Why Final Fantasy XIV Is The Best MMORPG Right Now
This has been a long time coming.
I began my Final Fantasy XIV journey a long time ago. Back when we had main attribute points to distribute. But, I took a long break from the game to start this channel and finally came back January 2019.
And boy has it changed. With Shadowbringers right around the corner and my Early Access ready, I thought this would be the ideal time to do a video on the game.
Especially with so many of you wondering if it’s worth the purchase.
WHAT IS FINAL FANTASY XIV?
Final Fantasy XIV is one a handful of pay-to-play MMORPGs left running, developed and published both by Square Enix.
It is currently only available for PC, PS3 and PS4 however Naoki Yoshida, the director and producer for Final Fantasy XIV has recently revealed that discussions with Microsoft and Nintendo are already underway.
While this is in no way a confirmation, especially since he stressed the fact that the game would need to fully support cross-play as to not divide its playerbase, both Sony and Nintendo have begun to allow cross-play with competing platforms for games like Fortnite and Rocket League.
Final Fantasy XIV launched back in 2010 to what was, at the time, a critically negative reception. In 2013 it re-branded itself as “A Realm Reborn,” and has seen nothing but success and steady growth ever since.
The game takes place in the fictional land of Eorzea, five years after the primal Bahamut managed to initiate the Seventh Umbral Calamity that destroyed much of the world.
Upon beginning the game you’re given the option of creating your character, much like in every MMO. There is quite a diverse selection of races to choose between:
– The traditional Hyur.
– The tall, slender Elezen.
– Everyone’s favorite slave-trading potato overlords, the Lalafell.
– The Roegadyn.
– The race everyone chooses anyway, the adorable Miqo’te.
– The beautiful Au Ra.
– Then we have the Viera and Hrothgar, both of which will release with Final Fantasy XIV’s upcoming Shadowbringers expansion.
Character creation isn’t as fleshed out as in some other MMOs like Blade & Soul or Black Desert but the options you have access to provide enough customization to create a character that you can call your own.
I mean, both my wife and I are fans of in-depth character creators. I like being able to heavily customize my character as does my wife MrsStix but we were both pretty satisfied with the end result.
Especially when you factor in endgame: Glamor. I’m a longtime WoW player and although I loved collecting gear sets to transmog, I never knew how important the visual appearance of your gear was.
Walking down the streets of Limsa Lominsa or Kugane is always an entertaining experience as you see people of all shapes, sizes and.. they’re pretty damn creative.
Of the 6 months we’ve been playing thus far, I believe my wife has made upwards of 30 different sets and I’ve managed.. probably over 10. Note that I play a male character.
WHAT IS THERE TO DO, THOUGH?
Although endgame really does have quite a significant emphasis on glamor, there’s much, much more that the game has to offer.
There are multiple ways of obtaining gear for endgame activities and multiple forms of endgame that is completely dependent on what you want to do.
After completing the Main Scenario, my wife and I were pretty under-geared still. Around item level 310? 320?
Not wanting to be a burden on our team since I main a Warrior and she mains a White Mage we opted to purchase some gear from the Market Board. This got us to around item level 340-350 and thus we started the 8-player Omega raids.
Interestingly, the Omega raids dropped parts instead of gear that were in turn used to redeem gear – something we realized was going to become a more common method of obtaining gear henceforth.
Difficulty and rewards varied depending on whether we did Deltascape, Sigmascape or Alphascape and item level requirements were also vastly different.
This applies to the increased difficulty Savage mode Omega raids as well with the final Savage Alphascape 4.0 requiring an average item level of 380.
Alliance Raids are another form of endgame content featuring 24-players split between 3 different groups, and fans of Final Fantasy XII like myself will feel right at home in Stormblood’s.
The first raid that takes you into Rabanastre has a base item level requirement of 305 but the Orbonne Monastery, the final Alliance raid has a base item level requirement of 365, rewarding item level 390 gear.
This allows you to obtain a majority of your gear solely via drops in Alliance Raids if you wanted to. Like the Omega raids, you obtain coins for completion of Alliance Raids.
These coins allow you to upgrade item level 390 Scaevan gear you obtain through Tomestones of Genesis to stronger Augmented versions that sit at item level 400.
Tomestones of Genesis, along with other forms such as Mendacity are earn-able through daily dungeons, duties, raids, PvP and more.
Then we have both 4-player and 8-player Trials that have you do battle with monstrous Primals. These are normally difficult the first few times you do them but honestly once you learn mechanics they’re not much trouble.
