I have played World of Warcraft going back to its early roots when the base game was still current content. I helped start and lead my first guild around late 2009, which was the first of 3 consecutive guilds running as recent as the last year or two. I went to my first Blizzcon in 2013 and every single year after that until 2019. That all being said, I have always been someone who saw myself playing World of Warcraft in some capacity until the end of its run whenever that might be. While I am not so certain World of Warcraft is looking at its curtain call, I have finally decided to look at similar competitors. While there are many factors inside and outside of the game as to why I feel this way; it all simply boils down to the simple fact that I no longer feel I am getting my money’s worth out of the game these days. The following contains my thoughts, opinions, on my first 10 or so hours in Final Fantasy XIV and how I feel some aspects compare to World of Warcraft.
I was immediately greeted by a choice of login screens followed by a fairly extensive character creator. I could not help but feel these are two things unfortunately lacking in World of Warcraft. This is because in WoW I always wished I could go back to older log-in screens as I felt some of the newer ones were not as pleasing as my favorites which made me kind of sad to see them go for good when new ones were added. Moving onto character creation I feel it is much easier to make a character your own in XIV with sliding scales and customization. Not to mention unlocking subraces for many World of Warcraft races took a monumental amount of work (especially for new players) compared to XIV where they are available from the start. WoW character creation often felt like you were choosing between a few cookie-cutter options and doesn’t go beyond that to really change much of your physical attributes outside of hairstyles and limited face options. Just being able to add a secondary hair color, or highlights as XIV words it, allows you to add a great deal of personalization. As someone who generally never cares about my character’s appearance much and often decides to look funny rather than appealing. I felt I wanted to actually succeed in making my character look good. Later once seeing my character in short cutscenes with your character model in them I often actually had moments where I stopped and said, “I made that.” Beyond your character’s phenotype, you can even change your idle stance which really instilled a sense of personality to the characters.
So with a character I was actually proud of, rather than one for entertainment, I went and finally logged into my character for the first time. I quested through the main story while taking part in all of the side objectives and activities as they opened up to me which offered many breaks to the action of leveling up even at low levels. Triple Triad, a card game which allows you to collect cards to battle with has actually grown on me considerably. It is everything I actually wish World of Warcraft pet battles were, its own game. Rather than a copy of another popular and existing video game series. The Gold Saucer which unlocks a few hours into the main story also proves to be a much more fleshed-out version of what WoW players would know as the Darkmoon Faire. Allowing for a much wider variety of games and activities that also seem to be more polished than its WoW counterpart.
While I have not reached max level nor completed the base game yet, I have spent a great deal of time experimenting with different combat styles. I wanted to try and at least get a bit of an understanding of how each class might play out in terms of cast times and instant cast spells. I feel like I can say at least, so far, the combat and the combat system seem solid. The only real critique I have is that I wish the global cooldown, or time between each attack for the uninitiated, was shorter to allow for attacks sooner. However, I can easily chalk that minor gripe up to not having every class's toolkit available to me yet which could very easily bridge the gaps in a lot of rotations. It is also worth noting that every starter class does get expanded upon further by unlocking an upgraded version at level 30. For example, thaumaturge becomes black mage, gladiator becomes paladin, archer becomes bard, and so on for each of the classes you can pick from at the start. The first 30 levels serve as a slow introduction to the class before unlocking the full potential which has the same core gameplay at heart but builds on it and makes it a little more complex. I also find that it is very refreshing to know that my one character can perform all classes. That means that I don’t have to slog through quests and game systems I have already completed if I want to do something such as have another role to play in a group or want to try out another class. I am looking at you World of Warcraft and your notoriously alt character unfriendly grinds if you want to play another class or character.
The game is also very beginner-friendly whether you are looking at starting rotations to gameplay mechanics. Classes often have “combos” that highlight the next ability to hit as it will be empowered. This is in contrast to WoW which often only does this for RNG procs in rotations rather than guaranteed rotation mechanics. This makes it much easier for people new to the game or the genre even to pick up and play it as the game helps direct you towards a proper rotation. As opposed to one where a new player might just be randomly button mashing until something dies. The careful guidance by the developers extends past just rotations as many of the intro quests in each city also help teach you how to use emotes and interact with objects so you can then start to connect with people around you as well. For those familiar with typical MMO commands and interactions none of these things will be anything new or exciting, but for those who are new to the genre, it can be a more welcoming experience. Before you unlock dungeons the main quests also take you to several characters who teach you about how grouping with players will work by either letting you do guildhests, or what I would call mini-dungeons with low stakes and a lot of room for error. The developers also took the time to include role specialized lessons that teach you what it means to be a tank, DPS, or healer. I can’t count how many times I have gone into intro WoW dungeons and had to try and explain or teach a tank who had no idea they had taken up any kind of responsibility because the game simply never instructed them of that.
With that in mind, it is why I can honestly give the game one of the best compliments I feel that I can give at this time: it is a game that I feel confident in sharing with friends and family. I think introducing new players would be much more enjoyable for everyone in XIV than WoW in its current state as the game just simply does a better job of showing you what an MMO has to offer earlier in the game. As far as PvE is concerned, whether you are someone looking for a group challenge with friends or a social game in these very isolating times there is probably at least a little something for everyone. I have not had a chance to mess the PvP aspect myself so I can’t comment on it but I do know that some more hardcore PvP minded friends of mine are not particularly happy about it but still enjoy the game outside of that. As with many MMOs, there is a wide variety of activities to spend your time on and the game does it well with places like the Gold Saucer.
If you are interested, now is a great time as the game is currently experiencing a player base boom with many new players, or sprouts as the game calls them. While there are only a couple of months before their next expansion there is plenty of time to download the client and try out the game up to level 50 for free before deciding to pick anything up. If you are interested it is not too late to hop on board now and hit up the main story quest line until you unlock the Gold Saucer. You still have plenty of time to save up your MGP for cosmetics and a special mount that will only be on sale for a limited time based on the car from Final Fantasy XV sometime in September. So if you are like me and looking for at the very least a temporary MMO home you have nothing to lose by giving it a try and experiencing it for yourself.