FFXIV: Weighing the pros and cons

final1I don’t think I’ve ever been as conflicted about an MMO as I am with Final Fantasy XIV. As I said in my initial post, it seems as though for every great aspect I identify, there’s another that’s off-putting or annoying. After a week of playing it, taking advice from friends and guildies, and trying to keep an open mind, I find myself formulating one of those pros-and-cons lists to help me decide whether or not to proceed in the game.


  • Final Fantasy XIV is undeniably gorgeous. Screenshot bait is everywhere and I have a folder full of great pictures of the landscape and various critters. I wouldn’t call it the prettiest MMO I’ve ever seen, but top five? Sure.
  • There’s a robust list of emotes that’s easy to access and use. Small thing, but some MMOs slack off in this area.
  • The community that I’ve encountered is absolutely terrific. Not only do people in general chat actually talk like civil people, but the free company I joined (the unofficial “blogger guild” on Cactuar) has made my gaming experience quite pleasant. It’s been great to see and talk to many online friends, and everyone’s been patient with my barrage of questions.
  • I like the idea of a character being able to switch classes and acquire cross-class skills. I didn’t take advantage of it, but I like that it’s there.
  • I never felt lost. The game’s quite linear in how it directs you around, and for the most part I was able to track the story and slowly gear up. A few quests had fun rewards, such as pets and emotes.
  • As I said last week, I got a serious case of adventurer feels just walking around the pretty zones. It’s kind of like smelling something that reminds you of your childhood and wanting to chase that memory as much as possible.
  • Everyone I’ve talked to keeps encouraging me to stick out the story, raving about how it progresses and especially the Heavensward expansion.


  • Does the combat get any better? Twenty levels, and I’m slogging through some of the slowest, dullest fights of my MMO career. The global cooldown here is killing me.
  • Looking over lists of classes, jobs, and skills, I’m not seeing a lot that personally excites me. That’s a serious blow to my interest, because looking forward to fun abilities and character development is a major motivational factor to my play.
  • The nodding. The nodding. The nodding. I know I’ve lambasted SWTOR for repeated gestures, but this is just eyerollingly repetitive.
  • And while I’m on about gestures, I am not connecting with my character or NPCs in the story. All I can think of is how SWTOR and TSW delivers story so much better, and in that comparison FFXIV falters.
  • The Final Fantasy setting and tropes are much more of a liability than a reason to fanboy gush. That’s a personal thing, and I know what I got into when I stepped into a FF game, but it’s only served to reinforce how little I like the franchise these days.
  • The humor is weird and silly and juvenile. I mean, I like silly humor, but I suppose the line is when it stops being relatable and is just… bizarre. The hairstylist quest? The quests where the game forces my character to do ridiculous dances? I kept backing away from the computer, shaking my head and muttering, “No… no…”
  • The sub-only option makes this a hard game to only casually play.

I actually wouldn’t have a problem keeping this on my hard drive indefinitely if it was F2P or B2P. As it is, while I definitely appreciate some parts of the game and enjoy the company, I’m not hooked yet. Will it happen with another 10 or 20 hours? I have no idea. When I signed up, I paid for a month and then immediately canceled my subscription, giving FFXIV 30 days to convince me. There are still a few weeks left, so I’m not making a decision yet.

13 thoughts on “FFXIV: Weighing the pros and cons

  1. I don’t think FF works for F2P MMO players, which IMO isn’t a bad thing overall, but isn’t a fit for people who jump around a lot and can’t justify the $10 to sub because of that. While you can get something done in 30 minutes, a lot of the better content takes longer, and especially the main storyline only really ‘works’ if you keep up with it consistently.

    Same goes for jobs; getting multiple up takes a while, and only when you do that will the real beauty of the zone design come through, along with all of the other content options that are more ideal for a second or fifth job rather than the first.

    Unlike most other MMOs out today, FFXIV isn’t really designed to be one of a dozen games someone players, but it fully supports being the one game you play with all of its content and the different pacing for each piece. You can log in and make progress on the one character you have, but that progress can be a dozen different directions that all interconnect.

