Final Fantasy XIV is one of the world’s most popular MMORPGs, at times surpassing the competition with player numbers and setting groundbreaking achievements for the genre. With the latest expansion Endwalker out, there has never been a better time to join FFXIV’s rich player base; If you’re not sure if you’re ready to join or not, here’s one long-time player’s honest review of the game.
When it comes to the world of MMORPG titles, there’s a general consensus that there’s a “big three.” These three games are the top-earning and top played titles in the genre, with the biggest updates that excite and dazzle player bases. These top three are World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls Online, and Final Fantasy XIV.
Of these titans, World of Warcraft was for the longest time the uncontested king; It sat above the competition oftentimes by no other virtue than being the oldest. For as long as I can remember, it felt like WoW was the success story that everyone wanted to emulate, without being anything alike, and for the longest time this was just a pipe dream. Then came FFXIV.
Recently, FFXIV has been famous for it’s ‘usurping’ of WoW as the most played MMORPG. Such a massive influx of players came to the game along with the announcement of it’s latest expansion that it infamously destroyed the game’s hosting limit. For weeks, it felt impossible to log into FFXIV, with a queue of 5,000 players or more ahead of you in every login attempt.
And it’s not hard to see why the game became so popular. FFXIV takes a refreshing look at some tried and tired MMORPG mechanics. It’s hard to say the game reinvents the wheel, but rather it throws a fresh coat of paint on some ideas that desperately need it, and tweaks the core gameplay of the MMORPG genre just enough that it feels refreshing, without being totally foreign to anyone who’s played an RPG before.
Combat is something that feels especially unique in Final Fantasy XIV, even when it probably shouldn’t. Really, there isn’t much difference between FFXIV and WoW in terms of combat mechanics; You have class-specific skills that you activate by pressing hotkeys while targeting enemies. But the combo system, and a flashy series of animations are enough to make everything feel different — As I said before, it’s like a coat of paint, without reinventing the wheel.
The class system is really unique as well. Unlike every other MMORPG on the market, you are not bound to the class you choose at character creation. Quite the opposite, in fact, as you are allowed and in fact encouraged to level up any and all classes available to you. Classes are instead jobs, and are something you can pick up at any time so long as you meet the level requirements. With new classes introduced every expansion, you have plenty of reasons to experiment with your favorites and swap back and forth as you see fit.
FFXIV isn’t a game that asks you to level up a lot of different characters. Instead, it’s a game that asks you level up one character a lot of times.
Each of these classes must be leveled independently of each other, so thankfully the game gives you a lot of options for how to do so. From running old dungeons with daily xp boosts to participating in side content that rewards XP, leveling up a new class is still a grind, but it’s one that you have a lot of options in approaching.
Where everyone can agree that Final Fantasy XIV really stands out is its story content. The game is routinely praised for it’s story, and with good reason; With over 800 quests in A Realm Reborn’s story alone, the story is the game’s main appeal and what you’ll be spending most of your time on.
However, controversially, I don’t think the story is all it’s made out to be. Many will have you to believe that FFXIV’s story is engaging from the moment you step foot on Eorzea. The disappointing truth to this is that the story does pick up, after maybe 20 to 30 hours of gameplay, if you only take on story quests back to back.
I distinctly remember ‘coming online’ near the end of ARR’s storyline. It was like developing consciousness all of a sudden; After hours and hours of fetch quests and dialogue I couldn’t get invested in, one cutscene suddenly had me interested in what was going on around me. From that point on, the story was brilliant-, and continues to be through the game’s DLCs, with Heavensward being particularly excellent. It’s just a shame that I had to play for so long before I became invested in the game’s main selling point.
The Final Word
Final Fantasy XIV is a great game. It does a fantastic time of selling you on your importance in the world around you, and can steal you away for hours if you let it. Unfortunately, what the game truly lacks in is freedom. You can only really tackle the game one way, with side content existing as a momentary distraction from the story. A story that, unfortunately, takes quite a bit of investment before it really grabs your attention. FFXIV truly is a game that starts after level 50.
Our Final Fantasy XIV review was written based on the PC version of the game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!