So endgame consists primarily of 4-player dungeons to farm Tomestones, 8-player raids, 24-player Alliance raids, 8-player Trials and all of these reward you with the most important thing in-game: Glamor.
Or if you’re a glutton for punishment, you could run Eureka for gear. But with Shadowbringers on the horizon.. it’s not really necessary and much faster to do via the aforementioned methods.
Unless you want the Relic weapon then.. yeah, get to it.
WHAT ABOUT COMBAT?
Spending so much time fighting would be a chore if you didn’t enjoy the gameplay though, right?
One of the most common complaints circling the community is that the game has a slow tab-target combat system.
Let me clear a few things up with regards to the combat though: Yes, at early-game the combat is slow. It really is, there’s no way around that.
Anyone who thinks the low level gameplay is engaging has never played this game at endgame, and I’m well aware that dull introductory gameplay makes for an unenjoyable experience but it picks up rather rapidly.
As a Warrior at max level, each boss fight consists of the following:
I establish aggro from the boss. I then begin my DPS rotation while watching the bosses attacks for AoEs or Tank Busters.
Defensives are off the global cooldown which means if I see the boss readying a hit that would normally deal substantial damage or an AoE that I could absorb some damage for, I have to make sure to react.
I then need to keep up my damage buff, my damage debuff on the boss and know when to pop my offensive cooldowns which, again, are off the global cooldown.
That’s not taking into account my AoEs, heals or other taunts which are also off the global cooldown.
During fights you’re paying so much attention to the boss, dodging attacks, popping cooldowns to survive or negate some damage so healers aren’t forced to heal so often that the global cooldown issue is non-existent.
Or it is to me at least. I don’t play DPS but I know that my wife as a healer has a similar opinion. Especially when DPS refuse to move out of AoEs.
Honestly, I enjoy Final Fantasy XIV’s combat. I’m a fan of tab-target and action combat both and I feel like Square handled it pretty well here.
Talking about being a Warrior though I just realized I have yet to touch on classes – or as they’re referred to in Final Fantasy XIV – jobs.
In total there are 3 tank jobs: Dark Knight, Paladin and Warrior with Shadowbringers bringing in a fourth, the Gunbreaker.
There are 3 healing jobs: The Astrologian, Scholar and White Mage.
There are 9 DPS jobs: The Bard, Black Mage, Dragoon, Machinist, Monk, Ninja, Red Mage, Samurai and Summoner, with Shadowbringers bringing a tenth, the Dancer.
Then there’s the Blue Mage which is a limited job and the only one of its kind.
You begin as a base class until choosing your job at level 30 and continue through the game as the job you choose. You learn job specific skills as you progress through the game and are capable of swapping to any job at any time.
Yup, Final Fantasy XIV has one of the most unique class systems in the genre: You don’t level your character, you level your job.
As a max level 70 Warrior right now I can change my job to a Conjurer and go level as White Mage if I want to, changing back to Warrior at any time.
This provides an interesting take on having alts: If every job can be leveled on the same character, then why do you need other characters? Other than glamor of course.
The jobs listed comprise the Disciple of War and Disciple of Magic roles, but there are two more types: Disciple of the Hand and Disciple of the Land.
Disciples of the Hand are crafters like the Alchemist, Armorer, Blacksmith, Carpenter, Culinarian, Goldsmith, Leatherworker, and Weaver.
Disciples of the Land are, as you probably guessed it, gatherers. They consist of the Botanist, Fisher and Miner. So as you can imagine, there’s quite a lot to level in-game.
Honestly, I’m a huge Final Fantasy buff having played Final Fantasy games since the original came out. So seeing so many classes I recognize is just.. Iunno. It makes me happy. Especially since I can experience it with my wife.
SO, ABOUT THE STORY..
Part of the driving force behind what makes Final Fantasy XIV so good is its rich, compelling story-telling.
The only time I’ve felt like story had significance was in Guild Wars 2 and World of Warcraft and while both are great games in their own right, neither of those have the sheer depth that Final Fantasy XIV’s has.
There is lore behind almost everything. Story tied into dungeons. Story behind each raid and Alliance Raid you do.
To unlock and progress through content, even side content, you have to go through the story-lines associated with them.
This provides a world absolutely brimming with character. There are new stories to be told around every corner and surrounding every form of content.
There’s the Main Scenario, side quests, quest-lines for every individual job, raid story-lines, trial story-lines, Palace of the Dead’s story, Heavens on High, Eureka, Beast Tribes, and… yeah. Seriously.
