by Jon Sullivan - 2021-09-30 - Gaming

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My beloved Blizzard video games are forever gone. So what will be filling that hole in my life? So far it's Final Fantasy 14.

When the backlash and account canceling started in response to Blizzard's overt and aggressive evilness, the buzz around the Warcraft community was that FF XIV was the MMO to switch to. With longtime Final Fantasy players bragging about the superiority of the game. Especially the story arc, which continues through all expansions, and is the leveling path new players are locked into.

And that's a pretty cool idea. In WoW you start a level 1 character and then are just tossed into the game world to level however you want. But that flexibility also means you miss almost all of the expansion content that has built up over 8 expansions and 15 years. The lore of Warcraft is a major strength of the game. But if you are new and start at level 1 you get to see almost none of it. And it's really confusing. You can decide to level in one expansion and see all of that story's arc, but it's a slice in limbo without context that was already resolved and forgotten long ago by most players. WoW leveling on new characters largely feels more like something to be raced through ASAP instead of a wonderful story to enjoy.

But in FF XIV you have no choice at all if you want to get to endgame content. You start level 1 on the main story quest (MSQ) and you stay on it to max level. You can do side stuff, which there is tons of, but the MSQ isn't optional. That might sound bad, but it's not. It's actually much better. There is no confusion, just do the MSQ. There is no missed content, as the MSQ has all of it. And it's one story, instead of the tons of unconnected stories that currently make up WoW. For example Garrosh Hellscream and Warlords are vital to the total WoW story. But honestly, who even cares about them anymore once we have Shadowlands? It's like if you read Lord of the Rings, but somehow The Two Towers was completely skippable and didn't matter. FF XIV MSQ is more of an actual story.

And it's a damn good story. But......... There is a big but..... The beginning of the MSQ, level 1 to the end of patch 2.55 (Before the Fall - Part 2) is truly awful. And that's 50 levels of leveling. Not trivial. It's barely even a story, and it's not what I'd call a video game. It's more a bad and not worth reading graphic novel. It's nearly all "Run over there and watch a cut scene. Now run back. Now run over there and watch a cut scene. Now run back. Now run over there and watch a cut scene. Now run back. Now run over there and watch a cut scene. Now run back. Now run over there and watch a cut scene. Now run back. Now run over there and watch a cut scene. Now run back. Now run over there and watch a cut scene. Now run back.

FOR FUCK SAKE MAKE IT END ALREADY FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY!!!!!!!!!! "I know you love cut scenes. So here's some cut scenes inside your cut scene. Also cut scenes. Followed by cut scenes." And whoever the sadist is who green-lit Praetorium needs to be fired, and then legally obligated to get therapy.

It gets a lot better. Hang in there. I promise it gets much better.

Setting aside the start of the MSQ I am really liking the game. The crafting and professions are legitimately fun. You don't need an alt ever, since one character can switch classes and professions just by switching mainhand. Which might sound very implausible to WoW players, but is flawless and awesome. At this point the WoW "endless alts" system seems stupid and mean to me. Why did I have to suffer through that for years when the WoW devs had to know this existed?

The longer global cooldown drove me crazy when I started, but now I like it better. WoW rotations feel twitchy, and automatic. They are just a train on tracks that you execute as fast as possible. FF XIV rotations are just more fun since they are less frantic and more deliberate.

But the best part of FF XIV is the part that seems the weirdest. From top to bottom the game is designed to prevent players from being elitist assholes. Contrast that with WoW where Blizzard (likely due to them being secretly IRL evil) asks you nicely to not be an elitist asshole, but obviously doesn't mean it. "50 DKP minus" wasn't something they banned accounts for. It was a core part of the fun. But in FF XIV... and this will blow your mind.... "50 DKP minus" will 100% get your account banned, full stop. It's in the TOC, and they actually and proudly enforce it. That's not for everyone of course. But my hope for the Human Race is such that I hope most will prefer it.

No idea if I'll stick with it for years. But so far it seems I might. Jon says : Recommended for WoW players.

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