First of all, I want to state for the record that I do think FFXIV is fundamentally a good game. I've played it since the disastrous 1.0 launch, all through the reboot of A Realm Reborn, and up until recently. While I've felt discontent for quite a long time, I've never truly given up on the game. I could go on and on about what I think the game does really well, but as I've pointed out there are numerous sites out there singing its praises. In my own opinion, I think the game really shines at the entry level. I wonder if reviewers are loading up the game for the first time, creating fresh characters and running around within the first 45 levels as they write their reviews. Some of the most fun I've had in the game in the last six months is starting up a brand new character and experiencing the early parts of the game - making new friends or running low-level content with my wife. This casual, entry-level content is really enjoyable.
The real problems set in when you hit the level cap and begin the long grind of MMO end-game. Since A Realm Reborns launch, the end-game has consisted primarily of three things. First, you do your daily quests and dungeon roulettes to amass points to purchase gear upgrades. Second, you fight primals - which are instanced boss fights - that typically drop a weapon or accessory to help you upgrade your gear. Finally, there is the end-game raid which has consisted of 4 distinct rounds of boss fights (similar to and often including primal-type monsters). I choose to omit the Crystal Tower and Void Ark style of raiding because this is mostly used to patch in holes and upgrade alternative jobs due to the gear being significantly less powerful than the aforementioned triad of content.
- Daily Dungeon Roulette
|The Game Has Great Characters|
Typically when new dungeons are released, I run through them like a kid on Christmas. I'm wow! and oh! and neat! every little thing they chose to include in the dungeon. I love the way they construct them in this game, and I love their liberal, lore-sensitive use of previous Final Fantasy monsters and bosses to populate them. The Final Fantasy fan in me eats this for breakfast. But flash forward 3 months and I'd rather jab pencils into my eyes than set foot in these two new dungeons, because the game itself has caused me to hate them one by one. It's painful process to go through, literally every patch. Two new dungeons you'll love, but eventually hate! I feel like this problem would easily be solved if Expert Roulette simply pooled from a bigger selection of dungeons! Instead of 50% chance of the dungeon you just ran yesterday (and 100% chance you'll hate every minute of it), you would see those dungeons less and less the more they added. This alone would alleviate some of the pain.
- The Primals
|Have I mentioned I love Shiva?|
- End-Game Raids
|Bahamut's Teraflare - Epic!|
Coil remains one of my all-time favorite end-game raids in an MMO that I've played. It was challenging and the feeling of completing it was sensational. The story made you feel like you were saving the world from utter destruction, and the challenge left you feeling like you'd really proven yourself as a player. Unfortunately, I haven't had either experience with Alexander at all. From its inception, I've been underwhelmed. The story (loosely given reason to even do Alexander) was all crammed into an easy mode - unlike Coil - that was completed in a single day. So there's no surprise victory fanfare for actually completing the end-game tier raid. Therefore this harder mode where the good loot drops offers no in-game motivation to complete. It's just a blatant loot carrot on a stick completely undisguised. The bosses themselves are boring and the final two instances are grueling and unpleasant to even attempt. It remains one of my least favorite end-game raids of an MMO that I've played.
|Alexander Core - Derpy!|
Final Fantasy XIV has a lot to offer and a lot to like but over time, it's grown tiresome. The end-game hasn't evolved enough to be anything more than a series of carrots on sticks. Each new carrot invalidating the last, but all the sticks are identical. Nothing ever truly changes, and you plod ever onward on a quest for gear for gear's sake. I know - I know! A lot of people will tell me this is how all MMO are created, particularly successful ones. Does it really have to be this way? I know that for a long time it wasn't the standard in MMO genre. This new style really is not for me, and honestly - despite it's great cast of characters, it's very well balanced job system, and an amazing story and soundtrack - Final Fantasy XIV probably isn't going to be played by me much longer unless they take a stark new direction on their end-game content. I just can't do the same things over and over for another two years hoping that it will change when it consistently never does.
Disagree? Let me know in the comments! I love a good disagreement.