Final Fantasy XIV is Still the Best MMORPG in 2020
I know some of you guys have seen the title and are already prepared to ardently defend your favorite game.
This isn’t an attempt to diminish other games, but rather to talk about why I find Final Fantasy XIV to be as good as it is.
Every person has their own preferences, their own likes and dislikes – and as such it’s impossible to cater to every player.
However I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV on and off since the beginning of 2015.
I typically play for the first 4-6 months of an expansion so I can experience all of the content as it’s fresh and current, then come back periodically throughout the expansion, settling back in towards the last 3-4 months so I can complete everything that came out over the course of my absence.
This allows for me to gear myself ready for the next expansion. So while I’m in no way claiming to be an expert at the game, I’ve played more of Final Fantasy XIV than any other MMO aside from World of Warcraft.
I grew up with JRPGs: Legend of Dragoon, Breath of Fire, Final Fantasy, the Tales of series, Star Ocean, Suikoden. You name a JRPG and I bet you I played it.
One of the things I enjoy about the JRPG genre is the story-telling. Yeah, at times the plot can drag along and can be a little generic. However, I’m a sucker for story, and that’s one of the things that Final Fantasy XIV really does right.
If you’re the type of person that skips through the vast majority of the quest text, then there are probably better games out there for you. Because this is, at its core, a Final Fantasy game.
Sure, the base game has a slew problems with regards to its pace – something that Square Enix have taken note of and are aiming to fix with coming patches.
But after making it through and upon reaching expansion content you begin to see why people speak so highly of the game. The story really comes together in Shadowbringers – the most recent expansion – with many players claiming it has one of the best stories told in recent Final Fantasy history.
And honestly, Shadowbringers’ story, before the additional patch content was incredible. I’ve never been as captivated as I was during my journey through it.
Shadowbringers was actually the very first time I’d played an expansion during its launch. Mrs Stix actually took several days off so we could play through the launch of the game together and neither of us have regrets.
Story is merely one aspect of what makes a compelling MMO, though.
To a lot of players, combat is an integral part of what makes a game worth playing or not, and I agree.
Final Fantasy XIV is a tab-target MMO. The games I’ve played through the most, Tales of Pirates, Perfect World, World of Warcraft, and even Final Fantasy XIV are all tab-target MMOs.
I feel like I’m in the vocal minority, but general majority when I say that combat definitely takes a little getting used to.
If you’re beginning the game for the first time, you might feel as though the combat is slow, you have a lack of skills, and the global cooldowns eat away at your patience.
However, as you make progress through the game and your hotbars fill up with a plethora of skills, both on and off the global cooldown you begin to come to the realization that combat is much more intuitive than you may have originally thought.
I agree that Square handle this a little poorly during the leveling experience, though. Making lower level gameplay as slow as it is can deter people from playing early on, just like the fetch and retrieve quests as part of the main scenario.
Speaking of the leveling experience, there are quite a few methods with which you can utilize to hit end-game.
Whether you enjoy the main scenario or not, you’re required to continue with it to make progress through the game.
However, there are so many other methods of obtaining XP for your current job: FATEs which are open-world events that spawn, quests, your job’s hunting log, Palace of the Dead, dungeons, raids, job quests, guildhests, daily roulette, guildleves, the challenge log..
Seriously. Leveling should never be difficult, nor should you ever feel as though it’s a repetitious grind because, honestly, there’s just so many options to pass the time.
Since Mrs Stix and I always go tank/healer, the fastest method for us is to just stick with the main scenario quests while leveling through our daily roulette since it’s instant for us.
All of the aforementioned activities are PvE-oriented, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t PvP available for players interested. It just isn’t a very focal part of the game as – and I don’t mean to offend anyone by stating this – but Final Fantasy XIV fans just aren’t that into it.
What they are interested in are the raids: Savage-tier 8-player raids, 24-player Alliance raids, Ultimate-tier 8-player raids, and even Extreme-tier 8-player trials.
I’ll admit, I’m definitely not a hardcore raider. Mrs Stix does the most difficult content in the game and I see the mental toll it takes on her and the sheer time investment to push that kind of competitive content.
In the few hours I have each day to play MMOs – or games in general – I like to tackle it more casually. Back before I started this channel I did Mythic raiding in WoW, but that took up so much of my free time there’s no way I could ever see myself getting back into it.
I know, I know. Laugh all you want. But at least I can admit that I’m a filthy casual!
Oh! I can’t believe I’ve neglected to talk about classes and races this entire time. The class-system is one of the best parts of the game, after all.
There are 9 base classes total: Arcanist, Archer, Conjurer, Gladiator, Lancer, Marauder, Pugilist, Rogue, and Thaumaturge.
You play one of these classes until reaching level 10 I believe and obtain the ability to change to another class at your leisure, or continue to level 30 where you gain access to your advanced job.