The main scenario also makes use of quite a bit of voice acting – which, especially concerning later expansions, has proven to be some of the best quality voice acting in an MMO and has made for some very impactful cut-scenes.
However, this is also a drawback for some people as to progress through the game, especially since endgame is where you need to be to fully experience the game, you have to clear the entire story.
With Shadowbringers launching this month that’s a significant number of hours to get through.
This has been a topic of contention amongst current players and would-be players interested in the game but turned off by the sheer amount of content needed to get through.
I HEARD THERE WAS PVP?
Final Fantasy XIV is, first and foremost, a PvE game. It does not put much of a priority in the PvP scene and as such doesn’t see much activity reflected in participation.
There are several game modes: 1v1, 4v4, 8v8 and 24v24 player matches in the form of the Rival Wings, The Wolves’ Den, The Feast, Frontlines, and of course Duels.
If I’m being completely honest with you though, if your goal in Final Fantasy XIV is to actively participate in PvP then you might end up disappointed.
Queue times are pretty bad outside of prime-time so unless you’re playing when the handful of other PvPers are playing.. you’ll be stuck.
I’m not saying that PvP in Final Fantasy XIV is inherently bad as I’ve only done maybe a few hours of it at max, but the lack of participation left me bored and wanting.
Especially since the rewards are mainly cosmetic glamor and mounts.
ISN'T THERE A CASINO?
Yes, the Gold Saucer! Man, I’ve grinded so many hours inside the Gold Saucer. It’s one giant amusement park.
You have the ability to build up and race your Chocobo, participate in a large variety of mini-games to earn the currency used to purchase items, battle your Minions against one another, and most importantly.. Triple Triad.
If you’ve played Final Fantasy VIII then you’ll know exactly what Triple Triad is; One of the most addicting parts of VIII for me and something I spent way too much time on in XIV.
Unfortunately some of the rules were changed in XIV and as such we can’t have super overpowered decks but the challenge is still very prevalent- maybe even more so in XIV than in VIII.
After unlocking the Triple Triad you can travel all over Eorzea and duel people in every town and every region, it’s actually really interesting to see some of these random NPCs just pull out their deck and go all “Let’s duel!” on me.
The Gold Saucer is a lot of fun and one of the most enjoyable side activities for my wife and I. It’s always packed and there are always new items being added to win.
Plus, you get to race your Chocobo! How awesome is that?
YOU CAN OWN A HOUSE!
Player housing is one of those things you don’t think you need, but eventually get roped into and end up loving. Thankfully, it’s a pretty big deal in Final Fantasy XIV.
Players are capable of purchasing a plot of land in one of four regions: The Mist, Lavender Beds, The Goblet and Shirogane. You can choose to have a personal house or establish it as your Free Company estate.
Estates house a crafting station and the ability to build Airships whereas personal homes do not.
However, all estates have access to Chocobo Stables, an Aetheryte crystal to teleport to, a mailbox, summoning bell, armoire and more.
The interiors and exteriors are fully customizable with three different sizes of house to choose between: A small cottage, a medium sized house and a large mansion.
There’s so much customization associated with your house that I feel like an entire video would be better dedicated to the housing because there’s just so much to talk about.
IS FINAL FANTASY XIV WORTH PLAYING?
The game has a purchase and pay model that requires you buy the game and every expansion as they come out, and pay for a monthly subscription as well.
I know some people can’t afford that and that’s completely understandable and a relatable circumstance to be in.
The combat is slow for some people. The story can be a little overwhelming to get through at times. There’s a lack of PvP in the game.
But at the same time, Final Fantasy XIV has some of the best tab-target combat in the genre.
The story is one of the most well thought-out in an MMO and is very much a reason the game has reached the popularity it has over the years.
PvP in the majority of MMOs was always more of an afterthought rather than a focal point.
The community is perhaps the friendliest and most helpful I’ve come across, with the exception of possibly Guild Wars 2.
The game itself is worth every cent I’ve spent on it and with Shadowbringers coming up at the end of this month I look forward to a further challenge.
I’ve never been here at the launch of an expansion so this is exciting. I’m excited. My wife is excited. In my opinion, Final Fantasy XIV is one of the few MMORPGs truly worth investing months of your time into.
I couldn’t be happier saying that this game is my main game and has helped me cope with my leaving of WoW at the beginning of this year after being disappointed with Battle for Azeroth.