If you’re looking for yet another cultist post about how awesome Final Fantasy XIV is and why you absolutely should play it, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this isn’t what you’ll be getting from this one. As a long time WoW player who still plays WoW, and who’s recently been tapping into this (admittedly incredible) game, I’d like to offer you some viewpoints on whether this game is actually for you or not.
The truth is, FFXIV is amazing, but it isn’t some sort of alternative universe to WoW, Guild Wars 2, ESO or anything like that. It’s its own game, with its own unique features, and if at any point of this post you say to yourself: Yes! That’s what I’d like to see!, then you should consider giving FFXIV a shot.
Is Final Fantasy XIV for you or not? Let’s find out!
The first thing I’d like to touch on is the elephant in the room, and that’s graphics. Most MMO’s nowadays are built in modern engines that differ quite a bit from a game like WoW, for example. Although WoW is still beautiful in its own way, if you’re not a fan of the color spectrum or the way your environment looks in it, and want something more realistic, Final Fantasy is a game for you. I used to be extremely loyal to the whole WoW design and theme, and I doubted I could ever like something that looks more convincing, but here I am, loving it, and you might do, too.
Then, there’s the community. If you want to experience an actually supportive and welcoming bunch, Final Fantasy may be called your next home-game. I’m somewhat of a skeptic and when people first told me about this, I instantly responded with something like “nice people are everywhere, but so are the bad ones”. I still believe that, but I have yet to stumble upon a soul in FFXIV that made me feel bad. If anything, they’ve been helpful towards me as a new player, and especially a new tank.
When I queued my first dungeon in FFXIV, I forgot to turn my Stance on (which basically means I’m naturally taking less aggro than I’m supposed to), and the group members were so nice and actually told me which spell to use and how to do it (even though the game has previously told me that, yes). No one kicked me from the group and told me to go back and learn what I need to do first. They’ve made me comfortable in my new tank role, unlike in WoW, where at one point of my Monk tank leveling, some random DPS in my dungeon group told me to stand aside so he can tank, even though he didn’t even have a tank spec, which made me eternally terrified of tanking ever again. Up until now.
This is just one of the many examples I’ve got, but it’s something you’d have to experience for yourself, too. I think most people are trying to respect the culture they’ve been told about before starting with FFXIV, and they’re less likely to be toxic as they feel like nice people are around them. It’s like a wave of good, helpful behavior you can’t help but go along with, so if that’s what you’re looking for, welcome aboard.
Let’s talk about the gameplay for a bit, and by that I specifically the speed of spellcasting. There’s a 2.5s global cooldown for most of your abilities, which sounds like a big deal, but with so many instant utility spells, you’ve got time to both cast those and get ready for your next cast. The gameplay is a lot less spammy, and a lot more calm and… thinky.
When I first started, I used to spam my buttons like crazy, as that’s kind of what I used to do in WoW, only to discover that it’s not getting me anywhere in FFXIV. So I calmed my fingers, started moving more and thinking about my casts, and I had time to think about how fun the mechanics are as well. If you enjoy feeling less pressured about casting your abilities and a calmer gameplay overall, this is the game that has the potential to win you over.
When it comes to your alts, or rather the lack of them in FFXIV, there’s simply no need for them. You can have any job (basically, class) you want, and you switch between them by changing your weapon. Each job is being leveled separately, and there’s no need to have a thousand characters with different classes and specs. Your character is you and there’s nothing more to it, so if you feel like you want to identify with your in-game avatar without limits or feelings of split personality due to too many alts, this could be a relief for you.
I personally dislike alts and every time I temporarily abandon one of them in WoW, I feel heartbroken next time I log in, as they’re all just sitting in their covenants, not doing anything meaningful, and the resources for them are out there in the open world, being wasted away, without ever having the time to get them.
If you’re more than a casual, you may feel like you still have a meaningful meta job choice to make in the FFXIV, as naturally, you can’t play all the jobs and still be good at the game, right? Wrong! You absolutely can, as there are no dead jobs. They are well tuned for the endgame content and you won’t be getting kicked from the group if you only have certain jobs leveled.
If you’ve been struggling with the idea of playing the popular meta specs, in FFXIV, you don’t need to worry about it, as the damage differences are based on skill, and not jobs. The same goes for your race, as what you pick is pure cosmetics and doesn’t really affect even the high end gameplay, so that’s a relief. Also, you can always change your race later on if that’s what you want.
Another big thing for this game is the story, and that’s not just an optional thing to do like in some other games. In FFXIV, you’ve gotta go through the main questline, but the thing about it is that it never feels like a chore. The story and the narrative are both terrific, and if those are something that can keep you immersed in an MMO, FFXIV is a game that you’ll wanna try out.
However, if you just wanna click away and get to the endgame without getting to know your character and the other ones around you, this is going to be a rough leveling experience for you, so keep that in mind. Also, there’s a large group of players who only come back to the game to do the story and don’t play until there’s something new in it, so that should tell you a lot about its quality.
