I’m watching an epic scale anime series, like One Piece – with the same rich world, distinctive closed arcs, a common plot throughout the series/game and fun & dear characters to follow. Not exactly an MMO experience with their usual clearing of quest hubs and exploring the world zones, but rather going with the story flow.
I’m playing two characters now. I started with a lancer class which was the first to finish the initiate story and reach level 51. She was a local human, which was kinda ok… then the character just got boring, and I stopped playing her for a while. I surely like my lancer/dragoon class and aim to continue, but could I have a race change, or should I level another toon?
Turns out, they do have a race change option exactly for the guys like myself. It’s available in real money shop, but hey, at level 50 they throw in a free race change item which came in handy! Long story short, I discovered this yesterday on my phone, already in bed, with lights already off, and first thing in the morning I did this:
Well, FFXIV is all about playing a cat person, right? Anyways, now I so want to login and do stuff with her, just wait till I burn through the story on my main.
My second toon is my “main” – in terms that she’s the story pioneer today after I speed-leveled her in the tracks of a lancer. There’s no wonder who and what she is: as in WoW, she’s small folk (Lalafell), and a mage – ice, fire, all that stuff.
I’ve said before that I don’t accept the idea of multiple classes per character as FFXIV suggests to do. You’re talking to a man here who has different WoW characters for different specs. Because, duh, it’s different personalities: for example, my fiery desert lady Heltzen and a calm scholar Micromantica, Jaina’s apprentice in ice flows. How can you marry a brute with a 2H axe and a conjurer in one person, that I do not know. Because it’s not just a weapon she wields, it’s character’s identity, background, predisposition!
Still, I’m eager to try a samurai class here, and leveling a third toon would be tedious… But at least I have now a caster and a melee brawler persuns. That will do!
I’ve totally got used to the gameplay systems and how the game works in general, so I’m in peace and having fun with it. Like I said: I’m happy to have games that work in unison towards my entertainment. April-June content drought in WoW was my darkest time in many years, as I ran out of things to do there which never happened before, and I had to look for and try other games to fill the gap. Even if I liked some of the single player titles that I played (especially AC: Odyssey, one love), they had their ending, leaving me on the shore again.
Now the case is out of the question, as I have a shelter for content droughts – and again, it works both ways! And both games also benefit in my mind by switching from one to another in non-drought situations too – like it is the case for today.
P.S. Oh, I forgot about my beef: why do the FFXIV script writers have to do that?!
I mean, my English skills are good enough not to address dictionary, even for Urianger’s lines, but scratching through the thorns of dialogues is something.
It’s not only the complexity of sentences and words that buggers me. In Russia, when you’re writing your diploma – graduation scientific research work in university, you’re bound to use what students call “water” – that is, vain words and sentences meant only to stretch the volume of your work to the required amount. 70 pages is a diploma work, 40 is not – even if you managed to tell everything vital there. That’s exactly what most quest texts in FFXIV are so far – “water”. Unlike university requirements, it has no reason other than annoy players :)