  2. Well, it didn’t manage to convince me before the the 30 days were up. The closed nature of the progression was what really did for me but there were other factors as well. For all its beauty I found the world increasingly unconvincing, both visually and emotionally. There’s something enervating about it. I was finding it tiring to spend time in towards the end and on the few occasions I’ve been back (the free weekends and so on) that tiredness has kicked in within a few minutes.

    I think, though, that once you find yourself drawing up lists of Pros and Cons about anything the end is near. Did anyone ever draw up one of those lists and convince themselves to stick with anything as a result?

  3. Combat really depends on the class you play. I know you’ve dabbled with Arcanist, which I found to be somewhat dull and not a playstyle that I enjoyed. It got a bit better after 30 when you started to invest in either healer or DPS, though. All classes start out a bit slow and then build on combos and rotations as you level. Like the story, combat is a slow bloomer. But once it’s there, it’s like BAM!

    Classes like melee DPS (I main a Dragoon, for example) are intense and feel faster paced, especially once you get a full rotation at later levels. There is a global cooldown, but there are also skills not on global cooldown that you learn to weave between your main rotations and it gets… complex. But in a challenging way. It used to blow my mind a bit, but now I think I’ve got a grasp on Dragoon, at least.

    Oh yes. Some of the side quests get silly. That leaks into the sometimes odd festival event quests, too. At first, I also was doing the headshake. But over time, I grew more accustomed to the idea that things were sometimes going to be strange in that Japanese-humor way, and learned to accept that. Good thing that I did because one of the silliest quest line (Hildibrand Quests) were also some of the most enjoyable and rewarding little quests I’ve ever experienced. Now days, it’s become an endearing aspect of the game (and expected from holiday events), something that reminds me to lighten up a bit… considering there’s so much to be serious about in the main story lines.

    Either way you choose, though, I’m glad you gave the game a shot. I understand and respect that different folks enjoy different games, and that’s just how life works.

    If I had one wish, though, it was that FFXIV did deliver the closer-to-endgame goodness earlier on in the experience. I totally understand how the slower starting pace can turn people off… it just makes me sad that I can’t show these folks what it feels to be playing through the story and battles in the late 30s and early 40s… not to mention around level 50 and beyond. 😦

  4. To be honest, I’ve never felt like the gameplay was slow. In fact, at times I found it overwhelming and a bit fast. FFXIV is my first MMORPG and the pace is what kept me playing it. I can see frustration from experienced MMO’ers, but from a total noob like me? I need that 2.5 GCD, slow introduction. I don’t think I would have kept playing if it didn’t.

  5. For me, I find every class to be pretty boring until 26-30. It’s the slow drip drip drip of getting the various skills, but about 26 seem to be when all the combos are finally in place and the combat makes sense and gets a rhythm/flow to it. Up until then… yeah, it feels really slow. And FWIW, the Arcanist with its slow dots and “sustained damage” rather than the big bursty numbers of a Thaumaturge or Lancer feels even slower, IMO.

    OTOH, at cap right now the Summoner is the go-to mage dps. Black Mages are crying about that all over the forums and reddit right now. I know I’m having a blast at 53 on my Summoner doing the daily hunts and taking out level 59 mobs. No way I could have done that on my Black Mage. I’d have folder like a cheap tent trying even level 57 mobs at 53 on the BLM. So yeah, it changes around as you level a bit too.

    As to the 2.5s GCD — that’s always there. Once you have all your skills and abilities it seems to flow well and with all the dodging you end up needing to do, having 2.5 seconds for movement in between skill makes it feel like you aren’t losing much to the dodge and makes it part of the gameplay rather than “dammit I have to dodge AGAIN!!!!!”

    I’m with you though — Final Fantasy hasn’t ever been a world that I cared about and only played with my cousin back in the day becuz he loved it so. I actually quit the game after about 2 or 3 weeks in to the free month. The early levels just did me in. But then I felt bad for missing my goal of at least getting my Chocobo mount, so I subbed back for another month solely so I could get that and since I had it for the month kept plugging away and…. it clicked for me. I just got my 9-month vet reward yesterday, and I have absolutely no plans to stop playing any time soon. Kinda funny how it worked for me.