If you’re an experienced MMO player, you may not like this aspect of the game too much, but FFXIV does a lot of hand holding while you’re leveling your job. Basically, in order to progress further, you need to go through instances with your job and the game actually equips you with knowledge on how to use your abilities. Most of this is done through fun roleplay scenarios and interactions, so the quests aren’t made to be boring, and they also award you with your new spells and abilities, which is what you want. If you’re new to MMO’s or rerolling your type of character like me, who’s never tanked before, you can feel safe knowing you’ll be well-educated for the endgame.
If you live for the grind, if that’s what fills you with joy and you find it to be a crucial part of the game, FFXIV may not be something you’ll enjoy. There’s very little grind, especially before hitting the endgame and going for some high-end collectibles. The game is designed in such a way that it’s okay for you to complete an expansion content and play other games until the next new or seasonal thing, and mind you, those things happen quite a lot. Therefore, if you have a life and responsibilities outside of gaming as well and don’t wanna play for more than a couple of hours a day, you’re perfectly fine and right on track with absolutely everything.
If you’re the kind of player who wants to play all day, every day, you’ll eventually burn out as there aren’t that many things you can do over and over again. There aren’t any random borrowed power systems to learn and obtain, and there is no penalty for leaving at any point – unlike currently in WoW, every time you don’t play, there’s an endless amount of anima from world quests and weeklies to stress about not getting, which has certainly taken its toll on my enjoyment in Shadowlands. You don’t have to obsess over anything in FFXIV, and that’s a great relief. You can level your jobs and professions, but once you’re done with all that and you have your endgame weapon, you can just… chill.
When it comes to said professions and crafting, that’s an actual part of the game that’ll get you gear, gold and in-game progression. Your professions are treated like your job, with a tool, weapon or an instrument for each one, and you level it just the same as you would level your job. If you think you’d enjoy gathering, crafting and getting more proficient at it, FFXIV is a good game for you. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it, of course, but you’ll be missing out on a lot of fun and a big chunk of the game.
If you’re a collector of mounts, transmog, minions (companions), and even things like furniture for your house and cards for a card game inside of FFXIV (I’ll get to all of that later!), you have plenty of things to do. Mounts in FFXIV are gorgeous and unique, there’s no weekly lockout on the old content you’d like to farm, and you’re even getting a form of pity currency from those dungeons that you can use to purchase the mounts that didn’t drop for you, so at some point you can actually have everything that’s obtainable!
So, a while ago I mentioned the in-game housing, and yes, you can have a house or alternatively an apartment, as the houses get quite expensive. As a rather new player, I don’t have the money for any of those yet, but I’m looking forward to setting it as a goal for myself sometime in the future.
There’s plenty of stuff you can get for your house, and some people create extraordinary things with their corner of the universe. This is not required to have by any means, but if you want it, it’s there for you to get it. This is unlike the Garrisons in WoW, as you’re not phased and secluded with your bunch of quests, it’s just a place to call home and bring your friends if you so choose.
As I already said, there are also minigames, Triple Triad being one of the most prominent ones. It’s essentially an addicting, little card game with a collection of cards you can get in plenty of other outside-of-the-casino content. Because yes, these games are in a casino, and there are also things like Glamour competitions and even lottery, so if you’ve got a gambling problem you wouldn’t want to rekindle in the real life, this is a place to safely submit to your sinful desires. Or not, if they’re too tempting to transfer over to your real life as well. But anyway. There’s a casino. There are cards, tournaments and activities you can grow old doing. Just saying.
If you’ve played other MMO’s where PvP used to be a big part of your gameplay, it might not be a good idea to dive into FFXIV just yet. The PvP content is scarce and not quite developed, and there’s also no such thing as a competitive scene for it. In the upcoming expansion, there will be some new things added to it, but nothing major really, so I’d go for Final Fantasy now only if I was a full-on PvE person, which I largely am so I’m good to go. Let me know in the comments how you feel about this and whether or not you’re a PvP person or not!
Finally, if you can’t imagine your MMO experience without some lifechanging music experience, I’d say FFXIV is definitely the game to try out, as it will quite literally keep you dancing or jumping in your chair. I used to listen to music while playing other MMO’s, but when I’m in the FFXIV, it’s just me, my character, and those beautiful in-game tunes – I’m not even kidding. If you’d like to discover it before playing, look up some of the FFXIV soundtracks on YouTube if you don’t consider it a spoiler for your gameplay.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got for you, I probably missed out on some important features as I haven’t been playing too terribly long myself either, but I’m looking forward to discovering them and making more content for you about them. If you’re more of a visual type, and you don’t mind getting easy wins in-game, you can check out all of this in my video – and subscribe for more awesome FFXIV stuff!