There are 18 jobs total as of March 2020. Astrologian, Bard, Black Mage, Blue Mage, Dancer, Dark Knight, Dragoon, Gunbreaker, Machinist, Monk, Ninja, Paladin, Red Mage, Samurai, Scholar, Summoner, Warrior, and White Mage.
Other than the quite large selection of classes to choose between, which are actually labeled as Disciples of War or Magic, there are Disciples of the Hand – which, you guessed it, are the crafting professions. If you didn’t guess it correctly, no problem. I don’t judge you for not paying too much attention at this point.
Unlike most MMOs, Final Fantasy XIV requires you level these crafting professions up like you would a main class: It’s a slow, but very satisfying journey leveling your crafters.
These consist of the Alchemist, Armorer, Blacksmith, Carpenter, Culinarian, Goldsmith, Leatherworker and Weaver.
Honestly I’ve never been much of a crafter myself, traditionally purchasing everything I need from other players, but I both understand the importance of and appreciate players that take the time to level them.
Since you’re capable of changing your job at any time, this means there is absolutely no need for alt-characters. You can level everything on one single character – and can switch jobs on the fly.
This makes it easy to adapt to the task you’re undertaking, and as an altaholic, prevents me from having 10 Human characters all identical in appearance but a different class like in WoW.
Then we have our selection of races: The Hyur, Elezen, Miqo-te, Roegadyn, Au Ra, Viera, Hrothgar and finally, our potato overlords, the Lalafell which, if after the main scenario doesn’t convince you that they’re a bunch of scheming evil masterminds.. you’re likely a Lalafell.
I know it’s important to have things to do outside of traditional PvE and PvP activities, though.
Thankfully while yes, crafting professions are definitely a thing, as is gathering, Final Fantasy XIV has a giant amusement park in the form of the Gold Saucer.
There are a plethora of different mini-games you can play, you can raise and race your Chocobo, participate in the Triple Triad, which is probably the only card game I’ve ever taken the time to learn.
But if that isn’t of interest to you there’s also a housing system in-game. Player housing is very extensive, and is one of the most sought-after features available.
This is due to there being a limit on housing lots, meaning regardless of how much Gil you have, you might not be lucky enough to acquire a lot to actually build the mansion of your dreams on.
And if, for some reason neither of these are of interest to you.. then there’s always Glamour: The end-game of Final Fantasy XIV.
Much like in Guild Wars 2, Final Fantasy XIV has so many gear-sets you can unlock via dungeons, raids, quests and a ton more through events and the Mog Station.
This provides players an outlet to express themselves in their characters. Well, I guess player housing also provides players the ability to express themselves. But that’s besides the point.
You can ask anyone: Glamour is the most important thing in the game. People are pushing for the highest item level gear? Pffft. Half the playerbase is still actively trying to get that set of boots that released a month ago.
Plus, let’s be real: Looking good in an MMO gives you a DPS bonus anyway. This is a secret that not many people are privy to though, so make sure you don’t tell anyone.
Final Fantasy XIV is a pay-to-play MMORPG. This means that to play the game, you’re required to purchase the game and then pay a monthly subscription fee to continue to play.
I know a lot of players, especially right now with all that’s going on in the world can’t afford to purchase the game, let alone the subscription fee. And considering they release new expansions every 18 months or so?
To me, it’s totally worth it. You’re paying for a game that is constantly updated with content that you can easily digest at your own pace.
You can stay subscribed for a month, participate in all of the current content for an expansion, come back a year later, subscribe for a month or two, finish all of the content available to you, then come back for the next expansion.
All in all, you might spend less than $100 every 2 years, total to play months worth of a game of this caliber.
I know Yoshi-P has talked about the game adopting a free-to-play business model in the future – or rather, he’s discussed the likelihood of it happening.
And honestly, I don’t think the game should ever adopt a business model other than what it has right now. It promises a certain level of quality that would definitely decline otherwise.
Final Fantasy XIV is an incredible MMO. The further you get through it, the more this becomes evident.
It has an absolutely gripping, fantastic story that I’ve not seen done to the level it has been done here in any MMO.
While the leveling experience, with regards to combat can definitely be slow and an arduous process to get through at times, it gets so much better if you stick with it.
Graphically, the game, and especially the zones are amazing to move through. The expansion content looks absolutely stunning.
The soundtrack, like most Final Fantasy games – and especially during Trials and Raids is.. out of this world. Like, go to Youtube and search for any Trial’s background music. You won’t regret it.
This is probably one of, if not the highest quality MMO I’ve ever played. I’ve had an active subscription to the game almost since the day I began without letting it cancel. That’s how much I support it.
Again, this doesn’t mean other games aren’t amazing in their own right. This is merely my subjective opinion of the game.
Hopefully, during all of the free time you have off right now this helps you decide whether or not you should play the game.