  6. It’s a game that builds up to something rather wonderful. Sure it’s not showing you its best at the start but then some games start with a bang but have little to offer later on (Tera…). FFXIV certainly does have more to offer than you can probably see in one month. I didn’t stay subbed myself when my free ARR time at launch elapsed, but having come back to the game I’m really glad I gave it a chance.

    You’re right that the story-telling isn’t as good as TSW and especially SWTOR, but the mix of content, the flexibility of the class system and the combat (yes, the combat) really are strong points. As for the subscription I’m actually about ready for a u-turn on this, I’m happy to pay Square Enix for access to the game because they are actually delivering regular, substantial content updates – that’s worth the price I feel.

  7. I felt the same way about the GCD. If all you play is FFXIV for a while you get used to it, but coming from other games it feels incredibly slow. Some classes are more painful than others too.

    I enjoyed the Ninja and it is the only job I leveled to 50. This was because, once I got through the first 30 levels and started learning Ninja abilitites there was a ton to press off the GCD. That’s when the 2.5 GCD becomes beneficial. I really enjoyed that play style as it reminded me of my beloved fury warrior (post Cata, pre- Warlords version).

    However I think what some other folks have said rings true for me as well, namely that this game isn’t really designed to jump in and out of. After I reached 50 earlier this year I took a break, thinking at least I was 50 and could enjoy the Xpac when it came out and be at the same level of progression as everyone see for once.


    Shortly thereafter I read that I would have to complete everything up through the last 2.x patch and that was discouraging enough for me to bow out.

    It’s a good MMO but it’s not casual friendly, it lacks battleground style PvP (which I enjoy), and I really disliked how The dungeons would restrict which abilities you had available based on that dungeon’s initial level of entry. It was so frustrating as a Ninja to have to adapt my rotation for every random dungeon queue while leveling. It makes it difficult to actually learn the job too.

  8. That all came off negative, which was not my intent so I just wanted to add that I think FFXIV is a great game and is the best example of how a studio should handle the development cycle of an MMO. No one else comes close. I think it makes a great “home” MMO and I’m glad so many people are enjoying it. It’s just not for me at the moment.

  9. The story is passable and occasionally interesting, but it boggles my mind how heavily it’s sold as an awesome feature. It is nowhere near the level of ‘what’s going to happen now, I want to play to find out’ of TSW or SWTOR. Plus, the non-voiced nature I think allows the writers to just go on and on and on. I love reading books and I think the Wildstar 140-charater approach is absurd and terrible but FFXIV just takes too many words to get across pretty simple ideas and plot points.

    That said, I like the game once in a while. It’s fun to play, can be relaxing because of the slightly slower combats, and I love that I can have one character that can do everything.

  10. I’ve run four instances so far (as a tank). Given that I delayed opening up the dungeons for 4 levels because I so utterly hate running WoW instances as a tank (I’ll wait in the queue to play DPS before I tank), the sheer joy of playing an instance where the DPS aren’t force pulling everything because you are too slow and whining when they die is… indescribable. I had problems holding DPS once and got a suggestion to improve (which was valid). A healer managed to wipe the party by DPSing on the side too much AND ADMITTED IT. The DPs didn’t kill the thing that they needed to kill, and we’re told how to fix the problem, politely, AND THEY DID.

    I really can’t imagine wanting to play another game. Maybe the GCD isn’t right, or the humor is off (they guys making knowing comments about their conquests to my female character is pretty offputting), or whatever, but actually being able to run instances without the sheer terror of being in a WoW instance is worth it.

  11. I’m with you on a lot of these points. I get the feeling that as the content gets newer, they are trying to give us more of that “FF” feel that we crave – at least that was my impression playing the Rogue class quests. We shall see if it scratches that itch as I go on through my level 50 main storyline.

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